Every month gets harder and harder to pick my top baseball cards for the month. There are two reasons for this.
- The photographs of Rikk Carlson, Larry Kave, and the Tennessee Smokies, were just so good this month.
- I make a lot of cards, maybe too many.
May was no exception. I started off by getting 50 cards down to 14 cards a few days ago and whittled it down. Then I realized I had nine and had to add one back. What added to the difficulty this month is that each team used specialty uniforms at one time or another. I always favor those uniforms because they are so different. Add in the fact that the action captured in these cards was produced at some critical juncture in the game.
10 – 8.
When Kyle Miller was called up, I did not think much about him. He was drafted last year but did not see a lot of action at either Arizona or Eugene. After watching him in a couple of games, I came away impressed with the amount of movement he gets on his fastball and a cutter. Rikk Carlson’s picture captures Miller’s wind up in a complete spread eagle. I specifically asked Rikk for a pic of Miller, and he delivered a gem! The next two pictures both have the same context. They were taken either during a home run swing or right before. In the case of Eloy’s, Rikk Carlson snapped it right before a game winning single.
I like this set of pics for a myriad of reasons. For Gleyber, May was a resurgent month for him. He hit over .300 for the month and this picture by Larry Kave exemplifies the torque that Gleyber gets on the ball. The next card of Mark Zagunis shows several things. First is the focus and determination in his eyes. Next, you clearly see the strength he has in his forearms and wrists as he gets ready to load up. Lastly, I love the new Smokies’ camo uniforms they have been sporting a lot this year. The final picture of Tyler Alamo shows off his physique that he rebuilt this winter. The 6’4” 21 year-old spent the winter retooling his body and it has been paying off in some big dividends this year. So much so, that the Cubs have moved him off catcher to mostly first base, although he did catch on Monday.
These three pictures are all about contrast. Carson Sands look resilient in a picture by Rikk Carlson. Zach Hedges and his many shades of blue contrast to the background behind him in a pic from Larry Kave. I also love the grit I see in Hedges delivery. The final picture is built to last. I just love how the powder blue Smokies uniform contrasts with the Red markings and the black background of my favorite card design, a 1971 Topp’s. I hemmed and hawed about making Markey’s card #1 and I may regret it when I do my favorite cards of the first half in about a month. It could have some staying power beyond the Memorial Day Weekend.
Eloy. What can I say that I haven’t said before? Rikk Carlson captured Eloy stepping up to the plate in his Memorial Day Weekend jersey. Later in the game, he would hit a walkoff homer. I love what Rikk was able to capture on film was that Eloy’s stance made his jersey into a waving American flag and what a behemoth of a manchild Eloy is.
I cannot wait to see more photographs and more cards next month! The All-Star Break will be in late June and that is when I will do my favorite cards of the first half. You can always see the cards in posts on this site throughout the month. You can also find them on my Twitter account (@cubscentral08), especially on rainy days like today.