I have been in a rut this year. At first, I thought it was because of being super busy with work and all that goes along with it. Then, I thought it was because my creativity in terms of blogging had slipped. I've come up with all kinds of reasons why I might be in a rut, but none of those reasons dragged me out of my rut.
Then, this morning at work, with my morning coffee, I read this fantastic post from Dan's Other World called "The Great 2017 Baseball Card Price-Out: A Commentary." It helped me put my finger on a few things that have happened over the past six months to a year that have really turned me off to modern cards to some extent.
I suppose if I'm honest with myself, my malaise truly began with the introduction of Topps Now at the beginning of last season. The idea, in concept, is a good one as I have said on many occasions. In its execution, it's a money grab by Topps. Topps is happy to feature Aaron Judge or Cody Bellinger walking on the field each day as a card in Topps Now, and those cards sell well even at their ridiculously overpriced $9.99 per card (or even at the $79.99 price per 20, or $4 a piece).
There are signs that collectors generally are a bit tired of these cards. Last year, the lowest print run was a Chris Carter card near the end of the year, which had 178 total cards purchased. This year, that number has been surpassed on an incredible thirty-six occasions so far, including a recent Marcell Ozuna catch card (Card 362) that just 113 cards sold.
Before I go on, let me show you the Brewers Topps Now cards that came in from eBay recently.
I still feel compelled to buy them right now. I have two more on the way, I think. I'm guessing that if the Brewers fall off (and by the way they are playing lately, they will fall off the pace quickly) Topps will fairly ignore them going forward.
I am quickly arriving at the point, however, of ignoring current cards. Sure, I'll collect them if they are sent to me, and I'll probably even buy them as team sets on eBay or at card shows. Even then, I'm not 100% committed to it. It's still "probably" because I'm kind of burned out on the decision making that goes on at Topps.
For instance, there is the inexplicable decision making that went into the Archives set autographs -- particularly including Zack Hample as an autograph subject. If Topps did not have a completely tin ear, it would have known that Hample is an object of scorn both in the baseball card community and in baseball generally thanks to his ballhawking getting in the way of things like decency and letting military people go to the game at Fort Bragg last year. Similarly, Topps included a New York Yankees fan in the Archives autographs (Fat or Loud Vinny or whatever...who really cares what his name is). Even if those two were in Allen & Ginter, it would have been disappointing.
Speaking of Ginter, I really liked this set when I first got back into collecting. Ginter & Archives. This year, the Brewers had three base cards in the set. How does that stack up? The Cubs and Mets have 15, the Reds have 9 as do the Diamondbacks, the Rays and Twins have 7, the Padres have 6, the Yankees have 17, and the Red Sox have 19. I know -- the world was clamoring for a new Johnny Damon on the Red Sox card or a new Henry Owens cards (since we sure didn't get enough of those last year /sarcasm). The only team close in terms of the small number of base cards is the Angels with 4 and the Montreal Expos, Milwaukee Braves, and Brooklyn Dodgers with 1 each. Of course, those last three teams no longer exist.
Where am I now with collecting? I don't know, honestly. I'm still grabbing Brewers cards here and there, but I'm more likely to find myself deep-diving on eBay looking for a new police department set to add than I am looking for the single Ryan Braun autograph from a set. I guess what that means is really that I will focus as much -- or more -- on the things that I enjoy in collecting: oddballs.
I'll keep posting here -- don't get me wrong -- but my attention may be spent more on the 1980s Oddball blog than here.
This was more of a personal vent than anything, so I apologize if it made you upset or if you are the world's supercollector of Henry Owens for whom Topps is printing cards.