Helpful hint: You're going to want to read to the end.
If your blog runs on Blogger, have you ever clicked on that "next blog" option at the top? What a weird, useless piece of random that is. For whatever nonsensical reason, it takes you to the most unconnected of blogs. Say, for instance, mountain goat hunting in Nepal written in Nepalese. Click "next blog" again and you're reading about birds of New Zealand. Click again and it's the Christian homemaker. Again and it's ... well, let's just say that on this blog a guy likes to take pictures of himself with his shirt off a lot.
For a number of reasons, the "next blog" tool gets old pretty fast. But a couple of years ago I was wandering through and I noted how crafting and cooking blogs attracted an insane number of followers. People apparently have an endless appetite to make things and to ... um, eat ... because it was nothing to see "650 followers" on the sidebar of those blogs.
"Wow," I thought. "That's too cool to have that many people into your stuff."
Card collecting blogs don't get as many followers. You know, it's a dying hobby and all that. But just yesterday I reached a milestone and gathered in my 400th follower.
To me, that's a lot. A lot of people willing to read whatever spills out of my head. I don't even know how many of those followers are still reading -- some might not even be alive. And "followers" as a "thing" seems to be on the way out with all this Google-plus nonsense. (I swear, Google is on a mission to make me stop blogging, but that's another topic).
But still, "clicks" "comments" and "followers" are the only instruments we have to measure how bloggers are getting the word out in this nebulous world of online publishing.
So, yeah, 400. That's pretty cool.
But what's even more cool is what 400 means.
In the past, 400 in a collecting sense to me meant Rod Carew up there.
It meant Dick Allen and Steve Garvey. All of those are card No. 400 in the sets of my childhood, when I spent so much time with them that almost all the card numbers were memorized and the "double zero" cards were kings of the castle.
But now, 400 means this:
It means I write a simple little sentence or two about how my favorite hockey team is the Sabres and suddenly the French Connection winds up in my mailbox.
That's Rick Martin, Gil Perrault and Rene Robert from Topps 1972-73, 1973-74 and 1974-75. Back when the Sabres were among the best, not the poor, pathetic creatures that they are today.
The French Connection was before my time -- I didn't even realize there was hockey until around the Islanders' dynasty. But my wife was a big Sabres fan as a kid and she got a kick out of these.
These were all sent to me by Mark H. Just because I casually mentioned the Sabres once (because this isn't really a hockey blog).
Oh, yeah, and he sent some '75 minis, too:
Because when you have 400 followers, people know what you like ... and they send it to you without being asked.
He had obviously read about my troubles finding any kind of Heritage where I was. But there was no comment from him or an email. Just a package with a single rack pack (please note all the Padres that fell out of the pack from the Padres fan).
That's awesome to have readers like that.
One more example:
A few weeks ago I noted how I was passive-aggressively collecting the 2013 Allen and Ginter set. I want to complete it, but I'm not bothering to complete it on Topps' timeline.
Well, one of the biggest A&G collectors I know -- Chris of Nachos Grande -- must have read that and sent this without any bit of notice ahead of time:
Chris also had the good sense of using '91 Donruss as packing material.
My want list for 2013 A&G is suddenly down to 35 cards, 17 regulars and 18 short-prints. And because of that I can probably save some cash and stop buying A&G in the card aisle until this summer.
This is what 400 followers can do, and I am appreciative and humbled and touched pretty much every single day.
And because I think I owe something besides my words, I'm going to return the favor, if only for one person.
I am going to send one person cards tailored to their collection.
Here is how I'm going to do it.
Leave a comment on this post. Say whatever you like, "congratulations", "I like cards", "beer is good", "thank goodness the test was negative", etc. If you comment, then you're eligible to win (except you spammers).
I will then randomize in the usual fashion and determine who will receive some cards.
I'm not going to announce who wins on this blog. I want it to be a surprise. Just as you've sent me cards for my collection unannounced that's what I'd like to do here.
Of course, to an outsider this means that I can just pick anyone that I want to win. And you can think what you like, but I'm not doing that. The only requirement of the person who wins is that the person either posts the cards I send on his blog and says he was the contest winner or emails me and says they received the cards.
At that time, I will post the randomized results on my blog to show that I didn't simply decide who I wanted to win.
So, those are the only rules. Leave a comment -- you have until 8 p.m. Thursday to leave a comment -- and then wait to see if a package arrives in the mail that says you're the lucky winner, and then announce that you're the winner on your blog or email me telling me you got the cards.
Once again, thanks for reading.
This is all still a blast. Really. 400 followers in.
(P.S.: If I don't already have your address, I'll have to spoil the surprise and contact you for it).