Thursday, May 21, 2020

The freelance R&D with mini-collections

Through pandemic 2020, all I’ve done from April through the middle of May is cheat sheet / wantlist R&D - I wonder how the work translates into actual cards in-hand?

I’ve got 25-30 mini-collections - as it goes, have I set myself up where I can’t keep up, where I might find myself all over the place?

I haven't actually made much purchases, but do remember worrying about not finding a 1996 Pinnacle Bob Hamelin #289 card listed f/s last week - just the type of random thing that I'd forgotten already, but shows how random my mind gets as I try to come up with a possible addition.

I think I've been working on some specific ‘to do’ topic, namely trying to add to my nations collection - trying to fish out possible additions and haves to be accounted for to try and have a representation of players from different countries.

I'd like to think mini-collections are my flagship loose cards interests - I try not to miss obvious names for ongoing subsets while I strive to add new names and new cards.

Odd lots

It's not a card shop or card show rummage, but I've looked up eBay auctions lots to find random subjects and cards to add to offline cheat sheet - I listed out some possible beyond the glory adds like Luke Kuechly [NFL], D’Angelo Russell [NBA], Kevin Love [NBA], Tyrann Mathieu [NFL] and Shaquem Griffin [NFL].

Maybe I'm pushing past baseball guys but I like an assorted collection of pro athletes represented - while most pros have a ‘beyond the glory’ narrative to what they do for a living, there have been guys that have stood out more than someone simply being a jock.

For other mini-collections, I found some individual cards to list on my cheat sheet somewhere - I like looking at lots on eBay because they can be so random, where a listing can show multiple cards and it’s an Easter egg hunt to find a mini-collection quality card I need.

I try to find the baseball card lots picturing junk wax era or mid 1990s UV coated era cards - for a moment, the temptation is there to make a purchase until I see the s/h cost and figure would have to make multiple purchases off same seller to make these bottom of the barrel purchases make sense.

An apparent downside is all the eBay spam emails generated from my searches - the app’s algorithms do a job on tracking your browsing habits and/or even letting sellers know who has looked at their listings.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

What I have been up to lately - 10 things I don't like

I was taking some time away for a vacation of sorts that ended up being this ongoing cluster that has me stranded in one spot with no timetable to make purchases and get stuff in-hand - all I've been doing is trying to doing some 'heavy' research to look for cards to add to my collection while trying to deal with the idea card blogosphere things have passed me by. 

One of the things I've come up with is my own list of things I liked and then didn't like - I'm not sure which list was easier to make, though privately, maybe I tend to get over critical or cynical as far as what I may see around the hobby as a spectator than a participant. 

I reserve the right to flip-flop on some of these - but the idea is to shy away from these aspects of collecting.

1.) Supercollecting players - the quality and sheer number of cards in the hands of serious player collectors overwhelms me.

When I wouldn’t have the money to be able to grow and showcase a player collection - I feel more like a casual and not so knowledgeable.

While I might think I live and die trying to collect the same player as a super collector does - it’s just a different beast, where I’m playing by different rules, thinking about the cards I don’t have compared to someone who can buy themselves a serious player collection to start off with.

2.) Team collecting - I don’t want to be a slave to worrying about having to ‘collect them all’ when it is virtually impossible.

I like seeing assorted cards of my team all the same with different players from different years represented - but I find the quests for one or a few more random cards to complete a team set that may readily be purchased online silly unless it is somehow a single card actually worth something.  

3.) Autograph middlemen - I’ve been a ‘through the mail’ autograph guy in one form or the other for the past 25 years and getting occasional successes in the mail box is still something I looked forward to.

Besides those who graciously sign for free, the idea of paying a nominal fee [$10-$20] to go straight into a player’s pocket or for their charity is just part of the game - depending on subject, I’ve sent the required amounts to ensure I get a response with my card (s) signed.

However, it’s not as fun going through a seemingly ticky tack promoter who presumably advices players to stop responding to TTM requests - now you are nickel and dimed through this made-up rigmarole that wasn’t as simple as simply reaching out to the player before.

Now it’s a hassle to get 1 or 2 random cards signed and most times it’s like, ‘next’ rather than paying some fee - to some random dude who wants his cut in addition to the player.

Maybe the players in question weren’t really signers before, don’t always appreciate the flood of mail they might receive now or are made paranoid because what is signed is turned around to be sold - the players have the right to dictate what they want to do with their mail, just don’t have someone involved who more a shyster than a friend of the collector.

4.) Set collecting - maybe if I’d been weaned on old-school [pre 1985] or vintage [1973 and before] years, then I’d be building sets, looking for missing cards, trying to display a set in binders, etc.

I’ve lived through the eBay era where things have been to easy to find for the past 20 years - while there might be lingering nostalgia, the complete sets I’d end up trying to pick up would make me feel more like a hoarder than anything else.

Maybe I’d like to have bookcases of binders featuring a year-to-year run of flagship sets - but I probably wouldn’t go back earlier than 1987, when I might have had a vague idea of what baseball cards were and started to get serious about them a few years later.

I can probably try to collect a current year set moving forward - but there is always Topps factory sets mass produced in different variations.

5.) Retail flippers - guys who hunt for unopened product to resell online for double or triple amount; this may not be new, limited to sports cards or toilet paper, but I hate the idea of people staking out big box stores or pharmacy stores to secure entire displays of unopened boxes of cards, leaving me without a reasonable chance to have something in-hand.

In the day and age where willful ignorance is seemingly embraced - you might be the one laughed as being unreasonable if you openly complain about jokers taking everything off the shelves, leaving nothing for others.

I try not worry about what I can’t control but that isn't always the case - it sucks to read about the dog-eat-dog mentality in the quest for others to monetize their hobby experience in the expense others.

6.) Prospecting - I honestly want to be in on a guy before he makes it big and have his best first year autograph card out of Bowman, Bowman Chrome or Bowman Draft.

The way it is however, there seems to be a keyed in network that hoards up all the first year prospect cards - even before a player enters his first full season of pro ball.

There is big money involved and I maybe priced out even if I want only the prospects from my team - it’s still an apples to oranges comparison but now I get the occasional rant about the unproven being overvalued in modern collecting / speculating.

7.) Commemorative patch cards - too thick to fit a binder, don’t always have the plastic holder for them handy and they stick out as a common enough ‘prize’ I don’t particularly need out a Topps blaster box or maybe in other box configurations.

8.) Retro players in sets - there is a little disconnect trying to collect old-timers [either as part of an active player set or strictly a retired player set] in products produced long after they retired [or really, long after they’ve passed].

I tend to think it’s only original cards for me or bust - but I’m not that old-timey, relatively well off boomer who can pick up vintage cards of the legends and icons on a whim.

The oddballs and other old-time themed sets from the late 1970s through the junk wax era generally does nothing for me - unless I’m desperate to fill a loose card project hole, which might be the case more often than not.

9.) Kissing up to notable people who collect - because the sports card hobby needs to feel relevant, the odd individuals who collect from one-time pro athletes to social media influencers are treated like royalty; maybe it’s cool for a moment, but I try not be a fanboy or someone trying to look for an ‘in’ to schmooze with said personality through social media.

The smart guys know how to tug at heartstrings, market and manipulate through their online presence - they might collect just the same and I might be inspired, but I tell myself I do not know these guys.

I wouldn’t care about their non-collecting causes or their thoughts and even if they come off as relatively down to earth - I’d rather keep my distance rather than hang on every Tweet, Instagram post or YouTube video put up.

10.) Rookie year subsets and inserts - maybe it’s just a way to make more cards of notable rookies but these must be designed to make it so collectors are one more card separated from pulling the actual rookie card of a particular player from a set.

Friday, May 15, 2020

What I have been up to lately - 10 things I like but you don’t

I was taking some time away for a vacation of sorts that ended up being this ongoing cluster that has me stranded in one spot with no timetable to make purchases and get stuff in-hand - all I've been doing is trying to doing some 'heavy' research to look for cards to add to my collection while trying to deal with the idea card blogosphere things have passed me by.

One of the things I've come up with is my own list of things I liked - this might have been a 'months ago' thing but I'll chime in with the things that ring true for me.

1.) Mini-collections - over the past 15 years, other card bloggers made it fun to give common cards a second look; it's actually been a long time and I hesitate to 'misremember' the names of blogs that have come and gone [over to Twitter], but I liked the irreverent card blogger days when some of the oddest and crappiest cards would be put through a blog's microscope.

Maybe current blogs lack that 'old-school' bite that was a mix of WTF fun and nostalgia - I do wonder where some of the original inspiration came from for my mini-collections; maybe it was being bored and trying to goof on junk wax era cards.

Maybe it was cutesy beginner stories about collecting in magazines in the early 1990s
- with the idea of doing something unique with otherwise common cards.

A definitive influence was subsets in early 1990s sets like 1992 Upper Deck, 1992 Donruss Triple Play and 1992 Pinnacle - as I have mini-collections named off those cheesy subsets.

Awesome action

2.) IP/TTM autographs - go figure some thing finally killed the in-person autograph but getting a chance to get a scribble from baseball players made me such a geek.

Maybe well into adulthood, I can see where the idea of liking getting stuff signed seems peculiar
- but it’s just another extension of collecting and/or following a spectator sport and its actors.

I won’t ever understand the side-eye reactions coming from guys who strictly collect the cards and/or people who clearly have interest as fans of the game - who claim they don’t get the lure of getting autographs past a certain age or at all, like it’s below them.

Now the bad guys have literally won and there won’t be any player / fan interaction for the time being - where someone is going to sign a card or other item for me? Does it matter?

TTM may not actually be dead but guys might stop signing - besides getting my card (s) signed, it was always fun to get personal responses from retired players.

3.) Hits and pulls - I do not chase them outright but to say I consciously stay away from them is silly; I’d go through a hit box first rather than a commons bin when given an opportunity.

I like cards that are autographed and ones that have a little something that makes them pop - memorabilia cards still a curiosity in small doses, though it’s more player about worn stuff and questionable sourcing for any particular card.

4.) Sorting - I have my days where I don’t want to do anything with cards but there maybe a ‘sorter’s high’ where my mind is busy trying to make sense where cards are going and getting lost in it.

5.) Antiheroes - it's obvious but a part of collecting is being a fan of a sport or sports.

I like watching the pro sports villains at their peak infamy and/or athletic performance; give me a Barry Bonds from 20 years ago or another prickly personality to watch - the guy who is primed by the media as a superstar yet hardly generates that true ‘love them or hate them’ buzz has his place but something is missing in the equation to outright GOATness.

A line is drawn when a player becomes irrelevant - it gets sad when a top flight athlete just doesn’t want to get on the field, even when they are still in their athletic primes.

Maybe guys have causes or concerns where they just don’t want to play - I can almost understand someone just walking away, but selfishly it sucks.

Maybe I’m simply blind to the number of pro athletes doing bad things but get away with it
- but I don’t like the athletes who are not only mess ups, but have been exposed to systematically lie, cheat and destroy reputations.

Lance Armstrong is the biggest turd I can think of whose actions go way too far - guy was the biggest deal in a sport I wouldn't normally pay attention to, but he was an angry, vindictive fraud.

6.) Chasing rookie cards - it’s gotten to a point where I’m just a collector to the end, but who doesn’t like fresh faces and potential stars? There is still a lure of ‘this card might be worth something’ if some young hotshot develops into a star or better.

At the very least I’ll try to get rookie cards of top prospects who have made it to the majors
- but now prospectors have evolved toward throwing money at the rookie-year parallels, so who knows what I’ll end up with, for anyone who might warrant the attention.

7.) A personal collection - I like the idea of setting aside some cards as stand outs for my collection or looking for such 'dig me, look at me' cards to go into my PC, even if it's only within my budget.

8.) Blogging - I would have thought collectors would be on one social media platform, but even like minded collectors prefer different places to share their interests.

There are blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram
- each outlet has their own clique hierarchy and maybe it’s more interesting lurking to see who are the made men within these outlets.

After all these years, I’ve felt like I’ve always been on the outs looking in - I’ve never been the loudest voice, the relative authority considered a sage or just that ‘aw shucks’ guy everyone loves, but maybe it just reflects how I choose to collect where it's literally a 'me, myself and I' hobby.

Still I like getting a blog post up - there is something about self publishing with the idea others can get a peek at what I like and can chime in.

9.) Flipping through ‘junk’ cards - I want to go through miscellaneous cards, maybe stuff belonging to a friend, at a card shop or show [those seem to be done]; it might not be the case for strictly junk wax era years but then again I‘m loco enough to want to rummage through anything picturing ballplayers.

10.) Rank and file rookie cards - most guys are essentially forgotten, but any player who makes the big leagues deserves a MLB card [preferably a single player card], as a tribute to a player’s professional baseball career.

Some collectors tend to complain about the lack of a comprehensive flagship set
- I guess when rookies who come and go get a card, that means the last 5-10 big leaguers on an active roster might be shut out; if you are a team collector, maybe you wonder why there is no cards for the guys on the fringes of a big league roster but who aren’t rookies and have put in some time at the big league level.