Every year I really want to like Topps Heritage, but over the past 10 years or so I am usually left disappointed at best and just downright bored at worst. My expectations for the 2021 Heritage set were not very high simply I am not a huge fan of the 1972 Topps set. I understand why some people love it, but it just never did it for me. Maybe if I was a few years older, I would appreciate the set more, but by the time I started collecting in 1986, the 72 set was in the "too old to care about, to new to be a classic" category. All I saw was a bunch of airbrushed photos that seemed cramped into a weird movie marquee border. As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate the 1972 design a bit more, but I still have a bit of my youthful ambivalence toward the set.
That being said, I got an incredible deal on this team set. This was a pre-checklist auction for a master team set (excluding retail inserts) for the Rox. In other words I was bidding and the seller was selling without knowing how many inserts or short prints would be included. The Rockies ended up having 3 short prints and no hobby inserts. Somehow, I avoided the last minute snipers and bots and won this for the opening price of a whopping 99 cents. With shipping, I knocked this entire team set (including 3 SPs) for a grand total of $2.76. You can even trade for cards that cheaply. I am thrilled to knock this one of the want list.
I was looking forward to the Heritage to FINALLY get some new Rockies this year. Neither flagship Topps nor Donruss provided any cards of Rockies that had never appeared in purple on cardboard before. That has happened before, but usually the large Heritage checklist gives at least one new Rockie. This year surpassed my expectations by giving not just one, but three new Rockies. Well technically two new ones because the third appears on a multi-player card and I don't count them as player cards. I consider multi-player cards featuring more than one Rockies player as a team card and it gets counted with team cards. Regardless of my rules, this is the first (and possibly only) appearance of Ashton Goudeau on a Rockies card.
The other new Rockies are Kevin Pillar, who joined the team in a deadline deal, and former Rockies killer Matt Kemp, who joins a select group of sluggers who winded their careers down in Denver. I expected Kemp to be included, but the Pillar was a big (pleasant) surprise. Pillar and Kemp become the 417th and 418th different Rockies player to have a solo card made. None of the three Rockies are still in Denver for the 2021 season. Kemp remains unsigned, while Pillar joined the Mets, one of the three teams that signed almost everyone this off season. Goudeau went on a long waiver filled journey through the worst teams in the league. He was waived by the Rockies after the 2020 season, picked up by Pittsburgh. He was then waived again and claimed by Baltimore. He was caught in a roster crunch a third time and was claimed by the Giants. Just when it seemed like he found a home, San Francisco waived him yesterday. So who knows where he will be this time next week.
Here we have a pair of "Interchangable Rockies." I call them that because Rockies management is intent on copying what the 2016 Cubs did and constantly moving guys around instead of giving them a fixed position. Ryan McMahon is either the 1B, 2B, or 3B on a given day while Garrett Hampson is bouncing back and forth between 2B and CF. They are doing the same thing with Josh Fuentes, Brendan Rodgers, and several other young Rockies. I think it is a Bud Black thing, but it might be upper management. I am not a fan of the practice. In my opinion, it goes back to the old "jack of all trades, master of none" idea. Let these guys learn one position and go from there. Having one utility guy is great, having six just leads to massive confusion.
Next up we have two of the top starters of the Rockies underrated starting rotation. German Marquez is not really a secret. He was on the Topps Rookie All Star Team in 2017 and has been a consistent force at the top of the rotation since then. I am hoping the Rockies try to build around him long term instead of trying to flip him for a prospect package. Colorado is not good at those, never has been aside from the Matt Holliday deal with Oakland which is getting further and further in the rear view mirror. Next up is one bright spot from 2020, the emergence of Antonio Senzatela. He was probably the best Rockie in the shortened season, and not just pitchers, but best Rockie overall. I absolutely love that card photo as well. Probably my favorite of the group.
Here are the two stars from the Rockies in 2020 (more about that later). The cards are fairly boring here, so I'll discuss the Rockies color scheme. I am not a fan of the yellow/red/orange combo. I don't mind having non-purple colors on Rockies cards. In fact, I enjoy it, but this combo is not really good to look at. And there is a color swap parallel of the Arenado which does nothing other than change the position of the red and orange colors in the team name. I looked at the two side by side online and nearly went blind. One of the three colors should have been replaced by a color from the blue half of the rainbow.
Here are the two "In Action" subset cards. I hesitate to call them subset cards because in a 500 card set, there are 75 of them. And that is not even counting the Boyhood Photos subset or the Award trophy cards that should have been insert sets. That is RIDICULOUS. What Topps should have done with these cards is make them the action photo variation for each player. Instead they clogged the set with these cards and still made action variants of a lot of these players. This is the absolute reason that the checklist is one of the worst in Heritage history, which I will get into shortly.
Finally we come to the three short prints of the team set and one of my biggest conundrums in recent card history. The Jon Gray card. I don't know whether I love it or I hate it. He looks like he is being crushed by the photo frame all while getting ready to do "twosies" on a giant puppy training pad. It's different, but different doesn't always mean good. Then again with these boring monotonous Heritage photos, perhaps different is good enough in this case. Maybe this just going to be my "Two Face" card where one day I will display it on my desk and the next day I will hide it in box in shame.
That's it for the Rockies team set. So what's missing you ask? Um well, how about the new face of the franchise, Trevor Story? Trevor Story was not included on a 14 card Rockies team set, but Kevin Pillar was. Don't get me wrong, I love getting the Pillar card, but that is just shameful to exclude Story. And the Rockies are not the only team missing stars. The Padres are missing Manny Machado. The Braves are missing Ozzie Albies. The Twins are missing Eddie Rosario. The Giants are missing Buster Posey. The Nationals are missing Stephen Strasburg. The Red Sox are missing Xander Bogaerts AND Rafael Devers. The Astros are missing Carlos Correa AND George Springer. A couple of those guys are on Leaders or Highlights cards, but don't have regular base cards. Why? And that doesn't even include Topps just forgetting to print one of the 500 cards at all.
Is this an attempt to stock the High Number set with bigger names? Has Topps quality control just gotten so poor that they just don't care anymore? Are they just trying to evolve into a company that prints only cards from the Dodgers and Yankees? Who knows? All I know is that I am still thrilled with getting this team set checked off without having to purchase any packs from this set. To be honest, if Topps doesn't improve and soon, I may never purchase a pack or box from them again.
Thanx for reading.