Yes, the time has come. After being cooped up in the house for the better part of two days, I needed to break free. Finally the alley got plowed, and at last I could drive somewhere, anywhere. Driving down the alley now feels like the trench run to the Death Star, but instead of finding an exhaust port measuring two meters wide, I made my way to Target, coming home with a few packs of 2011 Topps, the first product of the year. As of right now, I have only opened one pack, and every card in it so far has been a first for the year.
Let's tear in.
Top to Bottom:
First Card of the Year
140 Brett Anderson
Whenever foil comes into play on the front of a card, particularly the name, there's reason to worry. Allay your fears, readers, for the player names are almost instantly legible, from nearly every angle. A slight drop shadow prevents the foil from overpowering the eye. I also love the baseball behind the tea logo in the corner. This is a clean, classy design that has instantly become my favorite since 2007. (Yes, I will proudly defend 2007 Topps. It gets a bad rap.)
The backs of the cards contain the requisite stats. The arc motif is continued from the front. Unfortunately, the inset photo is recycled from the front. This should never, ever happen. Minus one point for laziness. However, the extra-large checklist number more than makes up for the repeat photo, so plus two. Set-builders such as myself will appreciate this feature.
First Card of a Dude of Whom I Am a Supercollector (If He Appears As a Brewer)
102 CC Sabathia
First Card of a Player Whose First Name Ends With the Same Consecutive Vowel
255 Torii Hunter
First Topps Rookie Cup
198 Buster Posey
First MVP Award Card
29 Josh Hamilton
First Horizontal Card
329 Brett Wallace
First Diamond Giveaway
I'm not sure how excited I should be about this. One thing's for sure, I'm not hopping on that website the first day it's operational.
First Mini Insert
KC-16 Aroldis Chapman Champions of Games and Sports
A Target-only insert, perhaps? I don't know enough about this set yet to make that judgment. The 50-card checklist is on the back, and it looks like the type of insert set I'd like to complete. No actual champions of games, though, unless Andrew McCutchen dominates at Hi-Ho Cherry-O in a way of which I have not yet been made aware.
First Toppstown to Probably Go In the Garbage
TT-44 Ubaldo Jimenez
Actually, these feel more like inserts than last year's. Very shiny.
First Guy Whose Last Name, When Pronounced, Includes a Phantom Syllable
180 Paul Maholm
How the eff does he get Muh-hol-lum out of that? Veteran character actor Ian Holm's last name has just one syllable. All Paul does is put a Ma in front of it: Ma-holm. Right? Now I'm starting to sound like George Costanza explaining how manure is just Ma and nure.
13 Billy Wagner
First Card to Contain the Phrase "Double-Digit Dinger"
276 Miguel Olivo
There you have it folks, my first pack of 2011 baseball cards. Good luck on putting this set together.