Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Favourite Card of 2017

Oh dear, looks I missed another contest. Oh well ;).

Back in 2017 P-Town Tom started a contest where you just had to blog about what you deemed to be your favourite card of 2017. For the longest time I really struggled with this one. Why?


Well because the obvious pick, isn't it.

I'm not sure what it is, but something has kept me from declaring Torrens' rookie card from being my favourite. There's just something wrong with it.

I had to really dig deep to unearth exactly why I had issues with it and I've assembled this list of pros and cons.

*Helped me get over the 100 Torrens cards mark thanks to the endless number of parallels it spawned and will continue to spawn

The first reason alone should be reason enough to declare it my favourite. It would be everybody else right? And yet. I don't know. Something still feels off.

*It's an unflattering picture
*Torrens is a Padre
*Bad photo choice
*Card design kinda stinks
*Who picked that photo?!

I guess something that's always bothered me is that the picture is of Torrens running. That in itself isn't bad, but he's a catcher. That allows for lots of possibilities in terms of neat action shots and I think Topps blew it.

A quick look at GettyImages reveals a bunch of glorious catching gear shots that I definitely think would've been a lot better.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Seriously, these are all wonderful. Kudos to the photographers for the amazing photos.

This isn't my favorite card of 2017 either

It certainly doesn't help that Topps had enough sense to use this really cool shot for some injury prone quad-A guy like Kyle friggin' Higashioka of all people. Assuming that the same people were in charge of picking the photographs, they could've easily done the same for Torrens. What? Were there worries that people were going to think the two photos look too similar? Every other card in flagship is usually a generic pitcher grimacing while pitching shot or a hitter hitting at the plate shot, recurring photo choices are a stable in the card world at this point.

Because the photograph choice is iffy, the design of the card starts to come under scrutiny too. Like, no card design could have ever saved that photograph let's be honest. You could put the 2011 or 1975 templates on that picture and it would still stink. Personally I think the 2017 Topps design with it's poor-man's-version-of-2013 design works with some cards, and doesn't with others. This is one of those times that it doesn't work.

You know it's bad when the least off putting thing of all is that Torrens is a Padre. I mean look, I'm glad Torrens is a big leaguer and everything, I've come to terms with how he's on a different team now. But a lot of the vibes I've gotten from the Padres camp (and a big chunk of their fanbase) is that they don't care about Torrens. Or maybe I just need to stop thinking a few Padres fans on Twitter speak for the entire organization and fanbase :P. Or maybe they genuinely only care about Hedges?! Either way Yankees fans still care, bring him home!

Man, who knew I could get this upset over a card lol?
I mean, I don't know... I try not to be a stickler for photos, but in this case I can't change how I think the bad photo selection is enough to keep US32 away from being the best card of 2017. With a better photograph I probably wouldn't have cared about the team or the design. It checks off all of the key requirements except the biggest one.

Actually (I'm having an epiphany here guys), I'm probably being silly and making too big a fuss over a picture. In a lot of ways it's not the worst picture ever. Francisco Cervelli's rookie card didn't even have the right guy in the photograph (that's Austin Jackson BTW). The 2017 flagship design is, serviceable. Padres fans have already been through enough this winter by getting their hopes up for Shohei Ohtani (and look how that turned out) and don't need an idiot like me harping on them. And while Higgy may be made of glass, he does his best (although that's clearly not enough).

My expectations for a Torrens RC were probably way too high. Short of the Topps editing team actually having me tell them how I want the Torrens card to look, I was probably never going to be satisfied. I was always going to want that cool shot of Torrens in catching gear. Anything less would have been poo poo to me. Even with all of this said though, the photo choice is still poo poo and Topps totally should've gone with this shot.

Embed from Getty Images

Sidenote, I await a message telling me that there was some deep personal meaning to Torrens or somebody behind the photo and why Topps used it, all just to make me feel like a jackass.

Anyway, where does this leave me in terms of the best card of 2017? Well first we have to tackle two existential questions. Like how I can really justify picking a card that doesn't/can't check off all of the boxes the Torrens card (as flawed as it is) did. Or if a card can really be the best of 2017 for me if it can't even complete the essential task of being a Luis Torrens card.

Luckily for me and my dilemma, PTT already picked a non-Vogelbach card as his best of the year. Allowing me to throw that monkey off of my back. Unlike me, PTT had dozens upon dozens of Vogelmonsters to pick from. A lot of them with really sick patches at that, woof.

Alright, I've written enough words about the third best card of 2017 (according to me). Yes, you read that correctly, third. Meaning the number one spot ultimately came down to two cards which were both unique and yet really similar. It was hard but I did pick one sole winner.

It is...

2017-18 Upper Deck Hockey #132 Kevin Hayes

It came down to this card and the Don Mattingly shortprint. Both for the same reason, top notch photography that centered on the subjects showing fan service.

As you can probably tell, both of these are pretty similar and Donny Baseball had a lot of great things going for it. But ultimately it came down to how two things really put Hayes up on top.

The first is that the Hayes was taken at Madison Square Garden. The Mattingly photograph was taken during Spring Training. Fan interaction at Spring Training is a lot easier because ST happens at minor league ballparks where things like that happen regularly. But at big metropolitan venues that are home to first class shows and events (and the Knicks) like the Garden? To me that makes getting closer to the stars much more difficult/harder, and in turn that much more special.

The second is that Upper Deck's minimal card design hides less of the card than the 2017 Topps design does on the Mattingly. When I blogged about the Mattingly I mentioned how the original shot had somebody taking a photograph of Mattingly underneath him while he signed autographs. The Topps design, as sleek as it is, unfortunately hid their presence and ruined the Mattingly SP's chance of being the greatest photograph of 2017. That one element could've made a huge difference. Although to be fair, the cropped image would've reduced the photographer to a camera and part of a right arm. Still, the key word is "could've" and we'll never really know.

I actually tracked down the original picture used for the Hayes card on Getty Images (I won't embed or show the original picture because it looks like the photographer, Jared Silber, hasn't allowed others to embed it so I respect their wishes). While there is somebody (who is just standing around and not taking photographs) looking at Hayes that is hidden by the UD design bar, it's not as blocked as the camera person was on the Mattingly card since a simple crop reveals you could only see like their forehead at best. Also they look like an adult and as much as I don't want to age discriminate, their omission on the card helps keep the card in this awesome space where it looks like Hayes is just surrounded by excited kids all reaching out their hands to one of their favorite players and he's giving them pucks and high fives.

Also thanks to the original picture I was able to tell that the player that you can just barely see on the right is number 18, Marc Staal. Who you might recall is one of my favorites. Consider that the third point in Hayes' favor.

It was a well fought battle for sure but ultimately the Hayes managed to beat Don the Man for my favourite card of 2017.

This whole exercise taught me something about myself (Tom has indeed lived up to his billing as a teacher), in that I do consider the photograph to be a significant part of a card. Seems obvious since that's the only thing we really see when we look at cards, but I'm just surprised that it matters THIS much to me. As much as I try to appreciate all art (I go to the Met, MoMa and Guggenheim as often as I can for the record), unfortunately I can't appreciate all of it. Photography is art too and falls under that same subjective criteria I have for it. The name can only carry a card so far.

Right so Kevin Hayes, Zippy's card of the year in 2017. With Don Mattingly not too far behind him at second and Luis Torrens in the reluctant three hole.

What a year.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. A Hockey card? I didn't see that coming.
    The photo of Torrens reaching for the ball would have been a much better photo selection.

    1. Lol, gotta change it up sometimes my friend ;).

      And thanks for agreeing with me. A catcher in catchers gear alone is an action shot just waiting to happen.

  2. I agree! I didn't see that coming.

    I guess I won't send ZZ the Torrens 2017 Topps Superfractor I've been saving for him since he hates that card so much.

    1. Now, now, I don't like the photograph but I'll still accept the cards ;).

  3. I had a similar post a few years ago after I thought Topps did my PC guy (Tony Campana) dirty. Funnily enough, one of my alternate suggestions is very similar to the Torrens you don't like!

    But knowing he was a speedster makes more sense than a running catcher...

    1. A running speedster is fine (Billy Hamilton is a good example), but a catcher in catching gear is one of the coolest things you could depict on cardboard by default. Leaf and many of the other nonlicensed companies know this and take advantage of it, I'm still baffled as to why Topps feels the need to show catchers in anything but catching gear.

  4. Interesting. I like the photo selections on the Hayes and Mattingly cards... but I would have bet big time that the Torrens rookie card was your choice.

    1. Well thankfully you didn't and can still feel good about your finances ;).