Images of 2017 Topps have started to float around the internet, and perhaps what I'm most taken aback by are the card backs.
In a marked departure from the norm, flip sides of this year's Topps feature Twitter handles and Instagram accounts instead of full career stats. As someone who treasures stats on the back of his cards, this is a saddening development.
One of the many reasons I love collecting is the fact that my collection is often educational. I know career stats can be easily accessed with a few clicks these days, but there's something special about stat lines on the back of a baseball card that just can't be found on a Baseball Reference page.
Sometimes, as a couple envelopes from Adam of the terrific "Infield Fly Rule" blog helped show, one lesson you can learn from cardboard is that absolutely no one -- or no company -- is flawless.
We expect perfection from our collection, but every once in a while you'll find a "Mark McGuire" in a pack of baseball cards.
I worry that card backs are becoming (or have already become) a thing of the past.
Of course, the fronts are the main focus of the industry, but that doesn't mean the flip sides should be a collecting ground for stuff like Twitter handles. Card backs are just as sacred.
Back in Upper Deck's heyday, they featured bonus photos, some of which were better than whatever was on the front.
While I already have about 90 percent of the singles I receive, a few new ones slip through the cracks every now and then.
Adam added a couple notches to my new Dexter Fowler collection with these envelopes.
It'll be rough seeing this guy as a St. Louis Cardinal in 2017.
A couple other '90s cards for the binders, including a new addition for my small collection in tribute to the late Doug Million.
Also present were hits to my player collections of arguably the two most popular first baseman to ever call Chicago home.
Sometimes fellow bloggers can even help educate me about the game I love so much.
I can't say I'd ever heard of Jeff Gray before Adam attached this note to Gray's 1992 Donruss issue. I followed his command to "look this guy up" and was left to wonder how I'd never heard Gray's story before.
Gray was enjoying a fine season in 1991 -- his third year in the bigs -- having launched himself into a pivotal role in the Red Sox bullpen with a 2.34 ERA going into late July. Sadly, on July 30, Gray suffered a stroke following a workout, one so serious that it had doctors wondering whether Gray would ever walk again. (It was, ironically, eleven years to the day of J.R. Richard's career-ending stroke.)
Gray attempted to make a comeback with the Red Sox but -- like J.R. Richard -- never again pitched in the big leagues, a sad end to a budding career. If nothing else, however, I'm glad I now know his story, thanks to Adam. It's a good reminder of the educational side of this hobby.
Baseball cards have, after all, taught me more about the game than anything I've ever seen on TV or Twitter.