The New Shiny

By: William Earl Robinson Jr.

So have you ever had a moment when you were so enamored with something new that you just had to have it? Whether it was that new girl who just moved in down the street, or the new Iphone, or the newest version of madden; Then about a week after you got the new thing you had to have the next new thing and so you got bored with that other thing and moved on to the next new thing? Of course you have! It’s just human nature, and it’s something that the baseball card industry has mastered since the late 90’s. It’s a phenomenon that I like to call, “The New Shiny!”

Kris Bryant: The newest star in the baseball card world.

Kris Bryant: The newest star in the baseball card world.

I myself have fallen prey to this many times since I started collecting baseball cards again nearly four years ago. The typical story is this: I see the release schedule for new ball cards and I tell myself that I’m going to be strong. I tell myself, “Hey man you only really collect Topps Chrome and Heritage you really don’t need to be spending money on this other stuff.” However, I go online and I see all the people posting their hits from new releases and my defenses weaken, “Well it wouldn’t hurt if I just bought a retail box, or maybe I’ll just get into a break. That way I can just get the players from my favorite team.” Then I start looking for breaks, and I start going on EBay and I see the newest best stars and suddenly I start to feel the urge to buy more than a break or a few packs. Suddenly I go out and buy a hobby box, and then a month later the trend starts again.

If only it stopped there then that wouldn’t be such a big deal, however, the problem continues… It also applies to players too. Oh my goodness I wish that I could tell you that I just collected a few players. Nope that’s not the case, I have binders upon binders of cards of players that I have had a passing fancy to, or just players that I know are hall of famers or pre hall of famers. It’s not even that! I’ll be watching highlights of a baseball game and be like, “Dude that guy is awesome! Do I have an autograph of him? Nope, well dang! I’ve got to go get one!” So then I go and get on EBay and go buy one. Call it an impulse buy but I prefer to call it another strike of the New Shiny!

So now here I am with this massive sprawling collection of cards, and when someone asks me who I PC I literally have to write an essay to tell them who I’ll trade for. Frankly it’s maddening, but the baseball card industry has figured something out about the addiction that is baseball card collecting, it makes all of us poor schmoes very prone to the New Shiny problem.

I see it every month. I’m not alone. The new baseball card set comes out and suddenly everyone sees the New Shiny, so they flock to the shops and buy pack after pack of the New Shiny, they flock onto Ebay and buy up all the new stuff off there too, and they go onto breakers and fill up all the breaks for that new product as well. Then about a month later literally you can’t give the cards away. The whole market has a terribly short attention span and that’s ridiculous and it honestly is an unsustainable habit. What it leaves all of us with is a sprawling collection of stuff that is difficult to unload. It also leaves us all wondering where the good money is spent in this hobby. While that’s good for the card companies it’s bad for the consumers because ultimately it’s a buy high and sell low market for the most part which is really bad.

So what is there to do about this? It’s not very likely that the card companies are going to change their habits. I mean what’s the onus on them to do so? It’s not like the cards aren’t being bought. So they continue to make money while all the rest of us lose money and ultimately are unhappy customers. I mean all the collectors state that there are just too many sets being made each year. We all clamor for a day when there were only 5-6 sets a year made and ultimately I think that’s what would be best for the industry. However, we all like dopes continue to buy up because whether we like to admit it or not to some extent we all have a little bit of an addiction to the hobby.

Here is the even scarier thought: We all bemoan the late 80’s and early 90’s and call it the mass production era. A time when cards were cheap because they produced huge amount of them. However there were only about 5 or 6 sets in those days. Today there is at least double that number, and while they produce less of each set, I fear that the total number of cards available hasn’t really gone down. Therefore we have a new era of mass production. I think it’s only a matter of time before the industry as whole realizes it. Then we are all going to be stuck with a bunch of base cards that we all overpaid for and now frankly don’t even like anymore because they are the old shiny.

So what do we do? Well we continue to be vocal about our desires to cut down the number of sets. We try our best to pick only our favorite sets and try very hard to stick with them. Also try try try to avoid the New Shiny. Give it a couple weeks and if we still want to buy it then, then maybe, just maybe it’s not going to just be a New Shiny it’ll be something that you will actually cherish in your collection. For many of us we find that less is often more.