I had to do it. I'm a sucker. And I'm okay with that. When I saw the Black Topps cards start popping up, I knew I'd be heading over to Wal-Mart and taking the plunge. I also knew after a few cards, a comparison was needed. So which style reigns supreme? Well, let's get to the matchups.
The category: Actions Shots
The entrant: Reggie Abercrombie
Is this a collison at home plate or just two mean fumbling in the dark, slamming into one another? While I don't think the black enhances the card, it doesn't do major damage either. But you can see some odd outlines around the flying helmet apparati, so that drops it a point for me.
The category: Horizontal Action Shots
The entrant: Grady Sizemore
The black didn't stand a chance on this card. It's one thing to black out a few innocent bystanders in the stands, but to black out the checkered outfield lawn, well that just ain't right.
While we're already horizontal, let's look at a couple of more Sideways entries.
The category: Sideways Shots
The entrant: Alex Gordon
You can't have a Topps gimmick without thinking back to Alex. As for the battle of good vs. evil, I think evil may have picked one up here. I like how the blue colors pop against the black background and borders.
The category: The Original 2009 Topps Image
The entrant: Albert Pujols
The black makes the image pop somewhat, but there's also a loss of ambiance and perspective. Hmmm....
Advantage: There are no winners when it comes to awkward, slightly homo-erotic squat shots.
The category: Iconic Stadium Shots
The entrant: Jay Payton
Jay lost among the ivy, good. Jay with a faded out ivy backdrop, not so good.
The category: Hobby Superstar In The Playoffs
The entrant: Evan Longoria
This is a tough one because the black is doing nothing wrong and may even be a cooler look, but it has one fatal flaw. The white card can be used to prove that Yes, the Rays do have at least a handful of fans who were willing to go to the Trop and watch a game.
OK, White is clearly dominating at this point 4-1, time for Black to break out the big guns.
The category: Southern California Shortstops and their Eyewear
The subjects: Erick Aybar and Angel Berroa
Both are pretty decent cards in their original white incarnations, but the black takes these cards to another level. They look like ridiculous futuristic baseball players from the apocalypse in the black. Check out the glowing glasses they're wearing in the dark. Well done, Topps. Well done.
Advantage: Black x2
The category: Innocent Jogs Towards Home
The entrant: Edwin Encarnacion
In the white version, Edwin looks a bit confused, but he's making a happy jaunt home. In the black, he looks terrified and we have no idea where he's coming from or what might be chasing him.
The category: Farewell Chicago
The entrant: Ken Griffey Jr.
The white card is a bit mundane and doesn't offer much from a fading legend. However, the black card makes Griffey come alive. Suddenly he's on stage with the spotlight shining down him. Or is it the white light of his career calling Griffey towards it? Either way, this one is an easy decision.
Just like that, it's 5-4 Black, with just a couple more entries to go.
The category: Awkward Pics in the Batter's Box
The entrant: Carl Crawford
This one's a coin flip for me. The black again makes the image pop, but it's missing one thing. Where's the flying dirt? Bad black out Topps. The dirt deserved to live.
We're all tied up, with one to play.
The category: Halos
The entrant: Brandon Wood
Brandon has clearly lifted one deep. But where is he doing it? Is he on the road at any of a number of American League ballparks, or has expansion taken over Major League Baseball and Brandon is now taking one deep on the moon!! Hmmm, with gravity being what it is on the moon, Brandon would go from warning track power to an absolute beast. He'd be Dante Bichette with the Rockies. How can we deny that?
It all becomes so clear when you break it down in a structured and clearly unbiased environment. Black is the dominant and superior base card look for 2009. Congratulations Topps, you've actually come up with a gimmick that I like. And now I have to sink more money into your stupid blasters. Brilliant.