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Cards On The Table: Topps '14 Design Kinda Blah

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Topps released their baseball cards for the 2014 season this week and they were... in a word... uninspiring.

Last year, Topps went big in promoting their 2013 card set.
Last year, Topps went big in promoting their 2013 card set.

When I was a boy, growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s, a new season of baseball cards was something to be anticipated.

For weeks leading up to spring training, I would excitedly await the release of that year's new baseball cards. What would the design look like? What would be on the backs of the cards? How would Topps' design be different from Fleer and Donruss and Upper Deck? Which players would be included?

Even though I'm no longer a collector, I still look forward to the yearly unveiling of new baseball cards. Sadly, because of the demise of the industry and Major League Baseball's exclusive deal with Topps, we only have one brand to look forward to nowadays. So I was a little disappointed when I saw the new 2014 Topps baseball cards, released on Wednesday.


Kinda boring, right? In fact, it looks a WHOLE lot like last year's cards.


I mean, what did Topps really do, other than move the team logo from the bottom right-hand side of the card to the bottom left-hand side? A slight change to the font used on the name of the player? It's still the same, plain, boring white border with a standard picture of the player in the middle.

Cardboard Connection did a good job breaking down the 2014 Topps set, but I'm a bit unimpressed. However, I've been unimpressed with the design of baseball cards since the early '90s, when the industry blew up and there were 85 different card sets released every year.

One design from the '14 Topps set that IS very cool is their Heritage Baseball series...


...which begs the question, why not make ALL the cards look like this? I mean, that's a fantastic design! Why were card designs from the '50s through the '80s SO much better than today's, when there are far superior materials (computer graphics and art) that should give Topps the ability to do some truly creative things?

From their Heritage series, here's Babe Ruth using the 1989 Topps design, which is bitchin' on a whole bunch of levels...


They also have a series of different-colored foil cards, like this Yu Darvish jawn in red foil, which is actually pretty sharp...


And Andrew McCutchen in gold...


ALL the cards in this set should have had a colored border around them, not just a special subset of cards.

But see, that's what Topps does nowadays. It's not enough to just make a set of cards that have a cool design and a small handful of inserts in the series. No, there has to be four, five, 11 jillion different specialty series now, so that half the time you don't even know what year a card came from simply by looking at it.

For example, when you see this card, you know what year and brand it is.


I mean, that's Steve Jeltz, 1985 Topps. I'd know it from a million miles away. (And straight-up kudos on the jheri curl, Steve-o). And one of my all-time favorite designs from Topps was from 1984 and is easily recognizable...


Von Hayes. So slender. So blue.

Maybe I'm old-school, but I appreciated the old cardboard baseball cards without the shiny gloss on them. The cardboard used by Topps now is so shiny and glossed, and you don't get the bubble gum stain on the back of the cards either.


Man, I am really old and cranky. Next up, I'm going to rail at social media, TVs that are way too big and the disgusting fascination with Taco Bell tacos that use Doritos for the shell. Blech.

And what about the incredibly useful trivia that used to be on the back of baseball cards? Where did that go?


I mean, who doesn't want to know about Tom Glavine's failed ice hockey career?

*no one raises their hands*

I didn't think so.

As for the Phillies, here's a quick peek at some of the players featured this year by Topps...


OMG that Mike Schmidt faux 1989 card. I... MUST... HAVE...

At the end of the day, Topps is the only game in town, which means they don't have to go out of their way to be creative. All the special subsets in the '14 set are nice, but the main card design is disappointing.

Oh well. Back to flipping through my '88 Donruss rated rookies.