Friday, August 26, 2016
Topps NOW - you got me, at least for today
I’ve been sucked in.
I had no intentions of buying any Topps NOW cards this year. For the most part, I was probably bitter because the Yankees have been so boring this year (slash last four years) with a lack of truly likeable players. Don’t get me wrong, there are several guys on the team I like as a players, but not really enough to fork over $10 on one of their cards, especially one lacking some ink. And sure I like Brett Gardner, but ehh, not enough to plop over $10.
There would be exceptions, of course, like if Big Mike decided to throw a no-hitter (or how about allow no runs with 2 outs?) but the team has been so mediocre and that there just hasn’t been a lot of Topps NOW moments. Until now. Or until NOW, that is.
I can imagine Topps has been salivating over an exciting Yankees team to pair with their print-on-demand product, and they’ve finally got some iteration of that. While the Yankees are still mediocre and mid-pack, they are refreshingly more exciting than they were at this time last month. The youth movement has begun, and Topps NOW moments are seemingly happening every day.
Take this for example:
Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge hitting back-to-back HRs in their ML debuts in their first at bats for their first hits. Whew. Yes, that is a moment I want on a card.
I get it. Topps is capitalizing on Yankee fans with holes burning in their pockets, eager to be part of the season narrative this set offers. I also know Topps, based on what they’ve done over the past two weeks, is going to continue to roll out Gary Sanchez an Aaron Judge cards for moments not quite NOW-worthy in order to continue luring Yankee fans to spend. Every homer Gary Sanchez hits is going to have some sort of qualifier attached to it. Nine HRs in first 21 games. Then it’ll be 10 in first 25. Then it’ll be “Fastest to 11 HRs among mid-season call-ups” then it’ll be “Finishes runner up in AL Player of the Week” followed by “Sanchez throws out two more base stealers.”
But for now, I’ve been caught up in the youth movement, and I want to remember it, hence my two Topps NOW purchases. I know it’s very un-Yankee like to be excited by a team with a slim chance at the second wild card. A lot of people are saying “my, how times have changed.” "That's not what the Yankees stand for." I look at it differently. It has that feeling of 1993, 1994, 1995. When you could feel the Yankees were on the cusp of bigger things and of better results. That’s how it feels now. I’m not excited about trying to chase down the second wild card, although if that does happen, cool. I’m excited about what these last few months are going to be setting up – a young, exciting team that will make us forget the Lyle Overbays and Brian Roberts and Vernon Wells of the past few years. It signifies turning a corner with a young, likeable team…or at least that’s how I am choosing to look at it.
Not to mention, it's made watching the games a lot more enjoyable. You literally cannot miss a Gary Sanchez at bat right now. They are each drop-what-you-are-doing moments. It feels like when Yasiel Puig first came up. Every at bat of his was must see. Obviously, I hope the long-term results are better, but it's got that same level of excitement.
As for the cards themselves, I was actually a little surprised. Other people who have reviewed them set the bar very low, and I was expecting a very poor quality card. The cards actually exceeded the small expectations I had. I didn’t expect them to be so glossy either. I’d actually ask for a little less gloss. They are slippery as heck.
The soft toploader is frustrating, as others have mentioned, but that's clearly how it's going to be for free shipping. I bet if Topps offered a "add toploader for $.50" option, they'd have a lot of takers.
I do wish they were serially numbered, or at least had something to signify the print run, such as 1 of 1200 or something. Maybe next year as Topps gets better at this.
These are the last two I’ll buy directly from Topps, as I’ve already realized that you can immediately get them for a few bucks cheaper on eBay. All in all, not a bad effort, and hopefully the Yankees have some more truly Topps NOW moments in the last month of the season, such as “Mateo steals to home to clinch Wild Card spot” or “Frazier wines and dines Selter at Manhattan steakhouse.”