I had a few ideas when I first thought of regularly writing about cards. Initially, it was just going to be about the possibility of pulling a ‘perfect’ pack, with perfection based on a cumulative rating of the cards in the pack (and the individual card ratings based on a number of factors. A consistent superstar (like George Brett or Rickey Henderson but not Dave Stewart or Bobby Thigpen) would get a 5, a special card like ‘Doctor K meets Super K’ (Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens, 1987 Fleer #640) rated 4 out of 4 possible rating points because the players were good if not great, etc., with negative points going to cards of players on crap teams or who were just plain crap (though I have been thinking of writing about players who only had one baseball card).
I bought a box of 1987 Topps and started assessing each pack. It was going okay, but I then sort of decided I was missing the point about cards…well, not exactly missing the point, but taking a potentially fantastic subject and reducing it to dry statistics. Which is interesting, because one of the greatest deciding factors for Topps numbering is a player’s statistics, but that’s another thought for another time.
So I took a step back, consulted friends, and decided to come back to this idea of writing about cards—this time focusing not just on a Bill James-esque system of rating, with a focus on something I would have to explain away just for it to make sense to anyone other than me, but a focus on the things that made card collecting enjoyable to me as a kid, and still have a way of sucking me back in every once in a while (like now).
Sure, there’s still a place for statistics, and I’m developing an appreciation essay on the genius of the Topps numbering system and why they really didn’t have to abandon it (though it was systematically unfair when it came to rewarding sluggers over dominant pitchers), but mostly I want to focus on the little things and the long stories about favorite cards and players, those cards that had a way of sticking in my head and those that were utterly forgettable.