Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Only Trade Post To Highlight Juan Berenguer? Probably.

Have you ever picked up a card in a trade that you swear you already had? In that mental card file that we all keep of our cards that particular card is firmly planted in there.  I don’t know if it’s because it seems like every card is posted on the internet or if it’s residual images of flipping through millions of cards in dime boxes, but I could have swore I had this card:

That’s a 1990 Juan Berenguer Topps #709.  Sexy ain’t it?

Yet there it was on my want list.  “Was” being the operative word thanks to Scott over at Hand Collated. He  recently sent me some 2009 Heritage and 1983 Topps sandwiched between a stack of 90 Topps.  Yes, it’s sad that I’ve spent the last 22 years trying to finish one of the most overproduced sets in the history of card collecting, but hey, what can I say, my attention wanders from time to time.

The point is, if you had put a gun to my head and asked me if I owned this card, I would have said “yes” without hesitating.  Did I mistype a number when inputting the data? After all, I’m not the most diligent typist in the world (especially if Star Wars is playing in the background). Perhaps there a box of 90 Topps lost in the vast wasteland that is my closet that I haven’t entered into my collection yet?

Who knows, maybe it’s an iconic image of Juan Berenguer. Can a middling player such as Berenguer have an “iconic” image?  Heck, “Senor Smorke” was in the big leagues for 15 years, there is a good chance that one of his other cards has a similar photo on it.

The more I think about it (cause I never fully think anything out before I start writing - welcome to my stream of conscious) the more I lean towards blaming the internet (or Canada, or Obama, nope, it’s Ted Nugent’s fault).  Whether it’s from people ripping packs, “Card of the Week” posts, Checkoutmycards, eBay or zistle, the Internet is flooded with card images.

For the most part that is a good thing.  When I don’t want to collect a particular set like Gypsy Queen or Allen & Ginter it allows me to see what the cards look like, almost like a virtual card break.  I can see the goodies the sets have to offer without having to make a financial investment.

Verifying cards is also easier now with the Internet around.  I have stacks of oddball cards laying about that aren’t cataloged.  Back in the old days (when telephones had wires and I was my dad’s remote control) finding out what set a card belonged to meant paging through the Beckett Catalog and hopefully getting a match, or going to a card shop where hopefully the dealer had seen something like it before.

Now, we can just pop in a couple of bits of information and see if Google Images has a match. Then click on the link and chances are someone has written a post about the set.  Imagine trying to figure out what the short prints and variations of 2012 Heritage without the help of the Internet!

At the same time some of the fun is lost.  Part of the fun of ripping wax is the surprise of seeing a cool card for the first time.  Would I have enjoyed the 1992 Topps Cal Ripken, Jr. as much had I seen it on four different websites before I pulled it in a pack?  Probably not, since the surprise factor would have been lost.

Think of this as an observation of how the hobby has changed over the last 20 years, not as a criticism of box breaks or pack reviews.  Those posts are pretty much the lifeblood of what we write as a community.  If we couldn’t post pictures of the cards we own, what would we post?

It’s nice to know that the mental card catalog in my head is a little closer to matching the actual card catalog that I have stored away.  Scott, thanks for the cards!

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