This is well-traveled territory, but I'm trying to make a determination for myself. So, consider this an internal conversation, and if you still want to come along, well, welcome to the random meanderings of my brain.
I make a lot of noise on this blog about how much I enjoy variety. In fact, going back years and years, before this blog, before the internet, I've often said how much I like variety. I like choices. Food buffets -- and yes, now I've mentioned food buffets on consecutive posts -- are terrific. Going to the paint store is a joy because I can look at all of the color samples. I enjoy city living, because the options for entertainment are so varied and fit any mood I have. And, as far as baseball cards, you know that my collection includes vintage, modern, oddball, whatever you like.
But do I really like variety? I get confused shopping in the grocery store. If I have to buy something with which I'm not familiar -- say, yogurt or coffee supplies -- the sheer variety of choices stuns me into inaction. I can barely absorb what I am seeing. A restaurant with a large menu makes me want to rip it into thirds because I can't process what I see and my stomach is getting angry. And I'm dreading the day that I need to buy a new phone. Thank goodness I have a teenage daughter who can be my personal shopper.
In fact, in all of the instances in the above paragraph I can see myself yelling (either out loud or to myself) "I don't know what I want!"
And the same thing can be said for variety in general: Do I know what I want?
Which is it? Do I enjoy variety or don't I?
Well, I think there's a line that I could draw. I like variety ... to a point. But when you step over that line -- when you throw "7 ways to pay" at me with 27 exclamation points -- then I don't like it anymore.
And if I had to come up with a name for that line, I think I would call it:
"1995 Upper Deck"
In terms of cards, I think this is the point where I am endlessly confused about the variety that is available.
I wasn't really collecting in 1995 -- I certainly had no idea how many card options there were that year -- but when I came back to collecting about eight years ago and filled myself in on what I had missed, it took me the longest to absorb what happened in the mid-1990s.
This is what we were dealing with in 1995 with Upper Deck (and forgive me if I missed some sets. Too much variety causes things to fall out of my brain):
That was the 1995 Upper Deck base set. Nice-looking cards. I would have been happy with just collecting those.
Of course, the year prior, Upper Deck came up with a parallel called "electric diamond," and they were back for 1995. This is one of them. We'll call this "1995 UD-ED." Get UD some Viagra.
Also, for a second year in a row, Upper Deck put out a "young collector's" set, called Collector's Choice. Let's call it "1995 UD-CC"
Collector's Choice also added a silver signature parallel in '94 and it returned for 1995. I believe there was also a gold parallel, but I don't have any of those. We'll call the silver parallel "1995 UD-CC-SS"
New in 1995 was a blue-bordered Collector's Choice parallel, called "Special Edition," or what I call "1995 UD-CC-SE"
But for the longest time I would get it confused with this '95 Upper Deck set:
This was a separate set, called "Special Edition". Why "special edition" was used for two sets in the same year, I'll never know. But this one I note as "1995 UD-SE"
But before I forget, there was also an Upper Deck minor league set in 1995:
It looked a lot like the base set, except with silver foil instead of gold.
And, of course, there was a parallel of that, called "future stock." I'll call these "1995 UD-ML" and "1995 UD-ML-FS"
Oops, I almost forgot the 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice game set. I usually note this as "1995 UD-CC-Play"
We're still not done.
Upper Deck, for the third year in a row, issued a premium set called "SP." I believe this stands for "super premium" but you should have seen my face when I first thought I had figured out that "SP" meant "short-print" and then these cards showed up at my door. I thought it was an entire set of short-prints.
This set I call "1995 UD-SP"
And, of course, by the mid-1990s it was decided that no premium set was worth squat unless it had a parallel and here is one right now. This I call "1995 UD-SP-s".
But Upper Deck didn't think that was enough of a selection, so they added a set called "Championship" to "SP". That's right, a whole offshoot to the offshoot.
I call this "1995 UD-SP-CS"
The Championship set was so exclusive that it had to have a parallel, too. They were diecuts. And they are called "1995 UD-SP-CS-DC". Got all that?
And now comes the trade post portion of the show.
Into my addled brain arrived these cards from Julie of A Cracked Bat:
"Wait a minute," I thought. "I have these cards already."
It turned out I didn't. The ones I had were the diecut versions. My want list was correct and Julie read my want list correctly.
So, I happily crossed off those numbers, even though I didn't even know I needed them.
And while I was crossing off the numbers, I came across what I believe is this card:
Other than knowing that this comes from the SP set, I don't fully know what this is. I don't know if there is a non-diecut version of the card or whether this is a subset of the SP set. I hope it's not part of the Championship series because there's nothing on the card to indicate that.
But I hurriedly erased what I think is the number for this card from my want list because I have been receiving this card in packages for probably 3 or 4 years. It's obvious that people are seeing this card somewhere on my want list and sending it to me. I've received it much too frequently for it to be random.
This is what happens when I deal with too much variety. I can't even tell you which cards I need and which ones I have already.
So hopefully, erasing the number will put an end to that.
That '95 Upper Deck set -- whatever set it is -- has a parallel, too.
Obviously, we have been dealing with variety like this for a long time now. It's nothing new. I'm just saying 1995 Upper Deck was the threshold of what I can fully comprehend. If you're stepping into 1995 Upper Deck territory with the choices you have available, whether it's kinds of bread or new car options or toppings for a pizza, then I don't like variety anymore.
Well, it's possible that I still like it. You're just going to have to give me 20 minutes so I can process it.