Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Topps Opening Day: Fresh out of the box

You people and your Heritage.

All I've been reading this whole week is Heritage this and Heritage that. As of right now, Heritage is the mainstream of baseball cards.

I'm not a mainstream type of guy. That's why I picked up a blaster of Opening Day yesterday. I mean, with all this Heritage talk...

Okay. I'm going to level with you.

I wanted to be a mainstream Heritage guy. I walked into my local Target yesterday hoping to find some of it. I'm more excited about this year's Heritage than I've been in a long time.

Sadly, Heritage was MIA last afternoon. My dad and I saw a couple unopened cardboard boxes next to the card aisle that supposedly had new product in them. I'm betting Heritage was in one of those boxes, but the employees down at Target didn't bother/were too lazy to actually put them on the shelves.

We were about to walk away empty-handed when we noticed that one of the boxes was open. A quick peek inside featured a healthy sampling of 2014 Topps Opening Day blasters. To be honest, I didn't even know Opening Day was out. I was too caught up in the Heritage hailstorm.

With 11 packs for just ten bucks, though, Opening Day is always good for some cheap fun. Though they weren't actually on the shelves yet, my dad and I picked one of the blasters fresh out of the box and brought it up to the counter.

While the rest of the cardboard community might be going through a Heritage frenzy, I'm happy to bring you a pack-by-pack account of my 2014 Topps Opening Day blaster.

Here goes nothing.

Pack #1

#48 Paul Goldschmidt

Let it be known that the very first card I pulled out of this blaster was the Paul Goldschmidt you see above.

Since I collect "Goldy", it was a fine start.

While the packs may be cheap, the one big downside to Opening Day is the fact that a lot of the set basically consists of foil-less Series 1 reprints. Though the Flagship/OD combo does look nice in a binder, it's like pulling the same card all over again.

At 99 cents a pack, though, I guess I can't complain all that much.

#120 Shin-Soo Choo
#49 Ian Desmond

"Superstar Celebrations" #SC-10 Adam Dunn

I've gone on record saying that Opening Day produced the best inserts of any set last year.

I don't know if that'll be true again here in 2014. From the looks of it, though, Opening Day is still churning out great inserts this time around.

As evidenced by this terrific Adam Dunn, the long-running "Superstar Celebrations" series has returned for 2014.

By the looks of it, these inserts are better than ever.

#215 Cliff Lee
#15 Martin Perez "Future Stars"
#8 Mike Napoli

Pack #2

#44 Wade Miley
#141 Kolten Wong (RC)
#113 Jon Lester

"Fired Up" #UP-28 Hunter Pence

New to Opening Day in 2014 are these "Fired Up" inserts.

I'm guessing that Topps sought to base this series around some of the more intense players in baseball. The inclusion of Hunter Pence certainly makes sense in that regard.

As far as the cards go, I'm not huge on these. The design is a little too generic and I had a tough time deciphering what the series was even called. It took until the third viewing to figure out that the banner read "Fired Up".

Still, even a mediocre Opening Day insert is better than most other inserts out there.

#163 Chris Johnson
#188 Andrew Lambo (RC)
#125 Tim Lincecum

Pack #3

#59 Francisco Liriano
#136 Anthony Rizzo
#208 Hanley Ramirez

"Opening Day Stars" #ODS-14 David Ortiz

Also returning in 2014 are these "Opening Day Stars" inserts.

I've always felt that today's hobby could use more 3-D cards. This series is about all we have right now, which is why I've always enjoyed them.

How cool would an all 3-D set be?

I think most of the people who lived through Kellogg's in the '70s can vouch for that.

#6 Adrian Beltre
#159 Adam Wainwright
#23 Felix Hernandez

Pack #4

#37 Brandon Belt
#102 James Shields
#35 Junior Lake

"Breaking Out" #BO-18 Felix Hernandez

Maybe this is the 1995 Fleer in me talking, but...


I literally stared at "King Felix" for a good minute after it fell out of this pack. In an era where boring inserts have become the norm, it's good so see so much beauty and creativity out of this "Breaking Out" series.

In fact, I think I spy every color of the rainbow.

It's like an insert on LSD.

Blue Parallel #136 Anthony Rizzo /2014

Just after I pulled Mr. Rizzo's base card out of pack #3, I was lucky enough to get his blue beauty out of the very next pack.

Like last year, sequentially-numbered blue parallels are found in 2014 Opening Day. I think they work really well with this year's design.

It works even better next to the hallowed Cubbie Blue.

#95 Todd Frazier
#164 Sonny Gray "Future Stars"

Pack #5

#1 Mike Trout
#63 Starling Marte "Future Stars"

"Mascots" #M-4 Bernie Brewer

I can't say I'm a huge mascot fan.

Still, I guess it's nice that a fun set honors their existence. Opening Day has been making these mascot inserts for a few years now.

I won't deny that this in-action shot of "Bernie Brewer" is pretty darn cool.

#74 Matt Carpenter
#43 Victor Martinez

#66 Albert Pujols

One thing I like about Opening Day is that it often gives a preview into some of the cards we might see in Series 2.

Albert Pujols may have had a down season in 2013, but Topps still rewarded him with a rather neat card this year nonetheless.

#174 Matt Davidson (RC)

Pack #6

#22 Clay Buchholz
#27 Doug Fister
"Mascots" #M-13 Phillie Phanatic
Blue Parallel #14 Trevor Rosenthal /2014
#17 Aaron Hicks
#124 Madison Bumgarner

#24 Michael Wacha "Future Stars"

Personally, I like this sans-foil "Future Stars" label more than the ones we saw in Flagship.

I expect nothing but great things from Michael Wacha in 2014.

Pack #7

#180 Alex Gordon
#189 Matt Holliday
"Opening Day Stars" #ODS-23 Giancarlo Stanton

Blue Parallel #59 Francisco Liriano /2014

I usually have horrible luck with pulling parallels of guys I actually collect.

Between Rizzo and Liriano, though, we're two for three so far.

#170 Billy Hamilton (RC)
#78 Chris Davis

#50 Clayton Kershaw

Here's another Series 2 preview.

I would think a reigning Cy Young winner deserves a better card than this.

Pack #8

#210 Eric Hosmer
#204 Shelby Miller "Future Stars"
#175 Trevor Plouffe

"Superstar Celebrations" #SC-20 Andrelton Simmons

What's better than a celebration shot?

A nighttime celebration shot, of course!

Blue Parallel #152 Darwin Barney /2014

Three for four!

Believe me, this sort of parallel goodness is unprecedented with my pack-busting luck.

#32 Sergio Romo
#21 Stephen Strasburg

Pack #9

#98 Jose Altuve
#158 Nolan Arenado

"Breaking Out" #BO-7 David Wright

Even better the second time around.

"Opening Day Relics" #ODR-KU Koji Uehara JSY

This was certainly an unexpected pull.

I doubt many people open Opening Day for the memorabilia. It's about as far from high-end as you'll find.

But, against all odds, I landed a relic of postseason hero Koji Uehara from this pack. I can't imagine he has too many jersey cards out there.

If he needs it, this one will probably be going to Mr. Mark Hoyle, a generous reader and Red Sox collector who has sent me all kinds of good stuff already.

It's the least I could do.

Because of the relic, this pack only contained five cards.

#115 Max Scherzer

Pack #10

#184 Ubaldo Jimenez
#96 Andre Rienzo (RC)
#2 Dustin Pedroia
"Fired Up" #UP-5 Sergio Romo
#198 Evan Longoria
#91 Matt Cain

#72 Jose Fernandez

Much like Mr. Kershaw, I hoped that an ace like Jose Fernandez would receive a better card in 2014.

Like a lot of collectors, I'm starting to get tired of all these generic pitching shots.

That said, it's hard to get mad at any card that features the hallowed Rookie Cup.

Pack #11

#88 Yoenis Cespedes
#108 Troy Tulowitzki
#101 Zack Wheeler "Future Stars"
"Mascots" #M-21 Pirate Parrot
#112 Billy Butler
#75 Will Middlebrooks

#145 Carlos Beltran

The final card from this blaster represents one of Opening Day's finest features.

For the fast few years, OD has been responsible for producing the very first cards of big offseason signings/trades in their new uniforms.

It's all thanks to the magic of photoshopping, which has gotten progressively better over time. (For the most part.)

I'm sure this will be the one of many Carlos Beltran cards that I'll be adding to my Yankee binder this year.

Still, Opening Day will always lay claim to being the first.

All in all, that's a pretty nice haul for just ten bucks.

Okay, so maybe Opening Day wasn't my first choice when I walked into my local Target yesterday. It did feel like sort of a consolation prize to Heritage when I walked out the door.

After ripping through this blaster, though, Opening Day has shown yet again that it can compete with the big boys in this hobby.

It doesn't play second fiddle to anybody.


Once a Cub said...

Nice find! And good pick on the box that netted those Cub parallels.

Mark Kaz said...

Ooh, I forgot all about Opening Day. Great blaster overall! Of all the inserts, I think the 3-D cards are still the best.

Mark Hoyle said...

I'll take any of the Sox that are up for grabs. I have a Goldschmidt 2014 Topps sticker that I'm sending your way.

Mark Hoyle said...

The Koji is an awesome card.

Stubby said...

How cool would an all 3D set be? Does no one remember Topps 3D from the 90s (1995, I think)? Understandable. It bombed. Badly. It did so poorly on Series 1, I don't think they even bothered with a series 2. You can probably get a box off eBay for $5-10. Don't buy more than one. There are only 50 or 60 guys in it and you'll get close to two sets out of one box.

Hackenbush said...

Great highlights, especially for a Cubs fan like me. I do like Opening Day.

Jeff said...

I bought a bunch of Opening Day last year, and just ended up thinking "Why bother?" It just seems redundant with the base. Its just another money grab by Topps, because they know I'll want the Angels, and the parallels of the Angels...

petethan said...

Ah, man! Another post that I can't look at yet. These are out, huh? Guess I'd better head on over to Target...

hiflew said...

I may be alone here but after the somewhat lackluster photography in flagship and the almost always boring photos in Heritage, I am nominating the Bernie Brewer as 2014 Card of the Year. That is just fantastic.

Laurens said...

Looks like a nice mix of insert and parallels though the redundant 'reprints' from the flagship set makes Opening Day make them a 'non buy' for me.

If Topps just changed things up with the Opening Day base cards, then maybe I'd try a blaster box or two.

For $10, I guess there is little room to complain.