Monday, December 29, 2008

Goodbye 2008: the best

I think this is going to serve as my "cardboard appreciation" post of the week. "Cardboard appreciations" might be my favorite posts to write, but considering this is a list of the "best" of the packs that I bought over the last two months, it's basically several "cardboard appreciations" all rolled into one. And it cuts down on some work for me! Sweet!

Remember that I'll be giving away the cards featured here in this post and all of the ones listed along the sidebar under "Win these packs!" For the rules on how to enter, just go here, and enter your guesses. This, by the way, is just one of the card contests going on right now. "Spot the Sig," over at Phungo is still going strong. Dan from Saints of the Cheap Seats is giving away autos and relics for merely answering a trivia question. And Wax Heaven is keeping us all in suspense with an upcoming contest.

So, anyway, here is what I liked about the packs I bought for the purpose of this year-end countdown. I hope you enjoy them, too, although you probably have seen many of these cards before. On with the show.

13. Josh Beckett, World Series, Topps Series I. This is probably the best feature of the Topps base set in 2008. The return of postseason cards in the flagship set. Yeah! I hope it continues.

12. Clay Buchholz, Topps Series I. I've seen Topps use this pose/picture for a couple of other cards, but when I saw this card originally I thought it was very cool. Not only is it a scoreboard shot, which I love, but it's a scoreboard shot of his no-hitter against the Orioles in September 2007. That's great. Again, Topps wasn't relying on spring training shots in 2008. Great to see a late-season action shot.

11. David Wright, Upper Deck Timeline. I have never switched my opinion on the design of a base card more quickly than I did with Timeline. The first time I saw them, I hated them. Now I think they're very nice (1988 Donruss there's still hope for you yet!)

10. Lou Piniella, Topps Series I. I love photos that seem to sum up a person's personality. That's what this card does. Lou slouched in the dugout. Great!

Back in the late 1990s when Piniella was managing Seattle, a couple of our sportswriters went to Toronto to cover a game and ask Piniella some questions about Jay Buhner, who has some ties to this area. When they returned, we were curious about one of the reporter's opinions about Piniella, knowing that the reporter was a lifelong Yankee fan. Someone asked him what he thought of Piniella, and the reporter said: "There's a man that does not take care of himself." Cracked us up. That's what I think of when I see this card.

9. Hideki Matsui, Upper Deck Timeline, Timeless teams subset. This card should probably go in the "inserts" post that I'll be writing tomorrow, but the card really isn't here for the front ...

It's here for the back, and the wonderful stadium shots. How can you go wrong with a photo of Yankee Stadium in its final season? It's no secret I don't like the Yankees (my reasons? I need to work myself into a seething rage for that post). But I respect their tradition, and they really do have the best stadium in baseball.

8. Warren Spahn, Upper Deck Goudey. These cards of old-timers is what saved UD Goudey in my opinion. Even the fact that the paintings may not look exactly like the players doesn't bother me with the old-timers. Probably because I'm so used to seeing earlier players in paintings, rather than photographs. Nice card.

7. Mariano Rivera, Topps Heritage. Heritage at its best. A great retro design, a nice color, a great portrait photo of a smiling Rivera. Very nice.

6. Jason Varitek, Pat Neshek, Carl Crawford, Lance Berkman, Upper Deck Series 2. I put all these together just to illustrate how much Upper Deck still kicks ASS when it comes to photography. I don't know why they're so much better than Topps in this department, but I'd like to know the reason. It's killing ya, Topps. It really is. Great, great photos.

5. Joba Chamberlain, Topps Stadium Club. OK, Topps can do good photography, too, when it comes to Stadium Club. This is a cool photo. But here's what Topps needs to do: it needs to put cool photos in the BASE set. And not just a handful. And don't fool around with short prints and overpriced hobby boxes just because you think collectors will flip for the great photography. Because collectors already know they can get great photography from UD without all the tomfoolery.

4. Marcus Thames, Upper Deck Series 2. I separated this card from the other UD cards because I like it so much. Thames must know one of the photographers because he had a great UD card in 2006. And now he's got this one.

3. Ichiro Suzuki, Upper Deck Masterpieces. Masterpieces at its best. It's not the Russell Martin card (then again, what is?), but it's pretty sweet.

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Topps Chrome. This card has nothing to do with the subject or the photo. It has everything to do with the fact that it's chromy. I will never stop loving chrome cards. I don't know when chrome cards first came to be or who invented them, but they need to put that guy up there with the guys who invented peanut butter and the superconductor.

1. Gary Sheffield, Topps Stadium Club. I've seen this card a few times now. It doesn't make me love it any less. Great, great card. They need to do a whole series of cards with shots like this. In fact I'm a little sad I'm giving this card away.

That's the best of the packs. Well, except for the inserts/subsets. Those are coming tomorrow. And those cards always fun, right? Remember to enter the contest as I'll be announcing the winner on January 1.


  1. It's not just that UD has better photography. I think several Topps Photos could be considered poor. If I can take a better shot from my SRO spot in the stands, with a crummy little digital camera and dealing with fans, vendors, and TV camera crews then Topps just isn't trying hard enough.

    Oh and important note, PTBNL in the Spot the Sig! contest is not the same PTBNL with the blog.

    at least I don't think they are the same folks.

  2. Ah, deal, thanks. I've fix that. That's odd.

  3. In past years, Topps Chrome cards were chromed versions of the regular set. This year, Topps Chrome featured different photos than the regular set. I also like Chrome cards and I liked them better this year.