Even though I lost my taste for Topps' 2008 offerings after one too many cheap gimmicks (I'm just about done beating that dead horse, I promise), I am one of the maligned few who still appreciate the Updates and Highlights addendum to the base product. I appreciate it for the very same reason that most collectors probably roll their eyes and pass it by: the little guy.
We all know that stars and rookies are what sells. All of the smaller, more premium sets (Allen and Ginter, Goudey, Baseball Heroes) have no room for relievers and backup catchers and fourth outfielders, and these days, neither do the base products. Topps is down from the 1980s and 1990s standard of 792 cards to a more Donruss or Fleer-like 660. If you're a team collector as I have become, you see plenty of Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, but little else.
Updates and Highlights is a 330-card supplement, taking the place of the old Traded sets. In addition to the handful of significant stars (Manny Ramirez, C.C. Sabathia) and rookies (Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria) who warrant fresh cards, there's ample room for players number 20-25 on the roster, the role players who normally fall through the cracks. We all root for the underdogs, don't we? Personally, I'd like to see every player who suits up for the O's get his own card, and this is as close as we're going to get these days.
Lance Cormier pitched for his third team in five seasons in 2008. His lot in life is the unglamorous middle reliever, largely called upon to hold the fort and consume innings when the starting pitcher is knocked out of the box early. This happens in Baltimore more often than I would care to say. Lance was a pleasant surprise on the whole this year, particularly when you look at his career stats beforehand (14-18, 1.73 WHIP, 5.98 ERA). He went 3-3 with a 4.02 ERA and his first career save, a four-inning, one-hit gem against the Nationals. He was at his best in the first half, posting an ERA of 3.00 before injuries decimated the O's bullpen and put a greater burden on him in July and August.
It seems like every year, almost every spot on the Birds' pitching staff is up for grabs. Lance Cormier is certainly not assured one of those spots, and it's very possible that he won't get another card as an Oriole. But he's got this one, anyway.