As far as cardboard goes, I've found that there are three major "quests" in the world of collecting.
Sets. Although not my personal cup of tea, I've loved reading through the many set-based blogs around here. With set building, every card carries a story.
Players. Some blogs are devoted entirely to the likeness of single players. That's true fandom right there.
Teams. Probably the most common type of collection amongst bloggers. I've always wondered about something, though.
Is there a blog for every team in the MLB here in the blogosphere?
I'm not sure I've been around long enough to know for certain, but I don't recall seeing any Nationals or A's blogs during my time as a blogger.
While sets, players, and teams are indeed terrific collecting focuses, my personal favorite involves a bit of outside-the-box thinking when it comes to cardboard.
I'm talking about the "themed" collections.
Night cards, double play cards, and Japanese-born player cards are only a few of the tremendous collection ideas I've seen during my time as a blogger.
It's been a main force behind my non-baseball collection for years.
For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with anything related to presidents.
I don't care whether it's Washington or Nixon. If a president is featured on a baseball card, I want it. The above Jefferson masterpiece is one of my favorites of all.
From zero-year to "pitcher at the plate" cards, the "themed" way of thinking has carried over to my baseball cards as well.
Ever since then, I've been on the prowl for possible future mini-collection candidates to chase.
I mentioned my love for "bat barrel" cards on this blog a few weeks ago.
A quick tour of my binders helped suggest a few other "themes" I might enjoy down the road.
In many ways, I've already dipped my toes into this first one.
For as long as I've watched baseball, I've had a deep fascination with the knuckleball.
I can appreciate a blazing 100-MPH fastball or a sweeping 12-to-6 curve as much as the next fan, but neither of them peak my interest as much as the knuckler.
For that reason, I think it'd be neat to start a "theme" that captures knuckleball pitchers in the process of showcasing their famous pitch.
Of course, my main player collection is devoted to some guy named Hoyt Wilhelm. Also known as one of the first great knuckleball pitchers and a Hall of Famer, at that.
I'd say about a good third of my cards of his are a lot like the above one. A brilliant display of knuckleball greatness.
As for potential candidates, Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough seem to have a good deal of these types of cards. And I'd be willing to bet that R.A. Dickey will receive one like it at some point in the future.
A "theme" like this could definitely be fun to chase.
That's what I think, anyways.
How about a collection that revolved around a "stretching" theme?
That could be interesting.
From what I know, they're fairly rare. This card of Mr. Young is one of just a handful in my binders at the moment.
If I ever do decide to chase these, I've already got a "face" for them, thanks to a recent "impulse buy".
All this talk about stretching kind of leads me into this next one...
Because you certainly need to stretch quite a bit to pull off something like that.
As the front of this card states, it'd be interesting to track down some of the "High Kick" cards out there.
Orlando Hernandez would certainly be a prime candidate. "El Duque" certainly had one of the quirkiest windups I've ever seen.
As far as today's game goes, I think Bronson Arroyo would take the cake. Even though I'm only twenty, I can't help but grimace a bit every time I see him pitch.
The "king" of them all, however, has to be Mr. Warren Spahn himself.
Baseball's all-time winningest lefty certainly employed a wild leg kick back in the day. It certainly looks great on a piece of cardboard, that's for sure.
In fact, I still rank this one as one of my better quarter box finds for that very reason.
It's just not something you see too often.
If I had to place a name on this next theme, I'd be inclined to label them as the "Heroes" of cardboard.
It's too bad that there's already a brand called that, though.
I feel it's a lot more fitting for these.
Although carrying a "hero" off on one's shoulders is something that's mainly relegated to movies, you do occasionally see it in actual baseball.
Because he was a member of the hometown White Sox at the time, I'm partial to Jim Thome's 2008 UD "hero" issue. Few players have earned the "hero" label more than Mr. Thome over the years.
Anibal Sanchez appeared on one of my all-time favorite "hero" cards, one that captures the aftermath of his 2006 no-hitter.
But, for now, I think the head of the "hero" class has to be Edgar Renteria and the rest of the '97 Marlins.
The scene depicted on the front of this card is almost like something you'd see in a movie.
With one major difference, of course.
I'm sure there's a collector out there who has undertaken this next "theme".
Out of all the ones I've suggested in this post, it's probably the one I'd be most likely to chase in the future.
Let's call them..."Moments and Milestones".
Ah, wait. There's already a brand called that, too.
Okay. We'll just call it "Milestones" then.
Whether it's 3,000 hits or 300 wins, I've always had a special interest in the "landmark" statistics in the game of baseball.
Those "benchmarks" are ingrained in the minds of almost anyone who has ever watched a ballgame.
It's a major aspect of why baseball has always been my favorite sport.
And when card companies offer the collector a piece of the history, it almost always makes for a spectacular piece of cardboard.
Of all the ones in my collection at the moment, I'd probably have to rank this Winfield as my favorite. It shows the fan just how monumental the 3,000 hit barrier is.
Will I ever actually decide to chase any of these?
I'm not sure.
Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I'm sure there's a lot more "themes" to be found in the world of cardboard.
That's part of the beauty of collecting as a whole.
The possibilities are endless.