As the season comes to a close - featuring yet another World Series I can't bring myself to care much about - I'm left to grapple with the questions left by another year of baseball.
Since I'm not much of a morning person, I love having a consistent night shift at work - the main consequence, however, being that it doesn't leave much time for catching ballgames. I probably watched less baseball in 2023 than I have in any other year as a fan. I still keep up with the game (watching standings, checking leaderboards, etc.) but my actual viewing kinda went downhill this year.
Part of the beauty of baseball is its consistency - there's almost literally a game going on at any waking hour - but I wonder if this signals some kind of shift in me as a baseball fan. If I should be thankful for the rare Cubs game I get to watch rather than be woeful about all the ones I missed. I don't know.
Which makes for a good transition into this Mookie Betts Topps Now card I graciously received from Jim (aka gcrl) of "cards as i see them" fame - featuring a double dip Mookie turned as a shortstop(!) in one of the rare Cubs games I did actually manage to catch on TV!
The good thing about baseball cards, of course, is that it's a year-round hobby if you want it to be - no staring out the window waiting for spring.
Cards occupy an even warmer place in my heart during the winter months, and while I don't trade nearly as often as I once did, it's always a treat when I see a hallowed envelope or package in my mailbox.
In addition to becoming a steady supplier of Sonny Gray cards, Jim always seems to send me something I've never seen before - like that excellent Don Baylor from a (regional?) Twins World Series anniversary set.
I can't for the life of me understand why companies make thick cards for no reason - that Giolito is massive, so big that it doesn't even fit into a regular nine-pocket page.
Stadium Club Chrome probably doesn't need to exist, but it features a good amount of interesting shots that keeps it on my radar every year.
Jim's been sending me cards for a long time now, and always selects a first-rate mix of curious cardboard.
(Pink refractors are cool, but they've got nothing on '90s Dufex!)
A more recent PWE from Jim saw yet another trademark stack of cards, including a rare Hoyt appearance in a modern set!
Mike Sweeney doesn't get much airtime on this blog, which is weird since he's one of my bigger player collections - that neat UD Play Ball Promo reminds me I should talk about him more.
It's always Sonny!
Jim closed things out by sending along a treasured Dime Box Dozen need with Dave Parker here, a card I probably should've had a long time ago now (is '86 Donruss the most '80s design ever?).
I'll still watch however much of the World Series I can - I suppose I'll root for the Diamondbacks since I still have a soft spot for the few expansion teams I've seen in my lifetime. At the end of the day, baseball is a passion for me, and while that passion shifts with age, nothing can make it go away.
If nothing else, I'm just happy to have the day off work today, to be able to park squarely on my couch for Game 1 and scoop up the last few sweet bits of a baseball season that so quickly seemed to pass me by.