Monday, February 1, 2021

Ten Things I Don't Like In This Hobby

I guess the Super Bowl is coming up one of these days, which in my head sort of marks my 1 year anniversary of being a true head-over-heels obsessed collector of sports cards (at least for the first time since my youth). That exact day in early 2020, I blew $70 at my local card shop and reckoned that I'd sort of entered a new phase in card accumulation, which I clearly had. Rather than occasionally buying the odd hobby box or online single here and there, I went all-in. Then the pandemic kicked up; I started this blog in March - and well, here we are...!

I've had a good amount of time to navel-gaze and consider my burgeoning collection this year. At some points early in the year, a lot of card bloggers were doing this thing on their blogs, something along the lines of "Ten Things You Like But I Don't" and/or "Ten Things I Like But You Don't". For a relative newbie like myself, it was card collectin' catnip. 

Now I'm going to tell you just what I've observed about the hobby this past year. I've certainly been able to shape and mold my personal tastes during this time, and I've learned from the best card bloggers and collectors on the planet how it all works. I'll start this time with some things I don't like - many of which are either unique to me or just my personal peeves. Next time I'll post ten things I do tend to like. 

Odd-Sized Cards

This is my personal foible, but one I know I share with a bunch of you out there. I truly dislike minis, but I really dislike cards that are larger than the standard 2.5" x 3.5": "box loaders", postcards, circular cards and what have you. When I was trying to figure all of this out, I'd order bunches of some player I collected - like Johnny Antonelli or Rennie Stennett - and get these strangely-shaped large things in the mail that I wasn't expecting. Where the hell am I supposed to put this thing? Not in a binder. Not in a standard card box. How about on eBay, right now?

Baseball Cards, 1982-1999

It's actually very refreshing for me to just totally ignore the "junk wax era". This was the time when I was least interested in cards, in my late teens and 20s. I don't tend to like many of the designs - want list stuff excepted! - and I dislike the utter ubiquity of so many of these cards. Cheap, flimsy garbage from Score and Leaf and Donruss and...ugh. No thanks. Skip. (by the way, folks, I'm pretending to be an uncompromising curmudgeon here; I don't mean to actually disparage stuff you really like.....I'm just havin' a laff)

Breaks Run By Bros

Actually, not pretending here. There's this real aggro bro culture on Twitter that's constantly pimping new "breaks" and contests and bids and whatnot, making the hobby seem like one big casino game. It's about as far away from what I came here to do as it gets. On Twitter I get the sense there are hundreds of lonely "Rocko from Jersey" types looking for ways to rip you and me off. I know it's not just on Twitter, either, but there's something about social media in general that brings out the worst in all of us. Trying to stay away from this side of the hobby as best I can.

Topps Flagship Cards, 2016-Present

Other than the guys I collect, I've decided I have no need for any Topps baseball flagship from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Heritage, sure. I love Heritage (we'll talk about that next time). Topps flagship from the last five years are as ugly as modern cards get, and then you insult me with Opening Day versions? And Christmas versions? And an increasing number of other versions, all in the same gross style as the base cards? Who's in charge over there, Topps? Get me the manager on the phone right now. 

Scotch Tape on Toploaders

You're going to make me cut this tape and possibly my finger, aren't you? I just want to get the friggin' card out of this thing so I can put it into the binder! I can't even get the tape off of the toploader. Now I have to throw it away. Honestly, do these things really even need any tape at all, even that blue masking tape everyone seems to have laying around?

Toploaders in General

I have way too many of these that I'll never use and don't need. Anyone wants to Paypal me $3 for shipping for a big fat envelope full of these - clean ones, without scotch tape on them - let me know, and they're yours.

Single-Card eBay Shipping Prices

So many times I'll find a card I'm excited about, and the seller wants $4 or $4.50 to ship the card. One lonely card. Folks - you do know how much it costs to ship a single baseball card, right? In a toploader. with a piece of paper wrapped around it, we're talking about 75 cents. How about we all start charging a dollar for shipping from now on?

Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey

As you may know, I'm a San Francisco Giants fan. As such, these two players, particularly the latter, have been very important to me as a fan during a decade in which my team won three World Series. For whatever reason, I don't like their baseball cards. I have a ton of them. I don't want (most of) them, unless they're part of team sets I'm collecting. I don't really know why. These gentlemen have done nothing to me except win my team many baseball games and keep me highly entertained over the years. Yet I get one of their cards in a trade, I'm like....ok. I get a Pablo Sandoval, a Hunter Pence or a Tim Lincecum and I'm psyched beyond belief. Go figure. Plus Crawford is a wet guy.

Custom Cards

No offense at all, but the only 1/1s I really want are those made by card companies, not someone with an exacto knife and a printer. There's a lot of creativity and energy going on with these, but I just don't think this strange corner of the hobby connects with me all that much. Or at all.

Graded Cards

Finally, I can certainly do without all the hoo-hah that comes from graded cards. That's for a different level of collector, someone who cares about the difference between an 8 and a 7.5, and who's maybe just kind of sorta looking at cards as an investment vehicle rather than the exciting time-waster and community-builder they actually are. Listen, if I ever have a card truly worth grading, because I need to sell it for some fast cash or something, I'll absolutely get it graded. But this whole world of card grading exists on a different plane than the one I happen to be collecting on. 

So what do you think, folks? Did I sacrifice some of your sacred cows? Apologies! The next post will be a lot more friendly, promise!


  1. I agree with some of those don't likes. Especially the dang scotch tape thing. UGH. You can tell the real careful collectors and sellers who care about the product vs the fast buck flippers and folks who don't give a hoot. Painters tape is a card shippers friend you don't have to get the boring classic blue there are other colors available.

    As to shipping single cards at higher prices. I am guilty of being one of those Ebay sellers. I don't ship in PWEs, there is no guarantee that a handler won't send the envelope though the postage machine, even if marked "Non Machinable" plus there is no tracking available for PWEs. I also like to protect the card with more than just the penny sleeve and toploader. I like to sandwich the card in cardboard as well and I use a padded mailer. With the postal rates they are now my minimum postage spent used to average about $3.60 now it is almost always at least $4.

  2. I like the list and it's a good read. I'm with you on six of ten.

    Additional items I would add to your list is this:

    Teams cards
    - picture of the entire team with team stats on the back.

    Card Numbers ending in 5 and 0 and 00.
    - They used to be reserved for stars Mays, Mantle, Aaron, Clemente.

  3. Hey, what's wrong with 1983 Topps?!?!

    Ah, I enjoyed it when these posts were all the rage, although I never did a "10 things I don't like" post since I figured I spend almost every day of my blog writing about something I don't like in the hobby.

    1. Yeah, listen, I know. My distaste for the 80s cards is some personal thing to me that has more to do with the ubiquity of the cards than with anything else. I stopped collecting in 1981 - so note that's also my cutoff year for "good" cards. You never really stopped, and got to ride the joys and thrills and spills of the hobby throughout the 80s and 90s, while I was busy buying records instead.

  4. I agree with you about graded cards. Someone thought "Hey, I will tout myself as an expert, encase cards in plastic, and relieve people of more money than they would otherwise spend", and a whole new level of shimmy-sham was created.

    Regarding custom cards, I like them if they are of a player who was missing from a set in a year they played. It's like fixing Topps' omissioms. Otherwise, I have no use for them. Who needs 5 versions of Koufax or Seaver in a set that already includes their card? I also have no interest in so-called "career cappers" when people make them in the design of a year the player didn't play.

    1. Shimmy-sham!! I could not have said it better myself.

  5. Interesting, I returned to blogging and reading the blogs in March as well, I had no idea you were new to the game then. I just assumed you'd been around for years!

    I might be tempted to take you up on the top loaders offer, assuming I can get my paypal account going. I haven't used it in years.

  6. 1. Yes.
    2. I wouldn't generalize so much.
    3. Yes. I hate the box breakers.
    4. I think the flagship is fine. But the OD and Christmas sets are pointless.
    5. I don't even know what you're talking about.
    6. Ditto.
    7. I'm not on eBay.
    8. Ha.
    9. I think there are good customs, like a Bostock In Memoriam that Julie sent me. But they should serve a purpose other than just being another card of that player.
    10. Yes.

  7. Bro Box Breaks and Graded Cards are probably the two here I agree with you most about. Box breaks just aren't for me, though I get why they help other people out. But baseball or not, I can't stand "bro" culture. It's doubly bad when it seeps into card collecting, one of my escapes. And to me, graded cards are the exact opposite of everything this hobby should be about.

  8. Oddballs and odd-sized cards are not my thing generally, but I do like early '50s issues and I love the 1964 Topps Giants set. 2018 Topps is the only flagship set I really like of the ones you mentioned - but that didn't stop me from completing 2016, 2017, or 2019. (I didn't even buy a pack of 2020 Topps).

    I used to love toploaders and I used so many that eventually I had to discard a thousand or so because they were weighing down my collection. Also, too many packs of them are bent now - and they cost more Booo!

    Posey is one of my favorite catchers ever. No opinion on Crawford. Ebay seems to have solved you shipping charge issue. Custom cards are awesome- if they come from a fellow collector who knows what I'm looking for. I'd rather have one of Gavin or Cokry's creations than a Project 2020 single, but that's just me.

    Graded cards are the one thing you mention that I absolutely love. I just learned that two of my hockey cards (which would sell for about $10-20 "raw") are selling for about $600 in the grades I have. I'm not in this hobby to make money, but it's one way I can pay for my girls' college tuition if need be :)

    1. Hey Chris - absolutely on the graded cards in your case. If it was the difference between a $20 and $600, of course I'm getting it graded - and if that helps me fund something more important (like college tuition), then yeah.

  9. Cards with no MLB logos that are ugly as sin. Do people really buy those things.?

  10. There are a few things I enjoy collecting that made this list... but that's what collecting is all about. If we all liked the same stuff... things would probably get a little boring or very, very challenging.

    Not sure if anyone claimed those top loaders, but if they haven't... you should list them on eBay or Craigslist. It might help you fund a nice card for your collection.

    1. Really?!? I've already packed and shipped them to someone. I will certainly accumulate more, I'm sure - and will then take your advice next time. Thanks, Fuji!

  11. i've sold three priority boxes of used top loaders and other hard cases - most with tape - for more than the price of a blaster or two in the last few months. i agree with fuji about another option for your unwanted top loaders.
    i sell on ebay and ship pwe (free shipping) for most cards. only when it is a higher value card or an oddball shape will i charge for shipping and send in a bubble mailer. i actually just tried the ebay standard envelope shipping for a single card this week. it cost me 51 cents, so less than a stamp, and i get tracking on my pwe. i think i will use it going forward.

    1. Wow, I hadn't head about the Ebay standard envelope shipping. I'll have to look into that.
      Great list by the way!

  12. I'm more curious on what drove you into an LCS on Super Bowl Sunday, and what you spent your $70 on that get you kickstarted.

    1. The LCS was on the way down to my Dad's house in San Jose, where the Super Bowl (featuring the 49ers) didn't start until late afternoon. And that was the day that I really beefed up my Seattle Pilots collection; bought a couple Giants Heritage team sets and about 75 individual Pablo Sandoval cards.


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