I feel like I've had this blog for a while now, but the "Cards of the Year" posts are the first things that I can say are in its third year. So… welcome to the third annual Cards of the Year. In the first year, there was only one post, while the second year ballooned to four. This year, I've (kinda) split the difference and gone with two. This is the first one.
This one is all of my favorite Padre cards, the next one will be… all the other cards. Hopefully it's entertaining enough for all you non-Padre fans.
Honorable Mention: Heritage / "Rookie Stars" Daniel Webb & Chris Robinson #398
This is the only Padre card that will (probably?) ever be made of Chris Robinson. I've written before about how awesome Robinson's story is, but to sum it up, he's a total grinder who spent nine years in the minors, before making it to the majors in 2013 for eight games, and got two hits in twelve at bats - one was a home run. I am trying to get as many of these cards as possible, and am up to 36 cards. While I love this card, it was still hard to put it in the top ten, but it still gets a shout out here.
10: Topps "Before They Were Great" / Tony Gwynn #BG-7
If you're going to include Tony Gwynn cards in every set from here to eternity (I don't think I'm complaining here, but maybe I am a bit), please please please, Topps, do it right! This is an example. Gwynn from the brown uniforms of the 80s is the way to go. If you go with the blue and orange, then go early 90s. Nothing post '98. It's a plus that the design is a pretty good one. Some thick-but-not-too-thick card stock too.
#9: Donruss "Diamond Kings" / Chase Headley #30
Oh, Chase. We had some good times. Remember 2012? It was magical. Well, not for the rest of the team, but for you. RBI champion? Who woulda thunk that? Since then, it hasn't been great, and after some bungled negotiations, you ended up in New York and we ended up with Yangervis Solarte. All of these are forgotten memories when looking at this beautiful card. You are a Diamond King, Chase. No one can take it away from you.
#8: Heritage High Numbers / Tyson Ross #H522
Tyson Ross is a bad, bad man. If you haven't seen his slider, you can tell by the way he's tossing that baseball up in the air. What a menace.
#7: Gypsy Queen (printing plate) / Andrew Cashner #253
#6: Topps (acetate) / Andrew Cashner #227
In terms of "hits", these cards should probably be at the top of the list. The Gypsy Queen card is a 1/1, and the acetate card is numbered out of 10. These look pretty cool, so in that sense, these should be higher, but overall, I'm not enamored with the design of either of these sets in general. I mostly just love these because they're rare and they're of my favorite current Padre. Still pretty freaking sweet, but just short of "top 5" status.
#5: Donruss "Elite Dominator" / Tony Gwynn #26
Alright, so Topps had the brown-uniformed Gwynn, but you can tell by the design of this blog, the blue and orange is near and dear to my heart (but I still want them to #bringbackthebrown). Not only is this a great shot of the greatest Padre, but it's a cool throwback to the 90s inserts. Gwynn was a Dominator. That sounds pretty accurate to me.
#4: Topps (pink) / Alexi Amarista #US-324
Now that the Padres are acquiring guys with legit talent (I haven't posted it on here, but if you follow me on twitter, you've seen how excited I am about getting Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, and Brandon Morrow), I wonder if my favorite players will still be guys like Alexi Amarista and Yangervis Solarte. In terms of cards though, a horizontal card of a walk off hit of a guy who's a few inches shorter than me is a pretty cool one. Not trying to rub it in the faces of Diamondback fans, but I love seeing the catcher in the background slowly trudging off the field. ALEXI!
#3: Donruss "Breakout Pitchers" / Andrew Cashner #20
I feel like this design is almost so bad that it's actually pretty good. On one hand, it seems like the bricks flying through the air - after Andrew Cashner… I dunno, breaks through the wall during his windup? - seems a little amateurish. Still… I guess I just like that somebody besides me thinks that Cashner is an exciting pitcher.
#2: Archives (autograph) / Bip Roberts #FFA-BRO
Archives is the best "worst" set ever. Padre selections in the last three editions of the set have been slim (four cards - three Gwynns and a Headley), and the novelty of seeing recycled designs with modern players is quickly wearing off, but they've knocked it out of the park with their "Fan Favorites" autographs. Last year, they included Benito Santiago (got it) and Fred McGriff (need it), and this year they nabbed Bip Roberts. This is awesome. Shoot, this needs to be higher, right? EDIT: before hitting "schedule" on this post, I bumped it up from fifth to second.
#1: Bowman (Hometown) / Andrew Cashner #182
As soon as I saw this card, I pretty much knew that there was no topping it. Being a Padres fan in Texas, this is about as good as it's ever going to get. My favorite player in a throwback uniform from my childhood and it has a background of the Texas flag? I'm not sure that they could do to make it better. Great stuff.
Well, there you have it. Maybe a little short on stars (really, there weren't any on the 2014 roster, and there are only so many Tony Gwynn cards that you can put out now that he's been out of the game for over a decade), and maybe a little heavy on Andrew Cashner (he owned 40% of the countdown), but I think that's as good as I can get.
Overall, probably a little underwhelmed with a lot of sets this year, but I'm really looking forward to next year when I'll be able to collect cards of legit All-Star talent players. On the Padres. Might have to rely on trades a little more, since there might be more collectors who want to hold on to them cards of those guys.
Definitely wasn't a problem I ran into adding to my Chris Denorfia collection.