2001 Topps League Leaders (Strikeouts)
I love the idea of this card. I can see it being an absolute slam dunk in the design meetings.
Card companies know where their bread is buttered. They know that star cards drive the set, so they need to get as many of them in the set as possible. League Leaders cards are an easy way to accomplish that. But, there are only so many cards in a set. So, rather than give each league leader a whole other card in the set, they usually combine them. Either the leader from each league, or the top finishers from each league. The appeal is obvious. With just one card Topps can have both a Pedro card, and a Randy Johnson card. Instant appeal to two different groups of collectors. But, what if the pairings aren’t so wonderful? What if, like last time, Pedro finished first, and Roger Clemens finished second. Now they have to put Pedro and Roger on the same card. I want very little to do with a Roger Clemens card with the Yankees. Similarly, a Yankees fan would probably spit on a Pedro card. Now, instead of appealing to two different groups, you’ve driven away all the groups. In 2001, Topps had a great solution. Put one league on the front, and the other on the back. Then, you can have both groups going after the card again. I look at this card, and all I see is Pedro. Sitting in my binder, I don’t know if the other side has Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens. It’s just a Pedro card. Perfect!
Except for one thing.
There’s a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo that is usually hidden on the back of the card. Unfortunately, that means it’s right on the front of my Pedro card. There’s the card number stuck in the corner. Actually, they did a pretty good job of incorporating that into the design. But, it’s still right there looking at me. There are also some logos, for Topps, MLB, and the MLBPA. Ick. Worst of all is the fine print. Bleh. I don’t need copyright information cluttering up my Pedro card.
So, while this is a great concept, I can’t endorse it. This might be one of the few times I could get behind an intentional variation. What if Topps made half the cards with Johnson on the front and half with Pedro on the front? Then, maybe, I could find a clean Pedro card. Because this way, it just looks second fiddle.
No matter how well Topps did to try and hide it.