05 March 2012

Face of the Nats: Ryan Zimmerman

Face of the Nationals
Nationals 2005 - Present
One of the big decisions I had to make with this blog was what cards to feature first and which player to choose as the Lead-Off Hitter. It is hard enough trying to decide who to pick from the current line-up but to pick someone from the entire history of the Franchise? OK Technically the current Washington Franchise is just the 1969 Expansion team Montreal Expos and they inherited the Curly W through some kind of weird DC area osmosis. To be completely honest the Curly W should have remained buried in the remains of RFK stadium (even though RFK is still standing). I don't think I would have liked that though. It was hard enough spending 33 odd years without a real "homie" baseball team and not knowing if DC would ever have one again thus I was mostly a Football and Hockey fan during the "Non-Existent" years. To see a Washington baseball team without the familiar Curly W would be weird it would be like a New York team without some kind of interlocking NY logo. Sure the Baltimore Orioles are a red-headed (or rather orange-headed) step child of sorts and even though I have lived in Maryland all my life (minus a short 3 years of misspent college) the O's have never really felt like my Home "Homie" Team. I have still liked them followed them a bit and played the role of a casual fan. The odd thing about this current DC franchise is when the game commentators talk about franchise records and mention a player who only played in Montreal and never set foot in a Washington Uniform or played in DC it just doesn't sound right.

 Ryan Zimmerman 2008 Spring Training - Getty Images

I decided I would go with the man who is the Face of The Franchise and the Nationals very first draft pick for their Inaugural 2005 Season Ryan Zimmerman. Ryan recently signed a six year Contract Extension for $100 Million with a full No Trade Clause. That Locks "The Z-Man" with the Nats till 2019. Ryan is fine with that, and the Nats fans rejoiced! Ryan was called up on 1 September in the Nationals Inaugural 2005 season. Ryan may have missed out in getting the ROY (Rookie Of the Year) in 2006, but in 2009 he won not only the Silver Slugger Award but also the Golden Glove Award. That sort of makes up for not getting the ROY. Hopefully he will win many more GG Awards in his career, he as an uncanny ability to make some spectacular difficult to accomplish grabs look easy. He has been mostly healthy but there have been a few periods of injury, I don't recall him being out an entire season like Nick Johnson...

Sorry Nick that leg injury hurt me as emotionally as it hurt you physically.

...although an injury that puts a player out a few months seems like a full season to us super fans. In Nick's case it was a full season 2007.

Here are some early Z-Man (The Ziminator) cards I really like. Don't worry these are not my only Z-Man cards there are loads more to show sometime later.

 2006 Fleer Flair Showcase Baseball - Wave of the Future
#WF-4 Ryan Zimmerman - Nationals (Front and Back)

The 2006 Fleer Flair Showcase "Wave of the Future" sub-set is a 30 card set that features young players, many if not all of them rookies including Ryan who came in 2nd for the ROY to Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins card #13 in the set. Hanley's fellow Marlin Josh Willingham card #5 would join the Nats and become Ryan's team-mate 3 years later (and become one of my fave players). Josh is now with the Twins (the old Senators) on a 3 year $21 Million contract. Card #18 is Yankees' Wil Nieves who would become a Nat a year before Josh and be traded away the same year 2010. Wil appears to be with the Rockies in their Minor League System.

I really like the look of this set and how the design matches the imagery of the title. I might try getting this full sub-set. I at least need to get the Josh Willingham and Wil Nieves cards and card #28 Anderson Hernandez - Mets who would also be on the Nats (2008-2009) he is also an "Andersen" (see my "What I Collect" page at my Trading Card blog for the reason). I don't think these cards are too hard to get or too expensive so getting all of them is a strong possibility. I found an Anderson in an Ebay store for $1.50 delivered. I plan on picking that one up soon.

2007 Topps Allen & Ginter #220 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals
(Front and Back)

How I love me the Allen & Ginter sets (most of them anyway). These sets of "retro throw-back to the tobacco era" cards are somewhat responsible for the onslaught of retro-tobacco style cards that we find ourselves in now-a-days. They are not the only ones, but A&G helped get the whole "mini" tobacco-like bandwagon back on the road. There have been retro sets and vintage inspired sets many times before and will always be I suppose. A&G uses the size of original vintage tobacco cards, not just slightly smaller than the standard card as in the 1975 Topps mini Baseball. (I plan to do a post on the few '75 minis I have at my regular card blog contributions to the collection are always welcome).

Starting in 2006 Topps revived the Allen & Ginter concept of a multi-sport but primarily baseball card set with historical figures. One thing these sets like to do is have the "holding the bat behind your neck" pose. I liked that at first but since there seem to be several dozen of those cards each year it got old real fast. Anyway the mini sub-sets are actually variation sets because they have the same cards and same number of cards in the set as the base set, plus there are alternate backs and black border minis and usually 2 or 3 separate mini sub-sets so to collect a Master set of A&G each year you are collecting nearly a thousand or more cards.

2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Dick Perez Sketch Cards
#30 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals (Front and Back)

Man oh man A&G hit a homer with this 30 card sub-set. Each of the 30 teams is represented by their young ace players with a portrait by Dick Perez the man who drew the portraits for the Donruss Diamond Kings sets for so many years. They call them "sketches" but they really should be called Masterpieces some of them are better masterpieces than Upper Deck's "Masterpieces" and those sets are very sweet. The set is in alphabetical order by the Team's City and numbered so of course Washington is last. They remind me a little of Hall of Fame plaques mixed with tombstones. I've got the full Portrait set. I got it for $15 or $20 I forget exactly how much.

 These next four cards are the final four Zim cards of this post, and four of my very least favorite Zimmerman cards I still have. Why show and talk about four cards I don't really like much? They are variations of the same card. I like the initial concept of them but the execution is terrible in my opinion. After seeing them in person again I am starting to like them a little, but the problem with the silver leaf part is bad. I am speaking of the 2007 Topps Co-Signers.

2007 Topps Co-Signers Baseball #16 Base Ryan Zimmerman Nationals
(Front and Back)
(That little white splotch on the bottom is from the scanner not on the card)

The main reason I don't particularly like these cards is the silver top and bottom borders which look charcoal black in the scans can be hard to read and are silver leaf so they tend to scratch and ware down making the already hard to read names even harder to read. Some collectors love chrome stuff I am not a big fan of it and this particular use of it I think is bad. ACK the scan on that Zimmerman base card above is awful the silver image of Zim is really not that bad looking in person, the scan highlights and emphasizes the line detailing/shading they have. Notice on the back how they use the same photo as the color one on the front without the left hand cropped out but with his legs below his knees cropped.

2007 Topps Co-Signers Baseball Blue 116/250
#16 Ryan Zimmerman/Nick Johnson Nationals
(Front and Back)
 (again the back has some scanner schmutz on the bottom)

For these next three cards we add a bonus player Nick Johnson the last of the Expos/Original 2005 Nationals to be traded away. Now these color dual player versions again the concept isn't bad but the silver part of the card UGH. If they didn't have the silver leaf it would be OK and I would probably love them. The color comes out much better than the gray shading ghost on the base card. Oh and this "blue" version is serial numbered 116/250. The backs are not that awful just the frackin fronts. These two player variations add facsimile signatures on the front in silver and for the backs they use the same exact back as the base but with darker gray on the borders and the addition of the serial number at the bottom. They probably should have added the second player on the back somewhere as well, maybe have side-by-side head shots or profile shots facing each other?

2007 Topps Co-Signers Baseball Gold 158/225
#16 Ryan Zimmerman/Nick Johnson Nationals
(Front and Back)

This is the "gold" version of the Ryan and Nick card and is serial numbered 158/225, and the serial number is a smaller font than the other serial numbered variations and is more of a silvery-gold weird. The "gold" on the front of the card looks more like a tan or sandy brown to me rather than gold. Again the design and most of the card is OK and pretty sweet looking, but the silver top and bottom border sucks. Pardon my ancient Gallifreyan.

 2007 Topps Co-Signers Baseball Silver/Red 064/199
#16 Ryan Zimmerman/Nick Johnson Nationals
(Front and Back)

EEK! This is the Ugly Duckling Silver/Red step child card of the Ryan/Nick card it scans awful, but in reality it is a really nice looking chromish type card. Much better done than the base card and the color variations that have the silver borders. The serial number on this is a semi-low one 064/199.The facsimile signatures are in red on this.

So that does it for this post. We will be seeing more of Ryan you can bet as I said I've got loads more cards of his plus he is going to be with the team for quite a while and most likely be one of the few "franchise men" left in the league.

Senators/Nationals mentioned in this post:
Anderson Hernandez
Nick Johnson
Wil Nieves 
Josh Willingham

On Deck: Frank Howard - (9) 33
In The Hole: Nick Johnson - 24

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