Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

This never happens.

Normally, when a new baseball card product is scheduled to hit store shelves, I won't see it for a week or longer.  The local Target and their assigned vendor are dreadfully slow when it comes to bringing out the new stuff.  For example, the first time I saw the 2019 edition of Topps Flagship in the card aisle at this location was last night. I don't know why this is other than the fact that I'm probably the only pasteboard obsessed nut who pays any attention; thus the priority isn't there.  At any rate, I've resigned myself to having to wait a couple of weeks before I get the chance to sample the latest and greatest product from Topps or Panini. 

Last night, my wife and I made a quick pit stop at the red bullseye to pick up some essentials for our upcoming, weekend road trip to Kentucky to visit some family.  Of course, I am quite easily distracted and soon pealed off to take a quick peek in the cardboard aisle.  I was pleased to see that Series One had finally made it's way out onto the racks and thought about maybe grabbing my second pack of the product, as a treat.  But, then I noticed something strange... the Heritage packs that I saw underneath of Flagship didn't look like last year's edition...  could it possibly be? 

Yes, it could.  Despite the fact that they weren't supposed to officially drop until today, my notoriously slothy Target had actually put out 2019 Heritage a full day early.  Huzzah!

Talk about a sudden turnaround - I didn't expect to see this rehash of 1970 Topps on Target shelves until at least March.  There's simply no way that I could let this sudden timeliness go unrewarded, so I excitedly grabbed a pack and made my way back to road trip prepping.  I would have loved to grab a rack pack or even a blaster because it was all out there, but, unfortunately, I cannot trade extra baseball cards for gasoline.  At least, I don't think I can... I've never tried to do so.

Anyway, after filling up our cart with the proper car snacks and travel-sized toiletries, the wife and I made our way back to the homestead, where I gleefully tore into the wax wrapper that you see above.  Sure - I could have been packing; however, that's not nearly as fun as ripping into surprise baseball cards, is it?

Even better, this unexpected purchase yielded my first Cubs card on the young season:

And it's a wonderfully-composed photograph of Jose Quintana that gets the honor.  The home pinstripes will always be the best of the Cubs' wardrobe and I will never sway from that opinion.  And, maybe just because it's finally spring training after a long winter, but the obvious Cactus League facility in which Jose is posed, framed with a beautiful blue sky, truly warms my cockles.  This card is the perfect reminder that baseball is back!

Of course, this year's version of Heritage pays tribute to the 1970 release of Topps Baseball - so, let's compare and see how the old bubblegum company did in recreating their previous work:

Please excuse the ratty condition of my Jimmie Hall card - it was the only '70 single I could dig up in a timely manner.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the difference in color between the team designations on the two.  That said, this is a characteristic that changed from card to card and wasn't even consistent within team ranks.  Yellow, red, black, and white are all used, seemingly without any rhyme or reason, throughout the checklist.  So, can't knock them there.  Plus, all of the fonts look right on the money (maybe the position listing is a touch bolder in 2019) - hell, in fact, the script for the name plate looks like a perfect match.  Overall, I'd say that Topps did a phenomenal job in bringing 1970 back to life!

The backs are pretty much the same too, although I forgot to scan an original for comparison, except with the now necessary "legal-ese" found added at the bottom.    Again, they seem pretty faithful to the original design.

Here's hoping that Jose can rediscover the form that allowed him to striek out 12 men in his Cubs debut, as spotlighted in the comic.  Although, he's be a decent mid-rotation contributor since his July 2017 acquisition, the Cubbies paid a premium price to add the lefty to the fold and, no doubt, expected him to perform at a top-of-the-rotation level.  If he can up his game in 2019, that would go a long way towards the Cubs making another World Series run and alleviating the pain that Cubs fans will feel whenever Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease debut across town.

Oh... and as for the other 8 cards that I found within the pack:

A Ray that I know little about and Ryan Braun... swing and a miss.

A pair of exceptionally similar looking cards of AL players.   Seriously, they're almost posed exactly the same!

Padres hot-pack!  Does that Lucchesi look Photoshopped to you or am I losing my mind?  Speaking of Joey, he was the first pitcher of the 2016 draft to reach the Majors and has one of the most interesting windups in baseball:

Whatever works for you, I guess.

We cap things off with a Postseason highlights subset single, honoring Jack Bradley, Jr.'s dramatic grandslam against the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS, and a "Then & Now" insert which draws a comparison between Minnesota's Jim Perry and Tampa Bay's Blake Snell, the Cy Young winners in 1970 and 2018, respectively.

I love cards that showcase pitcher grips like Snell does on his half of the latter card.  It screams, "you couldn't hit this pitch even if you knew what was coming!"

With that, we've reached the end of my first pack of 2019 Heritage, technically opened a day before they were even supposed to have been released.  Any pack in which I pull a Cub is a definitive success, especially so when I wasn't even expecting to buy cards upon leaving my apartment.  Although, before I wrap this up, I want to point out one more thing about the Q card that I pulled:

I don't know if that's purposeful, artificial aging or a printing defect found on the right portion of the white border which frames the player picture, but that line is definitely runny.  I noticed this on one other card found within my pack; however, the rest of the cards had crisp, clean frames all the way around.  I know how Topps loves their subtle variations, like fake gum stains and sparkles.  Does anyone know if this is some sort of variation, parallel, or maybe even some how a subtle tribute to the original set?  Or, is that wonkiness just a legitimate defect?  Now that I've noticed, I cannot get my mind off of this oddity.

At any rate, I'm happy to have my first Cubs card of the year in just my second sampling of 2019 packs.  That Q card will likely be swapped into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection as his representation in my marquee collection.  Thus, I can safely declare this purchase to be a win.  Additionally, I am optimistic that my local Target will now be a little more timely with future stocking.  Perhaps that was their New Year's Resolution this year?  Of course, I'll find out on March 6th, with the release of Panini's Donruss.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I should probably get back to prepping for our upcoming weekend getaway.  I wonder if the clerks at Speedway or Mobil would take my Profar or Braun for $20 worth of unleaded?


  1. Looks like Topps just did a poor paint job on Quintana's borders. If it's an intentional variation I'd be varry annoyed.

    Also, the Profar and Romine are eerily similar. I've never seen anything like it, not even in Heritage. The Bradley is cool though. I'd trade a gallon of gas for that one :)

  2. Those look at lot better than I thought they would. If I found a pack of Heritage in the wild like that, I'd be all over it too.

  3. Wow, I had never seen Lucchesi's delivery before. E-gads!
    Profar moved to the A's over the winter... when do we start getting players in updated uniforms?

  4. Glad you were able to find Heritage in your area. Normally I'd be excited to see it at my local Target, but this year I'm going to stay away from retail as much as possible. Maybe I'll stumble across a complete set of Heritage at some point... if not I won't be shedding any tears.

  5. Both of the Padres cards you pulled look a bit "worked on" if you ask me. Which you kind of did. Congrats on getting to open the pack a day early! That's serendipitous. Enjoy your trip south.