Sunday, November 13, 2011

Team MVPs, 2006 Topps

I started this series back in the spring, and after the first two segments, I promptly forgot about it. That's because my life hates order and documentation. It loves chaos and upheaval.

But I am pressing on, because when life wasn't looking, I got sneaky and stumbled across my posts from last May and rediscovered the series.

Ha, life! Foiled you again!

Oh, I know you'll be back. But I'll enjoy my small victory right now.

So, as you may or may not know, I am going through all of my complete sets and picking what I believe to be the best card for each team. I've already done so for 2010 Topps and 2009 Topps.

This is a re-enactment of what I used to do as a kid, spreading all my cards out on the floor and sorting them, determining the best card for each team along the way. I still haven't gotten all the way down on the floor for this exercise -- not saying that I can't -- but I used the table instead.

Today, I'm addressing the best card for 2006 Topps. I feel like I'm the only blogger who discusses 2006 Topps in a non-Alex Gordon context. I guess it's not the greatest set in the world, but it's the set that got me back into collecting modern stuff, so it deserves credit (or blame) in my collecting history.

When going through the set for this, I noticed how repetitive the cards are -- card upon card of a player swinging a bat in a game, or a pitcher delivering to the plate in a game. Although I wasn't collecting in the years just prior to '06, it seems that there were a few more candid photos in the sets that immediately preceded 2006.

There were so many of the same photos, that I began to select my favorites based on whether they were "different" or not. "Different" became "the best."

Anyway, without continued babbling, here are the best cards for each team for 2006 Topps:

American League East

Red Sox: Jon Papelbon; Orioles: Melvin Mora; Yankees: Derek Jeter; Devil Rays: Jonny Gomes; Blue Jays: Frank Catalanotto

Team with the best cards: Red Sox, although there are only a handful that stand out. As for the Yankees, I'm not crazy about the "Jeter gets his uniform dirty" card, but there is too much sameness among the N.Y. cards. This, at least, is different.

Team with the worst cards: Blue Jays. Those black jerseys make them even worse. But Catalanotto's batting stance is interesting.

Team that I should go back and review: Devil Rays. But I like the Gomes-Rookie Cup card.

American League Central

White Sox: Juan Uribe; Indians: Grady Sizemore; Tigers: Chris Shelton; Royals: John Buck; Twins: Torii Hunter

Team with the best cards: Indians. They have the best cards in the entire set. I don't know who photographed the Indians for this set, but there are all kinds of shots from weird angles that make them very interesting.

Team with the worst cards: Twins. Pretty average. I almost went with the Lew Ford card because I love batting cage shots, but Hunter has more going for it.

Team I should go back and review: Tigers. I only picked the Shelton card because I've never seen a photo of a baseball player practically posing in the woods. Also, I may have been so blown away by the fact that Uribe used to be able to get that high off the ground that I dismissed every other White Sox card afterward.

American League West

Angels: Kelvim Escobar; A's: Mark Kotsay; Mariners: Kenji Johjima; Rangers: Ian Kinsler

Team with the best cards: The AL West had a lot of weak cards. Angels were probably the best. They improved notably in Series 2.

Team with the worst cards: Rangers. Unlike the last couple of years, they were pretty blah.

Team I should go back and review: A's. They were mostly all the same, but Kotsay doesn't stand out that much.

National League East

Braves: Marcus Giles; Marlins: Alex Gonzalez; Mets: Jose Reyes; Phillies: Mike Lieberthal; Nationals: Marlon Byrd

Team with the best cards: Marlins. There's some pretty good ones.

Team with the worst cards: Mets. The Reyes isn't all that exciting, but neither are players swinging at a pitch or pitchers winding up. Give me something!

Team I should go back and review: Nationals. But the bald-head/shades look is just too tremendous.

National League Central

Cubs: Corey Patterson; Reds: Felipe Lopez; Astros: Jeff Bagwell; Brewers: Prince Fielder; Pirates: Freddy Sanchez; Cardinals: Jason Isringhausen

Team with the best cards: Pirates. I had to boot a couple that I really liked.

Team with the worst cards: Brewers, which just edged the Cardinals and Astros. The Fielder photo isn't anything great, but it's the only thing that woke me out of the coma that I slipped into while viewing his teammates' cards.

Team I should go back and review: Cubs. There were a couple that were possibly better than the Patterson shot.

National League West

Diamondbacks: Craig Counsell; Rockies: Todd Greene; Dodgers: Jason Phillips; Padres: Woody Williams; Giants: Barry Bonds

Team with the best cards: Rockies. Some collectors might not like the Greene shot, but this reminds me of photos from back in the late '60s/early '70s. Thirty years from now, collectors will be talking about how dorky Greene looks. Or maybe they'll start right now.

Team with the worst cards: Padres. Only Williams and the batting cage saved San Diego. Dodgers cards aren't so hot either.

Team I should go back and review: Giants. I think this is Bonds' return to Topps after his snit with them. The "hero shot" won me over, even though he's not much of a hero.

After doing this for three sets now, only the Red Sox have come up with the best cards for all three years. There is no player that has had the best card for all three years, although two players who did have the best for 2009 and 2010 Topps -- David DeJesus and Omar Vizquel -- did have semi-decent cards in 2006 Topps.

So there's another set down.

We're going to skip all the way to 1993 Upper Deck for the next one of these. That should be a fun one.

Let's hope life doesn't make me forget about this series for another six months.


  1. I was always disappointed with this set. I like the design and a lot of the photos are really cool. However, there are WAY too many instances of the uniform and team not matching. Including the one card that slips my mind that had a Rockies pic a different named, and a third team shown on the back.

    Not Topps' worst base set of the decade (that would be 2002 and its 1970s couch color borders), but overall a pretty forgettable set for me.

  2. Ya, i really think you should review the Rays. you can tell Gomes is rookie. Looks like he's trying to learn how to puff his cheeks out for a blowfish contest and not doing a very good job of it.

  3. The 2011 Heritage set features a lot of the greenery with the Tigers cards.

  4. hiflew ~

    I think you're thinking of the Larry Bigbie card. Yeah, there's a bunch of them with team and uniform not matching - I automatically eliminated those ones.

  5. I love that Tigers card. I guess the photographer wanted to try something goofy and Topps loved it. A player in the woods! Awesome!

  6. The best Rangers card may be that Marlins card you picked.