Friday, February 22, 2008

2003 Fleer Ultra

Lately we've ripped a ton of brand spanking new stuff and a whole lot of old crappy wax. It's about time for some slightly old, moderately terrible pack. Let us go back five years and open a pack of 2003 Ultra I dug out of the archives for your edification.

First of all, I have to go on record in saying that I hate the design of this set. I hate the clashing colors, I hate the player's number in the vintage 1977 futuristic font, I hate the gaudy back that looks like a badly played game of Qix. I just don't like it at all. Fleer spent a decade conditioning me to expect a nice simple design from Ultra with a good full bleed photo and a foil stamp with the player name and team name, and these cards rub me the wrong way. No sir, I don't like it. Still, it's Ultra. Whaddya gonna do. Here's the cards:

64 Tsuyoshi Shinjo
47 Juan Gonzalez
16 Matt Morris
91 Ryan Klesko
221 Kaz Ishii Prospect
8 of 20 Moonshot Jason Giambi
thick cardboard logo decoy card
186 Jeff Weaver
107 Mariano Rivera
167 Bob Wickman
145 Shea Hillenbrand

Not too awful. A couple of inserts are in the pack, the first is a Jason Giambi Moonshots card that would have looked good if Fleer hadn't gone overboard on the design. A card with a slugger taking a big cut in front of a large picture of the moon would have been enough, but they threw in a scoreboard with run totals for only one team, an embossed Moonshots title also in the style of scoreboard lights and most inexplicably a small rogue planet with its own ring system floating right in front of our own moon. Jason Giambi was the bomb back in 2003, but a few too many shots in his own moon have tarnished his star. The second insert is a 2002 Rookie Update card of Kaz Ishii. Because Ultra inexplicably left out some rookies in the 2002 set, Fleer thought they'd just sneak them into the 2003 set and hope no one noticed. Well, maybe not so inexplicably, we're talking about guys like So Taguchi, Joe Borchard and Tyler Yates. Looking at the back of the 2002 version of Fleer Ultra makes me realize that this set isn't all that bad looking. Oh wait, yeah it is. Even the photography is pretty blah. Other than a nice shot of Mariano Rivera about to unload a pitch, the rest is pretty pedestrian. Juan Gonzalez looks like he's a split second from hurling. Some of the action shots are staged, Tsuyoshi Shinjo is diving for a ball in the outfield while looking directly into the camera. Shea Hillenbrand's photo looks fishy too, he's going for a ball to his left but there's nothing behind him. No outfielders, no outfield wall, no outfield bleachers. Just a big white blank space. I can't think of anything to say about Matt Morris' card that's funnier than the card itself. This is just a weird, weird set. Hopefully we don't get subjected to anything like this for a while.

Seriously, who thought either of these designs was a good idea??

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