Well, the time is almost here.
I'm in the final stages of comprising my official "Top 100" list that I promised all of you last month.
The first step was listing all the possible choices. I underestimated that one, as my initial list consisted of well over 700 cards.
After all that, I had to cut it down to the top 100. It wasn't an easy task, to say the least.
As the list grew shorter and shorter, the cards I was forced to "cut" pained me more and more.
With a few days of deliberation, I finally did it. I have my hundred cards. All that's left to do is rank them accordingly. (A task that probably sounds a lot easier than it actually is.)
What you'll be seeing in tonight's post is the last ten cards I was forced to cut from the semi-official "Top 100" list.
The "honorable mentions".
Pablo Ozuna probably isn't someone you'd expect to make an appearance on a list like this. Yet that's part of what I loved most about creating this list.
The name alone gets you nowhere. It's the card that matters.
As a result, Ozuna came awfully close to cracking the "Top 100" with his awesome 2006 UD issue.
I can't help but think of a superhero whenever I see this card, one who leaps into the air to put a tag on Eric Byrnes. (In what appears to be a spring training game, no less.)
While it wasn't easy, this one didn't quite make it.
Sorry, Mr. Ozuna.
Some of you might remember this as a former "impulse buy" of mine.
Judging from what Fleer captured on the front of this card, both George Brett and Gaylord Perry were able to laugh at the now-infamous "Pine Tar Incident".
That's got to count for something.
I love the look of mischief on Brett's face. Perry as a Kansas City Royal is one of my favorites from the "Short Term Stops" category as well.
It wasn't easy, but this one just couldn't cut it in the end.
Still, there's a good bet that you'll see Brett make an appearance in the "Top 100" at some point, though...
Pete Rose's claiming of the "All-Time Hit King" title in '85 is still one of the defining moments in baseball history.
Surprisingly, it was Donruss who managed to do the best job of capturing it on cardboard.
The only thing that stopped this one from securing a spot in the "Top 100" was the fact that '86 Donruss is one of the worst card designs in history.
Still, it's safe to say that anything from the "Record Breakers" category makes for an awesome baseball card.
Speaking of which...
Yes, even the capture of arguably the most hallowed record in baseball was left off the list.
Ripken is one of the more "cardogenic" ballplayers out there. Anything depicting "Game #2,131" is a piece of baseball history.
It's a good bet that most of the people who witnessed that event first-hand knew they were seeing something special. I'm sure Ripken's Orioles teammates knew it as well. One of them is even taking a video of the event in the background.
If I was ranking the "Top 101" or possibly "Top 102", this one probably would've made it.
Unfortunately for the "Iron Man", it just doesn't work that way.
Christy Mathewson pitched in 636 games during his career.
A total of 635 of those came with the Giants.
This one captures "Matty" during his one-game pitching stint with the Reds, where he'd pick up the last of his 373 career wins. (He'd manage the Reds from 1916 to 1918 as well.)
One game is about as "short term" a stop as there is.
While you're bound to see a few favorites from the "unfamiliar uniforms" category in my "Top 100", this one just missed making it.
Remember the words "Upper Deck Masterpieces".
They'll come up a lot once the "Top 100" posts begin.
This one was especially tough to cut, given the beautiful rendition of one of my all-time favorite players in Koufax.
I was sorry to see it go.
Be sure to keep "Conlon Collection" in mind as well.
It'll make a few appearances in the "Top 100".
This shot of Hack Wilson shows just how up-close-and-personal photographers were able to get back in the day. They stood right by the plate.
While I'm sure it was a dangerous job, terrific photos like this one were probably the "payoff" from a good day's work.
In terms of old-time baseball, shots don't get much better than this.
I'm a bit disappointed that I couldn't get it into the "Top 100".
In sticking with the "Conlon" theme, here's another one that just missed.
Despite the fact that they were released over twenty years ago, these colorized cards are still some of my favorite inserts on record.
Sets can give me all the shiny refractors and gold-plated cardboard they want, but few could ever top the overall greatness of these.
When I initially got this card, it was in one of those annoying graded cases. At about thirteen years of age, my solution to that dilemma was to have my friend run it over with his bike.
Surprisingly, it worked like a charm.
It's currently sitting in my binders as we speak, ready to be admired. Not one of those cases.
Had "Shoeless Joe" been in a White Sox jersey, I have a feeling that this one would've ranked high on the "Top 100". It's nothing against the Indians, but I've always associated Jackson with the Sox, first and foremost.
Anything else just looks out of place.
Unfortunately for "Rickey", this list will only comprise of cards from 1981 to the present.
As a result, his famous 1980 rookie card just missed the qualifications for the "Top 100". (I'm sure you'll see it whenever I decide to make a vintage list, though.)
Even with that, I thought his '82 Topps issue was sure to have a spot somewhere on the list.
If you were to ask me to picture the ideal card of a base stealer, this would be extremely close to what I'd have in mind.
After my "Top 100" list is finished, I have a feeling that I'll be going back and questioning a few things.
This might be one of those cards I'd reconsider.
For now, though, it's on the outside looking in.
This was the last card I was forced to eliminate.
Card number 101.
Like Masterpieces and Conlon Collection, you'll see a few appearances from the '94 UD All-Time Heroes set on my list.
This card captures a moment from Nolan Ryan's first no-hitter. I'm assuming he unleashed one of his famous 100-MPH fastballs moments after the shot was taken.
As is the case with any list, there was just one card too many. Unfortunately for the "Ryan Express", he was the last one to get the axe.
It was a tough decision to make.
Then again, no one said this would be easy.
The pure awesomeness of these cards should give you a decent idea of what awaits in the "Top 100".
After all, if these cards didn't make it, just imagine the ones that did.
If I had to put a specific time on it, I'd say to look for the list to debut within the next couple weeks, although that's not etched in stone.
Until that, let's give the "honorable mentions" a round of applause.
They certainly deserve it.