Sunday, March 24, 2013

2006 Topps Phillies

2006 Topps #398, #359, #205 and #396
Our first son, Doug, was born in 2006.  Those of you who are parents know that the birth of a child pretty much trumps any and all other events that took place during the nine months proceeding the blessed event, and the arrival of Doug was no different for us.  I've spent the last six and a half years enjoying every minute with Doug and his little brother, Ben.

The Set
2006 Topps #359 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  There are 659 cards in the regular set if you don't count the Alex Gordon or Alay Soler cards (discussed briefly below) and another 330 cards in the Update and Highlights series.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  There were a couple of key turning points with the 2006 Topps set.  First, Topps digitally altered some players uniforms to show them with their new teams.  Phillies fans received cards of Tom Gordon and Aaron Rowand in Phillies uniforms months before catchers and pitchers even reported to Spring Training.  (Even though Gordon's card still says he's with the Yankees.)  I was OK with this, but I would have been fine had they waited to show these players in their new uniforms in the second series or the update set.  The second turning point was the first-time inclusion of gimmick cards in the set.  This was the year of the Alex Gordon "rookie card" and the surprise addition of a short-printed card for Mets prospect Alay Soler into packs of Topps Series Two.  Other bloggers have railed against Topps and their abuse of the set collector, and I won't go into that here.  But this was the first year I thought to myself, "I'll probably never be a modern Topps set collector again," and it was a sad realization.  Negativity aside, the actual cards are nice.  They're bright and colorful, with a 1972 Topps vibe due to the arched team name at the tops of the cards.  
Notable competition:  This is the first year that MLB and the Player's Association instituted their new annual limits on the number of baseball card sets that could be released.  For this reason, there were still a lot of sets released by Topps (20 by my unofficial count) and Upper Deck (also 20), but not as many as in prior years.  Upper Deck acquired the Fleer brand name and 6 of their 20 releases carried the Fleer or Ultra banner.

2006 Topps #33, #412, #182 and #20
2006 Phillies
Record and finish:  The Phillies fell just short of the postseason yet again, going 85-77 and finishing three games behind in the Wild Card race.  They finished 12 games behind the Mets in the N.L. East.
Key players:  Four home grown players - Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rolllins and Cole Hamels - had tremendous seasons and gave fans a reason to hope for the future.  Howard (.313, 58 home runs, 149 RBIs), Utley (.309, 32 home runs, 102 RBIs) and Rollins (.277, 25 home runs, 83 RBIs) each set franchise records for home runs at their respective positions.  Howard's 58 home runs blew away Mike Schmidt's franchise record of 48 home runs in a season and helped him secure the N.L. MVP honors.  Pat Burrell (.277, 29 home runs, 95 RBIs) had another solid season and Phillies fans were properly introduced to Shane Victorino (.287, 46 RBIs) after Rowand broke most of his face while running at full steam into the center field wall at Citizens Bank Park.  Hamels made his debut in May and went 9-8.  New closer Gordon made the All-Star team and saved 34 games.
2006 Topps #358
Key events:  With Howard ready for prime time, Jim Thome was dealt to the White Sox in November 2005 for Rowand.  The new center fielder forever endeared himself to Phillies fans with his amazing running catch on May 11, 2006, which left him battered and bruised.  I commemorated the catch with a Chachi card that can be found here.  Rollins' hitting streak that began in 2005 ended early in the 2006 season at 38.  Utley strung together a 35-game hitting streak of his own.  Looking to shake things up as the Phillies were seemingly out of the race by the non-waiver trade deadline, General Manager Pat Gillick traded away the following veteran players - Sal Fasano, David Bell, Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier and Ryan Franklin.  Improbably back in the race a month later, Gillick then dealt for veterans Jamie Moyer and Jeff Conine in August.

2006 Phillies in 2006 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 34 Phillies cards in the base and traded sets, with 7 of those cards featuring Howard.  That's what back-to-back Rookie of the Year and MVP campaigns will do for you.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#33 Mike Lieberthal (c), #398 Ryan Howard (1b), #359 Chase Utley (2b), #205 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #412 David Bell (3b), #396 Pat Burrell (lf), #182 Aaron Rowand (cf), #20 Bobby Abreu (rf)

Bell and Abreu still had the most starts at their respective positions, in spite of their mid-season departures.
2006 Topps #432, #408, 2006 Topps Update #UH145 and 2006 Topps #141
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#432 Brett Myers, #408 Jon Lieber, #UH145 Cole Hamels, #141 Randy Wolf
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2004 - 7 cards
#41 Rheal Cormier, #163 Tom Gordon, #306 Danny Sandoval, #364 Ryan Madson, #UH20 Jeff Conine, #UH25 David Dellucci, #UH139 Scott Mathieson

I was definitely bummed when I realized that Topps left Moyer out of the Update series.  Especially since they dedicated 30 cards to an unneeded Team Leaders subset.
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with Phillies in 2004 - 3 cards
#83 Endy Chavez, #97 Kenny Lofton, #139 Jason Michaels
  • Rawlings Gold Glove Award cards - 1 card, #259 Bobby Abreu
  • Award cards - 1 card, #265 Ryan Howard (Rookie of the Year)
  • National League Leaders cards - 2 cards, #UH210 Ryan Howard (Home Run Leaders), #UH212 Ryan Howard (RBI Leaders)
  • 2006 MLB All-Star cards - 3 cards, #UH233 Chase Utley, #UH266 Tom Gordon, #UH273 Ryan Howard
  • 2006 MLB Home Run Derby cards - 1 card, #UH283 Ryan Howard
  • Team Leaders cards - 1 card, #UH292 Ryan Howard and Tom Gordon
  • Multi-player combination cards - 1 card, #650 Pat Burrell and Mike Lieberthal (Philly Phanatics)
  • Team card - 1 card, #602
  • Manager card - 1 card, #286 Charlie Manuel
Before going much further, I need to mention that Topps and the Phillies paired together to release an awesome 26-card Fan Appreciation Day set to fans attending the September 24th game.  This set is fantastic in that it gave collectors Topps Phillies cards of Victorino, Abraham Nunez, Chris Coste and several of the team's relief pitchers.  14,000 Phillies has a great write-up of the set in his Phillies Database.

Also, there are other Phillies cards available as special inserts that utilize the 2006 Topps design.  Coste has a card within a set available only within Topps factory sets, appropriately named the Topps Factory Set Rookie Bonus set.  (Fabio Castro, who spent time with the Phillies in 2006, appears with the Rangers in this set as well.)  Hamels, Chris Roberson, Mathieson and Matt Smith all received 2006 Topps Chrome-style cards in the Topps Chrome Rookie Logos insert set.

Finally, for the first time, Topps released a retail-only 14-card set, which I have yet to track down.

2006 Topps #163, #364, 2006 Topps Phillies Fan Appreciation Day #25 and
2006 Topps Factory Set Rookie Bonus #19
Who's out:  If you just consider the Topps flagship and update sets, the following deserving players were shut out - Victorino, Nunez, Lidle and relievers Geoff Geary, Aaron Fultz and Arthur Rhodes.  However, if you includes the Fan Appreciation Day set, the only notable omissions are Lidle, Franklin, Moyer and fan favorite Fasano.
Phillies on other teams:  Moyer (#358 with the Mariners) and Dellucci (#402 with the Rangers) are in the second series with their former teams.  Topps took the photo used for Dellucci's card and switched him into a Phillies uniform for their Topps Chrome set.
2006 Topps #402 and 2006 Topps Chrome #208
What's he doing here:  I have no complaints on any of the player selections.  Topps must have used mid-December 2005 as the deadline to digitally change players into their new uniforms.  Gordon signed with the Phillies on December 6th, and Lofton signed with the Yankees on December 20th.
Cards that never were candidates:  Similar to the above exercise, if I include the Fan Appreciation Day cards as "official" cards, I'd say that only these guys are true candidates for cards that never were - Moyer, Franklin, Lidle, Fasano and rookie Carlos Ruiz, who played in 27 games for the '06 squad.  Sadly, Lidle perished in a plane crash in October 2006 and Topps gave him an In Memoriam card in the update series.
Favorite Phillies card:  I've always liked Madson's card, which shows him following through on a pitch.

Other Stuff
Recycled:  As mentioned a few times, the design was used in the stadium give-away Fan Appreciation Day set, with the silver foil being replaced with yellow ink.
Did You Know?:  Only one of the players (Smith) received in Gillick's mid-season purge ever made it to the Majors with the Phillies.  Here's the list of the prospects acquired - Hector Made, Wilfredo Laureano, C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez, Carlos Monasterios, Matt Smith, Justin Germano and Zac Stott.  Most importantly, the deals cleared the way for the young nucleus to take over and lead the team to its best five-year run in franchise history.


Burnell said...

That card of Gordon in a Phils uniform with the Yankees name always bothered me. Thankfully they corrected it in the team factory set. Other than that the other 13 cards were the same as the regular relases. I also loved the SGA set and wish Topps and the Phils would make it a yearly release.

night owl said...

You would not believe how many rack packs of this set that I bought.