Saturday, December 22, 2012
Yesterday, Leaf Trading Cards announced the acquisition of the trading card portion of Ace Authentic, which was the sole company producing licensed tennis cards.
Leaf said a new product is expected to be out in February or March. I hope this is good news because a major card company (I think Leaf is a major card company, anyway) might be able to give more publicity to the sport in terms of trading cards than has occurred in the past.
Mostly what I hope is that a tennis trading card set will be available at a retail outlet somewhere for me to purchase.
To me, tennis is the second most interesting sport there is. I know that's hard for the current American sports fan to understand, but back in the late '70s/early '80s, tennis was a rock n' roll sport, the most popular thing going. Bjorn Borg, Johnny Mac, Connors, Chrissy Evert. A legion of recreational sports types were drawn to the tennis courts.
In college, I used to play against my uncle. He was a big tennis fan and we'd watch the Grand Slam events together (this was in the late '80s so we watched a lot of Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl). Then we'd hit the courts and grab a beer afterward.
To me, tennis is fascinating to play and to watch. It's a relentless mind game that taxes a player physically like no other sport. I find it endlessly interesting.
Unfortunately, not of lot of American sports fans appreciate it the way I do anymore. The U.S. game is a shell of what it was 35 years ago. The men's game, which was particularly fascinating through the '70s and '80s, has grown static, and I now find the women's game much more interesting.
Recently, I received some tennis cards from one of the few card blogging tennis fans on the web, Fuji of The Chronicles of Fuji. Tennis cards are so infrequent that I never come across any. So these, although they are five years old, are very appreciated.
I'll show you a few and try not to put all you non-fans to sleep:
Roger Federer. A throwback to the game I loved during the Borg-McEnroe days. He's often the only reason for me to watch men's tennis today, although Nadal is a lot of fun, too. Federer is probably just past his peak, but hopefully has a lot of titles left.
Ana Ivanovic. You've gotta luva Ana. I enjoy her playing style, especially on clay courts. She suffers the confidence issues that run rampant through the women's game and drive me crazy. But I like her personality and root for her a lot.
Bob Bryan. One half of The Bryans. I didn't know it was legal to show him without his doubles partner and twin brother Mike.
Bethanie Mattek, Ashley Harkleroad
They used to be doubles partners and were quite the pair. Mattek (now Mattek-Sands) was getting fined for her outfits. Harkleroad posed nude in Playboy (don't pretend you didn't know that).
Anna Kournikova. The former queen of the internet. Every third picture online was Anna in 1998, when she was like 17. Now she's 31 and nobody cares. Tennis is a young person's game (and apparently a dirty old man's game).
David Ferrer. Had a pretty good 2012, reaching the semifinals in two majors. But I want to talk about the stupid cap on his head.
I HATE caps on tennis players. Wearing them backwards is even worse. You look like a tool. Tennis players should have no headgear. If they want to wear a visor, that's OK. But the cap just looks horrible on court. And now you know why I never rooted for Andy Roddick.
Richard Gasquet. No cap! What did I just say?
Robby Ginepri. Much better. Gentlemen, this is what you should be doing.
Fuji also sent a couple cards of an earlier set called Net Pro. I know nothing about these.
A couple of players you may recognize (please note the Fuji film reference behind Agassi. Very nice, Fuji).
I like these cards better than the Ace Authentic ones. I'm hoping that when Leaf produces its set that it leaves the backgrounds in -- it makes the cards more appealing and realistic.
I know we all want superheroes on cards today, 350-pound linemen and 7-foot-2 forwards. But give me a couple of regular-looking guys or gals on opposite sides of a tennis net. Just those two people, a couple of rackets and the most fascinating game that's not baseball.
Speaking of baseball, I'm still sticking to my plan of not collecting any 2013 baseball set.
That means the floor's open for another sport. It won't be football or hockey. It definitely won't be basketball or auto racing.
That leaves tennis.
You getting all this, Leaf?