Friday, February 23, 2018
2017: What Did I Miss?
Jump ahead nearly two decades and it feels like I was out for a month with mono and just came back to class the day of the final. Considering how formulaic card companies have become with their releases, it should be easy to pick up where you left off. ...Shouldn't it?
I've been browsing COMC, taking a look at CardboardConnection here and there. But the reality is that this hobby isn't nearly as digestible today as it was in 1999. The checklist for Bowman Chrome is probably as long as it was for the entirety of baseball releases in 1999. And that doesn't even count Bowman with Chrome, Bowman Chrome Draft Picks, Topps Online 5X7 cards with eighteen different color variations, and the tens of thousands of commons that had a stamp added and were thrown in just for good, confusing, measure.
The hobby has changed. Some of those changes are for the best. A lot of them are for the best. Autographs of Hall of Famers are readily available. The are cards on vintage-ish stock, and cards on acetate - something for everyone. And boxes now cost as much as a mortgage payment. Well, maybe that last one isn't so good...
But there is a big chunk of me that misses being able to spend 15 minutes flipping through a few pages of a magazine and have a handle on the state of affairs. More game used cards. Nolan Ryan reprints. This Rick Ankiel guy must be one heck of a pitcher, and always able to consistently throw baseballs over home plate. Alright. Ready, set, go!
And maybe that's where we went off the rails. Or at least I did. Because in 2014, 15, 16, the hobby didn't feel like a hobby. For me a hobby was something I could do for pleasure in my spare time with my spare brainpower. Collecting felt like it became its own second job, just to keep up with what releases came out, what cards I needed, where to find the cards. What had for decades been a fairly straightforward proposition: here are the cards, pick what you like, now became this complex game that involved a slide rule and triangulation to figure out which end was up. Are Topps Chrome autographs part of the base set? Are they an insert? They look like base cards. But the numbering is different. Why is the numbering different? Do Bowman with Chrome prospects go with my Bowman set, or my Chrome set. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
Maybe I'm alone here. And while I keep repeating my collecting mantra of "buy what you like," I'd be lying if I said I don't feel cannibalized by my own hobby.
So all of that - all of THAT - is to say point me in the right direction, friends. What did I miss in 2017? Any products that are "must see?" Any new inserts or technology that knocked your socks off? Any big changes? Are gold refractors suddenly numbered to 250? Because this ain't 1999, and if they even still sell them in stores, I don't think Dr. Jim Beckett is gonna help me out these days.