Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dealing in Pairs

I've been keeping the mailman busy over the last few weeks.  There has been a pretty steady stream of mail heading into my house.  It definitely seems like a less than ideal time to jump into buying.  Prices seem to be surging, or at least sellers are pricing cards like they *wish* they were surging.  

Shipping prices have jumped through the roof.  Anybody else remember when $2 shipping would get you a card in a bubble mailer?  It seems like $3-5 shipping is the norm these days.  Sometimes it gets you a well packed card in a bubble mailer, but I've also found that $3 shipping may mean I'm getting a toploader in a PWE these days.  

And with whatever mess de jour is going on over at COMC and who knows the next time I'll actually see the inside of a card show, options are limited right now.  But it's made for a fun game of cat and mouse to find cards that I actually want at a price I'll pay.

My Pirates collection will always be the bulk of my collecting focus.  Though there were some points where my more frequent readers definitely would have noticed that this blog would have been more aptly titled "A Bunch of Shiny Cards from the 90's."  But there have been a few projects that have been on my collecting back burner for years that I'm finally starting to put some hobby dollars behind.  And it's been really rewarding to see a range of sets and cards trickling in, rather than just feeling like I'm compulsively buying Pirates.

And it just so happens that I seem to buying in pairs.  None of these cards came from the same seller, making it that much more unusual.  But sometimes life just works out that way.

I've been slowly plugging away at the 1998 Donruss Signature autograph set for years now.  Due to some low print run cards of some of the stars, I'll never officially complete the base version, let alone any of the parallel sets.  But boy is it a nice set.

I added the Palmeiro for a measly $4-something shipped.  The man has 3,020 hits, and 569 home runs.  I don't care how you cut it, or whether you're for against him making his way to Cooperstown.  That's an absolutely absurd price to pay for his autograph.

And speaking of 90's stars...

The 2001 Donruss master set is another set that I've been picking up cards here and there over the years.  I'll never finish any of it - base, parallels, or any inset sets due to the star power and some of the low print runs.  But the Stat Line parallels are among my favorite parts of the set, and I couldn't complain about adding two decent names from the set.
But like I said, my Pirates will always be my primary focus.  I've been on a bit of a Jason Bay buying streak recently.  Now that his playing days are over, his prices have settled.  For a while, his stints in Boston and New York had driven prices to the point that I stopped even searching for his cards.

But those days are over, and now he's just pretty good player who had a couple of really good years.  Those are some of my favorite guys to buy - the Jason Bays and Brian Giles of the world who had a couple of magic years, but can be had for a song after they retire.  Sometimes I hate the "latest and greatest" attitude of this hobby.  From what I hear there is some big hoopla over the current crop of rookies, and prices are insane.  I honestly can't tell you how many baseball games I have watched over the last few years, so I'm willfully ignorant.  And I'm a-okay with that.  And when it comes to buying?  I'm perfectly fine waiting to pick up cards once the hype has come and gone.

Both these Bay autos are /25, and the X-Fractor in particular looks amazing in person.  Part of me wonders how many how many times a card traded hands, and what prices people paid before it makes a home in my collection.  

Mail keeps trickling in, and I have a few other pairs on the way.  So who knows, this may become an unintentional ongoing theme.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The One(s) That Got Away

 Call it a second wind, but being back in the routine of collecting has been a lot of fun.  I'm sitting around waiting for my mailman to arrive each day in a way that's starting to feel borderline canine.  

There are a lot of different irons in the fire right now.  I'm headed into the home stretch of getting my Pirate collection logged on TCDB, and have even struck up my first trades on the site.  I started browsing around the artist formerly known as Just Commons, which apparently has a new name and slightly better search interface.  And I've been taking a deep dive back into my own collection, and enjoying the thousands of cards I already have.

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the highlight is the mail. 

As I mentioned in my last post, if I was going to collect, it needed to be fun.  I missed that rush of each new pickup being its own event to be excited about.  And truth be told, one of the big things that burnt me out on collecting was the way the hobby has evolved.  Collecting started to feel harder than studying for a 10th grade chemistry test.  Just keeping straight which card I owned was a complex exercise in mental gymnastics.

Was it the blue shimmer sparkle wave refractor that I had, or the baby blue shimmer dot refractor?  

Logging the card into my collection became a scavenger hunt that ended up with 3 tabs open, 5 reference photos, and Scotland Yard on the phone.  

Ain't nobody got time for that.  So let's stick with the classics.

The 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game set has always had special memories for me.  2000 was the year I really started feeling like a "collector."  My mom would take me to the LCS to buy a few packs every week or two, and another shop opened in the local mall.

I mostly stuck to the low end products.  Fleer Impact.  Topps.  Maybe we'd get real wild and go for a pack of Upper Deck MVP.  

But one afternoon we were in the mall, and while I was browsing the dime boxes (I was a young convert), the owner was telling my mom about the new product - Greats of the Game - with an unheard of 4 autographs in each box.  At this point I don't think I had ever so much as held and auto or game used card.  They were just eye candy in my monthly Beckett.

My mom has always been budget conscious.  I got it from her, she got it from my grandfather.  My wife says I'm cheap.  But I prefer frugal.

But my mom must have been feeling a wild streak that night.  She decided to try a pack from the half empty box.  I asked her if she was sure.  The packs were marked at $5 or 6 a piece.  For that price I could have a small mountain of Topps packs.

The first pack was a dud.  So was the next one.  And the next one.  We swung and missed.

But it's always been a set that's been in my mind.  Maybe it's the one that got away.  Who knows what else might have been in those packs?

It felt like the right place to start as I restarted collecting.  Even though prices are probably a bit elevated, most of the non-stars in the set can be hard for under $10.  The common HoF'ers under $20.  And damn the cards are *beautiful,* with a simple yet stately design.  The gold borders just frame the cards perfectly, the slight offwhite background and distortion on the player photos framing the autograph perfectly.

I'll never complete the set.  Some of the bigger names were SP's, and go for big money.  But I'm ok with that.  I'll chip away here and there, recapturing the cards I never pulled in the mall.  

Heck, I have a box-worth of autos right here.  And even if you don't factor in inflation, they cost me a heck of a lot less than what a box ran in 2000.

But I can't help but wonder what might have happened if we had opened just oneeeee more pack.

Anyone else have a "one that got away" set?