SNORTING BULL AWARD: WORST CARD OF THE YEAR
I have done this award two years in a row and usually the worst card of the year just strikes me at some point during the year. Two years ago I gave the nod to a Don Denkinger card. For those not in the know, Denkinger blew the 1985 World Series. How does that get you a baseball card almost thirty years after the fact? Not sure. Last year Topps put players in the Update set who had not played in the Majors for six months before the set was released. Bad quality control makes for bad cards.
I am not sure where to place the finger of blame with this year's worst card. Follow Topps on any social media website and it will not take long until you are made aware of the fact that Topps has a long and illustrious history in the hobby. Stick around a little bit longer and you will find that in spite of the rich tradition and history talk the company seems to frequently step on the toes of fan bases all over the place. If you are going to claim that you have some grand sense of tradition and history then perhaps you need to make sure that your cards show that you are a knowledgable of the fans you are trying to please.
This year there were two really really terrible baseball cards made by Topps.
First up...Earlier this year I pulled a really cool Ron Gant autographed printing plate out of Topps Archives. The card featured the slugging 90s baseball player as a Brave. Braves Ron Gant was apart of some great 90s baseball teams. Braves Ron Gant was an important player in the 1991 World Series. Gant left the Braves and ended up on the Reds. Reds Ron Gant was in the playoffs and won the National League Central and pushed the team into the NLCS. Cardinals Ron Gant was a different story.
He failed to live up to a big free agent contract, which is never a good start, but ended up alienating half of his former teammates and loads of Cardinals fans with complaints about the team and specifically manager Tony LaRussa. Here's a run down if you want all of the nitty gritty dirty details. Gant spent the rest of his career as a fourth outfielder. LaRussa won a pair of World Series titles. While Ron Gant may not be quite as bad as Garry Templeton, who flipped a double bird to the Busch Stadium crowd on Mothers Day, he might easily be one of the least popular Cardinals of the past twenty years or so.
In fact, I am really surprised that Ron Gant would sign a card like this...really. I am guessing someone at Topps found this cool picture of Gant in a Cardinals uni and decided that the card would be a good idea. Again, I am not picking on Ron Gant. There are a lot of players who have forgettable stops in their careers. Anybody remember Steve Carlton on the Twins or Giants? Keith Hernandez on the Indians? Randy Johnson on the Yankees? These are all players who have had cards made during the past year by Topps. Steve Carlton is a Phillie or Cardinal. Keith Hernandez is a Met. Randy Johnson is a Diamondback or Mariner. No bad stops on cardboard.
While Gant is not as good as some of these players, he still more than 300 home runs, 1,500 hits, and an OPS over .800. Does Ron Gant deserve to have a cool throwback baseball card? Yes, but he also deserves something better than a Cardinals uniform, which makes this the co-winner of my Worst Card of the Year Award for 2014.