Monday, March 16, 2009

Cardboard appreciation: 2005 Topps Opening Day Billy Wagner

(This is the last week in a four-week winter sports season frenzy that is annually the busiest time of the work schedule for me. Appropriately, the first day of spring is Friday. And I'm appreciating March 20, because it means the end of the busy season, better weather, and BASEBALL. Here's another edition of Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 22nd in a series):

Yes, it's an Opening Day card. No I am not kidding. I am actually featuring a Topps Opening Day card on Cardboard Appreciation.

I do not appreciate the Opening Day set. I don't know many collectors that do. The release date for 2009 Opening Day was March 11. Do you hear any anguish from collectors because they can't find Opening Day packs? Nope.

Opening Day is one of those sets that arrived during a period when I wasn't collecting cards. I believe the first year that I saw them was with the 2005 set. I didn't know what they were at first glance because they looked similar to the flagship set, with a few alterations. Of course, that is one of the big complaints about Opening Day with collectors. That, and those icky magenta-ish borders Topps used last year.

All of that aside, there are other elements of this card that I traditionally don't like. The card is too busy. The photo is too small. The border is too thick. The player's name is listed up the right side, vertically. I hate the "LAST NAME" identification across the top. That killed 2005 Topps for me.

Given all of that, why is this card here then? Well, here is what it does have:

1. It's a cool action photo. I've always liked action shots, even though they're extremely commonplace now.
2. It's a horizontal card. I love horizontal cards. I wish they would make a whole set of them.
3. I like the team name written in logo form. To me, that was one of the bright spots of 2005 Topps.
4. I like that Opening Day used the color blue, instead of gold, with the last name. It matches quite well with a number of teams (including the Dodgers).
5. Finally all of the colors on the border -- and even the Opening Day logo -- match well with Wagner's uniform. Combine that with the photo and it all has a festive, baseball feel. A true "Opening Day" of the baseball season feel, if you will.

I'm not convinced this is the best way to present this photo. Strip away a lot of the extra stuff on the card and present this photo with minimal border or no border, and maybe the card would look better. Or maybe it would look like every other no border card.

But as it is, the 2005 Topps Opening Day Billy Wagner card, is something to appreciate. And I'm as shocked about that as you are.


  1. I actually don;t mind Openind Day because they're a cheap fix for a card addict. HOWEVER, I hate that the cards int he Opening Day set are not as updated (i.e. not photo shopped) like cards in the case set. Checkout the Andruw Jones card from 2008. It shows him as a Brave where as his regular topps cards features him as a Dodger. LAME.

  2. Yup, Ben, I've got both of those Jones cards. That's pretty bad.

  3. The only 2 things I like about the Opening Day set are (1) cheap and (2) non-glossy fronts are better to hold autographs.

    Other than that, they're knock-off pieces of crap.

  4. I liked the first few years of Opening Day (1999 to 2002) better when the cards featured a silver foil opening day logo shield. Since 2003, they've had the same Opening Day logo just printed on. The sets used to be smaller as well, just 165 cards. In 2007 they went to 220 cards. I've never really understood the point of the set. Upper Deck has been doing something similar with First Pitch a few years ago and First Edition the past few years.