Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Snorting Bull Awards: Worst Set of the Year

Last year I tried to do some end of the year wrap up post in December and it failed miserably.  It could be that it was because I was trying to type a blog post on my parents HP desktop instead of my trusty IMac, or it could be that 365 days of baseball cards is too much to sum up in one post.  This year I have decided to divide and expand at the same time.

Divide: the end of the year post into several posts featuring awards and superlatives for cool happening during the baseball card calendar year.

Expand: Last year's end of the year post just simple featured my favorite set and favorite autographs from 2012.  This year I am bring a little bit more to the table.

The only thing I feel like I am missing this year is an actual physical award.  The two problems with the actual trophy were:

1.Buying several trophies to give to people diverts money away from baseball cards which could be posted here

2. Is anyone at Topps going to claim Worst Set of the Year and actually display the trophy in their office?

No.  Without further delay: The Worst Set of the Year....

2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

I did not do a Worst Set of the Year Award last year, but this is the second year in a row that this set has been poorly executed by Topps.  I've highlighted some of the issues with airbrushing in the past, but the Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects set is the poster child for everything that is wrong with the practice.  The card above is not too bad, but I will highlight some more interesting ones in a minute.  The prospects cards are not bad, but the draft pick card are terrible.  

My basic question for Topps production practice with this set is this: If you are the only licensed card maker, why would you rush production on cards of players when you are the only game in town?  If you waited until spring, took pictures of these players at spring training, then you are still the first company with a card on the market featuring a card of the draft pick in their Major League uniform.  That would probably be too easy and improve the quality of the product.  However, let's face it: The Bowman Draft set is just a money grab.  If you put the draft players in the Bowman set the following year Topps would have one less set to put out.

So, back to the airbrushing.  The small details are generally better than last year's Bowman Draft, but the quality of the airbrushing leaves a lot to be desired.  I've broken the airbrushing down into categories:

Category One: Is That Crayon? Or Colored Pencils?  

There are a few of these cards in the Bowman Draft set, but this card seriously looks like it was colored in by a little kid on a children's menu at IHOP.  That might be a little harsh.  The person who airbrushed this card did color inside the lines, but it seriously looks like it's a sketch.  The creme color on the Phillies uniform is off too.  The hat is really bad.

Category Two:  Pro - por - tion 

The piping around the Braves jersey is a little bit off in this card, but it's not terrible.  The Braves logo is a completely different story.  It seems rather tiny compared to the rest of the jersey and does not quite seem to fit right.  Here's what the Braves alternate uniform should actually look like....

It looks like Topps missed by just a little bit on this one......

Category Three: How'd You Mess This One Up Again? 

One of the hardest parts of airbrushing a card is getting color schemes to match up.  It's why the Phillies card on the top of the page is off, but every once in awhile it seems that Topps walks into a card which might actually have an easy color scheme to airbrush.  Take for example this Austin Nicely card.  Nicely was a pitcher last spring for the Virginia Cavaliers.  If you've never seen their uniforms, here's a picture of a Hoos home uniform.

Not far from an Astros uniform and little to no work to do on the color scheme.  How in the world did Topps manage to make his uniform off-white?  Did they try to airbrush his t-shirt?  Who drew that Astros logo?  Why doesn't the guy who airbrushes hats onto players from ESPN five minutes after they're traded not work making thousands airbrushing hats on to players for Topps?

Category Four: Are Your Pixels Showing? Dude.  

I already gave away an award for worst baseball card of the year, but this card is airbrushed so poorly that there are pixel marks showing on his hat and belt.  It's almost like his mom sent Topps a Polaroid of him pitching in high school and they turned it into a baseball card.  It would be disingenuous to take away the worst card of the year from Daniel Bard and Ty Wigginton (Wiggy to his friends), but next year I am going to hold out giving that award away too soon.  This card might be the worst picture every used on a professional baseball card.  Ever.  

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