There have been many insert sets from both Topps and Upper Deck that crib from current events, including presidential races and the like. It makes financial sense for the card companies. They can try to capitalize on the interest in popular topics by creating a chase insert set. The mock-up Madoff card from 2009 Allen & Ginter is a great example. However, there is no insert set that is more of its time than this 2000 Fleer Burrell:
2000 Fleer Mystique Rookie I.P.O. #RI3
This insert set was released a few months after the dot-com bubble burst in March 2000. The late ’90s and very early 2000 was a period in which anyone with a harebrained idea that tangentially involved the Internet could raise millions of dollars in the stock market. As many people know firsthand, there was a rush to enter the market to snatch up these Internet-based retailers, many of which eventually filed for bankruptcy. In 2000, 422 firms completed an IPO, raising a combined total of $97.4 billion.
This insert set is brilliant. Rookies and IPOs just seem to make sense and I’m surprised that it took until 2000 for one of the companies to think of it. The checklist of the set is fairly successful in mimicking a batch of IPOs. Josh Beckett and Alfonso Soriano lived up to the early hype and have had star quality careers. Pat Burrell never lived up to the hype surrounding his debut, but he has put together a fairly solid career. Rick Ankiel had to completely reinvent himself as a hitter but has pulled through nicely on the other side. Nick Johnson has struggled with many injuries and never really gotten his career off the ground. The rest of the checklist is filled with borderline major leaguers. Kip Wells is somehow still in the league despite posting a career 65-96 record and a 4.71 ERA. He has pitched in 23 games this year out of the Nationals’ pen. Eric Munson played in 360 games over parts of 8 seasons while hitting just .214. Ruben Mateo hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2004. He played only 295 games over six seasons. Mark Quinn placed third in AL ROY voting in 2000 but hasn’t played in the majors since 2002. Ben Petrick played just 240 games over parts of five seasons. He last played in 2003.
This insert set is a terrific example of a set that would never work outside of its own era. However, in its era, it made tremendous sense and also provided a Pat Burrell card that I truly enjoy.