Saturday, March 20, 2010

Revisionist history

I recently completed a Topps 2010 insert cards trade with Mike of JD's Wild Cardz. He got my Legendary Lineage and Peak Performance cards, and I got his Tales of the Game and History of the Game cards. One man's trash for another man's rubbish. Or something like that.

As I've said, I really like the Tales of the Game insert set. I'm down to needing three more cards: 14, 17, 22. And it just got more difficult to complete as my Target removed any Series I packaging that wasn't a blaster. No more loose packs or rack packs. Nice work, Target. You've just forced me to shop at Wal-Mart.

Anyway, the bloody sock Schilling was one more off the want list.

I am not collecting the History of the Game cards as feverishly as the Tales cards. I can see why collectors view HOG cards with a glazed look, like they were just plopped into the middle of their sophomore year and an hour-long history class. They are rather dull.

So, forgive me for getting dull on you. But I like history.

One thing I've noticed is Topps is quite vague with its history lessons. It's as if it gets some of the details right, then looks at the final product, says "eh, close enough," and calls it a day.

For example, this card:

The card recognizes the creation of the designated hitter rule in 1973. And it displays a photograph of Fenway Park. The back details how the rule was passed and that Ron Blomberg was the first DH and that he walked in his first at-bat in his first game as a DH on April 6.

That's the end of the write-up. Topps apparently wants you to fill in the blanks, because there is no mention of Fenway Park's relevance to the creation of the DH rule.

Fine, Topps, I'll do your work for you.

The first game in which the designated hitter was used did take place on April 6 in Fenway Park in a game between Blomberg's Yankees and the Red Sox.

There. Was that so hard? Couldn't you have put that on the back of the card?

One other thing: the game was a day game, not a night game as is shown on the card picture. Also, I think that scoreboard in the photo is a little too advanced for 1973.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Topps has photos of every game in the history of major league baseball. But there's an easy fix for this:


I don't have much complaint with this card. I am assuming this is a photo of L.A. Memorial Coliseum, where the Dodgers played when they moved from Brooklyn. Once again, Topps refuses to tell you. But note how close the left field fence is to home plate. That was the Coliseum's claim to fame.

Seeing this card does make me realize I am going to need another one for my Dodger collection.

Last card and another complaint.

It's a card acknowledging the establishment of the first MLB draft in 1965. There's a nice photo of a young Johnny Bench on the front.

Now, let's say you didn't know that Bench was selected in the second round of the 1965 draft, the 36th pick overall. Would you find out from reading the back of the card?


The card mentions the process of selection in that first draft, mentions that Rick Monday was the first selection and that Monday would play in two All-Star Games in his career.

No mention of Bench.

Topps really likes toying with me doesn't it?

In the journalism business, you are taught to never assume that readers know the most basic facts. You must provide everything for them, so they are not left asking questions or forced to go elsewhere for answers. Now, I know Topps ain't journalists, so maybe that's my hang-up. But it is providing information for consumers, and it seems to want to sit in an easy chair instead and let someone else do all the work.

Topps, that is a really ugly trait.

Don't make me send Dan Haren after you.

He'll take that ball and ...


  1. I mentioned the DH card on my own blog a few weeks back, and noted the same discrpancies (the day/night game and the fact that it looks like Jim Rice on the scoreboard, who didn't play his first game until 1974). I believe the post even mentions you...

  2. Mr. Haren looks skeeery.

    Word verification: ducks

  3. I think the Bench photo is from a mid 1980s Topps 33 card Box set they put out either Home Run leaders or record breakers.

    I don't think Topps is that sophisticated. How many people do you think they employ for the write ups on the back of the card 1 or 2. That person probably is not even a baseball fan.

    But Topps was smart with its Bowman Draft set this year. There was no mention of the round the player was picked in since most players were 4th rounders and beyond and they did not sponsor the Beckett Rookie Rolodex like they did in the past.

  4. Excellent points all around. Thing is Inserts Sets should be special and I would love to collect a set like this - but when you realize that the people creating the set didn't give a sh-t then why should we?

    Its a shame, but that is what happens when you create 17 sloppy insert sets instead of 2 or 3 good ones.

  5. yes, that should be the Coliseum on the card about the Dodgers moving out west. Knowing Topps, they probably used a photo from the exhibition a year or two ago rather than a photo from the 50's or early 60s before Dodger Stadium opened. ;)

    Too bad the Dodgers still don't play in the coliseum - I loved watching the recent exhibition game on TV (and in fact, I believe it's archived somewhere in my DVD collection) and I love the Dodgers World Series film DVD from the Dodgers World Series in the Coliseum with that ridiculously short left field and super high netting.

  6. I also agree.Being a baseball history buff,when I first got wind of this set, I got very excited.It has been somewhat of a let down though.I will still try to collect the set though.

  7. I won't excuse Topps for their copy writing.

    I think we didn't get photos of Rob Blomberg and Rick Monday comes down to licensing -- it probably wasn't deemed cost-effective to negotiate the rights to use their likenesses.