You may have heard me mumbling over the last few months about not being sure whether I would attempt to complete the 2011 Allen & Ginter set.
This is a big deal for me because I have completed A&G sets for the last three years. I still love the concept, love the look, and think it's easily the most interesting thing that Topps or anyone puts on cardboard each and every year.
But last year's set may have been my least favorite so far. I just didn't feel it. The look wasn't as appealing, the selection of subjects just wasn't as riveting (the revolving door card excluded, of course). I began to have my doubts.
Then I got a glimpse of the design of this year's set. I have to say I'm not thrilled with it.
I don't like the gold border, don't like the mish-mash of stuff at the bottom of the card that basically separates the card into two separate sections. Don't like that it reminds me of 2009 Upper Deck. I just don't like it.
So I guess that's it then. I'm not collecting it this year. No Gint-a-Cuffs for me.
Well, yeah, that's really what I was thinking.
Then I saw the checklist on baseballcardpedia.com. I'm not talking about the relics, which look amazing. Or the insert series, which are cool as usual (especially the Uninvited Guests series and the cards you can plant).
I'm talking about the plain old regular base set.
It's packed with female athletes.
Now, I know that A&G always has some female athletes in its set. But it's mostly one player you really like (a Jennie Finch type) and a bunch you've never heard of before.
Well, this year's A&G has a bunch of female athletes you've heard of before. Or at least I have.
I know what you're thinking. Isn't she the chick who whined after she didn't start four years ago and basically threw her teammate under the bus?
Yes, yes, she is. I don't care. I've always thought Solo was a phenomenal athlete, looks terrific, and that being intensely passionate about wanting to play for your team is a tremendous trait, especially if you're playing for the USA.
I cannot wait to get her card.
But that ain't all.
Fellow U.S. soccer player Heather Mitts is in the set. She is the most awesome cutey to ever play soccer, and she does it extremely well.
Don't like soccer? Diana Taurasi is in the set. You can't get better than her on a basketball court. I think she'll even beat up some Turkish drug testers for you.
Personally, I prefer Sue Bird, who happens to be my most favorite women's basketball player of ALL-TIME. And, oh yeah, she's in A&G this year.
So is Kristi Yamaguchi.
And Annika Sorenstam.
And Nancy Lopez.
And Picabo Street.
Isn't that phenomenal?
These are some of the greatest female athletes EVAH and there's not a HUH? in the bunch.
I love that.
Oh, sure there are some non-baseball playing guys in the set, too.
Probably my favorite one is Johnny Mac. He's one of my favorite athletes of all-time. Yes, part of the reason is he says whatever the hell he wants, and he doesn't care who cares. But also, I loved watching him play tennis. It reminds me of the days when me and my uncle used to watch tennis together and just scream at the television.
Dicky V. is in the set. I don't know if he'll be wearing a Rays cap, but I'm happy to see him here. Love him or hate him, he's a great guy, especially if you're a sportswriter. He will talk to you no matter how small your paper or what you want to ask. He always has time for you.
Oh, and this guy is in the set. Ick. I'd rather have another Stuart Scott card. In my opinion, Jim Nantz caters to the pretentious side of sports and that aspect (and him) needs to go away forever.
Kyle Petty is in the set, too. But NASCAR and I don't get along.
Anyway, I'm sure there are lots of other people that I've never heard of in this year's set. And not all of them will be the rookies that seem to plague A&G. But that's part of the fun, too, finding out about these people who have done amazing things.
If you haven't figured it already, I am definitely collecting the set again this year. Content has trumped design. It doesn't matter what the cards look like if you have subjects like this.
So, I'm in! Thanks to the spectacular female athletes and Johnny Mac. I'll be an A&G fiend again this July.
If all of the above doesn't convince you then maybe this does:
This is Aimee Mullins. She is a double amputee. She had both legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant. Since that time she has competed against able-bodied athletes in college, competed in the Paralympics, modeled, been named one of the most beautiful people in the world, worked in movies, and been a motivational speaker.
And she is card No. 79 in 2011 A&G.
I am so in.
(Oh, yeah, there are baseball players in the thing, too. John Lindsey has a card, Dodger fans!)