I think it's safe to say that I've purchased fewer retail and hobby packs this year than I have previously done in 2016 as well as 2017, and I don't really consider that a bad thing considering how much new baseball cards have changed over the last couple of years.
I went a bit overboard in 2016 in terms of the blasters as well as some hobby boxes that I bought. Gypsy Queen, Heritage, Archives, and even Series 1 and 2 seemed so collectible and so easy to spend money on without truly noticing.
Then, 2017 came along and with it came 2 things. 1. Less desirable checklists AKA fewer players I collect and more rookies I've never heard of. 2. The cards became much scarcer at my local Target to the point where I wouldn't even bother going if, say, Allen & Ginter came out.
Despite running into bad luck in 2017, I've seen myself making more small, steady retail purchases in 2018 so far. For example, instead of going crazy for 2018 Gypsy Queen, I only bought 2 hobby packs. I never even went for 2018 Bowman and was quite minimal with Series 2. Therefore, I decided to start off the same way with 2018 Topps Stadium Club to see if I liked it enough to buy more even though I was pretty sure the answer would be yes.
I started off with 2 hobby packs of the set that I picked up on Sunday. Here's what I ended up pulling.
#89 Brandon Woodruff
My first impression is, like always, the set is very minimal and the camera quality is superb. I appreciate Topps not copying this design off one of Fleer's sets from a while ago which is what they did for the last 2 Stadium Club sets. I originally thought that having the player name over the team name would be tricky, but the different fonts and colors help make it work.
#91 Dustin Fowler
Even though I'm only 2 cards in, I can already see that they chose more spring training/warmup shots than they have in years past. I'm not completely opposed to these, but I generally prefer in-game shots for a set like Stadium Club which relies so heavily on photography.
#185 Jose Abreu
The Stadium Club backs for this year's set are pretty similar to what they've been each year since the revival of the brand in 2014. They include a stadium background along with a similar layout of information to what you see above. The unique thing about this years' backs are the seats which have different colors depending on the team the player is on.
#250 Mike Foltynewicz
#51 Taijuan Walker
Now, this is what I really like to see from Stadium Club. Even if the image is a little basic, there's so much space for it to stand out and the stellar camera quality is capable of elevating any image into an eye-catching card. There really is no other set like Topps Stadium Club, hence why it's been a fan-favorite for years.
#56 Jon Lester Black Foil Parallel
Okay, this is instantly going to become one of my favorite cards of the set. I mean, you never see a card of a pitcher batting in today's baseball card sets, let alone of a player I collect. Not to mention that this is one of the black foil parallels which happen to be relatively rare. Interesting how only the name and the Stadium Club logo is in black, not the team name or position.
#187 Dustin Pedroia
Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic to see a Cubs and a Red Sox card of players that I collect in my first ever pack of 2018 Topps Stadium Club. However, could someone please tell me what on earth this glove is and why it's almost larger than Dustin Pedroia?
#204 Charlie Blackmon
#104 Hunter Renfroe
#158 Dillon Maples
Maybe it's just me, but is it getting harder to stay on top of all the rookies in today's MLB? I mean, I do pay a fair amount of attention to the Cubs and what's going on with them and I have yet to hear anything about Dillon Maples. Either I don't watch enough baseball or Topps makes too many rookie cards. I think it's a combination of both.
#254 Jorge Alfaro
#179 Bryce Harper
Don't let the high socks distract you from the fact that Bryce Harper is hitting .216 and is currently in a position to be an NL All-Star game starter. Sometimes I really do hate fan voting. First Gary Sanchez and his sub .200 average and now this?
#106 Austin Barnes
#180 Ted Williams Sepia Parallel
I'm really upset at how this card turned out when I scanned it because when I first saw this card in person, it immediately became one of the greatest Topps Stadium Club cards I've ever seen in my life and maybe one of the greatest cards produced this decade.
#240 David Price
I'm sure whatever Price is thinking about in this photo can't be as bad as the 8 runs he gave up to the Yankees in the most important start of his Red Sox career last night as well as one of the most important games of 2018. I'm still hopeful for Price and praying that he can equal what he did years ago.
#123 Craig Kimbrel
4 Red Sox cards total including 3 in a row has culminated in a new card for the Kimbrel Collection as the last card of the 2 packs I've opened thus far. How fitting is that? An absolutely perfect way to wrap up these 2 packs and get me to buy more which I probably will.