Why did I buy a blaster of 2020 Donruss?
That's an excellent question...and one I really don't have an answer for. Donruss has no logos. Donruss doesn't excite me. Donruss has brought up the rear in every Set of the Year countdown I've ever done. It's not a set that invokes much passion. And yet -- there I was the other day, throwing a blaster of the stuff into my basket of quarantine supplies (aka groceries) during a recent Target run.
I'll attribute it to a couple things. One: being cooped up around the house really starts to trigger that pack-busting itch. Two: I figured I'd get a blog post out of it, if nothing else. It's true: I sometimes buy cards just to write a blog post about them, and I hope I'm not the only blogger who does this. (If only we had expense accounts.)
And so now, in all its bland, middling glory, I present to you my blaster of 2020 Donruss.
#175 Blake Snell
Panini managed to make a few of the recent Donruss sets at least semi-interesting by including nods to classic Donruss designs, which was nice because I think that should really be the point of present Donruss. This year's version has none of that, as far as I can tell.
Just a dull tornado of a design, full of guys in plain caps and jerseys playing for their company softball team.
#180 Kris Bryant
#75 Xander Bogaerts
#24 Bryce Harper (Diamond Kings)
#118 Clayton Kershaw (variation)
#R-1 Yordan Alvarez, "The Rookies" (rapture parallel)
A point in favor of Donruss: you really get a lot of variety out of a blaster.
A point against Donruss: maybe even a little too much variety. Even out of a measly $20 blaster, I felt like I needed some kind of pocket guide to all the inserts and parallels and variations and colors. It took me a good few minutes of Internet sleuthing to determine that this uber-shiny card of uber-rookie Yordan Alvarez is something called a rapture parallel, which are exclusive to blasters (I think?).
Sometimes I wonder if Panini is trying to get us to ignore the boredom of the base design by throwing in lots of bells and whistles and shiny things.
#224 Cal Ripken Jr. ('86 Donruss - variation - holo purple parallel)
Case in point: this is a subset variation holo purple parallel (deep breath).
#259 Yu Chang ('86 Donruss)
#181 Rhys Hoskins
Question 1: Is an airbrushed throwback still a throwback?
Question 2, and forgive me if this sounds odd: Does anyone else notice that Donruss cards smell different than most cards? I know cards aren't printed on good ol' cardboard these days, but Donruss seems to reek of high gloss and chemicals to me.
#184 Keston Hiura
#133 Josh Hader
#264 Luis Robert (Rated Rookie)
It's not often I put a guy in my binders before he's played a major league game, but I think I'll make an exception here.
#50 Logan Webb (Rated Rookie)
#AS-6 Vladimir Guerrero, "As Seen" (rapture parallel)
Remember what I said earlier about Panini trying to distract us with bells and whistles?
Sometimes it works, because this thing is awesome.
#154 Eugenio Suarez (holo purple parallel)
#226 Jim Rice ('86 Donruss)
#206 John Means
#200 Luis Arraez
#90 Javier Baez
#27 Josh Bell (Diamond Kings)
Never been a big fan of Diamond Kings, and 2020 Donruss isn't doing anything to change that.
#121 Eloy Jimenez (variation)
One advantage I'll give to Donruss is that they make it easy to tell the variations apart from the base cards -- the variations (like this one, which features "The South Side" instead of "Chicago") have a clearly different Donruss logo in the top-left corner.
See, Topps? It's not so hard.
#52 Anthony Kay (Rated Rookie)
#123 Max Scherzer (variation - holo purple parallel)
#241 Yonathan Daza ('86 Donruss)
#192 Jack Flaherty
#187 David Peralta
#147 Nolan Arenado
#29 Nolan Arenado (Diamond Kings)
#83 Fernando Tatis Jr. (nickname variation)
Easy to decipher or not, most of the Donruss variations aren't anything exciting -- but I do like these nickname ones if for no other reason than they stand out in a binder page.
#D-1 Max Scherzer, "Dominators" (rapture parallel)
#82 Joey Votto (holo purple parallel)
#229 George Brett ('86 Donruss)
This year's Donruss does continue the trend of a subset paying tribute to a vintage Donruss set -- the 2020 version goes back to the '86 design (easily the most '80s look in the Donruss catalog).
While '86 Donruss is close to the bottom on my list of all-time Donruss designs, it's kinda cool seeing these bizarro world versions of actual stars of the time period like George Brett here.
#195 Giancarlo Stanton
#194 Yusei Kikuchi
#105 Jorge Polanco
#39 Aristides Aquino (Rated Rookie)
#16 Rafael Devers (Diamond Kings)
#83 Fernando Tatis Jr. (Career Stat Line parallel /500)
I pulled a nickname variation and this numbered stat line parallel of Fernando Tatis Jr., but not the base card...oy.
#199 Christian Vazquez (holo purple parallel)
#244 Joe Palumbo ('86 Donruss)
#189 Brandon Crawford
#197 Willson Contreras
Donruss should really look into making an all-catcher set.
#63 Michael Conforto
#259 Yu Chang ('86 Donruss - variation)
#148 Francisco Lindor (nickname variation)
#H-5 Trevor Story, "Donruss Highlights" (rapture parallel)
Donruss Highlights are among my favorites from the bonanza of '80s oddball box sets, so this is cool to see.
#51 Randy Arozarena (Rated Rookie, holo purple parallel)
#249 Edwin Rios ('86 Donruss)
#203 Matt Carpenter
#207 Eduardo Escobar
#121 Eloy Jimenez
#41 Justin Dunn (Rated Rookie)
#3 Cody Bellinger (Diamond Kings)
#162 Juan Soto (variation)
Since I'm trying to find nice things to say about Donruss here, I do appreciate the quantity of cards I get out of a blaster, even if most of the cards themselves aren't all that exciting.
So often when I buy a pack or a blaster or whatever of cards these days, I kinda feel shorted even though it says how many cards are in the thing right there on the wrapper -- given that, 2020 Donruss's ratio of 11 packs of 8 cards per in a blaster isn't bad.
#211 Barry Larkin ('86 Donruss - holo purple parallel)
#216 Kevin Mitchell ('86 Donruss)
I was way too giddy about pulling a card of Kevin Mitchell in a 2020 product (and a Mets one!).
#183 JD Martinez
#178 Kyle Schwarber
#79 Hyun-Jin Ryu
One notable thing about Donruss is that it's often the first to feature offseason signings in their new duds...kind of.
Given that all the cards are airbrushed, all Panini really has to do is slap the new team name on the card and voila -- though in this case it at least partially works since the Dodgers' and Blue Jays' color schemes are similar.
#43 Trent Grisham (Rated Rookie)
#5 Christian Yelich (Diamond Kings)
#AP-22 Nick Frasso/Stephen Strasburg, "American Pride" (rapture parallel)
#139 Tim Anderson (holo purple parallel)
A fine addition to my brand new Tim Anderson collection.
#219 Rickey Henderson ('86 Donruss)
#171 Starling Marte
#162 Juan Soto
#102 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Still get excited about pulling Vlad Jr. cards.
#170 Ronald Acuna Jr. (nickname variation)
#60 Matt Thaiss (Rated Rookie)
#13 Nelson Cruz (Diamond Kings - holo purple parallel)
#234 Dale Murphy ('86 Donruss)
For some reason, this pack only contained seven cards -- which I wouldn't have even noticed if I didn't record every card for this post.
#166 Trevor Story
#173 Noah Syndergaard
The latest Tommy John victim.
#159 Jose Altuve
#7 Pete Alonso (Diamond Kings)
#219 Rickey Henderson ('86 Donruss - nickname variation)
Not sure how much I like the nickname variations on these '86 tributes -- a bit too jarring for me.
#E-2 Javier Baez, "Elite Series" (rapture parallel)
I don't have a prayer of owning most of the early '90s Elite Series originals, so this'll have to do.
#96 German Marquez (holo purple parallel)
#239 Josh Rojas ('86 Donruss)
#164 Rafael Devers
#168 Brandon Lowe
#117 Madison Bumgarner
If this is a Diamondbacks card, then I'm a baboon's uncle.
#111 Aaron Judge (variation)
#47 Patrick Sandoval (Rated Rookie)
#97 Yu Darvish (Independence Day parallel)
An Independence Day parallel of a Japanese star, because America.
#191 Sandy Alcantara (holo purple parallel)
#254 Aaron Civale ('86 Donruss)
And that's it for my first-ever Donruss blaster. I will say this -- given that most of my recent Donruss experience has been limited to going through base card after dull base card in dime boxes, it was at least a tad more exciting to open up actual packs of the stuff and see how the set gels together in that format. But overall: I'll probably end up sticking most of these in the appropriate places in my binders, never again taking a closer look at them...which really isn't the point of collecting baseball cards. Thus, Donruss fails.
So if you ever see me at Target, about to put another blaster of these in my cart, do me a favor and slap it out of my hands, would you?