Archive for the Commentary Category

Collecting in 2019 summed up in one photo

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I saw an interesting Tweet yesterday from SGC Grading, which is often thought of as the third-in-line grading company behind PSA and Beckett.

The company account (@sgcgrading) posted the following image:

Does this image not pretty much represent our hobby in 2019?

Love him or hate him, Gary Vee (Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.) has absolutely made a splash in our hobby this year and he parlayed his Internet celeb status into a hobby influencer who has proclaimed that sports cards are a great investment. And his social media pull has led him to be featured not only on his own 2019 Topps Allen & Ginter Card, but also a Topps Series 2 insert set bearing his name, and a full-blown special set produced by Topps.

Among the things he has touted in recent months has been SGC Grading, which with his endorsement and the scandals around grading involving PSA and BGS has made somewhat of a resurgence among collectors.

SGC has always had great-looking cases, but let’s not fool ourselves, this company has not had the support of the modern hobbyists. Vintage collectors know-well how underrated SGC has been, but most collectors before the grading scandal and even now, would prefer to send their cards to PSA or Beckett. It’ll be interesting to see if the word of Gary, coupled with the scandal and a rebranded logo, will elevate the hobby status of Sportscard Guaranty.

Personally, I like SGC for vintage — that black inlay is gorgeous — but for MY collection I’m still a BGS guy because I like the uniformity, I’ve been grading with BGS since 1998. That said, I’ve not submitted a card for grading for my personal collection in almost two years.

“I put them in my pocket …” (National Baseball Card Day 2019)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

National Baseball Card Day is One of the best days of year when it comes to our beloved hobby.

This year I gathered up my two kids and headed to the card shop. And moments later my sister showed up with her kids, including her son who has gotten into baseball cards thanks in part to my son and I.

We went to South Bay Sports Cards in Sunnyvale, Calif. and while there I ran into one of my Twitter followers who recognized me from pictures I had posted of my kids. (Nick, we should have taken a group photo.)

We made a few small purchases and the kids got a few free packs and the Special Bryce Harper Card.

The purchased packs yielded nothing of real interest. Chrome had a “short” printed Eloy Jimenez.

And so had hoped to personally pull my first Mike Oz Card from a Ginter pack, both of my packs turned out to be less than spectacular.

But, that’s not really what the day was about. It was about the cards that Topps and South Bay Sports Cards put into the hands of the kids

The highlights of my son’s packs included Ronald Acuna, Javier Baez and Justin Verlander.

And my daughter’s packs yielded two of MY PC guys in a single pack and Pete Alonso.

My packs were highlighted by Mike Trout and Matt Chapman, also guys whom I have put aside for my son.

The family posed for a photo in front of the store before we set off on our separate ways.

Then after the photo I asked my daughter where she put her cards since I did not see them in her hand.

Her answer: “I put them in my pocket…”

I shook my head, told her to show me and then took a photo before telling her to take them out. The cards are hers, and I LOVED that she put them in her pocket since most of us have done the same at some point during our collecting careers. But I advised her to take them out and put them in her binder later, which she agreed was a better course of action.

I may not be able to take the kids back next week for the Vlad Guerrero Jr special card, but I’ll find someone to take the kids for me. I love these promotions, it’s especially fun for the kids now that they also collect.

That moment when your friend gets his own baseball card in Allen & Ginter

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

There’s been no shortage of complaining about this year’s Topps Allen & Ginter non-baseball checklist, and sadly one of the figures who had drawn the ire of collectors early on was Yahoo Sports’ Mike Oz, touted on the back of his card #157 as “Baseball Card Video Host.”

The complaining is something that happens every year. Let’s face it: 2006 may have had the greatest non-baseball checklist that Allen & Ginter will ever have The bar was set so high that it was impossible for Topps to match the product year after year.

And so with each year Topps looks to diversify the checklist, and each year that checklist is subjected to scrutiny, fair or not, and the persons who the company selected to appear on official cards draw the ire of hobbyists, many of which who truly believe THEY deserve a spot on a baseball card instead of the subject they can actually find in their packs.

I’m not going to act like I’m above this. I’ve complained about checklists in the past, and have done my fair share of questioning who some of the folks are. But this year has been a bit different.

Mike Oz, the guy who appears on card 157 of the 2019 Allen & Ginter set, is more than just the guy on another card in my collection. That’s the guy who befriended me when we both wound up at the college newspaper together in 2000. That’s the guy who helped me get internships and acted as a peer and mentor. That’s the guy who has been a friend to me for almost two decades and is one of the most liked people I’ve known in my life.

Additionally, that’s also the guy who has done a lot in recent years to bring more attention to this hobby through his work with Yahoo by putting baseball cards in the hands of current and former players and having them tell stories — something that he has been doing before multiple other people started to copy or adapt versions of the format.

But what’s also important to know is that Mike is not just a dude off the street who decided to open cards with players — something that many folks think they also could do given the opportunity. Mike is an accomplished media man — he was a nationally-recognized collegiate sports journalist and a contributor to a major hip-hop magazine and a radio DJ while in college. After school he worked as a professional journalist at a major newspaper in central California covering local happenings, sports and the music scene. He then parlayed that into a dream job covering Major League Baseball for Yahoo, which has evolved to now include the “Old Baseball Cards” series which as gained him notoriety with a whole new audience, which includes the folks at Topps who reached out to him to include him in the 2019 Allen & Ginter set.

I realize that my personal connection to him leaves me in a space where I would not criticize his inclusion on this year’s set. But it is this connection that also puts me in a unique position to share with the hobby who this guy is. So while others are also deserving of being in such a set — which every year by design has more than a dozen non-players on the checklist so I’m sure we’ll see more debate next year — Mike’s inclusion this year doesn’t shock me one bit, and it absolutely gives me a reason to purchase Ginter, as it’s a product that over the years has drawn less interest from me.

The set isn’t for everyone, including myself. It’s not a traditional baseball card release. It wasn’t when the line started in 1887, and it wasn’t when Topps adopted the brand and rebooted it in 2006. And if you expected Topps to change the formula for this year, or for other releases going forward, you’re going to drive yourself crazy fighting a battle not worth fighting. It’s best to embrace the checklist as it is presented each year, or just dismiss the product all together and just wait for the next release, which as history has shown us, is just a few days away anyway.

My love-hate relationship with the NSCC

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I’m just going to say this right up front — I don’t want to see your NSCC Twitter posts.

I don’t want to see the bargains I can’t have.

I don’t want to see the people I can’t meet.

I don’t want to see all the fun you’re having while I’m stuck at work.

Yep, I’m a hater … or maybe I just have extreme case of FOMO.

I’ve been to two National Sports Collectors Conventions, ones in 2012 (Baltimore) and 2014 (Cleveland), both times as a freelance writer for Beckett. Both times I was there more or less in a work capacity. And if it weren’t for those professional dealings I probably wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve had the pleasure of being in the room where it all happens.

It is a lot of fun to be there. It’s insane how much stuff gets crammed to a building. It’s great to track down pieces you’d never imagined seeing or holding in your hands. It’s really something most collectors should experience at least once.

That said, it’s tough to be on the outside looking in, and I know I am not the only one who struggles with this.

Call it jealousy, FOMO, whatever … I admittedly have a tough time during this time of year and I purposely try to stay away from Twitter because seeing the stream of photos and tweets can cause a sensation similar to depression.

So for those going this year, enjoy yourself. I’d love to hear the stories, and see the great deals you got. I just don’t plan — keyword here — to see them in real-time.

The err of my way: Not everything needs to be collected

Posted in Commentary, Dad Life with tags , , , on June 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

As I’ve grown older, I’ve done a lot of thinking — some good; some bad. But when it comes to this hobby, I’m always thinking about it: the cards, the purpose … the addiction.

It’s a tiresome exercise to be up one day and down the next on a hobby that is supposed to be nothing more than a hobby, yet has become your life.

I like to act like this is merely something I do for fun, like it’s an escape from reality. And in some ways it is. But at times I’ve got things completely backward, sometimes my life has actually become my escape from this hobby.

Too deep for a Friday? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s time for me to check myself; to again write words that I can reflect on to help remind me why I still do this. And of course as the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present.”

I have brought my son into this hobby, for better or worse. I’ll say for better — it’s helped further an amazing bond with a young man whom I see so much of myself in. But it’s that same notion that makes me reflect on it all the more — Do I want my son to be like me? Do I want his thoughts to be consumed by his hobby?

Clearly the answer to the latter is no. A resounding Fuck No!

But I’ve arrived at this conclusion today: A lot of my driving force in hobby spending lately has been to establish this unbreakable bond with my son — which I didn’t have fully with my father — so much so that I am finding myself generating reasons to buy cards so we can “experience” these things together. When really, we can experience much of the same with items we already have, or even outside this hobby.

I do not need to collect everything; and everything doesn’t to be collected.

This is a mantra I need to repeat to myself every day. Because while I have an absolute love for a product like Topps Stadium Club, and feel good about purchasing it, I often find myself manufacturing a similar sentiment to help justify purchases of other items.

My son can enjoy a pack or two of a product and walk away. He’s innocent. But I don’t need to go buy a box or multiple blasters of said product to maintain the father-son bond.

I don’t need those cards in my collection; I don’t need them for our relationship; I don’t need them to stay active in social media circles..

Simply put: I don’t need them to And believing that we do has been an error of my way.

I’m sorry, I didn’t read the description

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on June 25, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

About two hours ago I posted a card for sale on eBay. It’s a modern Prizm parallel of a big rookie. The asking price is lower than others, the card has flaws that are shown in pictures and are spoken of in the description .

To this point, I’ve already gotten three offers. Yet the card is still for sale.

Why?

BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T READ DESCRIPTIONS!

This guy was the latest. He made an offer and instead of retracting his own offer, he wants me to do it.

No. If you’re going to be a dipshit, you can do it yourself. I told that I refused and told him to go figure it out himself– and to start reading descriptions before making offers.

As mentioned above, that was the latest. One buyer made an offer and retracted it within a few minutes before I could take action.

And another guy made an offer, which sat for 45 minutes before I accepted it. And when I did accept it, he immediately asked to cancel.

When asked why … he told me he entered the wrong about.

Damn liar.

EBay has become increasingly frustrating for many. And after taking a break from eBay selling due to issues about a month ago I returned today to new issues.

So. Damn. Frustrating.

Boooooo! Give it to the kid!

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

He sits in his seat, left hand in his fielding glove, eyes transfixed on the field before him.

Like many other kids his age, his dream is to catch a ball. Game-used, player-thrown or -hit, whatever … it doesn’t matter. A ball is a ball, and it was the object of his desire.

This was me as a youth. Hell, it was you, and your friend. It was your dad, your brother, your cousin, your nephew.

It is my son.

My boy in recent months has taken a liking to the game, more so than I ever images he would at his age. I mean, like many baseball-loving dads, I hoped my son would be the kid who would be crushing Whiffle balls with a pacifier in his mouth, or throwing darts from right field to third base before the third grade. But that hasn’t always been the case. Even though he had been exposed to the game since birth, my son until recently hadn’t shown love for the sport.

But then it happened. He wanted to know about cards; about the game; about the rules.

And recently, when attending games, he started bringing his glove. And just a week and a half ago — on June 7, 2019 — while at the Dodgers-Giants game he asked if he (and his sister and cousin) could go to the front two of the bleachers during batting practice to see if he could snag a ball.

They didn’t get close to catching one, but watching their faces being among the crowd of folks with the same childhood dream — was priceless.

At one point a ball had gotten tossed into the stands and a scrum ensued and my nephew managed to get a finger tip on it, before a group of guys crashed into each other and a young girl walked away with it in her hands. No one was upset; hell, I was proud of my nephew for the effort. And found great comedy in watching a group of boys (and men) picking themselves up as the pre-teen girl held it up and flashed a giant smile.

Fast forward to Monday, June 17, a day after Father’s Day. My kids were with me for a few days and I sought out cheap entertainment. Of course my mind instantly went to baseball. I managed to find some bleacher seats for the Orioles at Athletics game and asked the kids if they wanted to go. Without hesitation, both my son and daughter agreed. And as we headed out the door, my son grabbed his glove.

By the time we got to the stadium, the first row on the left-field bleachers was full — which is to be expected in Oakland. They have some die-hard fans in left and right field bleachers, the type that bang on drums and cow bells, wave flags and have hand coordinated gestures.

But, we got there early enough to pick the seats we wanted. And sure enough, as we say down my son had his left hand in his glove, seemingly ready for anything that came his way.

For the first two innings, my son jumped out of his seat for anything that got hit toward left field. He wasn’t the only one. But his instincts were making me proud. Then in the third inning — after the A’s scored two runs — outfielder Ramon Laureano hit a flyball to left field for the third out.

Orioles left field Anthony Santander gloves it and began running toward the infield, and he threw it to Second baseball Hanser Alberto (who at this point was standing between second base and left field) and Alberto threw it into the left field bleachers. The ball clanked off a seat in section 136 and rolled down to section 135, row 29 — right behind my son. My son reached back and hand two fingers on it when an older kid — maybe late teens early 20s — comes flying over from 136 and aggressively grabs the ball, then turns around with his treasure.

Almost immediately, the crowd laid him.

“Booooooo! Give it to the kid!”

I asked my son if he was OK, and he said he was. He explained he had two fingers on it when it got snatched away by the other person in a blue shirt. I put my hand on his head and told him it was OK. I can’t say I was upset because I didn’t see how much control my son actually had of the ball. Also … I don’t know that older guy’s story. Hell, it’s not like the guy appeared to be in his 30s or anything.

Nonetheless, after a few moments, the guy in the blue shirt comes over and hands the ball to my son, apologizes and walks away halfway through my head nod to acknowledge his actions.

It was a great gesture, one I wish I could have thanked him more for at the time — but I froze. I was concerned about my son being embarrassed — also I wanted to make sure he actually held the ball and didn’t let it roll away.

To the guy in the blue shirt, thank you. I wish I could have shaken your hand before you disappeared. It’s not something you had to do, even if the others around you put pressure on you to give it up.

Having said that, what IS the protocol for older kids, young adults or older folks chasing a ball when clearly it’s in the grasp of a kid? Is this something I should have been upset about? Is this a scenario for which I should even be thanking the guy in the blue shirt?

As for the ball … I went aback and watched the replay of the final moments of the third inning. It appears this ball was initially used in a Khris Davis groundout to Hanser Alberto, who threw it to third base on a fielder’s choice — that’s where they tagged out a Matt Olson for the second out. Then on the next pitch Laureano pops out to left and eventually the ball ends up in the stands.

It was of apropos that Laureano was the guy who last hit it. He has been a golden thread weaved through my baseball story over the last year or so. My kids and I were there for his first career homer; I was there in April when he gunned down Xander Bogaerts at home, and again in May when he threw out another player from deep centerfield. And of course now this flyout which my son now owns.