Additionally, the SII checklist actually offers a fairly healthy selection of cards I need for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection. With that rationalization in mind, on our last trip to the Bullseye, I added a hanger box to our shopping cart filled with potato chips, cheese balls, and mini tubes of toothpaste:
Not wanting to drop a twenty on a blaster, I figured a 72-card hanger box for a ten-spot gave me the best opportunity to grab a few cards that I wanted and protect my wallet. I mean, I want to have some spending money for vacation. Anyway, my initial daliance with the annual summer update to Topp's Flagship checklist was both good and bad... and I haven't quite decided how I feel about the product yet. Please allow me to elaborate and come to a decision along the way.
Out of the 72 cards contained within the cardboard container, a surprisingly healthy amount featured my favorite team. All told, from this hanger pack, I was able to walk away with one-third of the Cubs portion of the checklist, including the first Major League card of back-up catcher, Vic Caratini. Not bad, considering my luck with retail purchasing often results in snake-eyes.
Yu Darvish was not one of the Cubs that I pulled, the card that I most want out of this particular product. Series II marks the first appearance for the Chicago's big free agent signing in blue pinstripes in a traditional, pack-based product... although he does appear as a Cub in the premium, print-to-order Topps Now Road to Spring Training money grab.
Oh well. Them's the breaks.
While I was not so fortunate as to pull Darvish's first Cubs card, I was lucky enough to come across Justin Wilson's maiden appearance. I must admit, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that a lefty reliever made the checklist. So far, we've seen a back-up catcher and a LOOGY show up in this post - that's a good sign for a more inclusive future.
Factual errors. While Justin Wilson was acquired at last year's summer trade deadline, part of why he was brought in was that he came with a year and a half remaining on his contract. Thus, as underlined above, someone was not well-informed when they typed up the information for the backside. Justin was not a free agent over the winter.
Nit-picky? For sure, but fans notice these things.
In addition to the actual Cubs, there was a nice variety of former Cubs also included within. These old friends will make great additions to my Cubs of a Different Color binder. In fact, that "Straily Dan" might just make it into my CATRC binder on the strength of those glorious socks. After all, the short-term Cub never appeared on a true Cubs card.
Also, boy oh boy does Welly Castillo look weird as a White Sox... sock?
One of those former Cubs was the abusive Aroldis Chapman... blech.
I don't know that this is actually a good thing - more like a neutral to me - but, there was a good amount and a variety of inserts included within the 72-card hanger box. Luckily for me, while none of them were Cubs, most of them were of highly trade-able players. Also, perhaps that 1983-inspired, Bryce Harper insert will come in handy for my CATRC at some point this offseason...
Do we really need a whole insert set based around a player with one year of MLB experience?
Look Topps, we know you got caught with your pants down when Bellinger broke out last year and you've been trying to make up for it since, but a whole set revolving around this guy is a bit much. Inevitably, it's filled with generic fluff, seeing as the guy has only been around for one season. No matter how great that season was, you're going to run out of legitimate things to talk about really quick.
I'm a Cubs fan and I thought the Kris Bryant-centric insert from last year's product was a bit premature... this is just ridiculous.
I hate to end this exercise on two bad things in a row; but, unfortunately, I've simply run out of nice things to say. As you can see with Steven Wright above, factual errors weren't the only mistakes made with my hanger pack. Right across Steve's forehead, you can see where the card was stamped by the machine intending to seal the inner cello pack. Either that, or this is just a really weird idea for a rare parallel.
Wright was the very first card I pulled out of the pack and, sadly, he wasn't the only one who showed this damage:
The sealer was strong enough that it left it's mark on not one, not two, but the first FOUR cards in the hanger pack. Luckily for me, these weren't any of the cards that I was chasing, but that's disappointing quality control. I'm just grateful that my Justin Wilson was found more towards the middle of the pack and spared.
In conclusion, on the positive side, I ended up with more current and former Cubs than usual from a retail purchase, saw a deeper look at the roster than is normally expected, landed one of my main targets, and pulled a variety of inserts. On the negative side,when it comes to legitimate gripes, there were factual and production errors that marred the pack and a wholly unnecessary insert set to boot. All in all, I must say that my experience with Series Two was decidedly blah - not great, not terrible... just blah.
How do you feel about SII? Have you opened any of the product yet? If so, did you notice any of the issues that I had with the set? Was my pack-ripping experience an aberration? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.