I was doing some pondering earlier. I took at look at my participation in this hobby from the most basic question. Why? Why do I collect cards. Printed cardboard that probably cost less than a penny to produce. Well, just the printing. I am sure that one could debate to actual cost of the card, what with labor, overhead etc. But I digress. Why do we love to collect cards. We can even extend the question even further. Not just, "why do I collect baseball cards", but "why do I LOVE the hobby so much"?
Taking all of the knowledge and emotion away from the hobby that I have built up over the years and attempt to take a fresh look at my involvement is pretty interesting, and refreshing. What is a baseball card? why collect this instead of Bats, Baseballs, Photos, Jerseys, Tickets, Game Programs, anything else that could be considered more apart of the game of baseball?
For one, availability.
Getting a pack of cards is much easier to obtain than all of the previously mentioned items. I haven't gone to a lot of games but I have been to a fair amount, and I have already given up all hope of ever getting a foul ball. In addition, the last time a player gave me a bat was, well um still waiting on that one actually. Other than game used items, I personally don't see any collector "value" to bats or balls purchased at the stadium.
Another is Price.
Sure, I will spend a lot of money on cards. Heck, I have already spent a lot of money on cards. But the cost of autographed baseballs, game-used items, and other baseball memorabilia make these items seem pretty much unobtainable to me to collect seriously. A certified autographed baseball averages about a hundred bucks, that buys a decent hobby box of cards.
Storage and display.
Recently I recieved a really cool package from a great individual. in it, among other things, was a Signed Bobblehead, a Signed Baseball, and a Signed hat. I still have these items in the box they arrived in. Why? Because I can't find the money to buy the proper display case. The Ball/Cap display is 60-80 dollars and the bobblehead display was 50. The items are "priceless" but still, that is insane. I can't find that kind of money laying around for a case that will just hold the things.
These reasons though, all are reasons to settle on cards, but why do we LOVE the hobby so much.
Here is are a few reasons I tried to put together of why I LOVE the hobby (no particular order).
1. Breaking packs.
Not sure why, but I love ripping into a pack of cards. You don't know what you are going to get. Will you pull and auto? A relic? A player from your favorite team? Your favorite player? I love the initial opening of the packs and seeing the new cards for the first time. It really is addicting.
2. Extension of the game
I can't afford to go to a baseball game all the time. I can't even afford to watch my team play televised. I live in Los Angeles and my team plays in Phoenix. MLB.TV is a hundred dollars or more, and if I want to see them at the ball park I have to go to Dodger stadium. While there I either have to suppress my cheers and groans or watch my back (thank goodness I am not a Giants fan, that really could get messy. No offense Dodger fans. Really). I do enjoy Angel games but time is a factor, although I do hope to get to more this year. Anyway, I can lose myself into baseball on my terms through the hobby. Not to mention the thrilling new sub-hobby I have been participating in, TTM. That aspect of the hobby makes the players seem so reachable. It is amazing. Sure you can send a ball TTM, but the cost and hassle compared to sending a card makes it not worth the effort, to me.
3. Set building
I think this is the same with any hobby, but I can have set goals and really see them come true. Whether it be collection the complete set of an 80's topps set (755 cards), or the Propaganda cards (30 cards). I can collect and have a final completion that is measurable and rewarding.
This is a cheap one. I know that it pretty much requires an emotional component to have this as a reason, and I tried to sell this as a non-emotional, basic evaluation. This one though, has to be here. I think almost all of us started this hobby as kids and for one reason or another left and returned. Part of the reason for collecting is nostalgia and familiarity. Not a big reason, but no denying that is there.
5. I really have NO idea.
Even after all of this analysis, I come back to: I have no clue. There is a huge part of the draw to this hobby that is intangible. It actually makes my head hurts just trying to pin it down. I do have to say that the Blogs and this community has multiplied my love for the hobby immensely. Being able to share it with others really brings a element to the hobby that really has been missing since the childhood days.
Sorry for the long incoherent and image less post. Just thought I would throw this out there, I would love to hear others that could express their thoughts as to why we love to collect baseball cards. I know the people that actually have the skill of writing could capture and express it far better than I can