I miss my childhood…

Yesterday was a day of reflection for me when I had a I-miss-“my”-childhood moment at my Local Card Shop (LCS).

I’ve took to Twitter in the past to vent my frustrations with the current state of this collecting hobby. Something that should be fun, seems more like a headache more often than not. Collectors have so many different products to purchase nowadays, you simply cannot collect everything. Especially not at the retail prices that our LCS’s have to charge to make a profit.

But I digress, this is not about the cost of the hobby as much as it about the sheer volume and speed in which it comes at us. Before you have a chance to catch your breath after the release of Topps’ flagship Series One in February, you are slapped in the face with pictures of cards on Twitter from “Next Week’s Release of Topps Tribute”! But don’t get caught up in the excitement of this $50 per pack product, because 2 days later, is the release of Topps Turkey Red, a limited print run product (which features major coalition issues, but that’s for another day). Before Topps could get to it’s next big release (Heritage), Panini drops Donruss into our laps. Then after the “street date” gets pushed back 3-4 times, Heritage finally hits stores… Followed very quickly by Museum Collection (At $50 a pack and $200 per box, no less)… And folks, that covers February and March of 2014!

I fancy myself as a 3-type collector… I collect Oakland A’s cards for my personal collection (PC). Any ole’ A’s card will do and it will be much loved. Second, I am a vintage collector, leaning towards my PC A’s first and foremost. And lastly, I am set builder/collector.

In recent years I have completely stopped buying packs/boxes of cards. Not at the cost of $75-$500 per box. The reasoning behind this revelation in my collecting habits stems from wanting to focus on my PC needs first. However, with this change though, comes the fact that I won’t ever get the thrill of ripping into “wax” anymore. I won’t ever get the chance at the big “case hit”… Or any other highly sought after cards from the latest release. The beauty of this type of collecting is that I can funnel ALL of my resources into buying specific cards for my PC and I have the peace of mind in knowing that I will only be buying the cards I truly want.

If you know me from Twitter (@ourtradingcards), you know that I love me some Yoenis Cespedes… I love me my A’s cards… And you may be asking yourself where exactly am I going with this blog and my “revelation” yesterday at my LCS. Before I get to that… Let me show you one small example of how frustrating it is to be a TEAM PC’er in today’s hobby.

If I wanted to just PC the Oakland A’s and just PC them from one product, let’s use Heritage as our example, it can be extremely costly. The following is a breakdown of only the A’s cards featured in the 2014 Topps Heritage product and the approximate cost of acquiring those cards in the secondary market:

A’s 15 card team set: $3

Jarrod Parker SP: $5

Sonny Gray SP: $5

Jarrod Parker Error Card (Sonny Gray pictured): $65-85

Yoenis Cespedes Throwback Variation: $85-115

Josh Reddick Throwback Variation: $85-115

Yoenis Cespedes Purple Refractor: $5

Yoenis Cespedes Refractor /999: $7

Yoenis Cespedes Chrome Refractor /565: $10

Yoenis Cespedes Black Refractor /65: $30

Yoenis Cespedes Gold Refractor /5: $100

Yoenis Cespedes Mini /100: $10

Sonny Gray Mini /100: $10

Yoenis Cespedes Black Back: $35

All other 16 Black Backs @ $10 a piece: $160

Yoenis Cespedes/Rickey Henderson/Reggie Jackson Triple Relic /25 $100

Yoenis Cespedes/RIckey Henderson Redemption Dual Auto $250

Let me recap (and I will assume I didn’t overlook any)… The approximate cost (on the low end) for this A’s whole Heritage collection sits at $965! Or the cost of almost 13… THIRTEEN boxes of Heritage! So please explain to me again why I would buy a box to bust before I pursue my A’s PC???

The last year I bought Heritage by the box, in fact, was 2012. I bought 1 blaster for $20 from Wal Mart and 3 boxes from a LCS at $70 each… So my total investment was $230. The base set featured 425 cards. After compiling my personal set, I was almost 200 cards short of a complete set! No SPs or insert sets! Just the BASE set! And I had more cards in my “dupes” pile than I did in my set pile! So now we are getting to the purpose of this blog.

This hobby is and most likely will always be a “Man’s” hobby from this point forward. Gone are the days of the 10 year old kids running into their LCS with their lunch money in hand. Choosing an empty stomach in pursuit of opening up a pack of cards to unearth their favorite players (and a stick of stale gum!).

So back to where I began. Yesterday I am sitting at my LCS surrounded by an array of over-priced unopened packs of glossy cardboard pictures of men. There was Topps Museum Collection (NFL and MLB) at $200 per box; Panini National Treasures at $500 per “pack”; Panini Titanium at $100 a box; Panini Totally Certified at $120 a pop; Topps Tribute at $300 a box; And, of course, many more products! The only 2 products that were “affordable” were Topps Stickers and Topps Opening Day… Afterthoughts to 98% of collectors in today’s market.

So, two kids walk in… Probably 6 & 9. They go through the LCS’s selection of $0.10 inventory blowout cards. They were so excited to see Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey Jr in there! Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa! One of the boys yells to his mom “This guy used to play for the Philadelphia A’s”!  (Referring to an old Fleer product and a Jimmie Foxx card). I knew damn well, watching these boys, that they’d never know the joy of taking $2.00 into a hobby shop and taking away eight packs of cards. (At least not 8 packs that feature current players… I am sure every LCS has tons of old 88-91 packs laying around). 

These kids were so excited to spend their $2.00 each. Both of them chose 10 of the blowout cards and one pack of Opening Day. The little guy, opens his pack… He had a sparkle in his eye… He looked at his brother and yelled… I mean he was loud…

“My pack had three Marlins players in it… How sick is that”!!!

Yeah, Topps… Panini… Leaf… Quit focusing solely on high-end, hit-driven, prospect-laden products… Cut the crap out of Quibis, Chipz and other gimmicky crap…. Give the young collectors something to get excited about… So if any of you happen to read this…

I want to open a box again… Not for the latest, greatest Bryce Harper, Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig hit… But for sheer fun of pulling a base card of Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss… Looking at my wife… And saying… Honey… For only $0.50… I got my 3 favorite players in ONE pack…

“How sick is that”… 

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