Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: The best, the worst, the ... I don't feel qualified to write this


It's the final moments of 2018 and I'm struggling to sum up the year.

I kind of dropped out of collecting current cards in the middle of 2018. I never looked for a pack of Gallery. Never got suckered into a blaster of Panini Chronicles. Bought only a couple of rack packs of Stadium Club. Cut back on Allen & Ginter. A pack-and-out of Heritage High Numbers. Didn't bother to check up on checklists or short-prints or all the stuff I did back in 2010, 2011, etc. Didn't even bother to look for my Dodgers online.

Around about July or August, my collecting brain switched. I could hear the click. It didn't care about the cards on the shelves anymore or the latest and greatest. I started to focus on my one, true collecting love: sets. The endless questing for every last Dodgers card, the constant worrying (not actual worrying, but collecting worrying -- I think you know what I mean) disappeared. I can't tell you what Dodgers are in half the sets that were released this year. And I'm losing no sleep over it.

This is good for my sanity -- life is much too busy for me to be obsessed with whether I have every Tim LoCastro card -- but it's not great for reviewing the goings-on in the hobby in 2018. I certainly am no expert on Topps' various online endeavors or half of the inserts it puts out.

However, I am an expert on my collecting happenings in 2018. This is really all that matters.

So let's get to it.


BEST SET I COMPLETED

This is a bit embarrassing considering my set declaration this year, but here they are in increasing order of happiness:


2015 Panini Americana



2014 Allen & Ginter



1988 Fleer



1989-90 T&M Senior Professional Baseball Association



2013 Panini Hometown Heroes (non-variation set)

1984 Fleer

Ozzie Virgil seems to saying "you call yourself a set collector???" and I can only nod my head. I promise I'll do better in 2019. You see, I have a head start ...


BEST SET I'LL COMPLETE IN 2019


I thought I'd complete this set in 2018 in last year's year-end post. I came close: just 42 cards to go. I'll get it done this coming year.


Also, I expect to complete the 1976 Kellogg's set next year.



And the 1981 Fleer set (geez, what's with all the Phillies cards?)



And the 2001 Upper Deck Decade 1970s set.

Thanks to 2018, I'm very close to finishing off all of them.


BEST SET OF 2018


Gee, I don't know. Stadium Club, I guess? Nothing this year stood out and I wasn't looking that closely either. I'm not wild about the massive position name in this year's SC and kind of over the set in general. But with all things boringly equal, Stadium Club's photos put it over the top.


WORST CARD OF 2018


I'm not even bothering with "worst set" this year. We all know its Panini Donruss again with their bizarre harp strings floating across every card. This card is the worst of the worst. Whitewashed uniforms. Horrible design. Dopey stares that makes Kershaw and Seager look like long lost cousins of Gomer Pyle. Gahhhhhhhhhhhh-LEEE!!!!

BEST CARD-SENDING TREND


Sending monster boxes to night owl seemed to be a thing in 2018. It started with this big, ol' variety box from ARPSmith's Sports Obsession, then Johnny Miller hit me with a couple different giant things, I got a huge box from The Collector that netted nearly 2,000 new cards, and then, on the final day of 2018, this shows up on the porch:



It's quite promising.


BEST CARD PULLS OF 2018


Maybe not as exciting as last year's Gene Hackman pull, but the Billy F-Face pull was a lot of fun!


WORST TOPPS DESIGN DECISION


White-on-yellow just seems like an obvious thing to avoid. Like mixing mayonnaise and mustard together. Yet many of the position names on the '77 design portion of 2018 Archives are unreadable.


WORST LOCATION FOR THE ROOKIE LOGO


Picking on Archives again. The rookie logo goes on the photo in just about 99.999 percent of card sets, but for the '77 portion of Archives, it's wedged up against the position flag, basically nullifying any nostalgic butterflies that I felt upon seeing the '77 design again.


BEST CONVERTING OF MYTH INTO REALITY


Until this year, all this talk about dime boxes might as well have come from an alternative universe. But in 2018, I both discovered a dime box (and bought the whole thing) and a nickel box in consecutive card shows. Myth meet reality!



BEST BOX-OPENING EXPERIENCE

 
I opened a box of 1991 Pro Set MusiCards from the U.K. on my birthday. I came within one card of completing the set (I will find you Cliff Richard) and it was a blast. More fun than anything else I opened the whole year.


BEST INDICATION THAT TOPPS FLAGSHIP WASN'T GOING TO BE AS AWFUL AS THE PREVIOUS TWO YEARS


This Billy Hamilton card was the first card I pulled from a 2018 pack and it's probably the finest card that I've ever pulled as a first card of the year. It gave me hope for 2018 -- and this year's flagship was actually somewhat pleasant -- even though it turns out this Hamilton card was probably double-printed and I have like four of them now.


BEST INDICATION THAT I'M LETTING NON-BASEBALL CARDS INTO MY LIFE


Well, yeah, there was the MusiCards box. And there are the Sabres and Bills cards arriving at my door of late. But the one non-baseball set that makes me giddy -- floating-on-air giddy -- is the 1977 Topps football set. I added a bunch of cards from the set this year. Hope to do the same in 2019. I mean look at that card.


WORST LEGAL TIMING


Cards of managers disappeared out of Topps sets in 2017, most likely because there needs to be a legal contract for every action in the world these days. But it was terrible timing as Heritage focused on the 1969 Topps set, which featured the most glorious manager card backs of all-time. 2018 Heritage could have been a lot cooler if lawyers weren't involved.


WORST FALSE ALARM


My local Target uprooted the card aisle that had been in that particular spot for at least 10 years and filled it all in with another, less interesting kind of card (Olive Garden, your bread sticks aren't as awesome as you think they are). It turns out there's still trading cards in the store, I just have to walk all the way to the back for them. But damn, that was quite the scare.


BEST CARD BACKS


The card backs in Topps' new product, Big League Baseball, contain interesting, personal facts that I think should be on the back of every baseball card set.


BEST NEW GUY TO COLLECT


From the combined no-hitter in Mexico in the spring to the postseason in the fall, Walker Buehler was a lot of fun to watch, and to collect. Yeah, a lot more fun than that Ohtani guy.


WORST RETAIL DEVELOPMENT


After Kmart closed in my town last year, Rite-Aid followed in 2018. Both were suppliers of cards. Rite-Aid was one of my sources for repacks, so as the store was closing, I picked up one last repack -- and was rewarded with a pack of one of my least favorite sets, 1992 Donruss. Screw you, Rite-Aid, I'm glad you're gone.


BEST PLAYER COMMENTARY ON THE STATE OF COLLECTING, BASEBALL AND THE WORLD IN GENERAL


On four different cards, Matt Kemp showcased the way players celebrate walk-offs these days (card 1), that the world is a dangerous place and you need to protect your identity (card 2), that maybe photoshopping isn't completely believable when it comes to updating a player's new team (card 3), and befriending a player on his team who didn't even get his own base card despite 35 home runs (card 4).

Thanks, Matt Kemp, who isn't on either of these two teams anymore, for your very 2018 view.


BEST COLLECTOR-IN-MY-BACKYARD DISCOVERY THAT DIDN'T TURN OUT SO GREAT

I found out a worker in my building is really into collecting cards. Then I ran into him at Walmart as he cleaned out the entire shelf of Bowman blasters and discovered we don't have much in common when it comes to the hobby. (There is no picture with this one because the guy took all the Bowman blasters!)


WORST TOPPS FLUB OF 2018


Topps did some annoying stuff this year -- putting Giants logos on Corey Seager cards, etc. -- but for me the absolute worst was advertising that this particular Bark in the Park card would be coming to Big League Baseball and then pulling it from the set (still don't know why). For this reason I cannot truly enjoy Big League.

BEST SMALL GESTURE


A collector who used to be on Twitter but smartly got out, informed me of the availability of this semi-hard-to-find Eddie Murray card and now it's mine. Thanks, Matt!


BEST TRIBUTE TO A PAST CARD SET


Was Topps really paying tribute to Fleer, or did it just want its own big-glove card? Anyway, I gloved both of these cards in 2018.


BEST TRIBUTE TO A PAST CARD SET 2


How many Ohtani collectors do you think know who Mel Queen is? It's cool that that a couple different pitching hitters/hitting pitchers made it into my collection in the same year.


BEST CARDS SENT TO ME IN 2018

Look for your cards!


You guys rock.


BEST LONG-AWAITED ARRIVAL


A flea market showed up in my town. And it features cards! And I bought some! And they are cards I can use!


BEST SUBSET OF 2018/WORST SUBSET OF 2018


I was looking forward to Heritage's treatment of the 1969 Topps World Series subset long before I knew the Dodgers would land on that Heritage subset. When the Dodgers made the World Series in 2017, I was positively elated for the obvious reason and for the card reason (see what non-collecting fans miss?)

Of course, this also lands firmly in the "be careful what you wish for" category.


Night Owl just can't have nice things.



BEST HOPE FOR 2019 HERITAGE


The most thrilling night of the entire 2018 baseball season was the 18-inning Game 3 of the World Series, the high point of the Dodgers' performance as Muncy launched the game-winning home run. Since 2019 Heritage will focus on the 1970 design and the 1970 set indeed had World Series cards for each game, there will be a Heritage card of my favorite moment of the 2018 season. Once again, I'll just ignore the other World Series cards.


WORST DODGER CARD


This card featured a photo taken in Dodger Stadium, with fireworks set off by Dodger-hired personnel in the first game of the 2017 NLDS, which the Dodgers won. THIS IS A DODGERS CARD. Yet Topps has made it a nasty Diamondbacks card. At least I know the true story.


BEST 2018 INNOVATION THAT I IGNORED


Topps announced the creation of a set with no end. Each week it revealed three new cards for the set that could be purchased online (of course). The thing that helped me ignore it is that every card would be featured in the 1953 Topps design, which Topps has beaten only slightly less than the '52 Topps design dead horse. But I did get this key card from Ben at Cardboard Icons!


BEST 2018 INNOVATION THAT I EMBRACED


OK, Andy of Stadium Fantasium helped me along by sending me all the cards from the 60th anniversary giveaway set at Dodger Stadium. I probably would have ignored them otherwise being 3,000 miles away! But this was one of the best giveaways I have ever seen.


BEST COLLECTING ITEM THAT I DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED


Mark Hoyle introduced me to three-pocket pages, so I could store my Hostess panels, and the Hostess binder may now be my favorite thing in the whole world.


BEST RESEARCHING OF 2018


I didn't think I did as much of theses posts as last year, but it turns out I might have done more. The All-Redhead Team, the All-Played for Dodgers and Giants Team, the All-Presidential Name Team, the All-Doing Team, researching the most prolific year for baby blue uniforms, a year-by-year study of the legends in Allen & Ginter, the penultimate card in each Topps flagship set, and there were a few others, too. Also thanks to those who performed their own Reminiscence Bump post. I still plan to group those together in a future post.


WORST REPEATED PROMISE


I think I promised a Greatest 100 cards of the 1980s countdown at least three or four separate times in 2018. It didn't happen. I'm confident 2019 will be the year for it, but I don't blame you if you don't believe me.


BEST CARDS I SENT MYSELF IN 2018


I have a feeling there was a lot more than that. But even on this post, I run out of time.


BEST INSERT SET AFTER A ROUGH DAY


I need to bring these Allen & Ginter beach cards with me to work so I can stare at them when the phone won't stop ringing.


BEST CUSTOM CARD THAT MAKES ME SWOON


My favorite custom card of the year from Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown. One look at it and I'm transported to 1996, the front row of a Garbage concert, waiting for Shirley's sweat to drip on me.


BEST JULIE AND JULIA MOMENT



I recently watched the 2009 movie Julie and Julia, which is about Julia Child and a blogger who attempted to cook every recipe in Child's famous cookbook. The thing that struck me about the movie, other than Meryl Streep's fantastic portrayal of Child. is a reminder of how cool blogging is.

The Julie in the movie who blogged received tremendous feedback for her blog (which lasted just one year) and eventually a newspaper article and then a book and movie deal. This was the glory days for blogging (in 2002) when anything was possible.

I could relate to many of the blogging moments in the movie (receiving gifts for my writing, etc). As for a book or movie deal, that hasn't happened for me. But in 2018, I was contacted by Beckett and I did write a magazine story for them, and hopefully you will see it in the next few months in Beckett Vintage Magazine.

It was undoubtedly the coolest moment of a lot of cool moments in 2018.


BEST BLOG TREND OF 2018


This will be a more in-depth post soon, but in 2018 I noticed more engagement on my blog, both in terms of comments and possibly views, than I ever have. This is after 10 years of doing this and repeatedly hearing that "blogging is dead" for at least the last six or seven years. It ain't dead. NOC is proof. 


BEST CONFIRMATION THAT I'M DOING THE RIGHT THING


In 2018, Topps created a 30-card insert set of 2017 rookie poster boy Cody Bellinger (and one of Aaron Judge, too). If that wasn't enough, there are several different parallel versions of each card in AN INSERT SET.

This is nothing new and has been going on for at least the last three or four years. But it does feel good to not worry about every last Dodger card when stuff like this is happening. Topps actually succeeded in driving me away from spending my money pointlessly. Thanks, Topps!

And, now with that final slam on 2018 cards, it's time to name the 2018 Person of the Year.

Last year, I went with Aaron Judge, a totally expected pick that affected my collecting even though I don't collect him. Prior to that, I went with more off-the-wall selections.

Well, it's back to off-the-wall!

The 2018 Person of the Year is someone whose card I pulled:


Not once.


Not twice.


Not three times.


But four times!

That's more than the number of Shohei Ohtani cards I pulled this year!

Yep, the 2018 Person of the Year is Kylie Minogue, the Locomotion Queen, who I Just Can't Get Out Of My Head.

She sums up my ramped-up interest in nonsports cards this year as well as anyone (I also went on a small Kylie music kick in early 2018). Thanks to my continuing developing collection, 2018 was one of the most interesting collecting years for me, even 10 years into this blog.

So, congrats, Kylie! (P.S.: don't tell anyone I also pulled four different cards of Dani Minogue).

Also, I have just determined that I am without a doubt more qualified to write this than anyone. 

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(List of persons of the year:  2018: Kylie Minogue; 2017: Aaron Judge; 2016: Justin Smoak; 2015: Sandy Koufax; 2014: Bill Wetmore; 2013: Maybe Josh Donaldson; 2012: Adron Chambers)