Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A long response to TMH's Posts (card economics)

I was thinking about this (and posting several comments on the original post). I think something has been seriously overlooked by most collectors, and that's the value of common cards. Depending on where you go, commons for current sets seem to run from 5 cents to 25 cents each. I've seen nickel commons at some card shows, but usually the cheapest I'll find single cards these days are at a show, in a 10c or 25c box. Sportlots, COMC, and stores charge around 20c or more.

Sure, in bulk you get them for much less, and the sum value of base cards is more than a set (it's been that way as long as I've been collecting). But for single card purchases, the price has risen. Back in the 80's and 90's, commons were a nickel each in card shops.

If you look at a pack of flagship Topps, with a *retail* price of $2 per pack, you're paying 20c per card for a product you would pay 20c per card in the store. Add to that the one insert in the pack (which you could argue is 50c or greater in "resellable" value) and the likelihood of pulling a star (again, minimum 50c value). For a product like flagship Topps, you're generally getting (at least close to) your money's worth. Even with '89 Upper Deck, 15 cards per pack at $1 per pack is about 7c per card. The going rate for UD commons back then was easily 10c, if not closer to 25c, so you still got your money's worth.

I think part of the issue lies in the belief that common (or all base) cards are worthless, and the only value in a box is the big hit.

Now, if you look at a box/pack of Ginter, again doing retail prices, you pay 50c per card. It can easily be argued that Ginter singles are more valuable than Topps singles, but are they 2.5x as valuable? In this case you're paying for the hits, and I think that's where the disparity comes in. And when you talk about products like Triple Threads and Tribute, you really are paying for the hits, but they are designed for that purpose.

Most mid-90s products (pre-autograph/relic craze) were like today's flagship Topps. Each pack contained an insert and/or a parallel, and generally you paid around 20c per card. There were some exceptions which generally lied in the premium issues. If you break down the value of those packs, they're about the same as Topps flagship, even today. Singles generally sell for around 25c each, with inserts fetching 50c-$1 or more.

What is really amusing about sets like Heritage, Allen & Ginter and Gypsy Queen is that, when you look at it, you have about the same value as the Topps flagship set. Heritage, Ginter, and GQ have several inserts and parallels, a selection of low-level hits, and a small quantity of quality hits. Relics and autographs from players like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Rickey Henderson are much harder to pick up than David DeJesus, BJ Upton, and Billy Butler. (Look at autograph/relic odds on packs/boxes: Group A, B, C, D, etc.) Not that there's anything wrong with DeJesus, Upton, and Butler, but face it, they aren't as popular as Jeter, Pujols, and Rickey. The big hits are just as rare too - dual relics, autographed relics, and patches are limited to 50 or less in each release. The "premium" aspect in Heritage, Ginter and Gypsy Queen come from lower overall print runs, better card stock, and higher popularity. You have a greater chance per pack of pulling a big hit, but they're really in the same quantities as Topps.

On the retail front, with Allen & Ginter, you pay $3 for six cards. One of them is a parallel, and one is an insert. However, you're paying 50c per card, right off the bat. Instead of star players and inserts providing you with a way of getting more than your money's worth, they only serve to help you equal up to your money's worth.

I'm not saying that Heritage, Ginter, and GQ should sell for the same as flagship Topps, or be valued the same. There is an increase in quality, and an decrease in quantity. But when you look at it, you're receiving the same basic deal. For hobby boxes, I could see paying $60 per box (now they're $50-55) for 360 Topps flagship cards (17c each), but not $90 for a box of 193 Ginter cards (47c each) - something that provides me a marginally higher quality of card, and two extra hits. But what hits do I get? Generally, three low-quality relics.

While you still get three hits per box of Ginter (compared to '09), you're most likely going to pull three bottom-tier relics in this year's release. Autographs, better relics, and multi-item relics are tough pulls. For my $30 extra per box, I expect that I would pull an autograph, patch, or a star relic from every box. I'm already receiving nearly a 50% reduction in the number of cards.

I will note that for any "hit" you pull from any box of nearly any product from nearly any manufacturer in the past 15 years or so, you will most likely pull the lowest-tier relic. The issue is the added cost you're paying (which keeps going up) for those hits (where the average quality of a hit is going down). The market is "flooded" with unwanted relics because there are so many of them in comparison to quality hits. There are too many common/semistar players on relic and autograph checklists messing up the odds.

Why are we getting so much less with the relics and autographs this year compared to the past has to do with the monopoly issue. Why should Topps make an effort to acquire more-expensive relics and autographs from team leaders when they can pick up Nelson Cruz's gray jersey or pants for $15-30? Boxes still have three hits each, and their cost per relic goes down.

By the way, how many relics can you make from a jersey? Ginter relics are 1.5cm x 1.5 cm (2.25 square cm). My size large t-shirt (which is much smaller than a jersey) measures at its narrowest points 58cm x 65cm (3770 square cm) per side (7540 square cm total). From my t-shirt, I can easily get well over 3000 Ginter-sized relic swatches. A normal 1-inch jersey swatch (6.5 square cm) could still be made well over 1000 times with my t-shirt.

What are your thoughts on the cost vs. value issue with boxes? Is it worth it to buy boxes anymore?

This is NOT a baseball card: Better eat your Wheaties!

Anyone remember that commercial? The slogan was a big catchphrase among people I hung out with when I was younger. We also danced along to MC Hammer and dreamed of being the next Vanilla Ice.

I never ate my Wheaties, though. So instead of playing baseball, I watch it and collect it. If only I didn't have such an affinity for Cocoa Pebbles and Peanut Butter Crunch. Remember Peanut Butter Crunch? That stuff tore the roof off the top of your mouth, but boy was it good. Occasionally I'd buy a different Post cereal when I saw baseball cards on/in the boxes, but I never kept the cereal boxes themselves.

These days when I go to the supermarket I pass by the cereal aisle and check out the Wheaties box. Usually it's one I don't care for, but occasionally I find a good baseball one. After the Olympics, I sometimes luck into a medalist box. A couple weeks ago, I saw this one:
I wonder how many of them eat their Wheaties. Is this the first WNBA Wheaties box? There is a list of Wheaties boxes on Wikipedia, but it is labeled as incomplete. There are only three baseball teams listed ('87 Twins, '95 Indians, '04 Red Sox). This box is there only because I just added it. My first Wikipedia edit. Hope I didn't screw it up. Looks okay...

I already showed this to you, but I'm showing it again, since it's related:
Timing is everything, I suppose. I know there were mini collectible Wheaties boxes, but I think it would be cool to have a card set reproducing all the Wheaties boxes. I understand there's around 500 different boxes (or more). This isn't my first Women in Sports Wheaties box, because I have a few of the Olympics ones.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Auto-Matic for the People

If this title has already been used by someone, I apologize.

One last package showed up this past week, after I wrote today's earlier consolidation post. I'm happy with this purchase - I think I got a decent deal, though not by much. Four autographs in total: two specific ones I wanted, and one more I can use for the Zoo.
 LeVon Washington was a second round pick for the Indians in 2010. He was drafted in the first round by the Rays (30th overall) in 2009 but didn't sign - he played a bit rookie-level ball last year. This year he's playing for Lake County (single A) and tearing it up, batting .226 as a full-time outfielder. Perhaps he'll develop into something better, but for now he's an addition to the Cardboard Zoo.
 Tim Hardaway was one of the best in the NBA at his prime, and his jersey number was retired by the Heat. His son's playing college basketball for the Wolverines. I don't need this card, but it was part of the lot. It's available for trade.
 Gretchen Bleiler is an Olympic silver medalist and 4-time X Games gold medalist snowboarder. And she's attractive. I wasn't looking for her autograph at the time, but it came with the lot and made me pull the trigger. She's headed to my personal collection with my other movie and Women in Sports treasures.
I was initially looking for this Janet Evans card when I found the lot above. It's a great image for a five-medal swimming star who doesn't smoke pot or look like a douche. (At least he doesn't use roids.) Anyway, Evans is supposedly trying to make a comeback for next year's Olympics. We'll see. She'll go into the collection with Gretchen.

I like the Goodwin Champions autograph selection better than the Allen & Ginter autos this year. I mentioned on an earlier post there are some people in the Ginter set I'd like, but the only two I really want are the frosted-tip douche and the inspirational legless athlete. Heather Mitts would be nice too, but the World Cup made her unreachable for now.

I didn't get any feedback on my videos in this earlier post. Do you like them? Not? Let me know. It won't become an all-the-time thing, but if it sways your emotions one way or the other let me know. And if you want the Hardaway, say the word! He's better off in the hands of a man who loves him. (Do you get the joke?)

Going Postal: Crawford On Trades; Videos and Hits

Today's Postal exploits begin with a trade package from Scott Crawford. I forgot if I mailed his cards, and had to research to verify that I had. My mind has been elsewhere lately!

Scott and I have exchanged cards before, and I spent some time searching his want lists for anything I may have missed for the Zoo collection.
 He started by including four cards from 1980-1983 Cramer Baseball Legends set. He included one card from each series, because the card numbering and copyright info changes from year to year, but I'm going to keep it as listed as one set. All four of these guys have needs in the Awards/Leaders collection, so they all have a home anyway!
 Scott tossed these in at the last moment. I have been on the fence on whether to collect the set or not, but I can't turn down these attractive 3D beauties. Yes, I purposely put a Dodger and a Giant side by side in the scan. They can get along in my collection!
 Here are seven more cards for the Zoo. You'll see these all this week, as I took the opportunity to scan the fronts and backs for use over there. In fact, two of them have already posted by the time this post goes live!

Thanks again, Scott, for a very helpful trade! Looking forward to the next time!

Now, some cards that didn't come in trades:
 I don't think I have the 2009 Goodwin Champions set. I picked up this set from eBay with some SPs and an SSP or two included. I'll put the full set together over time. I'll have a wanted list posted when my recent SP purchases arrive. I like this set for the paintings, even if most of the players aren't in action. I wonder what the lawsuit said about Upper Deck using game images, because I'm sure the artists could just not include any team logos. It's kind of boring after a while seeing card after card of some guy in a suit and tie. It's still a nice set!

Goodwin's set design inspiration came from Allen & Ginter, though the Goodwin set is much simpler in its release. Ginter has several insert sets, mini and standard sized, plus multiple parallels. Goodwin contains five parallels (plus plates) if I remember correctly, two insert sets, a box topper set, and the relics and autos. Other than the rarest relic/auto sets (Entemology, for example) and the 1/1 parallel, I can easily acquire everything Goodwin.

For Allen & Ginter, I knocked two more mini sets off my want list:
 I like this set, just by design alone. It is done in the style of the old carnival sideshow posters. Night Owl just mentioned that the Bed of Nails write-up says this is an easy trick, and it is quite easy - I've done it before. It's all about physics.

I like the Knife Throwing card the best, partly because it's backwards from what I would expect. Usually it's the cute assistant in the skimpy costume who's strapped to the spinning board, while the magician in the suit tosses the blades.
 Portraits of Penultimacy blah blah blah second to last blah blah blah words wrong blah blah blah. Enough has been said about that already. I like this set because Toto's in it. Poor little Toto. Toto reminds me of DragonCon a few years ago - yes, I would go, but I never dressed up - this attractive young (younger than me by a few years at most) lady in a sexy-ish (not slutty-ish) Dorothy costume sat next to me and talked with me as we waited in line to get into a panel. What can I say, I'm easy to please.
 HA! EBAY SCAMMERS I DEFY YOU! If I had the time and the care, I'd go ahead and solve that. I stared at it for about 15 seconds and solved at least 6 letters.

Okay, for the rest of the post, you have two choices. The first choice: if you're happy or want to be, play this video.
If you're sad or want to be, or just like Scrubs, play this video.
I miss Scrubs, but it had to end eventually. I can proudly(?) say I've seen every episode at least once, many two or more times. Screw Zach Braff. I watched it for Dr. Cox, blonde doctor, and Elisabeth Banks.

So what does this have to do with cards? Glad you asked:
 I overpaid for this, but I'm still glad I have it. This will be one of the more difficult relics to showcase in its collection, mainly because it's really difficult to find quality hi-res photos of Picabo Street from her medal years.

Okay, let's keep with the videos. That's fun. How about this other Sesame Street video:
What does that have to do with this card? NOTHING! But some of you might enjoy it anyway.
 Elmo's up, Elmo's down, Elmo's running around! Cahill's not a bad pitcher. I don't see him sticking around long. He had a much better year last year than this - he's striking out one more batter per 9 innings on average than 2010, but his walks per 9 innings are up almost as much, and his ERA is up by half a run. So I guess Elmo's control issues are Trevor's as well? Okay, one more card, one more video.

It's a party in the USA! I hear this song piped in through music systems occasionally, and every time it comes on, I spot a decent percentage of people bopping their head to the beat. You gotta admit, it's catchy. How does that relate to the card? Why, it's another printing plate for my collection, this time from the 2011 Bowman International parallel. Did you know there are twelve printing plate sets in 2011 Bowman? Meaning, 12x4=48 different "1/1" plate sets.
This is Ryan Ludwick, who must come from Florida. I've been lucky with plate pickups lately, which I'm glad for - being "1 of 1" cards they're some of the hardest to come by for the Zoo collection.

I've done the scan prep for some more fleshy posts this coming week, if I can tear myself away from other projects to write them!

By the way, I listen to more than just pop. I'm in a poppy mood, though, so deal! You can blame Picabo Street and YouTube's suggested videos for that.

Quote of the Day

If you had a Robin Roberts card and I had a Mickey Mantle card I would of traded you even up and thought I got the best part of the deal, and today that would be heresy. I think that's a little dangerous.
A four-minute video for you:
Supply and demand. I think that's all this quote comes down to. Even in the height of investment pricing and "Beckett is God" value methodology, card collecting has always been about supply and demand. Who's to blame Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score, and Upper Deck from printing millions of cards in the late '80s and early '90s, and each producing a dozen different baseball sets or more per year since then? There was demand, and the card companies provided the supply. The "market" itself was jaded and stupid, led by poor projectionist thinking. The 1950s Topps Mantle cards are so valuable because cards from that time are in short supply (especially in mint condition) and there is a large demand. A 1989 Donruss Juan Samuel is worthless, because while there are still millions of cards in mint condition, nobody wants it because Juan Samuel means nothing to most collectors. The only people who want that card are set and team-set builders, and perhaps a small sample of player collectors (if you're out there, not that there would be anything wrong with that). Unlike Mantle, he doesn't have a whole generation plus of followers, and there's enough to go around.

But even within the same issue, some players are "worth" more than others, for the same reason. Pujols has more demand than Matt Cain, because he's on more collector's want lists. It's only fitting that his cards should command a higher price than Cain.

I invite you to walk a San Francisco area card show, though, and try to find Matt Cain in with the commons. Especially with the World Series win, you can't buy Giants around here at Juan Samuel prices. Most of them command Pujols-level prices. At November and December card shows, I saw team sets selling for as much as $20, and they are around $10 now. Considering that a full set can be had at Target for $50, that's certainly a local premium. It all still ties in to supply and demand - there is a greater demand here for Giants memorabilia, with the same supply as elsewhere. (Actually, supply on the peninsula and in the city is fairly low most of the time compared to elsewhere, with the luck I've had finding packs at Target.)

A year or two ago, if you had a Matt Cain card I needed to finish a set and I had a Pujols extra from the same set, I probably wouldn't have traded you straight up - well, maybe I would have. These days, I tend not to even think about the players I'm trading away. I see this going on with most bloggers - many are happy to part with several cards to get just a few they need. Why not? I kind of realized this early on while blogging (though I guess I knew it all along). It's much better having a small handful of cards that mean something to you than a stack of cards that don't. Sure, this goes against the investing concept, but the non-investing side of the hobby really doesn't care about that, at least I don't think so.

I think this idea separates those who collect for value and those who collect purely for fun. There's nothing wrong with collecting for value, and I have no problems with the people who choose to open product to invest in or flip. Face it, Strasburg and Harper may not be at the top of your want lists, but their inclusion helps sales.

What are your thoughts on this quote?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The French are glad to die for love...

Oh, if only I had more time to spend with this post. I'll revisit it sometime and do the full concept I was thinking about.

Meanwhile, while Nicole Kidman does her take on a classic, I'll provide you with some related baseball card content!

Yesterday wasn't too bad of a day. The weather was nice and I was up relatively early, so I took my season pass and spent a couple hours at one of the local theme parks. If I was independently wealthy, I'd probably spend half my time traveling, half that time on roller coasters, and half my time with baseball cards. Traveling (and everything that goes with that - eating at new places, going to amusement parks, photography, discovering new and exciting things) and baseball card collecting are my two biggest interests. Anyway, I digress. After flipping upside down a few dozen times, it was getting hot and crowds were getting crowdier so I headed back home, but not before stopping at a Target to check out their baseball card stash.

Oh, how I wish the Targets nearest me were as well-stocked as this one. And oh, how I wish this one had Bowman Platinum. There was Heritage in several packaging formats, Gypsy Queen looseys, Topps 1 and 2 in various formats, and even some Ginter looseys. For the first time in the Bay Area, I saw a couple value boxes - they're smaller than the first time they were released. Knowing that I have plenty of Ginter on the way, being essentiallydone with Heritage and Topps 1, and wanting a pack fix, I figured it was best to go with some Topps 2. I grabbed one of the four-packs with a code card, and two rack packs.

I'll save you from the scans. I'm kind of lazy right now anyway. I knocked out 10 of my base card needs, one Kimball, and two 60 Years of Cards Your Mom Archived. That means I have a new large stack of extras - base and inserts. As I work through trades I'll check your want lists again.

In addition to the guaranteed Diamond Giveaway code, I pulled one from a rack pack.

What did I get?

For nearly two decades, Bill Robinson traveled a bit, playing for the Braves, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, and Phillies again. His career highlight is winning a World Series championship as a player in this year, 1979, with this team, the Pirates. He would go on to coach with the Mets and Marlins, winning a World Series ring as a coach with each team (1986 and 2003, respectively). He also coached with the Yankees and Phillies, and managed in the Venezuelan League. He died in 2007 in his hotel room as a hitting coordinator for the Dodgers minor league system. Playing-wise, he wasn't great, a career .258 hitter with 166 home runs and 641 RBIs.

The die has been cast again! This time, Josh Beckett, obviously (I take it you can see his name in the screenshot). This makes my fourth die cut - I also have Martin Prado, Alex Rios, and Heath Bell. Within an hour of unlocking the Beckett I had a trade offer for someone wanting it in return for a second Rios. Yeah, I think that's a DECLINE. However, if anyone wants my Rios I'll trade it for pretty much any other die cut out there. I really want a black diamond card for my Zoo collection, but so far I've been shut out on trades. I've not really made any spectacular offers but I'm only asking for the scrubs like any player on the A's or Wandy Rodriguez (or even Alex Rios). I'm considering offering up Rios, Prado, and Bell for a black. What do you think?

More cards came in the mail these past few days. I'll play show and tell this weekend.

Tiny Card Show, Big Finds Part Five

Finally, the end! Over the past week you've seen card after card from mostly-forgotten insert sets that I overlooked for my collection until now.

Today, I bring out the big guns.

No, I didn't buy a Jeter autograph, or even a Rickey Henderson autograph, or even a Bob Feller autograph.

But I did awesome.

All these cards came from the same dealer, the first one I hit when I reached the show. I almost wrote off his boxes while looking through them - there were two boxes labeled at $1 each, 10 for $7. I saw several junk cards and was about to write off the rest of them, and then I started finding cards I wanted.

First, the "regular" cards - inserts and such.
 As soon as I saw the DK, I started a purchase stack. I did pretty well with them - Randy Johnson is numbered to 75. The Ruth was still in his package; I now only need a Mantle to have the full set (such a challenge, I know). Ichiro and Pujols came later in the box, and I found a few of each, but I only need one. The three bottom cards were add-ons at the end to even up my purchase amount.

Now I know what you're saying. So, for a dollar each (or, a little less), you picked up some inserts and base cards. Sure, for about 70 cents each I picked those up. But I also got this:
 Brandon Inge! He's tearing it up at the plate this year, batting  .177. He's probably on his way out, but he was an outstanding defensive 3rd baseman for the last several years.
 Jumping leagues, I grabbed this bat of Pokey Reese. Again, for less than a buck!

Next, an autograph, for less than a buck:
 Kelvim Escobar didn't really mean anything to me when I bought this, but he wasn't a bad pitcher through 2007, playing for the Blue Jays and Angels. Injuries have basically ended his MLB career.

Okay, an autograph for under a buck. What could be better than that?


Are you expletive deleteding me?

A Yankee starter, 13-year veteran, two-time all-star, ERA leader, and World Series champion?

On a printing plate 1/1?

For under a buck?

Expletive deleteding awesome.

It's from 2007 Topps Series 1.

Total cost (9 cards, 2 jerseys, autograph, and printing plate): $10.

Thank you and goodnight.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

I've been slacking off the past few weeks with the blogs. It might not seem like it, but that's because I wrote all the posts for this week on Saturday and Sunday. It's not that I'm losing interest; I've had other things on my mind. I had a job interview earlier this week and applied for another one that opened up (either one would be great, but I'd prefer the one I haven't interviewed for). If these don't pan out, then I'm seriously considering Japan for a year (or more), mainly because I think I would have a great time over there. Once I was there I could find myself a truly good-paying job and travel around the country, Australia, and the rest of Asia. I tell you this because my thoughts and efforts have been focused in that area. I tell you this because this blog is subtitled My Life in Baseball Cards, and my life is part of that!

I stopped at Target on the way home today, looking for a pack fix. There wasn't any Bowman Platinum, and I've got enough Heritage, GQ, and I've got a trade in the works with Ginter, so I was stuck with Topps 2 (still haven't finished the set or the inserts I'm trying to finish and I'd love to do that by the end of September). I'll bring you those pack results tomorrow.

Now, on to the topic for the day.

Monday's post was about a DVD that provided several quotes, and here is today's:
It's not just the hobby that's lost that innocence. The hobby is merely a mirror of the game as it is today. It's no longer and will never be like it once was.
I'm not sure that the original development in the hobby (I'm talking the 60s and 70s, mainly) is due to changes in baseball. The hobby came about from people with an interest in collecting things that reminded them of their childhood. The baseball card hobby really didn't become big business until the '80s (and even more so at the end of the decade and through the early '90s). Sure, there were dealers and they knew what was rare and what should cost more, but there wasn't much interest in a "rookie crop" or crazy speculating (a la Strasburg and Harper). A card didn't command value until that person was popular enough to be a star.

But especially in the late '80s and later, as baseball became about the money (to the players - it's always been about the money to the owners), steroids were widely used, and players started charging for autographs, the hobby changed into a serious business of its own. Counterfeit cards popped up all over the place, not to mention fake signatures and game-used memorabilia. With massive rookie speculation, card chasing, and monthly price guides, the hobby turned into the stock market.

Will we ever just be a hobby again? No. It's not just baseball, though. Anything that can still be sold from someone's childhood will always have a seller. Toys, games, guns, clothing, books, old computers - someone has something someone else wants, and a price is put on obtaining those mementos. Especially in a market dealing purely in collectibles, the "price guide" will always exist, and there will always be collectors.

Does that mean there's no innocence left in baseball or the hobby? Each year a new crop of players walk onto a professional field, and for most of them, baseball is still a game. Many of them will lose their innocence, but some stay in the game because it's fun. For most of us bloggers, the hobby is still a game. We love pulling a hit, but our collections aren't about having the best or most expensive cards, instead focusing on cards that means something to us.

I think all of us have lost our innocence at one point, but it can come back. I know it has for me, and I can thank the blogging community for that. I don't look for getting equal book value in a trade, but instead I've realized that having one card I need for a collection is much better than two I don't.

What are your thoughts?

Tiny Card Show, Big Finds Part Four

It's Thursday, and you know what that means! An all-new episode of ... wait, I don't watch any shows that are new on Thursdays anymore.

This is the fourth of five dealers I bought from at this weekend's show. Like yesterday's 49-card pileup, these came from a dealer I've bought from before - in fact, he recognizes me when I visit his table. He has one thing I'm interested in, and that's his 50-cent trays.
His cards are sorted by sport, and right next to the baseball stacks are a few non-sport trays. I've found a couple interesting cards before, but today I was able to put together most of an insert set. It's from Marvel Masterpieces, and it's titled Marvel Heroines, I think. He had cards 2-9, but no card number 1. If you have this card, I want it. Help me finish this thing! 
 Most of the other cards I bought from him were for the Awards/Leaders collection. That is another of those Bowman Platinum Team USA cards in the bottom row.
And a few more cards for good luck. The jersey card was actually from Monday's dealer, but it fit better in this scan. Oh well. You probably don't care anyway, do you? Total cost from this dealer: $10.

While most of the cards you've seen this week aren't terribly exciting, I knocked out well over 100 cards from my Zoo and Awards/Leaders lists. Tomorrow's deal will blow your socks off.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tiny Card Show, Big Finds Part Three

Third day, third dealer! So far you've seen plenty of low-numbered shinyness, and one "hit". What does this third dealer hold for me?

These 49 cards below came from one dealer who I've bought from before. He has other things, but the other couple times I've seen him I ravaged his 50-cent baseball box for mainly late-90s inserts. This weekend was no difference.
 The Ken Caminiti on the top is one of only a few '97 Ultra sets I need for the Zoo. Given the large numbers of sets (several with parallels) issued with Ultra each year in the '90s, that's quite an accomplishment! This was also my first time seeing a Topps Tek color parallel. Most of the cards in today's post were bought for my Cardboard Zoo collection. The three at the bottom of the above image will go in the Awards/Leader collection, though.
 I passed by a few of those 2000 Prisms (Frank Thomas, bottom row) before I noticed they had different designs, similar to Topps Tek. I'll have to do a little research to see what the deal is. Pacific did some crazy parallels around this time, which probably inspired Donruss to take it a step further in the next few years.
 You can see two Stadium Club 3x3 inserts, which are quite tough to come by, but most interesting in the above lot is the Dreamcast card from Finest. That is a LOT of foil.
 Every time I see Topps Tek inserts I grab them. I have no idea if I need them or not, but I'm attempting a Topps Tek master set (other than the 90 different variations of the base set for every player). I'm crazy, but not that crazy.
 Time to go horizontal! The Pacific card in the upper right is laser cut, and pretty cool looking! Poor Piazza looks all alone there at the plate.
This last scan is all Rockies! As Johnny picks his jaw up off the floor, I'll let him know that most of these cards are for trade. I need to verify a few with the Zoo collection, but otherwise these are all available!

For these 49 cards (should have been 50 but I can't count) I paid $20. Not bad - there are several numbered cards in there which could have cost me more. Certainly my biggest purchase of the day.

More at lunchtime tomorrow!

I need another card.

Ervin Santana has just pitched a no-hitter against the Indians, winning 3-1!

As you probably know, one of my collections has one card representing every no-hitter (or one card per pitcher in a no-hitter).

I have a card of Ervin ready for the collection:

Congratulations to Ervin and the Angels!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

I think it is a little disconcerting when young baseball fans are more interested in the value of a player's baseball card than his batting average. In some ways that's a tragedy.
This was one of the quotes I copied from the film release Ultimate Baseball Collector's Collection.

What's a Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck rookie card worth?

Jose Canseco's '86 Donruss?

How about Nolan Ryan's 1968 Topps rookie?

What's the high book value of a 1996 Upper Deck Derek Jeter card?

When I was collecting as an older kid and teenager, these were questions I knew the answer to off the top of my head. Back then, everything had a certain value, and I made sure I knew it. The "cash" value of a card, according to the Beckett guide, really meant everything. I didn't have to have the most expensive card, and collecting wasn't about the money, but I knew its value. I knew that base Griffey cards from a quality release were worth about $3 each, while from a standard set like Topps or Donruss they'd be worth about $2. When the next month's Beckett came out, I'd check to see how I did on my box breaks from the month before. "Wow! That parallel I pulled from Stadium Club is worth $60! Awesome!"

Did I know Griffey's batting average? Usually. I knew how many home runs players had, where teams were in the standings, and what happened the night before, thanks to Sportscenter.

But I know back then, most people were interested in the value of their collection more than the players in the collection. More people collected Griffey than, say Will Clark, because they knew that Griffey's cards would put their kids through college. (Did that ever work for anyone? Honestly?)

I know I've seen parents caution little kids about keeping their cards in mint condition, but six year olds don't love something they can't play with. I've always suggested when getting children involved with baseball cards that they buy them inexpensive packs and let them play with them as they wish - condition isn't important when developing a love of the hobby. As they grow older, you can introduce them to proper techniques for storage and handling so they can keep nicer cards to enjoy for years. It shouldn't be about the money, but cards can become a great lesson in value, including and especially intrinsic value.

I remember at some point in the '90s I mentioned to someone that I collect cards, and they asked me, seriously: "Do you wear white gloves and stuff to handle them?" The perception at that time was that any card was an investment in the future and the shiny, new cards like Topps Finest would be worthless with so much as a fingerprint smudge on them.

I've grown since then. I have a Beckett on my coffee table, and I refer to it a few times a week. I use it to ensure I'm not being cheated before bidding on some cards on eBay, and more as reference for things such as insertion rates. Of course, things are different now, anyway. Most people don't look to Beckett to price cards at shows anymore, and I have an idea of what a card is worth to me, regardless of "book value". Where in the past I used software to track the value of my collection, complete with up-to-date pricing information, everything these days are listed in Google spreadsheets. In fact, other than the set collections (where specific card numbers are important for set-building) and my personal collections (because the specific cards in those collections are what matters to me), I don't know what cards are part of each collection. I have a real nice 1/1 autographed patch card from 2005 Absolute Memorabilia. I pulled it from a pack - my first 1/1, and a nice one at that. But I don't remember who it is, because the player on the card doesn't matter to what the card represents, and neither does its value.

Getting back to the quote itself, the person in the video says it's a tragedy when a kid is more interested in a player's card value than his average. Do you agree? How much about the value of a card should a child have?

What are your thoughts on the quote? Plenty of room below!

Tiny Card Show, Big Finds Part Two

Continuing my show-and-tell, here are some more great cards I purchased at the little Westgate Mall card show this weekend.

This was a stop at the MMA table (show promoter). Most of these cards were 50 cents each!
 Serial-numbered cards of retired players apparently don't sell well, because I keep seeing Tribute and Ultimate Collection cards in 50-cent boxes.
 All eight cards above should end up in the Awards/Leaders collection.
 This orange refractor set me back a dollar. Not bad for a Griffey Jr. parallel.
All you have to do is ask, and you can get one pack for free. They had several sports represented, and stacks of Family Guy cards too. I grabbed this '07 UD Future Stars pack, and I think I did pretty well! I don't think I have that insert at the bottom.
This was a nice deal, I suppose (I have no idea what UFC cards are really worth, but do I care?) - an unredeemed autograph for my Women in Sports set, for $2. Total purchase from this dealer: $7.

More lunchtime cards tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Ultimate Baseball Collector's Collection

If they're not going to take them out and look at them and play with them, and they have to worry about getting them soiled, then we're not talking about something that comes in a package of bubble gum, we're talking about a whole line of collecting that's totally independent from the love of baseball.
If you're a baseball fan, if you love baseball, you want this, and you want to keep this, and you want to cherish this, you don't want to think of them as investments.
If you had a Robin Roberts card and I had a Mickey Mantle card I would of traded you even up and thought I got the best part of the deal, and today that would be heresy. I think that's a little dangerous.
I think it is a little disconcerting when young baseball fans are more interested in the value of a player's baseball card than his batting average. In some ways that's a tragedy.
It's not just the hobby that's lost that innocence. The hobby is merely a mirror of the game as it is today. It's no longer and will never be like it once was.
 Every once in a while I browse Netflix like one might browse eBay, looking for movies I've never seen or even heard of before. On a hunt for some baseball movies, I came across a title that seemed appropriate: The Ultimate Baseball Collector's Collection. It's two titles in one, neither of which really explain what you'll see.

The first film explores the Barry Halper Collection, and it looks like it was filmed in the early to mid-90s. Halper himself tells you the story of how his collection came to be, and you see footage of him acquiring some of his items from players like Mattingly and Mantle. Billy Martin visits his house to view his collection, and Halper shows off some of prized items. The whole show plays out as a documentary, but it feels more like Halper is just showing off the cool stuff he has, with some explanation of how he acquired some of the items. With the recent discussions that some of the items in the collection might not be authentic, this film will give you insight into how that could be. It was decent entertainment, getting to see all those great old items, but it is a fluff piece.

The second film looks like it was produced in 1991. Most of the footage looks to have been shot at the National and a couple other shows, and you see a lot of '91 products. It seems to go back and forth on the topic of collecting and money, with very little narration. Most of the commentary in the film is from experts - players, card executives, dealers, and collectors. The last 10 minutes really foreshadowed the bubble burst. All the quotes above are from this second movie. It doesn't give an answer as to whether it's a business or a hobby, because for every quote similar to the ones above saying money and cards shouldn't mix, there's another quote saying that baseball cards are a good investment and children can learn about money.

The release date on the DVD was 2007, but it's obvious these were produced about 20 years ago. However, they might be worth a watch if you don't have anything better to view.

I will probably take a quote a day and write my thoughts and open it up for comments. Meanwhile, if you've seen this film or any other shows or movies related to baseball cards, I'd love to hear your thoughts about those today!

Tiny Card Show, Big Finds

One of these days I'll put together a post consolidating everything I know about card shows in the bay area. This weekend's show was held at Westgate Mall in San Jose, a smaller single-level mall that has several big stores and a small collection of normal mall stores. This is the second time I've attended a show in this mall, and they both have been about the same. The show is put on by MMA Productions, and the last show I attended had a couple MMA fighters signing autographs. There are a couple non-card dealers (a full range of LEGO figurines and sets, for one), the box dealer I see at every local show, and perhaps half a dozen card dealers. There are three dealers I see at multiple shows, including two I buy from regularly, but this show seems to provide better deals than others, maybe because of low volume.

I walked off with 150 or so cards, and spent about $60 total. I purchased from five different dealers, and I'll drag these posts out for the week by showing each dealer one day. Smart, huh?

There are none today, but I'll be posting some trade bait in with some of the other finds over the course of the week!

This first selection of cards came from a guy who I've never seen before. It looks like he's a collector who was just setting up a table to sell his extras, or maybe someone trying to make a little money on the side. It looks like he just opened two Topps 2 jumbo boxes and some Bowman, and I was able to pick up several 60YOT:
 Even more 60YOT, and a King Felix for the player collection:
 How about some random awesomeness? Brie Bella would be my first card from that set (and most likely my last). The two Yankees will go to the Awards/Leaders collection. I found some USA cards from Bowman Platinum, and grabbed his three Topps 2020 inserts (a set I've just now decided to collect).
 Tribute cards are beautiful, even they're essentially foil printing over a photo with a foilboard background. If most of these are needed for the Awards collection, that's where they'll head. Otherwise, I have a good start on putting together a set. The two cards at the bottom are going to the Awards.
 FrankenRainbow? I grabbed these Finest cards because they were shiny and I like shiny things. I didn't even check to see if I needed them.
 Last, one more USA card who wandered away from the rest, and Pamela Anderson.
Total purchase from this dealer: $15. Most cards were three for a dollar!

More card show cards in 24 hours!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Elegant Flea: Keeping My Figure

Two weeks ago (wow, lazy!) I went to several flea markets and picked up a bunch of cards (see yesterday's post), but I also grabbed several figurines.

I took these pictures with my iPod after the sun went down, so you'll have to excuse the grainy shots. I shined three lights right at them but it's still not enough.
 The Palo Alto High School flea market dealer that provided most of my cards (including those wonderful 8x10 Zenith cards) also had several Starting Lineup figures from the late '90s at a quarter each. I grabbed most of the baseball ones. Above from 1998 you see Greg Maddux twice (oops), Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr. (kneeling), and Scott Rolen.
 Here is Frank Thomas, Tony Clark, a leaping A-Rod, and takin the throw at second is Ryne Sandberg.
This Eric Karros headliners also came from the same guy. Aren't these figurines cute?

Finishing up my purchases from the Palo Alto dealer was this Cooperstown Collection figurine of Tris Speaker. Still only a quarter!

 I bought two Starting Lineup figures at the flea market at the Ohlone College flea market. This is all I found worth buying there, but I might give it another chance in a month or two. We'll see. Frank Thomas and Mark McGwire cost me 50 cents each.

 The two boxed bobbleheads came from the Palo Alto flea market, from a different dealer. I paid $5 each, not bad considering most people sell them for $30 or more (someone else at the same flea market had one for $20). The Pinnacle Inside can/pack of McGwire came from the San Jose flea market, and was only $1. Not bad since it's sealed! If you weren't collecting in the late '90s, Pinnacle Inside was released with a pack inside a can, and each can featured a different player. I have a full set of 24 unopened cans from the first year ('97) of release, and I've been working at the '98 set. This is from the '98 issue. In fact, this is a gold can, which is limited to 1 in 24 cans. I'd say I got a pretty freakin' good deal for a dollar! Also shown is an RC Cola can with Joe Morgan, which I paid a few bucks for at the Danville card shop I mentioned yesterday.
Last, one more Bobblehead. I got this at the sketchy flea market at Laney College for $5. The box, as you can see, is pretty beat up, and the styrofoam was missing, but before I bought Willie Mays I made sure he's intact - he's perfectly fine! You usually don't see this one around these parts for less than $50. Crazy, huh?

I love bobbleheads and figurines. I already have many Starting Lineup-style figurines (they even count towards my Cardboard Zoo collection), and I have a pretty nice statue and bobblehead collection, mainly from stadium giveaways. The SLUs and MacFarlanes stay in the package (you can see them through the plastic anyway), but I take bobbleheads and such out of the box for display. What's the point in having them if you can't enjoy them, right?

So, two weeks later, my flea market finds are finally posted! There was a card show yesterday and I picked up a ton of cards, so you'll see those this week (they're already scanned and everything). Keep an eye out, because there will be trade bait in some of those. (Oh, and I posted yesterday offering a contest that as of this writing hasn't received a response...)