Fighting the pack busting urge

keep_it_simpleFor three weeks now I have been free from the wrath that was the unopened retail pack. Since busting this horrifically ordinary retail tin of 2008 Sweet Spot, I have managed to steer clear of the card aisle at “big box”  stores and have not spent a dime on a unopened pack anywhere.

My lone trip to the card shop two weeks ago was to purchase tobacco card-size top loaders for my on-going Allen & Ginter “Baseball Icons” insert set. I contemplated buying a single pack of 2008 UD Documentary, you know, just to try it out. But when I realized what a mess the product is, I tossed the pack back in the box. Thank God I made that decision. I saved myself $3, or a tank and a half of gas. In these economic times, I have to think about my card purchases that way.

I hit this wall every year or so, and usually right around the holidays, when the shelves are packed with crappy, unnecessary end-of-the-year releases and high-risk, high-reward type of stuff to appease the card gamblers looking to score one more big hit before the new year.

But this time I really want to stick to my personal promise to cut down on the crap. And honestly, I’ve really got no choice. The economy is in horrible shape, I could be let go from my job at any time, and I’ve got a baby who is expected to be born sometime in the next four weeks. There is no room to gamble with the few dollars and cents I’ve earned. Not now. If I’m going to spend my money (mainly PayPal funds amassed from trading on eBay) on cards, I damn well know what I’m getting — cards that I’ll be able to enjoy, and not necessarily ones worth hundreds of dollars.

This statement has been made hundreds of times over by collectors who’ve been burned by a box or pricey pack, but it is my personal quest to make sure that I can get through the new year without buying another pack, and hopefully I can make it until the release of 2009 Topps baseball.

It would be impossible — and stupid — f0r me to swear off opening packs completely because I  enjoy them too much and I find them to be part of the hobby. But what I am saying is that by and large it is unnecessary for me to open packs between now and February, when the new Topps release hits the shelves.

And if you’re asking yourself what is so special about the Topps release. It’s really nothing, but everything.

Like the sweet smell of freshly cut grass, the taste of a mouthful of sunflower seeds or the sound of two kids trading their football for a baseball and a glove, the new Topps set each year marks the beginning of a new season.

And while the base cards — and most of the inserts — are never really “worth” much, it is this set, and this set alone, that I get the most joy out of opening. Will I ever get this fact through my thick skull? I have no idea. But perhaps the circumstances will finally force that upon me and I’ll think twice about spending another penny on an unopened pack that is not part of the base Topps set.

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