Saturday, May 10, 2014

John Killed It! (or, "The Law of Unintended Consequences")

One thing that can bring the joy of card blogging to a grinding halt for me is a misplaced sense of obligation to stay on the paths that I've established. Take Top of the Topps, for example. I really enjoyed the concept that of that blog. I still dig it, and I have every intention of picking it back up someday when the muse strikes. But I had established such narrow parameters for what I could do on that blog that I eventually had to create this one in order to branch out in other directions.

Inevitably, though, I've managed to dig a few grooves in this path that have made it difficult at times to enjoy a little offroading. If I come to this blog thing on a given day and think I need to post about this or that, it turns me off to the whole process. This isn't about obligation. There's enough of that in life, already. It's what I'm looking to escape from with this hobby.

That's why I'm grateful to John of Johnny's Trading Spot. He destroyed one of my mini-collections.

1991 Bowman Omar Vizquel SEA #245
1991 Bowman Joe Mesa BAL #91

This is a good thing. A very good thing. Mini-collections are a lot of fun. In fact, I have a few that I've been keeping under wraps that I'll be going public with sometime later this year. And I'm still very excited about Getting a Grip. I think that particular mini-collection is one of the defining features of this blog, and of my enjoyment of it.

But mini-collections can also be onerous, especially the way I deal with them. My collection is sorted alphabetically, by the player's last name (with multi-player cards kept together by year/set). No exceptions. So my mini-collections are virtual. Those pages linked over there on the sidebar are my mini-collections. Those scans are the only place that I'm going to see the cards together in one place. Which, of course, means a lot of scanning and cropping. And with my OCD issues, I'm overly fastidious about my card scans, spending way too much time making sure things are straight and the contrast looks good.

1991 Bowman Todd Van Poppel OAK #218
1991 Bowman Jack McDowell CHW #352

Based on John's performance at spotting even the most subtle of turtlenecks, not to mention his ability to interpret shadows, and his impressively disciplined blog posting schedule, I would venture to guess he's one who can relate to this kind of overactive eye for detail.

And nothing can be more frustrating for someone with these particular character traits than a mini-collection with parameters that are impossible to define. The card that planted the seed for this collection was the '98 Donruss Joe Carter to be found at the top of the Turtleneck Collection page. (The link on the sidebar will disappear in a few days.) Carter's Turtleneck is blatant. It's almost hypnotic. Then when I saw what Luis Gonzalez was wearing on his 1991 Topps Traded card, I thought it would be cool to collect similar cards.

1991 Bowman Ben McDonald BAL #86
1991 Bowman Curt Schilling HOU #560

What I didn't realize was that, depending upon where you draw the line, there are about a gazillion cards out there that could go into this collection. John has sent about a half-a-gazillion of them to me over the past few months. And in the process he's shown me that, due to the law of unintended consequences, this one was a bad idea. I'm glad to have the cards. I'm always glad to have any card. But the Turtleneck Collection is dead. John killed it like a skilled assassin. Nice shootin', John!

1994 Bowman's Best Mo Vaughn BOS #80

But, lest ye be tempted to view the man as a destructive force, let the record show that John also managed to give birth to a large segment of another of my mini-collections. That's because he can spot a 42 as easily as he can a turtleneck. I'm not going to expand the 42 Collection to include everyone who's ever worn the number, but John did prompt me to add the Grandfathers Gallery, featuring more cards of the thirteen players who were allowed to keep wearing 42 after it had been retired to honor Jackie Robinson. Two guys who go by Mo get the most exposure here, including the Great Rivera.

1992 Upper Deck Minors Jared Baker High Desert Mavericks #22

John hasn't ignored the Big Kahuna of mini-collections, either, which will be even more evident when I post about his latest trade package. (No, this isn't the most recent stuff from the man. I told you he's relentless!)

1994 Upper Deck Albert Belle CLE #131

John is so good at spotting stuff that this deceptively jovial Albert Belle is the second hit that he's sent me for a mini-collection that I haven't even announced yet!

2000 Fleer Skybox Tony Armas, Jr. MON #224
2000 Fleer Focus Vinny Castilla TBD #211
1999 Upper Deck Sandy Alomar, Jr. Foreign Focus CLE #244
1998 Upper Deck Special F/X Tony Clark DET #55

The best thing about getting cards from the Trading Spot, though, is the fact that John has a free-flowing supply of cardboard from my collecting dead period (from about 1997-2006). These may have been intended for the Turtleneck Collection (see how subtle and subjective it can get?), but I love getting 'em no matter the reason that he sent 'em.

1997 Fleer Moises Alou FLA #647
1997 Fleer Ryne Sandberg Team Checklist CHC #725
1997 Fleer Ryne Sandberg Encore CHC #716

I'm particularly excited to receive '97 Fleer cards. I was a big fan of their first matte finish set from the previous year, of which I have a good amount. But I think I may like the '97 version even better, and I have virtually none of these yet.

2000 Fleer Greats of the Game Clete Boyer NYY #88
2001 Topps Archives 1963 Topps 1962 World Series Game #1: Yanks' Ford Wins Series Opener #221
1979 Topps Burger King Yankees Ed Figueroa NYY #11
1995 Upper Deck SP Championship Wade Boggs NYY #172
1998 Fleer Tradition Homer Bush NYY #219

Probably the most interesting and unexpected thing that I've received from John lately (before his most recent package, that is) was an envelope filled with Yankees. I'm a Dodgers guy, but having lived in NYC for the heart of the Jeter-led Yankee dynasty, not to mention being one to appreciate the history of the game, I dig Yankee cards. Except in cases where I've requested them, nobody has sent me a gaggle of Yankee cards out of the blue. No one except John, a true force of nature in the blogging community. Thanks, again, John. And again, and again, and again... (The man is relentless!)


  1. Jose Mesa looks like he's glad the MLB wasn't testing for weed in 1991.

  2. I often wondered how people stored their mini collections. Virtual collection who would have thought . 30 years ago it never would have happened

    1. I'm not sure who else, if anyone, does it this way. I'm just so... let's put it nicely this time... detail oriented that I need to know where every card is (eventually... when I get them all sorted... it's gonna happen!!!).