Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: the best, the worst, the whatever


I've been watching "classic" episodes of Sesame Street on Netflix lately. Is that weird? Should a 48-year-old guy be doing that? Is this a mid-life crisis?

Anyway, it doesn't seem weird to me. I've been enjoying seeing skits and puppets that I haven't seen since I was 8. And, while I was watching it, I came up with the perfect example of my approach to collecting at the start of the year.

As I mentioned before, I don't really set goals with collecting. I have a general idea of what I like and then I go after it. I don't want to tie myself down in a hobby that's supposed to be fun. Cash flow will take care of that soon enough. I'm gonna have fun while I have money and get what I want.

In short, my collecting goal in the coming year is this:


Does that sound a little like the Cookie Monster?

It does to me. He knows what he wants, cookies. He accumulates cookies any way he can. It doesn't matter the time or place. Collecting cookies in an orderly fashion? Collecting only cookies that have been signed or fixed with scraps of cloth? What is that? He wants all the cookies!!!!

I'm a little like that. That's why I am collecting several sets at once. Do you think I care if I get a 1982 Topps card before I get a 1972 Topps card? I don't. If I still have '82 Topps cards on my want list at the end of 2014, so be it. I'll be having too much fun accumulating other cards in the mean time.

So that takes care of my "goals."

But this is supposed to be a look back. Along with top 10 lists, another tried-and-true method of summing up the year are "best" and "worst" lists. I love those almost as much as countdown shows. And since I didn't have the time to put together another one of those blogtaculars like I did last year, this is the next best thing.

So, here you go: the best and the worst ... but mostly the best because it was a pretty good collecting year:


BEST SET I COMPLETED

I finished off three sets in 2013. That's not nearly as spectacular as my set completion from 2012. I completed eight sets that year. But I'm happy anyway. The 2013 sets were 2012 Allen & Ginter, 1979 Topps and 1977 Topps.


1977 Topps was the best. It's the third set I ever collected and there are all kinds of memories associated with this set since half my sixth grade class collected cards that year. Dennis was the last card I needed.


BEST 2013 DODGER CARD OF THE YEAR


Some will say Ted Lilly, but I'll take celebration over scenery. I have to do better at finding more parallels of this card.


WORST 2013 CARD OF THE YEAR


It's a tie. I believe I emit audible sounds of disgust every time I shuffle past these two cards.


WORST 2013 PHOTOSHOP JOB


There are probably better candidates than this card, but this one annoyed me the most. Why is Paul Goldschmidt's cap photoshopped? It also might be the ugliest card of 2013. To paraphrase Kramer, that lime green and gold is messing up my rods and cones.


WORST MADE-UP CARD CONTROVERSY


That time when major media accused Topps of trying to abolish Pete Rose from baseball cards as his name was omitted from the backs of 2013 cards, when in fact it was Topps doing what its MLB license told it to do. SMH.


BEST BIPPING


If you have to get bipped, J.R. Richard is the way to go.


BEST PULL OUT OF RE-PACK



It's a tie between a 1964 card of Don Elston and a domino relic from your domino champion of 2009.


BEST READ BLOG POST


Since it was linked by the CBS station in Chicago, the post in which I quizzed readers on their recognition of current managers based on a baseball card photo from their playing days was the most read. I won't even bother to tell you what the most clicked-on post of the year was. Stupid bots.


WORST 2013 CARD DEVELOPMENT


"Numbering" insert sets with letters. I'm not in the habit of repeating rants previously written here, but it may have gotten lost in a trade post I did and Topps' decision still really annoys me, so here it is again:

"The lack of numbers on inserts is now the dumbest thing that I have seen in the entire card world in 2013. I don't care what you can come up with that you think trounces my opinion. I think this is more stupid. Numbers have gotten us through innumerable organizational tasks for -- what? -- thousands of years? And Topps doesn't think it's necessary anymore. Fine, I'm just going to go to my calendar now and change all the dates on it to letters. Today is not Sept. 10. It is now "Sept. TT" That's right. Figure it out, everyone! This is the way we're going to chart time! Stop looking at me weirdly. Numbers are for the flat earth society! Humanity is progressing here!"

Gah!

WORST 2013 CARD DEVELOPMENT 2


Super shortprints are looking more and more like base cards. It took quite awhile before I realized that this card was actually a shortprint and not Frazier's base card. Collectors shouldn't have to fear trading away or discarding a card that might be a super shortprint. Put a gold star on the back or something to distinguish it.


BEST WRAPPER OF 2013


The product leaves a little to be desired, but I really love that Electric Company wrapper.


BEST HOBBY SENSATION


After having to put up with Strasburg and Harper (and some guy named Tim Beckham -- remember him?), a Dodger was finally the hobby poster boy! Yeah, people got sick of him and said some really uncalled-for stuff about Yasiel, but I'm thrilled with all my Yasiel Puig cards.


BEST TWITTER FIGHT WITH AN EX-MAJOR LEAGUER

Twitter can be really stupid, and there's nothing more stupid than arguing with former pitcher Greg Swindell whether Yasiel Puig has "paid his dues" enough to be sliding into home plate on a walk-off. But it did produce my favorite tweet so that's something, right?



BEST TWITTER EXCHANGE WITH FAVORITE PLAYER OF MY TEENAGE YEARS

Twitter also can be really great, even if it turns you into a fan-boy. To wit:


That is so cool.


BEST 2013 PULL FROM 1994

OK, so it isn't 1994 anymore. But if it was, you'd be so jealous when I pulled this out of a pack of 1994 Flair:



BEST TRADE


I got a bunch of Dodger cards I wanted for some lousy A-Rod cards.


BEST TRADE 2


I got a bunch of Dodger cards I wanted for some lousy curly 2010 Topps Chrome.


BEST AGAINST-ALL-ODDS PACKAGE ARRIVAL


These cards, including a 1955 Tom Lasorda, arrived in my mailbox from across the country with half the envelope ripped off and the contents floating in the breeze. Amazing.


BEST CARD I RECEIVED THAT I DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED


2013 became the year that I found out that they once made cards with vegetable oil in them.


WORST CARD I RECEIVED THAT I DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED


I don't think the proper reaction to pulling a card from a pack is to drop the entire contents of the pack on the ground in horror when you see the card.


BEST NON-CARD ITEM RECEIVED


My favorite player of all-time cut a record because that's what 1970s baseball players in Hollywood did. This is such a great item and you would be shocked by how many times I have played it.


BEST BLOG POST


I don't mind saying this: I'm proud of some of my blog posts. But there was nothing that made be giddier than when I realized I could figure out which set had the greatest percentage of mustache wearers. It pretty much got the reaction I expected and when it's time to retire this blog, this might be the lasting contribution. I don't know if that's good or bad.


WORST HABIT


Creating new blog series and then taking forever to follow through on them. In the last year I have started new series as follows:

-- Most Hall of Famers in a Set
-- Legends of Cardboard
-- Alternate World of Baseball Card Cartoons
-- 100 Best Worst Cards in my Collection
-- The Card After

I have yet to have a follow-up post to any of them (actually I think I've done a second Hall of Famers post but it was awhile ago). I promise that I'll get to all of these in 2014 -- oops, I think that was a "goal."


BEST DECISION


Ripping up a Carlos Quentin card for his thuggish behavior on Zack Greinke couldn't have been more delightful. And my only regret is that I didn't do the same to Ian Kennedy later in the year.


BEST-LOOKING NON-LICENSED CARD



These Panini Pinnacle Clear Vision acetate inserts are way awesome. The blue "27" is setting off my OCD, but this is a big step for Panini.


BEST PRIZE WON



I did pretty well with contest victories in 2013. This one is my favorite. And Bobby has been freed from his crypt.


BEST DECLARATION


On the first day of 2013, I declared it the year of vintage. I stuck to that declaration fairly well as I refrained from attempting to complete a single 2013 set.


BEST COUNTER TO BEST DECLARATION


Topps had to go and produce its best-designed set in recent years. And just a couple weeks after I told people to ignore those packs on the shelves, I was a fan boy again.


I've got to stick to my guns in 2014.


WORST 2013 CARD DEVELOPMENT 3


Why do so many players in 2013 Heritage look like raccoons?


BEST CLUB ENTERED IN 2013


Finally in the Don Mossi card club.


BEST ON-CARD DISCOVERY


An overhead light in a card photo. I still say that's the first one.


BEST REFRACTOR ACQUIRED


Good gosh, that's pretty.


BEST "OLDEST NIGHT CARD" REVISION


In my continuing quest to find the oldest night card, a 1953 Bowman made its way into my collection.


BEST CARD NEW TO MY COLLECTION



Of course, it's '53 Bowman Color Pee Wee Reese. It's also the "best card in a card package," the "most generous card gesture," the "biggest card surprise," and probably a host of other "bests."


BEST CARDS NEW TO MY COLLECTION


Any and all groups of 1975 minis are always the best cards that I receive.


BEST HOBBY DEVELOPMENT

As you know I have been lamenting the lack of pages to house 1975 Topps minis, or any of the minis that have come out the last couple of years that are the size of '75 minis. I and others have petitioned UltraPro to make such a page and all year they've been good about giving feedback on their progress. This was the latest message:


I can't wait for the day in 2014 when I order my 1975 Topps mini style pages.


BEST EXHIBITION OF THE CARD BLOGGING BROTHERHOOD


Ryan of Ryan's Pitch sending me a blazingly popular card of Yasiel Puig in the midst of Puigmania. I am endlessly amazed by the generosity.


WORST BLOGGING PHRASE


Please stop saying that you're boring me. I love base cards! I love cards! Base cards are not boring! We'll never get card companies to treat them like throwaways if we write stuff like that.


BEST "WHAT THE HELL" ACQUISITION

Although my habits are like the Cookie Monster, I do have specific collecting desires -- just to keep the peace, mind you. In 2013, I expanded things greatly and welcoming some 1963 Fleer cards into my home was probably the best example of that.




BEST NON-BASEBALL PLAYER CARD


If you see a whole post devoted to nothing but Martina Hingis pick-ups, don't be surprised.


BEST SET NAME TO JOIN THE COLLECTING LEXICON


OK, so I'm not cool enough yet to have one of my phrases appear in baseballcardpedia. But I did notice a few people call 2013 Topps "the sea turtle set." I still like the name and I like my sea turtle.


BEST CARD THAT I "GAVE UP"


I didn't exactly "give up" a 1957 Topps Willie Mays. But it's no longer part of my collection and, believe me, I thought I'd own it for as long as I lived. But there are some things more important than owning cool cards.


And on that note, I'll end it. As you can see, there were a lot more "bests" than "worsts." I rather liked 2013 when you get rid of all the nonsense.

Speaking of nonsense, I need to select my 2013 Person Of the Year.

Last year, it was the Cardinals' Adron Chambers, who managed to appear on six cards in one set even though he had barely played in the majors.

This year's Person of the Year is none other than:


Little Man on Derek Norris Card!!!

I can't remember who that is. Josh Donaldson, maybe? People on Twitter figured it out for me and they acted like it was the most logical thing in the world. They weren't freaked out at all by THE TINY LITTLE GUY CELEBRATING WITH ALL THE NORMAL-SIZED OAKLAND A'S PLAYERS!!!!

It made perfect sense to them.

But I'm still confused by the whole thing and that's why "Maybe Josh Donaldson" is the Person of 2013.

And it's probably also why I'm watching Sesame Street episodes from the 1970s when I'm 48.

Sunny days. Keeping the clouds away.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A top 10 list because I'm old and lazy


This is the time of the year that folks trot out their year-end reviews and top-10 lists. It's been going on for ages and I've always looked forward to the retrospectives. As a youngster, I couldn't wait to see Sports Illustrated or Time magazine as they reviewed the year that was. And on the radio, Casey Kasem or some other knock-off radio show would count down the top songs of the year. The top 30 or 40 list would balloon to a top 100 list and it was glorious. If you got lucky, it would be the end of the decade and not only would they count down the top songs of the year but the top songs of the decade.

During the early '80s, lists became a huge fad and books of lists suddenly appeared on bookstore shelves (you remember bookstores, right?). I received a couple of those books and ate them up. Then Late Night With David Letterman started his nightly Top 10 Lists and sports programs like CNN Sports Tonight and ESPN started regularly issuing lists and countdowns and, well, lists are here to stay.

I disagree with the masses on a lot of things, but the public's ravenous appetite for lists and year-end wrap-ups is not one of them. You've seen my blog. I love my lists and many of those posts receive a lot of comments. That's because everyone loves lists. Right?

Well, it turns out not everyone.

Apparently lists are for older people who are lazy. I could be interpreting that wrong, but I'm -- gasp! -- in my late 40s and I don't comprehend too well anymore.

Perhaps this is a generational thing or maybe just a personal preference. But I'd like to think that lists are still universally loved, because -- ack! --what am I going to do for blog material if I can't count stuff down?

As for the lazy part. Well, yeah, I've been known to be lazy. But putting a list together actually involves work. If you want your list to have thought, that is.

In the past, I would compile lists of the best cards of the year. I don't do that anymore because I am not as much of a fan of current cards and I don't feel qualified to put together a list of 2013 cards when I've ignored half the cards.

But what I can do is create a list of the top 10 cards I have obtained in the last year. And, let me tell you, that involved work. I've thankfully received a ton of great cards in the last year and finding them and whittling them down is a half-day project.

So, without further babbling, here is a lazily put together list by an old man.

Try to enjoy:


10. Omar Vizquel, 1997 Collector's Choice: The greatest night card I received all year -- and I received some very nice ones. This is one of the most '90s cards that was ever made. I wonder if Omar still has that car?


9. Vin Scully, 2013 Panini Cooperstown, green parallel: I have a card of Vin Scully! Do you know how long I've waited for a card of Vin Scully? I've wanted a card of Vin Scully before anyone even knew you could make cards of announcers.



8. Anna Kournikova, Net Pro Does The Year Really Matter?: Among the best Listia finds in my relatively brief time on Listia. Have I mentioned this card was free? I have.



7. Nolan Ryan, 1975 Topps mini: The regular-size Ryan has been in my possession for decades. But the mini was obtained at a card show after I caught it out of the corner of my eye. Best "corner-of-my-eye" purchase ever.



6. Steve Garvey-Ron Cey, 204 Donruss Elite, dual autograph: This card might be No. 1 if Donruss put the Penguin on the front of the card, as is proper.



5. Sandy Koufax, 1956 Topps: Didn't have a clue this card was arriving in the mail. There is no better surprise than that.



4. Duke Snider, 1958 and 1959 Topps: These were part of the most epic trade of 2013 in which Willie Mays was exchanged for Duke Snider and Don Newcombe. General managers wish they could do trades like that. But they can't. Because they think they're big shots who have no time for cards. But who's laughing now?


3. Andy Pafko, 1952 Topps: The alleged most ill-treated card in the history of time managed to find its way in my collection where not a single hair on its head will be harmed.



2. Yasiel Puig, 2013 Bowman Chrome mini: The generous collecting gestures in 2013 are something that I will remember as long as I am collecting. This was the best one as a Puig card found its way to me in the midst of  "Puig Is Going To Make Me RICH" mania.



1. Pee Wee Reese, 1953 Bowman Color: As a Dodger fan, there are a lot of cards I have resigned myself to never obtaining. This card was one of them and over the years I have had well-intentioned, knowledgeable collectors tell me pleasantly that I can probably forget about owning this card unless I had a ton of cash. Well, I still don't have a ton of cash. But I have this card.

That's the kind of year it's been -- pretty great when I look back on it. And I have some great fellow collecting friends.

They are so great that the following cards that I also received in the last 12 months didn't make this top 10 list:
























While looking through the past year, there were lots more great cards that I could have included here. And I probably could have done a giant top 100 countdown like the ones from American Top 40 that I used to soak up back in the day.

I could have. But I didn't.

Because I'm lazy.

And old.

Brace for another year-end thing tomorrow you young, hard-working people.