Old hobby formats die hard
If you look at the biggest failures of the last few years for Topps, two factors are recurring themes: mini cards and novelty factory sets. Topps Mini was a no-show at this year’s national convention after last year’s version hit 75% off at the Topps web site. Bowman Chrome Mini has been a tough sell even at 50% off the wholesale price (and shows no signs of coming back for 2015). Topps Heritage High Number ditched the factory set format after two years of dismal sales and turned into one of the best products of the year. 2015 was the year of Topps learning its lessons, apparently.
But old habits die hard. Unable to resist temptation, Topps dipped back into the well of failure twice in late 2015. Topps Mini returned in factory set form, embodying the worst of both worlds and trying to make work what even Bowman Chrome couldn’t succeed at. And Topps Heritage ’51 Collection came seemingly out of nowhere, adding a fourth 2015 Topps baseball product to the Heritage lineup. The only one in factory set form. And with lots of minis! This is not the product the hobby needed or wanted, though it isn’t without redeeming value. Not entirely.
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The firsts keep coming
2015 Bowman brought consistency to the convoluted Topps parallel system. After several months of smooth sailing, 2015 Bowman Chrome kept the same formula (a first, at least among recent years) and brought us the first Kevin Plawecki base Rookie Cards and the first MLB-licensed autographs from Akeel Morris, Jhoan Urena, Milton Ramos, and Michael Conforto? Um, what’s his 2014 Bowman Draft autograph doing here?
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A case of life imitating art?
When the World Series rosters were announced today, there was only one small change on the Mets side – Juan Uribe is back! After missing the NLDS and NLCS due to injury, clubhouse sensation Uribe was back on the roster, not quite 100 percent but good enough to get a spot. And why not? It’s not like the Mets have been relying on their bench for much in the postseason. Uribe’s presence alone is a big add.
But it came at a price. Matt Reynolds, who seemed due for a 2015 debut at the start of the season, only made it onto an active roster in October because of Ruben Tejada’s injury in the NLDS. He did not appear in the remaining three games of the NLDS. And he did not appear in the four-game NLCS sweep. And then he was bumped off the World Series roster for Uribe. An improbable postseason MLB debut now looked impossible (barring another shortstop injury). But for Matt Reynolds, this is nothing new. Story of his life, in cardboard at least.
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In which I praise Topps for getting (some) things right
The evolution of the Bowman brand has been interesting lately. Since the last major redesign in 2012, Bowman has added ice parallels, wave refractors, and mini shimmer refractors, removed the First Bowman Card designation, added a new 1st Bowman designation, introduced Bowman Black autographs, confused collectors with 2013 Kris Bryant Bowman Chrome autographs in 2014 products, added wrapper redemptions, ended wrapper redemptions, dropped the pretense of a “base set” in Bowman Draft, and much, much more. After three years of incremental improvements, Topps reshuffled the deck in 2015 and brought order to an increasingly chaotic product.
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No first round pick? No problem.
Full list of 2015 Mets draft picks
Thanks to the Michael Cuddyer signing, the Mets didn’t make their first pick in the 2015 draft until #53. While you can understand (even if you don’t agree with) the reasoning behind reluctantly giving up a first round pick when the goal is to win now, it certainly makes it hard to get excited about the draft. The Mets had to be hoping that some signable top talent would fall into the second round. As a collector, I was just hoping for someone who would make it into the fall’s autograph lineup (though last year’s top Mets pick Michael Conforto is still waiting for his Bowman Chrome autograph, due out this Friday). September is here and there is reason to hope for some nice prospect autographs from this group in the coming months.
With their top pick, the Mets took Desmond Lindsay, who was left off most amateur top prospect lists due to injury. The Mets obviously thought he was worth the risk and saw him as clear first-round talent. So far, he has performed well enough to earn a promotion to Brooklyn and should be the obvious choice for a Mets representative in upcoming draft products.
Once again, this year’s draft class had plenty of autographs available on draft day thanks to Leaf. After Lindsay, Max Wotell, Thomas Szapuki, Sixto Torres, Brendan Illies, and L.T. Tolbert (who apparently goes by a variety of names) all have Leaf Perfect Game autographs. Of them, all but the last two signed with the Mets.
2014 Mets Draft Class Autographs
2013 Mets Draft Class Autographs
2012 Mets Draft Class Autographs
2011 Mets Draft Class Autographs