Archive for sports

Sticker shock could be scary sight for some

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time a decade and a half ago when I walked into a card shop and wondered what the hell happened to my hobby. I had collected cards for 17 years (from 1987 to some point in 2004) and then took an 18-month break. When I returned, I found that rookie cards — which made up most of my collection — had been somewhat placed on the back burner for autographed prospect cards.

As a result, the stuff I knew was worth collecting had fallen out of favor to a degree and prices reflected that as a new wave of collecting had begun. True, $2-$3 packs still existed, but much of the hobby had turned to bigger and (maybe?) better things. I never felt so out of touch. But I powered through, and got caught up on the information and trends that I missed during my hiatus. I vowed at that point to never let the hobby leave me behind.

It was at that point that I welcomed the new style and dabble in signed cards, but I also doubled down on rookie cards by buying older ones as well.

Over the last decade and a half I have meandered through this hobby in various ways. Along with that have been many life changes which also have impacted my participation. While my level of activity has varied, I’ve never felt I was out of touch.

And then Saturday happened.

My son and I walked into a card shop — one at which I had been visiting on occasion for more than three decades — and I was absolutely floored by the prices. I legitimately had sticker shock, almost as if I were seeing boxes and blasters for the first time, which of course is not the case.

I’m fairly active on Twitter, and listen to a podcast or two. I’m not ignorant to the recent surge in our hobby. I know prices have been skyrocketing in recent months and they’d been trending up for almost two years. But there was something about this specific trip that really made me feel … lost.

I see the posts all day long on social media, the ones offering blasters at double the MSRP; and of course the seemingly endless supply of OnDemand product that’s being priced anywhere from five to ten times as much as they cost direct from the companies. But seeing these prices today in person made me stop and think about where we are right now and where we are going.

Again, this isn’t new territory. I swear this is not just another post chastising flippers and businesses for profiting where they can. Hell, I feel for card shops like the one of which I speak. This specific shop has been around since the 1980s. I’m sure they enjoyed the surge of “the good ol days” and are making good coin now with the hobby hotter than ever, but they also had to live through the times when things weren’t so profitable; an era in which shops had to shutter doors because it didn’t make business sense to stay open.

So while the sight of a $49.99 2020 Bowman blaster is drawing my ire, I know that the shop probably has close to $30 or $35 into each one — so they have to turn a profit to stay in business.

There are lots of ways I can go with this post. I actually hope to cover many of these things in the near future as I return to writing. But I want to focus really on the feelings I am working through, specifically those of being a father raising a kid who likes cards.

It’s a bit disconcerting to look at the prices and wonder how we expect another generation to enter this market. This hobby ceased being “for the kids” about two and a half decades ago — I get that. But even when I was paying $0.75 to $2 for a pack between ages 9 and 12, it was still something I could figure out how to finance. If my 9-year-old wants to buy anything these days, he’s going to need a week’s worth of lunch money … and that’s if he’s lucky.

My son is fortunate that I’m in such a place in my hobby career that I get more out of his enjoyment and experience than I actually do from the cards these days. So I’ll buy a blaster that guarantees a hit and let him open and keep the pack that clearly is three times as thick as the others, or that I’ll order stuff and let him keep everything if he wants them.

But can you imagine yourself being a kid trying to break into the hobby these days?

Again, this isn’t new territory. I’ve expressed some feelings around this before on Twitter and may have covered a bit of it here, but today just felt weird — it took me back to 2006 when I returned to the hobby and felt as if I was a newbie all over again, only this time I was dragging my son into some financial foray with little fun involved because the stakes are so high.

Valentine’s Day and the cards that allowed boys to show some emotion

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 14, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

In the 1980s and 1990s, the World was changing, becoming a more softer, gentler place. However, it was still common to reinforce the notion that boys cannot show any real emotion aside from anger and rage.

You only said “I Love You” to your mom or your girlfriend, and aside from a high five or a punch to the arm, boys were to express no positive emotion toward each other.

At least that’s how I perceived the world when I was entering adolescence.

So when it came to Valentine’s Day in elementary school, we selected the most boy-thing ever:

Sports Valentine’s Day Cards.

The messages were very Bro-tastic; what we deemed to be an acceptable way of telling other boys that “we’re cool,” “we good,” “you’re my boy” — or simply, we are friends and I care about you.

As a card collector from a young age I always kept these cards when I got them because … I was a collector.

Over the years I’ve lost a few, but I still manage to have these two, ones of Michael Jordan (I’ll upload a better image later) and Barry Sanders, and I believe I have a third one somewhere of Ken Griffey Jr., which I could not locate for this post.

Anyway, it is Valentine’s Day, and if these still existed and we were still in school I’d write my name on the back of them and place them in each of your poorly decorated Valentine’s bags at the edge of your desks.

Don’t just invest your efforts and money today in chasing down Optic basketball, get flowers and a card for the person in your life — because THAT is an investment worth making.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

2020 Topps Rookie Logo ManuRelics have won me over

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 13, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

I’m really not a huge fan of Manufactured relics. Hell, I don’t think anyone is. But the 2020 blaster-exclusive Rookie Logo medallions have won me over.

I enjoy the simplicity of the card; it’s not some wacky design with a chunky piece of metal or rubber. It’s essentially a reprint of a rookie card with the small Rookie Card Logo embedded within and honestly I’m kicking around the idea of working on this set.

I’m drawn to them like no other ManuRelic I’ve seen in the past; maybe it’s my affinity to rookies. Rookie card reprints have been used as ManuRelics in the past — I believe Topps did them as silk patches in 2013 (I did NOT like them) — but the 2020 cards really are gorgeous, even more so when you hold them.

I enjoy the matte finish and the fact that even though the card is thick and has a piece of metal in it, it’s weight is not grossly imbalanced. And while the stock is thick, it resembles something I’d expect to see on a high-dollar release.

We know why ManuRelics exist — it’s an incentive to make people buy blasters; to help consumers feel as if they’ve received something special. And for the first time in a while — maybe even ever — I do feel that way with these.

If you’ve got any you’re looking to unload I’m interested. I’ll be seeking the regular versions of everyone on the checklist; and then variations of the Clayton a Kershaw and Roger Clemens cards from the set.

I had the talk with my boy …

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , on February 9, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

There comes a time in every man’s life when he sits his boy down to talk about important things in life. That time came last weekend.

I asked him if we could talk, and he looked concerned. He looked nervous and I told him that he’s growing … and so is his collection.

The Birds and Bees talk has already been broached in a age-appropriate way with my 9-year-old, but THE TALK I had with him recently was about choosing a collecting focus.

He had cards on the table and cards on the book case, and cards in sorting boxes, which ultimately are set to make it into binders. It was time for him to think seriously about WHAT he wanted to collect and not just quantity. I told him there was no rush, but I wanted him to start thinking about it. I left it in his hands.

The morning after I mentioned this, he woke up and asked when we could talk — he wanted to discuss some possible focus for his collection.

I told him that he didn’t need to have unbreakable rules for his collection, but he should think about what type of cards excite him, and what players’ or teams’ cards he likes to see.

While his focus is not like that of a laser, he has come to this conclusion: He wants to collect these three players: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and Matt Chapman. He likes other players, but he is actively collecting these guys.

Eventually I want to get him to a point where he basically has items that he wants to keep, and others that he is open to moving. And when he has that determination, I hope to help him find some trading partners to move some of his excess for items that he enjoys.

Thrift Treasures 123: I get high with a little help from my … cards (Woodstock relic)

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Last weekend my son and I went to the local flea market, part of which I documented in the previous edition of Thrift Treasures. While we were on the way there, I was telling him about my past experience at this flea market, specifically with a certain dealer who would often bring cards and sell them relatively cheap.

Among the previous hauls were relic cards for $1, which was a big deal a decade ago. I did not expect to see that dealer again, but there he was, right in a spot where I remembered. I spotted him from half way down the aisle and told my son. We made a b-line for his table.

This seller has aged over the years, and sadly he is now in a wheelchair. But there he was, hawking goods for the benefit of those looking to secure relatively cheap cards.

I scoured his cards and tried to gauge my son’s interest on some of them, but he was not seeing anything HE wanted for his collection. Totally understandable. But I stopped immediately when I thumbed through a stack of cards in Top Loaders and spotted something I hadn’t seen before.

There in the parking lot of this community college in California was a little pile of dirt, but not just any dirt — pieces of EARTH (it even says so on the card!) from Woodstock, New York, location of THE most historic concert of all time.

I may have said an expletive which caused my son to see what I was gawking at. He immediately asked what it was and what the hell that writing was on the front of the card. I explained to him the significance of the concert and told him that while I had opened a TON of 2001 Topps American Pie, I had not seen this card before.

I’ve pulled pieces of Elvis’ leather jacket, a swatch of Janis Joplin’s clothing, the lining of Frank Sinatra’s jacket (I think), and even pieces of the Berlin Wall as seen on the JFK card from that release. But never have I seen this Woodstock card. The price tag said $10, which I was happy to pay.

I continued to look through the stacks and really only stopped on one other card, a 1958 Topps Rival Fence Busters subset card featuring Willie Mays and Duke Snider. The card had three rounded corners and two somewhat pointy ones. Yeah, that’s not a typo: The card had FIVE corners because someone had clipped off one of the corners.

The price tag said $3 and I knew it had to be mine because it was my duty to save this 62-year-old card from the hell it was living among the piles of stuff constantly dragged from one flea market to another.

I took the cards to the seller, who had since fallen asleep in his wheel chair (poor guy), and his mother (yes, his mother) tried to wake him but he was fast asleep. She saw the cards I had in my hand and the price tags on them and said, “Just give me $10.”

I asked twice if he was sure and then thanked her for the deal.

The Mays/Snider card is in rough shape as you can tell, most would continue to walk away if it sat there. But this is an authentic vintage card featuring two Hall of Famers, one of whom is a local legend. While not worth much to anyone else but me, it’s a card I’m more than happy to have sitting around in my stack of vintage Willie Mays cards. And it’s even better that it was essentially a throw in to this sale.

The Woodstock card is really neat. Yes, it’s a small capsule of dirt embedded in the card — and it really doesn’t specify if the dirt came from the farm where the concert was held or if it’s from the center median of an intersection in that city — but the card represents something I didn’t know existed from a product I opened. Additionally, while I was not alive when Woodstock the concert occurred, I once watched a documentary on Woodstock while I was in college and it completely changed my outlook on music.

I was working at my college newspaper at the time as an editor. I would go to classes during the day and then work at the newspaper until midnight five days a week. When I got home one night, I was unwinding watching VH-1 (it was a music channel, folks) and the Woodstock documentary was on. It was like 1 a.m. when it started and I sat there for the entire thing; I had an emotion connection and reaction (I cried during Joe Cocker’s performance) to the show and the music. It’s hard to explain, but that night changed me, so this card will now sit in my PC as a reminder of that night.

Total cost of this Thrift Treasure: $10.

You can seen more Thrift Treasures posts here