Grand Cards: Best of 2008...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Best of 2008...

In 2008, Curtis Granderson benefited from the ubiquitous card presence and “Rising Star” status that comes with having a tremendous season the year before. Baseball card production will lag actual baseball production, so that players and teams that had an exceptional year can expect to have a greater card presence in the following year’s release. The Hamiltonian should beware, more is on the way.

According to Beckett, 816 Granderson cards were included in 2008 releases, following up on his 20-20-20-20 season in 2007. It certainly didn’t hurt that prior to the 2008 season, the Tigers were widely believed to be World Series Contenders, which of course came crashing down in embarrassing fashion. Still, there were “only” 264 Granderson cards in 2007, the year after the Tigers made the World Series, which was an enormous leap from the 43 cards that he had in 2006. For full disclosure, this “816” number is greatly distorted by Granderson’s inclusion in Topps Moments & Milestones. That set alone accounts for 436 cards plus 16 printing plates (4 designs @ 4 colors each). So, with those 452 cards set aside there are only 364 other cards to deal with, still not a number to sneeze at, but far fewer designs to parse through.

Still, With that many 2008 cards out there, Granderson fans were treated a wide range of cards, from exceptional to exceptionally weak. Along the way, some disturbing trends occurred. Let’s use my collection as a cross section. I have 132 Curtis Granderson cards from 2008 (when you only count M&M as 4 cards). Breaking them down by category:

Posed: 27 Cards; 6 Sets
Batting: 21 Cards; 7 Sets
Running: 56 Cards; 16 Sets
Sliding: 11 Cards; 5 Sets
Fielding: 8 Cards; 2 Sets
Other: 7 Cards; 5 Sets

Somehow I ended up 2 cards short here, but you get the idea. If you were to buy a random Granderson card from 2008, odds are that it would be of him running. Not only does he appear running on the most cards, but those 16 sets released in 2008 show him running. What’s worse, Granderson’s other action shots are often over-inflated by parallels in Spectrum, Co-Signers, and SPX, and many pictures being regurgitated throughout releases. Sigh.

Still, with all of that as a backdrop, there were a handful of cards that stood out to me. My “Best of” for 2008 looks at little more than the card’s aesthetic appeal—on its own and in the context of all releases for 2008. These are cards that used unique photography and layouts and can hold their own in the card world. While I like the shots of Granderson Running, their dime-a-dozen status in 2008 really hurt them in the contextual category. With that, #5:
2008 Topps Finest #FM-CG Curtis Granderson "Finest Moments" Blue Refractor

I was torn on card #5 but think that I made the right choice. The picture on this card is fantastic and emblematic of Granderson’s historic season and the refractor technology with the blue border just adds to the card’s aesthetic appeal. Unique picture gains extra points over its contenders.
Honorable metions: Allen & Ginter Mini, SP Authentic, Triple Threads 3x Relic

2008 UD Goudey #69 Curtis Granderson Mini (Black Back #/34)

I did not expect elevating a Goudey card over the superior Allen & Ginter set, but this Granderson card is one of the best from the entire Goudey release. I’ve posted about it before, and I can’t put my finger on it, but I think that the unique picture/pose and exceptional detail are what does it. The mini gets the nod over the full-sized base.

2008 UDX #X-CG Curtis Granderson "Xponential"

I just showed you this one, but it deserves another view. This card is by far the better of the UDX cards, with a seldom used shot of Granderson fielding with flip-down sunglasses, and an excellent use of design elements to make him pop off the card.


Sadly, #2 does not have a place in my collection, but this card is the real catch of 2008 Triple Threads (the inadequate picture was pulled of eBay, my apologies). The excellent relic design, large-format pictures of all players, including hall-of-famers and all stars makes for a beautiful design. Multiple parallels come in different colors, each roughly equivalent in terms of aesthetic appeal, and none as overwhelming as the standard Triple Threads card. Too bad these can’t be found for under $100


Is there any doubt? I won’t say any more about this card, but I believe that it holds its own as the best Curtis Granderson card currently in existence. It is not only the catch of 2008, but the defining card of the collection. This is my white whale.

I hope everybody enjoyed these Ultimate Checklist posts, as they will be continuing for 2009 and will be applied retroactively to all of Granderson’s releases. As somebody who champions transparency in card collecting, these are my way of giving back, by documenting every card that I come across in a picture filled and insightful way that (hopefully) goes above and beyond a standard checklist. Thanks for tuning in and there is, of course, plenty more to come.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, its getting pretty busy for Hamilton cards. He had 533 in 2008, and I figure that should be going up quite a bit.