Back Without Popular Demand! That's right, after at least a two-year absence, it's time for another 6-Pack Analysis. In this installment, I'll be searching out the elusive Perfect Pack from a box of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter.
While I painstakingly remove six packs from the box for analysis, let's review the ground rules for this adventure. As I stated back in March 2006, analysis of a pack must be based on the merits of each card and how they complement each other, and a Perfect Pack is one that contains a perfect storm of the best cards of the set.
In the case of Allen & Ginter, many of the "best" cards in the set aren't really a part of the set at all, but one-off chase cards. So then, can there be a Perfect Pack that does not include one of the best chase cards? My answer is yes, and not just because it is the most convenient answer. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the answer has to be an emphatic yes. Otherwise, technically there would be only one or two Perfect Packs in the known Allen & Ginter universe. And what if one of those packs with a once-in-a-lifetime card has seven others that are really terrible? Just the chance of that occurring makes the whole system feel a little cheap.
So! A Perfect Pack does not have to contain a well-publicized, you're-never-going-to-find-one chase card. To go back to the first point, each card in the pack factors into the overall success of the pack (the pack's Success Rate, shown as a percentage).
Right. I've got the six packs lined up and ready for dissection and analysis, I've donned my safety goggles and white lab coat, turned off my cell phone, and have hidden the tv remote.
Mark Teixeira Sometimes I wonder who the photographer is on some of these cards, Teixeira's included. Billy Barty? Warwick Davis? Peter Dinklage? Barty's deceased, so I'm guessing that gives more work to Davis and Dinklage. Also, is it just me or does Teixeira's left arm look disturbingly big, like it extends way past his knees?
Carlos Beltran There are a few generic poses for sidelines baseball cards: standing, bat raised, glove raised, ball shown in faux-pitch, smiling, not smiling, glaring, indifference. Carlos Beltran chose "bat raised." Here's a question: Are there Generic Superstars? You'd think that would be an oxymoronic statement, but I'd argue that right now in his career, Beltran is as generic a superstar as you can get. Don't misinterpret that statement: he's a great player. But he's also one of those guys you forget about (and really only remember when they're busy clobbering your favorite team senseless).
Matt Cain Here's another photo shot from the ground up. Why not just give the player a digital camera and tell him to hold the camera in one hand and take a self-portrait? Seriously, it wouldn't be any worse. Also, Matt's from Germantown, Tennessee, the boyhood home of former SNL-er Chris Parnell. Parnell is the only former cast member to be fired from the show twice.
Mickey Mantle This is just a great photo of Mantle, in my opinion one of the best Topps has used in the past few years. The artistic stylings leave a little to be desired, as this card almost could be confused for a rejected image from the 2005-06 Topps 1952 Style basketball set.
Mini A.J. Burnett It's nice to get a mini card in every pack, and it's even better to get one featuring landscape orientation. You know, I just noticed that Topps is still claiming Brooklyn as its home. Last time I checked, One Whitehall was in Lower Manhattan. Why don't they just write "New York, New York" on their cards? I'm surprised the Ghost of Brooklyn Present hasn't rattled its chains around Eisner's bed lately.
David Wright Jersey Relic Neat looking card, even though the actual swatch has to be less than 1 centimeter square. I'd like to see a jersey swatch card that is 80% swatch and 20% card border.
Andrew "William Ocean" Litz For a minute there I thought he was Soy Bomb. Nope, he's the American air guitar champion. Oh well, maybe 2009 for Soy Bomb. You know, that could make a great campaign: "Vote Soy Bomb for A&G 2009" Seeing as how he's not really the champion of anything (except maybe confusing the hell out of people), probably the only way he'll get into next year's set would be if the person who cracks the A&G code would donate their place...
Lisa Leslie What's great about this card is that Leslie apparently plays for the Purple Team.
Pack 1 Success Rate: 87.5% (7/8)
Pretty good pack. Bona fides in Mantle, Teixeira, Leslie, and the Wright Relic, plus Generic Superstar Beltran, Pseudo-Soy Bomb, and a mini Blue Jay. If only Matt Cain could bring down his ERA, then we'd really have something to talk about. Perfect Pack? Hard to say, so soon into the 6PA. It should be noted that there will have to be higher standards set for a Perfect Pack Success Rate in this product, simply because there are only 8 cards to a pack.
Pack 2 coming soon!