Monday, January 4, 2016

2015: The best, the worst, the ... yeah, I'm late again


This post has become a New Year's Eve tradition for me. Of course, New Year's Eve was four days ago. And, so, we've arrived upon my theme for 2015.

2015 actually wasn't any different from any other year in NOC history. It was just more. More half-assed. More cranky. More inefficient. Slower. Later. I don't think I did as great a job this year with the blog as I have in recent years. That's probably just my issue with perfectionism, but objectively there might be some truth to it: the ideas are fewer and farther between, and the ideas that I like don't seem to resonate as they once did.

That leads to inefficiency, crankiness, half-assery.

But I'm still pressing on. Four days later.

Because in the card world, 2015 was a pretty good year, and I think it deserves to be summed up. Through the Night Owl Filter, of course.

And, so, while you've already broken your 2016 collecting goals, here is the best, the worst of that very, very long ago year of 2015:


BEST SET I COMPLETED

This is what I mean. I'm a set-collector before anything, but I did a horrible job at collecting sets in 2015. I tried to complete three different ones from that year alone. I'm still working on all three.

Here is what I did complete:


2013 Allen and Ginter -- about four months after I thought I had already completed it.



The most retro-disco insert set ever made, from 2001 Upper Deck Decade '70s.



1987 Topps. All in one shot. Like it or not.



The 1956 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers team set.

OK, that last one was pretty good.


BEST SET THAT I WILL COMPLETE IN 2016


Yeah, this was a goal at this time last year, too, but I wasn't being realistic about it then. This year I am.


WORST SET OF 2015


I really should pick on some high-end set that I never see because new cardboard shouldn't cost $100 for two cards. But I'll put those sets in the Forever Worst category. As far as 2015, it's Panini Donruss two years running. I hear some apologists saying it's an improved effort from last year's edition. To me, that's like saying the Pinto was an improved car because Ford installed equipment to prevent those earlier gas tank explosions.


BEST SET OF 2015
 

Yeah, I know I'm saying something 15 other bloggers have said already, but at least I said it in June, too. Stadium Club is simply outstanding, except for the collation/pricey issue. And, yes, this Greg Maddux card is one of the reasons why it's so good.

I was tempted to declare 2015 flagship the set of the year, just because I think Stadium Club gets a little too much credit when all of the photos were culled from Getty Images. But that's being petty. And flagship's doing the same thing anyway.


BEST DISCOVERY OF 2015


That Kmart is selling old Walmart card merchandise.



WORST EXECUTION OF A GOOD CARDBOARD IDEA


Topps used fans' photos in its Opening Day set. Unfortunately, many of the photos were not suitable for hobby consumption.


BEST WAY TO KEEP BABE RUTH VISITING YOUR NIGHTMARES


After seeing this card, I am amazed that Babe Ruth did not retire at career home run number 666.


BEST CUSTOM CARDS I RECEIVED IN 2015

In no particular order:




BEST WHITE WHALE LANDED IN 2015


After years of searching for the 1979 Hostess Ron Cey short-print, I went through months of thinking I had it, then thinking I didn't have it, then hoping I had it, then finally having it. You can now buy it on COMC for 95 cents. ... I will not get angry, I will not angry, I will not ge ...


WORST DISAPPOINTMENT


Allen & Ginter chose extra-close crops for many of its cards this year and turned an A&G fan boy since 2008 to someone bored with the whole thing (OK, it has more to do with the cropping, but it ain't helping).


BEST INDICATION THAT RELICS STILL MAKE ME GIDDY


I did virtual cartwheels (because there's no way I can do an actual one) after receiving each of these cards. The relic card may be on life support, but I'm not pulling the plug just yet.


WORST INDICATION OF WHAT 2016 COLLECTING WILL BE LIKE


Topps announced that it would place stamped buybacks randomly in packs of 2016 Topps. The color of the stamp will indicate how "rare" the stamped card is. I would be insulted by this if Topps in the last 10 years didn't already treat collectors like they were 6 years old and believed in the Tooth Fairy.


BEST INDICATION THAT I'M TURNING INTO DIME BOX NICK


I picked up cards like this -- cards that don't fit into my set, team or type collections -- at a greater frequency in 2015. These are the random cards that spoke to me. I've always considered collecting like this sort of ADHD collecting. But I can see its benefits. Sometimes you just want to be amused.


WORST 2015 CARD DEVELOPMENT 1


The nonstop celebration in the flagship and Heritage sets -- while the players ignored the fact they finished in 4th place or had 95 losses -- drove me to distraction last year. Sync your pictures and words!


BEST INDICATION THAT 2015 WOULD BE A GOOD CARD YEAR


I pulled this card out of the first flagship packs I opened and loved it instantly. Loved everything. In a matter of weeks I was casting aside my three-plus year belief that I would never attempt to complete another flagship set.


BEST TRIBUTES TO SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

I seem to be one of the only bloggers who remembers the impact that SI had on the sports world 20, 30, 40 years ago. That led me to figure out that some of the greatest baseball card images were actually first SI photos:


And that some of the 2015 Stadium Club photos had been published in SI pages years earlier as well:




BEST SERIES OF 2015


Spurred into action, I put together a full countdown of all of Topps' flagship sets and even threw in a plot twist by shunning my all-time favorite set in order to choose 1956 Topps as the best set ever. I am a writer, you guys.


WORST CARD DEVELOPMENT 2


Topps went a little crazy with the line justification in 2015.


BEST BAD-ASS CARD ACQUIRED


Dave Stewart is a jerk of a GM, but don't tell Dave Stewart the player.


BEST BEST-AND-WORST-MOMENT-ALL- IN-ONE-DAY



Both the vehicle and '72 Roberto are doing fine and resting comfortably.


BEST MINI INTENDED FOR ME

It was actually a trifecta of minis.


I've received this one three times.


The other two remain MIA.


BEST ATTEMPT TO MAKE ME A SUPER COLLECTOR


I pulled an autographed Salvador Perez card and an SP photo variation Perez within the first two months of 2015. I no longer have either card, so I guess the plot to turn me into a Perez super-collector failed.


BEST 2015 TYPE COLLECTION IDEA 1


Collecting one card from nine different TV shows or movies from the 1970s. I love this idea so much that I fear this quest will balloon from a page to an entire binder.


BEST 2015 TYPE COLLECTION IDEA 2


On the 40th anniversary of the first set I ever collected, I decided to accumulate as many 1975 Topps buyback cards as I could. I am now closing in on 50 (you'll see some more in the near future). I want this project to last at least through 2016.


BEST TOPPS IDEA


Topps figured out a way to get Kelsey Grammer, Will Ferrell, and a few other nonbaseball player types I've never heard of into my Dodger binders. Well done, and this is an idea that I hope will last until we're watching robot celebrities on TV.


MOST INSANE CARD PACKAGE RECEIVED



OK, it was just part of the package, but you don't send 868 Eric Karros cards from 1992 Upper Deck and not leave a mark.


MOST INSANE COMMENT LEFT ON A BLOG


Trust me, there was even more insanity contained in this comment that was left on the 1975 Topps blog. These are the days when it occurs to you that writing a blog is really like talking out loud in a building full of people, some of whom you don't know. And then you wonder why you're doing this.


BEST CARDS I RECEIVED FROM OTHERS IN 2015

I don't know if these are exactly THE best, but they're right up there.


The Ryan card didn't come from someone directly, but I did get the cash from Brian of Play At The Plate and turned it into the card that will ensure that I do complete the '72 set in 2016.


WORST CARD DEVELOPMENT 3


Take your pick: it's either making us figure out which player in the photo the card is featuring, or those horrid All-Star caps that you thought would go away forever the day after the All-Star Game only to see them plastered all over the Update set.


BEST INDICATION THAT I DON'T REALLY HAVE TO COLLECT BASEBALL CARDS


I don't plan to go full-bore nonsports like some collectors I know, but if you're going to produce cards as fine and lovely as Grown-Up Winnie Cooper here, then, yeah, you've got me for the entire set.


MOST HORRIFYING CARD RECEIVED


Outside of the Babe Ruth demon child card, this card will make my brain split in two to infinity.


BEST CARDBOARD REMEMBRANCE


This is the oldest binder I own and it's one of the first I owned, purchased in the late '70s/early '80s. I never realized how special it was until I did a post on binders.


WORST CARD DEVELOPMENT 4


This was a reference to Topps Bunt, something I will never understand -- or at least I won't understand the zeal with which some collectors took to it. But in general it's about Twitter. I'm on Twitter with my NightOwlCards account to get information and share information about cards. But in 2015 it seemed like all anyone wanted to talk about was virtual cards, Star Wars, virtual Star Wars cards, or -- dear god, get it away -- their opinions on topics of the world.

I want my hobby back, Twitter.

Long live the blogs.


BEST VINTAGE DISCOVERY


1970 Topps is the king of bats.


BEST FOOTBALL CARD ACQUIRED


This needs to be hung in a museum with the one-word title "Sadness."


WORST CARDS THAT EVERYONE ELSE LIKED


These "bubble/pulsar" Topps Chrome Update cards aren't terrible, but I honestly don't know why everyone flipped when they first saw them. It's just more sparkly. We've seen it many times.


BEST INSERT SET OF 2015


I did enjoy the First Pitch set. But the Pride and Perseverance set in Update is the kind of idea that needs to show up in cards more often. I haven't absorbed the set fully so I don't know how complete it is, but I really like the concept.


BEST CARDS I DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED


The late '70s Warner Brothers music cards are so outstanding that they will be on my eternal Git List until I have them all. I can't believe that I didn't know they existed until Stubby left a very detailed comment.


BEST DECISION MAKING


I don't know the process that goes into selecting the Topps flagship design each year. But someone or some people along the line struck upon a terrific idea. It basically kept me feeling good about current cards for an entire year, something that I can't say has happened for a long time.


BEST NEW CLUB JOINED


You're all in the club already, but I got my first Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card in 2015. So ... who wants to talk about Honey, I Shrunk The Kids?


BEST INDICATION THAT I WANT THE MID-1970s TO LAST FOREVER


I think my quest to collect 1975 buybacks is doing a pretty good job of that. But putting a little more effort into obtaining 1976 Hostess cards is another sign that I'm stuck in the '70s forever.


WORST CARD DEVELOPMENT 5


This is not one of the Topps Archives base set short-prints from this year (that's right, base set short-prints). I'd have to get pretty lucky (and actually buy some Archives) to have one of those cards. A last-minute switch added 30 short-printed cards onto the original 300-card set. And those SPs are estimated at appearing about once every 70 packs. There's around 500 of each card available, which is ridiculous for a base set.

Easily the worst development of the entire card year.


BEST EFFORT ON A POST THAT WASN'T READ


I spent a long time and dug out a lot of cards (and then put them back) to find out how often card companies repeat the same images of Jackie Robinson. The post was kind of ignored. But that's OK. I know.

(P.S.: The short-printed Archives card of Jackie Robinson features this same damn pose).


BEST SERIES WITHIN A SET

You know, that thing they used to call a "subset"?


Allen and Ginter paid tribute to Rocky. Not sure why, but I'm not asking questions!


BEST CARD OF 2015


I thought of doing the usual Top 10, or Top 3 (like last year). But this year every card would be Stadium Club. I could do a Top 30 and they'd all be Stadium Club.

This is my favorite card amid a crowd of Dodgers Stadium Club favorites (there is also Valenzuela and Kershaw). I enjoy it because it's a rare Yasiel Puig quiet moment, an ideal ballpark moment, and a beautiful L.A. moment. And it's all captured at 8:14 p.m., just so you know the best time for Dodger cardboard perfection.

I suppose the card would be better if I couldn't tell that there's a player from another team in the background there, but let's look at the sunset one more time.


And, that brings us to the Person of the Year.

A few thoughts went into my head on this: our friend Sooz (who chose a lot of the Stadium Club photos), Cubs infielder Javier Baez (who was somehow a Topps NL all-star and appeared in countless sets despite hardly having a career). But in the end I went with someone who celebrated his 80th birthday recently.


Sandy Koufax is all over 2015 Heritage -- almost too many meaningless cards to count. But that's not why he's the person of the year. Early in 2015, I said I wanted to get more Koufax vintage cards in the year ahead. And for once, I stuck with my mission -- with the help of some readers.


All of the vintage Koufaxes that you see here came my way in 2015. I now have very few mainstream playing career Koufaxes to find. And I'm very happy that I was able to stick with a project regarding someone as valued in the hobby as Sandy Koufax.

That's why he's my person of the year.


Plus I got his bobblehead in 2015, too.

So, I guess there was a fair amount of action that I was on top of for the past year. There's a couple things I realize when I do these wrap-up posts like this:

1) I still love cards
2) I've still got some faithful readers.

Just to show you how faithful, people kept showing me pictures they took this year:


They seem to be surprised that the Night Owl name is so prevalent.

I take that as a compliment. "Night Owl' is a pretty common concept. But in my own way I've made it mine.

That's something nice I can take with me into 2016.

Except that we're already here.

I'll try to be more on top of things this year.

22 comments:

  1. Excellent wrap up of the previous year. In the midst of the upcoming awards season you should go crazy with the annual Night Owl Awards, you can call them Hoot statues. Just an idea, but looking forward to 2016 topics with you.

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  2. Great post!I still can't get over that Karros bombing,yikes!!!

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  3. I just can't stop focusing on the fact that the oh-so 70s disco dandies set shows Tom Seaver in a uniform that was used for one year, and that year was *1987*!! A year, I might add, where Seaver was no longer active, although he did try to make the Mets in spring training (for what would have been his third go-round in Flushing). So bizarre.

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    1. Reggie's picture is from 1987 as well.

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  4. If this post ran on AA batteries, you'd have to replace them after the 3rd image.

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  5. 1) Embrace the Cards That Don't Fit!

    2) I just picked up the Winnie Cooper at a card show yesterday.

    3) I agree with you 100% about Twitter.

    Happy 2016!

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  6. happy new year, just wanted to say I've really enjoyed your blog over the last couple years. -brian

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  7. Wow, I had no idea little Ms. Winnie grew up to be such a babe!

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  8. The Bill Simpson looks like someone stuck a jersey on someone's pothead brother.

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  9. That Dave Stewart card is a thing of beauty and immediately goes on my want list. And I agree that the A&G Rocky subset was fantastic. Good post, and keep up the good work in 2016!

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  10. Night Owl references are all over the place once you start looking. I included one in a photo posted on my blog this past summer.

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  11. Great stuff. The Pudge card from Stadium Clum was by far my favorite card of the year, but I had totally forgotten it was used in SI. Nice work!

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  12. Hope you have a great 2016, Greg. I'll be here reading every step of the way.

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  13. Woo hoo! Most horrifying card sent to you! I wonder if there is any way to repeat in 2016... ;)

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  14. Great post. Way too much to comment on though... so I'll keep it simple. Alyssa Milano > Winnie Cooper

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  15. Looks like you had an awesome 2015!

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  16. I think that might be Troy Tulowitzki on Puig's Stadium Club card. Pre-Toronto, of course.

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  17. Best comment in this great post: "Outside of the Babe Ruth demon child card, this card will make my brain split in two to infinity."
    If you are missing any of those Pride and Perseverance cards, drop me a note. I picked up 2 sets on the cheap and would be happy to send you any you might need.
    Happy 2016!

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    1. I need every one except the Springer I showed.

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    2. They are on the way to you soon.

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  18. Finally got around to reading this. I'm glad I did. Happy New Year, Greg!

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  19. Fine post and not just because I got a mention. Helped me through a few minutes at the hospital. Love that clock!

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