Today I bought baseball cards.

I was in Harrisburg today for the Senators game, and it was steamy — 90-plus degrees and 1500% humidity. I’m not exaggerating on the humidity. A sauna would have been less moist than City Island today.

The Senators were playing the Trenton Thunder today. I noted on Twitter…

Which is true; I wrote about it at the time. (As I write this, none of the artwork links in that post work. I need to fix those.)

At today’s game, they were giving away Michael Taylor bobbleheads, and I was at the game early enough to get one. (Taylor played for the Senators the first half of last season, and he’s currently playing left field for the Nationals. I know he’s about twenty-four, but he looks like he’s fifteen.)

I went in the gift shop to see if the 2015 baseball card team sets were in, and they were! This year, the Senators actually have two 2015 sets on sale. One is for the Senators themselves, the other is an Eastern League Top Prospects set which features two or three players from each of the twelve teams in the Eastern League. Naturally, I bought both, as well as new OYO figures of Rascal (the team mascot) and Michael Taylor. (OYO is a LEGO-compatible building system that specializes in sports sets and figures.)

The game was fine. It wasn’t especially well attended (just a little over 4,000 — and I wouldn’t have guessed that many), but it was a nicely played game. Harrisburg starter Dakota Bacus has a rough first inning, giving up two runs. In the third, the Senators tied it up, and they tacked on two runs later for the win.

Bryan Harper on the mound

When I got home, I opened up the two baseball card packs and started putting them in pages.

I’m not really a card collector. I have binders with a couple hundred cards from the 1969 Topps set (including Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Davey Johnson, and… yes… Hawk Harrelson), and I have a binder with my Harrisburg Senators cards.

I bought a 2013 set at one of the first games I went to, and then over the course of that season I bought the 2012 and 2011 sets. Plus, at a late season game, there was a free 2013 set given out as a gate promo, and I have that, too. The next year I added the 2014 and 2010 sets to my collection, and it’s interesting to me to see where certain players are.

The 2010 Senators set may be the dullest looking of the sets — they all look like mugshots — but that’s where you’ll find Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Rafael Martin, and Danny Espinosa.

2011 has a nice look; the image is the whole of the front of the card (like Topps Stadium Club), and here’s you’ll find players like Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Derek Norris, and Tanner Roark.

2012 features Christian Garcia and Sandy Leon.

2013, in the set you can still buy in the team store, there’s Steven Souza, Jr., Blake Treinen, Anthony Rendon, and Aaron Barrett. (The giveaway set does not have Rendon, though it does have the other three.) The 2013 design was not inspiring.

The 2014 set is really classy, and here you’ll find A.J. Cole and Michael Taylor.

The 2015 set has a really attractive design. You do have to be careful in the shop; the pack of the 2014 set and the 2015 both use the same image of Senators manager Brian Daubach (who looks remarkably like Paul Sorvino). Players you’ll find here? Joe Ross and Wilmer Difo.

In the Eastern League set, there are three Senators represented — Ross, Austin Voth, and Pedro Severino. Non-Senators players I’ve heard of — Dylan Bundy and Mike Yastrzemski, both with Bowie. The card fronts have a dynamic design, but the backs are fairly bland.

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I don’t feel bad for buying either set. Into the binder they went. 🙂

If you noticed, I didn’t mention Bryce Harper. Even though he played for Harrisburg, he’s not in any of the team sets. (He was in Potomac’s 2014 team set, though, due to his rehab assignment.)

There are some players that I have many cards of through the years. If I count the two 2013 sets, I have four cards for Matt Skole (2013 twice, 2014, and 2015), Ricky Hague (2013 twice, 2014, and 2015), Sean Nicol (2012, 2013 twice, 2014), and Paul Demny (2012, 2013 twice, 2015). There are several for whom I have three — Sandy Leon, Devin Ivany (a player in earlier sets, a coach in the 2015 set), Justin Bloxom, Brian Goodwin, and probably one or two more I’ve lost count of.

Seeing a player in multiple sets isn’t a happy thing, to be honest. It says, in a way, “This player hasn’t progressed.” When you see someone in a third set, you really start to wonder if the player has reached their ceiling and there’s nowhere higher for him to go. Then you start to think about their future prospects — “When the parent club needs a roster spot, will this multi-year vet be the first to go?” That’s not a pleasant thought.

I’ll banish that thought and, instead, focus on the baseball cards themselves and the players who feature on them and their big dreams. And I’ll think of the summer days those dreams represent. That’s what it’s all about. 🙂

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