Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sometimes, Topps is smarter than me

Actually, they are smarter than me all the time, since I always give them more money than I think later that I probably should have.

But sometimes, they really surprise me.

In a post back in March, I asked Why Topps, Why?, referencing several of their set inclusion selections this year, ending with a question mark on "Papa Grande".

It seemed like a no-brainer at the time. But unlike Ryan Raburn and Delmon Young, Valverde was neither traded nor had signed with a new team. And though Valverde isn't in Series One or Opening Day and I will be very intrigued to see if he makes Series Two (a Pitcher never makes an Out-of-Bounds catch, so they can't sneak him in as a last-minute Short Print). It was very telling that Valverde was not in the Official Factory Sealed Topps Detroit Tigers® Team Set, though Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit are. Perhaps Topps was starting to re-think this.

And yes, that is a Heritage card up there. I have been buying some of those too, mostly just to have a trade stock to get a set of Managers cards that I can't get in The Base Set. Or the "Flagship" if you must, though that always makes me think of either Star Trek or Master & Commander books I wanna read someday. And I want the Leader cards, Heritage gets those so right. And a certain Memorable Moments card. And Brian Jones on a 'baseball' card. And those nifty cards with a pitcher casually tossing the baseball into mid-air, like he might go back to his original calling as a juggler, if getting paid a few million dollars to be a baseball player good enough to be on a Heritage baseball card doesn't work out good enough. And that wicked cool sky-and-clouds Evan Longoria card. And a card with the crisp "Venezuelan" back-in-black. Tight. And more of those cards with a mysterious small tree growing in the Arizona desert on Colorado Rockies cards. And chain-link fence cards. And light-tower cards. And heck, if I buy any more Heritage, I'll just dream up more reasons to buy more of them for weird binder pages to bind them up in.

But one thing in Heritage was mostly eluding me until just recently, which will make for an epic scan of the most evil card I've purchased in probably forever. That will require blowing the dust off the scanner. Anyhow Heritage just wouldn't give up it's Tigers cards to me. They only played in the World Series last year, you'd think that would earn them a couple more spots on the checklist than usual. But then being swept is almost like they never even played in the Classic at all and it might be better to just pretend that never happened.

Except one card. Jose Valverde. The Tiger released the day after the Series and basically told to not let the door hit him on the way out, got a Heritage card. And a sticker in the sticker set, which was also the only Tiger I could pull out of nearly 100 stickers.

The only-on-Topps 2013 Tiger, and the only one I could get in those two sets, despite lots of "pulling". [Author pauses here to open tonight's acquisition of 2 packs of 2013 Topps stickers, purchased in-lieu-of a few more Opening Day packs since you can't quite get the ones with Opening Day Highlights unless you luck into just the right Wal-Mart. No Tigers. Again. Adam Jones blowing a bubble though, pretty cool. How long has it been since you've seen a baseball player blowing a bubble on a bubble-gum card, errr.....whatever.]

But truth is _always_ stranger than fiction, and tonight Topps' faith in Valverde was redeemed. A 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save of the year in his first appearance. 18 or 19 pitches, all fastballs, two-thirds for strikes....saving his rejuvenated cut splitter or whatever his fancy pitch is for a real jam some other night. And though Series Two might show that faith to have wavered some with no Valverde card to be seen, at least now they already have an easy spot to fill in all the padding called the Update set.

Color me surprised. And wrong. And totally mystified.

Actually, I have a theory on this. For once, something outside of baseball that might affect a player's performance was kept out of the way overly hyper-active 21st Century media. I kinda hope that is the case; that would be cool. Though for it to be cool, I will never find out.

And I hope Valverde saves 93 or 100% of his chances again this year, like only Mariano Rivera can do otherwise.

But I think my second theory is more fun. Scott Boras has a mole at 1 Whitehall Street. So, get ready for Kyle Lohse to be card #662 this year. It will turn out that at some point in the last couple years while backing up the catcher on a long throw in from the outfield, the ball will have bounced off a squirrel down in the corner of the shot, leading Lohse to attempt a catch Out Of Bounds, which spilled a fan's Gatorade and then tipped over a piece of cream pie the fan next to him was eating. Unfortunately, this could not be explained at the Press Conference, though plenty of boring pictures were taken.

This still doesn't explain the inclusion of all the Alex Rodriguez cards no one wants to see any more in the insert sets. Perhaps this mole is under such deep cover they didn't get the memo from the agency on that.

So though you can wonder and wonder just why Topps, why, sometimes the Topps Voodoo works in mysterious ways.

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