It isn’t really fair to call this a review, as this stack of cards was not acquired through packs that I purchased. Instead, I was able to go to my LCS, Collector’s Den, and rifle through stacks of cards. The owner was nice enough to keep some of the base cards as a way of enticing me back into the store. But I can’t complain, as I came away with a pile of cards that I needed for my collection.
The base set of Allen and Ginter’s always seems the same to me. Year after year, the same or similar pictures are used, with very little difference in the background or border. As an example, let’s look at the David Ortiz cards from the last few years, courtesy of COMC.com:
As you can see, these three cards are very similar. The border changes are minimal, and the images are repetitious; although the most recent, on the far right, shows Ortiz head on. Aside from that, these cards are too similar to gain my appreciation.
These repeated images and designs could be examined for most players in this set, but I will save you the time of further examination.
For the most part, Allen and Ginter’s relies on artists depictions of posed portraits, which is a shame. As most of cards look bland.
#196 Eddie Murray
#147 Mark McGwire
Here we have two of the most feared sluggers of all-time, and instead of showing them in the vicinity of a batters box or holding a bat, Topps decided to give us monotonous portraits. Murray’s card gets a few points for the vintage uniform and awesome afro, but McGwire looks like he is posing for his driver’s license.
A & G didn’t get it totally wrong with the base cards. Those that show action are solid-looking cards.
# 115 Dustin Pedroia
#186 Billy Hamilton
These are two of my favorite cards from the base set. Topps was very smart in choosing to use action images that represent the strongest aspects of these players abilities. For Pedroia, his glove work is shown, as he turns two. While in years past he has been an offensive threat, his defense is what sets him apart. Hamilton, on the other hand, is a threat with his speed. Showing him bunting isn’t the best choice, but he has brought back the bunt for a base hit. Hamilton should be treated like Rickey Henderson, Topps should try to capture his base running skills on most of his cards.
Aside from the base set, there is only one other insert that is focused on baseball, Pastime’s Pastimes. I am not interested in the non-baseball cards, which is one of my complaints about this set. So I really only had to get a handful of cards to round out my collection.
I absolutely love the look of these cards. The black background really enhances the image, and black goes with everything, so all of the player images really pop. Sure there are issues with black bordered cards: any flaws are easily seen. But I don’t care. These look amazing.
PP-AM, Andrew McCutchen
PP-DW, David Wright
PP-JA, Jose Altuve
Here are a trio of current stars that look fantastic on these cards. The images stand out against the backgrounds, and the text adds to the overall flow of the cards.
These inserts are focused on what these players do in their down time. As such, the back of the cards give a blurb about hobbies, interests, and off the field endeavors.
PP-TW, Ted Williams
Here is the back of Ted Williams’ card; it explains the time that he spent in the service of our country and his love for fishing.
The back of the cards is hit or miss. Sometimes the information is interesting and other times it explains that a player loves his family. However, the front of the cards is what is important, and in that regard, this insert is the best part of the entire set.
Overall, 2014 Allen and Ginter’s is similar to year’s past in its design and player images. However, its strengths lie in two areas: checklist and inserts. A & G has crushed it with its checklist. I can find no fault in the player selection: strong rookies, rising stars, superstars, veterans, and hall of famers. Each group is well represented, as are most teams.
The Pastime’s Pastimes is the best part of this set and perhaps will encourage Topps to step away from the cream-colored background and be more bold with next year’s design.