Grand Cards: Breaking Down the Group Break: Target "Throwback" Edition

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking Down the Group Break: Target "Throwback" Edition

Well, that actually went pretty well! Maybe not quite as well as the last break, as two of the Commemorative Patch cards were unclaimed and the third blaster was full of doubles. However, we pulled some different cards, and on balance, most teams actually came away the same or better than they did on the last break. Perhaps taking some of the luster off of this break was the fact that these cards just aren't as unique or cool as the Walmart "Black" cards, so pulling a typical player doesn't carry with it the same cache as it did in the other break.

Having spent the better part of a day sorting through and looking at these cards, I have found that I actually like them a lot. The common complaint that I've heard is that they are not really distinguishable from the base set. That is true. The "throwback" logo on the front is really not that special--at least not as special as I would have expected it to feel when I first saw the cards. Yet, as is often the case in card collecting, the pictures do not do these cards justice. Printing this set on a gray cardboard stock is tremendous. Even if it didn't harken back to my days as a young collector, these cards just feel "right." If you pulled a person off of the street and stuck one of these cards in their right hand and a regular base card in their left and asked them to close their eyes and tell you which one they prefer, they would go with these throwbacks. They are that much nicer to handle.

Therein lies the problem. By releasing these cards after the initial release of Series 1, most people have already bought the regular cards. If they've decided to pursue the set, there is little motivation to pursue a set of the "throwbacks" as well. Contrast that to the "Black" cards, which are fundamentally different in both look and feel and that extra motivation is there. However, in the event that somebody was on the fence about collecting the set and stumbled upon the "throwbacks," I believe that they would choose to collect that set over the regular issue. Maybe I don't know enough about these things, but Topps should learn a lesson from this--could it be time to switch the regular set back to cardboard? I know there have been calls for this from other blogs, but here is the first direct comparison from cards from the same set and I think the cardboard wins out. I wouldn't mind seeing what they look like in a Matte finish too, but baby steps, people.

So, back to our break (In alphabetical order of Claimed teams):

Angels: 6 Throwbacks
Cubs: 5 Throwbacks, 1 Toppstown
Dodgers: 7 Throwbacks (1 Double)
Indians: 9 Throwbacks (3 Doubles), 4 Toppstown (3 Doubles), 1 Toppstown Gold
Marlins: 10 Throwbacks (2 Doubles)
Mets: 11 Throwbacks (2 Doubles), 1 Toppstown
Orioles: 6 Throwbacks, 1 Legends of the Game
Phillies: 13 Throwbacks (3 Doubles), 1 Toppstown, 1 Gold
Rays: 10 Throwbacks (2 Doubles), 1 Toppstown
Red Sox: 11 Throwbacks, 4 Toppstown (3 Doubles), 1 Gold
Reds: 6 Throwbacks (1 Double), 1 Toppstown, 1 Toppstown Gold
Tigers: 3 Throwbacks, 1 Turkey Red (Granderson!), 1 Gold
Twins: 5 Throwbacks, 1 Toppstown Gold
White Sox: 6 Throwbacks (1 Double), 1 Toppstown, 1 Turkey Red (Quentin)
Yankees: 10 Throwbacks (3 Doubles), 2 Toppstown (1 Double), 1 Gold, 1 Comm. Patch (Ruth)

The final call: Most teams did the same or better than last time (in terms of "base" cards), even with the doubles taken into consideration. Breaking down the net base card haul for each team compared to the Walmart Break (because really, the "base" cards are why we did this break in the first place, to help build our team sets):

Angels: +0 (same number of unique base cards)
Cubs: +0
Dodgers: -3
Indians: -1
Marlins: +0
Mets: +2
Orioles: +3
Rays: +0
Red Sox: -1
Tigers: -2
White Sox: +0
Yankees: -4

For returning teams, then, we did 6 cards worse as a group than we did on the last break--almost entirely because of the doubles. Unfortunately, Night Owl may have had the roughest break comparatively, as he also had a treasure trove of inserts to live up to. Still, 7 teams did the same or better than last time, compared to the 5 teams who did worse, so by that measure it wasn't too bad.

I certainly had fun doing this again and I hope that you all enjoyed the break and that these cards help you out with your aspiring team sets. Thank you very, very much for participating, as I couldn't have done it without you.

If there is enough interest, I plan on doing this again come Series 2, which I know is down the road a ways. I may tweak a couple things (like giving multi-player cards away at the end based on who has fewer, instead of via randomization, trying to add 1-2 more teams to lower the cost for everyone back to $5), but I think that, in general, these two breaks went pretty well. As always, if you have any questions, or would like to add some additional cards to your lot before I send them out (as part of a trade, for example), you can always Email Me. Also, since I came up woefully short of putting a team set of Tigers together, I will trade heavily in anybody's favor to fill the remaining 6 holes that I need.

Enjoy your cards everyone!