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It's crazy out there

Around this time of year, my world ramps up and I get amped up.
The Super Bowl makes things busy at work and also for me as a fan. Usually, February means the start of area high school playoffs that continue throughout the month and into March. That's not going to happen this year, but a few teams are going to start playing some games soon and that's practically the playoffs for them (and us, too) during pandemic times.
February also means the beginning of "birthday season" in my family and extended family. And sometimes I'm thrown two weeks of a Winter Olympics to handle as well.
Into all of this, Topps decides to release its most anticipated set of the season, the reason for it existing really, the First Cards Of The Season.
I've always considered this a terrible time to release its set. Not only am I incredibly busy but the weather is usually ass. Six-foot piles of snow in the Target parking lot is not uncommon. But I shovel myself out because it's brand new cards of the brand new year.
I am always excited about this. Always. It doesn't matter how much I dislike the design. It doesn't matter how boring I think the inserts are. It doesn't matter that I grow less and less interested in the players on the field every year. I'm game to try out that card aisle.
Except this year.
I won't be doing that. Next Wednesday is supposedly the first day Topps will release cards. In the past I would take multiple trips to Target or Walmart on the off chance they would show up (and usually wouldn't find them until a week later). I will be staying home.
It's not worth it. It's crazy out there.

I have no desire to wait in a line for 2021 Topps. I almost never wait in line unless I have to and this is certainly not a "have-to" moment.

People get mad when other people take pictures and "shame" folks who line up to strip the shelves of cards. They have the right to spend their money on cards, as many cards as they want to, as anyone else, they say. And, sure, they do have that right.
But is that being a good human being? Yeah, it might be being a good businessperson, I guess. But it's not a good look. And it's not something you'd tell your grandma, and I would never consider it "10 things I like about the hobby." So, no, I don't feel sorry for card-product hoarders if they are "outed" on social media. 

It's not how I want to get my cards or how I want to enjoy my hobby.

So, instead, I've signed up for a 2021 Topps group break and will have the Series 1 Dodgers mailed to me. That's all I want anyway. Who cares about some White Sox rookie?

Here is what I am targeting:

5 - Julio Urias
13 - Mookie Betts
15 - Mookie Betts (World Series Highlights)
40 - Joc Pederson
44 - Walker Buehler (World Series Highlights)
50 - Cody Bellinger
57 - Will Smith
64 - Chris Taylor
67 - Clayton Kershaw
83 - Gavin Lux
85 - Brusdar Graterol
179 - Clayton Kershaw (World Series Highlights)
198 - Corey Seager (World Series Highlights)
201 - Team card
230 - Tony Gonsolin
235 - A.J. Pollock
256 - Keibert Ruiz
270 - Mitchell White
302 - Max Muncy
303 - Hands Up, Masks Up

There are 11 Dodger cards in the first 100 cards of the set. Can you tell they won the World Series? The "Hands Up, Masks Up" card is intriguing.

Judging by the checklist, Topps is saving Series 2 for Buehler and Seager base cards, as well as cards of Justin Turner, David Price, Dustin May, Kenley Jansen, Austin Barnes, Edwin Rios and any other relievers or folks like Matt Beaty who "prove themselves worthy."

I also checked out the inserts. Without seeing what they actually look like, they seem pretty boring. There's a 70 Years of Topps insert set with the usual Dodger inclusions. Same with a "Tops Through the Years". "Stars in Service" could be interesting. The 1986 design will show up in inserts, which is long overdue. There's also an homage to the '52 Topps design (oh boy) and a yet another retail exclusive Cody Bellinger Highlights set. I haven't even finished the last one!

So, that's what's potentially out there, but I'll just wait for it to come to my home.

One of the things I like about operating a blog is the ease of acquiring cards. Not only do you not have to stand in lines and potentially witness a fight and contract a disease, but there's a limited amount of the "I'll send you these cards if you send me those cards" bargaining that I see on a lot of trading sites.

There's not really anything wrong with "an exact accounting" on either side and I've participated in more than my share of those kinds of trades for the blog. But I don't want to live my hobby life like that. I much prefer the "here are some cards I thought you'd like" kind of transactions in which I respond with "here are some cards I thought you'd like." In these exchanges, there's no agreed upon card-for-card deal that has too much of real life all over it.

It's casual. It's friendly. And it's what the hobby should be about. At least for me.

Some examples:

I won this card on The Diamond King site. Kevin was holding a contest and sending out winnings. I claimed this card just because I always feel like I should have 1975 Topps extras as one of the so-called primary '75 Topps lovers on social media. Whenever I hear of people trying to complete the '75 set, I'm sad that I have almost no extras to send them. This is me rectifying it. And Kevin sent this card with no requirement that anything comes back to him.

Here are some cards that I received from reader Dana, along with a nice greeting card and a note.

He has been opening 2020 Topps Archives, trying to finish off the set and liked the look of the cards. He sent me these extras, knowing I'm a Dodger fan.

I've already completed the Dodgers set, I ordered up the team set as I did with several sets last year. I've never even opened a pack of 2020 Archives.

But that's OK. I'll be happy to send the Dodgers extras to anyone who wants them (for free, without any expectations).

Dana also sent a few extras, including the first 2000 Topps football card I've ever seen.

The most important part was the note, and his tale of his collecting journey. That's the stuff you don't get lining up for your fair share as you check your phone.

I received another card from reader Kyle with another note, thanking me for providing interesting blog reading during the crazy year of 2020.

He even apologized later for sending me the Coker card, which another person had also sent me recently. This is certainly not a problem! In fact this Coker is an upgrade and definitely appreciated.

I also appreciate this 2020 Chrome Corey Seager card he sent. I've seen zero Chrome on the shelves, since no doubt, it was scooped up immediately every time it showed up on display. Who knows what this Seager card is selling for online. Somebody needs to make back the $400 they spent at Target on blasters!

Finally, I received some 2020 Heritage needs from fellow Twitter collector John.

He started out collecting the Heritage set, then realized it's just too impossible to complete (I've known it's too impossible to complete, yet for some reason am still pressing on with the foolishness).

He sent off the cards and now I'm just four cards away from finishing the base set!

"What about the SPs?" you ask. Well, John even sent several of the short-prints. One-hundred short-prints is just an example of how crazy Heritage and Topps and the hobby has gotten. But John said, here you go, have them.

No need to send me anything back.

Oh, and one more short-print:

Imagine one of those people standing in a line that stretches all the way back to infant clothing handing you this short-printed Mike Trout card for free.

Yeah, I'll stay with my quiet little part of the hobby here on the blogs and those who get me on Twitter. It's peaceful in here and makes sense in here.

It's crazy out there.

There is no right way or wrong way to collect, but there is a way that makes me feel better about myself.


Nick Vossbrink said…
Yeah I much prefer the "let's get these cards to the right person" for of low-maintenance trades. I do occasionally feel guilty about getting more than I send out but I suspect that the entire point of these trades is that what you receive is so much more exciting than whatever surplus stuff you sent out.
Sweet Trout, and I am with you on fighting the crazy to get a blaster!
Nick said…
"People get mad when other people take pictures and "shame" folks who line up to strip the shelves of cards. They have the right to spend their money on cards, as many cards as they want to, as anyone else, they say. And, sure, they do have that right.

But is that being a good human being? Yeah, it might be being a good businessperson, I guess. But it's not a good look."

A million times YES! Being a good businessperson and being a good human are two completely different things, often with a wide gap in between. Buying up entire displays is the equivalent of taking your ball and going home.

I'll probably still be checking Target for 2021 Topps, but it'll be limited to the Target across the street from my house and/or the one on my way home from work. I'm not driving out into shady neighborhoods for the slim hope of cards this year.
I didn't open a pack if 2020 Archives either...I never even saw it on the shelf.
Jeff Laws said…
*slowly raises his hand* I care about the White Sox rookie, but not for the money.

As much as I like that rookie, the White Sox team sets would be a lot easier to collect if he wasn't so hot. It's rather annoying.
Fuji said…
I'll never get tired of looking at the Suzuki home run card. Good times.
bbcardz said…
Lots of nice pickups here, congrats. I don't buy retail cards so I never stress about those empty shelves. But due to the high prices of some upcoming releases, I'm having serious thoughts about buying any new releases this year.
carlsonjok said…
I am not sure standing in line to snap up all the retail cards is necessarily good business either. Maybe things have changed since I left modern behind, but it strikes me that expecting to find more than $20 in value in a $20 blaster is a mug's game. It is basically not much different than a casino, but without the chain smoking grannies at the next chair over.
Jeremy said…
I came across a few hanger boxes of Heritage high number's but scoofed at the price. $25 for 27 cards? I am too much of a cheap ass for that!
Commishbob said…
Well said on all points, Greg. I never think about the value of cards that come and go via my mailbox. It's just fun to connect with friends with similar interests.

And standing in lines for boxes of shiny cards seems like more work than it's worth. I pay a very smart guy at Merrill Lynch to do my investing. The longterm returns may not be as exciting as opening packs and finding a $25 card in a $30 box, but they are certainly less of a gamble.
Doc Samson said…
An outstanding post, Mr. Owl. I have long had a love/hate relationship with Topps. Upon seeing the design for 2021 Topps for the first time, I was crestfallen. Yes, I absolutely welcome the return of full borders, but this design has countless issues. So I will abstain from trying to obtain a full set. However, I know I will cave and eventually buy a couple of packs of 2021 Topps just to see them in person. Just like I did with 2020 Topps. Old habits die hard.
Mark Hoyle said…
Picked up ,y base team Tedsox set for series 1 I’m done now nail series 2 comes out

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