The playoffs aren't yet over, but the sell sheets for next year's Upper Deck are already out.
First off, the base set will be a little bit smaller. While I like the concept of a 1000-card set, it can get a bit ungainly. How the hell are you supposed to store a 1000-card set anyway? Last time I checked, a 1000-card set doesn’t exactly fit into an 800-count set box snugly. But not to worry, the first series of '08 UD will be only 420 cards -- the last twenty being “Rookies” tacked on the tail end as redemptions. Yes, after the fiasco that was last year's rookie card redemption program, UD is doing it again. Why? I still don't know why they did it this year.
And what exactly is the raison d'etre for "redemption rookies" anyway? They completely alienate the set collector -- and Upper Deck still is a "Set Builders" set – and all but destroy the market viability of the second series. For example, how different would the second series of '07 UD baseball have been if Dice-K, Alex Gordon AND Tim Lincecum were all in it? It probably wouldn’t be setting on the shelves collecting dust, that’s for sure. (And I’m also confident in saying that the “sunk costs” to ship these cards to those collectors fortunate enough to find one, won’t be helping out Upper Deck's bottom line either.) Let’s all hope UD will come to its senses and either allow all the redemptions to be fulfilled for the entire 20-card set (like they did this year) or just nix this stupid concept all together.
Among the inserts, the highlight -- at least from what Upper Deck is pushing -- is a 50-card set based on the 1969 O-Pee-Chee set. Just a rhetorical question here: But if Bill Hemrick and Paul Sumner had a crystal ball installed into the storage room of their card shop, and were able to see 20-years into the future; do you think they would have gone ahead with their "Upper Deck Project" if they knew that the company they helped to establish would be making baseball cards in the style of ‘69OPC in 2008? And when the hell did Upper Deck buy out O-Pee-Chee anyway? I must have missed that memo.
Speaking of not coming up with new ideas, some of the game used cards will be done in the style of the 1997, ‘98, and ‘99 gamers. And yes, there will be another Ken Griffey, Jr. gamer based on his 1997 game used card -- although this one will have a swatch from a Reds jersey, and have a patch variation. Yes, it has come to this.
If it sounds like I’m unfairly dumping on ’08 UD, well, I am. I do have to give the boys from Carlsbad their props. They haven’t screwed up everything (yet). For one thing, (with the exception of the rookie redemptions) they’ve kept the base set sacrosanct. The set’s full-bleed design with the player’s name underlined reminds me a bit of the 1995 UD set, without being too obvious. Also, with an MSRP of $5 for a 20-card pack, you're going to get more cards for your money than you did last year (five more in fact), at the same price point. And to top it all off, there's a continuation of the popular "A Piece of History 500 HR" series, with Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, and Manny Ramirez.
Each 16-pack waxbox should yield an autograph, two gamers, eight OPC inserts, and one Rookie Redemption. Street date: "Early February."