When looking at this year's Allen & Ginter checklist, a few things popped out at me.
1 - Wow, there are a lot of former players on here.
2 - I've never heard of a lot of the non-players on the list - nothing new.
3 - What? Paul Konerko didn't make the cut?
4 - There are only five Padres. On a 350 card checklist
Each of those topics could have it's own post, but today we'll focus on the "Padres Team Set". It's in quotation marks because, well, there's only five of 'em, and if it can't even begin to fill a page in a binder, it sounds like a weak team set.
First off, I'll say that as bad as the Padres were slighted, they weren't even the least represented team! The Rockies also only had five cards in the set, while the Marlins had three, and the Astros had but one (thank goodness for Jose Altuve). That is pretty bogus to me. Getting slighted in smaller checklists like Archives is lame, too (Padres had two cards, Astros had just one - Altuve again), but in Ginter? Super lame.
But enough griping (for now). Lets take a look at the Friars who made the cut.
Alonso is quietly having a solid season. His big billing was as a doubles machine that would play well in the spacious Petco Park, but after hitting 39 last year, he's only notched 9 this year. He missed a good chunk of time due to a DL stint for an injured hand, but has amassed a .286 batting average, up 13 points from last year.
Anyways, enough with the stats. This is a good looking card. Since A&G is a mostly "posed" set (excepting for the occasional horizontal action shots), things can sometimes look a little "samey" in terms of poses. However, I think that this year, they did a good job of using the bat as a prop and making things look different enough.
Here is probably the best card in the set. This has been the "Year of the Chase Headley Card", as Chase has been the only Friar to be included in every set that Topps has released. He got the short print treatment in Heritage, which means that there was a big chunk of parallels to go with it, and it happens again here, as Headley's card in A&G is short printed as well. Add the scarcity to the sluggers pose, and this is a card that this Padre fan is happy with.
At the end of the year, I'm going to post every card of Chase Headley's that I've been able to get this year. It will be a very big post, since he is the Jose Altuve of the Padres. In that post, I'll ponder if my fandom of Chase Headley, despite his poor performance this year (as of 8/16, his average is 50 points lower than last year with 80 less RBI), continues because I'm a loyal Padre fan, or if it's because Topps has inundated me with cards of him.
Of course, it wouldn't be a modern release without a Tony Gwynn card. Can I say something out of character here? I'm getting sick of Tony Gwynn cards. The guy hasn't played for over a decade, yet he makes more appearances than any Padre on baseball cards this year besides Chase Headley. Seriously, half of the Padres-related inserts in the flagship set are of Gwynn (4 out of 8). Show some love for somebody else - Chris Denorfia or Jedd Gyorko come to mind. Or if you feel the need for a retired player, how about Trevor Hoffman, Randy Jones, or Nate Colbert? At least they used Benito Santiago and Fred McGriff in the Archives set (though McGriff was shown as a Blue Jay).
Man, this is sounding really negative. Ok, well, all that being said, I'm not going to turn down a good looking Gwynn card. Though it's not quite "Card of the Year" caliber (last year's Allen & Ginter Gwynn won the 2012 title), there aren't enough mid/late 90s images of "Big" Gwynn going around these days. I'll take my Gwynn card here and say no more.
Okay, well if you thought everything up until this point has been negative, here's where it hits rock bottom. If I had to choose my two least favorite Padres, here they are. Even though I went to a game last year where Edinson Volquez twirled a one-hitter, this year he has become literally the worst starting pitcher in the majors. He currently leads the league in earned runs and his era is pushing 6. Grandal, on the other hand, has played all of 28 games this year. Between a 50 game PED suspension and a season ending knee injury, he managed a .216 average with a homer and nine RBI.
If the team set had contained anybody besides these two guys, I probably would've put them all together and filed them away into the team set binder. As it stands, these guys will be going onto the trade stack for those set collectors out there. In breaking up the band, Alonso will be filed away into my Player Collection binder, Gwynn will go into the Gwynn binder, and Headley will go into the magical Miscellaneous Padres binder.
To end on a high note, there are two Padres on the relic checklist (that are also both on the disabled list; Cameron Maybin and Cory Luebke) and three more on the autograph checklist. Unfortunately, Yasmani Grandal is one of them, but Topps totally redeemed themselves by including a card of Wally Joyner in a Padre uniform. How awesome is that? Unfortunately, that one is turning out to be pretty pricey so far, so I may never own it. But the third guy (also on the disabled list) turned out to be very affordable, so for a few bucks, I picked up this...
Casey Kelly! Supposedly a big prospect in the Padres organization, I don't know that I saw enough in his 2012 debut to merit the hype. He posted a 6.21 ERA in six starts, though he was very sharp in his debut. I got Kelly's autograph on a ball in Spring Training this year, and he seems like a nice guy, so getting this was a good score for me.
Topps seemed to prematurely anoint Kelly as the Padres next stud pitcher, since he's got autographs in three different sets (Allen & Ginter, Tribute, and Inception). The back also states that the card bears the signature of a "Star Pitcher". Here's hoping. Still, the autographed cards from Ginter are very cool looking, so I was glad to add one to the collection.
If you made it all the way down to the bottom of this post, props to you, thanks for reading my rants. Here's hoping that your baseball season has been kinder to you than it has to me and my Padres. Oh, and thanks to Judson for hosting the group break that netted me the five non-autographed cards above.