Grand Cards: November 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Card Cameos: The Shadow of the Empire

I understand how it works.  My favorite team, the Detroit Tigers, are a small market team.  This, by virtue of the fact that they are not in New York, or LA, or Philly,  or Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and a handful of others.  This, despite the fact that Detroit is actually the 11th largest media market in the country.  Whatever.  Small market.

And because the Tigers are a small market team, they tend to get some neglect from time to time.  Like this:

The Tigers, Division champs and ALCS participants, have TWO cards in the entire Topps Finest set. Same as Astros, Marlins and O's. WEAK.
16 Oct via web
And yes, I'm sure that the World Series Champions can complain about the same thing.  So could the Rangers.  Or the Rays or all the other playoff teams that aren't from New York, or LA, or get my point.

The card industry, like everything else it seems, revolves around "the market."  I hate the market.  I hate that every baseball card product out there feels like a Yankees team set.  Or that I get Brooklyn Dodgers forced down my throat. And the SAWX.  But I get it, I do.  Economics, man.

And as long as we get our pittance we can manage a thankful smile and say "Thank you, gov'nr" in a cockney accent to the Baseball Card Executive personified as a top-hat and monocle wearing fat cat in our heads.  Every now and then they'll throw us an extra nickel in the form of a "Ryan Perry memorial because he'll sign our cards for basically nothing" autograph or a shiny insert or some other special card that you see once in a blue moon for your own team while some Yankees collector flings it in the trash and says "ANOTHER, Mickey Mantle superfractatious atoma-fractor? Enough Already!"  Well I want an atomafractor.

Instead, the empire steals my lunch money.

2011 Topps Update: #US320 Russell Martin f. Brandon Inge


This is the best Tigers card of the year, bar none.  This may be the best action shot of a Tigers player IN A DECADE or more.  It is vintage Brandon Inge, at full extension, in an extravagant pose, at home, being awesome.  Great, great shot.

And in the background is an almost-blurry Yankee, in the midst of a somewhat ugly slide with his face partially obscured by the shadow of his helmet.


Oh that's right, there's a Yankee on it.  SLAP A YANKEE ON IT BOYS, WE'VE GOT CARDS TO SELL!

Now, some apologist may say, and they wouldn't be wrong, that at the time of design and printing, Brandon Inge had been Designated for Assignment, his days on the Tigers apparently over, and therefore a rational decision was made to use the card for All-Star Russell Martin instead.

This would not be incorrect, and would be justified.  But something tells me that if Topps followed the ins and outs of roster moves that closely they would never have produced, I don't know, this or this or this... I could go on forever if I had the time.  The point is, sure, maybe some uncharacteristically observant employee thought it imprudent to put a player that was essentially cut in an Update set.  "Oh, the criticism we shall receive!"  I'm not going to say that didn't happen.

But I am going to say, that somehow, some way, one of the best Tigers action shots ever placed on a baseball card was taken from us, and surprise, surprise, it just so happens to be the Yankees that took it.