Well it’s been a long enough time since I blogged something that wasn’t a giveaway, but I promise I’ve had good reasons to be negligent. Anyways, let’s get into it! Last night to reward myself for surviving a long week I stopped by Target and picked up some packs. Guess it had been awhile since I was last there because 2014 Donruss, 2014 MLB Stickers, and 2014 Opening Day were all new to me. I picked up all 3, but am going to give Opening Day and the stickers their own reviews later on.
Now, typically the card wrapper isn’t a part of card reviews, but the Donruss cards caught my eye right away – they’re shiny but have a really nice matte finish. Plus Big Papi is featured prominently on the front and I love the Donruss “d” logo.
I swear I only bought one pack, and this was waiting for me inside:
These redemptions have been selling for as high as $50 on eBay, but since it’s a Red Sox guy (a secondary PC of mine) I’ve redeemed it and will be holding onto it. I consider myself especially lucky since usually by the time I get to Target some jerks have usually thoroughly pack-searched everything. Anyways, a great hit and I’ll try not to let it bias my review of the rest of the cards.
Here’s the rest of what I got:
It should be noted that I usually stay FAR away from Panini baseball products because it’s hard for me to see past the lack of an MLB license. (What can I say? I like a good logo.) However, along with Select (and some Prizm), I’d say these are the exception to the rule – really sharp cards that, from a design standpoint, look nothing like anything that Topps pumps out. I’m actually a big fan of having the city name in the bottom left corner – it’s different and I think sometimes Topps falls in love with putting the logo on the front of every product because it can. The script is nice too, and as I said earlier I love the Donruss logo.
In terms of the photos themselves, I know because they don’t have a license that they try to select poses and positions where a logo wouldn’t normally even be visible. In some cases this works – I think the Pedro Alvarez card probably succeeds more than the others at this. However, other times this results in some awkward photos. Like this one for example – could be any white pitcher, good thing the bottom says Jordan Lyles or I wouldn’t know:
I don’t like the Diamond Kings inserts, for example, because they chop off the tops of players heads so that you can’t see that they lack a logo. But I mean, come on Panini, we know. Collectors who are buying your baseball products have already decided that they will buy despite the licensing issue. And with the tiny part of the caps that are showing on the Diamond Kings inserts you can already see there is no logo on the hat. Just show the whole cap or find a picture where the hat is off – this weird in-between isn’t fooling anyone and leaves everyone with an awkward final product.
I’ll end on a positive note, though. The backs of the cards are really unique: they’ve got players’ whole names spelled out. Do I need to know that Aroldis Chapman is actually Albertin Aroldis De La Cruz Chapman? Probably not, but it’s a fun twist. I like the blue color, too.
In conclusion, the good out-weighs the bad in 2014 Donruss. I don’t have any kind of grading scale, but I’ll go ahead and give Donruss a 7/10 if you’re mostly interested in base cards and inserts. It’s closer to a 5/10 if you’re hoping for sweet patches and autos, too. Not too many big names to hit from what I’ve seen and most of the game-used is small, plain white jersey squares (I’d rather have a base card than a white patch honestly). If they had the MLB license I would be inclined to give this product an 8/10. The design itself is sharp and different from everything else out there right now – there are some fun twists with some of the inserts and the names on the back of cards, too. However, some of the awkward poses and cropping that results from the you-know-we-don’t-have-a-license-but-we’ll-try-and-fool-you-anyway dance that Panini does with its buyers steals away from some of the design goodness.