One of the greatest highs in this hobby, the reason why I think it can be called a drug, is set completion.
For me, nothing in collecting baseball cards will exceed the rush that I receive from finishing a set. Completion, to me, is what elevates this hobby above simple accumulation. The ability to assemble a set by the numbers on the back or the uniforms players are wearing on the front, and actually complete it, is an achievement that I think even collecting outsiders can appreciate.
Completion means that this is no longer just a bunch of cards but the resolution of a pattern. The full puzzle. It's point A to point Z with all of the letters (or numbers) in between. It is an accomplishment -- however easy or difficult.
Let's face it: the loan might not have gone through, or your kids might not have turned out how you wished, or you're off your diet again, but daaaaamn, look at that set in the binder!!! Don't they all match up? Don't they all look like good little soldiers wearing their similar border designs? You did it, bud (or budess). You did it! YOU COMPLETED A SET!
When I first started collecting cards, set completion was the goal. I never achieved it back then because what kind of kid has the money to finish a 660-card set?
For that reason, I think, I tried instead to simply complete sets of my favorite team, the Dodgers. Twenty-five cards was a lot easier than 660. The first one I completed, I believe, was the 1977 Topps Dodgers set. What a great day in my purple plaid pants world that was.
And now, even though I've completed many full sets of 660 cards, 726 cards, 792 cards, etc., etc., I continue to try to complete Dodgers team sets. Because they're just a little bit easier.
And that's why I celebrate when I finish one off, no matter how mundane the set.
For example, Julie of A Cracked Bat sent me the last five Dodgers cards I needed to complete the 1995 Select Dodgers team set.
The Raul Mondesi card at the top is one of them, along with these:
Now, honestly, the '95 Select set doesn't mean much of anything to me. There aren't many mid-1990s sets that do. The design is kind of annoying and some of the players from that era are, too.
But never mind all of that because I got to erase 1995 Select from my want list!!!!
That was a giddy few seconds as I crossed off the last few numbers, I tell ya.
This is why I'm collecting. To cross off the last few numbers, then add those final few cards to the binder, stare at them in admiration, and give myself a high-five. You better know that I'm smiling when I write this. I completed a team set today!
Of course, not all cards I received finish sets. They're just part of the process.
Let's see that process in action:
There's another Mondesi, contributing to the ever elusive 1992 Bowman team set.
There is Pedro Martinez, contributing to the 1994 Pacific completion quest, before he departed for Montreal.
There are four Dodgers pitching in to complete the 2014 Triple Threads Dodgers team set, although one is a numbered purple thing, which is actually detracting from the team set quest, thank you very much parallels.
This one is for the 2013 Triple Threads team set attempt, which has barely begun because, hey, it's not like I buy Triple Threads.
2000 MLB Showdown? Yeah, it's part of the team set try.
And this beauty assures that I don't break up the complete set of '94 Pinnacle Naturals that I once won from a blogger. I've been tempted to separate shiny Piazza from his friends just to put it in my Dodger binder. Now I will never be tempted again. Thanks completion gods! And, of course, Julie.
None of these have anything to do with the completion theme because they're all inserts or parallels. I like them because my team completion ways morphed into an accumulation habit. But at least I'm sensible enough not to try to complete insert or parallel sets. I don't want to put myself into full-on misery while trying to accomplish.
I completed another Dodger team set!
Julie sent me the Gil Hodges card from the 1995 Upper Deck Sonic Heroes of Baseball set.
Yeah, it's an easy team set to finish. It's the only Dodger in a 20-card set.
But I felt just as grand crossing the last card off of this list as I did 1995 Select or any of the other lists that saw the last number erased.
When I complete a set, no matter how large or small, I do in fact feel complete. Fully. If only for a short period of time.
Completion happens so seldom in life. At least cards are there to give that to us.