I hope everyone had a good Easter (or Passover… or just a nice weekend.) It sure feels like yesterday’s 60 degree spring-like weather was the April Fool’s Day joke, because we woke up to snow (again) this morning.
The Yankees’ home opener has already been postponed, and who knows if the Mets can clear the snow from Citi Field’s seats in time to play tonight’s game.
So today’s a good day to look at the Topps Opening Day baseball cards I got for Easter. While Opening Day is overlooked by most collectors, I enjoy it because it’s about the closest I can get to reliving the experience of opening baseball cards when I was a kid.
Opening Day packs are cheap, usually a dollar. They have a decent number of cards in them (by 21st Century standards, anyway.) And given the unlikelihood of pulling any autographs or memorabilia cards, if you’re opening Opening Day, you’ve got to actually want the base cards or the fun “regular” insert sets.
There are two reasons that Opening Day isn’t perfect. Number one: except for a few Series 2 previews and PhotoShop uniform swaps, Opening Day cards are rehash of the Topps Series 1 cards that came out in February.
Number two: Opening Day has a limited checklist – just 200 cards. The positive to that point is that you’re much more likely to have at least one star player in every pack.
Opening Day’s March release spot does give Topps a little more time to do things like add our first rookie card for Angels’ pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (who impressed in his Major League pitching debut on Sunday.)
I’m kinda happy Topps used a press conference photo for this card – I love getting to see them on cardboard because they represent that time of optimism where your team’s new star player can do no wrong. There will be plenty of time for game action photos later. (I can’t wait to see what the card designers at Topps and Panini decide to do about including hitting and pitching stats on Ohtani’s cards next year.)
While Ohtani’s rookie card is the draw for Opening Day this year, usually the inserts are the big thing. Card collectors who like mascots have to go for Opening Day. This year’s set also includes Team Traditions & Celebrations inserts, as well as an Opening Day subset and a Before Opening Day insert set.
I love the mascots and I think the Team Traditions & Celebrations set is a fun new idea. The other two leave me a bit flat.
The Opening Day cards have cool photos, but the backs are focused on how the teams did on Opening Day 2017…and that leaves them feeling a bit dated. If I were writing the copy for the card backs, I’d go with a more general focus. Maybe a particular team is unusually successful on Opening Day, or they have an active Opening Day winning streak. Maybe there’s a star player who does particularly well on Opening Day. Something…
The Before Opening Day insert set is worse, because the photos aren’t even that interesting. I’m pretty sure I don’t care which players had good springs in 2018. I know I don’t care about 2017 spring training performances. Hopefully this insert theme gets retired.
Other odds & ends:
- The Mets split the final two games of their Opening Weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Yoenis Cespedes and Jacob deGrom led the Mets to victory on Saturday, while Steven Matz brought his spring training struggles into the regular season on Sunday as the Cardinals won their first game of 2018.
- Anthony Swarzak is the first Met to fall to injury during the regular season. He left Sunday’s game with a strained left oblique and is due to be reexamined today…. with the Mets being the Mets, he could be fine and barely miss any time, or he could be headed to the disabled list and never seen again.
- In better injury news, Jason Vargas is making progress and Michael Conforto could be back on Thursday.
- The Mets are wearing a commemorative patch to honor the late Rusty Staub, but Uni-Watch’s Paul Lukas points out that the design doesn’t really work very well.
- The Yankees signed former Met Oliver Perez to a minor league contract on Saturday. I thought Perez was done when the Mets released him in 2011, but he’s had a nice second career as a lefty bullpen specialist. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Bronx sometime this season.
- Gabe Kapler has been a hot mess in his first weekend as the Philadelphia Phillies manager. The “highlight” was when he brought in a reliever who wasn’t even warming up on Saturday. Under the new pace of play rules, Phillie reliever Hoby Milner wasn’t entitled to the full warmup time he was given by umpire Jerry Layne. Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker was upset and ultimately ejected, but Kapler didn’t receive any consequences beyond a formal warning letter from Major League Baseball. (Rob Manfred might want to think about giving his pace of play rules teeth or scrapping them.) We’ll get to see if Kapler is done with Unlimited Bullpen Works or not, since the Phillies are due to open a three game series with the Mets tonight.