As of five o'clock this evening, I am officially on winter break.
It's a special day in the life of a college student.
No more lectures. No more homework. No more exams.
Until next month, anyways.
This particular semester was a special one. After a semester that found me waffling between a few different majors, I think I've finally found the one for me this time around.
I'd like to become a teacher someday.
Unlike marketing, one of my previous majors, I can really see myself as a teacher down the road. I can't explain why, but it's just something that seems to make sense to me.
As an education major and all, I guess I'll have to start liking this "Be Cool, Stay in School" Jim Abbott card a little more. (The front of which can be seen in one of my flea market posts.)
Interestingly, the world of baseball cards can be a great "teacher" as well. There are no "breaks" in this hobby.
You can never know everything there is to know about cardboard.
In a way, that's a terrific thing.
Even in 2012, an otherwise average year for the hobby, I learned a lot about myself and my collection.
So far, I've narrowed it down to five basic lessons I took from 2012.
We start with a set that I've come to enjoy more and more after its release.
I'm starting to think it can become one of those "cult favorites" a little while down the road.
Lesson #1 -- I am an absolute sucker for anything featuring vintage designs.
True, I've always enjoyed Topps Heritage.
And, after all, that set has been around for more than a decade now.
As far as Heritage goes, though, I thought I purely liked it because of the strict old-time "feel". Namely, the thicker card stock and darkened backs.
I figured that any vintage-style set that didn't have those types of attributes wouldn't be a favorite in my book.
Then Archives came around.
Design aside, there's absolutely no mistaking that these are newer cards.
The thin, shiny card stock is typical of the modern era. The backs are glossy as well. And those hideous trademarks grace the front of every single card.
Even with all that, I couldn't help but like Archives.
I've found that just the look alone is enough for me. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the 1980 Topps design, I still enjoyed cards like this Vogelsong.
If there's any hint of another "throwback" set in the future, you can bet I'll be in the market for it.
Lesson #2 -- Patience is a virtue.
This isn't the first time I've mentioned this, so I'll keep it brief.
At best, I've always been indifferent towards sets like Topps Chrome.
Yet, for some reason, I made it a point to trade for everything I needed from the set in the past. As you can imagine, a quest like that causes the cost of shipping to really add up.
In the end, I realized it just wasn't worth it.
I don't mind waiting a couple months to get that new Jose Reyes or Curtis Granderson card. Actually taking the time, effort, and money needed to trade for them just didn't make sense.
Most of them eventually end up in dime boxes anyways.
Lesson #3 -- As far as player selection goes, Topps just doesn't care anymore.
This is probably one I should've realized a while ago.
It only really hit me last week.
That's when I received my third different "Golden Moments" insert of Jose Bautista of 2012. As you can see in the top row of this page, they all sit next to each other in my Blue Jays binder.
While they do look nice as a "trio", I couldn't help but wonder how much potential Topps was wasting with a move like this.
I can see granting a superstar like Bautista a slot in an insert set. Two is a little excessive, but nothing I'll lose sleep over.
There is absolutely no conceivable reason why any player should get three different inserts in a single set.
The only thing I could come up with is something I'd seen mentioned around the blogs a few times before. Maybe I just didn't want to believe it.
But it's true.
No matter what, Topps is just going to keep shoving the "superstars" down our throats.
I like inserts and all, but I may have to stop going after them altogether if this continues.
I really hope Topps comes to their senses soon, but I wouldn't count on it.
Lesson #4 -- I like cartoonish images on baseball cards.
For most people, this year's Panini Triple Play release was basically an afterthought.
I didn't see it get a single mention on my trading forum. The recognition in the blogosphere was a whole lot better, but still fairly sparse.
Against all odds, my first look at Triple Play soon became one of the most revolutionary purchases of my collecting career.
It certainly triggered the most emotion of any set I can remember.
My initial thoughts on the set went something along the lines of, "What the heck am I gonna do with these? I can't put them in my binders. They're cartoons!"
Then, I became more accepting. Even so, they were still basically a "meh" in my book. Not a bad set, but not a great one by any means.
These days, I'm an avid Triple Play supporter. I still get the itch to buy packs of these whenever I'm at Target.
Before Triple Play came along, I wasn't much for cartoons on baseball cards. They just didn't look right next to the actual photography in my binders.
Now, I look at any "cartoonish" cards as unquestioned pluses for my collection. Cards like this Dan Haren look terrific in my Angels binder. It really ties the whole thing together.
Thanks, Triple Play.
Lesson #5 -- Anything shiny is always welcome in my collection.
I'd had a feeling about this one for years.
What I saw in 2012 just confirmed my suspicions.
Once I found out about the Gold Sparkles in Topps' 2012 release, I figured, "Oh, they're just a knock-off of last year's diamond parallels. I won't be that crazy about them."
I loved the diamond and "liquorfractor" parallels from last year. Any sort of "remake" would be deemed secondary, and therefore insignificant.
Or so I thought.
Even though they're a far cry from last year's shiny inserts, I fell in love with the Gold Sparkles as soon as I pulled my first one.
I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent human being, but I must admit...
As far as baseball cards go, I just like shiny objects.
It's that simple.
I'm looking forward to these next few weeks.
I've certainly worked hard enough over these past few months to warrant a little break.
In a way, blogging is like my "homework" as far as my collection is concerned. There's always something out there to write about.
There's always something new to be learned.
After all, when it comes to baseball cards, class is always in session.