Card of the Day: 2000 Topps Traded Autographs Francisco Rodriguez

Forty. That’s how many saves Francisco Rodriguez has as of this morning after nailing down another win yesterday against the Red Sox. He is now way above pace to catch Bobby Thigpen’s single-season record of 57 and what that means is … cards like these will start hitting eBay in droves and they’ll fetch way above what they normally would. The card I’m speaking of course is this 2000 Topps Traded autograph card, which were inserted one per factory sealed set the same set that includes Miguel Cabrera’s first Topps autograph. I pulled this K-Rod about two years go while hunting for a Cabrera, which books at $600. It was a crap shoot.

There are 100 autographs in the set, and one inserted per factory sealed set, so there was a 1 percent chance of pulling the Cabrera. But when I opened my set and pulled this, I was pretty happy. Rodriguez is without doubt one of the best closers in baseball. His talents have been well documented since his rookie year, the season in which his team won its championship. But what’s interesting to me is to see how the market reacts to how a player performs on the field, particularly when they make news for being on pace to break a record. Bobby Thigpen set the single-season saves record in 1990. And much like now, there was a little buzz around his cards. Granted that most of them were selling for a quarter, but that was remarkable considering what most cards of the era were selling for back then. But times are quite different now. These Rodriguez autographs book at $50, and one ended on Sunday at $45 with a buy-it-now price. Where are these things going to go from here? ESPN talks about every Rodriguez save as if it were the 2002 Barry Bonds chase for 70 home runs. The reality is that we’re talking about a record that really has almost no meaning in the history of the game. I mean what is a save? Basically all it means is that the pitcher got the final three outs of the game while the tying runner was either on base, at the plate or in the batter’s box. In the minds of some baseball historians the stat is almost meaningless. The game has become so specialzed over the last two decades that a save in today’s game is not the same as when guys like Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter were slamming the door. Those guys were pitching multiple innings to earn their saves, where as guys like Rodriguez come in with only three outs to go. Not to belittle the accomplishments of K-Rod, or even Mariano Rivera, but it’s just not the same. On a closing note, you could probably get autographs of the top 10 closers on the All-time saves list for the price that these Rodriguez autographs will demand in the upcoming weeks.

Top 10 list: All-Time saves (as of July 21, 2008)

1 Trevor Hoffman

2 Lee Smith

3 Mariano Rivera

4 John Franco

5 Dennis Eckerseley

6 Jeff Reardon

7 Billy Wagner

8 Randy Myers

9 Rollie Fingers

10 John Wettland

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