More Topps Trickeration

Yes, this is still NOT a baseball card blog. There are other things in life to write about, too, and I don’t want to limit myself to one narrow topic. Twain’s advice to “write about what you know” hasn’t been lost on me, either.

I wrote an earlier post about the games that the Topps Company played with Matt Garza’s Cubs card for this season. And now I have found a similar trompe l’oeil for longtime Cub Kerry Wood as well.

Wrigley Field is unique in many ways, but one of the more interesting ones is that the bullpens are out on the field of play. The home bullpen is down the third base line, and the visitor’s bullpen is down the first base line. Sometimes, when a pitcher is warming up during a game, a ball gets away from the catcher and plays stops until it is removed. It was probably a common thing many years ago, but now the bullpens are out past the fence and out of play. Seem like progress to me.

Kerry Wood was with the Cubs for many years in the 1990s and 2000s, and he went away for a few seasons, first to Cleveland and then to New York. I’m certain that Topps–the company that made the card above and on the right–had many older images they could have used for the 2011 Kerry Wood card. However, they went with a bit of digital manipulation instead, and it didn’t work.

The ivy in the background of the Wood card is blurry, almost as if on purpose. It’s clearly Wrigley Field, though, since no other park has it. But the perspective of the card is that you’re looking right at the pitch as it’s being delivered. I suppose it’s the closest you can come to actually facing Kerry Wood.

But the chalk line drawn in behind Wood’s left leg is the giveaway. It looks sort of haphazard, unlike the very sharp line on the Steve Trachsel card on the left. The line drawn on the Wood card indicates that he is not on the pitcher’s mound on the field of play, but rather on the pitcher’s mound down the third base line.

The Trachsel card reveals that there is a small amount of grass between the bullpen pitcher’s mound and the third base line. Balls hit down the line go into the bullpen all the time, so it makes sense to put the two as close together as possible. The Wood card, however, shows a lot more green grass between the pitcher’s mound and the foul line than there is in real life.

The Trachsel card also reveals something important about the angle of the pitch. The bullpen is parallel with the foul line, so a pitcher pitching from that mound would not be throwing directly to a viewer, as the Kerry Wood card shows. If Kerry Wood was throwing a pitch off the bullpen mound at the angle shown on his card, he’s playing catch with a fan sitting in the stands. And unless that fan has a catcher’s mitt on, it’s not such a good idea.

I would much rather that Topps used an old image from the last time he was with the Cubs than to try to put one over on us like this. But most people won’t notice, so what’s the difference, right? Aren’t there more important things to write about? Certainly there are, and I’ll go back to writing about them as soon as this is finished. Like right now.

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