Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cardboard appreciation: 1998 Fleer Ultra Mike Piazza

(Damn, what a crazy night in sports. There's nothing like working in the sports department of a newspaper when they're updating the Penn State story 29 times. Throw in the NBA labor saga and the insanity of being rich and living in Venezuela, and it was a pretty invigorating night. What's the opposite of "slow news day"? I'm appreciating that. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 124th in a series):

I'm a Coca-Cola guy.

I prefer the taste to other cola drinks. Actually, right now I'm on a cherry pop kick (and don't tell me how much that stuff ruins the insides, I already know). But when cola is the choice, I'll go with Coke.

It's not that I don't like Pepsi. It's fine. Coke is just a little better.

But when I was younger, I didn't even consider taste when I picked Coke over Pepsi. I favored Coke for the same reason I favored McDonald's over Burger King, Topps over Upper Deck. Coke was first.

I don't even know how I knew that Coke arrived before Pepsi -- the products were invented within five years of each other a 100 years ago. But I was a Coke man, long before being a man. I liked original ideas from the beginning. Being original was to be admired, and copycats were pathetic.

To some extent, I am still this way. I have a problem with movie and song remakes. It's not bad enough that I refuse to see or listen to the remake, but there is a little voice in my brain that says, "this is not new you know!" I still have a basic issue with rap music that takes melodies from other popular songs and incorporates them into their music. I know it's an art form and all that, but all I can think of is: "that's not ORIGINAL! That's not YOURS."

These days, it's difficult to be original. Almost every creative concept has been taken from an earlier idea. Everything is a mash-up. A compilation. You can even look at the blogs. We "borrow" ideas from other bloggers all the time. And in the newspaper business, we have seminars in which a popular segment is viewing how other papers treated certain stories or layouts, so we can STEAL them.

Yup, the world is full of people trying to sneak a peak of the smart kid's paper. It's true in the card world, too. Stadium Club begat a decade of full-bleed card sets. Allen & Ginter started a deluge of retro sets. Someone applied some gold foil to a card in the early '90s and soon it was if the Midas touch had swept through every card set for the next 20 years.

And that's why even though that Mike Piazza card is tremendously awesome -- capturing an all-time great playing the drums -- how cool is that?????? -- it really isn't my favorite of this kind of card.

Because two years earlier, someone did it first.

This was my "oh wow" Coca-Cola moment.

That, to me, is the original.

That's not to say I don't love the Piazza card. I've got Pepsi in the fridge right now.

It's just that I prefer an original idea.

The modified idea, in which you take what has already existed and alter it, expand on it, sometimes improve on it, yeah, that's cool, too.

But it's not the original.


  1. Four random, unconnected thoughts:

    The Lovero set is one of my favorites.

    If, somehow, you get the chance to try Cheerwine, you should. You may not like it, but if you're interested in cherry soda, it's one of the best I've had - and it's nothing like a Fanta style cherry soda. (Coke is better than Pepsi. Usually.)

    If I hear a remade song before the original, I tend to like it more, because I heard it first. It's kind of funny that it works backwards and forwards.

    I'm certainly guilty of stealing ideas! I try not to copy, but after I looked at my finished header, and then back at yours, I realized how much the original affected the layout of my design.

  2. More random thoughts.

    I like Coke better than Pepsi, but Diet Cherry Pepsi is far better than the Coke equivalent.

    Randy Johnson really should have been the drummer for Molly Hatchet.

    I actually like the Run-DMC version of "Walk this Way" better than the Aerosmith original.

  3. Both are cool cards. It always interests me when baseball players have other talents, especially music. I also find it unfair that they can be good at both baseball and music.

  4. Randy Johnson is a pretty big Pearl Jam fan...