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.


P-town Tom said...

THIS, is the content that I came here for: bunts and double-bagging. I 100% agree with you on these two fronts.
Non-sports cards? Ugh. Heck, I don't even care much for non-baseball cards.

sg488 said...

I agree on 1,4,5(The more cards you accumulate the more room you will need,and you never want to part with some cards you like because of space limitations),7,8.

Jeff B - Wax Pack Wonders said...

1995 was right in the sweet spot of my collecting youth. I don't think I've appreciated the 95 Topps set enough over the years. And I WANT to like the 95 Fleer set, but what's the point of a card if you can't read the player's name?! I liked Pacific, too. In 93, they had only a Spanish version due to licensing or something. I liked that version as well as some of the stuff they did at the end of the decade. As for 88 Donruss, I think it has some redeeming qualities! Ok maybe only one or two .

CrazieJoe said...

The innovation of Pacific was amazing looking back now.

Brett Alan said...

My brother has been doing a top-ten lists thing lately, and he asked for top ten sports movies. Eight Men Out was #7 on my list, which makes it the number three baseball movie behind A League Of Their Own and Moneyball (I love Aaron Sorkin). Great movie, I agree.

I like Pacific, mostly because I bought their early sepia-toned Legends cards before I left the hobby. I like that they innovated Spanish-language cards, too. Although that "Online" set they put out was awful.

And...I'll leave aside the ones I disagree on!

acrackedbat said...

I've grown to love 95 Topps, and more so over the past few years of borderless cards. I'd buy and bust boxes of it now if it were't for the "bricking". I love bunts and double-bagging. I miss Pacific. 97 UD was good but 96 is my favorite. "Eight Men Out" is on my list to view. Non-sports cards are fine, just not mixed in a pack with my baseball. I do collect them. "No" to reprints. I don't get excited over them anymore. 1995 Fleer? YES just to aggravate PK Steinberg. How could I not love that 57 Furillo? Is it wrong to say I like it more than 52?

Bill@Bravestarr said...

Great post! Love your thoughts even if I don’t agree on some! As Judge John Hodgman says, “people like what they like.”

night owl said...

I can find people who like everything here with the exception of 1995 Fleer and maybe 1997 Upper Deck (has anyone ever written about that set?) So I'd say that actually this was tougher for you than the first one, which is my theory, that doing a "things I like that nobody else likes" list is more difficult than doing "things everyone likes that I don't."

Emily said...

- The various list-oriented posts are actually the first time that I have heard anything regard a stigma towards storing multiple cards in pages. I always assumed that was the standard way of utilizing card pages, although evidently that might not be the case.

- As someone who bunted a lot during his playing days and has helped teams win many games with the technique, I, too, love well-executed bunting. Strategically-inefficient sac bunts (particularly with skilled hitters), however, not so much.

- 1995 was a weird year for me in terms of collecting, due mostly (I think) to the lockout spilling into the start of the 1995 season. I was usually amped up to pick up the newest versions of all of the various brands, but it was kind of anticlimactic to effectively be celebrating a season that did not have a real conclusion and with no clear resumption of play on the horizon. I liked the design of 1995 Topps, yet only wound up getting a handful of packs, which was the case for most of the brands until later in the summer when I was able to pick up Collector's Choice super cheap at our local CVS.

- I agree about 1997 UD being a very clever concept. My only quibble with the set was that it felt overloaded with subsets that took away the chance to feature more players. For example, in Series 1, Rey Ordonez has three cards (1 base, 2 subsets), while the Angels have one base card, the Blue Jays two, and the Pirates two. There is some backfilling in Series 2, but still even more subsets.

Elliptical Man said...

1. That's a hot mess.

3. Yes. This and Major League are my favorite baseball movies.

Fuji said...

#1 -- 1995 Fleer -- Don't like
#2 -- 1995 Topps -- Don't like
#3 -- Eight Men Out -- I like
#4 -- Bunts -- I love
#5 -- Double-bagging pages -- Don't Like
#6 -- Reprints -- It depends. I was cool with them until the last few years. Topps is starting to get a little carried away now.
#7 -- Non-sport cards -- I like
#8 -- Pacific -- It's okay
#9 -- 1997 Upper Deck -- Don't like
#10 -- 1957 Topps -- It's okay

Mike said...

Now that MLB Network is showing a lot of old 70s-80s games lately,you're reminded of how important bunting was,I do miss it!

And you know how much I love Eight Men Out...the historical inaccuracies arent the's a classic and the actors were all great!

shoeboxlegends said...

Sounds like 1995 is one of your favorite years to collect! Another interesting list Nick, thanks for posting and I hope it generates another round of posts on the blogs in response...

GTT said...

I really like 1997 UD and double-bagging too. If I didn't doublebag my cards, I'd probably go broke. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but still. Less money for the baseball cards themselves.

Kevin Papoy said...

There's just one thing I don't get about double binding : does it really help to gain space ? To me, it's all about volume. I feel that I can put as many cards in a binder either way (around 1 000). The difference will be that I'll save pages. Not space. Or maybe something like 10% ?

GCA said...

I'm still building my '95 Fleer set. I like that it's so different, and even just for the colorfulness. Plus I got the starter super cheap and already in pages.
I'm also (still) building '95 Topps. Or I should say rebuilding because I got a factory set that was bricked and I'm replacing all the spotted ones.
Wasn't collecting when both of those came out new.

Today's game is all about pitching and homers. It was better back in the day when they stole bases, bunted and pitched complete games (and all in under 3 hours).

Reprints every couple years wouldn't be bad, but Topps HAS to make a huge set of them every single year and acts like it's a new thing each time. Get some original ideas, please!

The appeal of A&G is the non-sports stuff - especially the inserts. If you don't want odd stuff in there - get Gypsy Queen instead.

I love Pacific. Used to buy box after box of their 2002-03 hockey products for cheap from one dealer. Better use of foil, acetate, color, die-cuts, and other innovations than any other company.

The documentation of '97 UD is awesome. Except for the work involved, I don't know why it's never been done again. Would love to see that.

Also building '57 Topps. It just keeps getting cooler as I go. It's simple and very 50's and still conveys the reverance to the players of that day.

Adam Kaningher said...

Card-supials was one of the most clever ideas to come out of this whole industry. So much of what this hobby does now was pioneered by Pacific.

Big League said...

I also like bunts. Punts too. Revolving Door was mentioned here. I have Revolving Door's rookie card. I classify it as my favorite non-sports card to come out of a baseball set.

Big League said...

A nice bunt is like the soft touch of a nice, fluffy animal. The successful Jacob deGrom bunt with 2 outs in August last year was majestic.