I ran some errands yesterday and as I often do when I'm on that side of town, I journeyed through Target's monstrous parking lot to check out the card aisle, just for giggles.
The reprieve on the plundering of card aisles that I came across only a month ago was no longer the case. Outside of a half dozen boxes of 2020 flagship complete sets, there were no baseball cards. Empty.
I shrugged my shoulders and left the store. No loss. If people want to hoard 2020 cards, the cards that I find the least interesting of all the cards ever made, then go ahead. I'm not going to scream about sneakerheads and greedy ransackers like I see so many collectors do. I just don't care enough about current cards to care. Let them have it. They don't know what's good for them anyway.
This weird pandemic-driven situation has actually sharpened my focus. I am far less scattered in my collecting than I've been at any point since I began this blog. Thanks to empty card aisles, I now take my allotted cash for each week and devote it to various online card goals.
Each week, I select an objective and I spend cash on those cards -- cash that would've gone to blasters and fat packs in past years.
My primary focuses right now are on:
1970s Kellogg's cards
1977 Topps football
Vintage Dodgers from the '50s and '60s
1970s Wacky Packages
So I toggle between sportlots and ebay and gather what I can. Because COMC is on the fritz, some of my other goals are now on standby -- particularly the 1975 Topps buyback quest, since COMC had, by far, the most of those.
But otherwise, I haven't come across the inflated prices that others are complaining about. They're saying that the jacked-up prices that have inflicted current cards have moved into vintage, too. Maybe it's because I am not chasing after fancy vintage cards, but I haven't found it. Instead, I'm happily scooping up old cards I've always wanted.
I am laser-focused. And it feels pretty damn good to collect this way.
However, there is collateral damage when you are this focused.
I have many other collecting goals than the ones I listed above. They're not getting much attention though.
One neglected collecting goal is completing a bunch of 1980s Fleer sets.
I set this goal three or four years ago and made want lists for several of them. I managed to finish the 1981, 1984 and 1988 Fleer sets but I've stalled ever since.
They're just not in my sites right now. I'm half expecting the last few 1982, 1983 and 1985 Fleer cards that I need to just land on my door step. Everyone has these cards, right? But that hasn't happened.
So, I was pretty happy recently when a guy named Stuart sent me a stack of 1983 Fleer needs. He's a friend of GCA at The Collective Mind and all of a sudden the strange wonders of 1980s Fleer -- something I've written about over and over -- were in my home.
The '83 Fleer set, while never my favorite Fleer set, stands out because it's a transition year for the 1970s players of my youth.
With '83 Fleer, you often find players on teams that are unexpected, at least for us '70s kids.
Fred Lynn is not an Angel (or an Oriole or Tiger). He is a member of the Boston Red Sox. And should be wearing a bright red helmet!
Reggie Smith is not a Giant! What the heck?! He is a Dodger, of course. Or at least a Cardinal. (Old-timers say he is a Red Sox player like Lynn, but I have no memory of that. I was toddling around then).
Greg Luzinski isn't a member of those White Sox teams with the hitch-in-his-swing logo. Yeah, he looks unforgettable in that get-up, but I know The Bull first as a Philadelphia Phillie. Bulls' BBQ is in Philadelphia, you know.
Even somebody like Dan Meyer I remember first as an original Seattle Mariner. Can't say I've ever once thought of him as an Oakland A.
And Steve Renko in something other than a Montreal Expos jersey will never look right according to the kid who admired his Renko Expos card every day in 1976.
Thank goodness that Ron Guidry didn't change teams during the 1980s, although we non-Yankee fans certainly wished he did. What a great card.
And 1983 Fleer does include some young stars with their proper teams. Yeah, there is Sandberg and Gwynn, but don't forget about Len Barker! Mr. Perfect, as he was known in the early '80s.
Even though Lynn wasn't wearing a Red Sox jersey, Stuart sent plenty of Red Sox. I'm happy to say I've seen every one of these guys play live.
There were a healthy number of Twins as well. Mr. Castillo, please have some decorum.
All of these cards get me much close to finishing off this set. And I'll be checking out what I can send Stuart in return.
But I can knock off two more of my 1983 Fleer needs because Chris from The Collector also sent some 1980s Fleer needs recently.
Tony Armas was a big deal back in the '80s, like the Nelson Cruz of his time.
Chris added some 1985 Fleer Update needs as well.
And here's the card that kicked off that package. This was a free offering from one of Chris' giveaways. I just can't resist a random Sabres card sometimes.
So even with those Fleer-heavy envelopes, I'm still 32 cards away from finishing the 1982 Fleer set, 26 away from finishing 1983 and 77 cards away from finishing 1985 (base and update).
Those '80s Fleer sets will be part of my laser focus at some point -- but right now I'm having too much fun collecting other stuff.
Stuff that's not in the card aisle -- when there were cards in the card aisle.