(Today is "No Beard Day." I'm not making this up. Holding "No Beard Day" during the baseball postseason is probably not the greatest timing. But it's a perfect time for Cardboard Appreciation! So this is the 162nd in a series. Hold on to your dome cozies):
You may have heard the news from Topps yesterday about a new Heritage High Numbers/Update/Traded set for 2012.
Sounds exciting, right? It's been awhile since Topps did this. Last time was 2008, I think. Maybe 2009. The years run together at my age.
But, silly me, I left out the good stuff. The Heritage High Numbers/Update/Traded set this time is an online exclusive thingy, through Topps' online exclusive vehicle, which shall go nameless. It is also just shy of $100. For 100 cards.
"But," Topps says. "It includes an autograph."
Well, that changes everything doesn't it?
Here was my official reaction to this news, after reading Topps' rationalizations and a bunch of long-ass tweeting about marketing and value and a whole lot of stuff that makes me wish I was in a self-induced coma.
I apologize for the cursing of late. But that was an immediate instant reaction to what I was feeling. And I'm not calming down any from that moment.
Normally, I let what Topps does pretty much disappear into the ether. I might not necessarily like its weird gimmicks, and Strasburgizations, and out-of-the-blue SP decisions, but I try not to froth at the mouth over them. I figure if you don't like it, then just collect the part of the set that you like and don't worry about the extra cards that Topps wants you to chase all over god's creation to try to find. It's your money, collect the set how you'd like to collect it.
But this made me change my view.
I had just completed the 1-425 set of 2012 Heritage. Sure, I've got almost all of the short-prints still to go, but I was feeling pretty good about finishing off a Heritage set, which is no easy task (full disclosure: I had a lot of help from ThoseBackPages).
It's those kind of achievements that make you feel good as a set-collector. So good, in fact, that when you hear news about an Update set, it makes you think, "hey, I might give that a crack, too. Complete the WHOLE damn thing."
And that's what I thought when I heard rumblings of a Heritage Update set. Not seriously, but I thought it.
But now I'm not thinking about it at all. I don't want to buy it. At all (but please send me your Dodgers!).
The thought of an online exclusive that costs a buck a card and assumes that you even want an autograph seems so cynical to me and such a genuine kick in the crotch to what remains of set collectors that it really set me off.
I started to think about the SPs in this year's Topps Update set. And then I thought about the random minis in next year's Heritage. And I thought about all the parallel SPs in previous recent Topps sets. And I thought about the exclusive glossy Allen & Ginter set from last year with new players in it. And I could go on and on and on and on, and I'd still only have gone back to 2006.
That's when it clicked.
Why am I doing this?
Why am I still trying to complete modern sets?
Sure, I like new cards. I like getting cards of current players. But do I like it that much?
Do I like it better than getting vintage cards?
The answer to that last question is a definite "no."
So why am I still doing it?
I'm 47 years old now. In many aspects of life I've given up on whatever is "currently going on today." It's what you're supposed to do at 47. Break with the latest fad that entrances the 20-year-olds and go with what you know.
And that's what I've done. With TV. With music. With technology. With the places I frequent. With my recreation choices. I've done all those things without a tinge of regret of what I've been leaving behind or what I was missing. I don't CARE about what the latest TV show is or the latest best place to hang out. I've got my favorites already. I don't need no more.
So why the HELL am I still caring with cards?
When I grew up with cards, Topps issued a 660-card set all in one shot. It was a challenge to finish that. But except for a few years when they double-printed some cards, everything was even across the board. No short-prints, no suddenly announced "here's an extra set to chase." Just 660 cards. Later it increased to 726 cards and then to 792. And then Fleer and Donruss came along. And then Traded sets and Score and Upper Deck and all that.
I adjusted to it all because I was young then and that's what you do when you're young. You eat up everything new and expand your mind and impress yourself with how diverse you are.
But at 47, I like how things WERE in a lot of different ways. And while I don't go around saying, "I wish things were still like THIS" to everyone, sometimes I think it. Because I'm 47 and that's what you do at that age.
So what's wrong with wishing things were the way they were in the hobby?
I don't have the notion that it's ever going to return to that, nor am I going to rail at Topps, or whatever company is issuing cards, to return to the days of 660 cards, team photos and record-breakers on cards 1 through 8. Because I don't think there's any chance that this is going to happen.
But I can COLLECT the way people used to collect in the hobby.
There is lots of vintage out there, and I sure am focused on a plenty of vintage sets.
So guess what I'm going to do?
Yup. I'm going to actually follow my own Twitter advice.
I'm going vintage.
I will not try to complete a modern set for the foreseeable future. No Heritage High Numbers for me. And no 2013 Topps. No 2013 Heritage. No 2013 Allen & Ginter. No matter how difficult it may be.
Yeah, I'll still buy a few packs just to check it out. I like the 2013 Topps base design and I'll always try something just a little (gotta keep this blog current!). But I'm not worried that a few packs will suck me back in.
Not this time.
This is going to be a slow burn that lasts a long time.
People are really pissed about this. Really, really pissed.
And so am I.
Topps may think they're "Veteran Masters," squeezing every collector out of as many dollars as possible. Masters at pulling the rope and watching collectors jump. Masters of measuring the market. A tradition in the hobby for 60 years. The sole licensee and the king of current cards.
But the "Veteran Master" really has stepped in it this time.
(And you wondered what this had to do with the card up there).