Five to Collect: Brian McCann

If you need any help looking for cards to chase for your favorite players, then Five to Collect is here to help. These aren’t necessarily the five best cards for a player. The list won’t always include a rookie card. The list is simply five cards that are interesting and show off both the best of the player and the best of baseball cards.

Masterpieces_mediumCard #1: 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Captured on Canvas #CC-BM

How can you not love a card that just soaks up the ink like this one? Here’s the dirty truth about the autographed cards that the manufacturers insert into packs: most of them are ugly. Autographed cards are a landscape littered with shiny stickers and hurried signatures. Worse yet, for some of the better autographed cards, like Sweet Spot for example, many of the signatures fade over time. (Sweet Spot was an Upper Deck set that was manufactured for years. It featured autographed pieces of baseballs, gloves and bats embedded in the cards. It is not unusual for the signatures on these cards to fade with the years.)

Your best autographed cards are on the card (not on a material embedded in the card, and the player’s signature can be easily identified as the player’s name. The cards are even better when the player takes the time to sign their name centered and straight in the autograph area. Brian and Upper Deck hit this card out of the ballpark. Autographed cards simply do not look any better than this.

If you want to add this card to your collection, I’ve seen them go in the 20 to 35 dollar range on eBay. If you want one, and you see it, I recommend you snap it up immediately. They don't appear often. I’d also highly recommend this set if you’re looking for cards to get autographed in person. The base cards from the set soak up the ink as well as the distributed autographs.

The fact that Upper Deck discontinued Masterpieces was reason enough for them to lose their license.

Allenginterrelic_mediumCard #2: 2008 Allen & Ginter Framed Relic #AGR-BMM

I’m going to make the case against “relic” cards. These are cards that have pieces of memorabilia cut up and placed into the card. They were a really big deal when the manufacturers started the practice and have become progressively less so over the years. Why? Well, for one thing, the cards don’t always feature game used material. On many of the cards, the fine print indicates that the material is “event used” which means that the manufacturer threw a party and had the player wear a jersey. Seriously.

As collectors grew bored with simple jersey swatches, the manufacturers upped the ante by including patches on the cards. This seemed great at first, but two things happened to ruin the idea. First, the manufacturers, in an attempt to get patches into the hands of more collectors, started issuing manufactured patches. These are cards with patches embedded in the card that have no connection to the player whatsoever, other than they were manufacturer for the card. Additionally, because of the premiums attached to patch cards at first, piracy began to run rampant. Here’s a tip, if you see a patch card on eBay and your first reaction to patch is “Holy Schmoly that’s awesome”, chances are its a fake.

Now the Allen & Ginter framed relics are not a favorite of every collector. I like them because they are game used and the card itself is encased within the frame which prevents piracy. Of course, these cards, while not quite a dime a dozen, are still plentiful and not worth a whole lot. Personally, I prefer affordable. You can add it to your collection for five bucks or so on eBay.

There are three more cards over the fold.

2010toppsheritage400_mediumCard #3: 2010 Topps Heritage #400

There was always this one movie cliche about any youth baseball team. The kid who played catcher was always the fat kid and he was generally slovenly. “Fat”, even before his weight loss proceeding the 2011 season, would be an exaggerated description of McCann’s physique. Still, you can take one look at the guy on any of his typical cards and know immediately that you are looking at a catcher. This remarkable card belies that fact though. Here, McCann looks like anything but a world class athlete. I don’t think of Heap as a nerd, but in this picture, he certainly resembles one. I’d go as far to say he looks a little homely. How could you not want a nerdy, homely McCann card that can be had for less than a dollar?

You wouldn’t see a picture like this in the base Topps set anymore. For the last few seasons, Topps has worked hard to improve their photography. The base set is loaded with great action shots. The Heritage sets are different though. The Heritage sets are based on a card set from the past. Topps even attempts to use the same types of photographs to replicate the experience of the older set as closely as possible. This means that the 2010 Heritage set is patterned after the 1961 base set, which, is one of the ugliest sets ever produced. Fortunately for fans of the Braves, McCann’s card is ugly but lovable, like a stray mutt.

2002_upper_deck_prospect_premiers_24_mediumCard #4: 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premiers #24

Are you familiar with Upper Deck Prospect Premiers? The set was put out for a few years as an attempt to compete with Topps’ Bowman brand. In other words, Upper Deck wanted to get in on the action of making baseball cards of a bunch of players who would never make the big leagues in the hope that they would find that player or two who breaks big and becomes a big star. Yawn.

The set isn’t helped by the boring design, although, one design element saves it from true awfulness. The use of team colors on the design element at the bottom of the card gives it some identity and a method of identifying the team at a glance since the picture in this case seems to specifically exclude any identifying markings on the uniform. That’s another pet peeve of mine. Without the uniform, why would I want to look at a picture of a baseball player?

Yet, I love this card. Do you see that baby face? McCann doesn’t look old enough to drive a car. I’m not sure if he had even started shaving yet. I’d say this card is a must for any McCann collection. It gives new meaning to the idea of the “Baby Braves” and it can be had for five dollars. Sweet.

Finestgreenrefractor_mediumCard #5: 2009 Topps Finest Green Refractor #16 (18/99)

I have to recommend at least one shiny card, and in this case, I’ve chosen a set that is, along with Topps Chrome, my favorite shiny set of each year. How much do I love this card, for which you shouldn’t pay more than 8 dollars? Let’s count the ways.

1. I love the fact that the Mets catcher is almost completely obscured by the shading. In fact, the way that Mac pops off the card, it almost looks like the background is from a separate picture.

2. I love the way the shiny green border looks against the shiny blue design element on the sides. The green looks great against the black bars at the top and bottom of the card, and even better against the dotted silver shiny surfaces. The contrast against the blue shiny is just awful, yet, it’s also one of the reason’s I love shiny parallels. What do I call a shiny parallel without a color clash? Trade bait. Cards like that have no place in my collection.

3. Best of all, I can look at this card and pretend that Brian McCann just hit a home run to beat the Mets. Thoughts like that combine two of my favorite things in baseball: the Braves winning and the Mets losing.

Does anyone have any Brian McCann card recommendations for me?

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