July 26, 2008
6-Pack Analysis: Color Distribution
Abstract color used to be a staple of Topps baseball card design. 1952, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1959, and 1960 all feature color prominently either as a photo backdrop or design flourish. Heck, even 1951's two sets are known by their color distinction (Red and Blue). Color made a brief comeback in the 1970s (1971's black border, team-color-coded frames in 1972 and 1975), and then seemed to disappear.
Nowadays the only place you'll find as liberal a use of abstract color is in Heritage and other retro sets. For a fan of abstract design, that's kind of depressing, but then again, retro sets seem to crowd the marketplace these days.
The reason I bring this up is that abstract color makes a small but memorable appearance on A & G cards. I'm wondering how the designers decided which color to use for which player, and if some colors are used more often than others. Yellow, blue, green, pink, greenish-grey--five colors total. And while I don't have a complete set to figure accurate percentages, I'd say from the cards that I do have, color distribution is pretty even.
Color distribution probably is not something you think about too much, I know I don't. But I also know that in those sets where color plays a starring role, it really bugs me when so many cards of the same color end up next to each other on the checklist. If we were discussing the color distribution patterns of early Nineties Score, I wouldn't have a problem; a card's color was based on the series it appeared in. But the meritocratic checklisting system Topps employed for so many years gave each set the illusion of being a random jumble of cards. By extension, shouldn't the color assignment for each card also have been random? I'm not entirely convinced the color of backdrop was part of the meritocratic system, but it's worth investigating.
Adrian Beltre If Carlos Beltran is the Generic Superstar, Adrian Beltre is a Generic Star.
Jorge Posada With Posada's career winding down, here's a question: Does he deserve to get into the Hall of Fame? Gut instinct says probably not.
Nick Markakis You know what I like? I like that some of the most exciting young players in the game play in the AL East division, and none of them play for the Red Sox or Yankees. Nick Markakis, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Scott Kazmir... actually, Markakis is the only one of those guys not with Tampa Bay. This means he's on the first bus outta Baltimore when his contract expires, he's gunning for a one-year wonder with the Orioles in a stacked division, or Nick has resigned himself to a career of personal achievement, not team success.
Fausto Carmona I find it interesting (and bad business for teams) that pitchers can put together one or two great years and then cash in for a gigantic contract. Now, Fausto Carmona is a good pitcher. But before he won 19 games last year, he was 1-10 in 2006. Is that kind of consistency worth upwards of $48 million for the next four to seven years? Even if he wins 15-19 games a year for all seven of those years, you're not looking at a Hall of Famer, and you may not even be looking at the next Rick Wise. I think the idea of the contract year is very short-sighted. And don't even get me started on Barry Zito. Fausto sure does look happy on this card though.
Francisco Liriano Gotta feel bad for Liriano. He goes from boy genius to being on the shelf for a year to wowing triple AAA crowds and yet the big league team doesn't have room for him. (By the way, if you have the video game MLB: The Show 2006, Liriano's slider is almost unhittable.)
Mini Austin Kearns I think it's really too bad the team in Washington isn't called The Senators. Did the franchise want to dissociate itself from that hapless moniker? Because really all they're doing is muddying up their current name.
Roy Halladay/Colorado State Flag The Colorado flag is cool. I wonder what the symbolism means. It kind of looks like a belt buckle.
Jesse Carlson Says he was born in December 1980, so that makes him a 27 year-old rookie. And so far he's doing fairly well in a middle-relief role for the Jays. Him and Scott Downs, man. Those Blue Jay middle relievers have been lights out so far this year. (By the way, Downs is another guy who has a 3-year hole in his career, 2001-2003.) And as a final aside, I find it interesting when rookie cards of middle relievers make big splashes in the hobby. Last year it was Joba Chamberlain and Hideki Okajima. Carlson's cards aren't attracting much interest on eBay, so was last year's flurry of interest a one-year thing?
Pack 4 Success Rate: 75% (6/8)
Markakis, Beltre, Posada, Halladay, Carmona, and Liriano lead the way for a relatively good pack.
Look for more A&G dissection tomorrow, with Pack 4.