I did the “Now” players yesterday, so I’m down to my last couple posts. I’ve got 10 cards of notable players from 1963 Topps. I’ll do 3 of them today, 4 of them tomorrow and finish up with 3 the last day. I’m going to do Stan Musial as the last card for reasons I’ll explain then. Right now, 2012 has a 3 point lead, but considering these are cards based on how good the 1963 player was, making up that gap is very possible!
Card #320 – Zack Greinke / Warren Spahn
My first comparison today is two pretty good pitchers. Greinke is a former Cy Young winner, while Spahn won 1 award himself. Spahn would have had a bunch more, though – the award wasn’t around for his entire career, and it was only awarded to 1 pitcher in all of baseball, so he’d have won quite a few more.
I actually really like both of these cards. The Spahn picture is a pretty good shot of him getting a ball ready. But Greinke’s stare down is actually pretty intense for a guy who I’d never have given credit for seeming too intense. Plus, I give Heritage credit for putting a Brewer with a Brave here for the Milwaukee connection. So I’m going with a tie here.
2012 Heritage leads, 37.5-34.5
Card #380 – Carlos Pena / Ernie Banks
Carlos Pena has had a weird kind of career. I didn’t know until I saw Moneyball that he was on the A’s team in question. I don’t remember him being in the book, but that’s probably because I read the book a long time ago. He’s got a lifetime batting average of .239, which is not good, but a lifetime OBP of .352, which is very good. That’s a huge differential between those two statistics.
His baseball-reference page is interesting. He came up with the Rangers and played briefly for them in 2001, then was with the “Moneyball” A’s before being traded to the Tigers as depicted in the movies. After 3 full seasons with the Tigers, he signed with the Yankees in 2006 but played in the minors until August. That’s funny to me, because most of that time he was playing in Columbus (where I lived at the time) and I didn’t even realize it. He got released and picked up by Boston at the end of 2006, and did play in 18 games for the Sox that year. Then he signed with the Devil Rays, where he was one of the best players in baseball in 2007. Then Tampa Bay changed its name to the Rays, so on BBR, his team goes from “TBD” to “TBR”. He was still really good in 2008, then hit for a lot of power in 2009 and 2010, but his average dropped to a crazy bad level – .227 and .196. He signed with the Cubs for one year last year, but then went back to the Rays.
But Topps still has him with the Cubs, which I’m actually OK with. He’s a good matchup with Banks, who was listed as a first baseman on his 1963 Topps card. I checked this on BBR as well – and 1962 was the season he switched over to first. This was done apparently to move a guy named Andre Rodgers to short (and probably to keep Banks in the lineup).
Topps has a Banks pose in the inset photo that sure looks like he’s playing shortstop, which isn’t good since he’s listed at first. I do like the batting pose Mr. Cub is in for this card, however, I really like the Pena card. It’s a good photo – it gets both logos from his uniform on there and I like the eye black. Also, I’ve dinged Heritage previously for photo-shopping to the player’s new uniform, but keeping the card match-up with the old team. So, here I’ve got to give credit for keeping the old team and having the match-up make sense. Plus, This whole thing made me look up a lot of stuff about Carlos Pena, so I’m giving Heritage the upset win here.
2012 Heritage leads, 38.5-34.5
Card #390 – Jason Heyward / Hank Aaron
Here’s another card where I expected an easy winner but am having difficulty just outright saying the Aaron card is better. Hank Aaron has a bunch of money cards – but this is not one of them. It’s just a weird-looking picture, and the inset photo is looks strange as well. The Heyward shot isn’t anything to write home about either, but I do like the inset picture better than Aaron’s.
If it wasn’t Hank Aaron, I’d give the winner as to having the better card to Heyward. Plus, I think Heyward or Ryan Braun would be the right comparison card for Topps here, so I give Heritage some credit for that as well. Since it is Hank Aaron, and since I’m not really convinced Heyward is going to ever be the superstar some folks predicted, I’m going with a tie here.
2012 Heritage leads, 39-35
This gives Heritage an actual increase in the lead going into tomorrow, which is a bit surprising given the selection for these cards.