Saturday, February 9, 2013

2013 Topps Jeff Samardzija

Since lurking around and then joining the blogosphere, I've started paying more and more attention to baseball cards themselves rather than just whether I have it or not. I've previously written on the photo selection of major brands and while making my own customs over the past few seasons, I've looked at a ridiculous amount of Cubs photos trying to find the right picture to go with the design of my card. It's not as easy as it looks. Not every picture goes with every layout.

I've done this before, most recently on the 2013 Topps Didi Gregorius that featured a double-play-breaking-up slide by Darwin Barney. I know others have done it on much tougher cards from years past before Topps used Getty Images, but I thought it would be fun to take a look at what is actually going on in these cards. From the day of the game down to the play if possible, starting with the 2013 Topps Jeff Samardzija, card #229.
2013 Topps Jeff Samardzija #229
Unfortunately, this photo didn't give me a lot to work with. I knew they were on the road but I don't know opposing stadiums as well as Wrigley Field. My only hope was to do a search on Jeff Samardzija in the Getty Images databank and wade through the hundreds of pictures. Luckily, they don't wear the blue jerseys very often and I can view 100 at a time so it didn't take nearly as long as it could have. 

Photo taken by Kevin C. Cox
With the caption, I was able to narrow it down to game one of a four game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 2, 2012. No specific inning, pitch or batter is given. With the date now in hand, after visiting Getty, I took a quick visit over to Baseball-Reference to see how the Cubs and Samardzija fared that day.

The game turned out to be one of the 61 games the Cubs managed to win last year. Samardzija pitched 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits, walked 1 and struck out 11 on his way to earning his 6th win of the season. This game was the first of three double digit strikeout games for him in 2012.

He benefited from a solo home run from Anthony Rizzo in the 4th inning and a bases loaded, bases clearing double from third baseman Luis Valbuena in the 7th, who happens to be making a cameo appearance on the card. I'm pretty sure, based on the position and posture of the player in the background, that it is Valbuena and not shortstop, Starlin Castro. Castro would be more likely to be standing straight up and/or facing the outfield at this point in the pitcher's delivery. Zing!

As for the back of the card, Samardzija's career chase is Nolan Ryan's career strikeout record of 5,714. Considering that he's racked up 322 in 5 seasons and Nolan Ryan has thrown more than that in 5 single seasons, I would say the record is safe. At least from Samardzija.

The blurb mentions that Samardzija "posted four consecutive starts of zero or one runs." This stretch covered his 4th-7th starts of the season. Surprisingly, the Cubs won all four of those starts. Not surprisingly, they didn't score early enough to get Samardzija credit for more than two of them.

And there you have it, a pretty thorough dissection of the 2013 Topps Jeff Samardzija card. TMI? Not enough? Either way, I've got 7 more cards to do, plus maybe some inserts!

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