It can get a little crazy at times. Well, maybe even all the time. Wherever there are baseball cards, there's craziness.
By the time I decide whether or not I truly enjoy a set, a new one comes out. And then another one. And another.
Heck, even six months later, I'm still not sure whether I really liked Archives or not.
Even in the crazy world of collecting, though, some things never change.
No matter what shape or form they come in, some baseball cards will always be awesome.
They're my "fallbacks" whenever I feel a little overwhelmed or disappointed with the direction of the hobby at any point in time.
Take "broken bat" cards, for instance.
Those are always good for a smile, right?
I'm not sure why, but there's something universally appealing about seeing a freshly shattered piece of lumber on a baseball card.
Like all the other "fallbacks" in this post, it doesn't really matter who is featured on the front. Whether it's David Ortiz or Jermaine Dye or even Roger Clemens, my collection will always be open to anything featuring a broken bat.
They're just too terrific to ignore.
It's the same with "throwbacks".
As noted in the past, I've always had a deep appreciation for these things.
In fact, if I could change one thing about today's game, it would regard these "blasts from the past". I'd have the Brewers sport their Seattle Pilots "throwbacks" a couple times a year.
Now that would be neat.
Interestingly, the entire concept originated right here in Chicago, thanks to a White Sox-Brewers "Turn Back the Clock" contest in 1990. (It also set the stage for one of the finer "gems" of the overproduction era.)
I'm not sure what my favorite "throwbacks" are. These Royals ones would have to be near the top of the list, a nice tribute to the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs franchise.
They certainly look great on cardboard.
Why else would I buy a card of Angel Berroa?
Again, I'm not entirely sure why these are so popular among collectors like myself.
My best guess would involve the whole "outside the lines" concept. We're getting a peek into the other aspects of what becoming a ballplayer entails, ones that don't involve delivering a 95-MPH fastball or laying down a bunt.
A handful of Fleer's earlier issues are probably my absolute favorites of this particular bunch. I've always liked that old ESPN logo, one that's displayed on the front of Jim Kaat's '83 Fleer issue. It's a bit of a "throwback" in itself.
It's hard to believe, but ESPN wasn't always the laughingstock it is today.
At least from what I've read.
Perhaps the most scarce of all are the self-dubbed "family cards".
Although I've been on the hunt for these "fallbacks" for the past few years, I've only been able find about a dozen different ones for my collection.
That rarity is part of what makes them so interesting.
I guess you could consider "National Anthem" cards to be yet another "fallback" in the hobby, but we'll just focus on the youngsters for now. I'd say the jersey on the smallest one is a tad too big.
There's something special about seeing a player like Troy Glaus on a baseball field with his kids. Like the aforementioned "interview cards", I think it's because we're getting a brief glimpse into a ballplayer's life outside of the game.
One of these "family cards" ranked high in my "Top 100" countdown. I won't tell you which one, but I'll just say that it's not the Glaus.
That's not taking anything away from it, though.
I think we can all agree that these are always fun.
Still, I think my favorite of all the "fallbacks" are also the most common.
The legendary "Hey, mister, can I get your autograph?" cards.
I have loads and loads of these in my collection as we speak. Even so, they never get old and never, ever will.
My mind finds the craziest things to ponder sometimes. One of the more common thoughts I have is, "Who signed the first-ever autograph in baseball history?"
Of course, we'll probably never know the answer to that question.
However, it's safe to say that as long as ballplayers have existed, kids have lined up to get their autographs.
Every time I go to a ballgame, I take note of which players come out to sign before the game. I've never gotten an autograph at a big-league contest, but I'm always appreciative of the guys that take time out of their pregame routine to sign for a few fans.
They get extra "points" in my book.
Any player featured signing on their baseball cards gets some "points" as well.
"Mr. Obscure" himself, Tanyon Sturtze, gets double the "points" for this one. This card is a major reason why he's become one of my favorite "obscure" players to collect.
He looks genuinely happy to sign for a hoard of eager fans.
That's all I could ever ask out of a ballplayer.
Even though it's only November, I can feel it.
The 2013 "card season" is going to be here before I know it. It was like that last year. And the year before.
While I absolutely love seeing all the new product on the shelves come February, it's a lot to take in all at once.
That's when these "fallbacks" really earn their paychecks.