Monday, August 18, 2014

The extra sixty

By now, I'm sure a lot of you know that some early info on 2015 Topps has been released.

The things that get the most publicity are usually the new design, new inserts, new gimmicks, that sort of thing. What caught my attention most was something that was almost hidden below all the hype.

2015 Topps will have a 350-card checklist. You read that right. Not 330. 350.

Assuming Topps stays consistent between Series 1, Series 2, and Update, that's a grand total of 1050 cards across the entire year. We're talking Topps Total territory right here.

Topps will have 60 more checklist spots to play around with next year. Even factoring in the usual gluttony of All-Stars in Update, multiple cards for guys like Harper and Trout, League Leaders, and all the other specialties, that still leaves a lot of potential. That, then, begs the question.

What should Topps do with those extra 60 cards?

The first is something I've begged for over and over again and makes me sound like a broken record. But it needs to be said as much as possible.

If you're not going to revive Total, Topps, at least keep the spirit of it alive. Give maybe some of those 60 slots to guys who you've failed to recognize these last few years. I'm talking middle relievers, bench guys, that sort of deal.

If he doesn't appear in 2014 Update, the ignoring of current relief stud Andrew Miller will remain an absolute crime. The guy hasn't had a Topps card since 2010, despite being one of the premier bullpen anchors in the game.

It's time Topps cut him a break.

In a perfect world, Topps would revive their Pro Debut series in its original form.

An entire 150-card checklist devoted to rookies who made their first big league appearances the year before.

Topps produced Pro Debut from 1990 to '92, but then abandoned the idea for no particular reason.

The backs are some of the most intricate in cardboard history.

Each contain an in-depth article, written in newspaper form, detailing the player's debut and a bit of other background information.

I'm not asking for Topps to bring back Pro Debut as it was in the '90s. That'd be nice, but I realize what a big project it would be.

All I'm asking for is maybe a ten-to-twenty card subset in the style of the old Pro Debuts. I know Update has a couple Rookie Debut cards thrown into the checklist nowadays, but they don't really stand out from all the other cards Topps produces.

I'd like to see the original newspaper-like formats make a comeback.

If you're not going to do that, Topps...

...then at least give us some kind of newspaper-like series.

I will go on record as saying that there has never been a bad newspaper-themed subset in cardboard history. There's something about it that makes for nearly perfect baseball cards.

Topps hit a home run with their "Year in Review" inserts from a few years back. Something along those lines would be terrific, only make it part of the base set this time, Topps.

You could give bonus cards to guys and not make me mad about it. Feature whoever you want. Include Puig. Include Harper. Include all the big names.

I know you want to.

Steal some of your competitors' ideas for all I care.

For a few years during the overproduction era, Donruss came up with the idea to include one or two artful images of some of the game's past greats. This beauty from '87 Donruss features Roberto Clemente, who would have turned 80 today.

My suggestion is to perhaps include a few cards of legends who passed away the year prior. Maybe 2015 Topps could include some original artwork of guys like Tony Gwynn and Don Zimmer.

I think it would be a fitting way to honor their legacy.

Fleer came up with a brilliant idea in 1984.

Some of the cards in their Superstar Special subset were actually parts to a whole. You may notice that this shot of Al Oliver appears off-center and fractured. There's also a border on one side of the card, but not the other.

That's because it's one of two parts of a bigger picture. Put Mr. Oliver together with Tim Raines and you have one mega card. (How I haven't yet completed any of the two-part Superstar Specials is beyond me.)

Fleer ditched this idea after a single year, which makes it perhaps the greatest one-and-done concept ever. 

I don't know about you, but I think it's due for a return.

One of the things I'd most like to see revived is Upper Deck's long lost Final Tribute stamp.

Card companies have gone out of their way to cram rookies, rookies, and MORE ROOKIES in our faces over the years, but barely any recognition has gone to the longtime greats going off into the sunset.

For a short while in the late '90s, Upper Deck came up with the great idea of including a Final Tribute designation to those who wrapped up their careers the year before. In 1997, Collector's Choice featured a little pennant, while the standard UD Flagship cards included badges.

I personally prefer the pennant, but I'd be fine with either one. Or maybe you have a new design in mind, Topps. All I'm hoping for is a little subset that gives proper farewells to guys like Jeter and Konerko.

I don't think it's too much to ask.

For all I know, Topps might already have a scheme in place for what they want to do with those extra sixty slots.

I highly doubt they'll use any of my ideas, but one can only hope. Knowing Topps, they'll probably just use the space to give third, fourth, or even fifth cards to satisfy their man-crushes on guys like Puig and Trout.

But that's the cynic in me talking.

I applaud Topps for expanding their checklists to 350 cards. I really do. The real question, though, is what they do with those extra slots.

At the very least, Topps, you can at least change up the borders a bit. I'm getting sick of the boring white ones over and over again. How about channelling the spirit of early Score and...

Wait, what?

Oh, I see.

You're doing that already.


That's a start.


Mike said...

2015 already!?....year-round hobby!!

gcrl said...

Amen. I need a card of jamey wright in dodger blue again.

Mark said...

I'm not even up to speed on my '14 Series 1 team set. Looks like some intern at Topps just discovered photoshop on the work computer. The design almost made me throw up in my mouth.

JediJeff said...

350? Yay - 20 more cards of Puig, Harper, Trout and Cespedes!

Tony L. said...

I think *everyone* other than Dodgers fans would love to see Jamey Wright back on the mound in Dodger Blue.

I have an idea as to what Topps might do with some of those extra slots. We're talking 40 extra cards over Series 1 and Series 2, so here's my guess:

30 Team photos
10 extra minor leaguers

Yup, I'm calling it now.

I'd love to see the Cubs team cards from the late 1970s, though, when the team didn't take a "team photo" and Topps had to put 25 or so floating heads on a team checklist card.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I'd like to see: Managers, relievers, backup catchers.

Here's what I fear we will see: a 40-card Jeter tribute

Matthew Scott said...

I'm with you on the relievers and utility guys. Tony Watson was an All Star this year for the Pirates and all he has is a few low end rookie releases.

defgav said...

Fleer did those paired-up cards at least one other year, too.. For instance, in 1983 Fleer there's a "Speed & Power" duo, with Rickey and Reggie each having cards splitting a picture.