While many people, myself included, are big fans of the 2009 Topps Design, Upper Deck's praise has been comparatively muted. Well, I'm here to set the record straight. Upper Deck did two things very, very right this year that Topps did very, very wrong.
1. Curtis Granderson
Topps does not have a Curtis Granderson base card in Series 1. That is an absolute travesty that I recommend that the rectify in the future. In Granderson's history in Topps (2006-2009) he has only made Series 1 once--in 2008 when he was the very last card in the deck, #330. Meanwhile, Upper Deck not only includes a Granderson base card, but rightfully recognizes his accomplishments on last year's team.
|2009 Upper Deck #131 Curtis Granderson|
|2009 Upper Deck #437 Team Leaders|
To Topps' credit, they do have a Turkey Red insert of Granderson to go along with his relic and jersey cards, but come on! No Base Card? Who do they think he is--Derek Jeter?
Topps continued to employ the Golden Ratio for Tigers, giving us fans 9 whole cards of the team, two of which (Renteria & Joyce) are no longer with us. Sure, there are 10 when you count the Cobb SP, but I like talking about things like Golden Ratios, so let's ignore that for the time being. Meanwhile, Upper Deck has chosen to give us 19 delightful Tigers cards. Sure, that is like death to a collector, giving you one lone card on a new page, but it's no worse than Topps, when you add in the Cobb (the Time-Being is now over, it seems) and there are twice as many! While Topps has done a fantastic job with their photography and design this year, a few shots from Upper Deck really jumped off the card to me:
The much maligned Dontrelle Willis in one of the more entertaining pictures you'll see. Here he is, in the midst of dialogue with Barney Stinson
Barney: Dontrelle, Dontrelle, right here. You keep pitching it in the same place. You're in a rut. And I am a rut buster. I'm going to bust your rut. Throw strikes.
Dontrelle: It's not a rut, its a routine, and I like it.
Barney: And what's the first part of rut-tine?
|2009 Upper Deck Dontrelle Seeks the Strike Zone|
In one of Upper Deck's bizarre future predictors cards, they accidentally turned Gary Sheffield's 500th Home Run into a base card. Here he is, looking the way we wish he had looked for all of the last two years. You heard it here first (maybe?), I'm calling a BIG year for Sheff in 2009, starting with Home Run #500 on Opening Day (or, in the first week. Relax.)
|2009 Upper DeckSheff Hits a Ball that will Never Come Down|
In one of the truly great shots in this set, Placido Polanco displays his Gold Glove talent. Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated players in the game, Polanco's excellent defense and consistently consistent offense will make him an invaluable piece of the puzzle in '09.
|2009 Upper Deck Polanco's Head Gives Him Perfect Balance|
In all, I really do like the 2009 Upper Deck set, from a Tiger perspective. Sure, maybe 19 cards is overkill for a last place team, but 9 cards from Topps is a bit insulting. Here's to making it up in Series 2, and continued excellence from Upper Deck. By the end of 2009 I'm hoping that both sets fully showcase the Tigers' World Series Run! I'll leave you now, with a wonderfully bittersweet ending.
"The Rollercoaster" Todd Jones makes what should be his final baseball card appearance, and it couldn't be more fitting. While not the most beloved player in Detroit (My brother and I once stood up and tore our Todd Jones posters in half after he blew a save on Todd Jones poster day), his pleasant demeanor, great usage of self-deprecating humor, and remarkable ability to actually get saves (how, I'll never know) has allowed him to end his career on Tigers Fans' good side. Here he is, giving one last salute goodbye.
|2009 Upper Deck Farewell Todd Jones|