Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The break-up

I was in the card aisle late last night -- yeah, I know, big surprise -- and found myself face-to-face with a blaster of 2016 Topps Chrome. Kenta Maeda was staring me down from the front of the box.

I barely blinked and turned my attention to some Heritage High Numbers, selected my purchases and headed for the register. Poor Chrome, ditched again.

I have chronicled my slow separation from Chrome over the years. What was once a shiny obsession back in 2008 and 2009 transformed into a occasional dalliance, then a guilty pleasure, then ... well, I don't know where we are now. But I think we're breaking up.

All you have to do is look at how many times I've addressed Chrome over the years on this blog:

2008 Chrome: 9 times
2009: 14
2010: 17
2011: 8
2012: 5
2013: 7
2014: 5
2015: 3
2016: 3

That's a steady slope headed for divorce.

So what are the reasons for that? Let's pretend Chrome and I are in counseling and the Chrome Counselor is trying to figure why we're growing apart. I think I could sum up his discoveries in four factors.

1. The Scourge of 2010 Chrome

The 2010 Chrome set probably did more damage to my fascination with Chrome than any other single factor. A set that should have been recalled because of the cards curling up right out of the pack, left me gun-shy about Chrome for several years. I would study 2011 and 2012 Chrome and wait for them to curl on me and roll out the door.

There are collectors who insist all Chrome cards curl, and there's some truth to that. But there has been nothing like 2010 Chrome before or since. It's almost uncollectible, and a set I declared the most defective set of all-time.

Nothing was the same with Chrome after this set.

2. Putting Colored Borders in the Flagship Set

I have been attracted to Chrome because of The Shiny for years. But when Topps started adding colored parallels, I started to salivate. The greatest-looking Chrome cards in history have colored borders. And I admit, that when I bought Chrome, the biggest thrill was not the shiny but whether I pulled a colored border.

But then Topps added colored-border parallels to its flagship set (beginning in 2012, but it actually started with the 2011 Traded set). Now you could get that color thrill in the regular, cheaper base set. Sure, they weren't as striking as the colored Chrome refractors, but they were still fun. And if the border was nice-and-fat, like with 2013 Topps, the effect was almost as cool as the Chrome cards.

So there was less of a reason to shell out more money for a pack of Chrome.

3. Fiddling with the Border Colors

Although I have enjoyed the red and black refractors in Chrome very much, blue refractors remain my absolute favorite. It's my favorite color and my team's color. The Dodgers look outstanding on blue refractors, particularly with the 2007 and 2008 Chrome sets.

I'd like to say they look outstanding in the 2013 set, too -- another set with fat borders. But they don't. Because Topps changed the deep blue color of its refractors to same washed-out look that car dealers try to pass off as "blue." I'm not big into the metallic look, for cars or cards (unless it's one of those actual metal cards). Give me color!

With the blue color diluted, there was little incentive to buy a blaster looking for a colored parallel.

4. Eliminating Borders

You all know my feelings on the look of 2016 Topps. It's brutal. I admit the look works better on Chrome. But I don't know what I'd say if Chrome came out before the flagship set.

Removing borders eliminates the greatest thrill of a Chrome break, finding a gloriously colored border. Collectors have remarked how the pink (and whatever other colors there are) parallels fill out the empty smoke space nicely. I suppose it's better than empty space. But it's also a random pink honeycomb disrupting a photo of Trayce Thompson batting. It's weird, and not in a good way.

I want my borders back. But I see that 2017 Chrome won't have borders either.

Those are the reasons that Chrome and I are headed for a break-up. I expect to be signing the papers in the next few weeks. From this point on -- unless things return to circa 2007 -- I will chase Chrome Dodgers and that is all.

The Maeda, Puig and Fernando Valenzuela True Colors insert were sent to me by madding from Cards On Cards.

He also sent a couple of non-Chrome cards:

Be glad I never developed a relationship with 2005 Donruss Classics Legendary Lumberjacks. Oh, the fights we would have.

And here is another card in the 1994 Mother's Cookies Mike Piazza-Tim Salmon series. One more card to go, I believe. That's a happier couple than Chrome and me.

I don't think I'll completely stop posting about Chrome cards, and you'll probably see me buy a pack in the future at some point. But I probably won't be happy about it.

It'll be like having lunch with my Ex.


  1. I just grabbed that Mothers cookie card Saturday. I totally get the divorce from Chrome. I've always felt that way. Hate curling, forget me trying to get a straight scan. It wouldn't be so bad if they were different photos than the the base Flagship. I picked up some binders this past Sat. too, they must have been laying down flat for years, because the Chrome in them were perfectly straight when I pulled them out.

  2. When I first saw a Chrome card (in 2006), I thought it was the biggest bullshit I'd ever seen. Part of me still wants to make fun of it. But as I get more and more discouraged by the flagship set, I keep getting lured in towards cards that are more substantial (and shiny.) I probably never should have bought that first Skip Schumaker 2006 Topps Chrome rookie card at the local card shop for way more than it was worth (probably $1?)

  3. Panini and I are separated. I go back to her every now and then when I'm desperate and lonely, but there's enough licensed cardboard (both vintage and fresh off the presses) out there to keep me entertained.

  4. The Curl in 2010 Chrome drives me bonkers. I checked out your original post; at least yours have a uniform curl. Mine go every which way, some even sort of diagonally. I ran across some pretty bad printing artifacts too.