For once, I have some good job-related news: I got a raise at work, and since this seems like a cause for celebration, I went out and bought a box of
2022 2021 Big League.
Big League is among the last affordable sets out there, and it's really the only one of those I like enough to buy a box of. But I wasn't planning on splurging on much of the latest stuff for the simple fact that this set is already a year old! If I remember right, the original release date for 2021 Big League was last spring, and I assumed for a long time that Topps was just going to scrap it all together. I wouldn't have blamed them if they did.
But alas, here I am buying a 2021 product in early 2022 - but with a little extra money in my pocket, I figured I might as well give it a go.
I ranked Big League as the 2020 Set of the Year, so naturally I had high hopes for the encore.
And while it probably would've been impossible to live up to my lofty expectations, I have to admit that 2021 Big League is...a bit of a dud. The design is neat and much more colorful than anything else Topps is putting out, but the set as a whole just doesn't feel exciting. The photos lapse into the general sameness that has plagued Flagship for the last decade & I really don't feel there was any great effort put into trying to continue the momentum I've felt with Big League ever since it first came out in 2018.
It seems weird to say, but even with the year-long delay, this set feels rushed.
The backs continue to be among the most notable in the industry, and still give us facts that are genuinely fun about our favorite big leaguers.
The weirdest part about this set is that the checklist was obviously finalized a ways back, and despite being released here in spring of 2022, the set reflects what baseball looked like a year ago.
That means a lot of guys aren't even with the teams they're pictured with here, and some - like Joc Pederson & Kyle Schwarber - are actually two teams removed from their featured early-2021 duds.
In years past, it seemed like every single pack of Big League would have a few cards that were interesting and just generally made me happy.
I opened a whole box of 2021 Big League, and only found a few.
This is a quibble with the particular box I ordered, but wow were there a lot of doubles in there - wasn't very entertaining pulling the same cards over and over again.
Adding additional weirdness was the fact that I pulled two autographs in consecutive packs, which was unexpected to say the least since I think autos fall around 1:700 packs or something.
David Bote is a local fan favorite who seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, and I actually recouped a good amount of what I spent on this box by selling the Albies (not that I ever plan on recouping any money I spend on baseball cards, but it's nice when it happens).
The orange parallels remain a fun corner of Big League, and most of the inserts are okay but nothing to write home about.
Now these I like, and they're the sum total of what I generally enjoy about Big League: lovingly flashy, sometimes strange, and oddly beautiful.
Sadly, they're an anomaly in
this year's last year's mostly dull offering. I admit that Topps had a lot working against them here - very of little which they were likely able to control - which accounts for why so much of the box I opened just felt off. My hope is that this is merely a speed bump onto bigger and better things for Big League. Given the set's track record, I tend to lean towards thinking it will be.
And while I wasn't exactly floored by the box I bought, I think you'll agree with me that there's far worse ways to celebrate a raise, right?