Resistance

Resistance

I’m trying very hard to resist the urge to go to Target at the moment. Why? Because I have a weakness for shiny cards that I absolutely don’t need. So far I’m winning, but it’s been a struggle this morning. Anyone mind if I vent a little this morning? Cool.

At the top of my rationale for not going to Target is the fact that they won’t have anything I want in the first place. I have three Targets within driving distance, 2 “super” Targets and one smaller original Target. None of them get any of the retail exclusives allegedly available these days. The only retail exclusive I’ve seen in the past THREE YEARS was Bowman Platinum at ONE of my 5 Walmarts within reasonable distance. So, there’s not really any point in going in the first place, which of course leads me to believe that “retail exclusive” cards are a giant joke in the first place. What’s the point? Honestly, the card industry is so completely backwards it’s almost, several times, lead me to throwing up my hands and just giving up.

What’s the point in collecting anything that’s impossible to collect? There are no stores I could go to that carry these products, 99.9% of my entire collection has been purchased online on the secondary market. People collect lots of stuff, in a wide variety of categories. People collect watches, and there are watch stores in every mall. People collect action figures and/or vinyl toys, and there are dozens of places to buy them (Hot Topic, Box Lunch, Barnes and Noble, Target/Walmart, etc). People collect books, music, video games, movies, dishes, gadgets, sunglasses, shoes, debt, you name it, it’s collectable. All those things have stores where you could find something you’re looking for. Even the broader category of “sports memorabilia” has stores. I went to the largest mall in Houston over the weekend: The Galleria. It has a hockey rink, 4 floors of shops, a hotel and a dozen restaurants. It has TWO sports memorabilia stores. TWO. You know what both of those stores don’t sell? Cards. I can buy a $2000 Tom Brady signed helmet, but I can’t buy a $2 pack of cards.

So, I ask you, what the hell is the problem with the card industry? It has multiple companies in it, who product all different kinds of products. You’d figure someone, at some point, would have said “you know, we should probably put cards where people can buy them!”. Gas stations and convenience stores, book stores, sporting goods stores, big box stores, anywhere and everywhere a kid (or a kid at heart) could possibly be enticed into buying a $2 pack of cards. Sure, you don’t want a hobby box of National Treasures at a gas station, I get that, but 2/3rds of both Panini’s and Topp’s product lines would do fine in multiple retail locations.

It’s almost as if they don’t want people to collect stuff. It’s like a club that’s so exclusive you can’t find it, and that’s ok because they don’t want you there anyway.

Just look at the “print on demand” bullshit. They don’t want you buying a pack at a store. They don’t even want you buying a box. They want you buying your cards, from them, for $10 a piece, and that’s just insane.

The entire point of collecting something REPRESENTING something else, is that you like that “other” thing and want to capture a little piece of it. In this case it’s baseball. I love baseball. I live and breath baseball. It’s in my blood. I played, my brother played (and was going to get drafted), my father played, I coached, he coached, we were all involved. It’s enjoying baseball itself that lead me to cards. They were a physical representation of the players I enjoyed watching, and one that I could “keep” long after the season was over. I have never heard anyone say “Man, I love baseball cards, but I just can’t stand watching them play, I hate the game itself”.

Baseball cards are not a commodity, like stock, that you can short, or capitalize, or monetize. They’re not fine silver or gold. They don’t stand separately in value outside of the player and moment represented on the card. Otherwise, a lowly bench player would be worth the same as a superstar. Let’s all face it, a piece of literal cardboard is not and will never be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Fake rarity is also an abomination, and is their solution to their dying industry. 1/1, 2/5, 10/10, gold bordered, red bordered, strange foil patterns and colors do not change the value of cardboard. Red cardboard is the same as white cardboard. Foil stamping does not inherently make something valuable. When you print 10,000 cards, and color one red, you haven’t created something ultra rare. You’ve created 10,001 cards. It’s people who put the value on something. People who decide what something is worth. Wouldn’t you want to put those things into peoples hands? Wouldn’t you want to increase the number of people who think your products are neat, and that they might have value? Why would you then destroy your distribution channels and limit your options?

The only logical answer is that they’re scared. They nearly lost everything by “going big” and pushing cards on the general public. The junk wax era nearly ruined them and they’re scared of a repeat. So, instead of making their products better, and controlling production, and choosing sensible distribution, they’ve decided to change the narrative instead.

If we say something is “rare” then it is, right? If we create a fake supply problem, people will think “hard to find” must be valuable as well. There’s nothing wrong with their printing presses. There’s nothing wrong with their distribution model. This is what they want! Instead of finding new customers, they’re whipping the customers they have left into frenzies. They don’t look down on the secondary market because the secondary market LITERALLY drives the primary market forward. They’ve created a system where the initial market is so bad, it creates demand on the backend.

Imagine if any other product did that. Ice cream for example. If Ben & Jerry’s just up and decided that their ice cream was going to be sold exclusively in Vermont, and no where else, it would create an entire B&J black market. People in Vermont would be buying dry-ice, styrofoam shipping boxes and mailing that stuff everywhere for crazy prices. Real B&J fans would pay anything for some of the good stuff. The rest of us? We’d just pick whatever was in the freezer case at the grocery store and move on with our lives. That would put Ben and Jerry’s out of business, while making the secondary market temporarily rich.

Baseball cards went all high-end / specialty shop / online retailer, and the general public has turned away as a result. They’ve decided to live in their niche rather than break out of it.

Just yesterday I had a good friend tell me that his boys have been super excited about baseball after the World Series. I asked the boys if they wanted any cards and they kind of looked at me funny. Why? Why would they? They can’t afford to buy more. Their dad isn’t going to “hunt” for them in stores, and the retail options they have are disappointing to say the least. When your Target only has two boxes of NASCAR cards on the shelf, next to an ENTIRE WALL of pokemon junk, you’re not going to go out of your way and find baseball cards and start a new hobby you can’t possibly sustain. Right? If I gave those boys cards, where would they get more?

What if baseball cards were back at the checkout in grocery stores? What if they were in convenience stores? Maybe people would buy them, maybe they wouldn’t, but there’s no way to know unless something changes. It doesn’t even have to be all the products. Why not just flagship Topps, or Donruss for Panini? If there were packs of Flagship next to the gum at the checkout line, I would buy a pack each and every time I went to the store for something. I would. I also know that it’s a gateway product. Maybe I buy a pack here and there and all of a sudden I’m interested in buying more for “my team”, or maybe I want to buy the set now. Maybe I see what other products are out there. Maybe I become a collector. Maybe THEN I end up online, or in a specialty store.

It just seems like an industry that’s in desperate need of fresh blood should be doing everything it can to get at least a gateway product in front of new customers. Otherwise they’ll be stuck with a bunch of old grumpy dude trading slabbed and graded Aaron Judge cards online until the industry finally dies.

Group Break from Nachos Grande

Group Break from Nachos Grande

CARDS

Nacho Grande Group Break

Bring me all the Bennys!

Matt “Doc” Perry, Creative Idiot, Texas

June 27th, 2017

It’s taken me far too long to scan these. The break Chris (Nachos Grande) did to start off the summer was back at the beginning of June. That tells you what kind of summer I’m having, lol. Chris was busting a couple fun boxes (Bunt, DK and Archives x2), and I thought I’d jump in and grab the Red Sox. My normal hatred for Archives was slightly abaited this year, the designs they brough back aren’t terrible and the checklist was pretty good. I’m also a sucker for Diamond Kings, as most of you know. I can take or leave Bunt, but I will say that you certainly get your bang for the buck out of a box of it (got a whole team set and tons of dupes). It was also a double slot break, with one random team, and I got the Angels. So, let’s see what I got…

You can’t go wrong with a whole bunch of Trout cards. Along with Pujols, they’re obviously the faces of the franchise, and are represented extensively in just about every product. There were a couple other Angels cards, which will inevitably go into an Angels trade stack, but let’s be honest, you just want to see the Trouts.

Here’s a sampling of the 2017 Bunt cards. Most of the team set, a nice Benny rookie card, and a cross section of the inserts. I don’t “get” the “Perspectives” insert, there isn’t much way of an explanation on the back, and the photos are cropped weirdly. Is it supposed to be our perspective of them? The players perspective of the game? A different perspective through photography? I don’t really know. Save the candid photos for Stadium Club please. Also, the “Program” insert is considerably weaker than last year, which I really enjoyed. Speaking of…

Here’s the last of the 2017 inserts, “Infinite”, which I’ve already touched on through a few customs. Chris did pull a nice #/99 green parallel of Drew Pomeranz for me, so that’s nice. He also opened a blaster (if I remember correctly) of 2016 Bunt, which had a weaker design, but also included that really nice “Programs” insert I mentioned.

Up next, some of the cards from Archives. As I mentioned at the top, I don’t mind Archives as much this year. In the past I’ve felt like the material was so flimsy and the designs so recycled that it was nothing more than a cash grab for Topps. This year seemed a little better quality, the card stock is better, the designs are nicer and they even created some minis (see Trout above). 1960, 1982 and 1992 were all pretty safe choices for designs to borrow. No complaints there.

The last card from Archives, and honestly, one of the best looking Benintendi RCs available. Iconic design, bright colors, all good things. Also, my cards from the Diamond Kings box. A bit underwhelming, but understandable given the amount of total cards in the hobby box. I also had most of the team set anyway, with the exception of that Rice “Heritage Collection” insert, so checking that off the checklist was a big help.

Before I show the big hit of the break, I also wanted to thank Chris, not only for the break itself, but for including a good number of “bonus” cards in everyone’s boxes. He filled priority mail boxes to the gills with extra cards from his collection. Spring cleaning for him, bonus cards for us. Win-win.

I don’t know if he did it on purpose, or if was merely a conincidence, but included along side the 2017 Archives were actual 1982 and 1992 cards. It’s fun to see some originals along with their contemporary reproductions. Also included as some classics: 84, 87, 89, 93 Topps, 93-94 Upper Deck, even a 2000 Skybox Nomar that I don’t think I had.

Last but not least. My hit. The hit of the year so far, for me personally…

A Benintendi Archives “Fan Favorites” auto. On card, and completely beautiful. I didn’t even want to take it out of the mag holder to scan it, so, you get a photo instead.

So awesome!

Thanks again for the break Chris, and extra thanks for pulling my first and only Benintendi auto!

Bowman Mega Boxes

Bowman Mega Boxes

CARDS

Bowman Mega Boxes

Adventures in retail!

Matt “Doc” Perry, Creative Idiot, Texas

June 27th, 2017

In May Bowman Mega Boxes were apparently all the rage. I noticed a post on Reddit the other day about how someone “got in” on the Mega Box craze before the price sky-rocketed. I was confused. I had bought two of them with zero fuss.

I checked eBay and sure enough, people are asking $75-100 for these $15 boxes.

I didn’t really get it. What’s was the big deal? I literally opened two of them and there were plenty more at my Target at the time. Then I read about Shohei Otani.

People are apparently hoarding these boxes, looking for the first Bowman cards of the “Japanese Babe Ruth” and asking for crazy money for them. There’s also “Aaron Judge Mania”, which took these boxes from an absurd $100, to north of $200 the last time I checked. These are BLASTERS people.

Like I said, I had two of them, I could have made serious bank. What did I do? I opened them of course, and here are the results…

Right up front, I should be honest, I didn’t get any Otahni cards. I didn’t get any Judge cards either. Otahni was in a sub-set of WBC cards, which were hard to pull in general (although I did get one) and Judge was only in an insert set called ROY Favorites, which is ironic because the cards were produced months ago.

Also, it should be noted that I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to prospect cards. I don’t have guys in Single-A or Double-A on my radar, I don’t really pay attention to the draft, and I really only get interested in the next wave of players when my team needs to fill a spot, or because the media attention is too hard to ignore.

Most of my really valuable rookie cards were complete flukes. So, please, if any of these names stand out as valuable, please let me know, because I have no idea. If I scanned it, it was because I had heard of the player, or it was shiny. I probably missed a few good ones.

Might as well do these alphabetically since that’s how they’re sitting in my scan folder. We’ll do these in chunks and then get into the details in between. Since damn near everything in the box was “special” somehow, there’s a lot to scan.

Sandy Alcantara “Mojo” refractor

Tyler Austin RC

Wuilmer Becerra Green Mojo Refractor #/99

Tyler Beede Purple Mojo Refractor #/250

Andrew Benintendi RC

Bo Bichette Mojo Refractor

Alex Bregman RC

Gavin Cecchini RC

That’s not a bad group to start off with. You guys liking the image grid? I’m liking the image grid.

The purple and green refractors are actually semi rare. These boxes (and the mojo parallels) are rare to begin with, but with only 5 packs per box and the purples being 1:6, you’re not even supposed to get one. The green are 1:15. So, statistically, with only 10 packs total, I could have pulled one purple, and zero green. As you can see as we go, I did considerably better than that. One box had an entire pack of purple (hot pack?). I ended up with 4 purple, a green and an auto.

As for these, the Benintendi RC was the ONLY card I went into this hoping to pull. Getting a Tyler Austin, Alex Bregman and Gavin Cecchini were icing on the cake. I had vaguely heard of Tyler Beede as well, so I’m assuming that’s a good thing.

Matt Chapman Mojo Refractor

David Dahl RC

David Dahl ROY Favorites

Mauricio Dubon Mojo Refractor

Carson Fulmer RC

Kyle Funkhouser Mojo Refractor

Tyler Glasnow RC

Abrahan Gutierrez Mojo Refractor

Here’s our second group. The Dahl rookies are nice, he had started off red-hot last year but I think he’s come back down to earth. The Mauricio Dubon is probably the best of the group, he’s one of the better prospects in the Brewers system. Chapman cracked the top 100 prospects list. An RC for Fulmer isn’t too bad either.

Ronald Guzman Mojo Refractor

Teoscar Hernandez RC

Jahmai Jones Mojo Refractor

Mitch Keller Mojo Refractor

Kevin Maitan (Chrome) 1st Bowman

Francisco Mejia Chrome

Yoan Moncada RC

Tyler O’Neill Mojo Refractor

Pretty solid third group here, as several of these guys are in the most recent “Top 100 prospects” lists. Mitch Keller is #22, Kevin Maitan is #44, Francisco Meija is #16 and Moncada is still ranked as #1.

AJ Puckett Mojo Refractor

Roniel Raudes Mojo Refractor Auto

Hunter Renfroe RC

Victor Robles Mojo Refractor

Blake Rutherford 1st Bowman

Christin Stewart Purple Mojo Refractor #/250

Gleyber Torres Chrome

Chase Vallot Mojo Refractor

Wow. I wasn’t expecting an auto. I really wasn’t expecting a Red Sox auto. I most certainly wasn’t expecting a Mojo Refractor auto. That pretty much destroyed the pack odds in these boxes. Not to mention a mojo version of Victor Robles (#5 top prospects) and the Gleybar Torres (#3). Rutherford is another in the top 100 (#45), and the purple mojo is my 3rd from the boxes.

Braves Talent Pipeline Mojo Refractor

Cardinals Talent Pipeline Mojo Refractor

Cardinals Talent Pipeline Purple Mojo Refractor

There were also 3 “Talent Pipeline” cards in my boxes. I don’t think the Pipeline insert set was in regular Bowman, so these might have been exclusive to these boxes (someone correct me if I’m wrong). I got all 3 in the parallel mojo packs. The purple refractor also had different odds than the regular purple. It was apparently a 1:18.

Last but not least, one of the WBC cards. Takahiro Norimoto. By all accounts, an excellent pitcher, ranked #6 non-US prospect with anticipated “posting” and availability to MLB teams in 2019. Threw a near perfect game for Japan in the WBC this year. Most people consider him the #2 Japanese prospect, right behind Shohei Otani.

The Otani hype alone made these boxes impossible to find in stores and this was before the Aaron Judge insanity. Post Aaron Judge craziness has made these like unicorns to some collectors.

I still can’t believe I found some. All in all, I’d say I’m pretty happy with what I found in these boxes. What do you guys think?

DIY Refractors – A Quasi Tutorial

DIY Refractors – A Quasi Tutorial

ARTS & CRAFTS

DIY Refractors

A quasi-tutorial

Matt “Doc” Perry, Creative Idiot, Texas

June 13th, 2017

I had seriously considered not publishing this at all. Part of me feels like it’s the trading card equivalent of magicians secrets. In the wrong hands, you could use these notes to create fake cards and to scam people out of real money.

That was a major concern, but I’m a creative person, and by nature I enjoy sharing with people. My enjoyment in creating something overrides my hesitations about people using this for nefarious purposes. Much like guns can be used for good, they can also be used for evil, and in much the same way so can knowledge. I don’t mean to make this sound ridiculously grandiose. It’s not. They’re little pieces of plastic and cardboard. However, in researching all this, I found a very purposeful and distinct “we don’t talk about this” among the card community, especially among people who create custom cards. No one wanted to discuss this. I couldn’t decide whether people were simply keeping it for themselves, or if in some altruistic way they thought they were preventing fraud in the card community. I don’t want to dismiss the later, but I also don’t agree with keeping secrets in what is essentially an art project.

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The Price Was Wright

The Price Was Wright

I really enjoy watching knuckleball pitchers in general. So when Steven Wright joined the Red Sox a couple years ago I was excited. I knew he was one of only a few pitchers actively throwing a knuckleball. Actually, I think at the moment it’s just two, Wright and R.A. Dickey. Regardless, the card industry took it’s sweet time making any Wright cards. He had a 2006 appearance in Bowman products (RC in Chrome, auto in Sterling and a base card in Bowman Heritage), but that was it. Three cards (and some parallels) in just that one year.

He was traded to the Sox in 2011, had appeared in several games, but was never on a card until last year. 2016 Heritage High Numbered was his first Red Sox card. Appearing in the All-Star game last year finally bumped him up into card checklist status and his first Sox/Topps autos appeared in Topps Tribute over the winter. Unfortunately for Steven, 2017 didn’t start off well and he just underwent knee surgery. His season is done, but the silver lining for card collectors is that his card prices are at an all time low. I was able to pick up four awesome autographs for less than $10 total.

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Rediscovery

Rediscovery

I don’t pretend to know how everyone else stores cards, I’m sure everyone has their own system. For me, since my primary goal is year-to-year team sets, I use binders and pages, and that seems to work out fine. It also means that binders get the majority of my attention. As a result, that also means I don’t put “hits” in said binders. I have “shoebox” style monster boxes instead. I’ve filled up three of them (the 3000 card variety) so far with random Red Sox cards… with little to no organization, unfortunately. I was putting some cards in one of the boxes and realized I was dealing with this…

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