Saturday, March 21, 2015

Enjoying the Hobby...One Tweet at a Time. #BlogtheHobby #Collect #TheHobby

If you follow a lot of the Hobby Bloggers on Twitter (like me @bdj610 for example), you will notice that many of us are very passionate about the Hobby we all enjoy. Opinions about collecting cards, regardless of the topic, are positively or negatively expressed 140 characters at a time.

Many times I agree with what's written, other times, not so much. Nothing wrong with opinions, both good or otherwise. It's great that there is a forum out there that everyone can share their points of view without repercussions. But sometimes, the negative statements bug me. And here's why.

I love collecting Topps cards. Always have since I first learned about them in 1987 and then after seeing some of the neighborhood kids playing with them the following year. Collecting baseball cards exposed me to the game of baseball, and I've been a fan ever since. Before the interwebs, baseball cards were the best source of information about players and the teams. And let's face it, some of the designs were fantastic too. Now I'm sure if the neighborhood kids were trading Donruss or Fleer cards that I'd have become a loyal Donruss or Fleer fan. But they collected Topps. So to me, Topps was it.

Back to my point.

So on Thursday, March 19, one of the Hobby Bloggers (I think you know where I'm going with this and who I am talking about) went on his usual rant about his problems with the Topps Company. He's done it before, always finding something to nitpick about Topps and their recent lines of baseball cards. From "added value" (or the "lack thereof") to his increased hatred of short-prints (gimmicks), to the surprises (he wants full disclosure of everything for some reason) that Topps puts out there. He just finds something to complain about.

Yet he doesn't even collect them. And has happily said so.

And I've always wondered...

"If you hate what Topps puts out to market, and say you don't even buy their new stuff, WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THIS HOBBY IN THE FIRST PLACE??!"

Now I've said it before, but no Hobby is perfect. Whether it's stamps, coins, Beanie Babies, dolls, cow figurines, or even baseball cards, there are always things people can find that are good and bad about them. I would be totally naïve to say that everything Topps is great as well. I've had my questions about what they're thinking from time to time. But I still enjoy collecting the cards. I don't let the extreme SSP's, the variations, the Lincoln sightings, the sparkle cards (this guy likes to call them twinks...and I'll get to that another time) get to me because, with some exceptions, I'm not really on the hunt for them. For me, and I think many casual collectors, finding one of these cards in a pack is a bonus and makes for a pleasant surprise (or a quick buck if I'm desperate).

However, this guy, and his defenders, continually whine and cry about Topps' latest efforts while at the same time wonder why they aren't coming up with new ideas to add to their products. It's as if nothing satisfies them, or at this point, nothing will satisfy them.

Okay, so on with the tweets. This is the one that got me involved. I could easily add their names to what they wrote. I mean none of them read my blog and I'm very sure that the main guy un-followed me because of my LOVE of the Topps Company anyway. But because I did not go out of my way to get their approval to post their tweets on this humble little blog, I am going to change their names on the tweets.

guyno1: Does anyone at @toppscards even give a "expletive" that their products are (literally) uncollectable? (Don't answer that, we know the answer)

Okay, so who's "we" kemosabe? You and your fanboys who agree with every word you type? How can a company that focuses on collectibles make products that "are (literally) uncollectable?" And what makes you think that these people don't care?

My response (and what got me involved in the conversation in the first place:

@bdj610: guyno1 @toppscards Funny, but many people believe otherwise. They're still collectable. Maybe not to you. Maybe not your game anymore.

And then I piled on:

@bdj610: guyno1 @toppscards Maybe find a new #Hobby? I hear stamps are making a comeback. Coins too. Or you could start a button collection.

guyno1 @toppscards Not the pins, but actual buttons that would be used for clothing.

guyno1 @toppscards Plus, you don't even need to have them mounted on cardboard.

That got his attention, and the attention of the people who share his views.

Here was another tweet, again started by our favorite curmudgeon:

guyno1: In a nutshell, everything collectors hate about @toppscards: RT guyno3 New post: Deep Heritage

One of his fans decided to chime in with this statement:

guyno2: guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 I would spend so much more on Topps cards if they would eliminate SPs from sets like H, GQ, Archives, TANG

Here was my response:

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 Thanks to the WWW, it's much easier to get the SP's you want/need because it's available online.

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 And who even says you need them for your set? If you don't want to collect them, don't get them.

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 and then don't whine about how and why they make them. Or be patient...

And that drew the ire of the second guy:

guyno2: @bdj610 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 that's an ignorant statement. There were no SP before the Internet.

What? Really? Card companies did not make short-printed cards before the internet? Now who made the ignorant statement? My response:

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 but can you imagine if there were way back then? And yes, there were always SP's/variations.

The main guy chimed in:

guyno1: guyno2 @bdj610 @toppscards guyno3 Ignorant statement, but not for that reason

Really? What part of my statement was ignorant? Thanks to the Internet, not only is it easier to find and even acquire these "hard-to-find" cards for your collection, but the information can be easily accessed that they even exist! What's wrong there? And if you don't want to collect them, then don't collect them. But unlike the eponymous set, SP's in products like Heritage, Gypsy Queen, Archives, and Allen & Ginter's are relatively easy to find. And the hunt for them became a lot easier again, thanks to the web. He never really gave "that reason."

@bdj610: guyno1 guyno2 @toppscards guyno3 Ignorant why? Because you refuse to accept the Hobby as it is now? Sorry you feel that way.

Second guy:

guyno2: @bdj610 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 hunting down 50-60 SPs one or two at a time is not my definition of easy either.

Who said it was ever easy? If it were that easy to get everything at once, how is it fun? I'd love to be able to do that, but I know where I stand financially and accept that it's not realistic.

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 I never said it was. But it's that thrill of finding the one or two that keeps me going.

And isn't that the point? It's the thrill of the hunt. Whether you buy tons of packs, visit stores or shops, or even scour the Bay (or COMC, or Sportlots, or Beckett, or any other place online), when you find a card or two that you need and are able to get it at the price you want, doesn't that excite you to no end (a 1992 Topps Jose Tolentino card comes to mind for me, and this was pre-Internet).

guyno2: @bdj610 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 glad it works for you. It's the reason why I and plenty others no longer spend on those products.

Okay, and here was the line that got him:

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 Then I have to ask, if you no longer spend on these products, why are you complaining about it.

If he (and others) are no longer spend on those products (and they are well within their rights to do so), why complain? What is the point? You've just stated you're not buying what they're making. So focus your energies on something else other than whining and moaning about a product you yourself just said you're not going to get.

guyno2: @bdj610 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 shame on me for wanting a more enjoyable collecting experience

So you enjoy crying about how you don't like how the Hobby has evolved? You "want" a more enjoyable collecting experience?

Time to go all-religious.

I remember hearing a story long ago, and then somehow while flipping through channels, I came through the religion-based channels block and heard Joel Osteen (my parents watch his show from time to time so I recognized the guy) start repeating the story (in his own way of course):

A guy is praying to God. "Please God, let me win the lottery."

The next day, he doesn't win.

The following day, he prays again. "Please God, let me win the lottery."

The next day, once again, he doesn't win.

A few days later, same prayer. "Dear God, please let me win the lottery."

This time, the guy gets a response from God.

"Son, meet me half-way here. BUY A TICKET!!!"

See, the guy just wanted to win, but he didn't make an effort to do so. If he had done so by going to his nearby lottery agent, and bought a ticket, then at least he had a shot. But he didn't. So praying to the high heavens wasn't going to work.

My point?

If this guy wants "a more enjoyable collecting experience," he's going to have to find it.

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 Wanting and Finding a more enjoyable collecting experience are two different things.

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 You can "want" all you want, but what's the point if you don't go out there and find it?

Make an effort. If something isn't to your satisfaction, wouldn't it be better to find another solution than to complain about how what's in front of you isn't good enough? This can be applied in lots of situations, not just the Hobby (please use discretion because this solution doesn't work in EVERY SITUATION).

And no I'm not saying that finding something else is easy. It never is. But if you really want to find enjoyment in this Hobby, you have to go out there and find what actually makes you happy.

guyno1: guyno2 Geez, I wish I had the unlimited bankroll and patience @bdj610 seems to have.

‏@bdj610: guyno1 guyno2 Patience I have. Bankroll, not so much. That's why I have to maintain patience. Otherwise...reality sucks.

That should be self explanatory. I have patience, to a point. I try to practice this when it comes to whittling down my want lists. But sometimes, when it's there in front of me, I have this fear that I might not find something better and then when I come back, the card I want is gone. So my wallet has taken heavy hits from time to time. I wish I had the money to buy everything I wanted, but I know where I stand. Should I buy the cards in front of me that I might not see again for a very long time? Or should I go to the grocery store and stock up for the week? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

@bdj610: guyno1 guyno2 You need to have patience. When you find yourself stressed about this or any Hobby, it's time to find a new one.

The word Hobby is defined as: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.

When the Hobby stresses you out, and you no longer feel relaxed, then why continue it? This goes back to finding another Hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be a release, a distraction, something to take your mind of the struggles of the real world and bring you back to a place that made you feel that all was right with the world.

And if this one isn't doing right by you, then find something else that will. The Hobby of card collecting has so many other avenues to take, so when you find that one road hasn't been good to you, there is another to explore. Try again.

guyno2: @bdj610 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 again though as long as it works for you that's really all that matters right?

guyno2: @bdj610 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 THE HOBBY: Love it or leave it (expletive)!!!!! Great advice.

I don't know. Maybe both of these guys should leave the Hobby. They sure aren't positive influences in it. And again, for every one person who leaves, another one might come in for the first time looking forward to what may be one of the greatest things he or she has ever come across and becomes a collector for life. Who knows.

I mentioned patience earlier. A while back, the main antagonist of the story went to a card show and found some 2010 Topps legends SP's in a bargain box. He took a picture of them (2010 Topps SP's of Dizzy Dean and Honus Wagner...both I have by the way), and said something to the effects of "Fifty cent gimcracks. Explain how these "add value" again?"

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 ...I'll give guyno1 props for...

@bdj610: guyno2 guyno1 @toppscards guyno3 getting those SP's from 2010 at 2015 prices (which was a lot cheaper compared to) when I was getting them.

Well, they were added value...back in 2010. And you're buying them now, six card-years later, so yeah, the "added vaue" is gone. But you have them now for your collection. Be happy. Not cynical. They added value when the demand was high for them. Now? Probably not as the people who wanted them already have them. (I'm still looking for some by the way. Please see the sidebar).

After this exchange, all went silent. Both men probably had to go back to work and was spending their lunch breaks on the twitterverse. I did, however, make a new friend on Twitter.

@Icampintense: @bdj610 wow. Straight roasting people in that little post about Topps. Very nice!

‏@bdj610: @Icampintense Thank you. guyno1's act of (mild expletive) about Topps and the state of the Hobby here on Twitter is getting as old as my love of it.

@Icampintense: @bdj610 I've had that dude muted for well over a year. Can't stand him honestly. I prob spend too much time defending Topps.

@bdj610: @Icampintense I do too, but I love pushing his buttons, especially when he goes on his rants. Probably why he un-followed me.

Yeah, so I am a bit of a trouble-maker, aren't I??!

And finally, the poor guy that got caught in the crossfire because his blog post was linked by our friendly neighborhood grump, chimed in:

guyno3: @bdj610 guyno2 guyno1 The point of this is that SPs featuring franchise players is a cheap ploy to make people buy more.

Congratulations. You win the prize for finally figuring out why Topps has been doing this in the first place!!!

@bdj610: guyno3 guyno2 guyno1 If you're actively looking for them, then of course you'll be spending the money.

@bdj610: guyno3 guyno2 guyno1 But for those who are not actively looking out for these, then getting one is a bonus and exciting.

Of course, Topps would create short-printed variation cards of Clayton Kershaw, David Ortiz, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, etc. Because they know collectors will want them for their collections, no matter what, even if they wind up whining all the way to their goals. Do you think collectors (with the possible exception of team collectors) would show the same clamor around SP'd cards of the mop-up reliever or third-string catcher? Not so much.

guyno3: @bdj610 guyno2 guyno1 ...saying "don't want, don't get" is just silly. SPs are fine if they're EXTRA, but not when they should be base

Which brings me back to my point about the Internet, and the easier access to these cards online.

@bdj610: guyno3 guyno2 guyno1 I'll give you that for the non-eponymous items...but even in those sets, the SP's aren't that hard to find.

Let's face it. The idea of the proliferation of short-printed cards would not work in a pre-internet age. Because the options of notifying people about having or wanting them would be limited to Hobby Magazines and classified ads. It would be an even more frustrating endeavor. But we are now 16 years into the 21st century. We have the technology and the information at our fingertips. Make use of them.

Make an effort to find happiness within this Hobby. It's out there. You have to go out there and look. Believe me, it's a lot more fun to find what makes you happy than it is to sit down and mope about the things that don't.


JayBee Anama


night owl said...

I certainly don't defend everything Topps does these days, but I agree, if you've stopped playing the game, then why are you still talking about it?

It's the old saying: the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. There is no indifference in protesting Topps every moment. Therefore, Topps knows that these critics still care about them.

The Junior Junkie said...

Everybody gets a voice: simultaneously the best and worst quality of Twitter. Topps Troll and his cardboard cronies need to find something else to troll about.

Well played.

Tony L. said...

I know who you mean on there. It's nonstop complaining. Fact is, though, to go all religious for a moment, there's a reason that God gave us free will. We have the right to choose what we do and don't do on a regular basis. Some things, of course, we have to do (breathing, say), but our hobbies are what we choose.

Simply, if you don't like something, don't collect it. Some folks aren't happy unless they are trolls. It can be fun to feed the trolls from time to time, but most of the time, it's like arguing with a 5-year-old. In the end, the best response often is, "because I said so."