Saturday, December 20, 2014

Snorting Bull Awards: Worst Set of the Year


We are meeting here too often.  This is how awards get named after people, or in this case a set, and it's not really a good thing.  Mental note: If Topps releases this set again next year and it is truly garbage again my award for Worst Card Set of the Year will be renamed after this product.  Really there is no need for this sort of thing to happen.  We've discussed airbrushing in several different posts over the years and no matter how it is done, collectors can all agree that it is not a good thing for the set.

So, if you worked at Topps and you wanted to showcase the talent that was drafted in the amateur baseball draft how would you go about doing this?  There are several good examples, a few mediocre examples, and a ton of poor examples.  The poor examples are mainly recent.  Here's how I view some of the draft cards over the years:

The Good: 1992 Topps Stadium Club Dome

These are sort of a classic in many circles.  Manny Ramirez was at Duke Chapel.  Shawn Green was in his backyard.  Nothing wrong with these cards.  I like Shawn Green in a t-shirt and a hat from his high school a lot better than an airbrushed Blue Jays uni.

The Bad: Leaf Products 

Leaf is always pretty good about getting draftees to sign for their different products.  They take the logos off of stuff, but they are not adding stuff either.  Treat Turner autograph?  Yes, please.  Why did you take the NC State logo off of his cap?  Disappointing, but not a deal breaker.

The Ugly (and winner of Worst Card Set two years running) Bowman Draft

I am not sure if this picture was taken while Turner was in college or playing somewhere in the minors, but he was clearly not on the Padres at the time it was taken.  It brings up the first problem with the Bowman Draft set: Quality.  

The SD logo on the hat is goofy and the jersey is off too.  I understand that almost every Topps set these days has some airbrushing, we all have bad days, but Bowman Draft just takes it to a different level.  Is there a card in the set which Topps does not airbrush?  I am not sure that there is. 

This Trea Turner is not quite as bad as the base card in the Bowman Draft set, but it still is not great.  This looks a lot like a USA Baseball photo.  The helmet is not quite right for NC State.  The earflaps on their helmets are a little bit less padded.  Almost a dead ringer for the USA Baseball helmets though and that dirt spot on the front of his jersey has a strange shape, but it's in the same spot as the number on is US National team jersey.  Pretty hard to get those dirt spots to cooperate with your airbrushing.  Even when Topps tries really really hard it is hard to make a quality product when you have to airbrush every single card.  

I had also thought about picking up a copy of the Luke Weaver card who was the Cardinals first round draft pick out of Florida State.  I saw the pitcher a few times the last couple of years with both FSU and USA Baseball.  His rookie card in Bowman Draft is inexcusably sloppy which is my second adjective I would use to describe this product.  

The Cardinals logo on his jersey is pretty bad, the hat is okay, but if you are going to go ahead and airbrush those two items on his jersey what is preventing you from fixing his maroon socks, belt, and undershirt showing on the card.  Seriously just airbrush the whole thing.  If I had been airbrushing him I would have put him smack dab in the middle of Busch Stadium.  What stopping you?  

Finally there is this awesome number Topps pulled on Casey Gillaspie cards which illustrates a total lack of consistency within the Bowman Draft product.  Gillaspie was the Rays first round pick out of Wichita State.  If you have never seen Wichita State play they have unique uniforms and they are probably pretty difficult to airbrush.  Topps actually waited until he reached the minors to take a photo of the power hitter first baseman.........

This insert card is not too bad.  The color scheme and design certainly fit with the Rays.  The helmet might be slightly off, but not bad.  What I do not understand is how you can create a decent photograph for one card and then completely miss on another card of the same player.  Here is Gillaspie's regular base card in the Bowman Draft set.....

I am not sure where this picture was taken, but the hat logo is terrible and the jersey logo is not much better.  I just do not understand why, if you are going to use airbrushing, you would not choose a card that is easy to work into something that looks good.  

I know that for many collectors the Bowman Draft product is the end of the calendar year and in many ways a celebration of the card year.  One final Bowman product and the first look at a few young stars before the new card year starts.   However, until Topps does something to change the quality and consistency in the product and clean up the sloppiness the Bowman Draft product will not be a serious set of baseball cards.  

It appears that other collectors are also down on this product too.  The set has not been out for very long and the set is already selling for just a little more than $5. 

Topps needs to seriously pull the plug on this product and do a complete revamp of what they are doing in this set.  I am not sure that Topps can ever really admit that they do something wrong, they are the only licensed card company in the game, but this would be a great set to either discontinue or go out on a limb and do something creative with.  In the meantime, I am prepared to rename the award for Worst Card Set of the Year to the Bowman Draft Worst Card Set of the Year Award.  As sure as the night is dark and water is wet, Topps will release this product again next year with all of the same flaws it has had the past several years running.

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