Thursday, March 9, 2023

What I've learned from TCDB

I finished uploading all my Angels cards onto TCDB the other day, which means I've at long last cataloged the first full team in my collection.

Obviously, cataloging is a slow process for me - I think I started with my Angels binders a couple months ago. The site seems to be a bit more geared towards set collecting, and being a player collector at heart, it takes me a few more clicks to get things going. And since I still prioritize putting new cards away over cataloging old ones, I'm lucky if I can spend an hour or two a week on TCDB.

But the good thing about TCDB is that I do it as I please - I accept that cataloging is probably going to be a multi-year project here at Dime Box HQ. The time I've spent over there thus far has been a lot of fun. I really enjoy how the site's laid out, and it seems like it attracts a good group of collectors (though I'm still a long ways away from ever trading on there, it'll take me long enough to catalog the cards I have first!). 

I waffled about TCDB for a long time, and whether you're a longtime user, or remain on the fence like I was, I figured I'd share a few things I've learned from my early experiences.

I have a lot more cards than I thought I did

I think the thing I like most about TCDB is that it crunches the numbers of my collection - it's a pure thrill for a statistical nut like myself.

After just one team, my collection is already at a staggering 5,295 cards. That's almost all Angels stuff (with a small exception I'll discuss in a bit), which leaves me what the heck the numbers are gonna show once I get the other 29 teams cataloged.

It's true that I probably collect more Angels dudes than other teams - I've followed there ever since their 2002 World Series run as a young baseball fan - but a number like that still floored me. 

I don't have as many cards than I thought I did

Maybe I didn't have an exact number before TCDB, but don't get me wrong - I know I have a lot of baseball cards.

Part of the pull of TCDB comes from the fact that you can compare your collection to others who use the site. It's a lot of fun, but can also leave you slack-jawed. For example, I have 88 cards of Mo Vaughn with the Angels - couple that with the reams of Red Sox cards of his I own, along with the small handful of Mets Mos, and I'd put my collection at a bit over 200 cards total, which I thought was a good number.

Turns out that'd put me way back in right around 30th place out of all TCDB users, and lightyears behind the #1 user who owns exactly 2,257 different Mo Vaughn cards(!).

I'm #1 (and proud of it!)

The only part of my collection I've cataloged outside of my Angels cards is my Hoyt Wilhelm stuff since they're stored separately from the rest of my team binders (he remains the lone player to have such an honor).

According to TCDB, I own 167 unique Hoyts (showing a rare Angels Hoyt here for the sake of continuity), which puts me in first place by a landslide - the next closest user has 94. To see myself at the top of a list is a weirdly proud moment, given I've spent so much of my collecting life accumulating Hoyt cards.

Of course, I'm only able to compare my collection to others who use TCDB - I know there's a lot of Hoyt collectors out there, and at least a handful of them have a bigger collection than mine, but for now I'll enjoy my time at the top of this mountain.

I'm #1 (but it wasn't a competition...)

I proudly collect a lot of obscure players, but comparing my collection of them to others is a bit like running unopposed in an election - is there really anyone out there trying to scoop up Ben Weber cards?

I own a whopping 10 cards of Weber - a sidearming, goggled middle reliever of my youth - which ties me for first place among TCDB users, and I'll have sole possession of #1 when I catalog my small scattering of him with other teams.

Yay for me, I guess?

My cards are a grain of sand on a beach

People in my life who don't collect are confused as to how I can keep finding stuff I need when I already have so many cards!

Now I finally have the numbers to answer them. The 250 Mike Trout cards I have sure sounds like a lot...until you consider that, according to TCDB, there are currently 21,625 different Trouts on the market. That means I own 1.2 percent of all the Mike Trout cards in existence.

A grain of sand, indeed.

I can make a want list!

I am, admittedly, not great when it comes to making and maintaining want lists.

The want lists I do have probably include a lot of errors, and I know there's troves of cards I need that I've never recorded anywhere. A lot of times I'll be flipping through a binder and think oh, there's a card I need - but I rarely think to write it down, and thus it often becomes an eternal gap in my collection. But with TCDB, all I need to do is click a button, and it goes on a want list.

TCDB showed me that I had several parallels of this 2007 Bowman Gary Matthews Jr. without the simple base card - and all was well when I managed to secure a copy recently.

Some collectors are insane

Collecting often lends itself to strange ways of thinking - yes, I do need those eight different parallels of the same card, thank you - but TCDB has shown me that some "variations" even sound crazy to me.

For example: TCDB lists four different versions of this seemingly standard 1990 Donruss Jim Abbott. One has a "1989 Leaf, Inc" copyright on the back. Another has "1989 Leaf, Inc." on the back (note the period). A third has "Aqueous Proof" stamped on the back. A fourth is listed as having a "Factory Set Border" that differs from the regular base issue - I've stared at the two for a few minutes now and can't tell the difference.

For the record, I have the "1989 Leaf, Inc" version, and no, I don't need the other three - I'm not that crazy.

It's fun!

I've mentioned that I was a longtime TCDB holdout, mostly because I didn't find the site very fun.

Obviously, I've become a convert, and I'm here to report that I think I've been getting the hang of the site. It's allowed me to sit down and enjoy some quality time with my collection, which has been nice since I tend to prioritize buying and filing new cards away over appreciating what I already have. I've even been coming across some great cards I own that I'd kinda forgotten about (like this magnificent Edmonds).

The next team up on the cataloging docket is the A's, and if it's anything like my Angels binders, I'm expecting to have my mind blown all over again.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Meet me at the LCS

As I briefly noted in my 2023 Topps post, a new card shop popped up a mere five minutes from my house.

I suppose I should come clean here - the truth is that the store's been open for about four or five months now, and it took me until just a couple weeks ago to finally stop in. If this were 5-10 years ago, a new card shop would've been an exciting event, filled with superlatives and exclamation points. I would have run down there the day it opened. I would've fawned over it, and labeled it as a dream come true.

Fact is, I have low expectations for card shops these days. So many of them just seem like fronts for wax - which I suppose I have no business complaining about since I, you know, bought a box of 2023 Topps that day. But there just weren't many cards in a lot of the card shops I've been to, at least not ones out for open perusal...which is really the main reason I would ever go to a card shop. I don't want to have to ask for everything. That isn't fun for me.

Still, when a card shop opens up a few blocks from where you live, you're gonna go there - the pull of what if it's actually GOOD? is just too much to resist.

Looking around the place, I was fully ready to be disappointed - it's not a big storefront, and at first glance I saw nothing but wax and laughably overpriced stuff behind a glass case (had to give a hard pass to the 1960 Topps Richie Ashburn I saw for $50).

But then the employee came out, and in a strange plot twist, it turns out it's the same "binder guy" I've amassed some massively good finds at the local flea market from over the last couple years. I couldn't get a hold on whether he's the proprietor of the store or just works there, but either way, we chatted for a bit, and he pointed me to a few binders banished to a small cranny in the corner of the place.

And there it was: the very basic (but oddly rare) thrill of finding cards at a card shop! He initially told me they were 2/$1, but after I started pulling quite a few out, he knocked 'em down to 3/$1. The Acuna photo-SP at the top of this post (for 33 cents!) was one of the first cards I found, and carried on the flea market tradition of finding cards from this guy for loose change that I probably shouldn't be finding for loose change.

Pair that with a good amount of inserts to knock off my want lists, and you already had a successful debut trip to the LCS.

But the fun by no means ended there - in the end, I think I ended up pulling something like 150 cards out of those binders.

Certainly wasn't expecting to walk out of the LCS with big-time player collection stuff I needed on that blustery Wednesday afternoon.

A failsafe way to keep me looking through your cards is by throwing a few shiny ones in there.

The binders skewed heavily towards more recent product, but a few oddballs of years past managed to sneak their way inside - creased or not, that Wheaties Ryno is excellent.

One of the benefits to living in a big baseball town is that I sometimes find weird local oddballs in unexpected places - such as the small treasure chest of '90s White Sox stadium giveaways that were waiting for me in those binders.

A new Big Hurt is obviously a thrill, but in a way I was more excited to snag that oddball of Obscure Guy I Collect Scott Eyre, because when the heck do I ever get to add a new Scott Eyre card to my collection?

The prices at some card shops I've been to in the past can be a tad inflated - I understand LCS owners aren't just in for the relatively small fee of renting a table at a card show, because in the end they need to pay overhead, so thus I'm a bit more willing to pay "card shop prices."

But although not all the cards I bought from these binders were ones I would've plucked from a 3/$1 box at a card show, most of them - like this quartet of star power - fell safely into the "definitely worth it" category (including Tom Glavine at the plate!).

At this point, I think you'd agree that the hurdle of my low expectations had been safely cleared, and I was floating right on up into space.

And that was before I got to the middle of the binder, when I found ENTIRE PAGES OF TOPPS RETIRED SIGNATURE.

These fall into the unfortunate category of cards I absolutely adore but rarely see - or at least they did before I unearthed this regular Pandora's Box of them.

Ah! So many big names (Goose Gossage! Bo Jackson!) and fan favorites (Luis Tiant! Johnny Sain!) all rolled up into one beloved set!

Safe to say I've never seen so much of these in one place - I might find one here and there in a dime box, and I've paid as much as a buck or two for singles in the past, but this trove multiplied my previously meager Retired Signature collection many times over.

Last I checked, there's a copy of this card on COMC for something crazy like $10-15, and in weaker moments I've come close to paying that because, between Yaz and the precious autograph shot, this is a piece of cardboard that's hard to stomach not owning.

Yet there it was, for a cool 33 cents, waiting for me a card shop sandwiched between a liquor store and a hair salon in a mini-mall down the block from my house. This whole trip, Yaz included, was one of those unexpectedly pure moments that make wonder if I have a horseshoe hiding somewhere around here.

So yes, it gives me great pleasure to say - and I think I can safely use an exclamation point here - there's an LCS in my town!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Rooting for laundry

If my memory is correct, the current Cubs' roster features exactly one remaining player (Kyle Hendricks) from their historic 2016 World Series squad. 

While it's true that seven years is a long time in a baseball career, it seems like I think of the famous Jerry Seinfeld bit more and more as time goes on - when paraphrased, it goes something along the lines of "rooting for a sports team is basically rooting for laundry." It's a slick one-liner, but it also raises the very relevant paradox of attaching ourselves to teams when so many of the players on those teams jettison around the league as much as they do.

It's a question I ask myself all the time: when I say that I'm a Cubs fan, what does that really mean?

It's weird being a fan of a team in transition like the Cubs - looking at their roster, it seems like half the guys are new arrivals and/or dudes I barely recognize.

In time, the answer I've developed of what it means to be a fan is that, when I root for the Cubs, I'm not only pulling for the guys on the field - to me, fandom is a form of appreciating the history of the team as a whole. I don't think it's a coincidence that my Cubs binders feature more individual players than any other in my collection - I'm simply more interested in their history than any other club out there. Which I suppose is why Cubs cards often put the biggest smile on my face, including the Cubs-centric packages I've received from Johnny of "Johnny's Trading Spot" recently.

Do I care about a set called Panini Absolute? Not really. Do I care about Ryne Sandberg and Ron Santo cards I don't have? Absolutely!

I've said it before: when in doubt, send me Cubs - I don't consider myself a team collector, but there's a better chance I'll need more cards from a random stack of Cubs than any other team around.

I still find it amazing how common (and better yet, attainable!) those Silver Pack cards are, but I guess it goes with the territory when people are opening thousands upon thousands of boxes of a product.

Yes, I know Haray Caray called games for the White Sox and Cardinals, but ask 100 baseball fans what team they associate this guy with, and I'll bet 99 of them say the Cubs.

(P.S. - We need more baseball cards of announcers!) 

Other Cubs content from Johnny included a nifty high-end Ernie Banks, as well as a cool insert of NPB import Seiya Suzuki who's quickly become a fan favorite here at Dime Box HQ.

Johnny also threw in a non-Cubs jewel in with that Mike Lieberthal - finding weird team-issue oddballs has quickly become a premier part of my collection.

I've never been a big postcard collector - part of that is because I'm just not a big fan of oversized stuff in general, but I think another reason is because that's a whole other can of collecting worms I'm a bit afraid to open up.

The daily discoveries in the never-ending galaxy of baseball cards alone already occupies so much of my brain space - if I extended myself into the adjacent world of postcards and general baseball memorabilia, I think my head might explode.

But whether I'm a postcard fan or not, I very nearly hit the ceiling when I flipped the Boudreau over - because it's signed!

This is exactly the kind of thing I don't necessarily chase, but definitely treasure. Lou Boudreau left us in 2001, which means there's a finite amount of stuff he signed and touched out there. Knowing I have one of those sacred pieces he left his fingerprint on is just darn cool, and that's amplified even more when you consider that, besides being a Hall of Famer, he's also a key figure in the history of my beloved Cubs.

There's certainly truth to the idea that, as sports fans, we find ourselves rooting for laundry a lot of the time, but I think the true nature of our fandom lies somewhere between Jerry Seinfeld and Walt Whitman - because, of course, that laundry contains multitudes.

Friday, February 17, 2023

I told myself I wouldn't do this (or, a box of 2023 Topps)

In 2023, for the first time in my adult life, I was fully prepared to sit out the once-beloved ritual of buying the first cards of the new collecting year.

Is it possible to be burnt out with a set before it even hits the shelves? Because that's what I was feeling with 2023 Topps. The previews, the promos, the hype - it seemed to never end. There's always gonna be a certain amount of chatter before a new year's cards release, but this year, for whatever reason, seemed to take it to DEFCON 5. I told myself I'd buy whatever singles I needed online, maybe pick up a few packs if I happened to find myself in a Target in the next couple weeks, and that'd be that.

Fast-forward to a couple days ago, when a rather unexpected bit of news shot across the headlines of Dime Boxedonia: a new card shop opened in town, a good five minutes from where I live! I've long dreamed of having an LCS in my tiny little suburb, and somehow that wish came true all these years later. While I wasn't expecting much, my trip to the shop turned out to be a surprisingly fun treat for a few reasons (which I'll cover in a future post) - but I suppose it's no coincidence that I went there this past Wednesday...the day 2023 Topps came out.

Not wanting to get too crazy, I asked the LCS owner if I could purchase a few single packs, and at some point while my hand was descending upon the trove of loose wax, I heard myself say - ah what the heck, I'll just take a box.

Like I said, I told myself I wouldn't do this, and there's a couple reasons why.

First: if you believed Topps's marketing team, the only two guys in this set are Adley Rutschman and Julio Rodriguez. Topps themselves even billed 2023 Topps as "The J-Rod Show." Other sets might be appropriately labeled as such, but to me, Flagship is here to let us appreciate the game as a whole, not just a couple dudes. If nothing else, I hope this post is a reminder that there are 328 other guys to collect in this set.

Second: the cost. Not to sound like an old coot, but I remember (not that long ago) when I could get a nice basic hobby box of Topps Series 1 for $60-65. I paid $100 for this box - sure, there's a little bit of a card shop markup, but either way, that just seems insane to me. (Thankfully my birthday's in a couple days, and I had a little extra cash in my pocket.)

But the fact is, even with all that, I still bought the box - and while I wasn't in the least looking to "offset" the cost of it, I'm pleased to report that I did pull a nifty Rutschman insert at the top of this post (one per case!) that should cover my expenses.

Okay, so you've heard me yammer on about jumping through all the mental hoops of what it took for me to buy this box - but what about the box itself, Nick??

I'll just say it right now: I like 2023 Topps! I was a bit underwhelmed when I first saw the preview a few months ago, but for me the cards pop a lot more in-person. I've gone on record on saying Topps designs have gotten a bit too TV-graphicy in recent years - and while this year's look most certainly continues that trend, they're at least entertaining. Player and team names are still smaller than I'd like them to be, but that's a minor quibble.

It sounds weird to say, but this is the first time in at least a few years where it actually feels like we get a design, and not just a few carefully placed lines and names across a piece of cardboard.

Plus Topps actually honored 1988 Topps as their main Anniversary insert set this year, giving us a much-needed breather from the more "classic" designs they've been shoving down our throats lately (looking at you, 1987).

I haven't bought a Flagship box in a while, so I completely forgot I a bonus four-card Silver Pack with it - definitely a treat since I always want shiny cards.

Those "Aces" inserts are also fantastic, but the rest of this year's inserts are a big bag of nothing.

Also, the gold parallels are seeded one-per-box(!) which is a telling clue of how overproduced this set is - thankfully the one I pulled was a need (send me all your Sonny Gray cards!).

There's quite a few excellent photos scattered throughout 2023 Topps - with a special nod going to that Cubs Field of Dreams throwback.

But what I really like about the design is that it makes even the average cards look at least passable, which isn't something you can say about a lot of sets these days - because after all, not every card is gonna show a guy leaping into the stands with a Rookie Cup at his feet.

Another bonus: the design serves horizontals quite well.

Major points to Topps for giving a couple greats the sunset cards they deserved. 

I don't know that I'm ready to declare a full-blown "City Connect Jersey" mini-collection yet, but I have to admit I had fun picking these out of my box.

I'm certainly not a fan of all these things (yikes, Brewers), but like my throwbacks collection, they're fun to hunt down - and 2023 showed off a cast of debut duds.

I'll admit I had a slight bit of buyer's remorse walking out of the card shop that hallowed afternoon, but after opening the box and introducing myself to 2023 Topps, I can honestly say it was worth the price of admission.

At this point, I can't help but wonder if there's something embedded in my collecting DNA here - because no matter how hard I try to ignore it, or tell myself I shouldn't care, there's just no escaping the thrill of a new year's worth of baseball cards.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

There's something about Bowman

I'm about to do something I don't think I've ever done in the history of this blog, and that's devote an entire post to Bowman.

Bowman fascinates me for all the wrong reasons - it's become a historic brand while also producing decades and decades of entirely forgettable baseball cards. How forgettable, exactly? Enough that I had to do an internet search to remember what 2022 Bowman looked like. That's how little the cards stick in my memory.

When we're talking about post-revival Bowman (1989-present), we're talking about cards that really aren't meant for me. There's a desultory group of known stars alongside a gluttony of rookies, of whom only a small fraction will ever crack a big-league roster. 

The latter, however, are what most people buy Bowman for - the hope that a Single-A unknown will become The Next Big Thing. 

Modern Bowman began under a bad moon - I've often declared '89 Bowman to be The Worst Set of All-Time.

I don't know if I still believe that these days - I've found other sets I hate more than this - but I think most of us can agree that '89 Bowman is just plain dull. Not to mention the weird oversized thing that triggers my OCD every time I look at one of these in my binder. Just an incredibly bottom-tier group of baseball cards.

People are justified in believing crazy sets like '95 Fleer are worse than this (not me, of course!), but if nothing else I would have to imagine those people would at least admit that '95 Fleer is interesting - not one of us can say the same for '89 Bowman.

Bowman was never destined to be a set we were supposed to collect or even discuss, really - it's pretty much about the prospects and that's it.

No one is buying a pack of Bowman because they fancy themselves as a connoisseur and want to appreciate the design. Most of what Bowman puts out there barely qualifies as a design. It's like Stadium Club but infinitely less fun for collectors like myself. I suppose I don't fault anyone for wanting to get the jump on the next hot thing, but that's just not the way I collect - I struggle to understand how that can be called "collecting" at all. 

But whether you want to call it branding or whatever else, even I'll admit there's something special about having a guy's first Bowman card - although do me a favor and don't tell anyone I found this Trout rookie in a dime box back in 2011, or, perhaps even more egregiously, that I wouldn't have bought it at all if he wasn't wearing a throwback jersey!

While I sat and tried for a good few minutes trying to think of what random Bowman sets looked like without consulting the internet.

1996 Bowman? 2002 Bowman? 2007 Bowman? I couldn't remember a single one. And when I finally broke down and looked, the reaction wasn't Oh yeah, that's right! as much as it was Oh, I can see why I forgot that. I'm in the minority, in that the only cards I even remotely care about in today's Bowman are the veterans - on the rare occasion I open a pack of the stuff, the prospects feel like filler to me. And even then I forget what the cards look like two seconds after I put them in my binder.

So that begs the question: are there any Bowman designs I actually like?

The answer: in the 34 years of Modern Bowman (1989-2022), there are exactly two sets I can honestly say I like.

The first is 1992, probably the most universally adored Bowman set among card collectors. The prospect lovers get their fill with some of the most famous rookies of the generation (Piazza, Rivera, Hoffman, etc.), but it's also just a darn good-looking set of baseball cards. I don't own as many as I'd like - they didn't seem to be mass-produced like most cards of the era - but the ones I do have are excellent. (Even the weird fashion-show rookies are memorable in their own way.)

In Bowman's long string of apathy, '92 is really the only time I can say they hit on something classic.

Perhaps as a result, I think most people sleep on what Bowman did the very next year.

There's a Jeter in '93 Bowman, but it's not one of his more famous rookie cards, and outside of that I'm not sure this set has any other notable prospects. As a whole, though, I'd argue this is one of the most unjustly ignored offerings of the '90s. While not as timeless as '92, I've always thought '93 Bowman was a solid set, with a few cool photos mixed in for good measure (something you can't say about Bowman very often). It doesn't deserve to be lumped into the rest of Bowman's long and generally unspectacular history.

In the end, I suppose what I find most interesting about Bowman is that I hear both everything and nothing about it - people talk about this prospect and that prospect, but no one ever seems to care anything about the cards themselves.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Thumb twiddling

This is the time of year where I just kind of sit around twiddling my thumbs.

Baseball still feels far away, the hot stove is cooling off, and since my interest in other sports is minimal (at best), that doesn't leave much excitement. Last year's card releases are pretty much over, and the debut of the new card season is weeks in the waiting. So what's one to do other than twiddle their thumbs?

The good news here is that I still have a good amount of stuff rolling in from my fellow bloggers - card mail is even more of a blessing in these barren winter months. And sometimes said mail isn't even limited to cards. Take this Ryno comic, for instance, a rather unusual item that came from Bob of "The Best Bubble" blog a while ago.

The "FREE TRADING CARDS! FULL COLOR!" were (sadly) nowhere to be found, and although I've never been much of a comic guy, this'll take its place among the oddball joys of my collection.

Bob also threw in a couple other quirky gems - hard to beat an airborne Babe on an old-timey play at the plate.

I know Topps issued special cloth reprints in blasters a few years back, and I'm guessing someone dissected that Ryno from the card frame at some point...maybe? (If it's not that, then I have absolutely no idea what it could be.)

An overlooked benefit to getting cards in the mail is that it can often be educational.

Jeff of "Wax Pack Wonders" was nice enough to send me this Jim Abbott, and even noted that it's a gold Electric Diamond parallel - I don't know about you, but I had no idea those were a thing.

Nor did I ever dream that Puerto Rican League cards existed!

Can't say I've heard of any of these dudes, but there will always be something thrilling about owning cards from an entirely different country.

Sending me new Jim Abbott cards is one of many ways to put a smile on my face.

These Abbotts came courtesy of Tom of "The Angels in Order" blog and I'm smiling right now just looking at them.

A few more goodies from Tom - Livan Hernandez isn't particularly high on my collecting totem pole, but I couldn't resist a card with a massive hole in the middle for no apparent reason.

Tom even sent along a few other needs as a thank you for my 11-year giveaway, which was most welcome but most but definitely not necessary.

(Totally forgot I was trying to build that MLB Network insert set.)

A big box from Kenny of "Torren' Up Cards" came in the mail a couple months ago, and when I finished rubbing my hands together and opened it...this fell out.

From what I've seen, a few other bloggers were Zapped with one of these odd Pete Alonso plushies - it's one of those strange items that manages to simultaneously (and paradoxically) make me think COOL! and ...what am I gonna do with this??

Thankfully, a few more conventional pieces of cardboard came along for the ride in this Zapping, including a few treasured Utz oddballs!

Still never found any of the cards around here, though I buy their potato chips more often than I probably should.


(Bonus points for the weird Giants Carlos Beltran & Rockies Jason Giambi sightings.)

I'm on record on being way more of a cat person, but I'll campaign for bat dogs in baseball forever (especially Golden Retrievers!).

Finally in these thumb-twiddling times comes a couple PWEs from longtime friend-of-the-blog and all-around good guy Joe Shlabotnik of "The Shlabotnik Report" fame.

I'm long overdue in posting an envelope I received from him a while ago, one that included a few early-2022 set needs - and yes, I've been dividing those Opening Day inserts into three separate miniature cards for my binders, because that's why the perforations are there, right?

A couple more recent needs from Shlabotnik HQ, including a Tris Speaker I was thrilled to get since Heritage SPs seem to fade into oblivion from the moment they're released.

Mr. Shlabotnik sent me a second surprise PWE that arrived here in snow-bound Illinois just last week - a fun smattering of cardboard that knocked out a few Heritage High Number insert needs.

Given that I'm not much of a fan of the movie, I feel weird liking the "Field of Dreams" games as much as I do - I mean, I still get the warm fuzzies remembering Tim Anderson's walk-off homer in the first one a couple years ago.

A few more recent needs along with a new Javier Baez from the sadly defunct Topps Stickers brand (bring 'em back, Topps!).

The Topps Debut portion of this year's Archives is absolutely fantastic, and this one in particular is wonderful (is there such thing as a bad Roberto Clemente card?) and a treasured finale to this great PWE from the Land of Shlabotnik.

With cards coming out weekly and a 24-hour channel devoted to the game, it's true that baseball is more of a year-round sport than ever these days - but that doesn't stop me from wanting the snow to melt and the Super Bowl to be over and done with already.