Tuesday, February 12, 2013

State of gray

I was pondering what to write about tonight when I decided to address something that's been rattling around in my head for weeks.

I do a lot of self-evaluating in life. I am constantly re-examining decisions, plotting courses, setting up plans of action, and, yes, second-guessing myself. This is a personality trait that, for the most part, has served me well in life. Thanks to it, I've had a lot of stability in my life and I don't experience the upheaval that I see with endless people around me -- a lot of people who don't take a moment to observe what they're doing.

I also do a lot of evaluating outside of myself. I observe what's going on in life. I observe others. It's interesting to me how people can always land on one side of a topic and never another. Pick a topic and they're always on the right or the left, pro or con, fan boy or troll.

I'm not like that. I can usually see and understand both sides of an argument on almost any topic. I may have an opinion about which side I like better, but I usually can be somewhat understanding about the side that I don't prefer. For others, it's either black or white. For me, it's perpetually gray. Always a state of gray.

Being "a state of gray" person has its bad side though. It gets a bad rap from a lot of people. While I look at it as evaluating, others call it "navel-gazing" or "wallowing" or "hand-ringing." "State of gray" people are "hesitant," "unwilling to take a chance," and "boring." And, it's true, it can get a little bit much. If you spend too much time observing what you or others are doing -- checking and rechecking -- you will never get anywhere with anything.

In fact, I have been lectured in the comments several times for my "state of gray" behavior when it comes to collecting. Should I collect modern cards or shouldn't I? Do I like Topps or don't I? Do I want to collect parallels or not?

What is it, man? Make up your mind!!!

I will ... when I'm done evaluating. On my own time. In my own way. Don't rush me.

The truth is, I've spent a lot of time lately examining what I really DO feel about various topics in the hobby, and whether I'm merely constantly contradicting myself.

Let's take the parallel argument as an example.

I received a handful of colored parallels from Baseball Dad's All Tribe Baseball recently. The purple A.J. Ellis card up top was the highlight because I think Baseball Dad is the only person who can find a Toys 'R' Us. I end up with one purple parallel a year and it usually comes from him.

Some people get furious over the purple parallels -- "we have RED and BLUE and GOLD parallels and now they're putting PURPLE parallels in a store that I never go to and jack up the price on them, TOO???? Screw that! Screw Topps! Screw everybody!"

Black. White.

But I can see their argument. If you are a traditional team collector who wants to collect all of your team's cards and there are all these parallels to chase, it gets frustrating. And if you are a set collector, who just wants regular base cards, and these parallels get in the way, it gets frustrating, too.

I can see that.

But I also can see the other side.

The parallels are very cool -- especially in this year's set. They are colorful with the contrasting colors on the design (some would call them ugly, of course). I find them very appealing, and if I was in a less stable state, I might try to collect them all.

So that's where I am. I can see one side of the argument. I can see the other. "State of Gray." In the middle. Again.

And that's where the evaluating comes in.

This is what I do to try to come up with some sort of compromise between the two opposing views of "DEATH TO PARALLELS, DIE TOPPS DIE" and "LONG LIVE PARALLELS, TAKE ALL MY MONEY PLEASE."

I collect as many parallels as my budget will allow, admire the pretty colors, and don't sweat that I didn't get them all. I never get them all, what's the big deal? They're still pretty, right?

And if I'm collecting the base set, I don't get all bunched up about how these two parallels in my packs could have been two more base cards. Yes, I suppose it might cost you a few more cents to complete the set, but it's really nothing to get an ulcer over. The parallels aren't ever going away. It's not like it's a super short-print anyway.

This is the plan with which I can live.

But it's taken me a long time to get to this plan. I am sure you can find past posts on this blog in which I rail at parallels and other posts in which I want to collect them all. I had to do a fair amount of going back and forth and back and forth to settle on a plan.

This blog is filled with self-examination and self-evaluation. I flip-flop about stuff here all the time, just as I do in real life.

So I can't worry about whether I'm contradicting myself, or worry whether I am "hand wringing" about the state of my collection. It's merely a process.

I'm just working stuff out. It's not about black and white. I'll never be a hard-charging, jump-right-into-it, first-in-line, top-of-the-mountain, to-hell-with-all-of-you-and-yay-me kind of guy. I will always hesitate, evaluate, come up with a plan ... and maybe write about the process, too.

It's called introspection.

It works for me -- even when I'm questioning myself about whether it works at all.


  1. I'm not a big fan of the colored non numbered parallels, just don't get the point. I do like the serial numbered stuff though. Makes me think there are only X amount of sets out there and how cool it would be to get your own

  2. I'm also pretty ambivalent about them. With current sets I'm mostly a player collector, so I don't mid too much, but still: it comes off as a bit contrived.

  3. I'm the same way. I've gone back and forth a few times since returning to collecting. I've worried that I'm contradicting myself at times.

    I swore off 2012 product but naturally went out and bought a few packs (but not much) and I tried to acquire certain cards in trades too.

    And while I'm firmly committed to certain vintage and maybe Heritage, I still went out and bought new cards again in the past two weeks.

    Part of this is simply the fact we're collectors and we love baseball cards, so we're compelled to get what's new and find our favorite team(s) or players. Clearly nothing wrong with that.

    As for the latest colored parallels, I like some (the blues) and I'm enjoying those cards. I don't like others (the reds). My favorite color is blue so that's probably the main reason - although I too have always associated the NL with blue and I've always been an NL guy (despite also rooting for the Tigers).

    Good post.

  4. I don't get many Tribe purples either. I buy a few packs for trading purposes. They usually run out early.

    I like the parallels.I try to get as many as I can.

    If I get them I do, if I don't I don't! Que sera sera.

  5. I have pretty much the same philosophy and can also say that I absolutely love parallelsbut I certainly don't need them all. Not even most.

    I kinda wish I had all the purple ones though lol

    I'm just glad the parallels don't come in 14 shades of grey.

  6. I've come to one realization as 2013 Topps has come out - treat the parallels as the base cards since there are fewer regular cards and I like the parallels better than the regular, plain, white bordered cards.

  7. I just wished that blasters were all the same parallel. Go to Wal Mart get all blue cards, go to Target get all red, go to Toys R Us get all purple, go to a hobby store get all white that is the way it should be. No more couple parallels per blaster, that is the way it should be.

  8. We have a Toys R Us nearby. The last time I was in there I didn't see any cards. Guess I didn't look hard enough.
    I've always had the same approach to cards. If I can get it, I want it. Saves time. Not money, though.