This card was not ranked as the best Cubs card of the 1991 Topps set, according to me. And therein lies the "problem" with 1991 Topps. Too many great-looking cards.
As has been mentioned many times, including by me, the '91 Topps set was unappreciated in its time, and is truly great. It's obvious that Topps stepped up its game that year (just compare a couple of these cards to the photos in 1990 Topps). Whether that was because it was playing catch-up with Upper Deck, or because it had a stockpile of great photos because '91 Stadium Club was on the way, I don't know. The important thing is that I have a complete set of these cards.
Like with all of my complete sets, I am determining the greatest card for each team in the set. I've already done it for 1993 Upper Deck, 2006 Topps, 2009 Topps and 2010 Topps.
This edition was as difficult as going through '93 Upper Deck cards and figuring out the best one. But it was a joy, because I've forgotten about a lot of the photos in '91 Topps and I got to relive them all.
So, let's return to 1991 -- the year of worst to first and smelling like teen spirit.
Once again, there were only four divisions in the MLB back then (and the seven-team divisions are starting to look monstrous in retrospect). So I've grouped them in the divisions that existed then.
And, sorry to say, I am still determining all of this while seated at a table. I don't know if I'll ever get back to my childhood ritual of spreading my cards out on the floor. I'm not saying I can't. It's just, well, we must keep a clean house.
Or so I'm told.
American League East
Red Sox: Roger Clemens; Tigers: Lou Whitaker, Orioles: Billy Ripken; Yankees: Oscar Azocar; Blue Jays: Glenallen Hill; Brewers: Billy Spiers; Indians: Sandy Alomar Jr.
Team with the best cards: The Red Sox have the best cards in the whole set. If the Clemens card didn't blow everything away, I'd have a hell of a time picking between the Boggs, Evans and Marty Barrett cards.
Team with the worst cards: Blue Jays. Nothing stood out.
Team I should go back and review: Blue Jays. After a number of Jays cards put me to sleep, I kind of tuned them out.
American League West
White Sox: Carlton Fisk; Rangers: Nolan Ryan; Twins: Shane Mack; Mariners: Omar Vizquel; Royals: Kevin Appier; Angels: Kent Anderson; Athletics: Walt Weiss
Team with the best cards: Toss up between the White Sox and A's. The two cards that won are easy picks (the Fisk card is in the Cardboard Appreciation Hall of Fame, you know), but there are lots of good ones for both teams.
Team with the worst cards: Royals. I ended up with the Appier card just because you don't see the pitcher-fielding-a-grounder shot a lot.
Team I should go back and review: Rangers. Nolan Ryan is the first card in the set. It's a fairly good card, but not great. I just didn't see anything that could knock it off.
National League East
Phillies: Len Dykstra; Cubs: Ryne Sandberg; Cardinals: Craig Wilson; Expos: Rock Raines; Pirates: Gary Redus; Mets: Mackey Sasser
Team with the best cards: Cubs. I can see someone picking the Dascenzo card, or the Luis Salazar card, or the Dwight Smith card over the Sandberg card. But Sandberg is a terrific-looking card. If you blew that up into a poster, it would be amazing.
Team with the worst cards: This is a terrible thing to say on Canada Day, but both the Expos and the Blue Jays have their respective division's worst cards.
Team I need to go back and review: Maybe the Cardinals. The Tom Pagnozzi card is pretty good.
National League West
Braves: Dave Justice; Padres: Benny Santiago; Astros: Mike Scott; Dodgers: Fernando Valenzuela; Giants: Jose Uribe; Reds: Mariano Duncan
Team with the best cards: Giants. Eeesh.
Team with the worst cards: Tie between Braves and Astros. Braves are numbingly boring. The Scott card was the only decent one I could find for the Astros.
Team I should go back and review: Giants. That can't possibly be right.
And there you are -- probably the last set that I will review for this series in which the photos really, really, REALLY mattered.
Up next is 1989 Topps. So, uh, drink lots of coffee for that one.