The “lax collector”

10 04 2008

Without access to the Card Trade article mentioned over at The Baseball Card Blog, I can only imagine that I, too, am a lax collector. I do not drool at the thought of collecting all 35+ offerings that the baseball card companies put out (or the 15+ hockey releases from Upper Deck, either). As a set collector, short prints are more annoying to my goals that inspiring me to buy more boxes. There are too many offerings for me to collect all of them every year. And despite the large number of releases, I really only have the option of giving my money to one of two companies. So at some point, I just say why bother.

One way to get people like me more involved would be to slow down the number of releases. I can only speak for myself, but as a guy who got into the hobby when there was one release from each company, I could focus more time on collecting each set.  Boxes were still relatively cheap, so much so that I could think about buying more than one box if the first one was poorly collated.  Or even just for fun.  I traded more often because I knew there would be an end. Not these days.

In part, it has helped make the cards less meaningful.  So, too, has the short print.  Upper Deck started this with hockey back in 1998/99. Even though that was the start, I think one could argue the true era of the Young Gun began in the 2000/01 release. Here’s some of the awesome names with artificial value from that year: Eric Niculas, Mike Minard, David Gosselin, Jean-Guy Trudel, and Kaspars Astashenko.  That’s just a handful of the 80 short printed cards from that year. And unless you are the parents or a realtive of one of these guys, are you really going to buy a box in hopes of pulling them?  I thought not.

Imagine your a kid in 2000 opening your first box of cards and you find those guys as your big pulls in a box you paid 50, 75 dollars for.  Would you really want to stay?  Instead your odds of pulling a Gaborik or a Heatly, cards that a kid watching hockey might want, are slimmer than the card stock they are printed on. How is that going to enamor anyone but the dealer wanting to cash in?

I realize the article at the Baseball Card Blog is more about baseball than hockey. But those short prints are everywhere outside the major sets. And they are another reason I stay away from the other releases.  No matter how cool they may look.

And Ben is right when he says:

Sure, there are exceptions, and relics and autographed cards are, I admit, though begrudgingly, cool to pull in a pack. But how many more sets can do game-used cards as enticement? There hasn’t been evolution in the hobby since the invention of the relic card. This is where manufacturers falter: they can’t evolve.

Even jersey cards are becoming old hat and gimmicky.  I’ve got jersey cards which offer a piece of cloth “worn in an actual photo shoot.”  That’s what I’m forced to pay extra money for in my box.  Why is a Topps series 1 box so much more than series 2?  It’s that photo shopped Jeter card that may lie within.  It’s not about the cards anymore, it’s the gimmicks that the card companies are now trying to sell.  And that, too me, is a problem they need to fix if they want me more involved.

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