Archive for baseball

The way I collect is not the way you collect … and that’s OK

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Social Media is a funny thing. We all agree it’s not perfect, that it’s a time-suck and it causes a lot of stress for some of us

Yet many of us — specifically those reading this — can’t get enough of it.

Why? Because the various platforms give us a soapbox to share our opinions about everything, and in some cases it can be validating to have one or several people agree with you. It builds esteem. But all of this can also humble you if you’re proven wrong.

You probably knew all of that; you’re not necessarily here for my opinions of society, media and the influences they have in each other.

But what I do want to express is that social media within our hobby has had a major affect on how we view each other, our collecting habits and our collections. Sometimes it reinforces our habits, and in some cases it also can stir the idea that one way of participation in this hobby is the right way; and that others are doing it wrong.

We know that’s not the case. Yet here we/I are calling people out for doing things their way; for following a school of thought that we don’t agree with.

I’m guilty of this exact thing. I am a hypocrite at times. And I’m not the only one.

I dislike the idea of buying as an investment; the notion that “it’s so easy” to make money in this hobby. And often I vocalize (via Twitter) my displeasure for this. It’s the same reason why I still haven’t made up my mind on Gary V.

But is it wrong if someone wants to buy the hot prospect today with the idea of selling in the future?

No, not really as long as we’re calling it what it is. Because that’s not collecting. That’s a different form of participation in the hobby, or industry.

It’s easy to harp on nuance. Is the card mint or gem mint? Is it a rookie card or a pre-rookie card? Are you a collector or a flipper?

Bottom line: Who cares what others are doing. You can’t participate in this hobby wrong if you enjoy whatever it is you are doing. And so I plan to do a better job of filtering my thoughts in that arena going forward.

Well, that instantly made the work day better …

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , on September 7, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I got to work this morning and a friend of mine had a surprise for me. He handed me a Rawlings Official Baseball box with the top taped shut.

What was inside?

A Buster Posey signed 2012 World Series ball with two authentication holograms.

It’s not game-used; but it is signed by the Giants legend and future Hall of Famer.

This is not the first time this friend has given me signed items. A few years back he gave me an early 1980s ball signed by Rickey Henderson and teammates.

As a side note, I do some photo-matching work for this friend who heavily collects game-used NFL uniforms. I recently matched a 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman jersey to almost every road game, including the AFC Championship game that year against the New England Patriots.

Maybe I’ll write about it this week since the season kicks off tomorrow.

“Are we selling cards or lottery tickets?”

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on September 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I was listening to the MojoBreak podcast “The Hype” today and co-owners Dan and Doug were having a spirited conversation about Zion Williamson and the recent Panini Contenders Draft product.

During the conversation targeted mostly about Zion base autos topping $1,000, and a parallel that was at $99,000 on eBay, Dan said: “Are we selling cards or lottery tickets?”

There was a pause and then the talk continued. But in this one quote Dan really hit it on the head my thoughts on the current state of the industry.

There has always been an element of gambling in what we do. We buy an unopened pack of cards with a chance that we pull something we want, or something we think may be valuable to someone else. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But the difference between now and 5-, 10-, 20-, 30- years ago is that the stakes have changed.

We’re not talking about lunch money being saved and then used for cards that we throw into boxes and place on our school binders. We’re talking about car, rent and mortgage payments being spent in stores and with online breakers everyday with a hope that the participant is the one who hits the jackpot card that can be resold for a handsome profit — very few are buying and/or keeping with the idea that they added a true PC (personal collection) item.

The issue of course is the industry has shifted more away from being what we’d known as our traditional hobby, and more toward being akin to gaming and an exercise in stocks or day trading, as Ben from “About the Cards” podcast like to call it.

Now, of course I am speaking in generalities. There are still plenty of people who buy and enjoy cards for what they are — the same as they had been since they were kids. But this industry is trending toward the risk takers, the ones who will put it all on the line to feel that high of watching a box be broken online (or in their own home) which is then followed up by figuring out how to either minimize their damage by immediately selling what they got (if anything) or trying to figure out when the profits are at their highest.

And this is where I struggle to reconcile how I feel about the future of this card world. Because I do feel in a sense that guys like MojoBreak, or your favorite breaker, or your local card shop, are really dealing in commodities that are essentially our version of lottery tickets. Because we all hope that one day we will pull the golden ticket — no pun intended — or pull something that turns out to be the second-chance lottery ticket if we hold onto it long enough.

And then the secondary market has become a game of high-stakes “hot potato” where we buy at a level and move items as quick as possible for a profit in hopes that we are not the ones who are stuck holding the card that is depreciating.

This is why for the life of me I cannot figure out if I like Gary Vee.

I’m not saying any of this is wrong per se. I’m saying this is a difficult world to navigate when as a longtime collector you’ve got to figure out if you’re too old school for this new style hobby and find yourself asking these questions: Am I failing to adapt? Am I doing this wrong? Or am I doing it right by staying the course? How do I teach and share this hobby to my children?

These questions, of course, are facetious because there is no one way to do this hobby. I suppose what drives me crazy is that there is so much focus on what’s new, and who hit the big card today, that much of the fun of the hobby sometimes feels like its sucked out — unless of course you’re one of the winners.

Time to reload my COMC inventory

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

As I sit here and write this, I am in the midst of preparing my first shipment of cards to send to COMC, the consignment site I’ve been using for almost a decade now. I had been a frequently submitter of cards in the early years and as fees have increased, I had decreased the number of times I sent cards to the Washington company.

Part of my reasoning was the market was flooded so it had become harder to move inventory. Also, it hurt me to pay money to the company up front to sell cards I already owned.

But, in recently weeks I’ve been shifting my thinking. I had been selling some lower end items on eBay in the last two months, which is cool when the listings are free — eBay usually offers 100 free postings per month and frequently surprises seller with the option to list an addition 200 or 300 as well. But once you break that 100 free posting mark, you’re looking at a charge of at least $0.35 per listing …. so it’s pretty much on par with COMC prices. And if the cards are with COMC I don’t have to worry about the post office trips.

And so I am now preparing several hundred cards for submission of varying price levels, and the idea of moving the cards out of my house is exciting me.

If you’re so inclined you can book mark my port. I do have some items still posted for sale there, but others will show up at some point. When those items pop at COMC, I’ll post again here.

MojoMailday: Beating The Odds with Refractors

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , , on September 4, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Every few weeks I like to participate in a break with MojoBreak and more times than not so look to grab a Dodgers spot because … I collect Clayton Kershaw.

Sometimes the break is priced so fairly that I can’t help but take a shot even if the odds are greatly against me. Such was the case last week when the site broke a mixer of 5 Topps MLB products. The assortment consisted of 2018 Bowman’s Best, and then 2019 editions of Bowman, Stadium Club, Topps Chrome and Five Star.

Well, I definitely beat the odds. First in the single box of Stadium Club there was a Sandy Koufax Chrome Orange Refractor /99. Then in Topps Chrome there was a gold Refractor Clayton Kershaw /50.

It’s true I probably could have gotten both Koufax and Kershaw for about the same price that I paid for the break spot, but then I wouldn’t have this fun story about beating the odds.

The kicker here is I also got a Walker Buehler Bowman’s Best Rookie Refractor, so that’s a trio of shiny Dodgers arms I have added to my collection.

The joy of a podcast

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on September 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

No, this is not an announcement. Cardboard Icons is not starting as podcast.

Rather this quick post is to point out that I’ve been appreciating recently the podcast that Dr. James Beckett, founder and former CEO of Beckett Publications, has been putting out for the last month or two.

I found Beckett’s podcast “Sports Card Insights” last week after getting current on the other card podcasts I listen to and let me tell you, I rather enjoy what Beckett brings to the table. His style is not flashy, his method of speech may not be for everyone, and his views may be a bit old school, but for my taste this is exactly what I needed at this time in my hobby life.

I enjoy the stories and insights, love the “origin story” episodes, and dig the knowledge that this man and his guests bring. I’ll reiterate this: I needed this right now as I am very much in another hobby funk, where I am questioning what I own, why I own it, how long I should own it, how much money I spend versus the enjoyment I get out of things, and really how I am coping with the new landscape of the hobby/business.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Beckett at the 2014 National in Cleveland. I was there as a freelancer for Beckett Media and I was walking the show floor with former editor Chris Olds at the time when Olds pointed him out. As it turned out, I had a reproduction copy of the first Beckett Baseball with me and three of the Topps All-Time Favorite cards in a box I was carrying. The hobby legend gave me a few moments of his day — he was going through a box buying for his collection so I appreciated the time — and he signed a few items for my collection.

In case you were wondering, I listen to two card-related podcasts at the moment, “About the Cards” and “The Hype” presented by MojoBreak. “About The Cards” is run by a few guys, two of whom I had been Twitter friends with for a few years — the third of which has become a guy I also enjoy quite a bit. Their podcast presents an enjoyable format for my tastes. And MojoBreak is one of the largest online breakers and seeing as how they are located about 10 minutes from my house I feel like I need to support them.

I have also listened to Chris Harris in his one episode and would totally listen to more if they ever come. I have tried SportsCardRadio but I’ll be honest, it’s just not my taste — the focus is on a lot of the negative aspects. And while the information can be good, it also detracts from my ability to enjoy the hobby. It’s a personal taste. And occasionally I’ll peak in on “GoGTS Live” with Rob and Ivan, but it’s not a show I consume at this time, of course that’s not to say I never will.

FOMO almost got me today — Damn you and your clearance 2018 Topps products

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

After dropping off my kids at school this morning, I stopped for a second to take a deep breath and appreciate the first of my days off. Of course I made the cardinal sin of looking at Twitter during this process.

And there they were, just as they had been all weekend, more goddamn posts about marked-down 2018 Topps products showing up in Wal-Mart. People were posting multiple hanger boxes and value packs showing the Clearance sticker, and others posting images of the cards they pulled while chasing Ronald Acuna Jr super short print variations in 2018 Topps Series 2; and while busting all 2018 Topps Update in sight hunting for Ronald Acuna Jr rookie cards that have been in big demand recently with the youngster chasing the 40-homer, 40-steal milestone.

Now, the marked-down products have been seen at Wal-Mart stores across the country. And for me, the actual number of Wal-Mart locations in my area that actually carry cards has been reduced to ONE. Just one … and it’s like 12 miles from where I live. So if the proximity of said Wal-Mart was closer, my ass would likely be at the store looking for these products too, so I can’t say I’m being super strong here. But fact is I fought off the urge to make the drive — even if I had a friend with whom I was texting urging me to go.

But this is the world we live in.

We are GREATLY influenced by what we see on social media. We buy more stuff that we need; we shop more frequently even if it’s “just to see”; we are all looking to be that next guy who achieves hobby greatness by pulling a monster card “from a blaster at (insert store name here).”

Of course no one talks about the amount of time, the amount of gas, the amount of money spent on blasters, packs or whatever that don’t have cards that make us feel great about our purchase, or make us hobby legends — even if just for a day or so — in the eyes of our social media peers. And the cycle continues regardless of our results. We’ve created a card culture with real FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and a lot of it is generated on social media. We’ve created a chase for items that are not always rare. This is why so many of us often find an excuse to go to Target, Wal-Mart of whatever retail store sells cards. Three months ago we chased Bowman; two months ago it was Bowman Mega Boxes; and over the last month it’s been Topps Chrome and Allen & Ginter, and now these damn discounted 2018 Topps products.

I am guilty.

I buy stuff sometimes because I see others busting the products; I buy stuff because the hunt brings a short-term adrenaline rush. I am fucking guilty because I LOVE pulling something shiny and signed that makes others also want to own the card.

I am goddamn complicit in this cycle … and I am sorry.

I go through times of strengths and weakness in this hobby. I am not sure in what category I should place today’s feelings and actions. But it does feel good to write it out, instead of checking out with another stack of product I do not care about.

This is NOT to say I will not buy cards anymore. I truly do love them. But I am tired of allowing my FOMO take control of my thoughts and actions, especially when I have so much else to do.

Thanks for reading.