This is not how I wanted to spend the first hour of my day.
My brother and I got in early -- as in, right when the doors opened at 9:30 AM -- to score the 2012 Bowman Platinum show-exclusive redemption. It seemed easy enough. Buy a semi-expensive box, wait on a semi-ridiculous line, get a limited-edition set that might be semi-valuable.
The Topps representative was very nice as I plunked down $129 for the box that would get me the set. "You guys will be fine," we were told.
Except the line didn't move. Then it didn't move some more. And after 45 minutes, a different Topps representative told us that beyond this point -- the point about ten people in front of us -- you won't get the redemption.
I still have the box, though. No refunds there. It was a taste of the frustration of The National, and a reminder of what the limited-edition craze is all about.
But the day was young enough to look up from here. I made some big purchases that I resisted a day earlier and met some hobby greats along the way.
The personal highlight reel will record that I waited for an autograph. Not from an athlete, but from Dr. James Beckett, who could not have been nicer putting his name on a reprint of Beckett Monthly Issue No. 1.
From hobby greatness to hobby notoriety, I also got to meet the cast of Ball Boys. I like the show, though I realize not everybody does. I also like the mainstream exposure the show gives the hobby.
We also got to finish some things off. My dad finished off a 1964 Topps set he'd been working on for a decade, and I killed off just about everything from my 2012 Gypsy Queen checklist.
And I got some closure on those pressing questions I posed earlier in the week about The National itself.
Mike Berkus, the NSCC directon and co-founder, appeared at a Net54 Baseball forum in the evening. My concerns about location were shared, and thanks to Mr. Berkus for hearing us out. Not surprisingly, it's more complicated than most of us realize in balancing geography, cost, and convenience.
The point is that organizers are listening, and they're listening to a stronger crowd than we've seen in the past. As for Topps, we'll have to keep working on that, with a broken redemption process that left early birds grumbling, but my brother got some potential help for the expired redemption he scored the day before.
After-hours, it's box-breaking again - 2012 Topps Minis (not all that special, unless you have miniature hands) and 2012 Allen & Ginter. I'm not sure if I'm more excited about the Bryce Harper mini or the Jesus mini, though only one is labeled "RC."
It's more tiring than it looks, actually. There are a few more hours left for me to pick up some last-minute must-haves...