Topps has issued a couple new sets of World Baseball Classic cards in the last month. The first of these is a 20 card subset in the new Bowman set featuring WBC prospects. The subset includes two members of the Japanese team - Yu Darvish (#BW1) and Shinnosuke Abe (#BW6).
I have a couple of issues with this set. First of all, only six of the players in the set did not appear in the 55 card box set Topps put out earlier. But worst of all, of the 14 players that appear in both sets, seven of them (Abe, Phillippe Aumont of Canada, Tao Bu of China, Fu-Te Ni and Cheng-Min Peng of Taipei, Yulieski Gourriel of Cuba and Gift Ngoepe of South Africa) have the EXACT SAME PICTURE used in both sets. (You can see this with the Abe card in this post and here.) That's just plain lazy.
The second new set of WBC cards is a 25 card insert set for Topps 2. These cards remind me of the early 60's Fleer cards - the background of the photos has been replaced with just a blue backdrop. There are four cards in the set from the Japanese team - Darvish, Ichiro, Shuichi Murata (#BCS22) and Hiroyuki Nakajima (#BCS4).
I'm still not real happy with the player selection in the set - 19 of the 25 players appear in box set and one of the others appears in the Bowman set. Only five players only appear in this set. It'd have been nice to have seen cards for maybe someone like Hisashi Iwakuma or Kevin Youklis instead of yet another card of Derek Jeter or Ichiro.
The kind of cool item that Topps produced actually is not something new - Topps produced 8 card sheets that were give aways in Tokyo (Pool A) and Toronto (Pool C) for the first round. (I have not been able to find out if they produced sheets for Mexico City or San Juan.) The sheets feature two players from each of the four teams in the pool. The sheets are promotional items for the 55 card box set, so the cards on them have the same design. However, some of the cards on the sheet feature different photos than the box set or even different players. Here's the Pool A sheet from Tokyo:
While the cards of the Chinese and Japanese players (and Jin Young Lee of Korea) are identical to the cards in the box set, the two Taipei players and the other Korean player (Byung Hyun Kim) are not in the box set (probably because two of them didn't appear in the WBC). The Pool C sheet is even more dramatic in that none of the eight cards are actually in the set - it features four new players (Jeff Francis of Canada, Vincent Sinisi of Italy and Carlos Zambrano and Omar Vizquel of Venezuela) and four new pictures (Justin Morneau of Canada, Lenny DiNardo of Italy and Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones of the USA). (Of course, the reason none of those four players didn't make the set is that none of them actually played in the WBC!)
I expect that Topps is not done with World Baseball Classic cards yet. I'm still hoping for a set that actual covers events from the actual game - like the Upper Deck "World Baseball Classic" moments set did.