Going against the grain: The devaluing of high-end base card

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time when this hobby was built entirely on the base card. No gimmicks. No frills. Just a picture, a name, some stats and maybe a cartoon or infograph.

The value of the base card was that this one card released each season was your shot at collecting the player’s image and a tangible way to keep record of his statistics. It was a way to keep score at home as to which players were still with your favorite team, and which ones got traded elsewhere. The value of the base card was at time priceless … even as late as the 1980s.

By the 1990s things shifted, as most know. Collector interests began to turn toward different things, also the reasons why some people collected changed. And by the later part of the century, our means of collecting information about players also moved to a digital format — The Internet.

The value of the base card in our hobby had diminished. But through all of this, there was still some value placed on them by player collectors, especially when it comes to premium issues, or so it seemed.

I remember paying or trading at a premium for base cards of my favorite players from 1989 Upper Deck, 1990 Leaf, 1991 Stadium Club, 1992 Ultra, and 1993 SP, and so on. And 1993 Finest was basically the epitome of base cards. You could not acquire any single star card from this ultra premium set for less than $15.

There are a lot of factors that played into the “value” these cards at the time, much of which was linked to availability — remember, we didn’t have the resources of the world available to us. The cards we could acquire were the ones that were available at the local shops and shows, and maybe via mail order catalog if you were into that kind of thing. And then of course you had the cost associated with the acquisition price of the pack/box — how much more did you value cards from the packs that cost a few dollars than the ones that cost maybe a third or a quarter of that?

So, what brings this up today?

Well, I did my daily search of items on COMC the other day and a batch of newly uploaded Clayton Kershaw cards hit the market — among them were two 2018 Topps Museum cards, one base and one non-serial numbered parallel. I could have had both cards for less than $1.35.

These were not the first Topps Museum cards of Kershaw to hit the market, but this was the first time I paused my search for a second and thought about the ridiculous state of the hobby. How is it that as a player collector I can get two cards from a high-end product like Topps Museum — or are we calling this middle-of-the-road nowadays? — for damn near the same price of base cards of 2019 Topps?

Am I the only one who finds this odd? How are the base cards from premium products now “less valuable” than those of readily available products like Flagship?

I know our collecting ways have changed. And I know this topic is not knew; hell even manufacturers have gone away from making the base cards in higher-end products — they’ve created the hit-only type releases that cost several hundred dollars for anywhere from one to five cards, all of which have relics or autographs. And along with that, we are becoming more desensitized to anything that does not garner some wacky-ass catch phrase from a breaker.

In some ways I love that I can reap the benefits of this new era; but also it makes me a bit sad as at times it seems as if the future is very grim for our hobby. The hobby isn’t disappearing, but the dynamics have changed, so much so that there is very little value in anything other than the best of the best … and as we’ve seen, the hobby is constantly looking for ways to out-do itself. And that may not always be a good thing — unless you’re a player or team collector collecting base cards, then this evolution can be seen as a great thing,

Trade of base dupes leads to PC items, and bonuses

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , on February 16, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I enjoy when I buy product to build a set and then take my duplicates and find a trading partner who needs a good chunk of them for a set they’re building on their own. What makes that process even more gratifying is when the partner has cards I need for my PC.

Such was the case recently when Scott (@saadams81) showed me a list of the 2019 Topps cards he needed. I was able to locate 66 cards he needed for his set. Scott had two Kershaw insets from 2019 Topps that I needed, and I inquired whether he had any of the guys I collect. He managed to have a few more Kershaw and Roger Clemens cards I needed for my PC.

My packaged arrived to him first, and his was delayed coming to me due to bad weather. But when the package arrived I was thrilled to find the cards we agreed upon, as well as two bonuses …

Scott was very generous in sending these two Stadium Club autos of Jharel Cotton and Matt Olson. Whats great is baseball season is around the corner and both guys are with Oakland still, and we’ll be seeing plenty of them as the season gets under way. Both cards will go into my son’s baseball binder.

Thanks again, Scott. I’m sure we’ll continue trading in the future.

Traffic, weather ruin Valentine’s plans; leads to Optic, Topps break

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Well, yesterday I spoke of having Valentine’s Day dinner plans with my girlfriend after work. As it turns out bad weather caused unsafe road conditions and actually closed the roads over the mountain between our houses.

I spent three hours on the road trying to get there, but I had to be at work the next morning so the plans got nixed.

So I got off the freeway and found myself at Target, where I decided to cheer myself up with trading cards.

The Optic packs felt like I had to jump on them or I’d never see them again. The highlights were a Base Luka Doncic rookie and a Blue velocity retail exclusive Trae Young Rookie. Also, the Warriors cards are a nice addition to my collection.

The Topps pack was a no-brained as the Mike Trout green retail exclusive was on the front.

Doncic, Young and Warriors are not available, but the others may be had for Kershaw cards I need or current Golden State Warriors cards.

3 things I learned today from card backs

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Ah, it’s Valentine’s Day.  Love is in the air for some, and for others … well, it’s just another day of baseball cards.  Could be worse, right?

I actually do have dinner plans later this evening, but for now during my lunch break it’s just me and handful of Clayton Kershaw cards, three to be exact. And why these three? Well, the backs of these three cards taught me something fun about my favorite current Major League player.

***

We’ll start with the love portion of this post.  Clayton Kershaw and his wife Ellen are religious and charitable people, which is wonderful as it works for them and they appear to be positive people making a positive impact on the world.  What I didn’t know is that the Kershaws apparently started dating in middle school, which is chronicled on the back of this 2014 Topps 1989 Die-Cut Mini.

The text reads: “Clayton became chums with Ellen Melson in junior high and now, as a married couple, they devote much of their time and resources to helping poor children in Zambia and the US.”

 ***

The second card in this selection is the 2013 Topps Chrome Kershaw which tells us about the southpaw’s taste in music. Either Topps fibbed here, or they went to town with the fact that Kershaw enjoys Taylor Swift’s music, and then used the musical artist’s last name (Swift) as a pun to describe Kershaw’s attributes, and then drew a parallel between Taylor Swift being the youngest album of the year winner, and Kershaw being the youngest lefty to win 20 games.  Also of note here is that the text above the paragraph sid as of 2013 Kershaw was 4,740 strikeouts behind all-time leader Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.  Entering 2019, Kershaw is now 3,439 short of the record.

***

And lastly, a glance at the rear of the 2011 Topps Chrome Clayton Kershaw reveals that he is the great-nephew of Clyde Tombaugh, the Astronomer who discovered Pluto. How’s that for random.  Funny note about Pluto … I grew up like many others with Pluto being identified as a planet.  It was not until sometime in the last few years that my kids advised me that Pluto is now a dwarf planet. Go figure.  

 

 

Mailday brings Kershaw XFractors, inserts; Stash of Soto rookies

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

It’s been a nutty week at work with the amount of stuff that needs to be done. But at the end of the day, it’s always nice to return home and find a mailbox stuffed with items to add to my collection.

Today’s mailday comes from a Twitter follower named Jake (@Jake1725) who was offering cards for sale last week including a lot of five Juan Soto rookies for $10. I snatched them up as soon as I saw them available.  I then inquired if Jake had any Clayton Kershaws for sale, and he most certainly did.

As it turned out, Jake had 19 Kershaws that I needed, and so the package quickly grew from just five Soto cards to more than 20 as a whole.

The Soto cards are nice additions to my Soto stash. They included a Topps Living Set card, two Topps Update Chromes and two Topps Update rookies.

The Kershaws were also a welcome addition as they included various parallels – namely a run of Topps Chrome Xfractors from 2010 through 2014, and 2013 Topps Heritage Retail Black border – and a bunch of inserts that filled some gaps in the binder pages.

I’ve been wrestling a bit with my feelings on Twitter sales – my timeline seems to flooded with them recently — but when you find a purchase that makes sense and the cards arrives safely, it certainly instantly changes the mood in a positive way.

 

That moment when you decide to buy the cards instead of waiting to trade for them

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I woke up this morning several hours before the sun rose and did the usual routine of checking eBay for new items. Among the new posts was a three-card lot of 2019 Topps Clayton Kershaw inserts.

There was the 1984 Design, and both 150th insert cards. The three-card lot was offered for sale at $1.29 + $1 PWE shipping, bringing the grand total to $2.29, which is about 75% of the cost for a single lack of cards.

And instead of mashing the Buy It Now option, I waited. And I waited. And then waited some more because I wrestled with “breaking the seal.”

You see, none of these cards are rare. They’ll all be on COMC at some point for like 50 cents each, or someone will offer me them in a trade. So I had a hard time hitting that BIN button immediately because eventually they would be mine. In some ways there is a belief in me that once you start buying cheap cards, it cheapens the act of trading as one starts to wonder if it’s worth the time and effort to find, sort, negotiate and eventually finalize a deal and ship cards. I hate that these are things to think about, but they’re all realities when trading with a partner who is not in front of you.

In this case I eventually hit the Buy It Now because when it came down to it, the low shipping cost for this lot was likely less than it would have cost me to ship out comparable cards in a trade for the same card.

Am I the only one who thinks about these things?

First Warriors game offers excitement, victory

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Eight years old. So many questions. So eager to experience the sport live.

That was me in 1988 when my father took me to my first Major League Baseball game. It was in Oakland and the Athletics hosted the Baltimore Orioles that day. I can remember generally the events of the night. But it would be years before I could appreciate the intricacies of the game.

Oddly enough that age and description is also true of my son, who last night got to experience his first Golden State Warriors game. I grew up a baseball fan but enjoyed the other sports.  My son seemingly has taken a liking to basketball, and who can blame him.  It’s easy to be a kid who gets swept up in a sport that everyone in this area talks about because the local team has been the best team in three of the last four seasons.

I told my son about a month ago that I had purchased tickets for us to go see Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durrant and Draymond Green play – remember, this was before Demarcus Cousins was actually scheduled to debut, so he really hadn’t heard of him.

As we got closer to the date, he kept asking about the game, and increasingly paid more attention to the games as we watched on television.  Then last week he told me that he already had his outfit picked out, one consisting of a Steph Curry shirt, some Warriors sweatpants, and a pair of Curry Under Armour shoes.

His thirst for this one single game really tugged at my heart strings. I’m a divorcing father of two, a boy and a girl.  The kids are quickly approaching the tween years, and I am pushing 40 in less than 18 months.  I’m not going to call it a mid-life crisis, but there has been an emphasis for me to make memories with the kids, especially as it pertains to stuff I know … which is this case is sports.

I watch games with them; I include them in much of my card shop trips, and try to take them to as many baseball games as I can during the summer time.  But this Warriors game was special because the damn tickets are pricey, and for the first time it was not I who was asking to go to a game – it was my son.

We woke Sunday morning, Feb. 10, 2019, and one of the first things my son asked was if we could go to the card shop before going to the Warriors game … because he wanted to look at basketball cards.  And later that day we headed to Oakland and got to the arena about 10 minutes before the doors opened to the facility. We stood in line with thousands of others, and once we got into Oracle Area, we basically went straight to our seats so we could watch the players warm up.

There was DeMarcus Cousins shooting three pointers with the hood of his black sweatshirt pulled over his head.  And moments later came Steph Curry taking jumpers both inside the arc, and even half way between the arc and the half court line. Later Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant took the floor, takings shots all over the court.  This was not only my son’s first time seeing the Warriors, it was MY first time seeing this version of the Warriors. I’ve only been to a handful of Golden State games over the years and have not seen them since 2005, a night in which the Warriors hosted Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.  And every time I had seen the team before this time with my son, I had seats in the upper level. On this night with my boy, we were 18 rows from the court, behind the north basket. So this was a sort of “firsts” for both of us.

The game started slow pace for the Warriors as the Miami Heat took a commanding lead early, causing my son to look at me like he was a bit worried.  At one point Golden State was down 19. I leaned over and told him I was worried too, but explained that Golden State could easily close this gap because they have so many good players.

And that’s what happened. Golden State cut it to 10; and then had it down to 5 at halftime. GSW then took an 8-point lead through three quarters, setting up a fun final quarter in which Miami would close the gap and re-take the lead on the back of Josh Richardson who scored 37 points. The Heat even had the lead in the final moments of the game after stellar play by Dwayne Wade, who was playing his last game in Oracle Arena.  In the end, though, the Warriors triumphed after Cousins hit a pair of free throws in the final minute and Golden State’s defense helped prevent Miami from scoring a tying bucket as the buzzer sounded.

The game was close, but it made for an exciting fourth quarter which had my son smiling all the way to the car. The look on his face is one I won’t soon forget.

It was a great experience. We saw Curry hit — and miss — multiple three pointers; watched Durant dominate at times; witnessed Klay hit big three pointers at each end of the court, and watched Cousins and Green both play their brand of gritty basketball. And we got to see an NBA Legend in Wade make his final trip through Oakland.

Hopefully this game was the first of many he and I can attend. But unlike baseball, basketball games are much more expensive these days – the price I paid for the two tickets (plus parking) was about as much as I had spent on my Game Five 2018 World Series tickets. That financial hit makes it tough to get out to a mid-season game.