Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Does the 2012 Topps Archives Set Say About Me?

I know, wise guy. “Nothing. A box of cardboard can’t talk.” But, what does this set suggest about my collecting habits? That’s the question.

I read all the reviews from other bloggers on the Archives set. I read the good points, and the complaints. One of the more frequent criticisms is the thinness of the cards. At one point, I thought to myself, “I don’t care if the cards are a little thin. As long as…” And then I stopped. As long as what, exactly?

As long as there’s a picture of a Red Sox player on it? Is that my only qualification? Newspapers and magazines have pictures of Red Sox players on them. I don’t feel the need to have every copy of the newspaper with a Red Sox player on it that was printed in 2012. So, clearly I need more than just a picture. What else?

Do I need it to be printed on cardboard? Is that the magic feature that turns a random picture into something I need to have? That seems like an odd thing to me. After all, I just said to myself that I don’t care how thick this cardboard is.

Do I need a fancy border around the photo? At first offer, I’d say this is the most logical feature. After all, the border is what makes it a card instead of a picture. But, I run into a snag with that one as well. My favorite sets are the Stadium Club issues. Yup. No border. Damn. They don’t even have overblown graphics on the front.

Is it the stats on the back? That is also pretty distinctive when it comes to cards vs. other pictures. I can just flip the card over, and instantly get career stats for the player pictured on the front. That’s a great reason. Phew. I’ve got it. When I want to know how many hits Kevin Youkilis had in 2009, I run to his 2010 Topps card to look at the back. Ummm. Yeah, not so much. In fact, since my cards are stored back-to-back in pages, looking at the backs of the cards is actually pretty difficult. I can’t remember the last time I actually pulled out a Red Sox card to look at the back.

Is it the size? It certainly makes it easier to collect them as opposed to, say, 8x10 pictures. But, there are plenty of Red Sox collectable out there that measure less that 3 inches. I don’t scour the internet looking for every one of them.

I’m starting to run out of options here.

It gets even weirder when I go back in time.

I’ve been trying to add more vintage cards to my collection. If I want to get the really early stuff, I need to stay away from superstars like Babe Ruth and Cy Young. Their Sox cards are well out of my price range. But, what about Joe Wood? He’s more of a regional star. Maybe I can afford him. In looking at the bay, a card of his from the 1915 Polo Grounds Game set popped up. I dismissed it. That’s not even a card, I reasoned. What? What makes it not a card? It has a picture of Joe Wood on it. A border. It’s on cardboard. It’s even a “standard” size. But it’s not a card? What am I on?

The best I’ve been able to come up with is that I collect baseball cards because I collect baseball cards. The same way people collect teapots because they collect teapots, I guess. But, if I collect baseball cards because I collect baseball cards…maybe I don’t need to collect every baseball card because I collect baseball cards?

Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those, “I’ve lost all interest in the hobby” manifestos. I haven’t lost interest. I just want to be sure my collecting follows my interest. As I mentioned, I’ve already started to dream about more vintage. Maybe instead of five blasters of thin Topps Archives cards, I should consider a Carl Yastrzemski rookie? Or a Harry Hooper? Maybe it’s focusing more on fewer sets. Instead of Topps Opening Day blasters, get that David Ortiz bat card from Topps flagship. (If he has a bat card, that is.) I just need to figure out why I want what I want.

And then, just buy what I want.


  1. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Great post!

  2. From someone who lacks a collecting focus, I hear you. I hear you.


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