Why I Collect Cards?

**WARNING: This post was written at 4:30 in the morning, under the influence of too much coffee, and a wandering mind. It is long, and probably doesn’t make sense. I am posting it anyway. **

The short answer is “I don’t know”. The long answer is something far more complicated than that, and I’m hoping that writing about it will maybe help me figure it out. Prepare to take a trip to the center of my mind. I know, I was shocked when I saw how long this post was too. You’d think it’d be a shorter journey.

Despite the fact that I just had a blast at the 2010 National Sports Collectors Conference, I am once again struggling with the existential reasoning behind why I collect. It’s something I try to not think about whenever possible, but impulsively spending large amounts of cash (to me) on only a handful of cards, tends to make ones mind wander a bit.

There is one thing I do know for sure, and it’s that after 3 years back in the hobby, I have become jaded. My hunger for cards has become insatiable, literally. 3 years ago, any Orioles card made me happy, but now, after having amassed a monstrous collection, I am no longer amused or entertained by the simple things. I have become a spoiled little brat, who expects every card to be of a superstar player, autographed, with a jumbo patch and numbered to less than 25. That might be because I have a very large, and very unorganized collection, which means I don’t even know what I have, but I definitely know what I don’t have. As a result, my collection has gotten the better of me, and my house. There are cards everywhere, and I wonder if my lack of collective focus is the current thorn in my side. Do I really need to collect ALL Orioles cards, or player collect like 15 different O’s? Do I really have to try to build all these crazy insert sets that I’ll most likely never finish? Should there really be 16 boxes of base cards on the shelf in the computer room? I’m starting to think the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “No, you jackass!”

I think this means that along with developing an organizational plan,ย  I’m going to have to give up some cards as well. Is there anyone out there who would be interested in some Orioles hand me down GU/auto cards? From now on, I’m only collecting the O’s Hall of Fame guys, Nick Markakis, and Adam Jones. Oh, wait… and maybe some prospects. I have a lot of Hobgood autos, and I am working on that Michael Flacco ’09 Bowman rainbow. What about Matusz & Arrieta, I have to collect one of them too right? At least one? You’d figure the O’s suck so bad that this should be an easy decision, right? Wrong. No more “guys with beards” collection either. Thanks to the 1970’s, that collection could go on and on. Oh, crap, I forgot about the vintage team sets binder. Yeah, I’m going to keep that project going too. That should still give me enough to hunt for, so my A.D.D. self doesn’t get bored.

Did you hear that traders of the blogosphere! I am no longer your crappy O’s cards dumping ground! No more Miguel Tejada relics or Daniel Cabrera autos. No more packages of 80’s Orioles base cards. You’re going to have to find some other O’s fan to dump them on. It shouldn’t be too hard, there are at least 6 of us who run blogs.

It’s ridiculous that I could have possibly collected anything more than that. Without limits, it’s no wonder I’m left searching for the answers to existential questions that can’t possibly be answered.

Um… I collect Baltimore Ravens too… right? And some old Colts? Crap. We’ll save that one for another day. The Ravens collection isn’t out of hand just yet, but if anyone wants to start a Dwayne Bowe collection, please contact me. I have the perfect starter set for you, including a bunch of hits.

Base cards? I know this one is going to be a long shot, but anyone out there interested in building a set, and looking for a starter? Pretty much most anything baseball from 2006-2009 I have in spades. There’s a TON (like 1000) 2010 Ginter doubles around here too, if anyone wants to send me a want list or two.

The other thing that’s been getting me down lately is busting wax. The ends just don’t justify the means most of the time, and after seeing how many awesome singles I could buy for the price of a ONE high-end box/pack of cards, I’m thinking that buying and selling individual cards may be how I attack the hobby from now on. It’s going to be tough, cause there’s almost nothing I enjoy more than ripping packs, but at the rate I’ve been going, I’ll need to rent a storage space just to hold my collection of Eric Chavez and Sammy Sosa relics, not to mention all those base cards from sets I am never going to build.

We all know that last one is not going to happen. If you wanted to bet me that there’s probably a box of cards already on a UPS truck somewhere, on its way to Baltimore, I would owe you some money.

Ok, so after all of that, I’m still not sure why I collect cards, but at least I have an idea of how not let the thought drive me crazy from time to time. I think as collectors, we’re all trying to fill a hole, or scratch an itch of some sort, and I think the experience is a unique one for all of us. You can spend as much or as little money as you want on it, and there are no limits. We are free to collect whoever, and whatever we want. That’s something you certainly can’t say about everything in life.

-b

7 responses to “Why I Collect Cards?

  1. Man, I had a similar feeling after I dropped $55 between my only Seneca 1/1 and a Seneca 6/10 relic/auto. Still the most I’ve spent on cards in a single day, but I’m on a teeny tiny grad school budget and so it still feels like a lot.

    It’s hard to narrow down collections, but it definitely happens a lot. My great names, like your bearded dudes, left as an official collection – like you said, there are just too many! And I cut down some of my players too – there are just too many cards of too many guys to have the master set of every guy you’d like without winning the lottery or something. Especially in these days of 1/1, /5, /10…it’s so easy to spend a ton of money on a guy like Jose Lopez…and at those times I seriously question my hobbying too.

    So good luck getting your focus…it’s hard for sure, but I guess all you can do is get a little closer everyday. I constantly question my Albert Belle collection even now, as well as my 1996 FMU set collection goal. But then I see a card of Belle’s that I like, or the Sammy Sosa 96 FMU pink bubble card that I don’t have yet, and I keep them around. It’s a crazy hobby we partake in for sure.

  2. Once you figure out exactly where you’re headed, please let me know. I’d love to work on a trade to help you with some of you 2010 A&G extras (my wantlist is simple – I have nothing yet so I need it all). I also need a fair bit from 2009 Topps and 2010 Topps Series One as well if you have some extras, I can pass along my lists.

  3. Dude you seen what I did..

    I now have this huge freaking curio cabinet in my office, and Im now more disorganized than ever..

    I feel you dude.

  4. I think we all go though this….. Yesrteday i was thinking of putting up all my non pc hits up on Ebay to try and make some money back….I know it won’t happen just yet but i think one day it will. I’ve dropped some major coin the last two year since i’ve been back collecting and if the wife knew how much i’ll be out the door for sure dude. Plus the fact it takes over your house is no lie either….. I too have been jaded which sucks, but we could always open up an ebay store together..lol oh i forgot i’ll send you my list for 2010 A&G plus send me a list of your Bowe cards…..Too fucking funny ….

  5. Play at the Plate

    For a coffee fueled, early morning, nonsensical post (your words, sort of), this one really hit home with me. I’ve felt those things and the complicatedness(?) of knowing ALL the cards you need to be a team collector, not to mention the organization it takes, is mind-numbing. I think I need to copy and paste this post, replacing all the “Orioles” with “Rangers”.

  6. I’m only now getting back into the hobby after not really caring once I stopped playing baseball in high school. It’s not easy now, however, to go pick up a few hobby packs or whatever. I’m a college student so I primarily have to go vintage or whatever shitty singles eBay doesn’t want. The fact there is nary a box under a hundred dollars that isn’t total shit makes me incredibly sad and most of the reason this year has been so bad has been for an unproven pitcher on a pretty shitty team.

    I miss the early 2000s… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  7. If you want an existential collection crisis, try getting yourself unemployed! When I got the radiology bill for my severely sprained (but thankfully not broken) ankle, I immediately ran to my record collection and pulled out another 50 records to sell on top of my 150 I’m already planning to sell. Fare thee well, Minor Threat 2nd single rainbow…

    But even without financial duress, it seems like you’ve landed the same place as me. Cards, records, shoes… whatever they are they’re just things. They can be replaced… if you even miss them once they’re gone. Definitely keep us all posted on your card-purging journey!
    -Andy

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