As a whole, this hobby is fairly private.
For better or worse, that's been true on a personal level over the past few years.
Not a lot of people know about my devotion to this hobby. And, outside of my parents, almost no one knows about the existence of this blog.
It's not that I try to keep it a secret or anything.
The topic of baseball cards just doesn't come up a whole lot with my friends.
Even on a more widespread level, the hobby is still a fairly unknown quantity.
I almost never see it get any publicity on TV or anything. The few times I've seen cardboard pop up on Pawn Stars or Storage Wars is about it.
Now, a few days ago, I found myself on the couch, watching Intentional Talk on MLB Network for the umpteenth time.
Interestingly, though, one particular segment of this show peaked my interest.
Because they talked about baseball cards. They actually talked about baseball cards. On TV.
But, thankfully, it wasn't the high-dollar, rich people cardboard that seem to get the tiny amount of hobby-based national attention.
Nope, they were talking about 2013 Topps.
Baseball cards that I can actually own!
On the MLB Network!
Although I'm sure it was a product placement on the part of Topps, I didn't care one bit.
And, frankly enough, it worked. Because of that segment, I found myself with an itch to buy more 2013 Topps.
As fate would have it, I found myself inside of a Target on Friday afternoon with my dad, on the hunt for more cards.
Even though I probably would've bought a pack or two with my own cash, "pops" was nice enough to treat me to a pair of rack packs.
He knows the drill.
If he buys 'em, he gets to pick 'em.
Just not the front pack. It's a little policy of mine.
The first pack he grabbed was second from the front. The other was the absolute last rack pack on the hanger. A bit of a new tactic this time.
I like it.
And, as far as I can tell, it worked.
One of the first cards that fell out of the initial rack pack was one that I'd been coveting.
Number 331 himself, Mr. Jose Reyes.
Fittingly, it was one of the cards featured during the blurb on MLB Network. Even they noticed the oddity of airbrushing Jose Reyes into a Toronto uniform while leaving guys like Josh Johnson un-photoshopped.
Still, this will forever be known as the very first card of Jose Reyes as a Blue Jay in my collection.
Probably the first of many, if I had to guess.
Still, not every player is cut out for the national spotlight.
Some just do their jobs day after day, often not getting the recognition they deserve.
Granted, Jamey Carroll is no Jose Reyes, but he gets the job done. And at just 5'11" and 175 pounds, he perfectly personifies the type of "underdog" player I can't help but root for in the game of baseball.
That in itself instantly makes Carroll one of my favorite guys to collect.
Luckily, his spectacular 2013 Topps card fell out of one of those fateful rack packs.
Thanks, Mr. Carroll, for doing what you do.
You'll always have a special place in my collection.
I see Michael.
And another unidentified National.
Yes, folks, you just heard a twenty year-old make a Romper Room reference. For the first and probably last time.
Although Morse isn't yet a part of my binders, I'll definitely be hanging onto this one as a "keepsake". It does a great job of continuing the "celebration" theme that Topps has been running over the past couple years.
Plus, I've always been partial to "long hair" cards. I might even start another little mini-collection of those in the future.
Actually, never mind.
I think I have more than enough mini-collections going right now.
More beautiful, beautiful throwbacks.
These may well be the best of all.
In a couple ways, these couple rack packs were a bit like an "inversion" of my first introduction to 2013 Topps.
I pulled Nyjer Morgan's regular base card from my three-blaster break earlier this week. I landed his striking Target red parallel this time around.
On the other hand, my red-paralleled Derek Lowe was a lonely piece of cardboard earlier this week. Luckily, his regular ol' base card fell out of the initial rack pack.
And they lived happily ever after in my binders.
I usually have crap luck in terms of pulling parallels of guys I collect.
I'd have to check, but I think I went about one-for-eight with the emerald parallels during Tuesday's breaks.
Thankfully, though, I went two-for-two with this pair of rack packs. Both Wilson and Granderson are prime subjects of their respective binders.
My dad certainly knows how to pick 'em.
This new addition to my HOF collection actually came during Tuesday's Topps breaks.
Until now, though, I didn't really feel the need to feature it.
Why, you ask?
Because I happened to pull the foil variation of "Robbie" from one of my trusty rack packs.
Now I own both of them.
Sorry, Topps, but this is one of the few gripes I have with your 2013 set.
I wasn't a huge fan of these "Chasing History" inserts to begin with. Finding out that each insert has a rack pack-exclusive parallel variation to go along with the original makes me like them even less.
While I do love displaying these sorts of "combos" in my binders, I just can't get excited over this particular one.
This, however, is a different story.
Stupid parallel or not, pulling anything of Roberto Clemente will always excite me.
No matter what.
After Tuesday's breaks, I couldn't convince myself on whether or not I liked these "Calling Card" inserts.
Well, I've come to a final decision.
I like 'em.
I don't love them, but they are one of the "winners" for 2013 Topps, as far as I'm concerned. This one of the "cover boy" himself swayed me in the right direction.
In the end, I guess I'm just a sucker for anything with an "old-timey" feel to it.
The initial rack pack I busted ended having a bit of a "theme" to it.
I unofficially dubbed it "The Rizzo Rack Pack".
As most fellow rack pack aficionados probably know, most of the inserts are clumped together in one particular section of each.
Once I reached that part of the pack, the first thing I saw was the familiar face of Anthony Rizzo.
Although I'm not big on these "Chasing the Dream" inserts, the blue seems to work fairly well with the overall design, for some reason.
Still, the very next card in the rack pack managed to trump this one about a hundred times over.
Since Rizzo is my newest "binder inductee", I could not be happier to have this one in my collection right now.
Thus far, I've managed to pull his Target red parallel, his "Chasing the Dream" insert, and this '72 mini from my 2013 Topps breaks.
But still not his base card.
I'm still on the hunt for that one. If anyone has it (or any of my other 2013 Topps needs listed in my "set needs" link), please feel free to shoot me an email.
Still, even Mr. Rizzo was merely the runner-up when it came to handing out the unofficial "Best of the Rack Pack" awards.
The top slot was never much in doubt.
Unfortunately, I've found that my scanner doesn't do a great job with these.
Those of you who own one of these beauties know how awesome they are, though.
And this one features the Sultan of Swat himself!
The King of Crash!
The Colossus of Clout!
The Great Bambino!
Not "The Great Bambi", though. Not that wimpy deer.
Anyways, while I wasn't off quoting my all-time favorite movie these past few days, I've been out admiring this spectacular piece of Mr. Ruth.
As "gimmicky" as the shiny and die-cut qualities might be, I can't help but adore these.
Between Reyes, Rizzo, and "The Babe", I think it's safe to say that my dad picked a couple of winning rack packs here. Good thing, too, because I've pretty much blown the cash I rationed for 2013 Topps.
Please, MLB Network.
While I appreciate the effort, please try not to show any more 2013 Topps ads in the next couple weeks.
With my modest budget, I won't be able to afford it.