Thursday, May 25, 2017

2014 Topps Series One Box Break

I only had a handful of 2014 Topps cards going into this little box-buying spree of mine. Summer of 2014, let's see, I was living on the corner of Park and Oakland and had just finished my Milwaukee Mayhem book and was about to begin my next one. I still had not yet met my wife and was dating a girl who was no damn good for me at all. The Brewers were running away with first place in the NL Central, but I felt the whole time like they would blow it in the end (they did). In late summer, I went to Austin for a week of research at the LBJ library. Austin is a nice place and I got drunk by the pool in the sunshine each evening after I was done at the library. I still haven't used the research I did at the library (on pornographic movie theaters, it was going to be for the PhD that I never finished), but it was a fun time in carefree summer. And, for whatever reason, I didn't buy many packs of Topps. 

But enough of my yackin.' Whattya say? Let's boogie!

The box yielded 307 of the 330 base cards (93%) and ZERO doubles. Nice. Here are some cuties from the base set:

Mike Trout. A mecha-god sent to this planet to destroy time. He could retire tomorrow and still - by far - have the best numbers of this decade. 

Coco Crisp. Another way-fun A's card. People might whisper Oscar Gamble here, but this is - to me - pure Angela Davis

Mike Napoli World Series Game 1. Look at that vendor in the background. He must be HUGE. He takes up as much space in the image as Nap and he's at least, what, 60 feet away from him? Forget what I said about Trout, yellow shirt is the mecha-god. 

Brayan Pena, card back. I picked Pena because when I still played MLB The Show, he was his own kind of mecha-god. Every franchise I played, the first move I made was to pick up Brayan Pena. Anyway, it's a nice backside. And I love that they replaced the "chase" crap from '13 with a anecdote about the player's rookie season. They're actually interesting.

Mariano Rivera. Mecha-god... ok, I'll stop. I often wonder if modern advertising on cards will age like ads from 30-40 years ago did. To me, right now, the two ads behind Mo are ugly and invasive. But I love the RC Cola ad on the '71 Nolan Ryan. Maybe those kind of things need to become functionally obsolete before they can become pop art. 

Eric Sogard. More like So-(mecha) GOD. Sogard has been ridiculous this year as a mid-season call-up for my Brewers. I hope he keeps it up long enough to get his a nice card in this year's update set. 

Kendrys Morales. One of the great cards of this set, his Mariners teammates try to keep him from repeating his infamous walk-off broken leg that cost him more than a year on the DL. Also the rare card where the subject player in out of focus. 

Adrian Beltre. He's about to have his head touched. 

Khris Davis. I miss this guy. And I'll use his card as an excuse to talk a bit about the '14 design. I don't HATE it... but that little bulge on the side with the team name is so unnecessary. It crowds the picture and just makes for an overall cluttered and un-congruent look. Great designs usually have a single defining feature - like the ribbon from '89, or the borders of '87, or the looming team name of '75... this is a ribbony, name-hump, silver swoosh sorta thing? It feels like they mashed a few ideas together. I don't hate it, but I find little to like about it. 


Less is better, right? We'll see. 

"The Future is Now" 2014's theme was rookies or some such nonsense. These honor "Welcome to the majors moments" with bland photos and dumb headline-style titles ("There's a New Darvish in Town"). I did get a Brewer in this bunch, after being shut out with Brewers inserts in the first box. I'll keep him, but the rest are up for swap. Miller (2), Wheeler (12), Ryu (16), Trout (19), Machado (23, 24), Puig (25), Darvish (27). 

"50 Years of the Draft" I like the Bench card here, using a photo from '69 Topps, but a sharp-focused version of it from the vault. Wouldn't that be cool? Crystal-clear reprints of iconic Topps card photos? There's a concept. Anyway, this set ain't that. I also have David Price.

"Upper Class" These have all the look and feel of a late-90s Upper Deck issue. The use of the word "Upper" helps that, I'm sure, but these really would have fit in with '98 UD as a Star Rookies subset or something. This set recalls various players' rookie seasons. I have Cespedes (4), Harvey (5), Stras (13), Hanley (21), Matt Cain (22), McCann (28), Holliday (30), Glavine (38), Maddux (39). 

Mutilated '89 Minis. I remember, as a a kid, using a scissors to cut the boarders off of various cards, just for the sake of doing it. 1989 Topps was definitely one that I trimmed. Mostly because I was ten years old and bored. Why in the hell Topps chose to do that with these minis is beyond me. They're weird and ugly and not even trimmed very well (series 2 was even worse). I did notice, however, that placed on the wood grain of my desk, it created a kind of cool effect. Like an 87 and 89 Topps mash-up. Oh! Vintage design mash-ups!! Another fun concept that I just dreamed up. I've got Koufax (7), Schmidt (16), Ozzie (24), Peddy (33), Verlander (41).

All-Rookie Cup Team. a tougher pull (I only got two), this set honors one of the most iconic bits of cardom - the Topps All Star Rookie Cup. I've always loved the cup cards and when I was a kid... (looks at card) WHAT THE HELL! Hey, let's do an all-rookie cup set and not only NOT USE THE CUP ON THE CARD, but also use HALF of it for a team logo and big splash of dull grey. This set is revolting. I got Jeter and Jim Rice. If no one wants them, I will burn these cards and send them to hell. 

"Before They were Great" Like the Elite cards from 2013, these are thick and pretty. I got a Rickey Henderson I'm gonna keep and a Bob Gibson up for trades. 

"Power Players" Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Altuve, Holliday, and Brian "Arbiter of Baseball the Right Way" McCann. 

Parallels: I'm tired of writing about these. I got (red) 25, 157, 178, 235, 240, 308. 

Gold / 2014: 79, 203, 251, 289.

Slate? Black? Whatever it is, Leonys Martin, 2/65, #82. 

The Box Hit: James Shields white thing. Take it. 

BUYBACKS! You know, I had never gotten a buy back card before this box. They're kinda fun. I got a 1975 #182 Don Hahn and a 1996 #165 Don Lock (I've dubbed them, "The Ugly Dons"). I haven't any real connection to them, so if you want them I'll send them out. But I wouldn't mind either getting stuck with these. 

Overall, it was a fun box and got me to within sniffing distance of a complete set. As always, I've got my base needs on my want lists page. Help me out and help yourself to some of the inserts.


  1. Coco Crisp was my Card of the Year for 2014, and easily one of the best cards of the decade thus far.