If you read yesterday's post - and if you didn't, just scroll down and do so - you know that I am spending this afternoon in Philadelphia in the sunshine of the upper deck of Citizen's Bank Park watching my Mets (hopefully) beat the Phucking Phillies. But, through the magic of scheduled posting, this write up has appeared for your reading pleasure. Seeing how it is the first full week of the season and that I am going to Jackie Robinson Day, and since it is Complete Set Sunday, I have chosen a subject near and dear to my heart, the 2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York set.
This is a very handsome set. Granted, also a bit of a niche set, but this was Upper Deck at the height of its powers. The set covers all four major league teams that have been in New York City in the 20th century. They first cover the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today's honoree, Jack Roosevelt Robinson is there in the lower left corner. I am sure if Ralph Kiner is covering today's Mets game, he will wish him a very happy birthday.
The set selects the all-time players from each team and then highlights the best seasons of both the team and the players. It is a very well researched and well thought out set. There is also something else magnificent and unique about it...
Those brightly colored bits are not just colorful...they are FUZZY! Yes, this is the first non-kiddie set I can ever recall that, instead of foil or refraction, used fuzziness as an element of design. It makes the very attractive cards very tactile as well. The only thing more irresistible in life than shiny might just be fuzzy. I dare you to pick up one of these cards and NOT touch the little felt part.
Yes, I am kind of skimming over the New York Giants, I am pretty ambivalent towards them. Let's get to the best part, that's right, my Metsies! and look, here they are!
OK, so maybe the Mets don't have the Hall of Fame superstar selection that the other three teams have, but they are probably more beloved than all the other three teams put together. Yeah yeah, the Brooklyn Dodgers were worshiped by a whole borough, but that was, like, 60 years ago. And remember, they LEFT! Sure, at one point I loved my ex-girlfriend, but she walked out on me and barely bothered to say goodbye. Face it, for all the love and myth-making, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the psycho ex-girlfriends of New York baseball (and the Giants are just the over-infatuated wannabe boyfriend who followed them). OK, I am getting all worked up here over a history that isn't even my own; this is a good opportunity to look at the backs of the cards.
Gotta love cards that include full career stats and good write ups. This is a habit that Upper Deck worked itself into and then, sadly, got itself out of. Luckily, this set lands right in the middle of their disciplined period of fabulous full stat backs. I also like the graphic that echoes the front picture and uniform number. The yearly highlight cards also have very well written info. Did I mention how well put together this set is?
It is obvious that the Mets don't have a lot of great position players, but I will put their all time starting five up against any other teams' in the last 50 years...Seaver, Gooden, Koosman, Ryan et al. Pitching is the richest part of their history, by far. It is a sad testament that Wayne Garrett was still considered an all time great Met 11 years ago.
Yup, I am showing every last Mets card in the set. Besides, they don't have a lot of pennant winning seasons, so it will go by pretty quickly. I appreciate Upper Deck's use of Mr. Met as their alternate logo. Say what you want about baseball mascots, but if you don't like Mr. Met, there is something seriously wrong with you.
Also included in this set is that other team. That collection of overrated, overpaid, overweight, overfed, overwrought overlords. The team that was born on third base and thinks it hit a triple. Damn Yankees...
Since they cover all the MVP and pennant winners of a team in the set, there is a LOT of these cards. The less said about them the better. I don't even wanna touch their fuzzy parts. Lets move on...
There is also a subset that covers all the Subway Series played by the New York teams. I guess the set was put together too late to include the 2000 World Series - which kinda works out in a Mets fan's favor. The set concludes with a newspaper inspired subset of date specific achievements. Alas, these subsets lack the fuzzy bits, but are pretty neat nonetheless.
This set is obviously not everyone's cup of tea. Having grown up in New Jersey a fanatical Mets fan surrounded by a family of Yankees and erstwhile Brooklyn Dodgers fans, this set is an extra large chai latte for me. I put this set together while living in Boston after a crescendo of New York baseball greatness. The Yankees did what they do and the Mets actually mattered at the time (and Boston's time was yet to come). I bought two boxes of this product from my local card shop (I assume at a great discount) and then bought packs until I completed the set. Well, nearly...if I recall, I was one card short for quite a while and finished it off after finding that one card on eBay. I also still have a number of the game used inserts, which were also pretty cool; they will no doubt pop up on a few "favorites" posts.
Needless to say (yet I have said it like a dozen times) I adore this set. Why this set is in my binders is pretty damn obvious and if I have to explain it to you, I will punctuate my speech with head slaps. I can even overlook the fact that it is 200 cards long and has an awful overrun of 2 cards in the whole "divisible by nine" obsession of mine. Since this set coexists with a number of other New York themed sets, that over run is matched up with another and it isn't so bad. Why yes, I do have a whole binder of New York themed sets - and this fantastic set leads it off. And I do wish the whole "fuzzy" thing had caught on, but I guess you can't have everything.