Sunday, February 24, 2013

Righting a Baseball Card Injustice

I went to Target this afternoon.  That alone is exciting enough for a new post, but there's more!  I was going to get bread and milk for my family.  I also needed to buy some pens, which happen to be on the opposite end of the store.  There's still more.  After procuring my pens, I went down an unmanned checkout aisle to get a soda pop.  I wanted a Diet Dr. Pepper.  Farther down that aisle were the baseball cards.  I thought to myself "oh man, I used to love baseball cards."  It's true.  In fact, this card is burned into my brain and remains my favorite card ever.

I stood there looking at the cards.  At first, I was surprised.  Then, I was confused.  There were packs and then there were jumbo packs, then there were these value boxes and then there were some other value boxes that were bigger.  It was overwhelming.  I had invested a good five minutes into this venture, so I decided I would buy a pack of baseball cards.  I scoured the area for something familiar.  There were old looking cards that were new and there were some packs that had only 3 or 4 cards for like 5 dollars.  Now, I'm no cheapskate, but man, that seems high. 

I found the 2013 Topps.  I used to collect Topps!  In fact, that Kirby Puckett card is a Topps!  I wondered if any of the cards would have giant bats involved, but figured the only legal way to find out was to buy a pack.  So, I got the pack of 2013 Topps.  There were 12 cards for $1.99, which actually doesn't seem that unreasonable.  I'd like to turn this into a cute story where I forget to buy the milk and bread because I was so excited, but that just isn't the case. 

I arrived home and shared with my wife that I bought a pack of cards.  She didn't seem that impressed, but wasn't mad or witty or anything stereotypical like that.  This isn't a sitcom.  However, she was not nearly as excited as I was when I opened the pack. 

The cards are pretty nice.  The photos are good.  There was this weird green card that I assumed was super valuable, but the pack says there are 1 in every 6 packs.  Considering there were roughly 5,000 packs at that one Target, I'm guessing these aren't very rare.  They ugly too.  I didn't get any Twins in Twin uniforms, but I did get this little gem:

I also got rookie phenom Jurickson Profar's rookie card!  I know this because there is a logo with an RC on it:

I zoomed in on his face.  It looks painted.  I can't confirm if Profar's real face just looks like a painting, or if this is a photoshopped image.  If anyone knows the answer, please let me know.  Take a look at this bad picture and see for yourself:

As you can see, I don't take great care of my card collection:

They fell off the couch and landed there.  I had forgotten they were on the couch.  At first, the dog was very interested, but ultimately seemed bored with the whole deal:

One of the blinds is crooked.  I should fix that.  Ok, what's the point of all this?  I got a card that had a checklist on the back.  I didn't take a picture for some reason, and I'm not really able to get off the couch right now:

He does that.  Have you typed with a 90 lb dog on your arm?  You should, it adds a degree of difficulty.    The checklist is the cheese here though.  I remember when I was a kid, the checklist card was just a list of players.  It sucked.  I usually threw them out.  They didn't have a player on it or anything.  This 2013 version had Johan Santana on the front.  Very nice!  I'm a gypsy.  My wife.  Sorry, Borat loop. 

The checklist got me thinking:  do they make a card for each player?  I did some research and found that in 2012, they made 3 series of Topps standard cards.  There was series 1, series 2, and update series.  I guess series 3 would have been too predictable.  I did investigate further and found that "update series" is for players who have changed teams and other events like the all-star game and whatnot.  This confirms my suspicions that each player does not have a card.  

Side note:  Topps makes like a million different sets each year.  Some have really funny names like Gypsy Queen.  There is also a baseball card Wikipedia of sorts.  Here's the link, have fun!

Back to the task at hand.  It's simple math.  There are 330 cards in each of these Topps sets.  330 x 3 = 990.  In any given season, there are at least 750 players, but usually many more.  That should add up, but remember what I said about the "update series."  Perhaps the worst players just don't get a card.  That makes sense, right?

Oh wait:

So, that's not it. 

The reality is that some players must be snubbed!  You can't have a player on a Topps card until they actually play an MLB game.  It's a rule.  It must be a contract thing.  So, some rookies might not get cards until the next season.  That's fine.  There likely was not a 2012 Profar card.  I checked eBay quick but that was exhausting.  There are just too many colors and variations.  What happened to the days of guys holding giant bats?

I decided to find the player checklists from the three series in 2012 to see which Twins were snubbed by the good people at Topps.  In the end, I found 30 players who had cards in the 2012 sets.  I also counted 8 fairly notable Twins without cards.  Here is the spreadsheet I made.  Don't make fun of me.

Card #
Series 1
Liam Hendriks
Rookie Card
Chris Parmelee
Rookie Card
Record Breakers, not sure which one
Kevin Slowey
In a Twins Uniform, I looked it up
Carl Pavano
Joe Benson
Rookie Card
Ben Revere
Danny Valencia
Nick Blackburn
Series 2
Alexi Casilla
Note to self:  buy this
Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Francisco Liriano
Luke Hughes
I was starting to wonder
Update Series
Joe Mauer
Jamey Carroll
Eduardo Escobar
Rookie Card
Brian Duensing
Jared Burton
Rookie Card
Jeff Gray
Alex Burnett
That's right, the last card for the year is Alex Burnett
No Card
The Snubbed The Snubbed's WAR
Darin Mastroianni
0.8 WAR
Pedro Florimon
0.8 WAR
Matt Carson
0.1 WAR
Anthony Swarzak
-0.6 WAR
Cole De Vries
0.2 WAR
P.J. Walters
-0.6 WAR
Sam Deduno
0.5 WAR
Casey Fien
1.0 WAR

I listed those without cards by WAR.  The winner:  Casey Fien.  Casey Fien was pretty good last year.  He was certainly better than Alex Burnett and Jeff Gray.  Plus, Casey Fien doesn't even have a rookie card, even though he has played in parts of three seasons.  At least not one I can find.  I have decided to reward him with his own card.  I'd say the results are a bit mixed.  I'm still learning the intricacies of gimp.  A billion points if you can guess the body of the player I used.  No google, yo.

Whoa, that is terrifying.

With that, I have righted an injustice and taken you on a journey of what happens on an average Saturday in my house.  If you have feedback, I'd love to read it.  Clearly, I need more things to help me pass the time.

Brad Swanson is a professional photohop guy.  He had the title line in Star Wars.  

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