Why “The Market” Sucks for The Hobby

Sports cards are far more expensive than they were as little as a year ago. They are also more valuable. After all, what something is worth depends on what someone will pay for it, right? This value has even been recognized and publicized beyond traditional sports cards hobbyists recently. People have been drawn to cards as an investment or at least as a way to flip something to make a buck. Lots of interest, publicity, celebrities getting involved, values going up – all good things, right? Right…?


Or nah.


I collect sports cards. Collect. I’m in this because it’s an enjoyable hobby that doesn’t cost too much. I have a day job to make money. I would prefer to never sell a single card. I have my PC teams and players, but I also enjoy cards in general. Unique insert card? Neat! Great looking autograph? Very cool! Big hit of a current star player? Glad to have it! If I go into a big retail store, I’ll usually at least consider picking up a blaster box or hanger pack. I love being able to spend around $100 on a hobby box of a product with an appealing design and the possibility of a big pull. I’ve even bought an entire case of a product once or twice, and opening those was a blast!


My kids have learned in school over the last few months about “needs” versus “wants.” Sports cards are inherently a “want.” They serve no useful purpose in life. Can’t eat them, can’t wear them, they are impractical to build shelter with. You can burn them… but there are better, cheaper fuel sources. I find room in my budget to buy them because they bring me joy, but I also consider with every purchase whether it’s worth the opportunity cost of what else I could do with the money. That’s where the big boom lately has really rubbed me the wrong way. I can easily still afford to buy cards, even at inflated secondary rates on retail, but with prices the way they are, cards have largely become a poor use of my money. If a box costs more than my car payment, I’m out. When my “hobby” becomes expensive to the point that truly enjoying it is detrimental to my finances, it’s time to stop. I have not bought a hobby box of a new sports card product in almost a year. Prices, especially for any brand new product, have gotten to where I just don’t enjoy paying for cards.


The other thing that sucks for me is not just the prices, but the skyrocketing values of some of what I already have. Wait, how could that be bad?! As I said, I’d prefer never to sell a card. That doesn’t mean I never have sold a card. I’ve pulled a few (or gotten them in breaks) that were just selling for too much at the time to justify keeping them. Also, I moved to a new house last fall, and I sold quite a few cards (including some PC stuff) to help with moving costs. High values are good there, right? Well, the reason they aren’t is this – I’m now looking at my cards in light of how much money they could be instead. One of the cards I sold was a 2005 Topps Chrome Aaron Rodgers rookie that I bought several years ago for about $40. I sold it because it was going for $250, and I could not justify keeping it at that price when my family needed the money. It’s great that I could do that, but as a collector, it sucks. I find myself looking at some of my favorite cards now thinking, “That could be a new couch” or “That could help pay off the car.” I don’t want that. I want to look at these cards and think, “That’s cool damn card, and I’m glad I have it!”


I know the uptick in cards has brought lots of new faces to the hobby, and I truly welcome them. There’s an awesome community here, and new faces just add to it. I recognize plenty of us, myself included, have been able to bring in some much needed extra income from increased card prices. I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to earn a living. All that said, the boom in the card market has really put a damper on sports cards as a hobby for me, and it sucks, because I’m not in this as an investment. I’m just here to enjoy collecting cards.

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My New Favorite Base Card

Now, I know it’s just a base card, but this card is gorgeous to me! Doesn’t hurt that it’s my favorite baseball player, either.

My new number Juan base card!

The card just looks elegant. The holofoil border really pops against the darker background. Soto is well-framed in the layout of the card. I like that his hands and the top of his helmet extend out over the border, giving a sense of depth to the picture. Also, that is my personal favorite Nationals uniform variation – the blue jersey with the Stars and Stripes “W.” Like I said, Soto is my favorite baseball player, too, and this image really captures the excitement (and a little goofiness) that he brings to the game. It may just be a base card, but this one is going on display!

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Nats Win!!!

This is super late, but…

The Washington Nationals won the World Series!!!

That’s it, that’s the blog post.

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Plain… Blue Envelope?

Shipping cards is one of the most contentious hobby-related issues I have seen on social media. PWE, bubble mailer, pony express, armored car with heavily armed guard… everybody has a different opinion of how it should be done. I’ve had a few cards that have been damaged despite great packaging, and some that miraculously arrived in perfect shape in the flimsiest packaging I could imagine. Recently, though, I had a shipping experience that was just plain funny to me. To take a little suspense out of the story, the card was fine.

So I bought an Aaron Rodgers rookie card on eBay. Not super high-end, but I spent enough on it to pay for a moderate steak dinner for two. As such, I was pretty interested in getting it here safely. It took a few days to ship, and the seller never put up a tracking number. That happens, but it makes me nervous. When it hadn’t arrived a week after shipping, I started to contemplate the dreaded ordeal of opening a case against the guy on eBay. Ugh. I decided to give it one more day, and sure enough, I had a package pick up slip in my mail the next afternoon. Joy!

I still had to go to the post office and sign for it, which was really not necessary for this card. When I showed the postal worker my mailing slip, they went to the back for about ten minutes. After giving me a great chance to look at all the different stamps on posters around the room, they came back with this:

Neatly addressed, shipped certified mail, a plain blue greeting card envelope. That’s an expensive way to ship PWE (or PBE, as it were). Still, seemed in good shape, so I smiled it off and was thankful it arrived safely. My smile turned into a chuckle as I opened the envelope.

What in the world?

A trusty canine courier to get my card to me. In a top hat, because why not? L.O.L. Sure enough, stuck to the inside with double sided tape, was good old A-A-Ron himself. GO PACK GO!

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Not One, Not Two, Not Three…

Score Football is one of my favorite brands. It has a huge, inclusive base set that I enjoy putting together every year. It has featured just about all of the notable rookies each year since its inception in 1989. You can find autographs and low-numbered parallels, but they aren’t really the point of the brand. I would happily still buy it without the hits.

In as much as hits aren’t the typical selling point, I did find one recently I could not pass up. My favorite card brand, my favorite team, a multi-patch card? Yes, please! Now this is not just a dual patch, or a triple, or even a quad. This card has (Lebron, help me out here) not one, not two, not three… ok, that’s enough. This is a double-sided, EIGHT-patch, one-of-one little piece of cardboard glory! Behold!

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My New Hobby

I’d like to introduce you all to my new hobby: buying cards. That’s what we all do, right? The whole point of this blog? Collecting cards? The thing is, if you read that first sentence carefully it doesn’t say “collecting”, but rather “buying.”

I’ve found that at some point in the last year my collecting hobby has grotesquely morphed into just buying cards. I have constantly browsed eBay, Twitter and all the usual haunts for cards or break spots to buy. I get excited about a good pull in a break or getting a deal on a card I want. Then the cards show up in my mailbox, I look at them for a few fleeting seconds, and they go in a box. These boxes fill and form stacks. These stacks are now one of the more notable features of a small room in my house. Stacks of the conquests of my buying hobby. Stacks of anonymous cardboard treasures, many of which I barely remember that I have.

Now, please don’t take this as a brag of how much I buy or of how many cards I have. Far from it, I’m envisioning myself sitting in a circle of people in folding chairs and sheepishly saying “Hi, I’m Bryan, and I have bought too many cards and not really appreciated that I have them.”

I have all sorts of grand plans to sort them, organize a few sets, display my favorite cards and maybe let go of some cards somebody else would like more than I do. Those plans may as well be in stacks of boxes collecting dust, too.

The length of time since I last posted to this blog is a great indication of all of this. I started blogging to share things I find fun and interesting in collecting (and to show off all my flippin’ awesome football cards, of course!). In the last year, I’ve picked up all kinds of cool cards, opened some fun boxes, and even dabbled in collecting baseball (Go Nats!) in addition to my die-hard football collection. Those would all be great things to blog about, if I could just close the eBay app long enough to type up a post. (The new iPhone update with screen time tracking has really hammered that point home, too!)

I don’t have a big finish, grande finale, or even a corny joke to end this post with. (Although I did end that last sentence with a preposition. Shame!) I really just wanted to throw this stream of consciousness out into the ether to get it off my chest. Thanks, and rest assured there will be new and far more lighthearted blog posts here in the future!

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Chapter 8: The Blog Awakens

Blogging has been slow for me lately, but everything else has been moving at warp speed!  I won’t say I’ve boldly gone where no man has gone before, I’ve just been neglecting my entries in the Captain’s log.  Having found a few moments to meditate on the Force, however, Obi-Wan implored me to go to the WordPress app and continue my blogging.  Realizing the mixed references have probably inspired the First Order to ally with the Klingons by now, I will turn to Capt. James T. Kirk (Cousins) to bail me out with this crisp, gorgeous autograph!  These cards look amazing with so much open space for the signature.  This is one of the only autograph sets I’ve seen that truly focuses on, you know, the autograph, and the results are… out of this world.


Live long and prosper! 

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New PC Players for 2017!!!

One of my main PC themes is players from Virginia Tech, and I’m thrilled that there are four 2017 rookies who already have cards! GO HOKIES! Here are two I have in-hand so far:

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2016 Black Gold HOF Symbols Reggie White

Panini Black Gold is one of my favorite current products, and I knew when I saw these cards in the initial teases for this year’s edition that I would have to grab any Packers cards like this. Sure enough, Bart Starr, Brett Favre, and Reggie White are all part of the HOF Symbols set.  White is the only one I’ve tracked down so far, and it’s a beaut!  That gold colored HOF Symbol medallion really shines against the black background of this card.  Great display piece, for sure, and it will look awesome next to Starr and Favre when I pick them up!

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2013 Totally Certified: My 1st Case! (Bonus – Redemption Card)

I mentioned in part 2 of my blog post about opening a 2013 Totally Certified Football case that I pulled a disappointing number of redemption cards.  Lucky for me, Panini still honors them – even the “expired” ones!  In fact, I’ve already received the first card from them.  (Bravo, Panini!)  This was one of the big names from that draft, and I’m pretty happy to get this card, even if the star power here has faded since 2013.  Still, a nice card and a very presentable autograph

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