Braves on the Box

1988donruss_mediumI'm a sucker. It doesn't matter how little I like a set. It doesn't matter how ugly the set is. If you put a member of the Atlanta Braves on a box of cards, I'll buy a box. I may buy a second. I've been known to buy ten.

This is a personal sickness that started in 1988 when Donruss decided to put the great Dale Murphy on their box. Staring at me, in every store I walked in, was Murph with this big goofy grin and holding up his '88 Donruss card. This was an ugly card from an ugly set and unlike some sets that were so ugly they manage to hold a certain level of fascination, this set managed to also accomplish "the boring" in spades. Still, it was Dale Murphy. So I bought it. In large quantities no less. I can distinctly remember heading to the cash and carry in downtown Columbus, Georgia and purchasing several boxes with the proceeds of my Godfather's pizza job. The ultimate shame of it is that I still have the cards, so many of the blame cards, and I can't find the box. (They'll be no scans of cards from the set. I'm afraid they're so ugly that they will crack the glass on my scanner.)

Heyward_box_mediumI would, again, become the play thing of a major card manufacturer in 1993 when Fleer put Tom Glavine on the box of their Series One product. By this point, I was still collecting cards even though I was 23 years old and found myself more interested in drinking, punk rock, and getting rejected by strange women. Still, whenever I would walk into a convenience store, there would be a box of cards with my favorite Braves player of the time on it. Naturally, I'd carry the box to the register and buy every pack left in it. I'd do this again, and again, and again. The cards were almost irrelevant to me. They had freaking gray borders. It was yet another set I just couldn't get interested in, but if they were going to take the time to put a player form the Braves on the box, then I was going to buy the cards.

It wasn't long after this that I stopped collecting altogether. I maintained my love of the Atlanta Braves and baseball in general, but I would pack up my cards and they would sit in boxes for years and years. From 1994 through the end of the 2005 season, I would, on the rare occasion, buy a few packs of cards just to put them away almost immediately after opening them. In late 2005, I started going through my cards and decided almost immediately to get back into collecting. So I wouldn't spend a fortune, I resolved to only collect those sets that appealed the most to me, and to limit my player collections to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. This worked well for me for some time, even if I found myself trying to complete more sets than was reasonable. Other than a late 2006 season flirtation with a box of Triple Threads, I stuck to the sets I liked. Nothing else.

That changed late in the 2010 season. I could blame Topps I suppose. I could blame that incredible opening day home run. The blame is my own though. Jason Heyward was the player picked to appear on the boxes of Bowman Platinum. What could I do?

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I do not like Bowman Platinum. Yet, in 2010, I would purchase blaster after blaster of this awful product. Oh, it started innocently enough. I had decided after that home run against Zambrano to kick off the 2010 season that I would start a Jason Heyward collection. I bought that first blaster thinking that I just wanted the box for my collection. I opened the packs, set aside any Braves I found, and put the others away in boxes where I haven't seen them since. Freeman_box_mediumUnfortunately, it would become a compulsion for me. I would eventually purchase at least five blasters of the product. Yes, I spent a hundred dollars at Target on a product I had no interest in.

Never again, I swore. The joke's on me though. This year, Topps placed Freddie Freeman on the box. So there I stood at the card counter, holding a blaster, telling myself again that I just want the box. If I get any Braves in the packs, that would just be a bonus. A few weeks later, I'm three blasters in and I swear that I'm done with the product. Forever.

Well, unless Topps puts Julio Teheran on the box in 2012. 

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I do not like Bowman Platinum, but then again, I suppose that I am not the target consumer for this set. I'm not in the speculating game. I don't have thousands dollars to buy cases of cards at a time, and even if I did, I don't have the time to list all my finds on eBay and hope against hope to make my money back. 

Platinum represents a lot of things I hate about a lot of modern sets. The cards are printed on shiny foil. The backgrounds are de-emphasized through fading and shading. Anyone who wanted to collect this set would have 200 identical cards in a row. Every base card just blends into the next card. I think I would go blind trying to pick one player out from the other if I were looking at the set as a whole.

On the other hand, I do see the appeal of this product for a player collector. That appeal is the rainbow. Topps prints all of their Bowman cards in any number of color variations. The colored cards are typically serial numbered and each color represents a different level of scarcity. It has become a major goal for many player collectors to get as much of the Bowman rainbow as possible of their favorite. If the cards from the base set look a bit too much alike, a row of cards of a single player with the different color variations pop in a binder and add some nice variety to a collection. 

Still, a rainbow is hardly reason enough to waste money on buying boxes of this set. You'd practically have to land a Bryce Harper auto to even make money on it. If you want a rainbow, you would be better off just tracking down the cards through other means. I certainly wouldn't purchase a box of this product expecting a rainbow.

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