Lately it seems like I can't go a single day without seeing a picture of yet another packed card show happening somewhere in suburban USA.
I've heard all the justifications. Everyone wore masks! It wasn't that packed! It's been too long! Et cetera, et cetera. I can't put my feelings any plainer: card shows in the pandemic age are NOT a good idea. Every time I see one of those pictures, I facepalm behind my computer screen. To each their own, I suppose, but I have a hard time ignoring stuff like this when the virus is still going strong, and still every bit as scary. And that's saying nothing about the poor ventilation, grimy fingers, and general lack of space that make card shows a veritable Petri dish of bacteria regardless.
I discussed this when card shows were first opening again last summer, but it seems to have gotten worse, not better, since then - and people wonder why this pandemic isn't over yet.
I miss shows every bit as much as you do, but it's not like there aren't other (safer) card options available in this weird dystopian age.
One particularly pleasing card shrine that rose out of the pandemic muck was a small haven called baseballcardstore.ca - aka the Online Dime Box - which I've already posted about a few times around here. The name of this blog should tell you why I've given them so much business over the past year or so. All I can say is that the site simulates the real dime box experience better than any virtual source I've ever seen. The incessant scavenging, the inevitable tedium, and, of course, the joyous victories that make it all worth it.
To me, it's easily worth sifting through those lines and lines of '88 Fleer and '89 Donruss to find that one glorious mini-collection hit I need.
Stickers are a passing interest of mine, at most, but I can't pass up Greg Luzinski cards I need for a dime.
If you've read these posts before, you probably already know what we have here - in case you haven't, however, well...
...surprise! They're OPCs!
I haven't counted, but I imagine I've just about doubled the number of OPCs in my collection over the past year thanks to the Online Dime Box.
I've scavenged a good part of the virtual dime box inventory by now, but somehow I'm still finding stuff I need for my big time player collections.
I think every collection operates on an informal hierarchy, with certain projects and interests looming larger than others.
If Kenny Lofton, John Olerud & Co. are top-tier guys for me, then the four dudes here are just below them - it's not as revolutionary when I find new Mo Vaughn card, but they're still a treat to add to my binders nonetheless.
All four of these (coincidentally?) White Sox stars are guys whose cards I've largely ignored up until now - but thankfully I'm starting to come to my senses, because why was I not already collecting Ozzie Guillen?
I have no clue how or why I still needed these four cards, but I did - and thank goodness for search engines, because god knows I'd shuffle right past a stack of '88 Donruss if I saw one in an actual dime box.
There's a fun little underbelly of oddballs at the Online Dime Box, which continue to be a great source of random joy (I'd never seen a '90s Post Canadian card before!).
I was floored to find a small lot of Fan Favorites in their inventory one night, and I pounced on the ones I needed as quickly as humanly possible.
I'm indifferent towards Walt Jocketty, and most front office suits in general, but how often do you see a baseball card of a GM?
I have a feeling many of you would question my mental health if I listed all the insignificant and/or obscure guys I chase cards of, so you'll have to make do with me revealing them in bits and pieces around here.
So yes, please send me your Felix Pie and Dave Weathers cards.
[insert 745th comment on how much I miss Collector's Choice here]
They're not the most exciting parallels in the world, but the Online Dime Box recently added a near-complete set of these 2002 Topps Home Team Advantage singles to their inventory a while back.
So I bought a few dozen near-duplicates from one of my least-favorite Topps designs just because they had a dumb little stamp on them - yup, we collectors are a totally sane bunch.
The Online Dime Box has a small non-sport section, which I thought was of no interest to me...until I noticed these Pro Set Music Cards up for grabs!
I've seen quite a few non-sport tables at card shows over the years, and I admittedly walk right past them 99 percent of the time. They're more of a novelty for me, as opposed to something I want to spend a good chunk of time and money searching through. But if cards of The Doors and Jimi Hendrix can be mine for as little as a couple dimes and a couple clicks, then of course I'm game.
(Also I make no excuses for liking The Clash and The Go-Go's.)
Famous guys in not-so-famous uniforms.
Cards made out of steel, sets called "Topps Fusion," and other general millennium-era madness.
Sometimes I'm just looking for entertainment out of my baseball cards, and these definitely fit the bill.
(Toby Harrah reminds me of an extroverted person, and Andre Thornton reminds me of me when I'm around that extroverted person.)
Horizontal gems, including a refractor of one of my favorite baseball dudes and a cameo from Kirk Gibson's male-pattern baldness.
Every dime box post has a couple scans of cards that didn't really fit anywhere else, which is what we have here - discovering I didn't already have that Rocky Colavito card was a particularly jaw-dropping moment.
My current job is the first one I've had with a desk and a computer, and I do my best not to distract myself with the many of the Internet's easily accessible card frontiers.
I do, however, check the Online Dime Box from time to time at work (don't tell my boss), and it was during one of those mid-workday peeks that I stumbled upon these spectacular Expos-centric oddballs which rival almost anything you'd find in a regular card show dime box.
I wanted these so badly I pulled out my credit card and made the purchase right at my desk because I was paranoid someone else would swoop in and grab 'em by the time I got home from work that day (please please please don't tell my boss).
I'm still not sure when I'll feel comfortable attending an in-person card show again.
Last year I was saying sometime in 2021. Still, if things continue the way they're going with card shows and restaurants and entire states opening up again in the middle of a pandemic, I'm wondering if 2022 is the more realistic goal (audible shudder). But it's a comparatively small sacrifice I'm willing to make, and more importantly, one I need to make. And there's more than enough card options out there in the virtual world to tide me over until this nightmare is done and finished. Enough to tide all of us over.
So please stay home, because the Online Dime Box awaits you.