Monday, June 25, 2018
I've mentioned a few times -- to the degree that readers probably want me to shut up about it already -- that I am very busy this month.
I just finished a week in which I had no days off. On a scheduled day off, I worked nine hours. As June reaches its final week, it is apparent that I will have posted on this blog fewer times this month than I have in any other month since I started blogging almost a decade ago.
That's just the way June is these days. What was once a light, carefree month full of SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER is now packed with every kind of busy bee activity, many of which don't fit my job description.
It all ends this week. Sure, I will have zero time to blog tomorrow and Wednesday, but after that, I can tell this month to kiss my booty. I am so looking forward to it. I am Almost Done.
To celebrate the almost end of the month that is rapidly challenging March for the least relaxing on the entire calendar, I decided to address the Almost Done cards from all of Topps' flagship sets.
For example, Drew Smyly is 2018 Topps' Almost Done card. It is the second-to-last card in the 2018 set (to avoid confusion, I'm considering the Update set a separate animal). Smyly is card No. 699 and Shohei Ohtani is card No. 700. (I will address Topps' current obsession with assigning the hot rookie to the final card in the set later). Smyly is the penultimate card in the set.
I came up with this post idea one day while noting that Rance Pless -- the topic of last night's post -- was the Almost Done card of the 1956 Topps set. There are 340 cards in the '56 set and Pless is card No. 339.
While going through Topps' history of Almost Done cards, those are the types of players that were placed in the next-to-last spot for a long time, forgotten players like Pless.
Let's take a look at the Almost Done cards for each year and note how things have changed.
1952: Eddie Pellagrini, Reds, #405
1953: Joe Coleman, A's, #279
1954: Wilmer Mizell, #249
1955: Ray Moore, Orioles, #208
1956: Rance Pless, A's, #339
1957: Bob Hale, Orioles, #406
1958: Warren Spahn, Braves, All-Star subset, #494
Spahn is the most significant Almost Done card so far as 1958 began a four-year period when Topps ended the set with All-Star selections.
1959: Warren Spahn, Braves, All-Star subset, #571
1960: Billy Pierce, White Sox, All-Star subset, #571
1961: Whitey Ford, Yankees, All-Star subset, #586
1962: Rookie Parade Infielders (Bob Sadowski, White Sox; Ed Charles, A's; Marlan Coughtry, A's; Felix Torres, Angels), #597
1963: Don Cardwell, Pirates, #575
1964: Jim Piersall, Angels, #586
1965: Twins Rookie Stars (Joe Nossek, Dick Reese, John Sevcik), #597
1966: John Sullivan, Tigers, #597
1967: Cubs Rookie Stars (Rich Nye, John Upham), #608
1968: Bill McCool, Reds, #597
1969: Dick Radatz, Tigers, #663
1970: Jim Roland, A's, #719
1971: Al Weis, Mets, #751
1972: Chuck Brinkman, White Sox, #786
1973: Jose Pagan, Phillies, #659 (the first appearance of the 660-card set)
1974: Joe Lis, Twins, #659
1975: Bob Apodaca, Mets, #659
1976: Ben Oglivie, Tigers, #659
1977: Merv Rettenmund, Padres, #659
1978: Kurt Bevacqua, Rangers, #725 (first 726-card set and therefore just the third Almost Done card to end in the number "5")
1979: Padres Prospects (Jim Beswick, Steve Mura, Broderick Perkins), #725
1980: Rick Wise, Indians, #725
1981: Steve Rogers, Expos, #725
1982: Bobby Brown, Yankees, #791 (first 792-card set)
1983: Gary Lavelle, Giants, #791
1984: Terry Forster, Braves, #791
1985: Ivan DeJesus, Phillies, #791
1986: checklist, #791
The first checklist to land on the second-to-last card in the set.
1987: Lance Parrish, Tigers, #791
1988: Ted Simmons, Braves, #791
1989: Jim Lindeman, Cardinals, #791
1990: Alvaro Espinosa, Yankees, #791
1991: Mike Benjamin, Giants, #791
1992: Danny Cox, Phillies, #791
1993: checklist, #824
Topps started lumping all of their checklists at the end at this point. This is also the beginning of the period when Topps started placing something other than an ordinary individual card of a player in the Almost Done spot.
1994: checklist, #791
1995: On Deck-Padres (Andres Berumen, Bryce Florie), #657
1996: Prospects card (Michael Coleman, Red Sox; Jacob Cruz, Giants; Richard Hidalgo, Astros; Charles Peterson, Pirates), #438
1997: Prospects card (Darren Blood, Giants; Heath Murray, Padres; Carl Pavano, Red Sox), #493
1998: checklist, #503
1999: All-Topps pitchers (Roger Clemens, Yankees; Greg Maddux, Braves; Kerry Wood, Cubs), #460
2000: Derek Jeter, Yankees, Magic Moments, subset, #478
2001: Andruw Jones, Braves, Golden Moments, #790
2002: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, Rookie of the Year, #718
2003: Postseason Highlights - Angels Take Three, #720
2004: Postseason Highlights - Fish Win World Series, #732
2005: Postseason Highlights - Game 3 of World Series (Red Sox), #733
2006: Bronx Bombers (Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield), Yankees, #659
2007: Yadier Molina, Cardinals, #660
This marks the return of the single-player base card. It's also the first Almost Done card ending in a zero. That is because the set was 661 cards in 2007, I believe because Barry Bonds -- card No. 661 -- was a late edition, as he re-signed with Topps just in time to be included.
2008: Vicente Padilla, Rangers, #659 (or Yadier Molina, Cardinals, #660)
This is when Topps started messing with the back of the set with late-addition short-prints and all the other nonsense that I refuse to chase. Card No. 661 is the short-printed Johan Santana no-hitter card, which if you believe in such cards would make Molina the Almost Done card in the 2008 set.
2009: Torii Hunter, Angels, #659
2009 Topps just gets better and better.
2010: Nick Blackburn, Twins, #659 (or Brandon McCarthy, Rangers, #660)
More hijinks. Stephen Strasburg was added as an SP at card #661, which would make McCarthy the Almost Done card. Don't you miss the good old days when there weren't two answers to everything?
2011: Clint Barmes, Astros, #659
2012: Homer Bailey, Reds, #659 OR Yu Darvish, Rangers, #660 (another late edition at #661 as a Bryce Harper SP was created just for the box-breaking junkies).
2013: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, #660 (Rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu is at No. 661 but it's not a short-print)
2014: Jose Fernandez, Marlins, #661 (Rookie Masahiro Tanaka is at No. 661 but not an SP)
2015: Joe Mauer, Twins, #700 (the first Almost Done card with a double-zero number)
2016: Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins, #700
2017: Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins, #699 (Suzuki and Warren Spahn are the only players to appear on back-to-back Almost Done cards)
2018: Drew Smyly, Cubs, #699 (There is an SP of Gleyber Torres at #699, but I'm ignoring that).
So that is the rundown of Almost Done cards for Topps. As you can see, it got more complicated as we got closer and closer to the present.
That's appropriate because the month of June certainly got a lot more complicated in the last five years. I guess you can say that about life in general.
Not even baseball cards can keep things simple.