Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making the hobby better

As far as cardboard goes, I can get jealous quite a bit.

Sure, sometimes I'll see a card on someone else's blog and secretly wish I had it as well. That's fairly natural in the world of collecting.

However, often times, I find myself wishing for something a bit larger. Something bigger than just a simple piece of cardboard. Something that I'll sadly never be able to attain.

Sometimes, I find myself wishing that I'd grown up during a past generation of collectors. 

As I said, it's obviously a wish that could never possibly come true. But it sure is interesting to think about every now and then.

It wavers back and forth, though.

With Flagship due out soon and all, I'm in "new" mode right now. This is one of the rare times each year where vintage takes a bit of a backseat to everything else in my collection.

Around mid-season, however, I find myself going back to "past" mode. A few months later, I'll be back to "new" mode. It's an ever-changing state of affairs.

Still, no matter what "mode" I may be in at any given time, one thing will always ring true.

I am truly proud to be collecting in the current era. Nothing or no one could ever change that for me.

However, I'm not saying that the hobby has been absolutely perfect in recent years. Far from it, actually.

I'd change quite a few things if I had the power to do so.

Although I've long since denounced the whole "memorabilia" market in recent years, I have no problem with people who want to collect jerseys or autographs.

Collect what you want to collect. That's what keeps the hobby fun, after all.

However, I would like to see more of a split market between the "low-end" collectors such as myself and the more higher-end memorabilia side of things.

Recently, Topps has started to include "special" manu-patches with every Flagship blaster box. Trouble is, I don't really want them.

I'd rather have a "bonus" standard pack of cards instead.

That being said, anything of Roberto Clemente will always be welcome in this household. This magnificent piece fell into my hands as an extra little gift from Ryan over at "Building A Better Collection" a while back.

Still, am I the only one who finds it confusing? 

Why is there a gigantic Indians logo on a card featuring a career Pittsburgh Pirate?

I understand the whole "All-Star Game" concept, but Topps could've taken a page from almost any other point in Clemente's career and just used a good ol' Pirates logo. Maybe it's just me, but I see a tremendous lack of execution here.

Truthfully, I'd do away with manu-patches all together.

I think that could help make the hobby a little better.

I'd do away with this whole "rookie" thing, too.

At the very least, I'd want them to be completely relegated to their own little set. 

I know Topps has done that with Bowman Draft over the years. And I appreciate it. I've never had the slightest urge to pick up a single pack of the product in all my years of collecting.

But I think the veteran/rookie "combo" has hurt some of their other releases.

I've previously mentioned my "non-Bowman" streak around here. I haven't opened a pack of the stuff in about five years.

It's not because I have that much of a distaste for the brand, though. As you can see above, even Bowman has managed to slot a few masterpieces into their checklists over the years.

It's mainly because I'm not a big fan of dropping three bucks on a pack where half the guys are no-name rookies. Rookies who I'll probably never have the desire to collect.

If I were in charge of this thing, I'd make Bowman an "all-veteran" set. On top of that, I'd expand the Bowman Draft checklist in order to squeeze in as many rookies as possible for prospect-centered collectors.

That way, both parties can go home happy. 

The "low-end" collectors with the "prospectors".

This card is a perfect example of perhaps the most disturbing trend in today's hobby.

Wasted space.

These days, insert sets seem to be gearing more and more towards jersey cards, rather than the overall "feel" of the card itself. Last year's "Golden Moments" inserts ran along those lines.

Some variations of these "Legendary Lumberjacks" inserts feature pieces of memorabilia in place of the team logo.

As a result, these regular "boring" inserts contain a ton of blank space. Space that could be used in so many better ways.

I mean, is there any real reason why the photo Maury Wills has to be that small here?


Do something with that extra space. Don't just let it sit there. 

If you can't do that, then just grant memorabilia cards their own special insert series. We don't need any "crossover" between the regular and memorabilia-based inserts.

Get rid of all that wasted space.

It's that simple.

Truthfully, the cardboard market has been working on my last little suggestion.

But I still think there's still a lot of work to be done with it.

There simply needs to be less "fluff" in this hobby. Less clutter. Less chaos.

I'll admit, the dreaded "Topps monopoly" has helped a little with this. We no longer see atrocious sets like Upper Deck Icons or Fleer Genuine on the market.

Still, I think Topps has its fair share of work to do.

Do we really need multiple "high-end" sets on the market?

Do we need more than one minor league set?

And do we really need knock-off Flagship brands like Opening Day or Chrome?

Probably not.

I should note one thing. There's a ton of potential with Opening Day. But if Topps isn't going to use it, then they should just discontinue the brand all together.

Having said that, I see no real reason for sets like Pro Debut, Heritage Minor League, and Bowman Draft to be on the market together. It just causes a lot of unneeded confusion.

Card companies seem to think that customers will flock to anything "new" on the market.

In contrast, I happen to believe that more people would embrace the hobby if there were less cards around.

I often hear of collectors dropping out of the hobby because "there's just too much to keep up with these days".

As they say, less is more.

I think that idiom could definitely be applied to the world of cardboard.

I'm sure we all have ideas of what we'd do to "fix" the hobby.

Ones that probably extend much further than my few simple suggestions. That's part of the fun of collecting, though.

True, we can't "fix" the past. In the end, we can only look toward the future.

Despite all the hobby's minor inconveniences, I'm definitely looking forward to that.

No matter where this hobby takes me, I'll happily go along for the ride.


hiflew said...

I agree with just about everything except for one thing. Archives (in the 2012-13 form) is totally unnecessary since Heritage is around.

I would have the following as Topps' 16 sets (I think that is the number they get).

Flagship (3 series inc. Update... priced no higher than $1 per pack)

Chrome (the only parallel I don't mind)

Heritage (2 series inc. an Update set...but not like 2012)

Allen and Ginter OR Gypsy Queen but not both

Bowman (Bowman, Draft, Prospects all combined into 1 set design like the late 90s Bowman)

Bowman Chrome

Bowman Platinum/Sterling combined into 1

Topps Total

1-2 Completely New Sets (some may suck, but innovation is preferable to history in this case)

1 minor league set (personally I would dump this one entirely)

1-2 mid/high end sets

1 wild card set (something from the past or something new)

Just a few thoughts.

P-town Tom said...

I like hiflew's suggestions. I'm a fan of Opening Day, but mostly because the price is right. What potential do you see there with that set?

A curious collecting mind would like to know.

I miss Topps Total. I would glady send Opening Day into the sunset if they brought this one back.

Nick said...

I'd love Opening Day a lot more if they used different photography for the base cards, rather than simply repeating the Flagship ones.

The inserts and parallels are terrific, but the base cards make it feel like a bit of a knock-off brand to me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Opening Day's current setup, but I'd enjoy it much more if they changed up the photos a bit.

Michael Chase said...

I can agree with you on the "wasted space" for that particular card and quite a few others. However, I feel that empty space is sometimes necessary to make the cards more simpler or elegant. For example 2006 Allen & Ginter...there isn't too much print on those cards and it just works for whatever reason, in my humble opinion anyways.

Good looking out for the hobby as a whole. If there were more collectors like you, then the hobby would assuredly be a better place.

But I too am truly proud to be a collector in the modern era. I think the current era is one that will be talked about for decades past.