By Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

So I’m in Washington right now as I post this (months after writing it). Wenatchee, central part of the state. I’ve been in a truck for roughly 32 of the past 63 hours, making my way from Texas on through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon on through to Washington with a co-worker, my boss, and one of his sons. I only had to drive about 2 hours or so of the 32 hour trip which came earlier today, but in that two hours was a six-mile stretch through the mountains of Eastern Oregon that had a 6% downgrade and two switchbacks. Did I mention I’ve never driven an F-350 with a 28-foot trailer on the back? Because I hadn’t. Until about 30 minutes before we hit that section. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll turn around and do it all again over about four days. This time, I’ll be driving a 26-foot U-Haul truck. Yeah. So needless to say, getting this article posted, which I originally intended for a few days ago, has not exactly been at the forefront of my mind.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled article.

I’ll level with you. I’ve only ever bought one pack of 2009 Topps. And it just came in a random repack that I picked up at Target for $10 or so. But I’ve seen enough to know that 1. I don’t like it, but 2. It’s better than some previous efforts.

First off, it’s a post-Bowman Effect set. For as much as I railed against sets lacking rookie cards because of Bowman hogging them all, with the 2006 Rookie Card Rules being put in place, this set is filled with rookies. David Price, Rick Porcello, Kila Ka’aihue (there’s a mouthful), Alcides Escobar, Gaby Sanchez, Brian Duensing, Ricky Romero, Elvis Andrus, and Colby Rasmus all debut in this set.  Even if just one of those guys turns into a potential Hall of Famer, it makes this set better than several of those mid-90‘s disasters. By my count, this set features 58 players’ rookie cards. In other words, nearly 10% of this set is new players. I like that. Like I’ve said before, I like seeing every player represented, so the more new players the better. As an autograph collector, there’s not much worse than having only one or two cards of a guy who signs a lot (second worst: having a ton of a guy who never signs). So the more players that get put on cards over the years, the happier I am. I don’t have to rely on index cards that way.

Someday, I’ll totally have a son named Gift.

The design though is a bit overdone. I like the home plate with the team logo on it. But why have the team name along with the team logo, but no position?  Take out that team name and put in the player’s position, and it’s greatly improved. Additionally, and I know I’m nitpicking again, what’s the point of that triangle up top on the left? It just feels out of place and unnecessary. Just let the photo extend into that area.

As much as I like the fact that this is a 660 card set with some big rookies and limited filler (20-30 by my count, thus leaving roughly 21 cards per team which isn‘t too bad), there is one thing I truly despise about this set and it is the existence of the “A” and “B” variations on the cards where A is the regular current player and B is an alternate version, most often a Hall of Famer. What’s the point of this? Why not just make an insert set, or some sort of subset?  I don’t care about a card of Barack Obama, nor do I have any interest in cards of Johnny Mize or Thurman Munson. The Yankee love is getting old, and so are the fake and forced errors and variations. Just give me a regular set with 25 players per team and no gimmicky attention seeking filler.

Will the real card #210 please stand up?

Moving on to the backs of the cards, I like cards where I can read the number without an electron microscope. The numbers on these are in tiny print in the upper right corner. Cards with smaller numbers and limited contrast make for slower sorting. That’s why I liked early 90’s Upper Deck cards for sorting– black numbers, white background. It went by quickly. Topps was slow– random color number, random color background. At least they usually kept the numbers big.

And another thing– speaking of Yankee love and Mantle drooling, what’s with the “Six Degrees of Mickey Mantle” junk on the backs of some cards? I don’t care how a player connects to Mickey Mantle. At all! And frankly, I think a lot of collectors are tired of having Mick shoved down our throats. I know I am. I don’t care about 536 cards of him that are almost exactly the same except that they have info about each of his home runs on the back. There are other players who have had just as big, often bigger, impacts on the game. Why so little for Jackie Robinson? Or Roberto Clemente? Or Mays, or Aaron, or Ryan, or Koufax? It’s just Mickey Freaking Mantle every freaking year!  Change it up Topps!

I think Topps is going in the right direction again, as long as they get rid of the gimmicks (like the A and B versions in this set) and Mantle worship. It was cool for a while to salute Mickey Mantle. Now it’s just getting repetitive. 2009 was one of the weaker post-Bowman Effect sets, but it’s better than if it was in the middle of it.

About the Author: Drew Pelto believes when it comes to 1940’s-70’s outfielders, Ted Williams was far better than either Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio, and Roberto Clemente had a bigger impact than any of them. He (meaning Drew, not Williams, Mantle, DiMaggio, or Clemente) lives in Texas and actually wrote this about a month ago.