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Monday, March 24, 2008

Card of the week 3/24/08

Opening day is just a few hours away. The MLB marketing geniuses put the opening series in Japan this year, resulting in a 6am opening pitch. By the time many of you read this post, the game will already be over and the jet-lagged A's and Red Sox will be resting up for the second game of their series. I understand why they're opening up the season in Japan. It's a great marketing opportunity, Japan loves baseball, it kinda had to be a regular season series to get any publicity (how many people watched the Dodgers/Padres series in China, hmmm?) and Bud wants to really push the international flavor of the game in preparation for next year's World Baseball Classic. I understand it all, but it just doesn't feel like Opening day, ya know?

First of all, 6:00 AM. 6:00 AM. I love baseball, but I love sleep too. And that's 6:00 AM for the Sawks fans, the poor left coast schmoes who root for the Athletics have to be up at 3:00 AM to watch their team. I guess ESPN or whoever is televising it will have a replay at some point (or maybe MLB expects us to all have insomnia or a TiVo or both) but watching a rerun of opening day just doesn't have the same oomph. I'll probably have some sleep-deprived brain cells die off, but I'll be watching at least some of it. It's got a couple of interesting teams in the game. The Sox have their World Series Championship lineup pretty much intact. The A's still have some good young players in the lineup despite the fire sale. Boston is pitching hometown (or home country, rather) here Dice-K in the opener. Blanton, Harden and Houston are solid pitchers when healthy and it will be intriguing to see if that lineup can gel when half the team got traded. Hopefully it will be intriguing enough to keep me from nodding off.

Still, as interesting as the matchup is, isn't opening day supposed to be featuring the Reds, not the Red Sox? And in Cincinnati, not Tokyo? I know, they haven't had opening day in Cinci for years, but it still galls me a bit. At least open up with a National League game, not those whippersnapper American Leaguers. Those Johnny come latelys weren't even formed until the 20th century. Then they get the DH, win a bunch of All Star Games and all of a sudden they're hot stuff. Bah. And don't get me started on having to check my Fantasy lineup this early... I'm still combing the waiver wires for players that might have a starting job out of Spring Training. Heck, there are still Spring Training games GOING ON. Nope, it just doesn't feel right. Opening day should be a national holiday, not a 6:00 AM wake up call.

That's why I chose this card to be this week's Card of the Week. Yep, a stinking checklist. An Opening Day checklist. See how that ties in? It's also an ugly checklist. Well, an ugly set to be exact. Gaudy red borders for no reason at all. Just because. Notice that the design team took so much care in selecting just the right colors for the set that they chose a red that clashes with the red border for the little circles for the B, S, B and L in Baseball. The blue don't look so hot, either. That's not all, the printing process got gooped up a bit and there's splotches on the card that smear the print and almost obscure Jason Bay, Josh Beckett and Jack Cust on the list. Now, that might just be a little glitch, printer errors do happen even in this day of high quality control. One thing that is not an error is where I pulled this card from the pack. Most readers out there have ripped enough Topps to know that the Checklists are usually filler inserts in the packs, kind of like the Top of the Class or Rookie Cup ads. The checklists can still be annoying, especially after you've pulled a half-dozen of each one, but they don't count against you towards the number of cards in the pack so who cares. Well, this checklist was not a filler. It replaced a regular card in the pack. It's printed on the same stock as the rest of the set, so I'm guessing it was on purpose and not just a pack that was short one card. In a pack with only 6 cards to begin with, getting shafted on one card isn't very fun.

So we have a disappointing opening day game and a disappointing Opening Day card. Luckily there is a remedy for the opening day game blues. The Braves play the Nationals Sunday night in the Nat's new home park. It will be all alone on the schedule, there will be fanfare and bunting and the President throwing out the first ball. History will be made. Will Chipper Jones get the first hit in the new stadium? Will Ryan Zimmerman hit the first homer? Can the Nats christen the stadium with a win? That's a real opening day game, and you won't have to drink an extra pot of coffee at work the next day either just to stay awake.

So the opening day problem has been solved, so what to do with our crummy little checklist? Why, the only thing that should be done with crummy little checklists:

Now that felt pretty good. That felt real good actually. I kinda want to go out and buy a couple more packs now so I can check off a few more boxes. Maybe I'll do that for opening day.

Update: Apparently Jeff Schultz agrees.


Bay Rat North West said...

Well said and Bravo to Jeff Schultz and Hank Aaron.
Why not move the Super Bowl to Paris or Sydney?
It is 6:300 AM Mountain and I have missed opening day. There is no reason this game could not be played the second day of the season. No reason.

DaveH said...

I will always associate Opening Day with the Reds. Growing up in KY in the 70's there was always great anticipation. Why Opening Day? And why the A's? Sawks makes some sense as defending champs but the Athletics?

dayf - I thought you weren't buying this Topps OD stuff. Was there some confusion at the checkout or something?

dayf said...

I bought two packs when it first came out to check it out. Last year's set looked pretty nice with the white borders but this year.... yeeccchh. This card was the big 'hit' in the second pack.