Saturday, February 2, 2019

(Technically) My First Pack of the Year

If you count the silver pack that I opened yesterday as an actual set and not just a promotion than I suppose that quick pack opening would claim the title of the first pack I opened of the year. 

However, if we're going strictly off of sets and not counting promotional items than I suppose I'm actually opening my first pack of cards of the year today with my first 14-card pack from 2019 Topps Series 1 hobby.

Topps changed the number of cards per jumbo, hobby, and retail packs as well as blaster packs, hanger boxes, and likely value packs as well. This is likely due to their increasing of production of the Flagship set, resulting in fewer cards per hobby and jumbo box than there were in years past.

The difference wasn't too big of a deal for me, and I've been eager to get my hands on this release for months now. This year, I went for a whole hobby box of the set for a very good price at my LCS where, in previous years, I've simply purchased a couple blasters at the very most.

I'm trying to make the 24-pack hobby box last as long as I can since it's not every day that I get to open new packs of cards. Therefore, I'll be saving the full box recap for tomorrow while opening pack #1 today, allowing me to give my complete thoughts on the set design, photography, card backs, and more. 

It's always somewhat of a big deal to see whose card I pull first from Series 1, and I happen to remember the last couple years though not much before that. Here's a quick list of the first card pulled from the last few years.

2017; Andrew Cashner
2018; Adieny Hechavarria

And the first card pulled from 2019 Topps is...

#150 Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge! As you can tell from my 2017 and 2018 first cards, I'm not too used to pulling big names with my first card of a Series 1 pack. I had pretty great card collecting seasons in the years where I pulled some middle of the road names, so I'll be interested to see what 2019 has in store for me now that I've pulled Aaron Judge as my first card of the year.

#183 Freddie Freeman
As for the set design, I like it a lot more than I originally thought I would. Many people have pointed out how the cards are reminiscent of the 1982 Topps set which is something I definitely notice as well. 

With that being said, there are a few unique elements that help 2019 Topps stand on its own. Some, like the stellar photo variety, are great. Others, like the last name being on top of the first, don't really make much sense

#77 J.D. Martinez
The card backs are definitely one of the strongest points of the entire set. With full career stats making a return for the first time since 2016, Topps is relying less on the head-scratching social media usernames that they still feel the need to include. Instead, the dynamic card backs somewhat resemble the fronts while also reminding me slightly of the backs from 2018 Topps Big League.

#188 Matt Davidson
The half borders are definitely better than no borders, so Topps is at least making progress by steadily improving the design after the disaster that was 2016 Topps. I still don't quite understand why Topps can't just leave the picture alone and not have a weird disco pattern underneath the border, but I'll give them a break for improving on the Flagship set once again.

#50 Mookie Betts
Just like last year, I landed 2 different Red Sox cards out of my first pack of Topps Series 1. While this year features the 2 best hitters on their 2018 World Series team, Martinez and Betts, last year featured an insert of Mookie as well as a card of starting pitcher Rick Porcello. 

So far, Judge, Martinez, and Betts have come out of the first 5 cards of the pack. It's looking to me like 2019 will be a great year for card collecting.

#324 Logan Morrison
One thing I instantly took notice of was the improved quality and creativity with the photos on many of the cards so far. While past years would feature the same, boring pictures time and time again, I'm already seeing more landscape cards and more unique images than I have seen in many years. 

Pack #1 wasn't a fluke, by the way. The rest of the box features even more incredible and creative shots.

#220 Alex Colome
As I mentioned earlier, the card backs are truly something special as they feature just the right amount of color, less than 2017 and more than 2018. Full stats are back, finally, but my one issue with the card backs is the same concern that I have about the fronts. I'm struggling to see why the last name would be placed above the first. Simply put, it just doesn't make much sense.

#51 Michael Brantley 150th Anniversary Parallel
To celebrate 150 years of professional Baseball, Topps, among other things, is featuring 150th-anniversary parallels that can be found in 1 in every 6 packs. The gold foil Topps logo and the 150 years stamp are the only differences between this and a base card. 

Nothing for nothing, but either go full out with a gold foil design or something special with these cards. Otherwise, don't bother with a parallel that's merely a stamp in the bottom left corner.

#216 Bring It In
And just like that, we're back to base cards. Last year, I could open 10 or 12-card packs and expect 2 or maybe even 3 inserts or parallels. Now, the cards per pack, at least for the hobby packs, have been increased to 14, yet only 1 parallel card was found in the pack. 

I understand their need to produce more of the set, but it's unusual to only find 1 insert or parallel in a 14-card pack. I can't help but wonder if it's the same for retail as well.

#331 Cesar Hernandez
This year, the Phillies cards feature a new logo, the blue liberty bell with the Phillies team name in front. The new logo looks like a near-perfect fit on the cards and is definitely an improvement over the insignia they'd been using in past years. 

Also, notice the excellent image on this card. If nothing else, Topps is stepping up their game as far as the pictures go.

#239 Christian Yelich League Leaders
This is the 3rd year in a row that Topps has included individual league leaders cards rather than a combo card with the top 3 in major stat categories for each league. The more I think about it, the less a fan I become of the individual league leaders cards. 

It just doesn't seem all that necessary, for example, to have 3 different cards for the 2018 NL batting average leaders. Last time I checked, it worked out just fine when they were all combined onto 1 card.

#296 Lewis Brinson
The Marlins are another team to feature a new logo on their 2019 Topps Series 1 cards. Considering the total rebuild that the franchise is going under, I suppose they need something to excite the fans they have remaining. I personally didn't have a problem with the old logo, but I suppose I'm partial to the new one as well.

#337 Mychal Givens
I don't have anything to say about Mychal Givens. I don't have anything to say about this card either. Moving on to the 14th and final card of the pack.

#200 Jacob deGrom
2018 AL MVP, 2018 NL MVP, and the 2018 NL Cy Young award winners all in my first pack from 2019 Topps Series 1. Things appear to be looking up in 2019, and it's not just thanks to the cards I pulled in my first pack.

The design is definitely an improvement over the 2018 set which basically put you to sleep after 1 pack. Topps has been gradually making the sets better since 2016 by featuring better photographs, borders, and a cleaner design.

One thing I'm certainly excited for is 2019 Topps Chrome. These cards look awesome, and I'm stoked to see the chrome versions come late July or early August.

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