Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Topps, why?

I know, everybody has seen this one. Quite the photograph. Kudos, Topps.

This card would have to be an all-time contender for having the most people on it with their mouths open, easily. Memorable. Maybe that is why Topps made it card #330. Raburn certainly doesn't make the cut for handing him a Uni # card. Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday, and Will Venable get the 3 #25 cards in Series One, and are all worth more than Raburn. Venable has an average set of averages in his short career, but he is a speedy guy.

And, it is a Shades Card. I like those.

The color elements on the outfield wall there, combined with the colorful fans, make it one I will be looking for in the parallels. Reminds me of a certain painter....a subject of a future blog post that ties in with a card from '12 Update. Again, a well-chosen photo...many, many points on composition.

And it was from a dramatic moment in a Tigers win. Though there are fans pictured with both a Tigers uniform and a Pirates T-shirt, Raburn is wearing his road grey uni. So most likely it is a game @ Heinz Field. Raburn played in 2 games there last June, but in the first he played 2nd Base the whole game. In the second game, on June 24th, he started at 2nd again, but in the 8th inning he was shifted to left field in place of Delmon Young. I'll get to some thoughts on Delmon shortly. Or, it might take a minute.

Jim Leyland's defensive switch was just in time. In the bottom of the 8th, ace workhorse (workhorse ace?) Justin Verlander was still mowing down the Pirates, and the Tigers held a 3-2 lead. The final batter up for Pittsburgh was their 2nd Baseman, Josh Harrison, and although not known for having a lot of power, he hit a deep fly to left. Caught by Raburn a second or so after the shutter was clicked.

The catch probably didn't make that day's highlights, but it kept the Tigers on top, and they went on to win the game with the same score — a complete game win for Verlander.

So many good things about the front of this baseball card. But why was it issued?

Topps knows the game of baseball inside out. But I have to wonder how much they keep up with the personnel moves some times, and this is one of them. Raburn was released by the Tigers on November 20th. The day before that, Jose Reyes was traded from Miami to Toronto. Topps found time before the Series One cards were printed to create a card featuring Reyes in a Blue Jays uni — Card #331, the one after Rayburn. No, I don't get off on pointing out Photoshop efforts. BFD. I have another post on that idea bubbling around my brain that will certainly piss off some readers.

Anyhow, why did they even choose to issue a Raburn card in Series One? Seriously. The Tigers have a slew of players more likely to make the Opening Day roster than Raburn looked last fall. Raburn got a lot of playing time in the first third of the 2012 season, but was hitting below the Menodoza/Uecker line and was sent down to AAA in the summer, then returned with the expanded rosters in September and got all of 7 at-bats. Avisail Garcia came up and went on to have such a hot fall that Topps put his Rookie Card in Series One too. Detroit also has Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks for the outfield.

And the week before Raburn was released, the Tigers signed free agent Torii Hunter. Career minor leaguer Quintin Berry made his Topps Card debut in the 2012 Update set and the fans in Detroit loved his high energy contributions to the team last year, though he faded a bit down the stretch. The #1 prospect in the organization, by some counts - Nick Castellanos - is converting to the outfield from his natural third base position.

How did Topps think Ryan Raburn would be playing in the outfield for the Tigers in 2013? Every baseball fan in the state of Michigan knew this would not be the case.

Raburn has always been a problematic player. Lots of baseball players are known for having poor stats in April. Raburn is well-known for having awesome stats in September. But only in September. At least until 2012 anyhow. Last year he had a great Spring Training. Currently, he is tearing it up for Cleveland on their Spring roster. Maybe Terry Francona can psych him into being a consistent all-season player. I wish Raburn all the best, unlike many Tigers fans. Though if he does break his mental logjam and becomes an every day player, I hope Cleveland trades him to the National League for another worthless starting pitcher.

Perhaps Topps just drooled so much at using the awesome photo, that they just ignored all of the above not-very-secret information. I wish Series One would be made up of players solidly under contract and likely to start to avoid these problems, of which Topps always seems to have many...
Here we have pretty much a repeat of the above problem. Delmon Young got the majority of his playing time in 2012 as the Designated Hitter for the Tigers. In 2013, Victor Martinez is returning to the Tigs to be the everyday DH. Young was not considered by the organization to have sufficient defensive abilities to play the outfield, and they have a plethora of other options there. I really don't know what the Phillies (DY's new team) are thinking on this. Their cupboard must have been that bare, or they just plan to slug their way to victory.

Once again, every Tigers fan in Michigan, and every person with much interest at all in who will the 750 players on Opening Day rosters in 2013, knew that Delmon would not be one of the 25 Tigers come April 1st. And he was released from the organization the day after the World Series.

But Topps released a 2013 card of him as a Tiger anyway.

I just don't get this. So many collectors dump all over Topps for the Photoshop cards. But these types of cards are just considered a standard part of baseball cards.

I do like Delmon's card. I always like Horizontal cards. I don't really care if Delmon is admiring a Home Run, or the shot he just hit curved to the wrong side of the Foul Pole. Either way, a classy, somewhat standard baseball card. It would have made a great shot for the Tigers ALCS card, as Young was the MVP of that series. Far better than the over-done team celebration shots, though thoughts on that may depend on how many of those cards you have been able to enjoy recently. It is great to see an Orioles fan in the presence of their ALDS card this year.

Then other day I picked up some packs of Topps stickers. I want lots of the olde English D sticker, you know, to stick on things. And I like the inclusion of a famous player for every team - I got Reggie Jackson in my first pack. Thanks Topps!

Then I discovered this one:

What the hell? Valverde was released the same day as Delmon Young. Though only 34, his wheels have fallen off so badly that he bailed on pitching for his native country in the recent World Baseball Classic. Not that the Dominicans needed him much with Fernando Rodney in their pen of course. Sadly he can only be said to be having 'issues'. He is still awaiting a phone call from anyone this spring. And again every baseball fan in the state of Michigan knew he would not be pitching for Detroit this year. It was almost the only Tigers topic in the Hot Stove League - who would replace Valverde?

There will be some kids in Michigan putting that sticker in the album upside-down. And perhaps not in a completely unmodified condition either. If, of course, kids actually buy these things. It is a nice Night Sticker at least.

So, Really, Topps — WHY?

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