30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Not an Expert... but Proficient

In one of our district inservice trainings, the presenter discussed the five stages of acquiring expertise.  Without boring you with the details, it just states that people go through a five step process (novice advanced beginner  competent  proficient  expert) to become an "expert" at something.

It got me thinking about whether or not I consider myself an "expert" at anything.  Sadly... I couldn't really think of anything.  But when it comes to classroom management, collecting cards, and knowing Star Wars trivia, I'm confident that I'm at or at the very least close to being "proficient".

Those are three areas in my life that I enjoy and I'm eager to grow in.  Over the Christmas break, I found a cool YouTube channel dedicated to teaching Star Wars geeks like myself random facts that most people could care less about.

2000 Star Wars: Young Jedi CCG Battle of Naboo Expansion #86
(Photo from SWCCGStore)

In one of their videos, I learned that the famous bikini that Leia wore in Return of the Jedi made a cameo in The Phantom Menace.  Maybe I was focused in on Jabba... or maybe it's because the scene only lasts a few seconds.  Regardless... I've watched The Phantom Menace at least ten, maybe fifteen times... but never noticed it.

But now that it's embedded in my brain... my eyes will be drawn to it from this point moving forward.

I also discovered a bunch of baseball card variations over the holiday breakRod @ Padrographs sent me over 300 different Tony Gwynn cards last year.  I finally sat down and went through them to see which ones I needed.  TCDB opened my eyes to a boatload of variations.  And just like the Diva Shaliqua bikini scene in The Phantom Menace, you've gotta look closely or you'll miss them.

I found eight different ones in Rod's care package.  

1989 Donruss #128

I'm hoping my scans will be clear enough for you to see the very subtle difference between these variations.

1989 Donruss Bonus MVP's #BC-20

In regards to the Donruss variations, all six in this post have to do with whether or not the cards have a period following the INC on the back of the card.

1990 Donruss #86

1990 Donruss Bonus MVP #BC-4

1992 Donruss #441

1992 Donruss #425

I wish I could tell you which variation I had and which one Rod sent me... but I didn't have the foresight to jot down that information back when I scanned these cards.  If I had to guess, I'd say that all of Rod's cards are either at the top or the bottom of the scan though.

The Stadium Club variations are based on tiny letters on the back of the card which I'm thinking is related to the sheet they were printed on:

1991 Stadium Club #308

1992 Stadium Club #825

Now I wasn't exactly a "novice" in regards to these tiny variations from the Junk Wax Era.  I'd probably classify myself as an "advanced beginner" who knew they existed and even knew that some of them were related to "periods" and "letters".  This information was accumulated by exploring TCDB and reading card blogs like Nachos Grande who shows off these types of variations within his Barry Larkin PC from time to time.

Have I moved up to "proficient" in regards to these variations?  Probably not.  However I consider myself "proficient" in the overall knowledge of baseball cards.  I've been collecting off and on for the better part of 42 years and I'm continuously learning new things about our hobby.

And while we're on the subject of variations, here's a 2022 Topps Advanced Stats parallel that Reader X sent me last year:

2022 Topps Advanced Stats #617 (#'d 112/300)

You can't tell this is a variation by looking at the front.  You've got to turn it over to see the differences:

The first difference is obviously in regards to the advanced statistics listed instead of the standard stats you'd normally see.  But if you look in the upper righthand corner, you'll also notice this card is serial numbered to 300.  If I'm not mistaken, you can also differentiate these variations by zooming in on the Topps code at the very bottom, but I'll leave that up to the collectors with superior vision.

Luckily for me, Xavier had this card sitting in a top loader.  Had it been in the stack of penny sleeved cards, there's a good chance I would have missed it.  It's these types of things that keep me from becoming an "expert" in baseball card collecting.  And with new variations coming out year after year after year... I'm more likely to slide back down into the "competent" level than advance to "expert".

What about you?  In regards to collecting cards...

Do you consider yourself a novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, or expert?

As an educator, I probably should create guidelines or a rubric for these categories.  But we're not in a classroom and this isn't an assignment.  It's just a friendly blog with carefree standards... and I'll leave it up to you to set come up with your own guidelines.  Honestly... whether you are a "novice" or an "expert", I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and hang out.

Thank you Rod and Xavier for these generous donations to my collection and for motivating me to learn more about our hobby.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Extra Innings

While putting the final touches on this post over the weekend, I actually discovered three more 1989 Donruss variations sitting in my duplicate box:

1989 Donruss #128

1989 Donruss Bonus MVP's #BC-20

Yup.  Seems like the learning process never ends.  And maybe I'm closer to "competent" than I really think.


Johnnys Trading Spot said...

I consider myself an expert, however reality is that I am proficient at best. I am well aware of all of the variations, but find myself just too lazy to care most of the time, not always, but with the 90's craziness (IE: 1990 Donruss had so many variations that there is an actual book on them) I usually skip over those variations and call it done. Usually.

Jeremya1um said...

I feel like I’m proficient overall, but in many areas like Rays cards, Topps cards, identifying base sets, that I can be an expert.

Jeff B - Wax Pack Wonders said...

I'd probably call myself competent, because I know very little about modern cards and the millions of parallels and variations.

Those junk era variations drive me nuts.

John Sharp said...

I'm competent, mostly, proficient (at times) in Detroit Tigers/Matthew Boyd/Bill Freehan cards...never to be an expert.

Good Job! 👍

Crocodile said...

I could be a noob, advanced noob, competent, proficient or expert depending on topic. But definitely not an expert when it comes to some of those junk wax variations.

TwinKiller said...

Proficient in general, expert in the Twins and Mets category.

sg488 said...

I am an expert at collecting cards and I could care less about variations.

Chris said...

Arrrgh those Donruss variations make me crazy! Not that Fleer and UD didn't have their own oh-so-slight differences. At least Score didn't add to the confusion, I guess.

I'd say you're more than proficient in the card collecting hobby. As for me, I'm knowledgeable and experienced but based on my history of selling cards too soon/too often, and my failure to keep up with the new stuff, I'm probably a half-step above "competent".

The Lost Collector said...

These variations are pretty weird. I didn't learn about them until TCDB, and don't actively chase for my Tino collection. If I get one, I get one, but nothing I try to snag. As for my level, somewhere between competent and proficient? I don't consider myself an expert is anything.

Matt said...

Boy, i never check for that stuff. Can only imagine how many of these i have given away at yard sales because this kind of wax i don't like to even deal with lol

Nick Vossbrink said...

Generally proficient. An expert in some things, merely competent in others. I couldn't possibly care any less about those period/asterisk variations though.

Jafronius said...

I'd say Advanced Beginner since to me, to be higher up means I'm knowledgeable about many sets and I'm not...and I still can't my head around a missing dot means a variation!

Jafronius said...

And thanks for the Star Wars tidbit...I'll be on the lookout next time!

GCA said...

I'd say I'm pretty proficient in most aspects of cards, but probably know more about the obscure side and less about the most popular things.
Could care less about grading, rookies and shiny, but I can show you expanded lists of Pro Set football variations that include some that aren't listed everywhere, etc.

Fuji said...

johnnys trading spot - there's a book on 1990 donruss? that's crazy. wonder how many collectors are trying to complete a master set.

jeremya1um - i'd love to be an expert on identifying base sets. probably should be after all these years, but i'm probably competent as a whole... and proficient among topps flagship designs. maybe i'd call myself an expert in regards to 80's fleer, donruss, and topps flagship designs.

wax pack wonders - they drive me nuts too

john sharp - i feel like you've got to be the closest to being a matthew boyd expert outside of his family :D

crocodile - i totally agree. just depends on the subject matter.

twinkiller - i'd love to one day be an expert in the a's and padres category... but proficient is probably my peak

sg488 - i don't blame you about the variations thing. it's like opening pandora's box

chris - lol. a lot of the stuff in my blog posts come from research and not information stored in my brain. sadly... a lot of that research is only stored temporarily before it's forgotten.

the lost collector - i don't actively chase them either (although i have purchased a variation or two on comc). can't say i'm an expert at anything either :(

matt - i hear ya. i'm currently looking for a 1990 canadian fleer card of gwynn... but keep wondering if i ever had one in the collection but gave it away or sold it

nick vossbrink - you're smart. these variations will drive you mad

jafronius - when it comes to newer sets (2000 to 2023), i'm probably an advanced beginner too. but the further we go back, the higher and more proficient i am... until we peak in the 80's. then it's all downhill again.

gca - pro set has to be considered the king of variations. at least the ones i know of, they changed photos or made variations you could see without a magnifying glass