Saturday, January 20, 2018

Taking Stock for 2018

Men of philosophy often contemplate important questions of life: What is the optimum governmental system for humans to organize themselves? If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, why does he allow human suffering? What is the natural state for human economics? 

Some of us are nearly equally philosophical about questions that to outside observers seem less important: should there be more than one official MLB licensee for baseball cards? Is Topps evil or simply horribly incompetent? What card sets should be issued every year? Or even this one:

Noted philosopher W. Axl Rose's oft-repeated question is what is on my mind at this point: where do I go now with my collection? 

My answer to that question is not as easy as it was in the past. When I first got back into collecting about four years ago, I was incredibly naive and thought I would try to build a Brewers collection that would be as complete as possible. 

In those early days, much of my time was spent tracking down checklists, figuring out want lists, chasing stuff on eBay, and ripping open pack after pack. Even then, frustration was beginning to seep in as I catalogued stupid parallel after stupid parallel in dozens of Topps-issued products. 

In the past two years, my time for collecting fell as I became much more involved with work-related efforts with the American Bar Association and, particularly during 2017, as Georgia football took more of my in-person time going to games and my mental time seeking out information about upcoming opponents and the like. This is why I have blogged much less in the past two years than I did in my first two years blogging too.

At the same time, my frustration with Topps grew and grew. Topps Now became an excuse to issue as many cards for the "major market" teams at the expense of teams like the Twins, the Brewers, and the Blue Jays. Even in 2017 as Milwaukee was the final team eliminated from playoff contention in the final week of the season, Topps Now nearly ignored Milwaukee. 

The Brewers had thirteen Topps Now cards issued last season. In contrast, including multiple relic and autograph cards, Aaron Judge by himself had 65 Topps Now cards. Add in the 43 postseason and offseason cards and autographs and relics for him, and Judge had 108 Topps Now cards of the 220 Yankees Topps Now cards this past season. Heck, including autographs and relics, Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic had 22 cards issued. 

I'm not going to turn this into a "Topps sucks" rant, though, because whether I like Topps or not is irrelevant. If I am going to collect baseball cards, my only choice is Topps for licensed, current cards of major league baseball players. One can agitate for change, but when the agitator is ignored by the powers that be, continuing to rage into the ether is a fruitless exercise -- particularly when one is talking about a hobby and not something very important in life like things going on with one's national government.

So, I'm done with beating my head into a wall where it comes to complaining about too many parallels, or too many Yankees, or too many high-end releases, or simply ugly cards. It's just not worth my limited time. Instead, I'm ignoring that stuff. Going forward, I'm collecting player collections -- which, yes, will include parallels -- and I'm collecting team sets of the base cards for the products that I choose to collect. 

For example, I got this card from Dennis from Too Many Verlanders/Manninghams just before the end of 2017:

I will still try to collect these cards because Ryan Braun is a player collection. Another card I'll seek out:

Again, any Younts that I can add to my collection will be added when I can find them.

But, it means that I will change other things. It means no more tracking and chasing every damn parallel for every card release. It means no more buying Topps Now cards unless it is a player collection for me. It means no more involvement with case breaks, because I don't need 11 copies of Topps Flagship's Will Middlebrooks.

Instead, I'm going to spend more time going into the archives, so to speak, and I don't mean Topps Archives. I mean finding cool oddballs, interesting schedules, magazines, programs, autographed photos, and other memorabilia that I like. Two more examples from Dennis of things I really like and will chase:

I will always collect magazines that have Brewers on the cover. 

I will still try to blog this coming year as well. I still enjoy the Meet the Brewers posts, and I should be doing more of them. I will probably try to mix in more posts about what is in my collection already. And, I will thank people for their kindness when they send me cards. 

Also, I will still try to keep putting music into my blogs. I love music. 

In other words, I will stop trying to do everything and collect everything. I'll stop being my own worst collecting enemy.

Thanks go out to Dennis for the cards and magazines in this post. And thanks go out to all of you who read this.


  1. Good post. Collect the way you want to hope for change in 2020 when MLB licensing is up for grabs again.
    For the record... I'm with you. Too many Topps issues are designed for the breakers or for the "collector" with deep pockets. Also, too many teams are buried under the Yanks, Dodgers, Red Sox and Cubs.

  2. You're not alone. I've sensed a lot of frustration in blogger posts and comments (including my own) in regards to Topps in 2017.

  3. I sense a happier collector in you this coming year. I'll be looking for the oddest of odds plus keeping you stocked in the new Brews I find along the way.