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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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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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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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Site Review:

I’m always a fan of new things in the hobby, especially new ways of getting great cards into the hands of collectors.  When I came across, I had to give it a try, and it’s been a great experience so far.  (Read through to the bottom for a gallery of my biggest hits from the site!)

PackRip has hobby products for baseball, basketball, football and hockey (with more on the way!) available for collectors to open on demand.  You create a profile and then load funds to your account on the site.  Next, pick a sport and product. There’s everything from single packs to whole boxes, and they’re divvied up differently depending on the product.  Anyhow, pick what you want, the funds are deducted from your account and your cards are revealed – all hits, inserts, numbered, parallels, and big-name rookies from the packs you selected.  (Common base and lesser rookies are donated.) For anything over about $8, there’s a video included of the packs being opened.  At this point you can choose whether you want each card to be added to your next shipment, mark it for sale, or put it up for trade on the site.

A recent trade I made on the site.

The trading platform has been one of my favorite features of PackRip.  Cards that any user on the site has marked as “For Trade” are searchable.  Find something you like better than a hit you pulled and offer the owner a trade for one or more of your cards.  The swap happens right there on the site; if the trade is accepted, the cards go into your account.  There’s no messing with shipping to each other or checking out a trade partner to make sure they’re legit.  It’s as simple and easy as trading sports cards can be!  (In fact, I really wish some of the bigger consignment-style sports card sites would implement this system or something similar.)

When you’re ready to get your cards mailed to you, it’s a flat rate of $6, whether you have one card shipped or 100.  (Clearly shipping is a better deal with a bigger lot.)  I’ve requested three separate shipments from the site over the last few months, and all have arrived safe and sound.  

The overall idea of PackRip does involve a measure of trust at first, which can be scary in a hobby that has seen its share of prolific scammers, but I’m definitely glad I gave it a try! (Pretty well hooked now!) The only other concern I’ve heard is over the base cards and lesser rookies that you don’t receive from your packs, but the shear volume of cards that would result from including those would be overwhelming on a site like this.  I have to say that my overall experience with this site has been awesome! In addition to all the great cards I’ve pulled and traded for (see my top hits below!), I’ve met several other collectors who have become trading buddies.  Also, the guys who run the site have been great to interact with.  They are very open to feedback and suggestions on social media, and they are keen on making the best experience it can be for collectors.  Keep scrolling to check out my best PackRip hits!

This is the biggest hit I haven’t had shipped to me yet.

Matthews auto, Hopkins RPA, Newton patch /10

Traded to get the Jones gold card (#/10!), pulled on-card autos of Sapp and Julio.

Cooper RC /10, Rivers auto /25, and that Mariota patch looks even more stunning in person!

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The Unlikely LCS

Traveling to Ohio for Brett Favre’s NFL Hall of Fame induction this weekend (Go Pack Go!), my wife and I found ourselves in a small Ohio town in Amish Country.  Horse and buggies, Amish beards, bonnets… the whole nine yards.  There were also plenty of places selling all sorts of art-and-craftsy homemade wares.  Being good tourists, we stopped into just such a place, finding painted wall-hangings, handmade clothing, old-fashioned toys and the like.  (We even found crocheted Pikachu and Jigglypuff!)  

The place was huge, with three stories winding through several connected buildings.  We found a few passing sports references, mostly the local teams, and I talked myself out of buying a Packers cornhole set.  I thought we’d seen everything, but there was something urging me to keep looking. A subtle force pulling me further into the labyrinth of quilts and woodcarvings.  Out of the corner of my eye, a quick flash of sports memorabilia through a doorway that lead to a backroom.  Stepping cautiously into this uncharted chamber, I looked to my left and found this:

It was a veritable mini hobby shop! This one display case was packed with unopened wax packs and boxes, hundreds of binder pages of singles, a few dozen bigger name rookies and hits, and more stacked on top.  The small, pink note on the side heralded discounts and great deals on all of it, too!  Recognizing that I was irretrievably drawn in by its siren song, my wife graciously left me to this little slice of collecting serendipity I had stumbled across.  After just a few minutes (OK, an hour), here’s what I decided I couldn’t leave without:

A great mix of older and newer unopened cards, with a stack of singles to round it out.  I love the silver, refractive sheen of those 1996 SPX packs.  More on the specifics of the haul later, but for now I’ll say this was an added bonus to a great trip!

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2013 Panini Playbook (Card Show Box 3!)

My third box from the card show definitely did not disappoint.  I’m going to double-dip here, though, and just link to the post I made about this box over on the SportsNCards blog.  Check it out: Card Show Wax – 2013 Playbook Box.

(Yes, that’s box #3.  I will post about the Panini Hot Rookies box, as well.  Just got all out of order.  Oops!)

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Show Off Post: Card Show Pickups!

My sentimental post about going to this show ran a little long and had only one measly picture, so here’s a show-off post of the spoils of my journey.  (I’ll make sure to point out the 90’s cards to, you know, establish relevance to the blog here.)

The first thing I bought, figuring I would need something to carry my new cards in, was this box.  The 800-count size turned out to be rather awkward and ungainly, but these are always good to have around.  

The first thing to go in the box was a couple cards from a singles bin – some Virginia Tech autos, a Packers jersey card and dual jersey featuring a bright orange Tennessee Volunteers swatch.  

A couple more odds and ends. The generic looking Packers card is an old playing card, don’t know much else about it, just thought it was cool. Great thing about a card show is the little random finds like this!  

Had to buy some unopened stuff, of course. I’d been looking at the Conference Greats box for a while, and couldn’t walk away from a good price on this one!

Already ditched the actual boxes these came in because my brother and I opened them in the car before we ever left the parking lot.  Fun stuff!

A couple more bonus packs here.  I’m a big fan of the Panini promotions.

Finally, some 90’s stuff!  I was a little disappointed not to find more 90’s wax, but the two autos are pretty awesome!  I’m fairly certain they’ll make another appearance on the blog here.  (The packs came with the white card box to make the change easier when I paid for it. Haha.) 

Lastly, some more fun, oddball kind of stuff.  The Star Wars cards are one of my favorite pick ups from the show, as mentioned in my previous post.  The “G Force” flag has some sort of spinner thing on the corner.  Again, goofy, but I enjoy it.  The Super Bowl program is just plain cool!      

I post all this not just to show it off but to really illustrate the point of how much cool stuff there is at a card show.  I was sorely tempted by an Aaron Rodgers auto card I saw, framed and matted with a photo above it, but I had already spent [redacted!]. (Yeah, right, no way I’m putting in writing what I spent.  My wife reads my blog, too! LOL!)  Toying with the idea of bigger purchases is yet another fun aspect of a show, even if you end up leaving those things for someone with a little deeper pockets.  I had a blast at the card show, hanging out with my brother and just enjoying the experience of being around so many other collectors.  If you haven’t been to a show in a while (or have never been), I would strongly recommend making an effort to check one out!


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