I have to say, I'm starting to warm up a bit more to the Topps 206 cards the more I open them and really look closely at them.
Yes, some of the art, particularly the faces, aren't polished as much as they could be, but the product is overall fairly fun to break. By not guaranteeing any hits, the price of this hobby box was able to be less than half of what a box of, say, 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter would be.
The Team 206 inserts are a nice addition, and I'm hoping for some more interesting mini back variations. But so far, it's a pretty solid product.
As I write this post, the Red Sox are a few hours away from the 3rd game of the series against the Yankees. This is not only the 3rd game in a row against New York but the 3rd game in a row in which they've had the chance to clinch the division. So, either they get swept by the Yankees, or they close everything out tonight. There is no in between.
While I anticipate the start of the game, I might as well go over the 7th and 8th packs out of my hobby box of the 2002 Topps 206 set.
#91 Albert Pujols
While the front of the card is shown at the top of this post, the back of Pujols' 2nd-year card brings up a pretty interesting fact. He was the 4th rookie ever to hit .300 with 30 homers, 100 RBI, and 100 runs. It certainly leads me to wonder if any other rookies have done that since Pujols did in '01.
#80 Richard Hidalgo
Through its sheer simplicity in the background and with the portrait of the player, Richard Hidalgo's card quickly became one of my favorites of the entire box as soon as I pulled it from the pack.
#54 Andres Galarraga
I believe the Giants were the last team Andres Galarraga ever played for. Before coming to San Francisco, he spent the majority of his career with the Expos and Rockies.
#84 Ken Griffey Jr.
The 3rd portrait card in a row is definitely one of the best names you could get in the entire set. In almost every single way, this Ken Griffey Jr. card is perfect, from the colors chosen in the background to the clear attention to detail used on his face and cap.
#139 Nick Neugebauer
#104 Roy Oswalt
#73 Adam Dunn Mini Polar Bear Back
I sincerely hope I'm not the only one who misses the Reds uniforms from the 2000s, especially the ones with the red sleeves and skinny red stripes that Ken Griffey Jr. made so popular. The black sleeved ones aren't to bad either. They kind of remind me of what the Diamondbacks and the Marlins used to wear around the same time frame.
#T206-19 Ichiro Team 206
Closing out pack #7 is another Future Hall of Famer who was 1 year removed from his rookie season back in 2002. Of all the Team 206 inserts I've pulled so far, the style of art which is quite different from the base card art seems to work better for Ichiro than it did for any other player.
#3 Garret Anderson
#57 Tsuyoshi Shinjo
This was one of the few names that I had absolutely no recollection of, so I took a quick minute to look Tsuyoshi Shinjo up online. Turns out he was the very first Japan-born player to play in the World Series when he was on the Giants in 2002. Although his MLB career lasted just 3 seasons, he played successfully in Japan before and after playing in the MLB.
Fun fact; he also took home $10 million dollars in the Japanese version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
#20 Todd Helton
I've been starting to wonder how much longer Helton will be Mr. Rockie for. If Nolan Arenado stays in Colorado long enough, say for most of his career, will he eclipse Helton for the title? Or will Helton's legacy as the first Rockie great be enough to maintain his legacy?
#14 Kerry Wood
Another example of how absolutely amazing these blurred colored backgrounds look, especially when they have the same blue and red that Wood is wearing on his Chicago Cubs jersey.
#164 Kirby Puckett
#147 Brian Rogers
#85 Joe Kennedy Mini Polar Bear Back
Even being a mini card, the various shades and colors used on this card seem to work better than nearly any other card I've seen in this box so far.
#T206-8 Derek Jeter Team 206
It seems like these Team 206 cards are always a really good way to cap off a post. Not only do they almost always feature good names, but the art on these cards is some of my favorite that I've seen so far, even if it is a bit out of the ordinary.