Friday, March 20, 2015

2015 Topps Opening Day: Out of chances

This was going to be the year.

This was going to be the year that Opening Day would finally realize its potential. I've been on board with this brand for a long time now, even though everyone else had written it off long ago. I've been waiting for the day Opening Day would shock the world.

With a foil-less Flagship design, 2015 seemed like the perfect time for Opening Day to make its move. Without foil, the brand would be the exact same thing as Flagship, and surely Topps wouldn't do that to us. Now was the time to change it up. Different pictures. Maybe even a different border choice. It was the time to strike.

I grabbed a blaster of the newly-released Opening Day during a trip to Target with Dad earlier this week.

Hopeful as ever, I ripped into the first pack.

Pack #1:

#178 Carlos Santana
#168 Kennys Vargas

#85 Zack Greinke

[cue losing "Price is Right" horn]

It didn't take long for me to discover that, yes, Topps is that cruel.

These are, in fact, THE EXACT SAME CARDS we just saw in Flagship a couple months ago. Only the Opening Day logo and the card numbers on the back differentiate the two. As great as this year's Flagship design is, I don't need to see it twice. This is the kind of stuff that drives me up the wall with Topps.

The only real draw to these "stunt doubles" in the past was the fact that Opening Day's version didn't have any foil on them. Now, the brand doesn't even have that anymore, which makes the 2015 edition seem oh so very pointless. Even more so than usual.

I guess Topps thinks most collectors will just buy anything they produce. Do they really think people will want more Opening Day after seeing that the base cards are the exact same thing as Flagship? Doubt it. So, then, is it laziness or pure apathy on Topps's part?

Probably a bit of both.

#46 Chris Owings -- Foil parallel

With my hopes dashed, I halfheartedly dug into the rest of the blaster.

This year's foil parallels are unnumbered and a bit of a step down from last year's blue-bordered beauties.

Another knock against 2015 Opening Day.

#SC-4 Giancarlo Stanton -- Superstar Celebrations insert

If there's a light at the end of the tunnel, it's that Opening Day's inserts are still as good as ever.

I'm not going to buy packs of this stuff purely for inserts, but the year-in, year-out quality of sets like "Superstar Celebrations" forces me to at least consider it.

I know a few other collectors have suggested that Topps combine Flagship's base cards and Opening Day's inserts. I think that's a brilliant idea. Not only would it cut out what is a superfluous brand with Opening Day, but it would be a shot in the arm for the yawn-fest that Flagship's inserts have been over the last few years.

Do it already, Topps.

#143 Freddie Freeman
#14 Michael Taylor

Pack #2: 

#118 Mookie Betts

If there is one upside to Opening Day's base cards, it's that some of them offer a preview to Series 2.

Mookie Betts didn't show up in Series 1, but there's a good chance that we'll see the Flagship version of this one come June or July.

Sure, this will merely be another "stunt double" by then, but at least Opening Day can say it had a leg up on the competition.

#31 David Wright
#41 Carlos Gonzalez

#FF-1 Craig Kimbrel -- Franchise Flashback insert

Here's where Opening Day really hit its stride this year.

I learned of the upcoming "Franchise Flashbacks" series when the sell sheets for this brand first hit the internets a few months ago, and I've been counting down the days until I could get my hands on some ever since.

This 20-card insert set is made up entirely of throwbacks. I repeat, this set is made up entirely of throwbacks. Mr. Kimbrel represented my first in-person look at the series, and he didn't disappoint. The design itself is very throwback-ish, and reminds me a lot of 2001 UD Decade.

It's the insert set of the year, as far as I'm concerned.

#45 Bryce Harper
#185 Maikel Franco
#24 Tim Lincecum

Pack #3:

#190 Cliff Lee
#126 Oswaldo Arcia
#56 Elvis Andrus

#STA-LD Safeco Field (Luca Djelosevic) -- Stadium Scenes insert

Here's another interesting insert series from the people at Opening Day.

The photos in this year's "Stadium Scenes" set were taken by fans and submitted to Topps via social media. That's certainly an innovative idea, and it gives us collectors views of the ballparks that professional photographers don't often cover.

It's true that with smartphones these days, John Doe can take a crisp, clean photograph with the push of a button. I like this fan-centric concept for an insert series, but I don't want to see the day where fan pictures become part of a base set.

No matter what people might think, smartphone plus fan does not equal professional photography.

#127 Francisco Cervelli
#37 Chris Archer
#129 Angel Pagan

Pack #4: 

#10 Pat Neshek

This was probably my favorite base card of the blaster.

There's no such thing as a bad Pat Neshek, and this is my first issue of him in his new Astros duds.

Neshek even manages to make photoshopping look good.

#193 Joc Pederson
#135 Stephen Drew

#HTD-1 Bryce Harper -- Hit the Dirt insert

The "Hit the Dirt" series is a rare miss from the Opening Day insert factory.

Ooh, cards of guys sliding.

Hold on to your hats.

#62 Jose Bautista
#169 Matt Adams
#104 Anthony Ranaudo

Pack #5:

#161 Arismendy Alcantara

Not all the awesome throwbacks have to be limited to the "Franchise Flashback" set.

#13 Drew Hutchison
#199 Aaron Sanchez

#M-1 Baxter the Bobcat -- Mascots insert

These "Mascots" inserts have been an Opening Day staple for a while now.

While I don't get as excited for them as I probably should, they're still nice for a little fun every now and then.

Although, for the life of me, I cannot understand why the Diamondbacks have a bobcat for a mascot.

#136 Drew Smyly
#177 Billy Hamilton
#138 Gregor Blanco

Pack #6:

#35 Travis d'Arnaud
#2 Curtis Granderson

#29 John Lackey -- Foil parallel

My second foil parallel of the blaster.

At least I got one I needed this time.

#SC-10 Chase Utley -- Superstar Celebrations insert

I'll grant that the "pie in the face" celebration is pretty tired at this point.

But, hey, at least they make for fun, candid cards. The Phillies didn't get a lot of chances to celebrate last year, and it looks like A.J. Burnett and Chase Utley are having a good time here.

And, as an added bonus, this card even serves as a hit to my "interview" mini-collection.

#151 Rusney Castillo
#17 David Ortiz
#98 Adam Wainwright

Pack #7:

#1 Homer Bailey
#88 Christian Yelich
#29 John Lackey

#FF-19 Freddie Freeman -- Franchise Flashback insert

Another fantastic retro jersey from the "Franchise Flashback" series.

The uniform on Freddie Freeman here one-ups Craig Kimbrel by going all the way back to the days of the 1914 Boston Braves, a team that famously went worst-to-first to capture the World Series championship that year.

Guess I got a Braves throwback hot box or something.

#128 Chase Headley
#90 Daniel Murphy
#38 Johnny Cueto

Pack #8:

#23 Greg Holland
#39 Albert Pujols
#141 Julio Teheran

#STA-TC Teddy Roosevelt (Tom Cicotello) -- Stadium Scenes insert

I don't know why someone felt the need to throw pail of water onto Teddy Roosevelt and his giant head, but I'll be darned if it isn't hilarious.

This one got a nice hearty laugh from me when I pulled it from the pack, which is a pretty rare feat considering the stoic "game faces" we're used to seeing on our cards these days.

A little humor goes a long way, Topps.

#40 Clayton Kershaw
#171 Andrelton Simmons
#83 Corey Kluber

Pack #9:

#16 Jake Lamb
#26 Buster Posey
#157 Cory Spangenberg

#HTD-13 Ben Revere -- Hit the Dirt insert

Dirt is being hit, people.

#53 Jean Segura
#183 Dustin Pedroia
#113 Matt Barnes

Pack #10:

#92 Mark Teixeira
#124 Henderson Alvarez
#155 Xander Bogaerts

#M-20 Swinging Friar -- Mascots insert

This post became insert-heavy pretty quickly, didn't it?

#77 Mike Trout
#109 Brandon Finnegan
#96 Madison Bumgarner

Pack #11:

#30 Danny Santana
#103 Ryan Zimmerman
#50 Rougned Odor

#79 Jered Weaver -- Foil parallel

Seeing as how these foil parallels are seeded one every five packs, I beat the odds with this blaster.

One of the little thrills that keeps us collectors going.

#SC-14 Albert Pujols -- Superstar Celebrations insert

All three of my foil parallels in this blaster were immediately followed by a "Superstar Celebrations" insert.

Collation or coincidence?

Knowing Topps, I say collation.

#74 Derek Norris

#182 Adrian Beltre

And so my blaster came to an end with Adrian Beltre.

As much as it pains me to say it, Opening Day is probably out of chances with me at this point. It looks like 2015 was the last straw.

Since Opening Day didn't capitalize on its potential this year, I doubt it ever will. I'm sure people have been saying this for years, but I didn't believe it until now. Maybe I didn't want to believe it.

I'll pick up what I can from this set in dime boxes throughout the course of the year, but that'll probably be it. Opening Day is good for a cheap, quick impulse buy from the Target card aisle and nothing more.

Until Topps wants to put a little effort into this brand, it'll never be legitimate.


buckstorecards said...

The D-Backs played in Bank One Ballpark. Hence the B.O.B. cat as the mascot.

Anonymous said...

Nice post! I always love the inserts in opening day, especially the superstar celebrations!

Unknown said...

That. Swinging. Friar. Card. Must be had...

Thanks for the preview, Nick. I think the Franchise Flashbacks series looks good. Guess I need to get back to Target...

Brian said...

Oh Opening Day . . .

That Franchise Flashback set looks cool. The Twin is Danny Santana, he's sporting the 70's/80's powder blues. I might get that insert set, otherwise I plan on steering pretty clear of OD.

Mike said...

The Teddy Roosevelt card was worth the price!!!...too cool!!

Anonymous said...

I am still sulking in my disappointment over this set... Yes, I made hopeful assumptions about what the set would be like, but I still feel misled that the two cards they had in the sell sheets had different photos... and those may be the only two, other than the photoshopped cards.

acrackedbat said...

The Nats have some of my fave mascots cuz I love my Presidents! I must have Teddy R! I've been an OD naysayer for sometime. This release saves me $$ for a Diamond King opportunity next month. Great post Nick!

Jason Culley said...

Have not bought any this year and probably won't. The Franchise Flashbacks are pretty cool.

Big Tone said...

Franchise Flasbacks ftw!

Hackenbush said...

Bobcats eat snakes.

Bulldog said...

I enjoy this set. I agree it may be better served as an insert to the base set but I do like some of the uniqueness it brings. I definitely enjoy the Topps Opening Day brand.

Daniel Wilson said...

buckstorecards is correct about Baxter the Bobcat. Chase Field was originally Bank One Ballpark, but everyone just called it BOB. You can buy BOB sod here in Arizona. It's the grass that is used in the stadium. Anyways, Jay Bell's son actually suggested a bobcat as the mascot. Thanks for the 2015 Topps cards for my set as well as some of these Opening Day cards and other D-Backs!