June 28, 2013

What Ben's Thinking About

It's no secret: my interest in collecting sports cards waxes and wanes like the cycles of the moon. But there are certain things about the hobby that pique my interest. Here they are for the week of June 29, 2013. 

1. I just inherited a baseball that my grandfather caught at a Washington Senators game back in 1960, and it got me thinking...Has there ever been a foul ball set? As in, a checklist of relic cards composed entirely of pieces of game-caught foul and home run balls? It could be a fairly interesting set, especially if some of the pieces are historic.

2. The "Umpire Archives" set is one step further to reality — I've created a 100-card checklist consisting of notable major league baseball umpires and NBA, NFL, and NHL referees. Plus a few subsets, including "Ejection Heroes" like Earl Weaver, Bobby Cox, and Rasheed Wallace.

3. It's too bad there hasn't been an all-time team concept set for professional basketball. I'm thinking a 400-or-so card set featuring the 12 best players on each NBA team and 40 players from the ABA. One caveat: Players can only be represented on one team, which would be especially interesting for players who excelled on multiple teams. So Garnett would be on the T-Wolves, Julius Erving on the ABA's NY Nets, and LeBron James probably on the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he was their whole team for seven seasons.

4. I'd like to see other major league baseball teams follow the Chicago Cubs and do team-specific Topps Archives sets as game giveaways.

5. Just wondering if there are any card-collecting nerds out there in the world of professional sports. Every so often you hear about one, be it Pat Neshek of the Minnesota Twins or retired slugger Dmitri Young. Today's young rookies would've been 8 years old anywhere between 1998 and 2002...Were those good years for collecting? My interest hadn't been rekindled at that point. But what I mean is, if those weren't good years for collecting, it would follow that younger players with disposable income wouldn't have as great a nostalgia for baseball cards, but for things like Playstation 2 or something like that instead.

6. I'd love for Topps to put out a "golden ticket" sweepstakes for a trip to the Topps factory. I'm thinking a guided tour, a special set of cards, or a whole sheet of cards or something. As marketing for the sweepstakes, they could do a series of short Web videos where crazy things happen at the Topps factory. I'd watch it, and probably make it past the second episode, which is more than I can say for the weird misguided Sklar brothers Webisodes of "Back on Topps."

7. I have a sneaking suspicion that as long as they have an exclusive license for Major League Baseball, we won't see truly original work from Topps. Oh sure, there will be retro sets like Heritage, Archives, Gypsy Queen, and Allen & Ginter, and sets aimed at all strata and price points. But how about a flagship design that doesn't have a white border? I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. But those one-offs, those weird-o sets that maybe didn't have an obvious demographic (Topps Kids, I'm thinking of you), those were sets that were allowed to push the envelope. If MLB is going to be an exclusively licensed property, at least make the sets worthwhile. 

8. What if Topps did a Jell-O set? Or a cereal-box set? Or tie bags of M&M's into it somehow? I want to see baseball cards push their way into mainstream consumerism again.

9. Am I the only one waiting for a Shorin family member to write a tell-all about the Topps sale back in 2007?

10. Idea for a coffee-table photography book: sports players' outrageous and sublime tattoos.

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