Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Need Therapy

Just before the end of the year, a package from Adam at Addiction As Therapy showed up in my mailbox. It contained a plethora of great cards. I'm going to showcase a few of them and use this time writing simply as "therapy" for my collecting. I have no idea where it's going, but y'all are coming along.

There are things about collecting cards these days versus my original days back in the 1970s and 1980s that I like a lot. Back in those days, you had one shot at what the big companies released as card sets. Sure, there would be random other stuff -- 5x7 photos from Topps, card-sized stickers from Fleer, Donruss's Action All-Stars -- but those were really oddballs. 

The real action was each company's flagship, eponymous set.  

These days, it seems like it is a rare week when a new set doesn't come out from Topps or Panini that is available in stores, and it is indeed a rare week that Topps doesn't issue something new. Sure, unless you have unlimited funds, you will have to pick and choose what you collect. But the options these days are many. It's hell for a completist, but it's fun to chase. 

Of course you can't chase everything. The feature of collecting today is also its defect in many respects. Trying to catalog what a "complete" team set each year would look like is tough. All the parallels and inserts get mind-numbing. In that regard, it's almost worse than the "overproduction" era of the late 1980s/early 1990s. 

I worry about the hobby with things like this. It makes me wonder whether cards will still exist in, say, 2035. With how focused on the high-end sets Topps has become, and with how much of a cash cow Topps Now had to have been, it begs the question of how long Topps will continue to issue a Flagship. I could see them continuing Heritage and Archives for the nostalgic among us, but will they continue putting out a new eponymous set? 

And, how much longer will we go with only one card issuer? How long will it take MLB to bring card printing in-house when it sees the kind of cash that Topps generates or, conversely, when Topps fails financially and ends up leaving MLB without a card company? Could that happen?

Maybe the question is, "why wouldn't it?"

After all, Donruss looked like a pretty solid company. Now, its rotting corpse is being used to put out chrome cards without logos and with discolored jerseys. 

Going stream of consciousness on you and speaking of the future....

Here's Future. Perhaps the best comment about this video is, "This dude be speaking cursive."

Anyway, just remember, the future isn't always bright. At least not in a dystopic world. That's probably why I could use some therapy. It's tough to stay positive sometimes, especially when it seems that the world has turned against people who value intelligence, or expertise, or thoughtfulness. 

Is our world's anti-intellectual bent (I say world because, well, look at Brexit and Europe generally) just a phase? Or is it a dumbing down of the world that will be tough to reverse?

Who knows.

On happier thoughts about the future, perhaps in 2035 we will be celebrating the use of the 1994 set on Heritage and Topps will have dragged out the 1979 design for still more cards for Archives on multiple occasions. While the 1994 design is nothing special, I'm in favor of having the 2035 Archives set feature 100 more cards with the 1979 design.

Of course, will I still be collecting in 2035? 

If so, will I still be looking for another Corey Hart Topps Heritage card that I don't have, or some Jonathan Lucroy Archives short print from 2015 -- to complete a team set or a player collection? 


Well, I say probably. I assume a lot there. I assume I'll still be alive at the age of 63. 

I assume I'll still be collecting.

I assume I'll still be collecting in the same way that I'm collecting now. 

I'm hopeful that there will be better technological advances available then such that we will be able to automate some of the processes that we do manually now -- like, say, a set release that comes with an automatic filter to sort the cards however you want and then with photo recognition to check them off the checklist when you have them.

That is, if there are still physical cards being issued.

Just wait, though, till the 2015 and 2016 card designs end up on Archives. Is there any rule that Topps has about how old a design has to be to appear on Archives? If not, why haven't we seen some cards echoing the 2007 design? Or the 2000 design? I mean, the year 2000 is now 17 years ago. Those cards will be seniors in high school this fall. 

On a similar note, I have baseball hats older than that. In fact, I have a Brewers trucker-style hat with the mesh back from 1987 that my grandad used to wear. I still wear it from time to time. It's in good shape, so why not? 

Is there any point to these thoughts? Not particularly. Sometimes, it's better just to let the words flow and see what happens. These cards, this blog, these relationships we all have with others online -- all of it is what makes things fun. Just like any gathering of people, sometimes things will get one or more of us really upset. No one will like everything. 

It's tough to be zen. It's tough to be quiet. It's tough to be contemplative. It's easier to go through mood swings, to be upset and share that upset with everyone, to pop off when something seems off. I know -- I do all of those things, and being loud, upset, and popping off is far closer to my default position.

Part of me thinks that my job as a lawyer has done this to me. I'm always coming up with counterpoints to the points made by others. I'm perpetually trying to convince others that, sure, maybe J.J. Hardy did use that piece of wood in his card as part of a bat and it's not from a random 2x4 from Home Depot. 

Another part of my job is to remain calm, though -- to appear unflappable, unemotional, poker-faced. When something bad happens, the response isn't to go nuts, or to cry -- it's to think. It's to try to make things right. 

All that together makes it tough for me not to engage Topps from time to time -- to call them out when they ignore teams. I want Topps to be around in 2035 (I want me to be around then too), and I see too many occasions where there does not appear to be a plan with them. It seems short-sighted to give short shrift to the Brewers or the Twins or the Astros earlier in the decade or the Rays simply because there might seem to be fewer fans of those teams that buy cards. Maybe it's that those folks don't buy cards from Topps because, well, Topps does very little to cater to them. 

Again, that's all a discussion I've engaged in before. 

Maybe just a little typing therapy helps sometimes. Just like collecting can be an addiction, it can be therapy too.

Adam, many thanks for the fantastic cards. I hope you didn't mind tracking through all this randomness.

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