Monday, August 10, 2009

The best, so far

I've finally gotten my act together enough that I can figure out what my favorite cards of the year are -- so far.

At the end of the year, I'd like to present them all and maybe have people vote on what their favorites are, or provide suggestions on what should be considered the best of 2009. But for now, I'm going to show the best of what I have. My favorites.

I have completed only one '09 set so far this year -- Topps base. So I am lacking quite a few cards from the year. However, based on the limited cards I've seen, I think I can safely say that nothing from Upper Deck's trashy trio, Piece of History, Spectrum or X, is going to make the list. I feel just as safe about Bowman and Topps Attax. There are other sets I feel less comfortable about -- Upper Deck base and O-Pee-Chee, but I've got a relatively good idea about UD base already, and I still plan to buy more OPC.

You will notice one dominant set in the upcoming Top 20 -- Topps base. That's partly because I have the whole set and partly because it's obvious they went out of their way this year to fulfill this goal -- give collectors photos that they have never seen before.

On with the countdown:

20. Justin Upton, O-Pee-Chee: OK, I don't expect this to make the cut at the end of the year. But I like it because it amuses the heck out of me. Upton apparently caught the ball in front of the all-you-can-eat section. And the folks front-and-center act like the ball is the most foreign thing they've ever seen in their life (What is THAT? A ball? Gaaaaaaaaaah!!!)
19. Carl Crawford, Allen & Ginter: It's tough picking an individual card from A&G (which is one of the reasons why I love it so much -- it's not about the individual, it's about the TEAM, er, set.) You can come up with only so many waist-up portrait poses. But I like this pose and I like Crawford, so it works well.

18. Juan Pierre, Topps: There are several shots of outfielders diving for the ball in the base set. I like this one the best, just because you think Pierre might catch it, but you're not sure. And Pierre doesn't seem like he's sure either.

17. Reed Johnson, Topps: An all ivy backdrop is cool. Catching Johnson off his feet in mid-backhand grab is flat-out awesome.

16. Asdrubal Cabrera, Topps: Asdrubal, if you had put the ball in Teixeira's teeth, your popularity would have skyrocketed.

15. Rich Harden, Topps: The camera angle, the all-dirt background, Harden's pitching motion, the flash of red and blue against the dirt. The shadow. It's a very pleasing shot.

14. Brandon Jones, Topps Heritage: For some reason, the look on Jones' face reminds me of cards and stars from the 1960s. A lot of the players from the '60s seem intense. That's what Jones conveys -- intensity. I like it.

13. Carlos Ruiz, Topps: Photography is all about facial expression, you young shutterbugs out there. Well, it's about other things -- technical things that bore me -- but you know what I'm saying.

12. John Lester, Topps: The Topps card of Minnesota's Brian Duensing is pretty darn cool. But this might be the action pitching shot of the year -- so far.

11. Ross Gload, Topps Heritage: Gload means business. Pay no attention to that Royals cap on his head.

10. Cameron Maybin, O-Pee-Chee: If you're going to use a studio shot, lesson one is, don't do it for half your set. But lesson two is do it like this.

9. Clint Barmes, Topps: The base set features a number of cool, tight action shots. This is one of my favorites.

8. Paul Konerko, Topps: Have you ever seen this shot on a baseball card before? I haven't. That's why it's here.

7. Chone Figgins, O-Pee-Chee: I'm a sucker for wide-angle stadium photos. I know many others are, too. How about a whole set of wide-angle stadium shots? I'd buy that.

6. Nelson Cruz, Topps: Dirt's flying! Safe or out? Best tight action shot of the year?

5. Andy LaRoche, Topps Heritage: This card would fit right in with the regular 1960 set. The dugout background. The eye black. The '60s style uniform. My favorite card of the set.

4. Reggie Abercombie, Topps: This was one of the first cards out of packs of Topps back in February. And it was my first indication that 2009 Topps was very different from 2008 Topps.

3. Clayton Kershaw, Allen & Ginter: It's my hope that Kershaw ends up having a legendary career. And then this will become an iconic card. Or as much as a card from the early 21st century can be iconic.
2. David Murphy, Topps: Is there anyone that doesn't like this card? I mean, except for bitter, twisted people who can't find happiness in anything? Not that I have any experience with anyone like that. Fantastic card. I had a hard time not putting this first.

1. Jim Thome, Topps: The photo evokes the 1950s. Heck, Thome evokes the 1950s. I think the photographer must have known that and this is what he/she produced. Wonderful. A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Jim.

That's it for now. You'll notice there's nothing from UD base on the list. The photos are pretty good, as usual. There's just nothing exceptional there, at least from what I have.

Now, it's not a certainty that any of these cards appear on this list at the end of the year. I could fall off the steps tomorrow, hit my head, forget who I am, and turn this into a blog about sheet metal. So, like, no guarantees, folks.


  1. It pleases me greatly that two Rangers make the top 6, not just because they're Rangers, but because the shots are great. I look forward to the final top 20 of 2009. Nice work as usual. My confirmation word is that a shot at me?

  2. wow, that david murphy is definitely my fav from your picks!

  3. I am very impressed with this years topps. Last years topps, IMHO, was dreadful, in terms of design. Didn't buy enough to notice any photography. Looking at your list here and I am very impressed.

    Having said that, I really like the list you put together and if I had to vote from your list my favorite card, I would have to go with the Ginter Kershaw. Big D-back fan, and I know too many Dodger fans not to cringe with I see that logo (sorry, nothing against you at all, I only mention it to give perspective on how big it is for me to pick a Dodger card), but honestly that is a sweet looking card. The composition of the image. The big ball. Sorry I just love that card.

  4. I think Topps hit the ball out of the park with this years base set, especially after lasts years fairly mediocre set. I think your 1 and 2 show this to be true, although I would swap the two. The Daniel Murphy card is one of the few cards that makes you just stop and think about all that is great about baseball on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon.

  5. the best thing about the UD base set this year is that almost all of the Royals cards have them in their powder blue unis - every single card just screams of summer - they will make you happy in january - i promise - check em out

  6. Justin Upton catches the ball in front of the all-you-can-eat section.

    Great stuff!

  7. So many great shots in '09 Topps, and the design doesn't get in the way. Part of me wonders if this is a local high water mark for them. Can they possibly be motivated to produce as good a base set next year, with UD out of the game?

  8. That Topps Harden card is a masterpiece. One of the coolest photos I've seen.

  9. #18 Juan Pierre - knowing that it's Juan Pierre, he dropped it. horrible outfielder.

    #1 Jim Thome - This would have been super-awesome had Jim done the Kleszewski sleeves! Or rather lack thereof.

  10. Frak! I love that Reed Johnson card. The Blue Jays should have kept him