Archive for the Commentary Category

A defining moment for a generation of kids

Posted in Commentary, Dad Life with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

For weeks we’d been hearing about the developing “Coronavirus” and how it’s been impacting persons around the world.  We’ve been urging folks to wash their hands more frequently and for people to stay home if they are sick.

It was real, we knew that was the case. But the time at which things become real for each of us is different. That time for me came on March 11, 2020, when the sports world came to a screeching halt.

Before I get to much further I will say that this piece is my personal perspective and my view of things through my experiences. You can dismiss it as me being naive; me being petty; me being selfish, etc. But this isn’t meant to be an all encompassing piece. This is the account of the my experience in this time.

Just over a week ago the world looked much different. We had sports to distract us from the trials and tribulation of life; they brought strangers together every day.  And on that Wednesday,  a day after the NHL had postponed its operation, we still had an evening of NBA basketball to distract us. 

I had my kids that day and we spend part of the afternoon running errands and watching my nephew play some Little League baseball.  As we headed home from the field, I received a text from my brother in law telling me that the NBA season had been postponed due to the threat of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I relayed this information to my 9-year-old son, who has become a big fan of the sport in recent years. And who can blame him, he’s growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area which has seen a great amount success with the Golden State Warriors’ five straight Finals appearances.

He asked a lot of questions during the drive, but took solace in the fact that there was still one game being played — the Mavericks game — and there was still one more on the schedule, which featured Zion Williamson playing in Sacramento.

We sat down that night in front of the television watching Luka Doncic dominate during the final quarter of the game, but that Breaking News banner kept flashing on the bottom of the screen — a reminder that this would be one of the final games for the foreseeable future.

As the network switched to the Kings-Pelicans game, they kept talking about the seriousness of the virus; about Rudy Gobert testing positive, and how asinine if felt that the next game would tip off.  And as we know now, that game featuring the NBA’s biggest rookie never would begin.

The players started warming up and then they left the court. We learned that one of the referees scheduled to work the game had worked a game recently that involved Gobert and ultimately the game was postponed.

The networks showed fans perplexed; fans booing; fans leaving. And then there was the “money shot” showing a young girl crying, seemingly upset the game was being canceled.  I looked at my son and he was quiet; no emotion on his face.

I asked if he was OK and he just stared at me, looking at me with his brown eyes, silently seeking answers, none of which I had. I opened my arms and told him to come to me and then he let out all of his emotion. It was at that moment that all of this became real to me because … it had become real to him. The side effects of this pandemic were impacting my kids.

That was a Wednesday night. He was a wreck for a while and wound up sleeping in my bed because he was scared. And when morning came, he woke afraid because he had a nightmare related to all of this. He hugged me almost tighter that morning that he ever had before.

He stayed home from school that day, but my 11-year-old daughter went to school also having questions: Her main inquiry was whether her fifth grade science camp — for which recently purchased supplies — would be canceled. 

As it turns out, that may in fact be their last school day for the year. School was formally postponed on Friday; the science camp was obviously nixed out of precaution — a bummer for my daughter who has been talking about this trip since the third grade. There’s also a real chance that my daughter may not get to experience her promotional ceremony as she starts middle school next year. Its unfortunate, but we get it.

This Coronavirus has been around for months, mostly being spoke of as impacting those in other countries. But it is now here impacting us on a personal level, and this is a moment that will define their generation.

As I think about what it must feel like to be a child during these times — full of uncertainly and having lots of questions — I am reminded that there are some parallels to my own life.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and my world was changed when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck on Oct. 17, 1989. I had some family drama (parents separated) I had dealt with before that, but the earthquake brought everything to a halt, including the World Series that year which featured our two local teams, the San Francsico Giants and Oakland Athletics.

I remember being home with my younger sister and a friend when the quake hit; I remember us ducking under a table immediately as we had been taught in school, and once we realized we were physically OK, there was concern for others, including our mother who was on the way home from work,

The streets were dark that evening as power had been out due to structural damage; and the only news we had immediately was that buildings had collapsed and persons had been injured and killed as a result of the temblor. School was postponed for about a week if memory serves me right, but that natural disaster was a moment that defined my childhood — there was a clear loss of innocence for myself at that time and while I had many questions my mother could not answer, I remember her being there for all of it, being strong and making sure we were safe and fed.

Its too early to say how the Coronavirus will impact the kids of this generation.  At present my family is doing its best to keep the spirits up for the kids — we’re trying a semi-structured home schooling effort coupled with walks around the block and some free time.  But it if you ask me, this certainly will be a time they will never forget, and it is our duty as parents and adults to make sure that the kids who turn to us feel as taken care of just as our parents did for us during our times of crisis.

TSC and A&G Chrome?! Did we need this? Who cares, bring them to us!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 25, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Topps announced today that during this calendar year we will see two new baseball products on the market, Allen & Ginter Chrome and a new version of Stadium Club Chrome.

Do we need them? No. Did anyone ask for them? Maybe. Will they be awesome and heavily opened? Absolutely.

Allen & Ginter Chrome has been sort of a running joke among some for years, especially those who know that the Ginter brand has kind of run its course and know that Topps has a history of adding Chrome to products to attract the crowd that simply loves flashy stuff. It’s going to be scrutinized as a waste of a product but it’ll have its market. Player and team collectors will enjoy chasing the cards, even more so if the cards are etched like old school Chrome, and not the phony Chrome that Topps been releasing in Bowman products over the last decade.

The Stadium Club Chrome hit me right in the feels since I’m such a nut for Stadium Club. I got a text from a friend advising me this was a thing before I saw it published anywhere and my immediate thought was “Take my money.” That said, we have been here before. Stadium Club Chrome was a thing as a standalone product in 2000. Also during that time we had lots of competing interests, and that product did not include autographs or relics, just Chrome base and refractor parallels, and various inserts. So it was one and done at the time. Of course Topps has brought back Stadium Club Chrome as an insert in recent years and while the secondary market does not suggest those were a hit, they certainly look damn good — especially the refractor versions. The twist to 2020 Stadium Club Chrome seems to be that it’ll be updated with 100 additional cards, likely to incorporate rookies and veterans who did not make it into the base TSC set. I’m a fan of this idea.

These new Chrome versions may not be your cup of tea and you may be inclined to crap all over the effort immediately. Your opinions are yours and they are not wrong. I mean surely they will certainly cost you more money if you’re chasing every version of a certain player or team. But nothing says you have to buy any of this, not immediately or ever. You have a choice.

But isn’t this what we wanted? Didn’t we want more product from which to chose instead of constantly opening Series 1 or 2, or Heritage, or turning to Panini products to scratch an itch halfway through the season?

The time has come yet again for you as a collector to draw a line in the sand and decide what you want. And if that decision does not include these products, that doesn’t mean this was a bad idea. It just means you go about your business and keep doing what you’re doing. Personally I’ll be chasing my PC guys in Ginter Chrome and I may eventually work on a TSC Chrome set — but probably not right away unless of course the price is right.

Valentine’s Day and the cards that allowed boys to show some emotion

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 14, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

In the 1980s and 1990s, the World was changing, becoming a more softer, gentler place. However, it was still common to reinforce the notion that boys cannot show any real emotion aside from anger and rage.

You only said “I Love You” to your mom or your girlfriend, and aside from a high five or a punch to the arm, boys were to express no positive emotion toward each other.

At least that’s how I perceived the world when I was entering adolescence.

So when it came to Valentine’s Day in elementary school, we selected the most boy-thing ever:

Sports Valentine’s Day Cards.

The messages were very Bro-tastic; what we deemed to be an acceptable way of telling other boys that “we’re cool,” “we good,” “you’re my boy” — or simply, we are friends and I care about you.

As a card collector from a young age I always kept these cards when I got them because … I was a collector.

Over the years I’ve lost a few, but I still manage to have these two, ones of Michael Jordan (I’ll upload a better image later) and Barry Sanders, and I believe I have a third one somewhere of Ken Griffey Jr., which I could not locate for this post.

Anyway, it is Valentine’s Day, and if these still existed and we were still in school I’d write my name on the back of them and place them in each of your poorly decorated Valentine’s bags at the edge of your desks.

Don’t just invest your efforts and money today in chasing down Optic basketball, get flowers and a card for the person in your life — because THAT is an investment worth making.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

2020 Topps Rookie Logo ManuRelics have won me over

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 13, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I’m really not a huge fan of Manufactured relics. Hell, I don’t think anyone is. But the 2020 blaster-exclusive Rookie Logo medallions have won me over.

I enjoy the simplicity of the card; it’s not some wacky design with a chunky piece of metal or rubber. It’s essentially a reprint of a rookie card with the small Rookie Card Logo embedded within and honestly I’m kicking around the idea of working on this set.

I’m drawn to them like no other ManuRelic I’ve seen in the past; maybe it’s my affinity to rookies. Rookie card reprints have been used as ManuRelics in the past — I believe Topps did them as silk patches in 2013 (I did NOT like them) — but the 2020 cards really are gorgeous, even more so when you hold them.

I enjoy the matte finish and the fact that even though the card is thick and has a piece of metal in it, it’s weight is not grossly imbalanced. And while the stock is thick, it resembles something I’d expect to see on a high-dollar release.

We know why ManuRelics exist — it’s an incentive to make people buy blasters; to help consumers feel as if they’ve received something special. And for the first time in a while — maybe even ever — I do feel that way with these.

If you’ve got any you’re looking to unload I’m interested. I’ll be seeking the regular versions of everyone on the checklist; and then variations of the Clayton a Kershaw and Roger Clemens cards from the set.

Don’t be a dick to Dollar Tree if they don’t sell you packs for a penny

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 7, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

It’s been said on Twitter that Dollar Tree has been selling NFL trading cards this week for a penny per pack.

Some folks have walked out with dozens from each store, claiming victory against a hobby that often seems like it prices people out.

Meanwhile others have found such packs and store clerks have refused to sell them.

The latter is what happened to me Friday morning when I located 25 packs at a single store.

My experience went like this:

I walked in, grabbed the packs and went to the register. I asked them to check the price because they had been discontinued across the county. They checked, it rang up a penny and then they asked for a manager to check the situation.

At first the manager said they had to throw them away; then she clarified that they actually get sent back to the distributor.

I understood, thanked them and told them to have a good day.

Now, it’d be easy to come off angry and act like they owe it to us to sell the item. We could cause a scene and make threats to force the issue. But I know from working retail that price changes that drop to this price point usually mean that the item is supposed to be returned to the distributor. The process by which retailers signal this is different and with Dollar Tree it appears to be the $0.01 price point. Other places change the price to $0.00.

Bottom line, don’t be a dick to the Dollar Tree clerks or manager if they tell you they can’t sell them. They’re just doing their job and adhering to their company’s protocol. And threats to stop shopping at the discount retailer will ring hollow as they’ll happily tell you to walk out the door with your 50 cents instead of letting you walk out with 50 packs after you invoke the “customer is always right” mantra.

If you do see packs, take them to the register and see if they’ll sell them at the penny per pack. If they do, then you’ve won. But always be cautiously optimistic.

For the uninitiated, packs at Dollar Tree contain five cards, always four base cards and one parallel or exclusive card. There is NO CHANCE at autographs, relics or serial numbered items.

All of the good cards are gone … (Topps Million Card Rip Party)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 5, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

The funny thing about large publicity events like the Topps Million Card Rip Party is that it often brings about negative feelings for those who aren’t involved.

I’ll say this: I was not involved. I wasn’t there and didn’t buy into a break. I did watch a bit on YouTube but had to turn it off because it was causing me anxiety. It looked like chaos, was loud, and honesty, Flagship Topps isn’t really breaker friendly so it was a lot of quick rip and filler chatter between the hits. As I noted on Twitter, the Rip Party wasn’t for me … and that’s Ok. I hold no negative feelings about it.

But the real purpose of this post today is that there is also the notion that all of the good cards are gone since so much of the stuff was ripped at one time. We saw some very nice cards come from some packs.

It’s true there was a lot of product ripped yesterday. But whether it happened in one place or across the country over the course of a day or two, all of that stuff would have been opened this week anyway. Topps flagship is ripped in mass quantity — and it still will be — and at least we know that the cards actually exist.

If you are on the side that believes all of the good stuff is gone, I offer this alternative point: At least you already know that certain 1 of 1s are off the table. Because a lot of those get pulled and put into personal collections and don’t show up on social media feeds So that can lead to folks questioning if they’re still in the wild.

Flagship Topps is about the base cards — that’s why there is so much produced. The rare hits are really a bonus for those ripping, and the fact that some of them are no longer in packs should not deter you from buying the product if you wanted it in the first place.

Why I chose COMC over eBay/Instagram/Twitter for sales

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on January 31, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

About a year or so ago I started to see a trend, one that had probably been around for a while, but had somewhat laid latent in my mind. What was the trend? Card sales via Twitter and other social media platforms.

It was intriguing when I started to notice them. Folks were posting stacks of cards for sale, often one at a time, with some combined shipping component. It seemed like a good idea, but then I saw more and more of them. And over the course of a week or so that seemed to be all that was popping up on my Twitter feed.

It was annoying. I muted and in some cases unfollowed some folks.

But deep inside I wondered if I could do something similar. I had (and still have) thousands upon thousands of cards sitting around and at the time I was thinking that it’d be great if I could turn some of these cards into some dimes, quarters or even dollar bills — all of that eventually adds up. However, I was stuck on one fact: A stream of card sales on a social media platform was annoying as hell and I did not want to be a hypocrite since I’d been vocal in regards to the annoyance I felt with this stream of posts. So my remedy was to create various pages on my own blog and open a Virtual Card Shop where folks could shop through the photos of stuff I had message me.

Again, great idea. But, this is akin to setting up a table of singles for sale in the middle of the forest where there is no one around — it’s not like this blog is a daily read for people. So I spent about a day screwing around with that idea before realizing that was a ton of work and the time invested hoping to make a few bucks really didn’t make sense.

Of course eBay is always an option for sale, but I had such a negative experience with the site over the last year that I’d grown to trust almost no one when it comes to selling cards. Seriously, if you’re engaging in nefarious activity such as making false claims, forcing returns on volatile commodities such as sports cards, or otherwise adding to the negativity you really need to rethink your place in this hobby.

And so for me, I have decided to return to submitting items to COMC, the consignment site that has gained popularity over the last decade. The processing fees on the site have increased over the last decade — and for some collectors the upfront cost can be prohibitive. But the site remains the easiest and safest way to move inventory you no longer want in your presence. It doesn’t make sense for all cards, and sometimes you will lose on cards you send — especially if the value of the cards is too low so do your research — but it can be a very effective way to cull funds from sales and then purchase something else.

A quick synopsis of COMC:

-Most items cost 30 cents each for processing, which includes scanning the card and placing it into your account.

-Once uploaded, YOU select the price you want to charge for your card. In some cases COMC is an exercise in sellers undercutting each other and buyers getting great deals — so you do need to pay attention.

-COMC takes a small cut of the sale (5%) and then 10% if you decide to cash out — remove your money from the site and have it sent to your paypal or via check. But if you’re selling with intent to buy something else with your money, just let the funds accumulate because COMC is really a buyer’s market.

There are other sites to sell items — I know folks have used SportLots with great success — but that also requires being ultra organized and still storing those cards in your space. Part of my goal of CardPurge2020 is to get unwanted items OUT OF MY SPACE, or at least keep that to a minimum.

That said, some have a lot of success selling via social media, and if you are, then good for you. By no means am I advocating that you stop. But for me personally, that’s not my method of choice.

That’s not to say I won’t occasionally offer items for sale or trade, but I won’t be running streams of sales, and my view of them has soften as the number of posts are no longer as overwhelming as they were for a brief stint in 2019.