Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"The Greatest Thing in the Hobby" (Part 1)

A while back, I stumbled upon an interesting article in one of my Beckett magazines.

Although I don't subscribe to it anymore, there were actually some pretty good reads in each monthly issue, once you got past the "hot prospects" rabble. I hardly payed attention to the pricing aspect of it anyways.

This particular article was a great concept, and I had so much fun with it that I decided to put it on the trading forum I was on at the time.

I was browsing through some of my old "threads" yesterday, and I came across the one I did on the old Beckett article. It seemed like a great concept for a blog post or two, perhaps some other bloggers would want to join in as well.

So here goes.

Beckett presented 32 different aspects of the hobby, individually seeded each one, and split them into two "regions". Much like "March Madness", they each face off against each other, bracket-style, narrowing it down with each passing "round".

Eventually, you'll land on "the greatest thing in the hobby", once all is said and done. (It'll probably make more sense once I start the process.)

I've modified the "aspects" a bit, either because I felt something deserved to be in contention, or I had simply never heard of those specific things in the hobby. I left out "blogging" as one of the entrees, because, well, that's pretty obvious. (I'll note where I made switches.)

For tonight's post, I'll be narrowing the field down to 16. Tomorrow's post will crown my personal "favorite thing in the hobby". Hopefully this will be something my fellow bloggers will find interesting.


For our first matchup in the first "region", we have seed #1 "TTM Autos" vs. #2 "Trading".

I've never sent out a TTM request before. It's great seeing other bloggers get a kick out of getting a TTM return, but I just don't think it's my cup of tea.

On the other hand, I've been trading cardboard online for about seven years now, and I always enjoyed swapping cards with my friends, at least when I had friends that collected.

I don't know that I'd still be collecting if I couldn't trade online. After all, I wouldn't have that many opportunities to get new "stock" in otherwise. I love browsing through the existing cards in my collection, but we all need new additions coming in from time to time to keep us interested.

How else could I have accumulated the 78 Willie Stargell cards currently in my collection?

Trading wins here by a longshot, and advances to the "Sweet 16".

Next, we've got #3 "Pulling Key Card of Favorite Player/Team" vs. #4 "Cut Sigs".

I added the "team" part, because some of us aren't player collectors.

I'm not exactly sure what Beckett means by "key card", but I get a huge thrill out of pulling a Vlad Guerrero out of a pack, as I did when 2010 Topps Update was released.

It's one of the small "victories" that keeps things interesting.

Cut sigs are too rich for my blood. There's only one in my collection (of Hoyt Wilhelm, of course), and it will probably forever remain as the most I ever paid for a single card.

Pulling a "key card" easily advances to the "Sweet 16" here.

The next matchup: #5 "Pack Wars" vs. #6 "Legible Autos".

Some of these end up matching up two aspects that I don't really care about. I've never participated in a "pack war", and I don't intend to anytime soon.

So I'll give the nod to legible autos. (I wish I could say that my own autograph was legible, but alas, it is not. It's chicken-scratch.)

Next, we've got #7 "On-Card Autos" vs. #8 "1-of-1's".

Beckett has an apparent fascination with autos, because they show up a few times on this list.

But the "1-of-1" tag got old about five years ago. It's just overkill now, and I guess I prefer an on-card auto to a sticker one.

So on-card autos advance to the "Sweet 16".

Finally, one I actually care about: #9 "Blasters" vs. #10 "Bargain Bins".

Beckett's original 9 seed was "Box Busters". Since I have no idea what those are, I switched it to blasters. 

But nonetheless, by choice between these two should be obvious. Just look at the title of my blog.

I've collected Jack Cust ever since he put together a couple good seasons for the A's in 2007 and '08, pretty much coming out of nowhere. I've nabbed dozens of his earlier cards from dime boxes over the years.

What started out as a collection of six or seven cards is now up to over fifty, thanks to those precious "bargain bins", which advances to the next round.

Next, we've got #11 "Your Hobby Room" vs. #12 "Non-Sports Cards".

The #12 seed was originally "set registries". Again, I have no idea what that is, so I switched it.

While I love my non-sports collection, I can't say enough about my "hobby room". The binders are the first thing you see as soon as you walk in. It was even the basis for my first post on this blog.

My hobby room moves on.

Next, we've got #13 "An Understanding Wife/Girlfriend" vs. #14 "Graded Cards".

I'm still playing the field, as far as #13 is concerned. But when I do meet somebody, I'd want her to at least tolerate my hobby. An "understanding" wife or girlfriend would be a bonus. 

And a finding a girl who actually collects? That's my dream.

Plus, I don't own a single graded card, and I don't plan to, so having a hobby-tolerant wife/girlfriend easily moves on.

I'd hope it's the same for all of you as well.

Next matchup: #15 "No Purchase Necessary (NPNs)" vs. #16 "The National".

I don't know if NPN's are even still around.

The National, however, is very much alive. I've been lucky enough to attend it on two separate occasions. It is the biggest and baddest card show I've ever gone to, without question. The aisles are seemingly endless.

And they've got the best dime boxes. One of my best "steals" of all-time was finding the above Ryan Zimmerman rookie card in a 12/$1 box, as he's one of my favorites in the game right now.

The National moves on without much of a fight.

Now onto the second "region", the first matchup being #1 "Multi-Colored Patches" vs. #2 "Mail Days".

There was a point in time where patches were all the hype, as far as my collection went. But those days are long gone.

Seeing that specific shade of yellow poking out of my mailbox has been one of my consistent "thrills" over the years. 

New cards await!

The above Eric Munson card was one of the great gets from a recent trade with Mr. Rhubarb Runner. I'm still not altogether sure why I collect Eric Munson, though.

Trading easily advances.

Next, we have #3 "Wrapper Redemption Programs" vs. #4 "Buying Cards Online".

The only redemption I've ever sent in was Topps' Series 1 giveaway last year. While it netted me my favorite Cliff Lee card, I haven't done it since.

I don't know where my collection would be without the Internet. The fact that I could go and buy cards like the above Joe Morgan rookie any time I want is amazing. (I went on a little vintage spree when I re-entered the hobby, which is where I got the Morgan RC.)

The Internet wins here, no question about it.

We move on to #5 "Scooping a Buy it Now" vs. #6 "Bustin' Wax".

While I love buying cards online, I haven't bought any single cards on Ebay in a long time. And even then, I barely used the "Buy It Now" option.

The one thing I do use Ebay for is buying boxes. While I don't get the chance to do it a whole lot, I absolutely breaking the seal on a box and seeing the piles and piles of packs inside. 

I make it a ritual to buy a box of Topps Update every year. Busting 36 fun-filled packs is a feeling unlike no other.

"Bustin' wax" comes away with the victory here.

Next, it's #7 "Rookie Cards" vs. #8 "Topps Gum".

The original #7 seed was "The Rookie Card Rolodex", which was an obvious plug for Beckett's yearly issue highlighting all the "hot prospects". I changed it to simply "rookie cards".

Topps gum is awful. The time period it represents is cool, but the gum itself is unchewable and has probably resulted in trips to the dentist on a few occasions.

I don't like rookie cards of "hot prospects" that is all the hype in Beckett these days. But I do love nabbing rookies of guys I collect, like Travis Hafner (at least during his brief Ranger days).

A rookie card means that you've officially "made it" in the big leagues, at least in most cases.

Besides, I'll take rookies over that stale gum any day of the week.

The next matchup is #9 "Vintage" vs. #10 "Beating the Odds".

Probably the easiest choice of them all so far.

I should note that vintage wasn't even in the original bracket. The #9 seed was "one-touch holders". I corrected this horrible oversight. Shame on you, Beckett. 

Vintage wins.

Do I really need to explain why?

This is one where most will disagree with me, I bet.

#11 "Completing A Set" vs. #12 "In-Person Autos". (There's those autos again.)

I understand the love behind set collecting, but it just doesn't fit with the way I collect. The only ones I've ever completed were the two American Heritage non-sport sets that Topps released in '09.

I've only got a few IP autos in my collection right now, but they're awesome. I wish I could've actually met "The Wild Thing", but I found the above card in a discount box at a card shop years ago, mine for a mere fifty cents.

So in-person autos it is. Sorry, set collectors.

Next, we've got #13 "Card-Filled Photobuckets" vs. #14 "Your Local Card Dealer/Shop".

I'm not a fan of photobuckets. They can get a bit tricky to navigate through at times.

The nationwide demise of card shops is one of the saddest things about the hobby these days. The only negative aspect of purchasing cards online is the fact that it drove many a card shop out of business.

Luckily, there's still a few that have managed to stick around, such as the one my dad and I checked out a couple weeks ago. The Verlander was a nice quarter box find.

I'll take card shops over photobuckets every time.

The final matchup is #15 "Shows" vs. #16 "Grab Bags".

I hope everyone picks the #15 seed here. Shows rule!

You never know what you'll find at a card show. I'm still amazed that I managed to nab that '57 Robin Roberts for a mere three bucks.

So here's what my "Sweet 16" looks like:

#2 "Trading" vs. #3 "Pulling Key Card of Favorite Player/Team"
#6 "Legible Autos" vs. #7 "On-Card Autos"
#10 "Bargain Bins" vs. #11 "Your Hobby Room"
#13 "An Understanding Wife/Girlfriend" vs. #16 "The National"

#2 "Mail Days" vs. #4 "Buying Cards Online"
#6 "Bustin' Wax" vs. #7 "Rookie Cards"
#9 "Vintage" vs. #12 "In-Person Autos"
#14 "Your Local Card Dealer/Shop" vs. #15 "Shows"

How much of mine do you agree with? 

It's funny, but this list made me realize just how much I enjoy certain aspects of this hobby. Perhaps this bracket can tell what type of collectors we all are.

Be on the lookout for "Part 2" tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Beating the Odds got a bad draw!!!!

Good picks, and great post!

Dhoff said...

Man, we're on the same page all over these choices. Well done. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

William Regenthal said...

Pretty good read, man. I have to disagree on a couple but its all in fun. I'm glad someone else sees through Beckett's hammering into the ground of prospects. I no longer use their price guide either. I only get them for the articles (where have I heard that before?).

The Lost Collector said...

I'd have advanced TTM right off that bat, so just goes to show everyone has different preferences.