There's been a little game going around the internet recently: list ten things everyone else seems to like that you don't like.
This caught my eye for many reasons, not the least of which being that, admittedly, my preferences and those of the masses just don't seem to match up a lot of the time (my list would stretch into the hundreds). But when I had the thought to morph this list into something baseball related, I quickly found that it wasn't as easy as I thought. While I may not love everything that is popular in the world of baseball and baseball cards, I tend to at least moderately like the most-loved players, the best-loved sets.
Initially, I wanted my list to stick to just baseball cards -- but I tried and tried and tried and honestly couldn't come up with ten things. Sure, I could think of a lot of things I like that no one else likes (look for that blog post in the near future, hopefully), but the inverse was way more difficult. In the end, I was able to boost it up to ten once I factored in baseball itself and its other ancillary links outside of the cards.
Some were easy, some were hard, and either way I'm expecting to catch a little flack from this post, but there's no turning back now...so here, in no particular order, are ten things that make me look at you like Don Larsen, ten things you like that I just don't like.
#1 -- Field of Dreams
Perhaps the most obvious way my baseball tastes differ from the masses comes with movies.
I repeatedly see films like Bull Durham and The Natural near the top of Best Baseball Movie lists. Bull Durham is OK, and don't go spreading this around but I've never seen The Natural all the way through (and don't have much of an urge to). But no movie presents more of a discrepancy in this regard than Field of Dreams, almost overwhelmingly hailed as the greatest baseball movie ever made.
I thought it was a decent film when I was younger, and I think I had the DVD at one point, but I've watched it a couple more times as I've gotten older and I have to say that, well...I don't like it. I don't find it relatable or particularly exciting, and let's not even mention that they screwed up which side of the plate Joe Jackson hit from. I just don't think it's a very good movie.
#2 -- The Designated Hitter
I don't know that the DH is universally loved, but a lot of people seem to have lapsed into a sense of inevitability that it will be universally adopted at some point.
NO! I don't want to see this! I never want to see this! For me, National League ball is up here, and American League ball is way down there. It's not so much that I enjoy watching pitchers hit (though I do) -- it's more about the strategy it brings to the game. And that's one reason I love baseball way more than any other sport: the strategy of it, the ability to sometimes win a game by outwitting someone else. The DH takes away from that.
And while it's fun seeing a few favorites squeeze a couple more years out of their career as a DH -- occasionally resulting in odd sights like Eddie Murray in those strange '90s Angels jerseys -- I rue the day when the DH becomes universal.
#3 -- 1952 Topps
The top nominee for the baseball card portion of this list was easy: 1952 Topps.
Nothing I say here should detract from the history or importance that '52 Topps has in the hobby. It's the first major release of the biggest brand in baseball card history, and forever changed cards as we know them. That's hard to argue. All I'm saying is that, aesthetically, the cards aren't close to the greatest Topps has ever produced. They're nice, sure, but I mean in my book it's probably the fourth- or fifth-best set Topps produced in the 1950s alone.
Every time I see '52 Topps commonly praised as one of the greatest sets ever made (which is often), I can't help but wonder if people are blinded by the history of it, rather than looking at the cards themselves.
#4 -- 1967 Topps
One of the comforting things about reading blogs has been the piece of mind that, yes, most of my tastes seem to be shared with that of the collecting community -- which was nice to know since it often felt like I collected in a vacuum during my youth, not knowing if what I liked was what anyone else liked.
But one exception to that rule, I've found, is 1967 Topps, an almost universal favorite among vintage collectors. I don't dislike it, but at the same time it's never spoken to me in the way that a lot of other older Topps designs do. Like '52 Topps, it's not even close to my favorite design from that decade alone (it's probably fourth on my '60s list). Maybe time'll change my opinions, but for now I'm not sold on '67 Topps.
(RIP, Mr. Kaline.)
#5 -- The Wild Card Game
Here's an example of a concept I once loved but now ain't so sure about.
I suppose I should like the one-game Wild Card playoff, given that the Cubs unquestionably benefited from it in 2015, going all the way to the NLCS in a year where they otherwise wouldn't have made the postseason at all. And most people seem to love it. But the more I've watched these games in recent years, the more awful and uneasy I feel seeing the losing team go home after a single game. It doesn't seem right.
Now, I like the two-team Wild Card, but I'd be in favor of seeing it go to a three-game playoff instead of a sudden death event -- still gives the division winner a nice advantage (since the Wild Card team would have to burn three starters) and it'd turn the playoffs into a little less of a crapshoot than they already are.
#6 -- Pack stashes
Here's one where I'm a bit more jealous than disbelieving: I still don't know how people keep unopened packs of baseball cards in their homes.
I wish I could do this, because wow would it come in handy in such a strange time like this apocalypse we're living in. I see pictures all the time of people with entire boxes full of unopened stuff in their rooms, and it just seems so unnatural to me. I can't squirrel cards away. Packs were made to open, and open now.
Case in point: I bought one of those 100-card Walgreens repacks recently which came with a scintillating pack of 1990 Donruss, and even that I needed to open right away (biggest pull: Jesse Orosco, woo).
I can say with 100 percent certainty that I have no interest in collecting bobbleheads or other large displays of baseball memorabilia.
I simply don't have the space for it, for one thing, but more than they they just don't appeal to me. This one shelf in my room is the sum total of all my bobbleheads and other large non-card pieces. Some of the bobbleheads were sent to me, others found by family members in thrift stores, and the RC Cans were a cheap impulse purchase at the flea market many moons ago. Cool items, sure, but any more than this and I'd be verging on needing a separate portion of my already stuffed room. Plus, unlike cards, I don't have the urge to look at these very often, to hold them in my hands.
So for now I'm satisfied with this lone shelf, because have you seen how much space baseball cards can gobble up?
#8 -- Gypsy Queen
If there's one brand as a whole that I just don't seem to get, it's Gypsy Queen.
Year in and year out, I commonly see it praised as one of the best and most anticipated sets on the card calendar. I've never been huge on GQ, and even worse, all the designs blend together in my head over time. Unlike Topps or Stadium Club where I know the looks by heart, I'd have a tough time recognizing what year any given GQ card is from if you showed one to me (these 2015s are one of the few that stand out). In a hobby flush with riffs on old-time designs, I still have a hard time figuring out why Gypsy Queen remains so captivating to the masses.
I hear 2020 Gypsy Queen is out, and even if we weren't in this quarantine season, I'd have little interest in searching for it at Target.
#9 -- Artist-rendered cards
Here's another hobby trend I don't like at all: expensive artist-produced cards.
One recent fad is something called Topps Project where renowned artists are redesigning famous rookie cards (for princely sums). I don't like these at all. I see absolutely no point in screwing with iconic baseball cards. At least the Living Set phenomenon of the last few years is a riff on an old design, rather than a complete recreation of it. But even those don't really appeal to me -- this Ichiro is the only one I've bought, and even that took a good amount of hemming and hawing.
And you can go further and further back: Topps Gallery, UD Play Ball, etc. -- all in all I just kinda prefer the brushstrokes stay on the canvases, and not on the baseball cards.
#10 -- TTMs
In my twenty years of collecting, I have never once sent out a TTM request.
Sure, I've had a few TTM autographs graciously sent to me by other collectors, and, like this Al Downing, they're all really cool. And given what I've seen on the blogs and other card outlets, TTMs are hugely popular, maybe the most otherwise popular corner of the hobby I've included on this list. But I personally just don't see the excitement in sending a card away and (maybe) having it show up days, weeks, months, years later with a signature on it.
A lot of this probably comes from the fact that I'm not huge into autographs anyways -- but either way, I've never had the urge to do TTM, mostly because I don't see much of a reward at the end of the tunnel. Like everything else on this list, I want to like it, but in time I've accepted that it's just not for me.
So there you have it, ten things you like that I don't -- let the shouting matches begin.