I used to be a major baseball card collector. I still have tens of thousands of them in the basement, but almost none of them are newer than, oh, 1990 or so. Just kind of lost the thread. Girls and stuff got more interesting for me in the late 80s. And then the companies all decided to come out with 27 different sets and special editions and things. It was just too much pressure for a guy who prided himself on being something of a completist.
It’s a totally different baseball card world now than it was 20-25 years ago, but I have a lot of friends who have continued to collect. One of them is Cee Angi, the newest contributor to The Platoon Advantage. But she, like several others I know, are poised to give it up. The reason? The Topps monopoly is leading to crappy cards:
Ever since Topps monopoly began as the “Official Card of Major League Baseball” they have really jumped the shark on card quality, creativity, but especially photo-selection and editing. One would assume that the improvement of technology would lead to a better baseball card, but they seem to be on the decline at a rapid pace.
Cee hates the 2012 set. A lot of cards have pictures taken with obstructions and — inexcusably for a company that has the official imprimatur of Major League Baseball — feature pictures taken through the screen behind home plate, with visible net.
The last time Topps let quality slide like this was in the late 70s and early 80s. It led to Fleer and Donruss getting in the game and cards becoming awesome for a good while. Let’s hope that happens again. Because the beauty of baseball cards, even in a digital age, is to bring us closer to the players and give us something that sitting in the stands and watching on TV just can’t do.
And the 2012 Topps set just doesn’t seem to be too interested in that.