Grand Cards: Tigers Checklist: 2009 Upper Deck

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tigers Checklist: 2009 Upper Deck

Upper Deck's swan song. Little did we know at the start of the year that Upper Deck would lose it's MLB license and effectively end it's 20 year run as the producer of full-bleed, photography-centric sets. Myself, I always preferred Upper Deck in my early years of collecting, but there was the whole issue of "money" that drove me in the direction of Topps (and more realistically Fleer and Donruss) for the bulk of my early-90s collecting life.

When I returned to collecting in 2007, I was 1) impressed with how great Upper Deck's photography was and 2) disappointed with how bad their design looked. 2007, it turned out, was a bit of an anomaly, yet even still I found that in subsequent years the trend continued. Designs that weren't memorable but cards that were gorgeous nonetheless. Imagine my disappointment then, when the 2009 set was chock-full of studio shots and other unremarkable or recycled (ahem, Granderson's card) pictures.

Still, it wasn't until I started looking back through my binder and putting this gallery together that I realized how nice these cards really were, all things considered. Look at the Guillen, Sheffield, Polanco, Willis and Jones from Series 1 or the Clete Thomas and Brandon Inge cards from Series 2. These are the things that make Upper Deck great, and they are, sadly, the things that Topps has struggled to achieve in all but the rarest of sets.

So now, as we wait to see Upper Deck's next move without a MLB license and simultaneously immerse ourselves in 2010 Topps, let's take a moment to reflect on Upper Deck's last stand.

Base Set This is really what makes Upper Deck great. A huge checklist, full-bleed pictures and unique photography that has an uncanny ability to capture moments of the game that are worth remembering. The Todd Jones card does this best, as if to allow him to gracefully retreat into retirement. This year's set was marred by ugly studio shots, but the Tigers were largely spared of these. The last two cards--Wilkin Ramirez and Fu-Te Ni--were part of the "Update" set, which was only available via retail fat-packs.

#125 Armando Galarraga
#126 Miguel Cabrera
#127 Placido Polanco

#128 Edgar Renteria
#129 Carlos Guillen
#130 Gary Sheffield

#131 Curtis Granderson
#132 Marcus Thames
#133 Magglio Ordonez

#134 Jeremy Bonderman
#135 Dontrelle Willis
#136 Kenny Rogers

#137 Justin Verlander
#138 Nate Robertson
#139 Todd Jones

#140 Joel Zumaya
#428 Chris Lambert RC
#437 Cabrera/Granderson /Verlander TL

#495 Miguel Cabrera
#633 Fernando Rodney
#634 Justin Verlander

#635 Bobby Seay
#636 Clete Thomas
#637 Placido Polanco

#638 Ramon Santiago
#639 Adam Everett
#640 Gary Sheffield

#641 Curtis Granderson
#642 Freddy Dolsi
#643 Magglio Ordonez

#644 Zach Miner
#645 Brandon Inge

#945 Rick Porcello RC
#995 Gerald Laird CL
#1006 Ryan Perry RC

#U4 Wilkin Ramirez RC
#U39 Fu-Te Ni RC

Inserts I don't collect Upper Deck's inserts because I find them to be rather pointless, unimpressive and non-cohesive. From what I can tell these 2009 inserts are no exception. There is nothing here that really stands out as being impressive. Upper Deck "previewed" it's O-Pee-Chee and Goodwin Champions releases here, and repeated it's "Starquest" line of unnecessary parallel inserts. Meh.

#R17 Miguel Cabrera/Joe Mauer
#RDCL Chris Lambert RC
#GGMC Miguel Cabrera

#GN41 Miguel Cabrera
#OPC15 Magglio Ordonez
#OPC37 Magglio Ordonez

#OPC42 Miguel Cabrera
#OPC48 Miguel Cabrera
#SQ19 Miguel Cabrera

#SQ36 Curtis Granderson
#GCP-5 Gordie Howe (Goodwin Champ. Preview)

Autographs I got on the ball a little late with the autograph cards and don't know what they look like. When I find them I'll add them here, but for now "no comment." Sorry.

#??-CT Clete Thomas
#GMBI Brandon Inge (#/99)

Relics There wasn't too much in the way of Tigers relic cards in 2009 Upper Deck. The main offering was a Curtis Granderson jersey collection--single, double, triple, quad and patch versions that are differentiated by the cutout for the swatches. I'm showing you the Triple swatch (#/99), because it's my favorite. Other than that, there are two "20th Anniversary" Memorabilia cards and a non-autographed version of the Brandon Inge "Game Materials."

#GJGR Curtis Granderson
#MLBCG Carlos Guillen

#MLBJU Justin Verlander
#GMBI Brandon Inge

In all, this is generally what I expect from Upper Deck and it has the one thing that I have come to expect year-in and year-out: A huge, beautiful base set. I'm hoping that Topps can pick up where Upper Deck left off and deliver all the Tigers that my little heart desires, but I have the feeling that Upper Deck will be missed more than any of us realize.