Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The hobby is a much colder place
While I was filing my 1981 Donruss set away in a binder recently, I was struck by how ingenious -- and by "ingenious," I mean "awkwardly awful" -- the set is.
Must I review?
1. The wafer-thin card stock, of course.
2. The typos, of course.
3. The misspellings, of course.
4. The fact that the set established an all-time, never-to-be-broken record for the most cards in which a player is posed with a bat on his shoulder. (Yes, this is a future post. Do not steal this post idea).
5. The fact that just about every player in the set -- unless it is a Cub or a White Sox -- is pictured in their road uniform.
And then there are the miscut cards, like this Terry Crowley card.
Today we look at a card like this and laugh -- unless you're a Dodger fan, and then you see the Joe Torre name line at the top and you start fuming about managers and umpires and incompetent relievers and squirrely puke Giants pitchers who should have been stomped on by Matt Kemp when he had the chance.
We love a card like this. What a great card, we say. We show it around as a prized item in our collection. We show it as proof that we don't think that cards need to be perfectly centered with sharp corners and original sheen.
But what if you pulled a card like this -- miscut like this -- out of a 2010 product?
Would you carry it around as a badge of honor?
My guess is you'd be pounding out an angry email to Topps as soon as you could get your hands on a laptop. How dare they jerk me around! I'm The Consumer!
So, what has changed between 1981 and now?
Is it the price of a pack 29 years later?
Is it the fact that we still have a lot more choices than we did in 1981, so there's no longer that "you'll take what there is and you'll like it" mind-set? (By choices I mean choices in the number of product lines, not in the number of companies).
Is it the lingering thought of cards as an investment -- the 1980s trained us well -- even if we know the vast majority are not investment worthy in the least?
Is it card companies' promise of something special -- a hit -- that turns out to be not only "just base cards," but a miscut base card?
Are the stakes so much higher now?
Or, are we just a hell of lot crankier than we were in 1981?