Thanks to Dave at Fielder's Choice for putting on the Blog Bat Around this time. I wish I had more time to work on this, but things have become very busy lately.
When I looked forward into to 2008 last january, I was really excited. I knew that there were a bunch of awesome things on the horizon, and I thought that the year would be one for the record books. Then, as things started to materialize, it became painfully apparent how bad 2008 was going to be.
For some out there, set collecting is the end all and be all of cards. Those people, who are mostly baseball collectors, do everything they can to complete the base sets of the annual products they love. They love the hits when they get them, but mostly its about collecting their favorite sets to completion.
Ill tell you, I used to think these people were the dumbest people on the planet. And although I still think that buying retail is about as smart as buying a used car from UNCLE CLEO'S HOUSE OF LEMONS, I have come to understand that buying baseball mid and high end is about as pointless and stupid, unless DLP's name is on the box. The reason I say this is because there just arent many current players that are worth the price of admission, even on a mid end product. After that epiphany and realization, I stopped hatin' and started seeing baseball products in a different light. The problem is, even with this mentality in most of the sets, it doesnt excuse sets like Moments and Milestones, UD X, and Documentary.
So, if I were the one to plan out a 2009 card calendar, I would definitely put those three on the cutting room floor, and add more sets that are geared towards offering good hits at lower prices, as well as a good base set. SP Authentic can usually accomplish the feat in question, but the problem is that the price is usually too high to attract people who collect. Plus, if you look at the price range where SPA should be, the market is usually ruled by chrome, a set that focuses mostly on prospecting.
On the other end of things, DLP has done an amazing job (as usual) with their entry into the high end and mid end baseball product market. The issue that most people are coming to be familiar with, is that without limitations from the MLBPA, products like Prime Cuts can focus on the meat and leave the crap by the side of the road with their trash. They understood that Baseball cards is about two things - rookies and history - and made a few sets out of it. They flourished, and we all had some of the best products in years. In all honesty, I barely missed the team names and logos, and I for sure did not miss the abundance of Chin Lung Hu cards.
When it comes Topps high end baseball products, they have seemingly missed the boat so many times, that I have come close to swearing off their sets all together many times. Basically, anything with "Sterling" after it needs to be killed in a very painful fashion, as they dont seem to get that foldouts and diecut jersey windows do not make products worth while.
In terms of football, my specialty, its a completely different market. People dont collect for the sets because there are quite a few current players that carry a high price tag. They also dont have as awful of a limitation to deal with, due to the fact that RCs carry many of those high tags. This leads the products to head more towards the middle end and high end, while the low end products that flourish in baseball, usually flounder.
Based on this paradigm, 2008 was an okay year, if not only because Matty Ice and Joe Flacco had some of the greatest years in rookie history. As for the the designs, they were less than par on a few sets that I love, but vastly improved on some sets that were just okay the year before. Granted, we havent seen the blockbusters yet, but they cannot revive the year all by themselves.
In 2009, I would love to see Prime Cuts make the crossover and products like Topps Sterling, Topps Lettermen and Bowman Sterling get the big bloody axe. Those three products have and will be some of the worst in recent memory and I sincerely hope that Topps doesnt think that poor designs around awful looking foil stickers are going to fly round heeyah.
Hopefully, 2009 gives us something to keep us interested, as it is quickly becoming a chore rather than a joy to collect all the gimmicky junk that keeps coming out.