I am a traditional collector in the modern world.
That causes all kinds of conflicts. I grew up during a time when you walked or biked to the store to buy wax packs and then used those cards to -- maybe one day -- build the set.
We almost never achieved that goal (well, the people I knew didn't anyway) because we didn't have the funds to accumulate 660 different cards in a 6-month span. But the objective each year always made sense to me. The goal was to accumulate as many players and cards that represented that year that you could.
I still think that way, even though set-collecting is even more daunting today than it was when my allowance was like a buck a week. Almost everyone agrees it's impossible today to complete a set the way I did in 1978. It certainly isn't cost-efficient.
But I can't help the way I was built or dismiss what I was taught when I was first buying cards. The way the sets were presented 40 years ago, from packaging to appearance to size and availability, are what I like best. So, basically, I'm lost in modern card collecting. Not only can you not buy packs for a quarter anymore but there are no corner stores. Heck, there aren't even cards at any store anywhere and those cards that you can't buy don't even have borders. It's a mess.
Still, I soldier on even though buying current cards is a bit painful for this traditional collector.
1. Modern sets
Because there is so much more variety in the card world than when I was collecting as a kid, I instinctively rank what I like and don't like. This was never a thing in the '70s. You had one set a year. It wasn't a question of like or dislike. Did you want to collect that year? Well, then buy the cards.
I like having choice. But sometimes it's tiring deciding what I will buy and what I won't. And then there are sets like Fire that have a half-dozen looks in one set. You could collect only the portions that you like, and, yes, I have done that.
2. Modern sets I really don't like
Choice in cards can also create divisions. That shouldn't happen, people can collect whatever they want. But in the case of Gypsy Queen v. Allen & Ginter, collectors naturally settle into camps and sometimes start lobbing insults at the other's set.
I'm in the A&G camp. I don't understand the point of Gypsy Queen. It seems like it's "The Set For People Who Want Allen & Ginter Without All That Weird Stuff". But mostly, I don't like GQ because it's ugly every damn year. It doesn't appeal to my brain. And that's why I haven't bought any since 2013.
Pain scale: 4
3. Modern sets I really like
Now that Heritage has reached the 1970s Topps designs, I really, really like it.
I went through an entire decade of moderate interest when it was spanning the '60s designs. But now that we're moving into the designs I saw as a kid, I'm tempted to buy those cards and will be until Heritage reaches the 1979 set (I don't sense any enthusiasm in me for that one).
The 2020 Heritage set, which covers the super-awesome 1971 design that I've considered epic since I first knew what they were as a youngster, is my first test of how far I will go with Heritage. And I've gone a lot farther than I thought I would.
As far as modern sets and set-collecting goes, Heritage is as PAINFUL as it gets. The short-prints that you need to find to complete the set can cost you hundreds of dollars. There are 100 short-prints each year now and you're not going to find each of those for less than a buck a card. So, yes, hundreds of dollars. And, that to me is sick. And definitely painful.
Pain scale: 8
Bowman deserves its own special category because not only does it cause distress on an emotional level but also on a mental level. I have been aware of Bowman in its current form since I began my blog more than 12 years ago. I still don't have a handle on what all the Bowman sets are or who is in each one.
I try to create want lists for the Dodgers in the set but I'm doing it with a set-collector's brain and I know my want lists aren't correct but I can't fix them because Bowman is a PAIN. It gives me a headache. Collecting shouldn't give you a headache.
I've avoided buying any packs for more than five years. I don't know who half the players are, I don't have the patience to wait around five years to see if they become "somebody," the designs are usually irritating. There is a lot discomfort there.
Pain scale: 8
The stereotype of a traditional collector would say that he hates parallels. But that's not true. I was fascinated by parallels the very first year I started collecting (1975 Topps minis). The fascination has held strong as various colored borders were introduced. I won't complain too much about the sheer numbers or scarcity simply because there are way too many to even think I have a chance to own them all and also LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY COLORS.
Pain scale: 0 (feeling no pain)
6. Allen & Ginter tobacco-style minis
Another example of a parallel in which fun masks the pain. I will even buy a blaster of Allen & Ginter for a year in which I have the entire base set, just for some mini parallels that I need for my frankenset.
That said, the time is growing short on that quest. Johnny, in particularly, filled a bunch of empty spots in the frankenset binder and I'm down to just seven spots left.
2, 151, 171, 241, 281, 300, 325
But there's always the chance a better card comes along and boots a less-than-appealing card out of its slot. That's why this quest will continue for a little while longer, as long as it's fun!
Pain scale: 0
7. Online cards
I remember when I was outraged by online-only cards. There are rants on this very blog about them.
Well, that ship has sailed so far that no one remembers who was on the ship.
So now I need to separate this into two categories: online cards that appeal to me and online cards that don't.
Online cards that appeal to me cause a little bit of pain just because I now have to set aside a bunch of other goals to chase this thing that I didn't know existed yesterday.
But as often is the case with online cards, they have limited appeal, so I find myself just adding singles. If people want to send me some -- heck, they're retro-ish with players I knew growing up (some of them anyway, I don't know about those Cubs) -- I'll take 'em!
As for other online cards, such as the 3D things and the minis ...
... yeah, they're all minis -- see? ...
... there is no pain if I ignore them. Both pay tribute to cards of my youth (3D and mini) but they're not my style. Whoever heard of mini card without a border? It's weird.
Pain scale: 2. All over the board on this one, just like online cards.
I did receive a few more traditional cards in this assortment of envelopes.
The 1989 Donruss baseball best Dodgers needs have been elusive for a long time, while I accumulated the other baseball best Dodgers years ago. But no pain here. We like our 1989 cards. They're pretty traditional.
Finally, a 1971 Fleer Laughlin card. I adore these things and I grew up with that kind of art. I could collect these cards for the rest of my life and be in my happy zone the whole time.
So, I know people are asking, why do you collect modern cards if it causes you pain?
I've answered this before. As long as I'm living in the modern world and following the modern version of baseball, I am interested in the cards that show these people. I WANT to collect them. I don't feel that I HAVE to collect them. Sure, I wish things could be different, but that's not a reason for me to totally give up.
If I did, that would cause me quite a bit of pain.