Monday, January 19, 2009

The Third Blog Bat Around - my submission...

When the first two Blog Bat Arounds were announced I didn’t feel that I had been back in the hobby long enough to have a valid response to the questions they proposed. I was still learning what was what and trying to make some sense out of all these sets. Admittedly I’m still stuck in the time where there were five or six major releases every year, seeing ten or more from each brand is confusing to me.

I’ve mentioned several times that I think I’m ready to get back into this thing full time and try to build a few sets this year. But my interest isn’t with the so called high end, or even middle end sets. I’m a traditionalist; to me the most enjoyable part of baseball card collecting is set building, card by card.

When you buy for the “hits” 90% or more of the cards you open don’t mean anything to you, they’re extra, they’re base cards, they’re a waste of time. I’m still trying to figure out what a “hit” really is. A few weeks ago I bought a blaster of Topps Updates & Highlights and got my first game used card –a piece of bat— and my first serial numbered card. I wasn’t terribly excited about either and filed them away with the rest. What made me happy about that blaster were the two Chipper Jones base (oh god!) cards. I couldn’t possibly care less about “hits” I was happy to see my favorite player.

But I digress, sort of, we’ll get back to this later. The topic of this third Bat Around is what we as collectors would like to see in 2009, what sets we want to see and what sets we want killed off.

What do I want to get out of 2009 as a baseball card collector? I’m going to echo Night Owl’s sentiments and simply say that I want to have fun. For anyone who has followed 1988 Score, you know that my card collecting began in 1988. To this day I can remember what I felt every time I’d buy a pack of cards. Sure I wanted to pull cards of my favorite players, and in that way we’re all after the “hits” but the idea of the “hit” has changed over time I guess. I wasn’t buying cards to turn into profit, I was a seven year old kid who liked baseball.

Back in 1988 there wasn’t a lot of baseball on television. This was well before satellite packages offered every game every day; this was before Fox Sports Net showed hundreds of games. This was a time when the only baseball available to me was the Braves on TBS, the Saturday Game of the Week and an occasional game on ESPN. The thrill of opening a pack of baseball cards was to see the players I’d only heard of.

It was fun. And in 2008 when I picked up a few packs of Topps Series 1, opening them was fun. Sure it was nostalgic, but I realized that even now at 27 years old I still enjoyed opening a pack of baseball cards. It made me happy. Sure it may be a silly hobby, but it made me happy. We’ve all got to have something to keep us from going insane and baseball cards are one of my ways.

I apologize for continuously straying off topic.

When I opened those packs of ’08 Topps, I had no clue about how much the hobby had changed. I hadn’t even thought about buying a baseball card since 1994. What drove me away in 1994 was how the hobby had been spread so thin and how many sets were being produced every year. As I learned more about the hobby today, the first thing that became apparent was that things haven’t change, they’ve only gotten worse.

I can’t fault anyone for buying for the “hits,” it’s a hobby and everyone is certainly entitled to enjoy the hobby in their own way. But what frustrates me and what keeps me away from the higher end sets is that Topps and Upper Deck seem to be catering to those who only care about maybe one or two cards out of an entire box, and the traditional base sets and those who collect those sets suffer.

But at least I still have the luxury of a base set, and if I pull a “hit” or two, that’s fine, I just don’t want those cards to interfere with what I’m really after.

What would I like to see in 2009? I think the way Topps is doing their base release is good. Three series spread out over the year. That way there’s a smaller number of cards to have to worry with at one time.

My goal for 2009 is to collected base Topps (1, 2 and UH). I may buy a pack or two of some other brands and maybe even a pack of higher end stuff just to see what’s going on, but the fun to me is set building and seeing as many different cards as I can.

Beyond that, I’m interested in Allen & Ginter and UD Goudey, so they may be on a list of possible sets to complete. If I can find them, I still haven’t managed to find a single pack of ’08 A&G or Goudey.

As to brands I’d like to see killed off… again, I don’t think I’ve been back in the hobby long enough to be able to respond to this. Certainly if a brand isn’t selling then it should go, but there are collectors for everything that’s out there.

One thing I would like to see go the way of the dodo is the cut signature, especially those created by Razor. These cards aren’t even cards. The fact that they sell for many many times what the original is worth is absurd to me. But again, there must be a market for them so I can’t complain, I don’t have to like them or spend my time reading about them. So it doesn’t really matter.

I would, however, like to see MLB and the MLBPA further limit the number of sets that companies are allowed to produce. I think this would raise the quality of the sets that are produced. When that happens everyone wins.

I’d like to see bigger packs of cards. At what point did we go from 15 to 17 cards in a pack for less than $1 for seven cards in a pack for $2 or more? I understand the price on some of the high end cards. But I’d like to see 15 card packs of the base set… I’d even pay $2 for them. I guess blasters are the way to go here.

As many others have mentioned I think it’s time to bring Donruss back as a licensed product. The cards I saw this year from their baseball release were great, and I’d be all for building an old fashioned set of Donruss cards again if they were there to be had.

I know this is fairly disjointed and again I apologize. I want to close by saying once more that collecting baseball cards to me is fun and I want to keep it that way.


Dave said...

I agree with you - there are too many sets that are only focused on the hits, and the base cards seem to be an afterthought. You might want to give Topps Heritage a try in '09 - that's my favorite set to build.

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