Danny Glover was right.
When you reach a certain age, there's no point in holding on to some of the things you enjoyed when you were younger.
I'm fortunate that I don't have to deal with drug cartels or psychotic partners named Mel Gibson. But I do deal with something much, much, much, much worse -- going to Walmart in search of new baseball card product.
Why do I put myself through that?
What, honestly, is the point?
I don't need to do it for blog posts. I think I'm creative enough that I could post almost every day for months even if no new cards showed up at the store. So what am I doing?
Do I like dodging old ladies hunched over their shopping carts who are trying to steer and cross something off their list at the same time? Is waiting in line behind people who must discuss every item that comes out of their shopping cart entertaining?
Is Topps Archives worth that? Is it?
No, it is not.
The latest Archives product has been posted on many different blogs over the last week-plus. But it's just showing up here now because, one, I don't really care about this product, and, two, there seem to be a lot of people who do.
I was in Walmart several days ago at that glorious time of 2 a.m. when there are no old ladies with shopping carts in the store. I hopped on over to the card aisle and right where the Archives fat packs and blasters were supposed to be were two empty spots. They had been cleared out. Both items. Gone.
When I came back to Walmart yesterday, the Archives blasters were fully stocked. But there was just one lonely fat pack. The rest had been snapped up.
So, obviously, it's a popular product. From my perspective that puzzles me. I always think Archives has a lot of potential but am often let down by it. But then I heard something the other day that made sense:
People wonder why both Archives and Heritage exist. Well, maybe Archives is for younger collectors and Heritage for older collectors. This is the theory: Heritage is very much a set-collector's set, a traditional set. And the brand stays very true to the set it is replicating, because they know that Heritage collectors know their sets. These collectors know tradition and some of them back in the day even bought the cards that Heritage is representing. Some people who are buying Heritage this year actually bought 1968 Topps in 1968.
But Archives, the theory goes, is for younger collectors. These are people who don't collect sets but collect players and still like the old designs. They know history but have no real allegiance to it because they weren't around when the designs first came out. So if Archives doesn't perfectly replicate a set, it doesn't matter to them. Because they didn't pull those cards in 1968 or 1976 or whenever.
They aren't attached to those old cards. While I am. I was there.
In other words: I'm too old for Archives. I'm too old for this shit.
That may explain why I get so bothered by Archives reusing the 1982 design four years after already using it, short-printing the hell out of some cards (fortunately it doesn't do that this year), and scrimping on the card stock. I'm older. I pulled cards in the '70s and '80s. I want it be right. I want my history acknowledged, dammit. I want it respected.
So that's the reason Archives irks me while others are going, "oh, wow, cool!"
Needless to say, I did not buy any of the Archives blasters, I nabbed the one fat pack and was on my way.
I fully expected to be underwhelmed and it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I was.
Here is the pack:
The first five cards in the pack are the 1960 design.
Positive points: The design has not been used in Archives before. Also, as mentioned a number of other times, the card stock is thicker and more substantial. Finally!
Negative points: I'm already sick of seeing that Gossage card. I think it's been pulled from every pack I've seen opened on the internet.
The next five cards from the pack are the 1992 design.
Positive points: It's a faithful enough representation of 1992 Topps. I don't hold a particular allegiance to '92 Topps, but it's all right.
Negative points: I've already pulled three Giants out of this pack.
The next three cards are inserts, a Bazooka-style card, a 1960 rookies style card, and the Lindor is something I don't recognize. Some past basketball design perhaps?
Positive points: I like Lindor cards.
Negative points: The card stock for these and the 1992 cards is the usual thin stuff out of Archives. That's OK for the '92s because that was when Topps converted to the thinner white cardboard. But put your 1960-style card on regular cardboard please.
The last five cards are the 1982 design.
Positive points: Thicker cardboard.
Negative points: I am so disgusted by the repeated '82 design that it clouds everything else I see. Topps hasn't exactly ignored the designs that I grew up with as a kid, but we're five years into this version of Archives and I'm still waiting to see 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1981.
The reason I was thrilled with Archives last year -- the only time I have been thrilled with them as a set -- is because it featured the 1979 design and did such a good job representing that 1979 set.
It's possible Archives does the same thing with 1982 but I don't care because I've already seen it.
Also, the fact that this '82 Archives design is on thicker cardboard and the previous one is not diminishes the previous one in my eyes.
And before I forget: that pack sucked. Two Yankees, two Cubs, three Giants? That freaking Jon Gray who I pull in every single pack? Curt Schilling?
Every year I buy a pack or two of Archives and then the cards get lost in the shoebox of time. They may be the current cards I ignore the most when I'm going through them a year or two or three later. They seem almost disposable.
But I'm looking at it from an older collector's eyes. Someone who collected back then. Archives is probably something I shouldn't be buying, because: