March 15, 2007

Fleer Division:
(5) 1973 Astros vs. (12) 2006 Orioles

Scoring: The two cards go head-to-head, scoring up to 3 points in each of the following categories (where applicable).

Teamwork Extra points for symmetry (even if entirely coincidental)
Coach Attire Extra points for eccentricity and/or coordination
Floating Heads Extra points if heads constitute borderline religious experience
Card Design
Photo Quality
Number of Players
Special Notation of Futility
World Champions

1973 Astros (5) vs. 2006 Orioles (12)

Teamwork The Orioles just don’t get it. You put the tall guys on the outside of the row, not in the middle where they draw attention to themselves. Instead of clean rows the Orioles give us waves. Another thing about putting the tall players in the middle: if you split the Orioles in half down the middle, the guys on the left look like they’d clobber the guys on the right. Bad form all around. The Astros, on the other hand, are symmetrical without beating it over your head and everybody’s happy to be there (especially the front row, who look like they’re there for Astros Old Timer’s Day). 1973 Astros: 3 points | 2006 Orioles: 2 points

Coach Attire The O’s do the modern thing and put everybody in a uniform. The problem with the modern thing is that the modern thing is boring. 1 point awarded. If I could give more than three points to a team for Coach Attire, I’d give the Stros about five for this card. First of all, they got an Abe Saperstein look-alike to stand on the end to the left. Then they got one of the Astrodome engineers to appear in all white (probably an equipment manager or front office guy), complete with white clomper boots, and then—and this guy is the best one on the card—they got Marlon Brando circa On The Waterfrontto stand menacingly off to the right. All he’s missing is a whip and a cigar stub and he’d be what I imagine Chuck Connors’ character The Sarge from Airplane II: The Sequel looks like on the weekends. Ah, what the hell, I’ll break my own rules on this one. 1973 Astros: 5 points | 2006 Orioles: 1 point

Uniforms I like the Orioles unis, but couldn’t they have taken the photo in their black warm-up shirts? Something to make them look tougher. The Astros are wearing some of the dopiest uniforms I’ve ever seen, but it works. 1973 Astros: 3 points | 2006 Orioles: 2 points

Background A lot of readers pointed out that the Astros took their photo in a room under the Astrodome. Can we refer to it as a fallout shelter? Would that be okay? Because that’s what I think of when I see this card, and really, I can’t think of a weirder group of guys to be stuck with for all of eternity. The Orioles should have taken their photo on the fan alley behind right field where the Boog Powell rib shack is. Even better would’ve been to have Boog in the picture and everybody standing around with paper plates. Instead there’s another goddamn Jumbotron. At least they remembered to turn theirs on. 1973 Astros: 2 points | 2006 Orioles: 1 point

Personnel 1973 Astros: Lee May, Cedeno, Dierker, Reuss, Rader, Alou, JR Richard… 2006 Orioles: Mora, Roberts, Tejada, Ryan, Lopez… 1973 Astros: 2 points | 2006 Orioles: 2 points

Card Design As much as I dislike the 1973 design in terms of the regular player card, I think it services the team card well. There’s a nice, wide mouth for the photo, the white border isn’t intrusive and the team name is a little overwhelming but it’s usually in a color that complements the colors in the photo. It works well here. The 2006 design sucks. 1973 Astros: 2 points | 2006 Orioles: 1 point

Photo Quality For a new card, the Orioles photo isn’t outstanding. The Astros is also surprising in that it’s of much better quality than I’ve come to expect from early-1970s team photography. 1973 Astros: 2 points | 2006 Orioles: 1 point

Number of Players Orioles: 38 that we can see. I have a feeling that the green paneling in front of the seated first row that is made to look like the outfield wall is actually fake, so there may be the Oriole mascot down there…or Billy Ripken. Who knows. There are 34 Astros. 1973 Astros: 1 point | 2006 Orioles: 2 points

Total Score: 1973 Astros 20 points
2006 Orioles 12 points

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