The major impediment to selecting my autograph card of the year reared its ugly head when I looked over my 2011 memorabilia cards: I just didn’t purchase that many this year. I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that during 2011, Topps saved most of its Phillies game-used cards for its high-end products. At least, that’s where they seemed to focus their truly creative memorabilia card offerings. Unfortunately, like all their high-end product, these cards were printed in such small numbers that they were too cost prohibitive for me to really obtain any of them. Otherwise, I assure you that one of the Utley-Rollins-Howard or Halladay-Lee-Hamels joint memorabilia cards from Triple Threads would have made it into this post.
Beyond that, there was another issue at play: the game-used cards in Topps’s more mainstream sets (i.e., Topps, Heritage, Allen & Ginter’s, and Gypsy Queen) were rather pedestrian and relatively basic, thus providing little excitement. Topps didn’t even provide the courtesy of offering a double-swatch card in any of these sets, like they had in its 206 set the year before. To add insult to injury, Topps’s insistence on using an absolutely identical generic card design for multiple different types of memorabilia swatches comes across as monotonous and… well, here’s the word I’ve applied to Topps many times since the start of this blog… lazy.
Literally, the only difference between the two cards is the memorabilia swatch on the front. The backs are identical — right down to the card number on the back. As boring as that looks, just imagine what it looks like to place all three of Victorino’s Allen & Ginter’s Mini-Framed Relics cards next to each other (the three different types are bat, batting practice jersey, and road jersey).
The primary upshot of all this — at least, in regards to picking my favorite — is that there were very few contenders for the Phillies memorabilia card of the year. So few, in fact, that I was prepared to just hand the award to Jayson Werth’s Gypsy Queen jersey card. I thought it would be a nice gesture to a player who such an integral part of the team’s current run of consecutive postseason appearances. That, and I liked the fact that what was very likely his last appearance on a Phillies card — at least, last appearance that roughly coincided with his tenure with the club — was a memorabilia card. Unfortunately, as I pulled the cards accompanying this particular post, I noticed the following:
Discounting parallels, Topps only issued three cards in 2011 depicting Werth as a member of The Fightins. Their archives contain four years worth of photos showing him in a Phillies uniform, and yet they still decided to use the exact same photo for his last two cards depicting him as a Phillie. For that reason alone, I felt compelled to rescind my decision to make his Gypsy Queen jersey card the Phillies memorabilia card of the year. I absolutely refuse to award Topps for its utter laziness — yes, there’s that word again.
As a result, I am not actually bestowing any card with the honor of being selected as the Memorabilia Card of the Year. The sad fact is that it was an uninspired year for game-used cards. Nothing I added to my collection in 2010 stood out in a manner worth noting. I certainly hope for something better this coming year, but at the same time, I’m not really expecting improvement from Topps. As I said numerous times before, their MLB-sanctioned monopoly gives them no incentive to improve their product — so why should they? In fact, as their competition decreased over the past decade, so did the quality of their product. Unfortunately, there are no signs that MLB intends to end the status quo at any time.
It’s almost enough to make me wish I was collected football cards instead.
Featured Cards: 2011 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection #CCR-PP, Placido Polanco; 2010 Topps 206 Mini Framed Dual-Relics Piedmont #DR-SV, Shane Victorino; 2011 Topps 60 Relics #T60R-JR[a], Jimmy Rollins (bat); 2011 Topps 60 Relics #T60R-JR[b], Jimmy Rollins (jersey); 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Relics #GQR-JWE, Jayson Werth; 2011 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection #CCR-JW, Jayson Werth; 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed Mini Relics #FMRC-RH, Ryan Howard