Saturday, June 22, 2024

Fielder's Choice


I took a quick break from my ongoing 2024 Heritage collecting the other day, and picked up some of the brand new Series Two to check out. I was hypnotized, instantly, by that first card you see there.

I love the occasional card of a First Baseman about to catch the ball. The eye is completely drawn to the ball and the glove, and held there. Despite it being one of the most routine and common plays in Baseball, the impending culmination of the "play" — the glove closing around the ball — hasn't happened yet, and that always gives such a photograph an extra bit of dramatic tension.

For some time now I have been considering putting together a small mini-collection of this image. This card ices the decision, except for one small thing: horizontal. I don't think I have any other horizontal Baseball Cards with this image, or at least none are leaping quickly to mind. It seems such a common image that I probably do have one. But that would get me all the way to 2 whole ball-on-the-way-to-glove, horizontal-edition Baseball Cards. Even on the regular vertical image Baseball Cards I don't think I will have a full 9 of them, yet. So I have some more Baseball Card collecting in my future. :)

That was a nice card to open up Series Two for me. As I ripped a half-dozen packs (actual regular packs, purchased singly from a Hobby Box @ my LCS), I noticed the various Fielding cards were routinely catching my eye in this quite visually appealing set. I think the Topps Set Editor on this one really upped the game on the Fielding cards, which otherwise sometimes feel like a do-we-have-to? deal on their set inclusion. 

There were still plenty of the standard tropes, of course:

Ugghhh. The Tigers' latest Free Agent Albatross

Rojas is such a contrast with Baez right now. Acquired as back-up insurance, Rojas has rejuvenated his career just as the Dodgers need him. Another successful roster decision for their front office, who seemingly can do no wrong in these things, a near mirror opposite of Detroit decisions lately.

And how about those socks? There is a better cardboard look at those, but methinks Topps likes this new Team Socks trend:
The Neon is looking good here - reflecting in the sunglasses even. These socks also will need a better look on a future card but overall this is a nice late afternoon Baseball Card of Bichette playing the game hard. His cap is a bit of a mystery though - looks a bit green like perhaps one of those various Military Appreciation type days of some sort - except this should be a home game in Toronto where the apropos holiday is a different day than in the USA. But I'm not sure if I really just found my first green Jays cap, or the lighting is just odd, here. Will just need some more Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Cards I guess.

Cool socks, though, let's look good out there -
Hypnotized, again

Well I am now one card closer to the Nifty Nine of the-ball-on-the-way-to-glove, vertical-edition Baseball Cards. But this card has all kinds of cool things going on; I will need another copy for my page of the Ray sailing along on a Baseball Card and this is a great look at Tampa's special cap, as well as being a "Throwback" card of the Devil Rays uniform, though not the clearest such ever. The Ray on some socks, though? That too will make a great Baseball Card in some future pack.

I can't say I can recall a Baseball Card of a Shortstop about to catch the Baseball like that. A nice fresh SS image. Like, this one:
Wouldn't be a set of Topps Baseball cards any more without at least 2 or even 3 Pirates SS cards; 2024 features the full trifecta.

This new Liover Peguero card is one of those Baseball Cards where the action kind of narrates itself when you see it. A nice choice by Topps, as is this next card -
Can't say I can recall all that many Baseball Cards showing a Fielder in the "set position." This card makes me feel like I am watching a live Baseball game a fair bit more than the average Hitter hitting card. 

It wasn't even the only such card I found in my first half-dozen Series Two cards:
More cool socks. Another tense look at the game of Baseball, in progress. Though this card does have a slight recall of the GOAT RC that answers the question of just where all those Rookie Card cards come from, anyway. It's Okay, Topps, you really can move the RC logo around on the Baseball Card sometimes. We won't mind.

I am looking forward to see what else Topps decided for some 3B cards in 2024 Topps Baseball; these are making me look forward to getting more familiar with Series One, which has seen little sorting and reading time ever since both Heritage sets arrived. Should be an enjoyable few days later this summer, when the Complete Set appears and I can assemble a new Baseball Card binder.

2B did have some good representation in the little stack of cards, with a standard to start -

But more careful picture shopping was quickly discovered:
The casual/careful/deliberate hand toss, as opposed to a pure "throw" is more commonly done by a Pitcher fielding a grounder but regardless, this is a rarely cardboard captured bit of Baseball action.

Soon enough though, Topps quickly delivered another classic, usually one-per-set Fielding image -

Although I did not (yet) find any of the always very rare cards of a Pitcher doing a Fielding activity, the other defensive positions also seemed carefully chosen this year:

A Catcher still wearing the cap the way you expect to see a Catcher wearing the cap. Nice.

Whoever framed this one so well needs to teach the Heritage 'peep how to properly construct a horizontal Baseball Card, though I don't think there are many (any?) in late 70s Topps anyway. These have generally been poor in recent Heritage sets.

And that card has the most detailed image of a 21st Century Catcher's mitt that you might ever see.

The ultimate Fielding card is also a de rigueur part of any "action" set and one such also made it to my 20% sample size look at S2. I don't know why, but these cards are often from Cincinnati, and rarely disappoint:
Topps Baseball 2024

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