Sunday, January 3, 2016

State of the Blog Address

It's been a pretty good sports weekend for me.  WVU won a wild bowl game last night, and the Steelers unexpectedly clinched a playoff spot today.  To top it all off, I took the title in my fantasy football league which was all but locked up before the 4:30 games even started thanks to big days from a couple players.

While my collecting goals for 2016 were pretty easy to pin down, I needed a to take some real time to step back and evaluate where things stand here at Battlin' Bucs.

As I head into year 4 of this blog, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a little surprised I'm still at it.  The longest any of my previous blogs had lasted were exactly two posts.  Not a high score that was tough to beat.

But 2015 was a turning point for me, and a turning point for this blog.  Early in the year, my views had hit an all time high, and I had some posts that I really enjoyed writing about the state of the hobby and collecting that sparked some really great discussions in the comments.  Shortly after, I basically dropped off the face of the blogosphere.  It's not that I didn't enjoy blogging or the hobby, but life got in the way, and frankly at time I got very disinterested in collecting current releases.

Adding to my muddled feelings, 2015 marked the first year since 2001 that I didn't have a season ticket package for the Pirates.  Over the past 15 years, I've had the chance to watch hundreds of games in person and become connected with the team on a number of levels.  The down side to that is that, regardless of the product on the field, things can happen behind the scenes that can really rub you the wrong way.  I'm still a Pirate fan, but frankly my personal thoughts on some of the folks and the decisions the business has made outside of baseball makes it hard to cheer as a fan anymore.  I watched 2 games in person last year, and honestly don't know that I will top that number this year.

So while I still enjoy card collecting, adding Pirate cards for 2015 and beyond just doesn't seem as important as it did for the years that I was passionately following my team.  And as a collector, my interests and posts just as often as not have little to do with the Pittsburgh Baseball Club.  So to some extent, the entire name of the blog feels like a misnomer these days.

In the year ahead, I hope to be more active in posting, reading, and commenting on other blogs.  I love the sense of community.  I love sharing my prized additions with the small segment of the population out there who would have the slightest inkling of interest.  But whether it's a byproduct of the passage of time, adulthood, or something less defined, I just don't feel the same connection with the game or the hobby that, frankly, may have defined me too much during my teens and 20's.

What does that mean?  It just means getting a little more creative.  I can't run out to the store or the LCS and bust a pack of my favorite product, knowing I will get a little pick-me-up or the chance of scoring a great card.  But I can head to my computer, printer, and paper cutter and put something of my own making that can do just that.  The ability to create and design my own custom cards has filled a gap and frustration that has been brewing for me with the hobby for quite a few years.

This year will be the first since 1980 when the license for cards in each sport is held by one manufacturer.  I think that is something that is fundamentally flawed, and is potentially devastating for the hobby.  And the end result, the cards that are produced, don't really speak to my interests as a collector.  But the ability to make the cards that I want, largely when I want, is something that has kept my fire for cardboard alive.

I hope that you all continue to read and discuss the hobby here at Battlin' Bucs in 2016.  And I hope you all don't mind too much if there are more pictures of the wacky cards I dream up, and fewer that someone at Topps or Panini does.  I'm looking forward to a year of bring more active as a blogger, and getting back to the core of what I have enjoyed about card collecting since I was a kid without fussing over hits, cost, and the other less appealing aspects of our hobby.

Happy 2016!



  1. Good luck in the new year with collecting making your customs!

    1. Thanks. Now that I have the basic process down pat, I'm hoping to experiment with some new techniques this year.

  2. I love seeing your customs. Keep them coming.

  3. Totally agree with you about the monopoly in each sport for trading cards being an issue. Can't wait to see more customs in the coming year though!

    1. To me, the appeal of cards has always been about the aesthetics. Even within the same companies, you could see very different approaches and designs to different products - Skybox cards had a very different look than Fleer. There were design teams that had different styles, approaches, etc - and different things struck a chord with different collectors.

      Now all the sets feel the same to me. It's just disappointing more than anything. Every set has the same autograph subjects. The same photoshop effects. It just feels very redundant.

  4. Looking forward to 2016. You and I need to trade more.....maybe in person!

    1. On the to do list for this year is definitely more trips to Morgantown. I was down in November because Kate had a roller derby bout, but between the game and catching up with friends we had a pretty tight window.

      Next time I'm down, we'll need to meet up. I have way too many boxes of doubles, and you're welcome to anything you want.