Month: January 2010

Why Do I Collect Cards?

I started this blog a little over a year ago, and I then began to promptly ignore it. Not sure why. I was enthusiastic at the start, but I suddenly found myself between clients. Without any disposable money to speak of, I wasn’t going to be collecting very many cards. What surprised me is just how little I missed purchasing boxes and packs of cards. Since I returned to the hobby a few years ago, I was promptly overwhelmed by the number of sets and the number of cards that I had convinced myself that I needed. I spent way too much money on cards and ultimately, I find myself in possession of cards that I’m not sure I really want.

I went wrong by trying to buy a box of almost every set that came out. It was only after I had wasted a not so small chunk of money before I decided whether I wanted to actually collect a set or not. My large chunks of Bowman Draft Picks and Propects that have set in their cardboard containers untouched bear witness to this. They’ve been sorted and collated and then, promptly forgotten. (I won’t even mention the temporary insanity that led me to purchase a box of Triple Threads in 2007. Stupid, stupid, stupid.) Oh sure, I have a few Tommy Hanson cards I might not otherwise, but what pleasure have those cards really given me? There’s the pure almost childlike pleasure I get from opening a pack of cards … any pack really. Still, that’s a temporary enjoyment, and sometimes (more often than not?), it leads to disappointment more than happiness.

The card companies themselves have also worked to ruin my enjoyment of collecting. Oh, I don’t blame them for my purchasing boxes of cards that I didn’t really want. I blame them for cheap short print gimmicks that prevent me from ever having the feeling that I’ve truly completed a set. I utterly despise these gimmicked, unannounced short prints. I despise the fact that they are popular enough with collectors that they often collect top dollar on ebay. I despise the fact that I get excited when I pull one from a pack, even though there’s no hope I will get all of them, and I will feel my set is incomplete.

I also hate that MLB is limiting us to a single manufacturer. Do they honestly believe that the reason the number of collectors is dwindling is because of too much competition? It was bad enough to be limited to the option of just Topps and Upper Deck, and now they just want us to have Topps? Hell, I’ve always preferred Topps to Upper Deck, but this is just too stupid for words. There is no advantage to the collector or to the league or to the hobby itself when limiting collecting to a single manufacturer.

And yet, despite all this unhappiness, still, I want to collect cards. I love completing a set, putting it in a binder, and sitting in my Braves bean bag and just flipping through the pages. Sometimes, I’ll just pull a random album off the shelf, pull a random page, and read the backs. I try to remember the players, although, even for the Braves, my memory will often fail me. Sometimes, I keep my laptop nearby and Google the players to find out what happened to them. As a set collector, there is no collecting pleasure greater, and this includes opening packs, than filling in a sheet in a binder with that card that has been missing for some time. So, I move forward with my life, a card collector.

Here’s what I think: if I want to be a “happy” collector, I have to bring focus to my collection. I have to decide what type of collector I’m going to be, and work from that. So, here’s what I’m going to collect. I think. For now.

  • Player Collector – I’ll continue to collect any card featuring Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine or John Smoltz.
  • Set Builder – I want every Topps base set put out in my lifetime, from 1971 until now. My 70s collection is lacking, to say the least, but I’m ready to get started. (Additionally, I’ll collect those few other sets that truly capture my fancy along the way like the Heritage and Allen & Ginter sets. Now though, I’ll wait until a set is released and I’ve read a bit about it before I’ll try to add it to my collection.)
  • Team Collector – I’ll continue trying to finish my Atlanta Braves collection by collecting a single card of every player to have ever worn the uniform of the Atlanta Braves.
  • History Collector – Inspired by the insert set from a few years ago, I’d like to start a trading card history collection, featuring a single card from as many different sets as possible.

One last thing: I’m largely done buying new wax. There’s no denying that I love opening a pack of cards, but I’m tired of wasting my money on boxes with jacked up prices because they’ve been loaded with endless relics of Erwin Santana. Yesterday, I went on ebay and purchased the 330 cards for 2010 Topps Series 1 from a guy who busted several cases of the wax. I can put them in my binder and I can sit and enjoy them and I can read the backs and I don’t have to be bothered by short prints, worthless relics and stupid, idiotic, pie-faced Yankees.