Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hoping Jose Reyes gets treated better in 2008

The first day new baseball cards appeared in the corner store used to be one of the very best days of the year.

That annual debut lost a lot of the luster when companies started offering packs for the main sets before Thanksgiving, and began issuing new sets seemingly every other week.

The market has become a little saner now that the masses no longer believe they can finance their retirement with Mark McGwire rookie cards. Seems like the only people buying cards these days are people like me, who see cardboard rectangles with baseball players on them instead of dollar signs.

Major League Baseball has even decreed that new sets of the year actually have to come out around the time pitchers and catchers report – as opposed to trick-or-treaters.

So once again, I was excited to see new sets come out last week. I bought a couple packs of Upper Deck and a couple packs of Topps. UD is doing the usual minimalist design thing, and Topps is doing the retro thing, which means the world is turning in its proper orbit.

Alas, the only Met I was able to pull was Damion Easley in a rather pedestrian action shot. So rather than celebrate the new, let’s take only last look at the best and worst of 2007.

Let’s start with the worst, which would be this Jose Reyes card from the Topps Allen and Ginter set.

That is, the card says it’s Jose Reyes. Looking at the portrait, it could be Luis Castillo. Or Endy Chavez. Or David Newhan. Truth be told, I can’t tell who it’s supposed to be.

It’s a portrait by Dick Perez, who can be excellent – and not.

I’d say one of two things happened here.

One possibility is that Perez is right-handed and decided to see what it would be like if he painted with the brush in his left.

The other is that Perez became nostalgic for those days when Donruss had him churning out entire subsets of Diamond Kings in about an hour.

Either way, these cards are too expensive to be this bad.

So let’s dwell on the positive. Here are three cards that I thought were the best, and it happens that two came from the same set.

First is this Endy Chavez card from Upper Deck, showing his most-glorious leaping catch of Scott Rolen’s near-homer in Game Seven of the 2007 NLCS. Seeing this card almost made me forget how that game – and the season -- ended.

And note that I said “almost.” Aaron Heilman, you are still not off the hook.

And speaking of things that end badly, check out David Wright’s card from that set. The photo is from the 2006 All-Star Game, just after he smashed the home run that tied the game. Note the Astros coaches in the photo trying to touch D-Wright for some karma.

But heck, everyone knows you’re not supposed to touch an Astros coach during a game. Never. Wright might have been the MVP of that game, too, had Trevor Hoffman not gone Mota with two down in the ninth.

The graphic elements on both are non-existent. But when the photos are this good, that’s OK.

Then we have my favorite Mets card of 2007. Upper Deck did all kinds of neat things with its Goudey retro set, and this photo illustration of Carlos Delgado is just perfect. The pose, the smile, the sun illuminating his face – it’s classic baseball player as American hero.

And in this era of bat-chucking, wife-blaming, alleged B-12-injecting stars, I can appreciate a little hero worship.


Anonymous said...

How was the gum Dave?


On Base Autos said...

Love that Delgado card. I am like you. I want my kids to see cards for what they were meant to be, not dollar signs. Heck, I don't care if a card is mint,near mint or graded as a 10 by some company. I just like the cards.

Anonymous said...

My mother recently told me she saved all of our cards from when we were kids, we used to "flip" them, big neighborhood deal!!
Good times, good times!!

P.S. She also has some baby teeth if anyone is interested.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Sweet, Tim! We can make a menacing necklace with those teeth. It would look like Turk Wendell!

mmosley said...

I have got to give Dick Perez a little back-up on the sketch card. He sketched it actual size on a piece of cardboard. The original was inserted into a pack while most people got a copy. His art for the Turkey Red set was great!

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Ah! That makes sense. I still don't like the card, but it's good to know why it is the way it is.