Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Collecting is a full-time job
I've mentioned a number of times that with the number of different sets and parallels and variations out there today that card collecting these days could become a full-time job, if you let it.
There is so much to keep track of, just from the Heritage standpoint alone -- error variations, uniform photo variations, action photo variations, team name color variations (oh, brother), gum-stain-back variations (even dumber), red-back parallels (huh?), mini parallels (of course), chrome parallels, black refractors, gold refractors, hot box refractors, and, oh did we mention the last 75 cards are short-printed? -- that even if you attempt a fraction of the list above, I don't know what you leave out of your life to get it done, but you're leaving out something.
I'm thinking that the only way you could accomplish even half of what Topps is putting out there -- for just one set, mind you -- is if you were single, did not own a home, worked only part-time, and had no other interests or outside activities. That is the only way you could be successful with what Topps is offering.
And it's not just with Heritage, it's with every set, and has been for quite some time.
There is so much to occupy your time with this hobby, more so than ever before.
Here is one other example.
Tell me which card here is the actual 1994 Topps Mike Piazza card.
Go ahead, guess.
The one on the right, you say?
Wrong. It's the Berger's Best insert from this year's flagship set.
OK, let's try again. Guess again.
The one on the left?
No! It's from the 60 Years of Topps insert from 2011 Topps.
OK, I'll stop playing games with you.
The actual '94 Piazza is the one on the left in this scan. It is different from the other two Piazzas (outside of the card back being different) in that the color of the team-position bar on the bottom is darker and the rookie cup logo isn't as well-defined as it is in the inserts -- you can read the rookie cup lettering better on the inserts. Also, the script player name writing is more angled on the original than it is on the inserts.
But say you're some mom who doesn't know anything about baseball or cards who is picking up a 1994 Piazza rookie cup card for her budding baseball collector at home. We know how sloppy online sellers can get. Is she going to look at the back? Is she going to compare player name script? Why are we comparing Topps' own cards with each other like we're trying to determine whether a card is counterfeit?
Fortunately, I know the difference because I try to keep up with what's in each year's baseball product. But I'm one of those diehards who writes a daily blog about baseball cards.
The Berger's Best insert, to me, is the biggest disappointment of the 2016 Topps inserts. This could have been an appropriate tribute to the man who made Topps the icon that it is.
Instead of merely republishing its own famous cards, something Topps has done many times, it could have made each of the inserts unique, perhaps by featuring a smaller image of the card on the front, in conjuction with another photo of the player, and a stylized heading that says "Berger's Best." Hell, you could throw Berger's mug out there, too, you're paying tribute to the guy.
If I could do photoshop, I'd make a mock-up myself because the idea in my head is a heck of a lot better than "let's reprint the card we just reprinted five years ago."
Now, the disclaimer:
I am aware that Topps doesn't expect collectors to complete every insert set, every parallel set, etc. It's up to collectors to figure out what they can do and what is allowed in their budgets. Topps is just trying to stay afloat, and be all things to all collectors. I am also aware that Topps likely has much more limited resources than we collectors assume it has. And I also know the chances of confusing a reprint with the actual card is probably quite slim (although I'm sure it's happened many times, especially with reprints of '90s cards where everything is glossy).
But now you know why I am eternally nostalgic for the days when there was just one set to collect and nobody got bored with it.
Collecting was something you did at recess or after school got out. And you could fit it into the time you had before your mom or dad turned out the lights. And you didn't lie awake at night feeling like you were missing half of what was being offered.
In other words, it wasn't a full-time job.
(P.S.: mom, look at that card back before you buy it).