Archive for the Commentary Category

I made another Topps purchase … but what I really want are the old school folders

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I woke early this morning to make the kids’ school lunches and it dawned on me that it’s Wednesday. This means three things: It’s early day at school; there is a new episode of my favorite card podcast tonight; and it’s a Topps Living Set day.

Clayton Kershaw got his Topps Living Set card a few months ago, but last week the limited edition 10×14 fine art print went up for sale and while making lunches I remembered today was the last day to make the purchase so I logged in, ordered one, and moved on about my morning.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wished there was something else I wanted. I searched Kershaw’s name and there were various On Demand cards and posters for sale, but it seemed like something was missing. Then the light bulb went on and a clear vision popped into my head.

When I was 9, my family used to shop at KMart. I will never be ashamed of that. One of the items that I recall buying a a kid was a notebook folder designed to look like the 1989 Topps Mark McGwire card. There was Big Mac on the cover in his familiar crouched batting stance as shown on the front of his actual 1989 card, and the back was also a copy of the card, full of stats. I did the same a year later with a Dave Stewart card-inspired folder, his eyes staring right at me every time I opened the folder for math class.

The vision I had was not only those brief seconds of my youth, but how I wished Topps had recreated those folders for the current lineupo of cards and sold them on the Web Site. Full card fronts and backs, just like we had some 30 years ago.

Imagine if those were for sale, even for the cost of $3.99 each. How many of us nostalgic folks would spring for a few of those for ourselves, and maybe even a few for our own kids, or nieces or nephews.

This hobby is all about nostalgia. Do us all a favor, Topps, and bring back the folders. You guys could even sell them as a team set or an all-star team set to make it worth your while. Collectors talk a lot about bringing the youth into our hobby and we know that the business model doesn’t currently play into that for any card company. But the folders would be a fun way to tap into the youth; a way to link the kids with their parents or older siblings.

My brain has been trained to stop when I see the word …

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on March 11, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was out running errands this morning after taking my kids to school when I decided to stop at Walgreens just in case the retailer got the Topps yellow exclusive packs early.

No such luck.

But I did take a glance at the 75-card repack boxes and I instantly stopped when I saw the word “Elite.”

Ever since I was a 11, the words “Elite Series” have been engrained in my head as being synonymous with the words “rare” and “valuable.”

Now, time has shown us that the original run of Elite Series baseball cards from 1991 through about 1995, and even a bit from 1996 through 1998, can still carry some clout.

But even though much of the newer stuff is technically “rarer,” it definitely does not carry the same weight In the hobby as the older ones.

But even the mere sight of this 2017 Donruss Elite (Rookie) Series Kenny Golladay makes me stop and reflect. I almost bought it … but I reminded myself that I don’t collect football.

But it did make me go look at my Complete Set of 1991-1993 Elite Series baseball inserts including the autographs.

The one 2000 GOTG auto I wished I kept – Tom Seaver

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

News came out today about Major League pitching legend Tom Seaver and his family making a decision for him to step out of the public spotlight due to his diagnosis with dementia.

I’ll admit, I was sad when I saw the statement. And I’ll be honest, I was half expecting there to be a bigger announcement about him — because in some ways we’ve trained ourselves to think that way in this age of social media — but I’m glad that was not the case and I do wish Mr. Seaver and his family well going forward.

In my eyes, Seaver has always felt like a bigger legend than Nolan Ryan. Sure, Seaver had long held the record until recently for highest vote percentage by a player elected to the Hall of Fame on their first ballot — so his value was appreciated by voters. But in many ways it seems as though he had been overshadowed by his former teammate because Ryan had seven no-hitters and still holds the record for strikeouts.

Aside from Seaver’s Rookie Card, the secondary market for his relics and autos have paled by comparison to Ryan, and even some others from the same era.

Personally, I’ve always loved Seaver’s signature. And my favorite was his 2000 Greats of the Game, which I owned until last year.

That 2000 set was such an iconic release, and several years ago I managed to finish the entire set — which I chronicled both here and in Beckett Baseball Monthly. In fact I still have all the images listed on this page here. But last year I sold the set, except for one card — the Nolan Ryan, which I decided to keep because I personally pulled that from a pack in 2000. Kind of ironic given how I feel about Seaver, his signature and this specific card.

Flagship, Heritage are done — time to ease off the gas pedal

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Commentary with tags , , , , on March 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve been trying to take a different approach to my hobby lately. In years past I’d spend days on end ripping and collecting whatever was in front of me. But over the last six to eight months I’ve turned much of my collecting attention to my player collections.

The beginning of the new card year usually brings all those crazy ripping feelings back. The desire to constantly buy and rip everything in sight. I ripped a fairly minimal amount of Topps Flagship and managed to build the base set, and over the last week I’ve opened a few blasters of Topps Heritage and have managed through a few trades to pretty much wrap up the base set of that , sans about 70 SPs for which I have ZERO desire to pay top dollar — wake me when they get to about $1 each as I am in no rush to complete the sets.

And with my son entering the hobby I’ve turned a bit to a little basketball — as you may have seen in recent video breaks I posted on YouTube and wrote briefly about here. I will do my best to not venture into the higher-end market.

But when it comes to baseball, I don’t see a whole lot that will grab my interest until Stadium Club hits in a few months. And this is a good thing for me and my bank account.

That’s not to say I won’t sample other products between then and now, but it means I likely won’t be buying hobby boxes or blasters of every product. I won’t be building the Donruss set, but I’ll be chasing the Kershaw parallels on the secondary market, where I can get exactly what I want and hopefully for less than I would spend if I were buying packs.

Speaking of the secondary market, my first wave of Kershaw Topps Heritage cards started to arrive this week from various purchases on eBay. Arriving this week were the French version, the mini version serial numbered /100, the black border NLCS Kershaw card (limited to 50 copies) and the almighty Heritage Chrome Black Refractor /70, which has always been one of my favorite parallels each season.

And lastly, speaking of parallels, I lost out on an auction today that really made me shake my head. Earlier today an auction ended for the “Silver Metal” version of the 2018 Topps Heritage Kershaw card and it went for way more than I expected. To be fair, it was the first of its kind on eBay so folks chasing the master set of Heritage were likely in on this one. But I decided I was out of the hunt with about three minutes left in the auction after my max bid was eclipsed. Why? Because I was not thrilled with the price of the card in relation to the quality.

Late last week I managed to pull the Chris Sale version of the “Metal” card and I’ll be honest — the card is disgusting. It’s not metal. Hell, it’s not even Chrome. It’s foilboard technology for most of the card with the player being covered only in gloss. It’s a let down considering they fall 1 in every 800-plus packs and they feel like a bastardized version of the retail exclusive “chrome” foilboard from recent releases. And because I have the Sale, I knew I didn’t feel comfortable paying more for the “Metal” than I did for the aforementioned Black Refractor. Others may not feel the same way when it comes to player collections, but sometimes I consider quality of the product in addition to rarity when figuring out what I am comfortable paying.

The Art of the Deal: Coupons for Cards

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Last month when 2019 Topps Series One was released, some of the the blaster boxes offered exclusively through Target offered a stack of coupons as prominently advertised on the exterior packaging.

The coupons were for various items set to be released through the season. There were coupons for more Series One, coupons for Heritage and for Bowman, Opening Day and Gypsy Queen.

The coupons offered a dollar off here and there, which is a welcome sight in a collectibles market that rarely sees sale prices or deals offered through big box retailers.

And the coupons are a great value if you need the products being offered, or if you were going to buy them anyway.

But they can create a situation where you end up buying more product that you really need or want — which is how coupons work in the first place.

Here’s where I screwed up: I had the coupons sitting in my car last week when I ran into Heritage at retail. I bought the Heritage I desired and forgot I even had the coupons. And then I discovered the coupons again this week and there was this feeling in me that I needed to use the coupons or it felt like a missed opportunity.

The logic, of course, is somewhat flawed because I no longer “needed” Heritage or Series One packs since I am close to completing both sets.

I tweeted a picture of the coupons yesterday to merely point out that I was having the urge to go hunt down more Heritage, but as some relies suggested, you’re not really saving money if you wind up spending more than you planned to in the first place.

This is not to say I won’t use the coupons, or buy more packs, but it’s important for me to state the reality sometimes and get it in print (or on the web) to help me curb some behaviors.

A new quirk for 2019 Topps Heritage?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

The Topps Heritage line is a fun set to collect or view from afar each year. For the most part, Topps stays true to the original design and quirks, often mimicking the errors of the past to maintain that sense of nostalgia that’ve come to embrace over the years

Of course in recent memory they’ve also added a slew of variations to make for extreme chase cards in some cases. But today I think I found a new tradition, one that doesn’t appear to be a throwback to the 1970 set.

While sorting a bit of the Heritage that I picked up this week I noticed something that doesn’t appear to be an homage to the original set. Grab your stacks of Heritage and thumb through them and pull out your base cards of the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies. Remember, I’m talking base cards, not the multi-player rookie cards of subsets.

Now turn them over and look at the bio box.

Do you see it?

Right below the player’s biographical information is the team name: Washington Nationals or Colorado Rockies. Now go look at the other card backs. You’ll notice that cards of the other teams don’t have the team name on back.

I asked a hobby friend of mine what the deal was with this and he seemed to not know about it, suggesting that maybe it was a wink to something from 1970. I figured that may have been the case too, so I looked and I did not see the team name on the back of the 1970 cards.

I also noticed something else … a handful of the Nationals cards in the 2019 set (cards 1-400 not the SPs 401-500) corresponded by number with cards of the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins from the 1970 set, which is a fun hat tip since there is some lineage between the Senators-Twins-Nationals franchises and locations.

Have you noticed any other fun quirks to the 2019 Heritage set? Leave a comment below.

Target’s “new” card return policy?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

It was tweeted yesterday by @OACCards (Once A Cub) that he’d gone to Target and found there was a new policy in place for the return of trading cards.

As shown in the picture the policy basically is that trading and sports cards are not eligible for return, although it appears there is some wiggle room of you call the Guest Relations Hotline.

This is a welcome sight and likely will be rolled out to a store near you. We’ve all seen or heard the horror stories of buying retail boxes or packs that looked to contain the newest products, but actually housed commons that were inserted by an unscrupulous buyer who returned said item. Heck, some of us have experienced it. I had this happen in 2012 when three blasters of Bowman baseball were opened and all Chrome cards were removed — a discovery I learned the hard way. And it happened several times after that including last year when several Prism packs were found to contain run-of-the-mill base cards.

What’s interesting to note in all of this is that this policy that’s gained some attention this week is actually something that used to exist 20 years ago when I worked at Target. In fact, you were not able to return any cards or collectible toys — due in part to the volatile nature of the secondary market.

I’m sure this current policy will be prominently posted in most stores, and at some point will again be forgotten or not enforced once the shrink number have stabilized. But for now it’s great to see the retailer taking some action as the occurrences seem to be increasing.

That said, it’s in your best interest to inspect your blasters before you purchase. Sometimes thieves are burrowing holes through the bottom and removing packs, and other times they use razor blades to carefully cut the factory cellophane, and in extreme cases, the outer wrapper is being replaced completely, so make sure the company logos are printed ON THE WRAPPER.