Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Doctor night owl has the cure
I'm not liking what I'm reading on the blogs these days. Collectors are "bored." They say there is a "malaise." The new stuff on shelves either isn't good enough or there just isn't enough of it.
A lot of people are blaming the exclusive license for their funk. There's no more Upper Deck, or less of it anyway, and they're already feeling dissatisfied.
Even more disturbingly, some bloggers are getting bored with blogging. A few are noticeably cutting back. Some have either threatened, or gone through with, retirement. Some bloggers say they don't read other blogs as much anymore. Comments are down. Readership is down. I've noticed a slight dip in readership on this blog.
I don't like it. And really only one thing comes to mind when I read stuff like this:
Now, I seriously, seriously don't like Cher speaking for me. So you know how desperate I am to get your attention.
Personally, I'm not bored at all. There is no malaise. There is no funk. There is no woe-is-me. What's the 180-degree opposite of bored? I'm that.
I'm trying not to trivialize people's feelings, but here is what I see:
We are in a new-product lull right now. Topps Series 2 is right around the corner. Bowman apparently has just arrived, but no one except the privileged Beckett few have seen it. The summer releases are in the distance. National Chicle is here but some folks haven't gotten it yet and others are kind of meh about it.
But I've noticed this lull the last couple of years. Sure, you had Upper Deck then, but it wasn't blowing us away last year. At this time in 2009, UD product on the shelves was base, First Edition, Goudey, Spectrum and Piece of History. Were we really excited about that shit? No. Most of us hated it.
But last year at this time we also had one of the most interesting Topps base sets in decades and a Heritage set that was fairly decent. That kept our mind off the lull a little bit. This year, we've completed an OKish base set, while 2010 Heritage should be placed in capsules and put on a shelf with sleeping aids. So, we're not distracted by anything and all we can think of is what we don't have, which is Upper Deck. But the lack of UD isn't the problem, I don't think. It probably will be ... later. But not yet.
The problem is we're focused too much on what we don't have, instead of what we do have.
We all have collections, don't we? Well, what's wrong with those cards? You found them interesting once. Surely you can find something interesting in them again.
And if that doesn't work, there is always vintage, however you want to define it. If you think vintage is '90s cards, go get some '90s cards. If you think vintage is tobacco cards, go find a scheme to bilk millions from gullible homeowners and get some tobacco cards (that's a JOKE! A JOKE!)
Here are my recommendations for curing whatever malaise you are in:
1. Go through your dupes. Really. I know, it's boring and tedious. I put off organizing my dupes constantly. But here is one thing about sorting doubles. I always find at least one card in my dupes boxes that is not really a dupe. It's a card that I need. That happens EVERY TIME. I just recently organized my Dodger dupes and I found the card at the top of the post. It's an Award Winner card from 1992 Topps of Eddie Murray.
I apologize to whomever sent this card for thinking it was a double. Actually, it's a card you could only get by sending away for it. If you won a scratch-off game in the pack (and apparently it was quite easy to win), they would send you one of these gold parallel cards with the word "Winner" on it. I had never seen this before. And if I hadn't gone through my dupes, I may never have known it existed.
2. Vintage, vintage, vintage. OK, I know some of you don't like vintage. I can't help you. You and I are on different planets. But for the rest of you, why are you still sitting there? You can find thousands of vintage cards for less than the price of a single pack or even a single CARD of new stuff. When I am immersed in vintage, I don't care about new cards at all. In fact, I wonder why I am collecting new cards period. As I'm writing this I am wondering why there are new cards in my house. Collect Boog Powell or collect Boof Bonser? That is not a fair fight.
3. Read a book. There are two card-related books out right now: Mint Condition by Dave Jamieson, and Cardboard Gods, by Josh Wilker. Both are fine, interesting books that would engross most collectors. I'd give a review of them right here, but NOBODY ASKED THE NEWSPAPER EDITOR TO REVIEW THEM. But I'm not bitter.
4. Buy some cards from 2009. One of the side-effects of always looking for the latest and greatest is you get bored easily. I think this is part of the general problem. But I still find cool cards from last year and they're readily available. If 2009 doesn't blow your dress up, then collect a little cash and buy a box online of something cool from a few years ago. A few bloggers are doing exactly that and I might join them. There is some cool stuff from just five years ago that isn't that costly and yields some awesome cards. If you're always focused on the latest and greatest, you're always going to have the "I'm bored" problem. Take it from me. I have a daughter on the verge of teenage-dom. This is a conversation I've had before.
5. Collect another sport. This doesn't apply to me. If I was collecting another sport, either baseball would have had to have been criminalized or you would be able to see the lobotomy scars. But I know some of you like cards from other sports. Focus on those. Positive thoughts people. Deep breaths.
6. Take a break. I know this is counter-intuitive for a collector, but it might help you refocus on your collecting goals. Organize your collection. Make some re-evaluations on what you have and what you might want to stop collecting. Purge if you must. Too much stuff leads to dissatisfaction with everything. Try simplifying.
7. Find enjoyment in other people's blogs again. There are a ton of card blogs. There seems to be a couple new ones every week. It gets daunting and even demoralizing. I try to keep up, but I can't. I've read like 6 blogs today instead of the usual 100 and I'm wracked with guilt. But I think that's the problem. No one says you have to read them all. Figure out how many you can fit in during a day. If that's 50, great. If it's 5, great. Pick the ones you like the most, stick with them and don't beat yourself up over it. Stop being obsessed with being a know-it-all and information hound (*ahem* I might have these issues) and enjoy the blogs you can read.
Oh, and COMMENT on them. You like when people comment on your blogs, right? Comment on theirs. Be a good neighbor.
I hope some of this helps. As for the bloggers who are retiring or thinking of retiring (or have left and then come back but aren't really BACK back), I don't know what to say. Only you know your situation. And if you really don't have the time then you don't have the time. If you've lost the interest, that makes me sad. Maybe you just need to refocus and come back refreshed later. Try that first before disappearing forever.
This hobby is not boring. Sure there are issues in the hobby and the absence of Upper Deck is not good news. Topps has not been terribly exciting so far in 2010 and that's an issue, too. But I happen to think there is always something interesting in this hobby. You just need to take the initiative to look for it. So, yes, I do think it's a YOU problem.