Archive for gambling

“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.

Some will win, but many more will lose

Posted in Collcting Clemens with tags , , , , , , , on February 2, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Yesterday I wrote about my latest 2019 Topps purchase which consisted of a retail blaster that set me back $19.99. While the contents weren’t bad, the shame I felt gave me such a feeling of guilt that I managed to channel those emotions into something positive: I rearranged my home, in particular my office/card area. While the space is “still under construction,” it’s shaping up to me a much more sufficient and welcoming area. I’ll show off pictures later.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is two fold. The first is to show off a new Roger Clemens cards that arrived yesterday, and secondly discuss the nature of the Clemens card itself and relate it to those feelings I had yesterday.

In the mail yesterday was a 2018 Topps Dynasty Roger Clemens signed patch card serial numbered 1/5. I have a thing for Clemens patch cards, especially those featuring Boston Red Sox colors. The newer Clemens goes well with the 2017 version I purchased last year, which is serial numbered to 10 copies. And those two pair nicely with my 2016 Dynasty Clemens which features a gorgeous swatch from the Astros team name and is numbered also /10.

And now here comes the serious business …

While I sometimes scold myself for buying retail Blasters, I thank my God that I am not buying higher-end products at the same clip, or even at all. Take this Dynasty product for example. These Dynasty products are priced at $389.99 on Blowout Cards — or $374.99 with the current sale — for one card … ONE. And with few exceptions, namely Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and a hand full of other guys, these products are grossly misrepresented by players whose secondary market value are often less than a quarter of the purchase price. And yes, Roger Clemens is one of those guys. I feel fortunate that my favorite player doesn’t have a major following any more … otherwise I would not have been able to acquire these three Dynasty cards over the years for a collective price that is still less than the cost of a single Dynasty pack.

I know that these so-called “one-hitter quitter” packs really cater to the Breaking culture, and in some ways a lot of us player collectors benefit when they look to sell off their unwanted hits to cut their losses. But looking at things from a bigger picture perspective, these one-hit/one-card products are damaging to collectors and their pocket books if they are buying them as unsealed products — and I know there some who actually do. Thankfully, I’m not one of them.