Finest is one of those sets that I love but can never get near. It's always sitting in some card shop miles from me, both in terms of distance and price range, making nasty faces because it knows that I can't get to it.
So when there's a group break that includes Finest, I'm there. A Cardboard Problem announced a Finest break a long, long time ago -- back when everyone thought the Phillies were going to run away with the World Series -- and I jumped immediately on the Dodgers, with visions of cool, colored refractors and maybe a funky patch so I could hypnotize people who are impressed by that kind of thing.
Well, the break finally happened after Topps finished goofing around with what it was going to do with the set (oooooooh, more rookies. Thank goodness. There just aren't enough of those on cards). I chalked it up to another "worth the wait" situation. But while Marie and Sooz made the wait worth it by throwing in some extra cards, Finest did not. The 2011 Finest set is a fat disappointment for Dodger fans.
The base set is no problem. It's just 100 cards. Since it was a case break, I was guaranteed of getting multiple versions of the Dodger base cards. And I did. Plenty of Kemp (above) and ...
... Either, Gordon and Sands. There's enough to go around to all my fellow Dodger bloggers.
The design this year is just OK. It looks a lot like the cereal box/value box refractors that Topps has put out the last couple of years. I guess Topps has spoiled us with those. Plus, I have unrealistic expectations. My favorite years of Finest are 2003 and 2004 when it featured all the bright colors. I expect Finest to look like that every year.
I also have no idea if any of the base Dodgers I received are refractors. There is no notation on the back of the cards anymore. After flicking the cards around under a light for what seemed like eons, I think one of the Gordon cards is a refractor. But I don't think I'll ever know for sure.
Besides, I got distracted by the write-up on the back of the Gordon card.
Do they have a dominatrix writing copy at Topps now?
Anyway, while I was viewing A Cardboard Problem's break, watching M&S (or S&M if you want to stay with Topps' weird fetish writing) open the Finest case, I kept noticing an overriding theme.
See if you can figure it out:
Phillie, Yankee, Brave, Phillie, Brave, Yankee, Red Sox, Brave, Yankee, Phillie, Red Sox.
The Dodgers -- along with a few other teams that I don't pay any attention to -- were disappointingly lacking in this product.
It's when you get to the insert sets that Finest's East Coast Bias is most noticeable. I looked at the checklists for the insert sets in Finest (Finest Freshmen, Finest Foundations, Finest Moments) and totaled the number of cards for each team. There are 50 total cards among those insert sets. Here's the breakdown:
1. Phillies - 7
2. Yankees - 6
3. Braves - 4
4. Giants - 3
5. Red Sox - 3
6. Rays - 2
7. Orioles - 2
8. Blue Jays - 2
9. Twins - 2
10. Rangers - 2
11. Angels - 2
12. Mariners - 2
13. Nationals - 2
14. Mets - 2
15. White Sox - 1
16. Royals - 1
17. Marlins - 1
18. Reds - 1
19. Cubs - 1
20. Pirates - 1
21. Cardinals - 1
22. Astros - 1
23. Rockies - 1
Them's a lot of Phillies. Halladay and Howard, as well as Cano, Heyward and Posey, appear twice, which I'll never understand.
There are seven teams without a player among the inserts. Most of them are your usual suspects. I'm sure they have a beef, too, but the ones that are really conspicuous are the Brewers and the Dodgers.
Don't tell me it's because the Dodgers suck. They finished above .500, which is better than a lot of teams. And they have legitimate, collectible players on their team.
I know there are Dodgers in the relic and autograph insert sets in Finest, but there is almost no chance I'll see those. I also know that this is a blessing in disguise for me -- no inserts to chase! No money to blow!
But I like Finest. I think it looks pretty in the binder. I want its cards. I suppose I could just track down some colored refractors, but Finest doesn't even have a blue refractor this time out. Blue is the all-time best refractor!
Finest is no fun this year.
But the ladies cheered me up with a few extras.
Staying with the shiny stuff. These are the last two base Dodgers that I needed from this year's Topps Chrome.
And this is the last (and only) Dodger insert from Topps Chrome, unless I want to chase the hits. This is one of those "vintage" chrome refractors modeled after the design used the first year of Topps Chrome. Not a great design, but a great card.
This is about all that's left for me with Chrome -- tracking down colored refractors. So happy I have Sands in my possession now. That will help prevent me from needlessly grabbing a few Chrome rack packs in cash-strapped times.
The two Prime 9 Dodgers from that hobby shop set. This is a cool little set, and I treasure every Koufax that I can get (you, too, Jackie).
The Koufax card, as you can see, is actually a hair smaller than the Robinson card. I don't know if they're all cut like that. It will bother me for 2 minutes and then I'll never think of it again.
The same goes with Finest's treatment of the Dodgers. When Finest comes around next year, I'll probably be jumping at the chance to get in a break, with visions of a fancy, shiny, colorful cards.
That's the thing about shiny. I can't say no.