We are approaching that time of year on the television schedule when prime time programming slips into "reruns."
I don't know how much that means to people anymore, given the many different ways we now have to consume entertainment. I don't even know if people say "reruns" anymore. I don't even know if it's a big deal. It's nothing to watch the same movie over and over and over and over again these days.
And then there is baseball card collecting, where we clamor for reruns. This never used to be the way. I can only imagine if I was collecting in 1980 and Topps threw a design from 1957 at me. It would instantly be my least favorite card because this wasn't NEW.
Now there are entire sets devoted to reruns, none more obvious than Archives, which is rerun after rerun after rerun. Archives even does reruns of its reruns (i.e. using a past Topps design that it's already used). This is both very annoying and probably testament to how reruns don't matter anymore.
I'll give you another Archives example.
A couple of weeks ago I grabbed a discounted box of 2013 Archives from Target. I figured it'd be good for the short-prints, which are always a pain for team and set collectors.
My goal was to get one of those snazzy '70s basketball cards:
The rest was the usual half-assed retro stuff that I've complained about with Archives for the last three or four years (I can't even tell you how long it's been around).
So I turned the cards over and started looking at them.
I gravitate toward the cartoons because that's the kind of guy I am. The only design in 2013 Archives with cartoons on every card is the 1972 design. So I started looking at those -- even though the '72 cartoons might be the worst cartoons ever to appear on a baseball card.
But leave it to Archives, they made them even worse.
This is what I saw:
Yes, the repeat cartoon image is bad enough, but I've been dealing with that since 2006, so, whatever. But the repeat cartoon question? What the hell?
There's another one. Tommy Henrich hit the first World Series walk-off, in case you didn't read it the first time.
Here, the question is the same, but the cartoon is different. You're not fooling me, Topps, I know it's the same question.
Here, we're asking the same question, but with three different cartoon figures. I suppose the Giants have a pitcher, batter and fielder all in the Hall of Fame, so that works. But, again, SAME QUESTION.
Another trifecta of the same question. This one is interesting in that only one of the cartoons reflect that the question is about a catcher. The cartoon on the back of the Pagan card makes zero sense.
You're wondering whether there are four cards with the same trivia question? Of course there are. Troy Glaus is the answer to all of these because it's the SAME QUESTION. The Manny Machado card mixes it up a bit by showing a cartoon pitcher. Glaus was not a pitcher.
Here is another quartet of rerun. Steve Carlton was the career strikeouts leader before Nolan Ryan. Steve Carlton was the career strikeouts leader before Nolan Ryan. Steve Carlton was the career strikeouts leader before Nolan Ryan. Steve Carlton was the career strikeouts leader before Nolan Ryan.
And, what the hell, let's pretend Steve Carlton is a batter in one of the cartoons.
The fact that there's so many repeats is amazing because the '72 design makes up just 50 cards in the set. It's not like we're talking 660-792 cards in which there's a cartoon.
But this is what happens when so many sets are issued and so much emphasis is placed on inserts and hits. The base cards suffer, in many different ways. There's not enough time to be thoughtful and creative. Even with 150 years of baseball knowledge, there's apparently not even enough time to come up with 50 different trivia questions.
That's the life of a card collector these days, dealing with reruns.
Thank goodness we have eBay, the cardboard version of Netflix.