Back to Basics

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As a longtime card collector, my passion is my hobby, or maybe it’s the other way around. Once I got back in to the hobby around 2010, I realized a nearly 20 year absence led to all sorts of new additions to checklists, fewer overall card manufacturers and a whole plethora of new terminology and verbiage that I needed to come up to speed on.

I created this blog a few years ago to share my thoughts on the hobby. As you can see I’ve let it go, as I returned to work after suffering a devastating knee injury that eventually will need to be replaced. My return to work, and subsequent entry into college, left me little time to write unfortunately. I did, however write a novel during my time off!

Now I want to get back to basics. Much like the simplicity of the 1986 Topps Tony Phillips base card (#29). This was, by far, one my favorite all-time sets. It’s a clean design, color coordinated with the team that the player play(ed) for. It also happens to be the same set in which I received my first two packs of, thus creating the monster that you see before you today!

 

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As we approach the first release of the new calendar year (2018 Topps Series 1 on January 31), I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on my personal collection and what I want to do with it moving forward. Call it the “(Yoenis) Cespedes Effect”, or maybe the “(Sonny) Gray Effect”, maybe the “(Ryon) Healy Effect”, the latest Oakland Athletic to find a new home this past offseason. Once again my ever-growing PC was uprooted when the A’s inevitable traded away one of the popular players.

Last year something struck me to the core as a collector that to this day is still bothering me. The Oakland A’s called up one of their top prospects, Matt Olson. Olson was one of the main reasons that the A’s felt Ryon Healy was expendable going into 2018, despite another 5 years of team control. Olson came up and started hitting home runs as if there was a limited supply on them and he was convinced he needed as many as he could get in order to survive!

I went to buy his Real-One Autographed card from 2017 Topps Heritage and it was selling for well over $50.00 (Auction and Buy It Now). There was no way I was going to pay that much for that card. Of course the cost of the card was overvalued and inflated due to prospectors and gamblers falsely inflating the price(s). It’s simple economics 101. The elasticity of the price of the card, the supply v demand all hit a head as prospectors turned their eyes towards Matt Olson in lieu of the bigger fish (like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger) who were selling for hundred, if not thousands, at any given point throughout much of the 2017 baseball season.

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Gone are the days of 1985 Donruss (Carney Lansford) and 1985 Fleer (Mike Davis) shown above. Gone are the days of collecting a small handful of base sets, where true collectors built sets with the intent to keep them. Sure, some built sets as investments or with the intent to sell, but most of those were dealers and card shop owners, not Mr. Average Joe collector. Nowadays it seems more and more people have entered the hobby, eyes set on making profits. The amount of fly-by-night breakers that are here one day and gone the next is mind boggling. Every day I see new people who choose to see this hobby as a ticket to a quick ROI. I, for one, refuse to pay over-inflated prices for cards that are valued much less.

For most people that “buy” these prices up, they are hoping to see an eventual ROI. Please don’t mistake me when I make that statement. I don’t want to minimize my fellow collectors that also PC the Oakland A’s, heritage sets or Matt Olson. I am just indicting the ones that superficially raise the elastic price of a card due to it’s profitability potential.

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Now, trust me when I say I understand economics. I am an economist for Pete’s sake! I just don’t want my expertise and my hobby to intersect any more than it has to. The perplexed look on Tony Armas (1980 Topps) sums up how I view the hobby and my PC at this moment. Do I really need to collect every A’s card I can get my hands on? Or should I just be content with collecting every base/team set/insert with select autos/relics of retired players and a few affordable current ones, as they peak my interest?!

In 2018, I plan to get my PC wants/needs “back to basics”. I want to collect what coincides with 85% of my PC which is the base/team set/insert. My wants database won’t be nearly as full as it used to be, with each new release. Because after all, there will always be another new release. Probably another one as I type this sentence! Oh wait, its January. The one month when true collectors get a break. Thank the good Lord for that!

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The cards featured on this blog post are not from my PC. They are just a sample of one of the best eras of card collecting, one that has long been forgotten as its referenced as the “junk wax era”. These are some of my favorite cards from my PC. I am so glad that there is only one of each. Not 14 parallels, plus an auto, plus a relic, plus an auto/relic, plus a superfractor… That’s why I am going back to basics!

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