I don’t believe I made this clear earlier, but a key element to this entire series of posts is that these are cards that made it into my collection. Up till now, I don’t believe that this key requirement potentially impacted any of my selections. However, that is no longer the case. With so many inserts — many of them with available only rather limited qualities — it is possible that I may eventually acquire a 2011 insert that I like better than the ones I discuss in this post, but at this time the following are my favorite three inserts of the year.
The first of the two runner-ups is Roy Oswalt’s 2011 Topps Black Diamond Redemption. While my previously-professed love of cards reusing old Topps designs certainly came into play, what drew me to this card is the look on Oswalt’s face. I don’t know why, but there’s something about it that reminds me of Dave Chappelle’s awesome sketch where Wayne Brady actually says, “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?” Is Roy Oswalt going to have to throw a fastball at someone’s head? It’s very possible that this is just an odd photo and there wasn’t a hint of malice going through Oswalt’s head at that time, but I’m glad I wasn’t present to find out for certain.
My other runner-up for Insert Card of the Year is Jim Thome’s Gypsy Queen Home Run Heroes card. When this set arrived at stores, There was just no good reason for his appearance as a Phillies card on baseball card. After all, it was nearly six years after his last game in a Phillies uniform. While commemorating Thome’s 400th home run in an insert series highlighting momentous home runs by current players provided justification for a Thome Phillies card, it would have made far more sense if they had issued a card commemorating his 500th home run in a White Sox uniform or maybe even his last home run in an Indians uniform — the team he will almost certainly be depicted with when he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, his surprise signing with the Phillies in November suddenly made the card feel almost prescient. I don’t know if he will actually finish his career in a Phillies uniform, but for the moment, I am glad to see him in one again and look forward to seeing him grace a few more cards as a Phillie.
And now, my pick as the Phillies Insert Card of the Year is …
Chase Utley for his 2011 Topps Lineage 3-D
At the risk of sounding like a needle stuck in the same groove of an old record, the Topps Lineage inserts were everything that the actually Lineage set should have been. If I was giving an award for worst set of the year, Lineage would be the early and obvious front runner. However, I loved all the inserts — especially this one. Cards picturing players at various points of their swing are rather common, but we see very few photos of players as they are leaving the batter’s box and heading down the line. However, such a picture is perfect for this particular insert, given that the surface of the card is supposed to create a kind of in-motion effect. Thankfully, Topps seems to have received enough feedback such as mine as next year Topps replaces its Lineage debacle with Topps Archives and Topps Fan Favorites. I know I’ll be looking forward them.
Featured Cards: 2011 Topps Black Diamond Redemption #28, Roy Oswalt; 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Home Run Heroes #HH14, Jim Thome; 2011 Topps Lineage 3-D (no number, but listed by Topps in promotional material as “T3D14″), Chase Utley