Although I'm not into current baseball cards as I once was, I do like to buy what's on store shelves on a regular basis to stay up-to-date, feed the pack-ripping monster and provide some blog material that doesn't bore people who were born after the '80s.
Unfortunately, this time of year is terrible for latest card product. Bowman has just arrived and I feel as qualified to evaluate Bowman as I do teenage girl fashions. The other two card products that just arrived on a hook near you are Gypsy Queen and Panini Donruss. Eeesh.
I had my choice of either at Target last week. I wasn't going to touch GQ -- it looks as ugly as it ever has and at 10 bucks for 20 cards, I'd rather pay $4.99 for 30 Panini Donruss cards. So I went with Panini Donruss because of the price and basically to explain one more time why I don't buy Panini products. (Yeah, I know I'm already on the record -- I just want to make sure my position doesn't get erased).
I know that there are people who like Panini Donruss. It reminds them of the '80s and '90s Donruss cards, which actually weren't all that great and some of them downright awful (there are always exceptions, but overall, I'm not impressed). But then I've actually seen people with my own eyes buy Panini baseball products because they believe that another card company is necessary to provide competition and they're making some sort of statement, I guess?
To me, that's a terrible reason to buy Panini's cards.
Sure, if you like them -- I mean really, really like them -- do what ya gotta do. Like what you want to like, collect what you want to collect. More nice-looking cards for me. But to buy them to make a comment on the state of economic competition and because you're pissed at Topps, that's taking your eye off the ball, man.
Life's too short for that. I buy cards I like period. Yeah, I just bought 30 Panini Donruss cards, but that's for illustration purposes and I won't ever do it again. The reason I don't like Panini Donruss and why I don't care whether they're "doing a good thing" by providing an alternative to Topps is because --- shhhh, don't tell anybody -- I don't buy crap.
I am a collector. That's my mission: to collect cards I like. My "greater causes" are wrapped up in charity work, peace on earth and other stuff you don't want to hear. I don't give a wit whether Panini survives. I am a card collecting consumer. I don't buy a car that guzzles gas because I'm trying to give the mom & pop sales lot a break. I don't eat lousy food at a restaurant because it might go out of business. I don't buy clothes that look weird because they're cheaper. I try to be smart about my paltry amount of money, especially when it's regarding something that I want to be 100 percent fun.
This is not 100 percent fun to me.
I know this a matter of personal preference, but let's get to that personal preference.
Here it is:
This is a mish-mash of '85 Donruss and '87 Donruss except without the cool black borders and with the largest brand logo I've ever seen on a card. Yes, this card isn't good enough for me. I paid money for it. I want it to be good enough for me.
The base cards are atrocious. I don't see any real difference between last year's design (terrible) and this year's (awful). I'm aware that nostalgia is swaying quite a few collectors, but again, I laughed at Donruss -- literally laughed out loud at Donruss multiple times and multiple years -- when they were a thing. Not seeing the nostalgia.
Even if there were team logos on the cards, I wouldn't like them much more than I do now, which is really an indictment because it's not the handicap, it's what you DO with it.
Yes, I admit I'm a logo snob. I won't apologize for it. I collect cards that I like and ignore/criticize cards I don't. I like cards with logos, or some visual sign that I am collecting major league baseball players on picture cards. (P.S.: If Panini went the more oddball route, I'd love them to death, but there's probably no going back now).
This card is a bit better than the rest, because I can see Chapman's name and uniform number on the back.
Yes, I can tell this is Rickey Henderson as an Oakland A without the use of logos, but this is a bad example. What other baseball team is wearing that much green?
How about now? Wanna tell me who is who and which team is which? You need logos -- I need logos -- to get through the maze of teams and the constant rotation of major leaguers year after year. You expect me to pay attention to every player in the American League Central when I have Very Adult Problems and a team to follow of my own?
I have no time for that. I'm a consumer. I don't care if anyone thinks I'm unreasonable. I want my logos. I'm paying good money for logos, dammit. Yes, I'm that jerk-face at the customer service counter yelling at you. But, I won't yell if you don't produce stupid.
This is where Panini has the only advantage over Topps that I can see. It can show players who are not part of the MLB contract with Topps.
But this card of Ichiro isn't as great as it could have been. That's not Ichiro in a Marlins ... oops, Miami baseball club ... uniform. It's Ichiro in a photoshopped Yankees ... oops, New York baseball club, no not that New York baseball club ... uniform. The team is so inconsequential on this card that Ichiro could be wearing a three-piece suit here. Cool with you? Great. He's going to strangle himself swinging with that neck tie. Not cool with me.
Card back. Donruss did not invent full names on the back. Full names were on the back of 1952 Topps cards.
Now, let's get to the inserts, which are drastically better than the base cards, which is another reason why I don't care if Panini leaves tomorrow because I get all scrunchy with sets that hide all the best cards in the inserts.
The Diamond Kings cards are purty and shiny. It's a little too obvious to me how hard Panini is trying to hide the logos -- yeah, sorry, I can see that barn-shaped thing dropping down over James Loney's cap. But overall, I like colorful borders.
I'm one of those odd people who can take or leave Diamond Kings. I've mentioned the reasons behind this a number of times. So, no, I'm not buying Panini Donruss for the inserts.
More inserts. The Rookies, Elite, Preferred and Studio. Almost all of these first arrived when I wasn't collecting cards. Foil board does nothing for me and never did. Studio is kind of interesting, but gets into that "players as Hollywood actors" area that weirds me out.
This pack didn't do me any favors by providing absolutely no Dodgers -- ahem, Los Angeles baseball club (no not THAT Los Angeles baseball club) -- or the one insert I was interested in, the inserts featuring the 1981 Donruss design tribute.
The good news for you, Panini Donruss lovers, is that every last card in this pack is up for grabs. I don't want 'em (another excellent sign that I've wasted my hard-earned money), so please, somebody else have them.
I know people want Panini to succeed because competition is good and all of that, but I don't believe that Panini will succeed in the baseball realm if they keep producing sets that look like this. I have no idea what the earnings figures are and whether they're profitable enough to make the continued creation of baseball products sustainable or not, but I'm tired of being made to feel accountable for Panini's profit margin. All I'm doing is buying cards. I don't want to feel like I'm donating to feed a hungry Panini employee. It's not like I open a pack of Topps cards and brown mold comes out. I actually like Topps cards on most occasions. So it's not the end of the card world if all I'm looking at is Topps. Panini needs to do better (psst, Hometown Heroes was "doing better"). That's it.
This will be the last time this year -- maybe ever -- that I buy Panini Donruss. And it's probably the last time I ever write about the set. Overall, I've been buying less and less current cards for the same reason that I don't bother with Panini cards: I want to buy what I like and not buy what I don't like. I've tried to focus more on past sets that I am trying to collect, while periodically lapsing (the pack buying monster is very convincing). But the very manly voice in my head is getting stronger and stronger every day:
"Why are you buying that? Life's too short."
Oh, and here you go ...
I know it's been driving you crazy.