Sunday, June 3, 2012

How the blogosphere has changed me

Over the last six months, I've undergone dramatic changes in the way I view baseball cards.

I'm still the same basic collector I was before I started this blog. But at the same time, I've changed a ton as well. It's an odd paradox.

As bloggers, I'm sure all of us view the hobby in a bit of a different light as a result of our blogs. I know it's definitely been a change for the better in my case.

When I first started this blog, I never thought it would have so much of an impact on me as a collector. I was a bit on edge on deciding whether or not to start writing at first.

Sometimes I think of myself as a grizzled veteran in the blogosphere. I feel like I've been doing this forever.

But then I remember that it was only six months ago, which isn't really all that long of a time span. It's funny just how much of a part of me blogging has become.

Perhaps that's because I've never really had a chance to write about all my exploits in the hobby before. Trading forums aren't as personal as the blogs, after all.

Because of that, I thought I was one of the few people in the hobby that loves a great dime box for a while.

I thought I was the only one who could love a creased and candy-stained Willie McCovey card.

But I was wrong. In fact, it's one of the most important ways the blogosphere has changed me.

I'm much more at peace with the card universe nowadays, knowing that there are still a great deal of collectors out there who can appreciate a seemingly simple piece of cardboard. Something that doesn't contain a piece of fabric or is labeled as "super-rare".

It really is comforting to know as a collector.

I never used to mind having to write papers at school, but it wasn't exactly something I looked forward to doing.

Now, I love writing. To be able to put your own words and thoughts down on a piece of paper or the Internet or wherever is a special thing.

Not only that, but it's made me a better writer as well in my view. (I got an "A" on the only paper I had to write last semester, by the way.)

I recently came across a couple papers I wrote in my later high school years. It took a while to convince myself that I was actually the one that wrote them. They weren't bad or anything, but I think I've developed a much better writing style in the last few months.

Even when I go back and read some of my first posts on this blog, it's apparent that I've evolved as a writer. I used to just do the "Here's a cool's who it's why I like it...etc."

I still think a card like the above Randy Johnson is "cool". But I realize now that it's a lot more than that.

It's Upper Deck's rip-off of an old Topps design, for one. And it's easily one of the scariest cards in my collection. As great as he was in Arizona, "The Big Unit" just never looked right to me in those pajama-like D'Backs uniforms.

The effect blogging has had on my writing has probably been the most unexpected benefit, I'd have to say.

I've mentioned this before, but the first thing that made me take a step back was the way trading goes on in the blogosphere.

Looking back, it was probably the first time I realized just how awesome this place is.

In the years before I started this blog, I was a member of a couple trading forums. Almost every trade you'll work on one of those is strictly book value-for-book value.

I never really thought much of it at the time, but I was in effect missing what trading was actually supposed to be about.

Helping out other collectors, no matter what the "book value" might say.

One of the first great bloggers I met was William over at "Foul Bunt", who sent me almost every 2012 Topps insert I needed at the time. It usually took me a few weeks to make a big dent in my needs from any set, and here I was almost done with them a few days after the set even came out.

And he barely asked for anything in return, just a few Tim Lincecum cards for his son and a couple other odds and ends.

At the time, I thought it was a bit odd, to tell you the truth. (To quote the opening scene from The Breakfast Club, "I was brainwashed.")

But now, I've come to think of it as commonplace. I don't take the big box of Aubrey Huff cards from the "Collective Troll" for granted, but I realize that generous acts like that are what make the hobby so great. (I've still got to return the favor for those.)

Something like that isn't not odd, by any means. It's awesome.

I just wish it didn't take me three years of collecting to realize that.

I never thought card shows could get any better.

Then I joined the blogosphere.

As I found out a couple months in, the "card show" posts are my absolute favorite to write. I love going through all my "finds" of the day and choosing which ones I'm going to show on the blog.

I didn't think there was anything better than coming home with a great new Joe Adcock vintage card. After all, shows are my favorite thing in the hobby.

Then I found out that the only thing better than coming home with a great new card is blogging about a great new card, and not just necessarily ones from card shows either. I always love writing my trade posts as well.

Now, there's another awesome aspect of attending a card show, on top of scavenging the dime boxes and the discount bins of vintage. Something that manages to get me even more excited for a show than ever before.

I get to blog about all of it.

One of the most important ways the blogosphere has changed me was in fact a recent topic of discussion on one of my favorite blogs.

I'm appreciating cards more than ever before, really scouring to find the hidden greatness in all of them.

Part of the greatness of dime boxes is recognizing the history behind each card. But I know I wouldn't have a "Cardboard Masterpieces" collection had it not been for my entry into the blogosphere.

If I saw a card with a neat picture, but didn't collect that player, I'd toss it back in with all the other dime cards.

But I've learned that the picture is just as important as the player itself, whether it's a Hall of Famer or a no-namer.

It's odd thinking that I would've passed on this card, just because the player isn't exactly well-known.

I've had this Eric Davis card in my collection for a long, long time. I don't even know where I got it, which is a sure sign that I've had it for a while.

But until last night, I never took the time to notice that there were eight baseballs pictured on that card. (And a souvenir bat to boot.)

"Surely that has to be a record", I thought.


I can't even count how many baseballs are on this one, but I'm pretty sure it's the most of any other card ever produced.

Before I started this blog, I never would've cared how many baseballs were on a card. It wasn't important, as far as I was concerned.

Now, I take the time to really look my collection. I've already discovered tons of things I never noticed before. I can't wait to see what else I find.

In that regard, the blogosphere has definitely changed me.

Perhaps the most important way I've changed is a vital part of my longevity in this hobby.

I've developed a new and better attitude towards the hobby as a whole. I've realized that the key to getting the most out of collecting is not just focusing on what I like.

It's about appreciating what everyone else collects and enjoys. While I may not build sets, I realize that set collectors are part of what keeps this hobby running.

I may not be a team collector, but now I see how invigorating a quest like that could be.

To echo an earlier sentiment, I've learned that we're all in this together. Every collector out there brings something new to the table. I hope I've brought a bit of "discount box fever" to the blogosphere, if anything.

Without all our different styles and tastes, the hobby would never be able to sustain itself. I never exactly realized that until I started a blog of my own.

Much like the game of baseball as a whole, collecting is a collective effort, not an individual one. I love posting my card show scores. But much like Ryan Zimmerman receives the adulation of his teammates after hitting a walk-off homer, I've found it just as fun to read all the "Nice finds!" or "Great score!" comments on those posts.

It's good to know that others value this hobby as much as I do.

Without coming to that realization, I don't know that I could be so sure of my future in this hobby.

It's been a great first six months in the blogosphere, to say the least. I'm sure I've got a lot more to learn and a lot more changes coming my way.

I guess all I can say is, "Here's to the next six months!"


BA Benny said...

Very well written, so many points ring true for me as well, blogging has changed the way I look at cards as well. Blogoland, as I like to call it, is an awesome collection of many different angles, viewa, and opinions on one very simple, yet also extremely involved at times item, the baseball card. Variety is the spice of life and makes the hobby go round also.

Dhoff said...

I'd give this post an A. You're writing is pretty top-notch, my friend, and I'm right along side you with your sentiments.

Funner Here said...

Awesome post! I can relate to many of your sentiments as well.

Robert said...

Blogger generosity is something I've written about a few times, it is one of the most awesome aspects of being part of the blogosphere.

I've tried hard to improve my writing skills as well over the 10 months I've been blogging. At first, it was just write then post, now I'm reading and re-reading posts before they go up to ensure that I'm writing and not 'speaking' the entire time.

Great post Nick!

William Regenthal said...

Awesome post as always man. Thanks for the shoutout. I always enjoy your writing. I just feel bad that I haven't been able to put much together to send out lately. I haven't really bought much (except for some signed baseballs). With Series 2 coming out this week, I should be able to send some packages out to people.