Dan Wetzel:

Topps fails to erase all of Cliff Lee's ties to Philly on new card

Big League Stew

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Crossing Broad, a Philly sports blog deserves major kudos for being the first to publish an image of this Topps baseball card.

It's of Seattle Mariners left-hander Cliff Lee(notes).

Topps cards, as many collectors would tell you, is notable throughout history for at least two kinds of oddities.

One, cheek-slicing gum inserts. Two, they have airbrushed more folks than Hugh Hefner.

Airbrushing technology was fairly lame 30 years ago when baseball cards would be altered to reflect a trade or another move of some kind. These days, with Photoshop and Illustrator and whatever else the whiz kids are using, one can pretty much take a photo of a common street urchin and transform the lad's image into that of an All-Star.

Take this Lee card, for example. He's not really pitching for the Mariners in the shot, no matter what the card says. This pic was taken a season ago when he still pitched for the Phillies.

How can you tell it's photographic sleight of hand? Other than the 2010 season not having started yet, Lee's cap seems a bit "off"; Mariners blue is a little deeper and not so fuzzy.

But that's not the big giveaway.

See the black circle with the white letters next to Lee's armpit?

It reads "HK" — the memorial patch worn last season by the Phillies for their legendary game caller, Harry Kalas. Philly sports fans don't miss a darn thing apart from their beloved broadcaster and this wasn't about to slip by.

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Good ol' Topps. This never would have happened if Fleer and Donruss were still in business! (Diamond Kings 4ever!)

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By request, here's Akinori Iwamura's(notes) Topps card. Aki used to play for the Rays — perhaps you notice the synthetic turf of Tropicana Field! Would the Pirates REALLY wear black tops on Opening Day AND replace the grass at PNC Park? Doubtful.

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