I'm still having "technical difficulties" with my home computer but I was reading my daily Orioles links at work and I ran across this article about baseball cards on SB Nation:
Requiem for the 00's: The Decline of Topps Baseball Cards
I agree with some of the topics covered such as the Topps Monopoly, competition causes innovation, and kids are more attracted to video games than collecting cardboard.
The author does harp on the fact of the numbering of the flagship set a little bit. It never really mattered to me if Cal Ripken or Ken Griffey Jr. or Frank Thomas had a nice "round" card number like 100 or 555. I haven't grabbed many packs of 2013 yet but the numbering of the cards doesn't really mean a whole lot. It's just how you put the cards in order, not some hierarchy of a player's worth.
The author does tend to appreciate tradition over present but makes it seem like a person interested in cards is only allowed to buy the latest and greatest. For hardcore collectors (yes, if you are reading blogs and collecting, you are hardcore!) we know that you can still buy vintage cards online or at shows. If you're only buying cards at Wal-Mart or Target, you're only going to be able to buy the latest and greatest!
Sure baseball cards aren't as popular as they used to be but Topps is still making money or they wouldn't be doing it anymore. I don't really appreciate the article's author putting my hobby 6 feet under! It's more of niche hobby now instead of mainstream and that's ok. Roller skating was huge at one point in time and it surely declined but they are still around! Not as many people snowboard as they used to.
Our hobby is not dead or dying.
Here's my only story from Orioles Fan Fest that I am going to share. (I basically stood in the same lines and William from foul bunt and ended up with the same results, so check his blog for the blow by blow details).
I was standing in the kids only line with my friend Scott and his kid Austin. Behind me were 4 boys that were probably from the ages of 8 thru 12 and they were rabid baseball fans. I was talking to them and they were really knowledgeable about the game and the players. I offered to send them a bunch of extra cards that I had (since I'm downsizing a bit) and they thanked me over and over. I sent the cards last week and a few days later, the mother of 2 of the boys sent me an email thanking me for making the kid's days! She said it was like Christmas at their house when the cards arrived. It made me feel good to do something good for people I only met one time. Maybe I sparked one (or maybe all 4) of the boy's interest in the hobby by giving away some cards.
So the hobby is not dead or dying, it's only what you make of it!