One of the things I've come up with is my own list of things I liked - this might have been a 'months ago' thing but I'll chime in with the things that ring true for me.
1.) Mini-collections - over the past 15 years, other card bloggers made it fun to give common cards a second look; it's actually been a long time and I hesitate to 'misremember' the names of blogs that have come and gone [over to Twitter], but I liked the irreverent card blogger days when some of the oddest and crappiest cards would be put through a blog's microscope.
Maybe current blogs lack that 'old-school' bite that was a mix of WTF fun and nostalgia - I do wonder where some of the original inspiration came from for my mini-collections; maybe it was being bored and trying to goof on junk wax era cards.
Maybe it was cutesy beginner stories about collecting in magazines in the early 1990s - with the idea of doing something unique with otherwise common cards.
A definitive influence was subsets in early 1990s sets like 1992 Upper Deck, 1992 Donruss Triple Play and 1992 Pinnacle - as I have mini-collections named off those cheesy subsets.
2.) IP/TTM autographs - go figure some thing finally killed the in-person autograph but getting a chance to get a scribble from baseball players made me such a geek.
Maybe well into adulthood, I can see where the idea of liking getting stuff signed seems peculiar - but it’s just another extension of collecting and/or following a spectator sport and its actors.
I won’t ever understand the side-eye reactions coming from guys who strictly collect the cards and/or people who clearly have interest as fans of the game - who claim they don’t get the lure of getting autographs past a certain age or at all, like it’s below them.
Now the bad guys have literally won and there won’t be any player / fan interaction for the time being - where someone is going to sign a card or other item for me? Does it matter?
TTM may not actually be dead but guys might stop signing - besides getting my card (s) signed, it was always fun to get personal responses from retired players.
3.) Hits and pulls - I do not chase them outright but to say I consciously stay away from them is silly; I’d go through a hit box first rather than a commons bin when given an opportunity.
I like cards that are autographed and ones that have a little something that makes them pop - memorabilia cards still a curiosity in small doses, though it’s more player about worn stuff and questionable sourcing for any particular card.
4.) Sorting - I have my days where I don’t want to do anything with cards but there maybe a ‘sorter’s high’ where my mind is busy trying to make sense where cards are going and getting lost in it.
5.) Antiheroes - it's obvious but a part of collecting is being a fan of a sport or sports.
I like watching the pro sports villains at their peak infamy and/or athletic performance; give me a Barry Bonds from 20 years ago or another prickly personality to watch - the guy who is primed by the media as a superstar yet hardly generates that true ‘love them or hate them’ buzz has his place but something is missing in the equation to outright GOATness.
A line is drawn when a player becomes irrelevant - it gets sad when a top flight athlete just doesn’t want to get on the field, even when they are still in their athletic primes.
Maybe guys have causes or concerns where they just don’t want to play - I can almost understand someone just walking away, but selfishly it sucks.
Maybe I’m simply blind to the number of pro athletes doing bad things but get away with it - but I don’t like the athletes who are not only mess ups, but have been exposed to systematically lie, cheat and destroy reputations.
Lance Armstrong is the biggest turd I can think of whose actions go way too far - guy was the biggest deal in a sport I wouldn't normally pay attention to, but he was an angry, vindictive fraud.
6.) Chasing rookie cards - it’s gotten to a point where I’m just a collector to the end, but who doesn’t like fresh faces and potential stars? There is still a lure of ‘this card might be worth something’ if some young hotshot develops into a star or better.
At the very least I’ll try to get rookie cards of top prospects who have made it to the majors - but now prospectors have evolved toward throwing money at the rookie-year parallels, so who knows what I’ll end up with, for anyone who might warrant the attention.
7.) A personal collection - I like the idea of setting aside some cards as stand outs for my collection or looking for such 'dig me, look at me' cards to go into my PC, even if it's only within my budget.
8.) Blogging - I would have thought collectors would be on one social media platform, but even like minded collectors prefer different places to share their interests.
There are blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram - each outlet has their own clique hierarchy and maybe it’s more interesting lurking to see who are the made men within these outlets.
After all these years, I’ve felt like I’ve always been on the outs looking in - I’ve never been the loudest voice, the relative authority considered a sage or just that ‘aw shucks’ guy everyone loves, but maybe it just reflects how I choose to collect where it's literally a 'me, myself and I' hobby.
Still I like getting a blog post up - there is something about self publishing with the idea others can get a peek at what I like and can chime in.
9.) Flipping through ‘junk’ cards - I want to go through miscellaneous cards, maybe stuff belonging to a friend, at a card shop or show [those seem to be done]; it might not be the case for strictly junk wax era years but then again I‘m loco enough to want to rummage through anything picturing ballplayers.
10.) Rank and file rookie cards - most guys are essentially forgotten, but any player who makes the big leagues deserves a MLB card [preferably a single player card], as a tribute to a player’s professional baseball career.
Some collectors tend to complain about the lack of a comprehensive flagship set - I guess when rookies who come and go get a card, that means the last 5-10 big leaguers on an active roster might be shut out; if you are a team collector, maybe you wonder why there is no cards for the guys on the fringes of a big league roster but who aren’t rookies and have put in some time at the big league level.