2014 Topps Series 1 has hit the retail stores. For the first time I can ever remember, I saw the product on the shelf and didn't even bye a single pack. I will admit to ordering a set from a well known case breaker. I'd love to be one of the guys who's willing to cut that cord, but I'm not there yet. I am close though. Looking at the checklist and the sell sheet, it's clear that Topps is happy to just phone it in right now. This is what happens with monopolies ... especially in a creative enterprise.
You are welcome to still like Topps products. You are welcome to think quality hasn't declined since MLB granted them their defacto monopoly. You cannot make a credible argument that the monopoly is good for the hobby, good for collectors or, for that matter, good for Topps. This becomes more obvious with each passing season.
I still love this hobby though. For Christmas, my In-Laws got me one of the most amazing gifts any vintage loving Braves collector could possibly get. What was it you ask? A 1955 Bowman Milwaukee Braves team set. Needless to say, baseball cards don't get any better than this. (For you young kids, this is proof that Bowman didn't always mean Suck.)