I am in the midst of my end-of-the-year filing of 2011 cards. Right now, I am in the middle of storing away the Topps base set. Unlike the last two years, Topps is not getting the binder treatment. It's going straight to the box.
Filing the base set takes a little time as I've always got a bunch of those things. It can get a bit tedious, but I do find items that I didn't see the first time. It helps pass the time.
For instance, why are there two Toppstown cards of Matt Garza? I know he switched teams last off-season. But still, it's Matt Garza. It took all the way to this year's update set to get a Toppstown card of Matt Kemp. If we're duplicating subjects on Toppstown cards, I think it's time to scale back on Toppstown.
Speaking of scaling back, here is the point of this post:
It's your friendly, familiar, flat-ass boring league leader card. Topps has been producing league leader cards in this style since its 2008 set.
I just can't get interested in these cards the way they're presented. To me, they're almost non-existent when I shuffle through the set. I mean, I enjoy looking at the league leaders list like any baseball fan. It's one of the great joys of following the sport. But the presentation of these cards bores me.
The 2009 style is a little better -- although unreadable. But still, the jumble of tiny action shots immediately switches my brain into shutdown mode.
Even this card, which features three memorable sluggers, just doesn't do it. It may look impressive on the scan, but there's nothing about it that will make me stop and look while going through my cards.
Part of the problem, I think, is these cards are treated as set-filler. In most years when I was collecting, if there were league leader cards, then the card featured the American League leader and National League leader on a single card. There wasn't a separate American League card and National League card for a single category. Squeeze them all on one card, I say!
Otherwise, it just looks like you're trying to pad the set.
The 1972 Topps set created separate A.L. and N.L. league leaders cards (as did sets from the '60s). I've always thought it was too much. It's set-padding. There are many other examples in '72 of Topps trying to pad the set.
But at least the portrait shot is better than the action shot of recent years. The photo space is so small, you need a tight portrait for the identify of the player to register in your brain. Action shots look too generic when they're that small.
Two players -- A.L. champ and N.L. champ -- on a single league leader card is the way to go.
But if you must go the "three leaders in each league" route, the best, I think, is the 1976 Topps set.
I call it the Olympic podium style league leader card. You've got the big photo for the gold medalist and then the two runners-up down below. Perhaps it's not the best-designed card. But I really like the presentation. The league leader isn't blended in with the No. 2 and No. 3 guys like on current league leader cards.
Plus, this is cool. Topps actually found three different photos of Tom Seaver and Andy Messersmith instead of repeating one or two of the photos. That's how it's done.
Perhaps you're wondering why I'm going on so much about this.
"Who cares about league leader cards?" you're saying.
Exactly. Topps has made us stop caring.
It's time to care about them again. League leaders are cool. They're not filler.