Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More 2011 Topps Firsts

After hitting up a Target store for my first foray into 2011 Topps territory, this past weekend was all about a trip to Wal-Mart. Fortunately, my trips to this chain are few and far between. Living in Portland, I feel fortunate that there's absolutely zero reason to go to a Wal-Mart for any other reason other than to satisfy my curiosity about certain retail exclusive baseball cards. The only Wal-Mart within reasonable driving distance of the city's core barely carries any baseball cards anyway, but I was able to dig behind some other tossed over products to get 5 single packs and one of the Wal-Mart exlusive 9.99 boxes. These are basically replacing cereal boxes this year, but they're not nearly as "cute" or interesting. You get an extra 12 cards over the single packs (or the same number of cards as two jumbo retail packs) and a guaranteed code card, but instead of an exclusive refractor insert you get a plain old fashioned exclusive non-refractor insert. More on that in a minute.

First Wal-Mart Exclusive (This is the Blue Diamond insert - the Democratic counterpart to the Republicans' Red Diamonds over at big bad Target. Or wait... Target is Red because they're no good commies. Something like that. Anyway, these basically look like ToppsTown without the codes.)

First Stephen Strasburg (I wonder how many people have already lost a fortune on this young man. I would be willing to be that he will never ever be as popular as he was early on last year, even if he goes on to have a long and successful career.)

First Cardinals Base Card (It only took until the 12th pack that I opened, but I finally pulled a Cardinal card that's not an insert. Of course, it's one of those three player subset cards. I still like these because they remind me of the '80s and before, but I also wouldn't mind seeing these go away for awhile.)

First Mickey Mantle Card (It's a Lost Card, which I guess means it covers a year that there was no Topps Mantle card made - 1954. All I know is that Topps finally doesn't seem like they're cramming Mantle cards down our throat as much as they're just giving him the Derek Jeter treatment and including him in everything. As long as there are no 500+ card insert sets dedicated to one single player, I'm fine with it.)

First Code Card (Along with the guaranteed code in the $9.98 box, I also snagged one in one of the loose retail packs. Guess what I got, guys? A 1993 Dave Cochrane and a 1987 Calvin Schiraldi! Does anyone know the story with the $10 gift cards that you can redeem? I imagine that it would take $10 or more just to ship anything that costs $10 from their website, so I have no idea if it would even be worth it.)

First Mangled Card (Nick Markakis's Topps Town card was my first official casualty to the pack sealing process this year. If you look closely, you can see the rippled effect on the bottom of his card. Oddly enough, this is actually less subtle than those Topps Ticket to Stardom parallels from awhile back that were trying to be deckle edged.)

First Prospect SuperPhenom Rookie Card (I haven't reached the point where I hate Aroldis Chapman yet, likely because his appearances for the Reds were very limited last year. If there continues to be such a heated rivalry between Cincinnati and St. Louis next season, and all indications point to this continuing, then I'm sure that I will be less enthusiastic about owning this card.)

First Bedazzled Cardinals Card (All props to Erin for coming up with the most appropriate term for these ridiculous parallels. I kind of hate them. But don't, y'know, be discouraged from sending me the Cardinals versions of these.)

First Gold Parallel (Also... First Officially Retired Player? I generally am a big fan of the gold parallel cards, but these are probably going to get kicked to the curb in all of the diamond glitter bedazzled hysteria.)

As you can see, Topps unfortunately continued the cheap serial numbering introduced with last year's crop. They do pick up bonus points for appropriate placement of the serial number, however. (I was wondering what that dead space beneath the logo was for.) I realize that it's probably a lot cheaper to do it this way, but I miss the touch of class that came with the standard gold foil serial numbering.

First Exclusive Sapphire Blue Insert Card (Also known as Wal-Mart Hanger Pack exclusives - and here I was wondering what the WHP prefix on the card numbers were for. This is the replacement for the shiny refractors in the cereal boxes of the past two years, and it's pretty uninspiring. However, like most things, there's an Albert Pujols card to collect so I guess I still need that.)

First Cardinals Rookie Card (And finally, it was nice to actually see some real non-subset Cardinals base cards. I had to wait until the very end of the big box to see any of these. Descalso had a pretty nice low leverage debut stint late last year as the Cards were falling out of the division race. With the word that new acquisition Nick Punto will be sidelined for the next 2-3 months with a so-called sports hernia, I'm hopeful that Descalso will be given a fair shot at some playing time. I'm still pretty ticked off that Brendan Ryan was traded.)

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