I picked up the base set from what looks to be Topps' major World Baseball Classic set for the year - Topps Tribute WBC. Topps Tribute is a high end set that I normally wouldn't be caught dead near but since Topps didn't really do anything else for a World Baseball Classic set, it was this or nothing.
The prices for unopened material for Topps Tribute is driven by the high number of memorabilia cards available. I was hoping that this would mean that I'd be able to pick up the 100 card base set for something reasonable. This turned out to be hopelessly optimistic. I won't say how much I actually spent, but it was more than I've paid for a BBM 1st Version set.
I have to say that while I frequently find the high end sets to be very unattractive, I was surprised to find that I actually liked the appearance of these cards (and considering their price, that's a good thing). There's a chrome sheen to them that is not overpowering and most of the pictures are nice action shots, with only a handful of the "mug shots" that littered several of Topps' 2009 WBC sets. (I realize there's probably a term for this chrome sheen that's well known to anyone who follows the US card market closely but I am ignorant of it.) The cards are quite thick, being about the the thickness of four normal cards.
There are 15 cards of players from the Japanese team - Shinnosuke Abe, Yuichi Honda, Takeru Imamura, Atsunori Inaba, Kenta Maeda, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Kazuo Matsui, Atsushi Nohmi, Kenji Ohtonari, Hayato Sakamoto, Tadashi Settsu, Toshiya Sugiuchi, Masahiro Tanaka, Tetsuya Utsumi and Hideaki Wakui. I thought the player selection was a little odd - why would you include Imamura and Ohtonari at the expense of guys like Seiichi Uchikawa, Hirokazu Ibata, Yoshio Itoi, Sho Nakata or Takashi Toritani?
Only 12 teams other than Japan are included in the set - Australia, China and Spain were left out. There's 1 card for Brazil, 5 for Canada, 5 for Chinese Taipei, 8 for Cuba, 12 for the Dominican Republic, 1 for Italy, 3 for Korea (including Dae Ho Lee), 4 for Mexico, 6 for the Netherlands (including Andruw Jones but not Wladimir Balentien), 7 for Puerto Rico, 20 for the United States and 13 for Venezuela.
I was reading some of the backs of the cards and I thought they were a little odd. Robinson Cano's card makes no mention of the fact that he was named MVP of the WBC. Toshiya Sugiuchi's mentions a no-hitter that he threw at Koshien in 1998 (well, it says "the 1998 national high school tourney", not Koshien) but not the no-hitter he threw last year (although Kenta Maeda's mentions the one he threw last year).
Here's a couple sample cards:
I have this set saved in my eBay search. As soon as one with a reasonable BIN price comes along, I'll pick it up.
That;s probably what I should have done.
I'm going after team Japan too. I'm down to 1 relic and the Darvish auto. The Darvish is numbered to 20. The 1st 2 copies on eBay went for $225 BIN and $250 auction. A little steep for my budget.
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