Archive for baseball

Black Friday card shopping doesn’t hit like it used to

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 25, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

Today is “Black Friday,” which for a long time meant it was the one day of the year where many of us frothed at the mouth waiting for hourly price drops on card products we didn’t really need, but always justified purchasing by telling others that “cards are NEVER on sale.”

The shopping holiday has been around for decades and is named as such because retailers would slash prices that would ultimately get cash flowing and put their coffers in the “black,” which in bookkeeping terms is positive. Over the years the single day turned into a whole weekend of stuff that now includes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Over the last decade and a half this has meant some exciting times for our hobby. It was a time to purchase boxes at half of their regular prices, to find deals on consignment site, or win various prices on messages boards. Hell, I remember getting up at 5 a.m. on a non-work day just to constantly watch Twitter for the latest drop and even tried various times to be the lucky caller to win a Beckett magazine subscription by calling Blowout Cards.

This day always started the same for me. I’d peruse the sites and load up my cart with items such as 2004 Deck SP Prospects (loved the signed prospects) and 2009 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts (always wanted to pull a massive cut auto). And the day would always end the same as several hours later I’d come to my senses and just empty the cart when I realized that I was about to spend $400 on stuff I really didn’t need.

Over at COMC I’d click “purchase” dozens of times over on cards I’d been watching all year long, items to fill out various projects I was working on.

But this year things feel different, and I’m not sure if it’s just me or if its true for anyone else.
For the better part of a week COMC has had a banner on its site, advising sellers to set up their free sales, and offering tidbits to buyers who were urged to partake in the price slashing event. I failed to set up a sale beforehand, and even as of this writing I have not purchased a damn thing.

And on online retail sites I glanced at some of the sales and ultimately just kinda threw my hands up and literally said “meh.”

The thrill is gone.

I’m sure some of you are still stoked about things today, and if you are that’s great. But from my perspective it feels like I’ve become numb to the idea of new product and sales prices. Because for years now there has been a barrage of products weekly, and all of the prices have been so high by comparison to the past that any “sale” price just feel like the prices we should be seeing normally. So I find it incredibly hard to justify purchasing things under these circumstances. At some point a “deal” is really no longer a “deal,” ya know?

Anyhow, there may be something that pops up today, this weekend or even over the upcoming weeks that changes my mind, but as I sit here and write this, it just feels like any other Friday.

“Forever Homes” are necessary for our hobby

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

I went down the rabbit hole of Burbank Sportscards Instagram Reels recently and there Rob Veres, the owner of who calls himself “The Cardfather,” has been speaking lately about the hobby lacking collectors and the notion that cards need “forever homes.”
Rob is absolutely correct.

For decades this hobby has been built on the idea that people buy these cards or trade for them because they enjoy the actual cards. The process by which they make those transactions can of course be part of the enjoyment, but ultimately a person’s long-term involvement in this space comes down to the cards.

Now before you click off this piece and call this gate keeping, know that I realize that being involved in this hobby today is different than it was two decades ago, and two decades before that and so on. I’m not suggesting that the way folks decide to participate is wrong.

What I’m saying is that if there is no one to ultimately collect the cards and own them regardless of value – and this is key – and be their “Forever Home” as Rob said, then the future of this hobby is not sustainable.

This is an exciting time for our hobby. There are more eyes on these cards, and more money flowing here than ever before. But if that is only occurring to continuously flip one card for the next, someone ends up getting stuck holding the cards that no one wants anymore. And that’s when it has a trickle-down effect that drives people out of the market because of lost money and “worthless” cards, and ultimately this hobby becomes a joke again.

One of the ways we can combat this is to evaluate our own involvement. Determine the thing or things that really have our attention in this hobby. And when others around us express and interest in cards, we should help them determine what it is that they want to achieve or collect in the hobby before they jump in head-first and max-out a credit card buying into breaks or playing a different version of the lottery.

So, what’s my history in cards? Here’s a short version of how I’ve collected over the years.

I started collecting in 1987 (Age 7) and at the time my goal was just to acquire and own cards. And with the price of packs in those days this was a simple task. Through my early teenage years I chased chase (insert) cards as everyone else did, but also collected the Boston Red Sox and Roger Clemens. In my mid- to late-teen years I made a switch from inserts and turned them all into rookie cards as I set off to collect every rookie card of all stars listed in Beckett. In my mid 20s I expanded the rookie collection and began adding Hall of Famers dating back to the 1940s. And in my early 30s I expanded again to include Hall of Famers back to tobacco era and then started to piece together a collection of Clayton Kershaw cards. Additionally, I decided to go back and build/acquire a run of Stadium Club baseball sets.

And now in my early 40s I am pivoting again. I’ve actually started to sell off some of the Hall of Fame rookies/tobacco cards — note I said some, not all — and narrow my collection to some player PCs, and various items I enjoy collecting with my son.

I got my son involved in the hobby about five years ago – he was also about age 7 – and since then we have enjoyed this hobby together, albeit in different ways. He collects Oakland A’s, Matt Chapman, some Matt Olson, Stephen Curry and other current Golden State Warriors. My Player PCs consist of Clayton Kershaw and Roger Clemens, as well as Carney Lansford, Nolan Arenado, Madison Bumgarner and others. These collections are now on their “Forever Home.”

Twitter again impacting my hobby, blogging experience

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on November 18, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

When I’ve logged into Twitter in recent days there has been a constant theme popping up: Hobbyists fearing that this may the end of Twitter, and thereby the end of some of their relationships with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of fellow card fiends.

There is a certain familiarity with this situation.

First off, it reminds me of Y2K, where folks at the turn of the century were afraid what would happen to computers at the turn of the calendar from 1999 to 2000 because when computers were programmed in the 1900s – man that is weird to say – calendar functionality was programmed to the end of the century. But we survived. Computers survived.

And secondly, this situation somewhat reminds be of the late 2000s when Beckett decided that it was going to overhaul it’s entire site, thereby killing the Beckett Message Boards, which at the time was home to some of the best hobby chatter 24/7.

That said, the death of the Beckett Message Boards led to me starting this Blog on July 3, 2008. So clearly I benefited from change.
I digress. Over the last 12-15 years, Twitter has become a big part of our hobby, my hobby, experience. Hell, Twitter is a major reason why you may even know who the hell I am or that this blog exists, and is the reason I’ve connected with thousands of hobbyists over the years. And over my 13 years on Twitter, the microblogging platform has consequently led to me using Twitter more and actually sitting down to write here less.

So, as you can tell, change impacts us all on different levels.

Blogging in today’s hobby is old school. Hell, even Twitter is old school to some. Many folks prefer visual mediums like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms to share their maildays, their pulls, and so on. I am on some of those platforms as well, under the same handle ‘@cardboardicons”, but all are secondary to Twitter for me.

Writing is my preferred method of communication, followed by still images. Videos can be entertaining, but I’ve never latched onto the content creation part of videos. Maybe one day, but I still prefer written word paired with images.

Anyhow, no one really knows what is going on with Twitter at this point. I don’t think even Elon Musk really knows what the hell he’s doing with the platform. But all of this uncertainly has in fact piqued my interest in returning to blogging as I get to control what happens to my content.

I’ve said this several times over the years – I still have a desire to be active on this blog. Afterall, I am still paying annually for the domain name. The issue I’ve had over the years is that Twitter has been so easy to use and simple to reach thousands of people all in one place without having to wait for someone to find these writings, which have been so infrequent in recent years.

But I am in a different place as a hobbyists today than I have been over much of the last seven years or so. I’ve actually been less active on Twitter this year than in the past, and my desires in the hobby are also evolving, or devolving in some people’s mind.

When I sat down in July 2008 to start this blog, I really started it to document MY experience with the hobby, and share them with whomever found the words and felt like interacting. Over the years I also included product reviews, breaks, maildays, opinions and really whatever I felt like sharing. I do regret not maintaining this site as I abandoned it for ease of access and reach.

But here we are.

The itch to get back to basics is there, maybe I’ll actually scratch it this time, all thanks again to change that Twitter is or may be creating for us.

Anyhow, thanks for reading. Perhaps I’ll even write again soon.

Cousin wanted out of the hobby so I acquired his collection

Posted in Memory Lane with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

This is a bittersweet post to write but I feel I should document it properly and not just in a series of Tweets.

My cousin and I are five years apart in age. We really came into eachother’s consciousness when I was about 10 years old. He’d always been around but he was living with our grandfather (Lolo) whom I didn’t spend much time with at my age. But around 1990/1991 our lives intersected more.

Our family dynamic was changing. My mom and dad had split and as a result I wound up spending more time at Lolo’s house and with my cousin, JR. I wasn’t sure on what level we would connect given the age gap, but we happened to bond over trading cards and wrestling.

One of the first card adventures I had with JR involved us walking alone — which in hindsight is batshit crazy considering he was 5! — to the nearest 7-Eleven where they had packs of 1990-91 Hoops and Skybox for sale. We bought some snacks and packs and we were off to the races.

I didn’t know how large a part of my life trading cards would be. I didn’t know that my “hobby” would basically consume me. I struggle with this notion even at the age of 41 — I swear there is a bit of guilt for being an adult who loves something folks still associate with something kids do, but I know I shouldnt feel bad for loving what I do.

I digress. My cousin — whether he actually enjoyed it or not I still am not entirely sure— came along with me on this journey. We ripped, ripped and ripped some more. We played poker for cards; we swapped our favorite players. Our grandfather would often take us to the card shop (Brian’s Books) and the arcade (Keystone) and give us a $20 to split. We’d spend some on cards, some on video games. And every now and again we’d even have a few bucks left over for the Ice Cream truck which always — ALWAYS! — had those WWF Ice Cream Bars that also contained a card on the package.

By the mid 1990s the hobby became central to our relationship. We’d pick him up from his house on a Friday night and he’d stay with me at my mom’s house all weekend. We’d sort cards, play cards, wrestle — I’m still sorry for the black eye you got when I whipped you into the “turnbuckle” that was the corner of the bed — and when things were really good, we’d stay up late at night watching “Shop At Home” as Don West and Eddie Lewis sold trading cards to the world.

By the late 1990s, I was changing and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I started dating a person — who’d eventually become my wife, the mother of my children, and then my ex-wife — and suddenly hanging out with my younger cousin was no longer a priority. Don’t get me wrong, we still got along great and we did card stuff. Hell, years 1998 and 1999 were awesome after I got my driver’s license. My cousin and I would often drive out to the 24-hour Walmart at 10 pm in search of the latest retail product. Remember, I was 18/19 at the time and he was 13/14 – I’m pretty sure his mom thought we were up to no good, but really it was just cards.

As I entered college we grew apart a bit mostly because our interests had changed and we were in different stages of our lives. He was entering high school and was doing his thing, and I was on my way to earning a degree. Needless to say the overnights ceased, as did much of our bonding time.

I kept collecting, and he kept most of his stuff and I’d later find out he bought quite a bit for himself once he was able to get his own eBay account. But again, our collecting ways we’re going different paths. Cards have been my life; and cards were merely a part of his.

Over the years our conversations would revolve more around real life than the hobby, but every now and again I’d inquire about his collection. And then seemingly out of nowhere he reached out to me about a year ago asking if I could help him sell his collection — the time had come to move on for good.

He hadn’t really collected cards for more than 15 years, but he knew the hobby saw an upswing again. Also, life dictated a situation where he needed to make some space. So he turned to me for the assist.

I immediately helped by taking possession of everything he could immediate find, but he knew there were a few pieces he couldn’t locate, including his 1996-97 SP Kobe Bryant rookie. Nonetheless I said I’d go through it and figure things out for him.

Over the last eight months or so his collection sat relatively stagnant in my closet as my own life has seen many changes over the last year and my desire to go through his stuff whilst thinning out my own collection just wasn’t there. But yesterday I grabbed one of his boxes, took another look and spoke to him again. I Confirmed he wanted to move everything as a whole and we came to an agreement for me to acquire the lot.

An outsider looking at the collection would likely latch onto the 1986-87 Fleer Charles Barkley Rookie PSA 6 as the key item, or even the Charles Woodson 1998 SP Authentic rookie card. But for me, the prize of this acquisition is a 1998 Ultra Randy Moss rookie card.

In 1998 rookie cards were hotter than they had been in years for two reasons: They were often short printed then, seeded at 1:4 packs; Also the 1998 NFL Draft Class was amazing. I pulled the Peyton Manning from Ultra that year; my cousin pulled this Moss and that card was always the object of my affection. True I owned better Moss cards, but the Ultra one was always a card I had my eyes on. And even though I was five years older than my cousin I never took advantage of him in any deals — I always encouraged him to keep the good things he pulled.

Needless to say the Moss is one card from this collection that will be staying with me and remain in the family. There are many cards in this collection, a few hundred of which I think I will send to COMC and a few thousand that I will need to move onto other collectors to enjoy.

There are a few dozen more cards that I’ll be holding onto from JR’s collection as his hobby journey comes to an end and he moves into bigger things. But perhaps I’ll show some cards here from time to time to keep open that chapter of my — our — hobby history. Love you.

1989 earthquake commemorated on card, encapsulated and now in my collection

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2022 by Cardboard Icons

A funny thing happened last week. I was sitting at my kitchen table sipping my decaf coffee and out of nowhere I decided to check eBay for graded copies of some junk wax era cards. I wasn;t looking for stuff I normally collect like rookie cards. Instead I was looking for a handful of special cards that were released around the time I was 10 and 11 years old.

The very first card I looked up was the 1990 Score card 701, better known as the “Lights Out: Candlestick” card commemorating the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake here in the San Francisco Bay Area that disrupted the World Series between the local teams Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. I’ve told my earthquake story here before. I wasn’t at the game, but I sure as hell remember every detail of that evening. And when this card was released the following year I found myself in awe. And truth be told, when I see copies of this card I tend to buy just for the hell of it since I’m not sure a lot of folks appreciate it. On a side note, I’m not 100% sure of this, but I’m betting Score made this card 701 because … the earthquake was a 7.1 on the Richter Scale.

Anyhow, as I looked, I located a copy of the card graded Mint 9 by BGS. I gasped, checked the pop report — I knew there couldn’t have been many slabbed — and then bought the card. This copy was graded in 2013 and is one of only five total cards submitted to BGS, and the only one that received the Mint grade. There is a single Gem Mint copy in existence, but I don’t need that one, this one does me just fine. And to make things even better, my purchase cost was less than what the grading service actually charges these days, which always feels like a win.

I own multiple raw copies of this card, including one my son pulled from a box we opened last year, but as I get older I tend to find myself looking for slabbed copies of certain cards that evoke memories. The kicker for me with slabbed copies is they just present so differently than those sitting in binder pages, all of which are beautiful in their own way. Owning slabs is not a necessary part of collecting these days, but it is something that brings me joy.