Grand Cards: YIR: Five Best/Worst Cards of 2010--Autograph Edition

Thursday, December 30, 2010

YIR: Five Best/Worst Cards of 2010--Autograph Edition

You've seen the regular cards, but I know what you're thinking. Where are those fancy cards with all the autographs and pieces of jerseys on them? Aren't those the best cards? Apples and Oranges, my friend. Here's the Citrus:

The Best (Autographs and Relics) There were some really nice cards this year. I'll start off with a personal favorite:

#5. 2010 Topps #LLR-KC Al Kaline/Miguel Cabrera Dual Relic (#/50)

I could have gone either way between this and the Hank Greenberg/Ryan Braun. In fact, part of me likes the latter better because of the whole Jew thing and because they are bat pieces, which I prefer to jerseys. But, this card is two Tigers, and two good ones at that. The Kaline jersey swatch is old and off-white. The pictures are about as big as you can hope for for a card with two people. The "Lineage," such as it were is pretty direct. The best Tiger of a generation paired with...the best Tiger of a generation. A very nice card from the flagship Topps product.

#4. Topps Triple Threads All Star Game Patches

That's the Granderson one (of course). There's also Inge, Jackson and Verlander.

People give Triple Threads a really hard time, and the product is deserving of some amount of grief for what it puts out. But you'll hear no grief from me on this. These cards are stunning. Big beautiful patches, a reasonably sized picture and a design that just sparkles and screams "All Star." I had to restrain myself from trying to pick these up (at surprisingly reasonable prices) on eBay.

#3. 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #N43BA-MS Max Scherzer Autograph(#/15)

Easily the nicest 2010 autograph that I was able to acquire this year, these N43's really pop. They are big, have bold on-card autographs and leave plenty of space for imagery and pomp, but without going over the top. A similar Miguel Cabrera card could have made this list, but I actually feel like the relic swatch is poorly integrated into the card and makes it look worse than just the autograph.

#2. 2010 National Chicle #NCR-HG Hank Greenberg Bat

For all the grief I've given National Chicle, this is one of the reasons I thought that the set had a chance to be great. This card is beautiful. The Greenberg painting is excellent, the background gives the image a 1930s and 40s art deco modernity that perfectly fits Hank's era. The bat (Yay!) piece is understated and a classy "C" for Chicle is lightly overlaid on top of it. As relic cards go, this is about as good as they get.

#1. 2010 Topps Sterling #TBGAR-19 Al Kaline 4x Relic Autograph (#/10)

You haven't seen it yet, mostly because I've been busy compiling images and creating the checklist, but 2010 Topps Sterling is the type of set that makes me want to die. It is everything that I hate, with one exception. This card.

This card is stunning. Kaline? Check. On card autograph? Check. Reasonable die-cut words? Check. Correct era team logo? Appropriate picture for the caption? Oozing class from edge to edge? Check, check, check. For its looks, subject and contents, this is your card of the year.

Honorable Mention: The Greenberg/Braun Dual, the Cabrera N43, everything from A&G and T-206 (except maybe Clete Thomas), Curtis Granderson wearing his 1909 throwbacks, George Kell, RIP.

But what about...? Austin Jackson should be on this list. He should. But he has a horrible autograph. It's pathetic. Brennan Boesch too. Just chicken scratches. You kids need a lesson from Scott Sizemore. Now that's a signature!

The Worst (Autographs and Relics)

On to the worst. There's always a lot of bad in this category, which just goes to show you that signatures and relic bits do not a baseball card make. Here are your worst offenders.

#5. Topps National Chicle #NCA-BD Brent Dlugach Autograph

I'll reserve my commentary on this to simply say that Dlugach did not play for the Tigers at any point in 2010, has barely played for them ever, is not a top prospect, has a horrendous signature and is featured on a card that makes it look like he has the mouth of a chimpanzee and a deformed arm that is half a foot shorter than his other arm. This card should never have been made.

#4. The Topps Sterling 1-2 Punch.
2010 Topps Sterling #4CCR-41 Miguel Cabrera

2010 Topps Sterling #4CCR-42 Miguel Cabrera
Just after I go and gush over Topps Sterling you'll see why I find this set so eminently frustrating. Those two cards? Yeah, they're different. One is numbered 4CCR-41 and the other 4CCR-42. The only difference is in the caption and the stupid die-cuts which are random and, well, stupid. Oh, and I'm not picking on Miguel Cabrera. A huge number of Topps Sterling cards do this exact same contrived thing to make the cards seem rare and special when they're really not.

#3. Pants. (From 2010 Topps)

I have no problem with pants. I have no problem with pants on cards. But I do have problem with a card of pants. That's what this is, a huge piece of pant on a card, with a teeny tiny little picture of the player. For a case hit in 2010 Topps these are weak sauce (Oh, and I picked images of the ones with the stripes. Others are just plain gray).

#2. 2010 Topps Triple Threads #TTXXIV-7 Miguel Cabrera abomination

I'll simply go back to what I said when I first saw this card.

That's your future MVP Miguel Cabrera in a card that holds the tentative lead for "Worst Sentence Made Out of Jersey Pieces Ever" award. When I was zoomed out on this I thought that it was written in Chinese.
This is a shining example of the worst of Triple Threads, although there are countless cards that are similarly ridiculous.

#1. 2010 Topps Pro Debut #DC-JT Justin Turner Autograph

Kill it with Fire. This is the Tigers' top prospect, who's signature (FROM ANOTHER BASEBALL CARD) has been unceremoniously circumcised and jammed into another card the main design feature of which is an abundance of empty space. No.

Honorable Mention: About 50-75% of the painfully dull Topps Tribute and the is-what-it-is Triple Threads. Oh, and Topps Sterling, which will get a link once I'm done bashing my head against a wall trying to distinguish the minute differences between otherwise identical cards to make a checklist. And probably Bowman Platinum, which is apparently awful. Basically, if Topps has a high-end set, odds are that half of it or more will be horrible, and one or two things will be awesome.