I decided to give up the hunt for a few days when I flew to San Diego to visit my friends Jill and Tristan. But on Saturday of that weekend, Jill mentioned her desire to go to Target to pick up ingredients for Rice Krispies Treats. Well, I know an opportunity when I see one. Ultimately, we ended up at Wal-Mart instead, and I made a beeline to you-know-where. Lo and behold, there was a feeder box of 2009 Topps packs with A*Rod's purple-lipped mug all over it. I plucked out four packs and went merrily on my way, realizing with a little bemusement that I had to travel cross-country to find 2009 cards. Even as I pored over my first 48 cards of the new year, delighting in the much-improved design and photography (compared to 2008 Topps), I wasn't sated. Four packs, and no Orioles. I'd have to try again when I got home.
In the ensuing week, I first returned to my nearest Wal-Mart...still the same picked-over hodgepodge as before. I made a mental note to stop wasting the effort on that particular megastore. But surely Target would have fresh stock by February 21, right?
Wrongo. The same muddle of 2008 products, the same cramped aisle. I was so annoyed that I bought a blaster of WWE Heritage IV. That's right, I blew $10 on wrestling cards. I was at my wits' end.
So this past Tuesday, I had a dentist's appointment in Columbia and made the most out of the long drive by having dinner with my former roommate Mikey. Since there was a Target near the restaurant, I took another shot. What I found was simply breathtaking, and made me long for the days when I still lived in the suburbs nearby. The aisle was actually wide enough for more than one person to stand in, and the cards were neatly organized and plentiful. As for 2009 Topps? Oh, it was there, in all its forms. Jumbo packs, blasters, even the new 55-card "cereal boxes". So I decided that variety was the spice of life and grabbed two jumbos and a cereal box.
When we got back to Mikey's apartment I ripped open my haul, starting with the cereal box. There were some great cards, including an exclusive Mickey Mantle chrome card, but still no Orioles! I was starting to suspect a conspiracy, especially since I'd already pulled approximately 27 Yankee cards. So I turned to the first 36-card jumbo pack with a little anxiety. After ripping the top half, I was 121 cards into 2009 Topps with not a single card to represent my favorite team! Finally, in the bottom half of that pack, I was face-to-face with Brian Roberts, my favorite current Oriole. Whew! It's certainly got to be a better omen than the first Baltimore player I pulled from 2008 Topps: Ramon Hernandez.
FYI, backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz was waiting for me in the second jumbo pack. I'm certainly happy to have those two cards, but 2-for-175 is a troubling ratio.