About 99 percent of my keeper cards are happily stored in nine-pocket pages. I know other prefer the penny sleeve/toploader/box route. As far as space is concerned, I get it. But boxes just aren't me. Boxes are where I throw my extras, not cards I cherish.
Though I've gone more in-depth with it before, the way I organize my cards in my binders is a process I've had since I was a wee lad. Everything is initially organized by team. From there, I break it down into positions. (Pitchers, catchers, first baseman, and so on.)
Then it's whittled down further to the number of cards I own within each position. For example, I have about 140 cards of Babe Ruth as a Yankee, 130 Mickey Mantles, and 115 Reggie Jacksons. The order goes Ruth, Mantle, Reggie, then all the other Yankee outfielders.
It's a fairly easy process that's worked wonders throughout my collecting years. Still, I'd be lying if I didn't say it produced problems from time to time.
The Ben Grieve Obak issue you see above (from Sunday's flea market binge) is a good example of one such headache. Though it's meant to commemorate Grieve's minor league career in the Oakland system, the card clearly features him in an airbrushed Devil Rays jersey.
Into the (Devil) Rays binder it goes, then.
Or does it?
The back identifies Grieve with Oakland (because of the whole no logos thing), which instantly puts a strain on the whole system.
It may only be seven letters, but that sly little Oakland has been driving me crazy since Sunday. Which binder? Rays or A's? Rays or A's? I need an answer!
I went with the A's in the end. No matter how strange the dull gray may look in a binder filled with gold and green. Even with the horrible job they did, I give Tristar the benefit of the doubt for at least trying to airbrush the RAYS out of Grieve's jersey on the front.
If they would've just used an A's jersey in the first place, though, this whole episode could've been avoided.
I landed this neat insert in a dime box a couple years ago.
I can't be sure of my exact thoughts when I originally found it, but I'm sure I was ecstatic to add a rare card of Kenny Lofton as an Astro to my binders.
It sat with fellow Houston outfielders like Cesar Cedeno and Moises Alou for a couple weeks before I thought to flip it over.
It's not an Astros card at all. It's what I call a miscellany. Lofton is featured as both an Astro and a Brave. By my rules, cards like these go into a stack of snap cases full of other multi-player and/or multi-team cards like this one. I hope to one day put them in a binder.
Even if that day ever comes, though, this strange piece presents yet another odd question.
Which side is which?
The Braves portion features all the copyright info you'd usually find on the back. But, then again, the Astros side has the card number.
I don't have a good answer for this one, sadly.
My OCD will probably kick in either way.
I'm in a constant state of fascination and repulsion when it comes to Goodwin Champions.
The whole street clothes theme is an interesting way to get around the lack of logos, but I don't know if these should even be considered baseball cards. Or maybe they should.
Either way, I can't help but buy a few every now and again, so maybe I do consider them official after all.
This shot of Mike Schmidt in a mustard yellow shirt goes into my Phillies binder just like his other, more proper issues.
But I'll be darned if it doesn't strike me as odd.
The look of that yellow next to powder blue, pinstriped, and even, in this case, Irish green baseball jerseys certainly is strange.
Goodwin Champions never ceases to drive me crazy, yet I still buy the cards when I can find them.
Maybe there's a sick part of me that likes these little headaches.
Ah, the dreaded mismatch.
The bane of all team collectors.
Cards like these have been around for ages. Pictured with one team, yet listed with another.
These drive me crazy because of how unnecessary they are. If you're going to use a shot of Jeromy Burnitz as a Cub, Fleer, then list him as a Cub. I much prefer airbrushing to this.
I understand wanting to keep fans up-to-date with transactions, but it's not a competition. You don't win points for being the first company to list Burnitz as a Pirate.
Everyone probably has their own little policies when it comes to cards like these. I personally classify this as a Cubs card for my Cubs binder.
No, it doesn't look right...
...but at least it's not as bad as this.
I have a love-hate relationship with die-cuts. They're hit or miss. Sometimes, a set's design warrants a die-cut look.
Other times, it's easy to tell that companies use die-cuts in hopes of selling a few extra packs. That's definitely the case with the dreaded SPx brand. Upper Deck had a weird fixation on sets using the letter "X" in their later years. They also ODed on die-cuts.
For my money, 2008 SPx is one of the most pointless checklists ever. The die-cut design and shiny for shiny's sake look is insanely gratuitous. (Not to mention that this one has the whole mismatch thing going as well.)
It's worth mentioning that die-cuts can be hell on a nine-pocket page.
This Rolen looks horrific next to a batch of otherwise normal baseball cards.
Part of me wonders why I even have it in the first place.
A card like this, as you might imagine, is my worst nightmare.
These strange first-grade-art-project die-cuts look to be becoming a thing in sets like Topps Chrome. I understand the allure they might have to others, but I just find them annoying.
The weird cuts and jagged edges on this monstrosity never fail to get caught on the plastic in my nine-pocket pages whenever I try to take it in or out of my Nationals binder.
This is the result of about five minutes of struggling to get Mr. Strasburg back into his home.
It's different. I'll give it that. The mini makes this page for me, though. Most people dread putting minis in normal nine-pocket pages, but I seem to be one of the few who likes the look.
I wouldn't lose any sleep over die-cuts getting the ax.
Minis would be a different story.
Topps Laser is one of those sets that seems to be in a constant state of limbo.
I love it one minute and hate it the next. Laser etching was a novel idea back in the '90s, but how well did it work on cards like these? It's a question I struggle with all the time.
Like any other die-cuts, these are a struggle to showcase in a nine-pocket page.
But I sure do like the look once they're in the slot.
Nine-pocket frames like this one make me fall in love with binders all over again every time I see them. Sure, it can be a struggle sometimes. And, yes, there are a lot of ins and outs to being a binder guy.
In the long run, though, you'll get a lot more out of your baseball cards.