After last year's expansive (and expensive) Cubs Topps Now run, I was very hesitant to start up again in 2017. I felt last season was like catching lightning in a bottle, chronicling the World Series run and this year was going to be...meh.
Well then Topps sent me the Mike Trout coupon code card and I bit the bullet on the Spring Training/Road to Opening Day (whatever they call it) set.
As others have mentioned, the checklists weren't fully released by the deadline. I waited until the very last day to buy mine and it was still only about half announced.
Unlike some of the others teams I have seen, the Cubs had some uniform diversity. The home pinstripes that Kris Bryant wears isn't that different from their regular season unis but the chain link fence in the background screams Spring Training facility. Jon Lester's blue uniform sports the white lettering and numbering on the backs. You can also see the AZ patch on Anthony Rizzo's card.
The Addison Russell is pretty generic but the posed Javier Baez shot is very Heritage-y. Ben Zobrist is sporting a mixed uniform of road blue jersey with home pinstripe pants which is a Spring Training only thing. The blue jersey pairs with grey pants (like the Lester and Rizzo above) in the regular season.
The Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras also are shots that I would say are unique to Spring Training. Here, Schwarber sports the pinstripe pants. and again you see the AZ patch on Schwarber's arm as he leaves the dugout. A posed shot from Heyward as he stands near where Baez had his photo taken. Contreras appears to be carrying his gear somewhere.
A trio of generic shots here with Albert Almora Jr, Miguel Montero and Kyle Hendricks. More blue with pinstripes on the latter two. Hendricks is so lanky in his delivery that a horizontal version may have worked better here but all 15 cards in the set were vertical. Maybe a different shot altogether should have been used.
Wrapping up the set is a trio of pitchers all in different uniforms. We also get one of, if not the first non-photoshopped Cubs card of new closer Wade Davis.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the set. The coupon was nice but still a little overpriced. The player selection here was good, everybody made the team out of Spring Training (probably one of the hold ups of getting the checklist out for teams in general).
The photo selection was decent, a nice mix of posed, candid and action. Some sets I've seen had some really nice shots but nothing jumped out at me as amazing here. I probably would have gone with different photos for Montero (can't see his face), Hendricks (as stated above, horizontal or choose another photo altogether) and Lackey (cut off his hand). The Schwarber is probably my favorite in the group. The Contreras would be right up there if it was a little more zoomed out. I liked the two duffle bag shots that made it into the Pirates set and something closer to those would have been great.
Only 287 of these regular Cubs team sets were sold which seemed shockingly low to me. But then I saw the other team print runs. Yikes! Price point? Burnt out? Incomplete checklists? Not yet in the baseball mood? Probably all of the above.
And amazingly, an additional 699 Cubs sets that came with an autographed card were also sold. That seems incredibly backwards. People thought, hey I'm spending $50, let me spend just $70 more for an autographed card? I think some of the other teams had cheaper options but the Cubs set was $119.99. Too steep for me.
The Cubs had Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Wade Davis as their signers.
I've seen plenty of sets and singles on eBay but non of the Cubs autographed cards yet. I wonder if they haven't shipped yet? That's a long time for these resellers to be sitting on debt and not having product to flip. I ordered mine on April 4th (last day to order) and received them on May 3rd. That's a bit longer than the standard Topps Now turnaround but considering they hadn't finalized the checklist, not terrible.
I like the simple design on the back, very clean cut. You can see the rainbow from the scan which is new to this year's cards. I was a little surprised with the numbering. Last year's post season team sets were individually numbered to 15 for each team whereas they made Road the Opening Day one big set, continuously numbered. The Cubs are OD-301 to OD-315, which I guess makes them the 21st team in whatever order the used. You would think the champs could get top billing.
There are a couple of incentive based bonus cards that a few of the teams have already earned so hopefully I'll end up with one (or more!) of those. The Cubs have a small first place lead as I write this and if they can hold off til the All-Star break, that triggers one of them.