Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these — almost three years, in fact.
Not that there haven’t been plans. We’ve got a Jim Landis in the hopper, a Steve Stone ... for now, however, plans unwritten.
But with the release of the new Topps baseball card set, the first day of spring training games seemed to be a good time to trot it back out. Especially after I saw the White Sox team card for 2021.
Back in an earlier age, team cards depicted the team photo, and the back had a checklist of all players in the set.
Here’s the best White Sox team card ever made — perhaps the best team card Topps ever printed (oh my goodness, the shorts):
Today, team cards are different. There is no checklist of players in the set, and the team card depicts a scene from the season. Here’s last year’s White Sox team card, pretty standard fare:
Frankly, they can be a little boring.
But this year’s team card is downright bizarre:
Understanding the the pickings were more slim in a 60-game season, and photo access more limited, this one is nuts.
Primary focus of the shot is the least emotive member of the club, Dylan Cease. His palpable enthusiasm has spilled over to Adam Engel, impassively passing. Yoán Moncada, who can turn a dugout into Cafe Disco at the tiniest sneeze of snuff, looks like he is about to be sentenced to jail for the autotune on “Disastre Personal”.
Cease was downright bad last year, so his dugout kudos here were likely him just coming in pregame from the bullpen, ready to start a game. And we can’t get too down on Dylan for his noticeable indifference, as this is a spring training game (as evidenced by the hideous hats), complete with four-more-weeks-of-this? stares in full evidence.
But if there was ever a single card that did not depict the excitement of a White Sox team on the rise and throwing open its 2020s contention window, it may be this one.
However, that is not reflected by the the other cards in the set, which is a fabulous, 70th-anniversary issue from the godfather of baseball cards.
Here’s a cool sampling of other 2021 Series 1 Topps cards: