Friday, September 3, 2010

A historic subset


One of my favorite subset/insert sets of the year is the Franchise History series in this year's Topps flagship product.

I recently received the last card that I needed from that subset when Ted of Crinkly Wrappers sent it my way. Ted is so great, because you don't even have to say anything and, bam, a card package is in your mailbox full of stuff you want.

I like this subset so much because it speaks directly to one of my favorite aspects of baseball -- its history. Team history is what gives the best game in the world character. Each franchise has a personality, based mostly on its past. That past encompasses its players, managers, fans, city, and organizational beliefs and actions. The present plays a little part in the perception of the franchise, but only a little. It just hasn't been around long enough.

So, when I think "franchise history," I think of great moments for that franchise. Moments that gave that team a character, a personality.

For the most part, Topps did a good job with reflecting each team's great moments. The cards recognize either a great achievement by a particular team or great players from the team's past.

Broken down, we have:

GREAT MOMENTS


The Marlins' two World Series titles in seven years.


The Diamondbacks' World Series title in 2001.


The Rays' first ALCS-clinching victory in 2008.


The Blue Jays' World Series title in '92 or maybe '93.


The Angels' World Series title in 2002.


The Red Sox's two World Series crowns in four years.


The Phillies' world championship in 2008.


The Braves' 10th straight first-place finish in the N.L. East.


Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009.

This is the only one that is more about personal performance than team performance. I'm wondering if Topps got this photo confused with the team card of the White Sox in the set, which, I believe, shows the White Sox celebrating their 2005 Series title.

Some people complain that the two subsets are too much alike. I can see their point, especially if confusion arose in this instance. But I like this particular subset too much to want it gone.

GREAT PLAYERS


Monument Park at Comerica Park, featuring greats in Tiger history (The photo angle makes it look like it's one four-headed person).


Tom Terrific!


Rickey says Rickey thinks this is one of the best cards Rickey has seen in the entire set. Rickey really likes Rickey.


Numbers from Yankee greats. I still think retiring the same number twice is goofy.


The Ryan Express. I think of him as an Angel or an Astro first.


A very cool throwback photo. And the first team I ever learned to hate.


Cal Ripken's great moment, almost ruined by Chris Berman.


Thome and ManRam, before people obsessed about his hair.


Two guys likely going in the Hall of Fame.


The Honus Wagner statue, oddly juxtaposed with banners of Xavier Nady, Phil Dumatrait, Nyger Morgan and Josh Grabow.


Puckett and 1991. Can't have one without the other.


I wonder if any of those people know they're on a baseball card. I wonder if any of them know who Tony Gwynn is. Just asking.


Oooh, pretty.

As nice as this card is, it cuts it close in the franchise history category. But if you look closely, you can see the Cardinals' retired numbers, just below that tribute to capitalism.

STADIUMS

That Cardinals card is a good link to the next group of franchise history cards, which show stadiums. A stadium could be a key part of franchise history. Or it could be a crutch because Topps couldn't think of anything else. We'll see.


Ebbets Field gets a pass. Definitely historic.



Wrigley Field gets a pass. Especially when you include the scoreboard and the bleacher bums.


Royals Stadium gets a pass. I wouldn't say that 30 years ago, but the stadium has been around long enough, and the fountains are recognized enough that its a big part of the team's history.


The Giants get a pass. But only because of all those ESPN games featuring Barry's balloon head. Even I admit epic history was made here. Tainted, ugly, what-will-we-tell-the-kids history. But history.

OK, that leaves four cards that don't do a great job of summing up Franchise History.


The first is the Astros card. It's a picture of the replica locomotive that runs on a track at the park. It's been around for the last decade or so. Apparently, it's a tribute to the railroads that built Houston (along with just about every city in the midwest). I couldn't tell you what this has to do with franchise history.

I would have much preferred a photo of the Astrodome, or Terry Puhl or Glenn Davis or Chris Burke's home run in the 18th inning of the clinching game of the 2005 NLDS.


This photo is cool and disturbing at the same time. But there's not one time that I think of the Brewers franchise where the ballpark is even in the top 50 -- not that I'm thinking of the Brewers that much anyway.

The park is distinctive, but I'm not crazy about the way it looks inside. If the card showed a nice photo of Harvey's Wallbangers, or maybe a close up of Pete Vukovich's face, it would have been much better (and only slightly more disturbing).


Topps knows that the Rockies' history is basically crap when compared with most major league teams. But there WAS a World Series appearance in 2007. You've got material, Topps. Use it!

Besides, there's always Dante Bichette.


OK, there's nothing you can do with the Nationals. The card came out before Strasburg, before Nyger Morgan getting pile driven by Gaby Sanchez (two Nyger references in one post!)  Where are you going to go?

Stadium it is.

I really hope Topps does franchise history again next year.

Thanks for wrapping up the set, Ted.

And thanks for these cards, too:


Historic!

2 comments:

  1. Nice post, I agree with you, great subset!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Astros should have been the "Killer B's" and the Brewers card should have depicted a sausage race.

    ReplyDelete