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The year I became a bad team collector

That would be 2018.

It's been coming for awhile. Probably around 2015 or so I began to think "I can't do this anymore. I just can't keep up."

Even though from the beginning I always knew that there would be no way I could collect every Dodger card as a team collector, I still had hope for several years. There weren't that many parallels or that many inserts. Sure, there were a bunch of 1 of 1 cards, but I could ignore those easily enough.

Then it became a deluge. More and more parallels. More and more inserts. More and more variations. Cards from Panini that I didn't even like and parallels and variations of those. Then the online exclusives came. More and more online exclusives. Topps Now and the Living Set and current players on retro designs that were issued like every week and that weren't available at the store down the street. Then came the club-membership-type deals from Topps where you could sign up and Topps would make cards made exclusively for members only. Holy smokes, how am I ever going to get those? Whatever happened to cards being available to EVERYONE? (I do not like this "class system" of collecting that has developed).

I started falling behind on my team want lists. And not just falling behind, but not even bothering. I knew that there wasn't a team want list up for such-and-such a set and even though I had a little bit of time to add it, I just didn't do it. I didn't care.

Too much to keep track of, not enough interest, more interested in other card pursuits that weren't like trying to trap butterflies with a spoon.

For whatever reason, I recently decided to post on my want list my Dodgers needs from 2018 Panini Chronicles, that set is just bizarre enough to peak my interest. Here is what that came to:

Chronicles (Dodgers)

12-Buehler, 21-Kershaw, 36-Seager, 56-Bellinger

Classics: 6-Verdugo
Cornerstones: 29-Bellinger, 32-Kershaw
Crusade: 11-Verdugo, 21-Bellinger
Donruss Optic: 182-Farmer
Illusions: 25-Verdugo
Limited: 20-Kershaw
Phoenix: 1-Verdugo, 18-Bellinger
Prestige: 20-Bellinger, 25-Verdugo
Prizm: 13-Verdugo, 25-Seager
Revolution: 25-Bellinger
Rookies and Stars: 11-Bellinger
Score: 18-Bellinger, 19-Verdugo, 29-Buehler
Select: 8-Bellinger
Spectra: 3-Bellinger, 32-Kershaw, 33-Verdugo, 37-Buehler, 45-Farmer

Parallels: Any

(these are relics or autos):

Autographs: 9-Farmer
Signature Swatches: 7-Peters
Swatches: 17-Kershaw
Classic Singles: 3-Piazza, 15-Sheffield
Contenders Season Tickets: 13-Buehler, 14-Verdugo, 15-Farmer
Cornerstones: 11-Verdugo, 20-Bellinger
Heirs to the Throne: 1-Bellinger, 16-Seager
Panini Signatures: 16-Peters
Phoenix Signatures: 17-Taylor
Prizm Signatures: 6-Farmer
Reserve Materials: 11-Farmer, 14-Buehler, 21-Kershaw, 22-Seager
Rookie Jersey Collection: 9-Buehler, 15-Verdugo
Rookie Reserve Signatures: 9-Farmer, 11-Verdugo, 20-Buehler
Spectra Rookie Jersey Autographs: 11-Verdugo, 20-Buehler
Triple Threat Materials: 9-Farmer, 11-Verdugo, 20-Buehler

Goodness me, as my grandmother used to say. What the hell is that?

If you add up the number of players listed there, it comes to a grand total of 10. And three of those players appear only once. I am being asked to collect 56 cards featuring just 10 players (actually 58, two of the Chronicles Dodgers are in my collection already). And that's not including any of the many parallels.

What has team collecting become? That is not my kind of team collecting. I'm glad flagship and Heritage is still around as they still recognize team collecting as I know it. Some will say "just collect the team members from the sets that make sense to you," but I've operated for too long under the "collect them all" team philosophy and I can't ignore 12 to 15 sets (because that's what it would take) and feel comfortable with my collection.

So, because of the weird nature of some sets and the sheer number of parallels/variations/exclusives, I've pulled away more and more. I'm not even interested in buying the team sets all in one shot, mostly because the "just-be-done-with-it" mind-set doesn't jive with my enthusiasm for collecting.

If this sounds familiar to readers it may be because I've written a post about this already, fairly recently. But now, five months later, I'm officially seeing the results of my team-collecting apathy that really kicked in in 2018.

My neglect has created massive numbers of wants in my Dodger collection. While I was ignoring team collecting, Topps and Panini kept churning out cards without a break. There's no chance now of me catching up to what they've been creating in a frenzy.

And I have to rely on you guys to send me Dodger stuff that I might need, much of it things I had no idea existed.

I recently received a package of all 2018 Dodger cards from Jon of Community Gum. It was nice to have that feeling of filling holes in my team collection again.

Jon finally wiped out my 2018 Allen & Ginter Dodger base card needs, something that I used to take care of well within the calendar year of release. Took me much longer this time. But at least I had a want list up for this!

I did pretty good with keeping track of my Big League Baseball Dodger needs, too, even the parallels. This is probably because it was a new product that I could find at the nearby Target and relatively cheap. "Collecting-friendly" I call this. Basically the complete opposite of Panini Chronicles.

Finest? I still love these cards. And there's actually a want list. But I don't do much about trying to find them. These two cards help.

Then there's Archives. I have a 2018 want list for this, too. But Archives is tricky enough that there are always Dodgers cards that escape my notice. This is one of them. I'm sure glad I have it. That Verdugo-Buehler connection may make this item fairly significant in the near future.

OK, Panini time. This is where it gets weird.

If Panini is lucky, I post a Dodger want list. But I barely pay attention to it. Diamond Kings used to hold my interest a little. But after a few years, I've noticed that Panini keeps regenerating the same legends and it gets a bit tedious. I should never feel like another Pee Wee Reese card is tedious, but, yet, here we are.

Sometimes the Diamond King-esque cards work and sometimes they don't. This one is rather nice. The lack of logo and even the blue 10 does not bother me.

Now, the disaster that is Panini Donruss and Optic. Jon informed me that these are both variations. Imagine that! Variations in Panini Donruss! My assumption is that there are five different variations for each of these players in each of the sets (Donruss and Optic). And then multiple parallels of those. Will I bother to chase them down? Will I bother to put up a want list for them?

The team collector in me doesn't want me to say this but, truthfully, the answer is: no way. Not ever.

I admit some Optic inserts are nice and make me want them.

So, as you can tell, I am still on that borderline.

I still like the idea of being a team collector and I still like getting those very modern Dodger cards. But I often resent having to accumulate certain cards and am more often apathetic about most of what team-collecting has become.

Team collector night owl from 2006 to 2014 would see this and think that I have given up, that I am no longer fighting the good fight, that I am a bad team collector.

But I don't feel bad about it.

At all.


I so understand the "impossible team collecting". So far with just the few releases as of today there are 2733 Braves cards.
748 Topps, 380 Donruss, 376 Bowman Chrome prospects, 236 Diamond Kings, 229 Heritage, 203 Inception (like I'll ever even own just 1 of them), 214 Gypsy Queen, 189 Bowman/prospects, 115 Opening Day, and then the odd balls 23 On Demand, 5 Living, 4 Throwback Thrusday, 3 Now future, 4 Bowman chrome draft, 3 bowman draft. Yeah...... I'm content with just the base cards of the average sets, and the rest may they rest in peace.
Mark Hoyle said…
I will collect the base sets of a bunch of the releases. Don’t sweat any of the other stuff your not alone
Zippy Zappy said…
This is basically why I've dropped team collecting altogether. I can't keep up and, even if I could, I just don't have the space for it.
Fuji said…
I wasn't a fan of Panini Chronicles even before I read this post. Although I don't turn down any new A's cards for my collection, I gave up chasing down every A's card I could get my hands on years ago. There's just way too much out there to collect. I focus on the one that stand out to me... and the rest is just gravy.
Jason T. Carter said…
I have never chased parallels, autographs, or memorabilia cards. I will gladly accept them, but my focus is base. I love the variety available, and recently knocked off several 90s sets that I never knew existed in one fell swoop. I didn't think it would be as fun as opening packs, but I love examining each card *knowing* that I want to keep it. Not to mention the money it saves. But parallels etc.? Not on my wantlists.

JT, The Writer's Journey
acrackedbat said…
I've been there for awhile, not bothering to add my wants for Tigers. I'm more focused on vintage, Ty Cobb and Altuve now. If someone is kind enough to send a batch of new Tigers, I'm always grateful.
GCA said…
There's a whole monster box of Redskins at my favorite local shop, but I almost want to work out a deal with the seller where I could take it home for a week and bring it back either missing what I want (and paying for them + a rental fee) or restocked with some of my dupes. Mostly because I'll have to sit there for several hours and sift through each card and flip pages in my wantlist book (that I'm lucky to even have) or the typed list of what I have already from 2009 on, which I'll still have to guess about some parallels. (some of those I've resorted to wordy descriptions so I can tell them apart.) It's so hard to manage and efficiently figure out what I need that I too have become a very casual team collector.
AdamE said…
I'm right there with you only my apathy started in about 2013. My want list from 2013 on is hit or miss how many sets are on it. On my checklist many sets (like 2013 Bowman) just say "need all". (Bowman might not be a good example though because I don't understand Bowman sets and numbering. Don't konw how many times I have received a Bowman card and thought well I don't know what the heck this is, it looks like a regular card but the number is VVVX93W; well I don't have it yet so I'll just put it in the box with the other Bowman from this year.)

I gladly accept all Red Sox parallels and inserts but I really only seek out base cards. The only parallels I actually looked for are Topps Gold and Ginter Minis. And I haven't chased them in the last few years either.
AdamE said…
When I lived in Missouri there was a card shop in Springfield (it was about 2 hours from my house) that had all his cards sorted by team. For the Red Sox he probably had 14-15 monster boxes in the back along with the 2-3 he had out front. Those boxes were filled mostly with 90s cards. I worked out a deal with him where I bought a whole box from him took what I needed and the next time I was in town I could trade it for a different box as long as I refilled it with "newer" Red Sox. So every few months when I would go to Springfield I would swap boxes with him. IT was a good source of team cards while I lived there.
Big Tone said…
Way too many parallels :(

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