Monday, October 28, 2013

2009 Topps Phillies

2009 Topps #500, #200, #557 and #73
In the latter part of 2008 into the early part of 2009, all was right with the world if you were a Phillies fan.  The team had just been crowned World Champions and we were all living in the afterglow of the magical 2008 season.  My fellow Phillies fans wanted to talk about the team and relive the memorable moments from the championship season.  The Philadelphia Comcast station constantly re-ran the key games from the 2008 postseason, and played interviews with all our new heroes.  For me personally, I wanted to find a way to somehow connect with fellow Phillies fans and baseball card collectors.  I wanted to keep the magic going and show off some of the cool custom baseball cards I was creating.  So on the evening of March 30, 2009, I started this blog.

I tracked every game of the 2009 campaign on this blog, including the team's return to the postseason for the third straight season.  I discovered other baseball card and Phillies-related blogs and I've made some genuine friends along the way.  The 2009 season didn't end the way I wanted it to end, but I definitely enjoyed the ride.

The Set
2009 Topps #525 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  Remember the good old days, when Topps base sets had 792 cards, and 792 cards only?  There weren't any gimmicks, no short-printed cards sharing the same number in the set as another card and once you had all 792 cards - you stopped?  Topps rolled out two series of 330 cards in 2009 (for a total of 660 cards), but they added 35 short-printed cards of various Hall of Famers and one gimmick card of C.C. Sabathia with his new team, the Yankees.  The update set added 330 regular cards and 25 short-printed cards.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  This set's design has really grown on me.  My one complaint would be that the silver foil text on the front of the cards is a little too difficult to read, particularly on the postseason highlight or league leaders cards.
Notable competition:  Sadly, this was the final year Upper Deck held a MLB license.  They produced some memorable sets in their final year with a license, including the retro (and popular) O-Pee-Chee set and the super-retro Goudey set.  For the record, I'm still trying to complete a 2009 Upper Deck set.

2009 Topps #397, #525, #107 and 2009 Topps Update #UH203
2009 Phillies
Record and finish:  For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies reached the World Series in consecutive seasons.  Their 93-69 record was a game better than their record in 2008, and they finished 6 games ahead of the Marlins in the N.L. East.  The Phillies defeated the Rockies in four games in the N.L.D.S. and they once again took out the Dodgers in five games in the N.L.C.S.  Unfortunately, the Yankees trumped the Phils in six games in the World Series, and a repeat was not to be.  Neither the Phillies or the Yankees have been back to the World Series since.

Key players:  The Phillies had four big bats in the middle of their line-up that carried the offense throughout the season.  Chase Utley batted third most of the season, and he finished with a .282 average, 31 home runs and 93 RBIs.  Batting clean-up, Ryan Howard once again had a huge season, hitting 45 home runs while driving in 141.  Jayson Werth continued his emergence, hitting .268 with 36 home runs and 99 RBIs, while newcomer Raul Ibanez contributed 34 home runs and 93 RBIs.

On the mound, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer each finished with 12 wins.  Cole Hamels suffered from poor run support (a recurring theme) and finished with a 10-11 record and a 4.32 ERA.  Hamels led the team with 168 strikeouts.  The Phils added two key starting pitchers for the second half of the season.  Cliff Lee (see key events below) went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in his 12 starts.  Future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez joined the rotation in mid-August and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 9 starts.  Brad Lidge struggled mightily after his perfect 2008, converting 31 of 42 save opportunities and owning an astronomical ERA of 7.21.  Ryan Madson continued to impress with 10 saves.

Key events:  On April 13th, long-time Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas passed away before the Phillies game at Nationals Park.  The team honored Kalas with several moving memorial ceremonies and the players and coaches wore a black circle bearing the initials "HK" on the fronts of their jerseys for the remainder of the 2009 season.  Howard became the fastest player in Major League history to hit 200 home runs on July 16th, breaking Ralph Kiner's record.  Prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phils pulled off a blockbuster deal, acquiring starting pitcher Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians for four prospects.

2009 Phillies in 2009 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  Thanks to appearances on various postseaon highlight and league leaders cards, the complete Phillies team set from 2009 Topps consists of  41 cards.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#397 Carlos Ruiz (c), #500 Ryan Howard (1b), #200 Chase Utley (2b), #525 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #107 Pedro Feliz (3b), #UH150 Raul Ibanez (lf), #73 Shane Victorino (cf), #557 Jayson Werth

2009 Topps #650, #207, 2009 Topps Update #UH30 and 2009 Topps #428
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 5 cards
#207 Joe Blanton, #650 Cole Hamels, #UH30 J.A. Happ, #428 Jamie Moyer, #UH218 Cliff Lee
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2009 - 12 cards
#12 Drew Carpenter, #20 Brad Lidge, #103 Kyle Kendrick, #186 Ryan Madson, #291 Chris Coste, #632 Brett Myers, #UH72 John Mayberry, Jr., #UH80 Matt Stairs, #UH93 Pedro Martinez, #UH203 Ben Francisco, #UH248 Chan Ho Park, #UH267 Miguel Cairo
  • Base cards of players who didn't play with the Phillies in 2009 - 2 cards
  • Postseason Highlights cards - 4 cards
#139 Matt Stairs (N.L.C.S. Game 4), #191 Shane Victorino (N.L.D.S. Game 2), #278 Brad Lidge (World Champs), #299 Cole Hamels (World Series Recap)
  • 2008 National League Leaders cards - 2 cards
#81 Ryan Howard (Home Run Leaders), #147 Ryan Howard (RBI Leaders)
  • Classic Combos cards - 1 card, #601 Ryan Howard & Jimmy Rollins
  • 2009 MLB Home Run Derby cards - 1 card, #UH26 Ryan Howard
  • 2009 National League All-Star cards - 5 cards
#UH71 Chase Utley, #UH129 Shane Victorino, #UH136 Raul Ibanez, #UH151 Jayson Werth, #UH260 Ryan Howard
2009 Topps Update #UH218, #UH93, 2009 Topps #20 and 2009 Topps Phillies #PHI13
Who's out:  Pinch-hitter extraordinaire Greg Dobbs is the biggest Phillies omission from the 2009 Topps set.  Dobbs appeared in 97 games and hit .247 in 154 at-bats.  Back-ups Paul Bako (44 games) and Eric Bruntlett (72 games) should have also appeared on cards.  Bruntlett could have earned a card solely on the important role he played in the 2008 postseason.  (The light-hitting infielder scored the winning run in World Series Game 3.)  Four key relievers also got omitted:  Chad Durbin (4.39 ERA in 59 games), Clay Condrey (3.00 ERA in 45 games), Tyler Walker (3.06 ERA in 32 games) and Scott Eyre (1.50 ERA in 42 games).

Phillies on other teams:  A number of players appearing as Phillies in the update set had cards in the base set with their former teams - Ibanez (#6 with the Mariners), Cairo (#82 with the Mariners), Lee (#180 with the Indians), Park (#272 with the Dodgers) and Francisco (#624 with the Indians).  Bako appears with the Reds on card #491.  (I altered Bako's Topps Heritage card here to give him his sole Phillies Topps card, in virtual form only.)
What's he doing here:  I have no complaints with Topps giving cards to both Jenkins and Burrell.  This would be Burrell's final Phillies card before departing for Tampa Bay, and Jenkins provided a key hit in the clinching World Series Game 5 in '08.
Cards that never were candidates:  There are six players who were on the 2009 Phillies World Series roster who didn't have base or update Topps cards - Bruntlett, Dobbs, Bako, Durbin, Eyre and rookie reliever Antonio Bastardo.
Favorite Phillies card:  Without a doubt, it's card #278, featuring Lidge in the midst of the celebration following the final out of the 2008 World Series.

2009 Topps Update #UH150, 2009 Topps #278 and 2009 Topps Update #UH248
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Until flipping through my 2009 Phillies binder in preparation for this post, I had completely forgotten that Topps didn't issue an Opening Day set in 2009.  The set debuted in 2005, took the year off in 2009, and came back in 2010.  It's worth noting that the 15-card Topps Phillies retail set contains nine cards with player pictures different from what ended up in the flagship set.  I was happy to see this when I bought the set, and I wish they'd make this a regular occurrence.
Memory Lane:  In the early spring of 2009, I booked a trip to Walt Disney World for our family beginning on Halloween.  I picked that arrival date figuring the World Series would be over and I could even attend the World Series parade if the Phillies were lucky enough to repeat.  However, thanks to the money grab that is the World Baseball Classic, the whole season got pushed back a week and we arrived in Disney just in time to for me to watch Games 3 through 6 while on vacation.  I chronicled the 2009 World Series, and our Disney trip, in a series of November 2009 posts:

Game 1 - Phillies 6, Yankees 1 - Chase & Cliff Bomb Bombers
Game 2 - Yankees 3, Phillies 1 - Phils, Pedro Drop Game 2
Game 3 - Yankees 8, Phillies 5 - Werth's 2 Homers Not Enough
Game 4 - Yankees 7, Phillies 4 - Excruciating Loss: Yanks Up 3-1
Game 5 - Phillies 8, Yankees 6 - Chase Utley, You are the Man!
Game 6 - Yankees 7, Phillies 3 - Repeat Bid Falls Short

1 comment:

Steve F. said...

Great post today! (Well, actually yesterday I see.) That sure was a memorable season. Not as much as 2008 but still pretty darn good. Of course, after the season Ruben traded away Lee.

Another season highlight--Eric Bruntlett turning an unassisted triple play. Everywhere you looked that season, things were coming up roses. It's a shame that (a) Hamels couldn't hold the lead he had in Game 2 (I think that was the one where he blew a 3-0 lead) and that Lidge had such a weak year and couldn't be counted on in the bullpen--and then gave up three runs in the one inning he pitched, which cost the Phils Game 4. I think had those two things not fallen apart, we would have had 2 in a row.