Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lance Cormier, 2008 Topps Updates and Highlights #UH199

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.


night owl said...

Even with Updates & Highlights, players get left out. For the Dodgers, for example, no card of Chan Ho Park, who made 54 appearances or Mark Sweeney, who had nearly 100 at-bats. I think if they got rid of some of those ridiculous combo cards, it would help. What's it going to take to get Topps Total back?

deal said...

agreed, there is something I like about U&H even if it means pouring through a bunch of guys from other teams that I am not sure who they are. and I agree with Night Owl there are some notable omissions. Actually he won't want to hear about this, but I am pretty Sure Matt Stairs Phillies card was left out. He didn't have many regular season ABs but he sure did have 1 big one in the post season.

Andy said...

WTF, I had no idea that the Topps base set didn't include all players. Makes sense, though, as I wondered why I always seemed to pull star and semi-star cards. I never put two-and-two together.

Frankly, that really sucks. Are there 2008 sets that feature all the players like Topps used to back in the day?

Kevin said...

Night Owl - Yeah, some of the selection is wonky. How about Steve Trachsel getting a card when the O's cut him in June?

Andy - Sadly, no. As Night Owl mentioned, Topps Total (2002-2005) was a pretty complete set, and Upper Deck had some huge base sets the last couple years, but both have pulled back since.