I am not terribly smart when it comes to collecting cards.
I do stupid things. I buy blasters. I buy repack boxes. I spend too much on shipping. I'm sure there are other stupid things that I do that I'm not even aware of -- until you good people remind me. What are friends for if not to point out your failings?
Anyway, I stumbled across a rare moment of clarity recently. It had to do with the Topps 206 set that is out in stores now.
I don't like this set. I mentioned that a little while ago. It killed retro for me. But aside from that, I plain don't like it just because I don't like the way it looks. Or in the language of the schoolyard, "I just don't like its FACE."
When sets like this come along, collecting gets difficult. As a team collector, I must have all my Dodgers. But I don't want to blow money on the other inconsequentials. When I pull Pirates or Rockies from a set that I dislike, I feel too stupid to live.
Fortunately, A Cardboard Problem was holding a case break of 206, and the Dodgers were mine for a small fee. And that's when I arrived upon an intelligent thought.
Embolded by this light-bulb moment, I entered the break, I saw my cards on video, and now I see them here in my clutches. And I don't have to buy any more 206 for the rest of time. I am so proud of myself right now that the smugness is probably seeping out of your computer screen and getting on the carpet.
Sorry. But I did good.
Let's take a look at the Dodgers in the set:
Chad Billingsley. Thrilling, isn't it? I loathe the "no caps" rule. I know why it was done. I respect accurate tributes to older sets. But I still don't like it. It's 2010, boys. Put a cap on. Thank goodness they're all wearing baseball uniforms. These cards are a load of laundry away from being those awful senior photo cards from the early 1990s.
Andre Ethier. Riveting. As interesting as his three-strikeout game last night.
Rafael Furcal. One improvement over last year's cards are the added features in the background. My lack of knowledge about cigarette-era cards is phenomenal, so I don't know if this is a tribute to a past set. But I like it a lot better than the blank backgrounds from last year.
Matt Kemp. Apparently posing in front of a penitentiary. That's a tad spooky.
Clayton Kershaw. Let's hope the security is adequate back there. Hope you have your running shoes on, Clayton.
Hiroki Kuroda. Here is one of those blank backs that I don't enjoy.
James Loney. The off-center-ness must be another ode to the original set. Either that or it's some sort of T206-1982 Fleer mash-up. And if that's the case, I take back everything bad I said, and I will buy every blaster that I see within a 60-mile radius.
Russell Martin. One thing that you become aware of in this set is the size of everyone's head. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to become familiar with the size of everyone's head.
Manny Ramirez. I heard that Joe Tinker wore a doo-rag back in the early 1900s, and they told him to take it off or he wouldn't be in the set. Tinker refused and he didn't get in the set. True story. Standards are lot lower these days.
Jackie Robinson. Even though I'd like to see other old-timey Dodgers in sets once in a while, I can't get mad at getting a Robinson card.
Them's the Dodgers. But, as you know, modern-retroish sets can't leave well enough alone and we need pointless parallels. Here they are:
I know what you're saying. "Where are the Billingsley, Furcal, Kemp and Robinson bronze parallels?"
Well, they didn't show up in the case. Will I now try to chase those down? Hell no. But feel free to send them to me. (the Kershaw, by the way, is not a parallel of a parallel -- thank goodness. It's a dupe).
Of course, that's not all with the parallels. We must have our minis, which is the highlight of the set for most collectors:
There are a few guys missing from here as well, but I don't do the mini chase thing either, although I'll probably put up a want list.
The Kershaw card is a Polar Bear back mini. A couple are Piedmont backs and a couple are Caramel something. I feel dirty even mentioning that. And I refuse to show them. I am really close to going on an anti-variation back crusade. Complete with protest signs and bullhorns. When I officially go off my rocker, you can expect to see things like that.
OK, onto what you would call the hits from this particular set.
The first is the dreaded variation back: