Tuesday, February 4, 2020

'twas a couple three nights before New Years

When I run into an old friend in the middle of July, I always like to say to them: "Happy New Year!"

Some of them are a little perplexed, but I only say that to a person I haven't seen yet that calendar year. And I don't really bust that phrase out until later in the year, even though we are a month gone from 2020 already.

Well, for most people, anyway. For baseball card collectors, 2020 starts, well, sometime this week. All depends on what day the work schedule and a truck of some sort all synchronize their efforts to put a brand new pack of Topps baseball cards in their eager hands.

But for baseball card bloggers, this all means the clock is ticking to make some final selections of favorite cards from the previous year...tick...tick....tock! Here ya go:

Best Card for This Time of Year

Not a lot of "Snow Cards" ever get made. That is a good thing. I have always liked Aroldis Chapman cards. I think, though, that if I pulled a vertical Aroldis Chapman card, it wouldn't quite register that I had a new Aroldis Chapman card until I got back to pulling a nice sensible horizontal card for him.

Best (only?) Pop-Up Card

Not a lot of these cards get made, either. I'm not sure if that is a good thing, cuz I always like them.

Card that makes me most want to pull his 2020 Card

This card is oddly endearing to me. I mean, Chris Davis has to get a baseball card after all. This card has two things going for it. Topps sensibly makes a Fielding Card for the most famous Not-Slugger in the game these days. Also, he has so many years of stats that they don't have to write up some text on the back. You can almost hear the sigh of relief from deep in the Topps baseball card mines when the copy/paste of Full Stats squeezed off all the empty space on the back of the card during construction of this one. I _think_ Davis is signed for at least another year. The answer, and his 2019 stats that I am kinda curious about, are just a few clicks away, whenever I wish — but I would just rather pull his 2020 Topps baseball card and get the answers that way.

Favorite Fielding Card

In the 21st Century, there are so many good Fielding Cards every year, I should probably find a whole bunch of the best ones and show them all together. About the best I can actually do with such a dream, is to just pay more attention to the horizontals and see what happens (seems to be a theme for me in 2019 so far). I always like a definitive Fielding Card, like this one: that batter is Out.

Best Glove Webbing Card
Wait. What? They make Glove Webbing Cards, too? I guess so. I don't think I have ever had a card where the webbing of the glove jumps out at me like this one does. Now if I could only figure out which Pitchers hold their glove up and which hold their glove down, and Why?, well, Life is full of mysteries, and, well with baseball cards, you like what you like.

2nd Best Glove Webbing Card
This card has a couple things I like. No, I don't really watch for Glove Webbing cards. But I like to see team logos in weird places on All Star Game cards, which otherwise kinda put me to sleep any more. This is the only such 2019 card I can recall featuring one of the Warm-Up jerseys. Too many of those on the Update "ASG" cards, well, that's not good, either. And there might be more than one such 2019 card. But I will probably never know, because completing an Update set any more is so much an exercise in Why, Topps, Why?

Why I like that particular card though? The great big smile on Marcus Stroman's face there. Never enough of those on baseball cards.
Best Historical Card

I have never pulled a Branch Rickey card before. I looked it up and a few do exist. I'm glad to have one.

Best Tribute Card No One Noticed

Cards with photos from this special day in MLB used to be a special issue from Topps some years. I recently completed a collecting effort of those that I will share with you on the just exactly perfect day. The Topps effort on those, well, let's just say their batting average on them wasn't the greatest. Now that I have seen this card, I might start watching Uni #s on new Topps cards a little more closely.

Best Transformers Card
Also makes a good preview for 2020 Topps Milwaukee Brewers cards - these will look better than ever given the demise of the exciting use of a stalk of grain in a baseball team logo. As long as Topps remembers to make colorful baseball cards with a colorful team logo on it, like this one. Shhh, don't tell me how that turns out. Still 2-3 days till New Year's Day. Hopefully not 4 whole days.

Best Card for 8 Year Olds
Who'd ya get? Who'd ya get? I got Johnny Lasagna!

Loaisiga made a few Topps Checklists this year. I hope he makes many more, for the sake of the 8 year olds among us. He didn't make quite as many Checklists as this next card...

Player That Followed Me Around Way Too Much
You never forget your First Card. Chance Adams was the First Card I pulled from a pack of 2019 Topps Baseball cards a few days over a year ago now. I then proceeded to pull his card in pretty much every set Topps created this year, including via a rather choice checklist spot in Gallery. This is kind of a preview scan for me, to see how these would appear while scanned still in a penny sleeve. I bought just one pack of Bowman (my first ever, I think, since maybe, oh, 1991 or so), and there he was; but fortunately there was also a Wander Franco card I got twenty bucks for, so perhaps my First Card was well named this year. 

When Topps likes certain Rookies, they really like certain Rookies. If you are a nascent Chance Adams Player Collector, you already have 443 cards to pick from on COMC as I type tonight. How are things working out for my First Card and one of Topps' anointed ones? Adams only appeared in 13 games for the Yankees before he now has one of the stranger official Transactions listings: "Traded by the New York Yankees to the Kansas City Royals for unknown compensation."

I do always like to see a player who doesn't make it in New York go on to a good career elsewhere, so I am pulling for you still, First Card.

Best Card to Mentally Caption

I can just never decide what Aramis is about to say here. "Live Long, and Prosper" ? No, no, they have the special hand sign all wrong.

"Take Me To Your Leader." Could be, could be.

"Nanoo, nanoo." This pops in my head every time.

Shazbot! I just want to know what he is going to say. I bet you can't wear a Catcher's mask like that.

Best Card Design I Am Not Going To Collect

I think I do understand one big reason this clean, simple design appeals to me: I really miss cards with a white border, for one. And somehow the fake rays of sunshine work for me, too, even though that would clearly be a No Go for an entire set of hundreds of baseball cards. Good ole red, white, & blue on a card always works - so does a star on a card. So I just like this card. I can't quite see how it could be used for a real set of cards (minus that sunshine), but I like this card anyway.

But until the day comes when the Tigers anchor their club with an All-Star Center Fielder or an amazing Dinger Hittin' corner infielder (as not too long ago), and Topps deigns to put that player in a special set of insert cards in every pack of baseball cards sold at some certain store all across America, well, I just don't collect "sets" of cards that feature only one player all the way through. But I still like this card.

Who's On First?

Quick, what is the first name of each player? I am going to kind of miss the White Pages set. And, the Millenials are coming...

I Kind of Hope This Is Not a Sunset Card

It just wouldn't feel like a set of baseball cards without a Fernando Rodney card in it. He did just even win a ring there with Washington a few months back, so hopefully that is worth a nice 2020 Series One checklist spot, since Topps will be printing cards of lots of players who were cut from the team's 2020 card they appear on, the day after the World Series — like Fernando Rodney.

But we are in the 20s now, and Rodney wasn't exactly "lights out" in that World Series, though I am happy he did get to appear in one, and that would be the perfect way to cap such a long career. At press time, Rodney remains unsigned.

It Probably Is a Sunset Card When It Shines On You From 2 Directions

I could have also selected this as my least favorite Tigers card of 2019, though there could be some other contenders; we'll see in a few days I hope. Nice job by the Tigers road laundry crew to get that uniform so nice and extra bright that afternoon. Moore was (probably, there could be some other contenders) the most Hard Luck Tiger in 2019 as he pitched well early in the season, then succumbed to injury. A common tale, for a Pitcher hoping to rebound into a few more MLB years - except Moore didn't injure his arm, he injured a knee while fielding and was out for the rest of the season. Will he return? I dunno. I am not really interested enough to Google around on yet another attempted Tigers reclamation project. Ahh well, everyone wants a perfect sunset card for players on their team, right?

Card With Most Apropos Facial Expression

One would think that for a player with a solid career WAR > 39, Topps could at least pony up for a photo from Spring Training to use in Series 2. Sometimes, 'Sunset' cards are just kind of, sad...

Why, Topps, Why?

Has a player ever had 2 different Sunset Cards before? No one expected Ellsbury to make it back on the field this year. If he did, that would have made for a perfect Update card. Personally, I would have much rather this checklist spot had been used for a true Sunset Card for Ichiro, with his full MLB stats including the farewell At Bats in Tokyo this spring. Alas, no such card was ever made.

This Ellsbury card is making we wonder if Brooklyn has been infiltrated...

Best On-Card Jewelry

Some day, after my team spends November celebrating a triumphant WS winning season, I hope Topps creates a card like this one. The one thing I wonder about this card is that the only card like it that I can remember is a 2014 card for David Ross. Perhaps there are others in the long history of Topps and World Series cards of various kinds. But the only ones I can recall are ones featuring the ring given to the Boston Red Sox.

A Card Type I Saw Too Much Of

I don't know what got into the Topps photo buyer this year. They seemed to just be unable to resist photos with the player's face not lit up. Then there were all the cards where the key word you might think of was "filter?"

As part of prepping for New Year's Day here soon, I was still working on some things 2018 - always interesting to see what you think after pawing through a stack of 50-129 cards of 2 different sets. 2018 now seems more...lit up, on average, across the set - which is something I would not have said last year.

A Design Element I Definitely Disapprove Of

Is the "Rookie Cup" the new "RC Logo?" I hope this is a one-off and goes away. But I doubt that it will. Baseball card customers are insatiable in demanding that their packs and boxes hold "value", and so many people who open cards think all those Rookie Card cards they pull will be valuable. Which is pretty much a same as it ever was calculation in the baseball card hobby. I collect Topps Rookie Cup cards. I expect there will be only one such card per player, per year.

Another Rookie Card Going Where It Shouldn't Go

I know that cool little red, white & blue sorta Logoman RC logo is here to stay, on every 'first year' card Topps makes. It is a cool logo and people like it. I am fine with it appearing on inserts. I am fine with most insert sets.

But the card above is perhaps my Least Favorite card of 2019. I don't know a lot about Fernando Tatis Jr., because he plays on the west coast. I know well how popular his cards are. I have heard rumors of possible back issues, and stats results flowing from a high BABIP - i.e., plenty of luck.

What I don't like about the card is the checklist it is on. Once Topps starts mixing Hall of Famers with brand new Rookies, I just don't care for the whole checklist, when there is a 'theme' to that checklist. (I am fine with that on 'base' checklists, such as Archives). My question about the above card is: where's the matching card for Joe Charbonneau? How about Chris Coghlan? Rookies of the Year often go on to have great careers - but not always. 

Ahh well, Rookies and Rookie Cards. There is no escape.

Hey, Wait

Why do I say that?

Hey, Wait

I do still like Rookie Cards. Let's check out some good 'uns

Best New Submariner

I especially liked finding this card since there won't be any more Brad Ziegler cards appearing in my packs. I hope Cimber collects cards, too. And since he plays in the AL Central, I expect some day I will actually get to see him pitch on a Television, something I never did get to see Brad Ziegler do.

Night Rookie Cards Are Cool

But I Think the Pirates Have This Idea on Lock Down

I definitely end up pulling for baseball players based on their Rookie Card. Or, sometimes, other factors...

2nd Best Rookie Card Baseball Name

I know, I know, MLB debuts after the age of 25 = no Cooperstown for you = no love from baseball card 'collectors.' Sorry, Jeff McNeil. Nonetheless I was very happy to pull this card. It did make me regret not being able to catch more games called by John Miller this past season ... I hope Yaz's grand-son 'sticks' on into the 2020 season for that reason. But now it's getting late in the show and the awards speeches have droned on too long. It's time to wake up Vegas and check the betting line on one of the real deal awards here -

Best Rookie Card

Now is that the ultimate name for a Reliever, or what? And there aren't many Powder Blue Rookie Cards, that I can tell you. And how many Rookie Cards have the Rookie's picture also up on the scoreboard? I can't wait to see this guy's Player Weekend cards; I hope they appear in Big League, not Topps Now.

Better Than Rookie Cards: Old Guy Cards

What's Better Than an Old Guy Card?
Two Old Guys on One Card

Best Old Guy Card

Really, this award goes to any card featuring a retired player in the "1993" portion of 2019 Archives. So many good cards. Really, 2019 Archives was my Feel Good Hit of the Summer, and I am really looking forward to bindering it up, sometime this coming summer I expect. My want list for it is in the post previous to this one. 

I like the Roberts card because it looks like the photo might have been shot from the same field & close to the same vantage point as a card I will never own, at least as a real card, rather than a reprint: the 1951 Bowman Mantle. But really, really, there are a lot of good cards in 2019 Archives, and despite my love of 1975, I think I probably liked the 1993 cards a little better. 2019 Archives brought back another touch of authenticity that many people scorn today; the special 'variant' versions of the cards even omit it:

Yes, I Like Facsimile Autographs on my Baseball Cards

Most autographs these days don't appeal to me. These did; this was the first time I had ever seen an Ichiro 'autograph', such as it is. I especially like uni # inscriptions. And how about a Detroit Tiger For The Win, here.

And though I don't Win an autograph card very often, sometimes going a year without pulling one, this year Topps did hook me up, twice.

How Not To Do It

Not even a so close, Topps, so close here - this is just not what I want in an autographed baseball card. In an ideal world, I want them to be on-card, on a cool baseball card design...

Topps, Keeping You Close to the Game

This was a fun pull. I don't really have much memory of Fernando Tatis, Sr., and his career. But since his son was tearing up the League, it was nice to have this little connection to all the excitement. 1983 is such a great set; having an autograph on such a pretty card is what baseball card collecting is all about.

I collect baseball cards for oddball reasons; I never know what little pile of oddball cards I will end up adding to, before I start looking at some new cards. This year I found myself thinking about Leg Kick cards more than usual.

A Classic Leg Kick Card

Sometimes I noticed them for ... fielders?

Best All-Star Card

I have never decided, hey, that is a great All Star Game card. But this one is. What is even more impressive about is that it looks like Muncy is actually _playing_ the game of baseball in the All Star Game. I know, the players in it do actually play a real game - they hit the ball, they run they bases, they score runs, a winner is declared (we hope). 

But put me down as one fan who preferred it when there was at least a little bit riding on the outcome, for that run of 7-8 years or however that went. I still remember Ichiro's dramatic catch in the 9th inning of an ASG to preserve an AL victory. Do you remember _any_ play from a 2010s All Star Game?

I don't know if the play shown on the card was really a difficult fielding play or how much effort Muncy had to expend here, but I might hunt around on YouTube a little to try and find out. And all because of a baseball card.

But let's get back to actual Leg Kick cards, which always have that sudden stop in time moment to them:

He Goes Into his Delivery

But that's not even the best Toronto Blue Jays RC Leg Kick Card -

Some Cards Almost Hurt to Look At

I have a very athletic job, and I enjoy that part of it. I ran chainsaws on the side of a mountain a fair bit this year. But I am pretty sure I could not copy the pose on this card. Everyone who enjoys baseball has probably thrown a baseball in the back yard. And along the way they have probably tried to imitate various parts of a real Pitcher's delivery/motion. But the leg kick? Unless you played the game and were a real Pitcher, who can get that part figured out? Not me.

Though I do pretty good with physical activity, for an Old Guy, I am still not a pro Athlete, like the guys on my baseball cards. Even the oldest MLB players are still excellent Athletes and you just never know what you might see them do next -

Best Leg Kick Card

Kung-Fu Panda!

It is tempting to make that my Card of the Year. I wouldn't be surprised if anyone else did. What does surprise me, personally, about this card is one of my reactions to it - I absolutely do not want a parallel copy of this card, all snazzed up with extra color.

Even though 2019 Topps was a good year for parallels, I noticed that as I set aside cards to be kept vs. not kept, and cards to include in this post, I wasn't really fired up to assemble some parallels this past year. So many cards, so little time; I just like ordinary baseball cards sometimes.

And it is hard to get more ordinary than my 2019 Baseball Cards of the Year.

Runner Up

I included a couple Catcher cards in this assemblage for the year, but it's not the colorful mask I like here. I like that this card is just a picture of a baseball player, probably from the dug-out steps. No live game action, no stiff Spring Training pose, no crazy post-game moment. Just a straight-ahead "candid," as they are sometimes called, like this one:

2019 Card of the Year

Wait, what? That could be the card someone else picked out as The Most Boring Card of the Year. And I wouldn't totally disagree with that conclusion.

What I like about this card, and the previous card, is that it's just a picture of a baseball player. That's what I want from my cards. The 'action' theme of the Topps Baseball set is well and good, and I have many favorite action cards from this year's set(s). But all action, all the time, well, we've seen it.

And we've seen plenty of brand new 21st Century baseball cards just like this one, generally with photos taken on "Photo Day" early in Spring Training. But those go into other products, like Heritage, and Archives.

But this Jeffrey Springs card (I know exactly zilch about Jeffrey Springs) gives me hope that the Topps Baseball set editor will start mixing things up a little bit more in the 2020s. There is no reason we can't have a few more candids, mixed in with all the Hitters Hitting and the Pitchers Pitching. The more diverse the images in a set are, the more you want to go back to it, over time.

So I hope I find a few more 'boring' cards like that one, in my new 2020 sets of baseball cards. In just a few more days...


  1. A lot of your cards could start mini collections. Great Post

  2. LOL, Tatis Jr. in the "Greatest Players" series. Slow down, Topps!