Monday, April 13, 2020
Ten things I like that you don't like
Last week's "Ten Things You Like That I Don't Like" post seems to have spawned a good amount of posts and conversation around the blogs, which I'm glad to see.
I enjoy lists like these precisely because of the dialogue they tend to create -- it's a fine feeling to know Hey, I'm not the only person who doesn't like this or Hey, I'm not the only person who likes this. Which is why I'm excited to present the inverse of that list on the blog right now: Ten Things I Like That You Don't Like.
This list was much easier to make than the first one (though still not quite as easy as I thought it'd be), and it'll be nice to get on the positive side of things rather than play the role of Debbie Downer. As I've said many times: my tastes tend to differ from the masses, and here's an opportunity to showcase just how different they are. (But don't worry: there's no '88 Donruss or anything on this list. I'm not that nuts.)
Again, feel free to ream me in the comments, but here's some stuff I like that you probably don't like.
#1 -- 1995 Fleer
You probably knew this was coming, so let's just get it out of the way now: I LOVE 1995 FLEER.
I don't care that it's insane. I don't care that it really doesn't have a reason to exist. I don't care that it was probably induced by a bad trip. I still love it. I still love it because it's so unlike anything Fleer ever produced (especially considering '94 and '96 Fleer are so muted), so unlike anything anyone has ever produced. I can't help but think of the drawing board in Fleer Inc. when 1995 rolled around. Someone presented this as a possible design, and they said Sure, let's do it.
I admire them for that, and nothing you say or do will convince me that '95 Fleer doesn't rule.
#2 -- 1995 Topps
There's a few Topps sets I had in mind for this list (1981, 1993) but in the end nothing can hold a candle to how underappreciated 1995 Topps is in my book.
It's simply a great design, full of top-notch photography and even a few memorable poses (remember those?). And it's not a jumbled mess like so many of the other mid-to-late '90s Topps looks. Aside from '91, it's my favorite Topps design of the 1990s, and maybe even the best Topps design of my lifetime since I was born in 1992.
The fact that no one else seems to like it has always bothered me -- 1995 Topps deserves our love.
(Side note: 1995 Score almost made this list too, so maybe 1995 as a whole was just a vastly underrated year for the universe.)
#3 -- Eight Men Out
As I mentioned in the last one of these posts, my taste in movies just doesn't seem to match up with the masses.
I get that my love for The Sandlot and Rookie of the Year and Little Big League are kinda tied up in childhood nostalgia. And while other baseball movies I like (Mr. Baseball, The Rookie) are all but ignored now, none of these oversights are quite so odd to me as Eight Men Out.
If you take The Sandlot out of it, Eight Men Out is far and away my favorite baseball movie. It's got a great cast (John Cusack, Charlie Sheen) and stays mostly true to history, which is doggone rare in the world of sports movies. It doesn't go out of its way to tug on the heartstrings or sway you with mysticism. It simply tells a story. It's a baseball movie made in the way I wish more baseball movies were made. (And there's even an entire set of baseball cards devoted to it!)
Time and time again, I look for Eight Men Out on the infinite number of Best Baseball Movies lists...and time and time again, I walk away disappointed.
#4 -- Bunts
I'm always hearing people say I don't watch baseball to see guys bunt!
(Raises hand) -- I...I kinda do. One of the most disappointing aspects of the modern game is the lack of bunting, or perhaps more precisely, the lack of ability to bunt. Too many times I see guys square around to bunt, pop the ball foul, square around again, stab and miss, swing 0-2, and strike out. And the most painful part of it is that you could tell the dude's heart was never really in it. It's minutes of my life I wish I had back.
To me, a well-placed bunt is just as exciting as a double in the gap or a diving play at third -- it's a skill that, if developed, can be deadly...and it'd sure put an end to all these shifts everyone seems to complain about.
#5 -- Double-bagging pages
Night Owl covered this in his post, and I agree with him -- I don't understand why everyone doesn't double-bag their pages.
The main reason I do it is for space. I'm closing in on 90 different double-bagged binders in my room right now. To think of how many I'd have with nine cards per page rather than 18 is scary -- I barely have enough room for my cards right now as it is. More than that, however, I think double-bagging just looks better. Cards on the front, and hey, more cards on the back! I've been storing my cards this way for as long as I can remember -- I have yet to damage a card because of it, and if I get an urge to see the back of a card, I can just take it out of the page.
It's the only way I could ever imagine displaying my collection.
#6 -- Reprints
Notice anything similar about the cards on this (double-bagged!) page?
Yup: they're all reprints. I've noticed that reprints are almost universally abhorred in today's hobby. I guess I can understand that -- I can only see an '83 Topps Boggs reprinted so many times. But by and large, I still love reprints. There's the obvious reason that they give me a chance to enjoy cards I'll never dream of actually owning (unless anyone has an extra '51 Bowman Mays lying around, that is), but I think it's more than that.
I think it's because reprints do a fine job of reminding us that there's a history to this hobby, a history to be immersed in and loved -- that our cards existed before the moment we cracked the seal on that pack of cards in our hands right now.
#7 -- Non-sport cards
So many people seem to treat the non-sport cards in A&G like a plague -- what is THIS doing in my pack of baseball cards?!
I get that these aren't for everyone, but it's not like there aren't any other sets that feature exclusively baseball dudes. Pretty much every other one, actually. So why is it so bad that A&G strays just a tiny bit from the herd by making cards of the Alamo or a revolving door or the Milky Way? I may not love all the non-baseball subjects featured with each passing set, and I agree they've gotten quite a bit more dull in recent years, but I'm still glad they're there.
They're a nice diversion from that 845th different card of Alex Bregman that everyone else seems to want so badly.
#8 -- Pacific
The late '80s/early '90s saw a whole new crop of card companies barge into the hobby, and most of them had their moment in the sun before eventually fading and riding off into the sunset.
Most, that is, except Pacific. Pacific never seemed to have their moment in the sun -- it just seemed to be a bystander in the back of the class photo, and no one noticed when it was gone. But I miss Pacific. I might even miss it more than any of the other card brands born during that early '90s insanity.
If you're a fan of innovation, Pacific had it. They were among the first to include Spanish on the backs of their cards. They noticed the promise of this whole Internet fad and made a whole set about it (Pacific Online!) with websites for each individual player. They came up with Net Fusions: cards with wire mesh in them! Card-supials: cards with other cards inside of them! Ornament inserts: cards to hang on your Christmas tree! Oh, and those Eight Men Out cards I mentioned earlier? Yup, Pacific.
I should move on now before I say something bad about the lack of innovation and risk-taking in the current hobby -- all I'll say is that if you wanted something new, truly new, Pacific probably had it.
#9 -- 1997 Upper Deck
Upper Deck's canon is full of sets that receive far more praise than I think they deserve -- but only one that I don't think gets enough love, and that's 1997.
This isn't just a set I think is a bit underrated or unnoticed: it's my second-favorite Upper Deck set of all-time, right behind the immortal '93. The photography produced some of the best cards of the decade, and the design is way more distinct than the bevy of other UD looks from the late '90s/early 2000s that seem to run together in my mind. But what really makes '97 Upper Deck stand out for me is the wild innovation of tracking each and every image in the set to a specific date. This card, for example, shows us a snapshot from the day Ozzie Smith retired: June 19, 1996. That is so cool.
As someone who has a minor obsession over tracking individual cards to specific places and moments in time, 1997 Upper Deck is nothing less than a godsend to me.
#10 -- 1957 Topps
I don't know that many people actively dislike 1957 Topps, but for the life of me I can't understand why this set isn't regarded as legendary.
It's a Top-5 Topps set for me, probably my favorite of the '50s, beating out '52 and '56 and '59 and all the other holy vintage designs. But more and more it feels like '57 Topps is just left by the side of the road most of the time, pushed aside in favor of another. I don't get it: no '50s set quite evokes the look and feel of what I imagine the '50s were like more than 1957 Topps. The colors, the players, the ads on the outfield walls. And if you want history, it's got that too: '57 Topps was the first to feature the 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 dimensions we view as standard today. It's all there. So what's missing? Why don't people like it more?
These are questions I ask myself time and time again as I wait for '57 Topps to show up on people's all-time lists...though if it's any consolation it's still less time than I've spent waiting for a successful sacrifice bunt.