Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 Topps Factory Team Set and Series 2 Alfonso Soriano

As promised, I need to finish breaking down Series 2 before I move on to the Update Series. I'm not sure how I got sidetracked on these because I really like doing them. Looks like I have 5-6 more before I get to the "jumbo" set of 14 in the Update set.

Today, I have Alfonso Soriano's Series 2 card, that also happens to be the same front that Topps used for his Factory Team set card.

This was one of my favorite cards in the set this year. There might be a little Cubs bias, but how can you not enjoy a walk-off moment? The Cubs didn't have much to celebrate in 2012 so selecting this photo was probably a no-brainer for Topps. Thank goodness it wasn't a short print variation.

The only thing I would have done differently is lower the photo so that Soriano's face falls between where it now and the Cubs logo on his jersey. Because right now, the focal point of the card is Rizzo's back. But that's a pretty small issue.

Photo by Brian Kersey (Courtesy of Getty Images

And if you look at the original photo from Getty, you can see that they had a little room at the top to work with. Maybe they didn't want to show any more  of the empty stands behind the celebration, even though they kind of already did.

The game in question took place on August 30, 2012 against division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers. Down 9-3 in the bottom of the 6th, the Cubs actually managed a 6-run rally to tie it up. But Milwaukee scored one more in the 7th (on a home run by future Cub Cody Ransom) and padded their lead with another in the 8th. So with a two run deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth, you can begin to understand why there are some empty seats in the photo...

But after Joe Mather pinch hit for Carlos Marmol and struck out, the top of the lineup came through with a rally. A walk by leadoff man David DeJesus was followed by a walk to Luis Valbuena. Starlin Castro singled scoring DeJesus. Anthony Rizzo doubled, which plated Valbuena to tie the game and moved the winning run (Castro) to third. This brought up Alfonso Soriano, who entered the game during the 6th inning rally and had walked twice.

Rather than walk him a third time and load the bases and try for an inning ending double play, the Brewers pitched to him and gave up a single to deep center over an outfield playing shallow. The teams combined for 23 runs on 31 hits. The Brewers issued 11 walks while the Cubs only had 3. And none by Carlos Marmol, who pitched a perfect top of the ninth to earn the win. Say whaaaat?!?

The back for the Factory Team set card is the same as the Series 2 version aside from the card number. Kind of scary that a former 40-40 member with 14 years experience wasn't even halfway to Barry Bonds' all-time home run record of 762. I was a actually both a little surprised and disappointed by his numbers in Chicago. Nothing spectacular, thought he could/would have benefitted from the winds at Wrigley a little more. But not as horrible as I thought either. Maybe his defense clouded my judgment on his overall ability.

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