I'll just say what everyone else is muttering under their breaths right now: I'm jealous of anyone who attended the National this year.
Yes, the grandest show of them all may well be returning to my backyard in Chicago in 2017, but that doesn't change the fact that I wasn't in Atlantic City this past weekend. I'm going through a bit of card show withdrawal right now, and having to live through the 2016 National via social media didn't exactly help that.
But no matter, because rehashing a pre-hiatus trade package from devoted reader and uber-generous trader Wes W. helped quell some of those National daydreams. Wes dropped a huge flat-rate box on me a few months back, the cards inside neatly divided with illustrated annotations according to my many collections. (And this isn't even the first time he's put so much thought and time into crafting a package for me.)
This double dips divider, for example...
...set the tone for a batch of nearly a hundred (yes, a hundred) double play cards Wes added to my binders.
Further ammunition to what is already my largest mini-collection.
Also present were a few dozen new plays at the plate for my archives.
Lots of what Wes sent came from the lost early-to-mid 2000s years, which was greatly appreciated because apparently about 99 percent of the cards from that era seem to be mysteriously locked in a storage locker somewhere in parts unknown.
Seriously, where has all the 2001 Stadium Club gone?
If I'd been at the National last weekend, chances are I would've done some serious mini-collection scavenging through the dime boxes.
Because even with some of my mini-collections hitting or nearing the 1,000-card mark, I still get a childish joy out of every single new hit that crosses my path.
But as you might have realized by now, Wes blew any dime box I'd ever find out of the water with the sheer quantity and variety of mini-collection hits he tracked down for me (National dime boxes included).
It's hard to believe a relatively new franchise like the Marlins can even go retro in the first place (it's actually a tribute to an old AAA squad), and I absolutely adore the Mudville minor league throwbacks.
Strangely enough, I've never actually declared bubbles as an official mini-collection of mine, but I still accumulate them nonetheless because they're fun pieces of cardboard.
Sorry, Turner Ward, but you've got nothing on Kurt Bevacqua.
Wes even branched out to help with some of my more conventional player collections.
I can't say I'm the proudest Marlon Byrd collector anymore, but I'll still take his cards when I can.
And the Hooton and Cey are glorious OPCs.
A couple pitchers doing unpitcherly things.
It's a good thing Wes has a sharp eye, because chances are I would've missed that fact that Tom Urbani is actually a pitcher since that's what happens when companies don't list positions on the fronts of their baseball cards.
New ones for the anthems and interviews files, though I must say I prefer the traditional microphones to the headsets.
A couple bat-themed hits.
I unfortunately already had all the broken bat cards Wes sent, but I did need that awesome Orlando Merced "bat throw," which leads me to wonder if there might be another new mini-collection on the horizon.
Wes added to my "cards with kids" theme with another classic from Classic, a card I had somehow never seen before.
Perhaps what I love most about Wes's packages is that he strays outside my many mini-collections and creates his own themes, an example being the "Props, Props, and More Props" stack he included in this batch.
Gonzo in a golf cart was one of the many fantastic pieces from that section.
Awkward indeed, including what has to be the most John Krukian card ever made.
Mound meetings and a Diamond King Kingman (appropriate, eh?) I can't believe I didn't already own.
Those Jumbo Sunflower Seeds cards might be some of the ugliest oddballs ever made, which means that of course I had to show them on the blog here tonight.
That's just my second card of Bobby Bo as a Brave, and one that comes from the the last set Pacific ever made (RIP). Bonilla spent just a single season in Atlanta (2000) before winding up his career as a Cardinal the following year.
But, as you probably know already, he still receives a hefty paycheck from the Mets every year.
Sometimes Wes and I just like to sit back and let the photos do the talking.
A valid question.
Mini-collections are fine and good, but it's often the "everything else" that winds up stealing the show.
Upper Deck really liked to feature Al Leiter at the ol' ball machine for some reason.
Wes closed up shop with a section simply entitled "Sweet Lookin' Cards."
Geronimo Pena making the play at Wrigley (with a cameo from The Wizard), Frank Rodriguez staring down what could have well been a drunk Topps photographer, and Dan Wilson getting the force at home at the Coliseum.
It's hard to argue with Wes's choices here.
The National may well be like the All-Star Game for collectors, all the brightest stars and biggest guns out.
But since I'm not exactly a "big guns" type of collector, it's certainly a blessing to have people like Wes around to send me dime box-type pieces of cardboard, only with cards I almost never actually see in dime boxes. Card shows can't duplicate the time, thought, and generosity that goes into putting a package like this one together.
With friends like these, who needs the National?