I realize what I'm about to say may sound improbable, and perhaps even impossible, but I actually found cards at a Target last week.
And it was little more than an accidental surprise: I was out with a friend one day and sheepishly asked if she wouldn't mind stopping at the Target we were about to pass. I walked in expecting the same card-aisle tumbleweeds and was pleasantly floored at the full display. It was even more surprising because I'd been to the very same Target the week prior and found the shelves absolutely barren. But alas, the baseball cards were plentiful this time, and stocked to the brim -- if you read Dad's guest post last week, you know why such a sight is so rare these days.
I knew I probably shouldn't have posted this picture on Twitter, but I did anyways, and from the reactions it got you'd think I'd just discovered cold fusion or something. I love opening packs, but I like to think my collection doesn't depend on opening packs -- from the Twitter mob on that post I unwittingly learned that, to some people, collecting means opening packs, and little more than that. My thoughts on the retail bros are well known, but on the grand scale of things it probably affects me less than most collectors. Packs, to me, are an appetizer, but not so much a main course.
Fact is, however, I did walk out of the Target that afternoon with some cards, because I just couldn't resist -- anyone wanna take a stab at guessing what my big purchase was?
If you said a blaster of Diamond Kings (way in the bottom-left corner of that photo), you're right.
I'm as surprised as you. I'd never once bought a pack of Diamond Kings before this -- mainly because they're obscenely easy to find in dime boxes. But, of course, card shows aren't a thing right now. And while I did nab a couple Series 2 rack packs, I figured picking up any more than that would be a huge waste because I already had most of the base I needed coming in a Card Barrel order. And after deciding against Select (12 cards for $20? Nope...) and Bowman (don't know 90 percent of the dudes in the set), Diamond Kings basically won by default.
Normally, I wouldn't consider Diamond Kings anywhere near blog-worthy -- there's not a whole lot to say about it -- but given the rarity of finding baseball cards anywhere in the wild these days, I figured I'd document my blaster for posterity, if nothing else.
#139 Nick Solak
#113 Donnie Walton
#157 Kyle Lewis
#28 Joe Cronin, blue frame parallel
The main draw of Diamond Kings, of course, is the older guys -- they're the only reason I considered buying a blaster of the stuff to be anything near worthwhile.
A further plus in Panini's favor is that they tend to feature somewhat forgotten legends (oxymoron?) that are all but ignored by Topps these days -- Joe Cronin is one of those lost stars, which made this framed parallel a treat.
#DK-7 Nolan Ryan, DK 206
These obvious T206 rehashes are a good enough idea, but they kinda freak me out a bit...I'm not sure why.
#132 Jose Berrios
#106 Kyle Seager
#119 Mike Piazza
I don't talk much about Diamond Kings around here because the looks and designs and concepts just tend to get incredibly repetitive and dull and start to bleed together after a while.
I wouldn't have a prayer of matching each DK design to its respective year and release, and this time next year, I'm sure 2020 Diamond Kings will have already lapsed into that oblivion.
#111 Michael King, Artist's Proof blue parallel
#AP-10 Aaron Judge, Artist's Palette
To me, the relative lack of flair from Topps these days makes colorful cards like these seem all the more exciting.
#163 Nap Lajoie
There aren't nearly enough Nap Lajoie cards in this world.
#138 Trevor Story
Gotta show all the Tony Gwynn cards I pull -- it's a law.
#86 Josh Bell, Artist's Proof blue parallel
#3000-13 Cal Ripken Jr., The 3,000
#156 Logan Webb
#131 Jake Fraley
#DKMS-BA Bryan Abreu, DK Material Signatures
Significant for the jersey/autograph, insignificant since I have no idea who Bryan Abreu is.
Me, I'll take this over a jersey card a hundred times out of a hundred.
#GOS-14 Christian Yelich, Gallery of Stars
#105 Adrian Morejon
#150 Jaylin Davis
#126 Manny Machado
#DKM-TD Travis Demeritte, DK Materials Holo Silver (/99)
I've at least heard of Travis Demeritte, and this is probably the first time in recorded history that I've pulled two jersey cards out of the same blaster (and in consecutive packs!).
#DK-2 Aaron Judge, DK 206
#101 Tres Barrera
#144 Bo Bichette
Something I don't understand: the checklist for this set lists everything from Card #101 and up as a short-print...but almost every base card in this blaster was #101+.
#118 Johnny Bench
Johnny Bench has been well represented by many brands over the years, but I'll never, ever get sick of his cards.
#29 Joe Wood, Artist's Proof blue parallel
I pulled a Smoky Joe Wood out of a pack of 2020 baseball cards.
I love this.
#INT-15 George Brett, In the Zone
The one and only horizontal card in the whole blaster.
#27 Jackie Robinson
I want any and all Jackie Robinson cards.
#162 Brendan McKay
#137 Fernando Tatis Jr.
#111 Michael King
#A-1 Kirby Puckett, Aficionado
My blaster closed with this Kirby Puckett insert that kinda looked and felt like all the other inserts in this blaster -- I prefer insert sets to at least have a concept behind them, and I still have no idea why George Brett is "In the Zone," or why is Kirby Puckett is an "Aficionado."
Overall, not a ton to say about Diamond Kings other than to offer some kind of hope that, yes, some Targets, despite the madness, are still untouched by the masses and do still have baseball cards -- it's proof that miracles can happen in this crazy card world.