Here's a question I'd like you to ponder for a minute.
Where would your collection be without the advent of online trading?
Or, better yet...
Would you even still be collecting today if the option of online trading wasn't available?
Personally, I'm not sure on either question. I like to think that I'd still be collecting either way.
Then again, I'm unfortunately not (yet) one of those lucky souls who currently has a card-collecting friend or two in their lives.
After all, I haven't had a close friend who collected in about ten years or so. I've had to rely on online trading for all my cardboard needs since then.
So, without the Internet, I'd only have the occasional card show or flea market. And the card aisle at my local Target. While those are certainly great resources, I doubt they'd be able to quench all my cardboard desires.
I guess that's the beauty of a hypothetical question, though. We do have online trading. And I've sure utilized it to my heart's content over the years. Heck, thanks to the blogosphere, it's hard to even call it "trading" anymore.
Sometimes, right out of the blue, people just send me stuff.
Take this recent batch I received from blogger buddy Joseph, better known as "TTG" around these parks.
Unfortunately, he shut down his famous "Friars on Cardboard" blog, as he is now writing about the Friars at a different location.
Don't worry, though, he hasn't left the blogosphere for good. You can still find his terrific writing at the newly-christened "From an Unlikely Source!".
Mr. TTG has sent me cards on a number of different occasions. He's proved to be one of the best at hitting my quirky collecting focuses.
See, without trading, where would I get my regular mini-collection fill? Where would my "cards with kids", "autograph", and "throwback" (or, in the case of the Burkett, a little of both) cards come from?
I go to card shows three, maybe four times a year. I try to hit the local flea market at least once a month, budget willing.
Trading is what helps keep my mini-collections growing at a steady pace.
Player collecting would certainly be more of a challenge without trading.
Bobby Grich is the focus of one of my newer player collections. Jim Abbott, in contrast, is the base for one of my oldest.
Still, both have been immensely bolstered by the amount of trading I've done over the years.
Especially here in the blogosphere.
I am proud to say that this is my third card of Mr. Wonderful Terrific Monds.
And all three have been a product of online trading with my fellow bloggers.
This, I think, was my favorite card from TTG's latest batch of cardboard. In fact, I've made it an informal quest to acquire all the Monds cards in existence.
I'm not exactly sure how many there are, but this one certainly brings me a step closer.
The world of trading sure is wonderful, my friends.
Whether one card or a hundred, all trades are important to me.
Here's a prime example as we speak. I recently received a one-card PWE from Zach of the terrific blog "The Underdog Card Collector".
Seeing as how Mr. Reddick is a fellow February 19th "birthday boy", I had to have this special Target Heritage parallel after seeing it on Zach's blog.
Quite generously, he had it packaged up and shipped my way within days.
And I couldn't be happier.
I could go on for hours about how great PWEs are.
But I just don't have that kind of time. Plus, you've probably heard the PWE sermon before.
For now, all I'll say is that they're one of the better innovations the wonderful world of trading has ever seen.
Jeff from "2 by 3 Heroes" has been periodically dropping PWEs on my doorstep these past couple weeks. A couple of my favorites were the pair of "autograph" shots you see above.
The Honeycutt is one of the more interesting cards of the sort I've seen. Few, if any, "autograph" shots feature that "below deck" angle. The sea of hands above the camera is a nice touch, I must say.
Without trading, I doubt I would've known such a card even existed.
Even after all these years, though, I'm still finding new uses for the trading universe.
Over the past month or so, I've repeatedly anguished over my recent backlogged organizing habits. In order to fully catch up, I needed two things.
Time was the first. Now that finals are finally over, that roadblock is pretty much out of the way.
The second was my trusty ol' nine-pocket pages. I'd been running through my reserves, not having the budget to afford new ones. That's when it dawned on me.
Why not put out a "wanted ad" for pages right here in the blogosphere?
That's exactly what I did to kick off a recent flea market post. And, as luck would have it, I had a couple offers right off the bat.
Dennis, author of the great blog "Too Many Verlanders", generously sent me a flat-rate box stuffed to the brim with much-needed pages, not asking for much in return at all.
As you can see above, there had to have been a couple hundred pages in that box. Now, I'm happy to say that I'm almost fully caught up on my organizing.
Still, there was one gem left to discover inside that flat-rate box...
As if the massive stack of pages wasn't enough, Dennis also managed to hit a "Dime Box Dozen" need of mine.
But this wasn't any ordinary "Dime Box Dozen" card. No, this '96 Bowman Ryan Dempster rookie was an original "Dime Box Dozen" member.
When I created the list early on in this blog's history, this one was on it. At the time, it was one of my more pressing "zero-year" wants.
As luck would have it, Dempster ended up spending the second half of 2012 with the Rangers, as the Cubs dealt him to Texas at the trade deadline last year.
Although it'd lost its "zero-year" quality, I'd still wanted it all the same. And now, almost a year later, it's finally in my hands.
As it stands, the famous '92 Bowman Trevor Hoffman "zero-year" rookie is my last original "Dime Box Dozen" need.
I'm looking forward to the day when I can finally cross it off the list.
Still, without trading, I wouldn't have "Dime Box Dozen" needs. I probably wouldn't even have a blog to begin with.
Like my previous obsessions with Hot Wheels, state quarters, and card tricks, my passion for baseball cards could've well become a thing of the past.
At 21 years of age, my love for this hobby is still going strong. And I don't see that changing anytime soon.
I have the wonderful world of trading to thank for most of that.