Thursday, February 25, 2021

Changing the Way I Collect, Part II

** If we have traded in the past I'd like to ask you to at least read the end of this post. Thank you! 

A few weeks back I wrote the first installment of how I'm changing my collecting habits. You can check it out here, but in short it basically has to do with me no longer chasing parallels of my favorite player.

In this post I'm going to try to avoid being whiny while sharing my thoughts on the current market for the hobby. To keep it concise: I'm not fan.

You know what, I remember a series of posts floating through my blogroll last summer about 10 Things I Like and 10 Things I Don't Like.  

Let's start with the I'm really not a fan of: 

  1. Empty card shelves in retail marketplaces. 
  2. My LCS selling retail blasters of A&G (and other product) for $35. 
  3. The Did I do good? mentality. Those who are on Twitter know what I'm talking about here. 
  4. Lack of creativity from Topps. 9 out of 10 insert sets from 2021 Topps Series 1 have been done before. Yikes!
  5. Lack of effort by Topps. Did you look at that checklist from 2020 Update? Ugh. 
  6. The number of parallels in a modern set is downright silly.
  7. Chrome. Don't get me wrong, I love shiny cards, but why was an old timey set like A&G given the chrome treatment?
  8. Ultra High End, High and Middle range sets combine to out number Low End offerings something like 20 to 2. (Big League and Opening Day are the only two I can think of that a kid can afford.)

Not quite ten and I'm okay with that.

There's one common thread permeating the list above: the almighty dollar. The current hobby trends and market, which some say is a bubble, has even caught the eye of mainstream media. This article from the Chicago Tribune states a single pack of 14 baseball cards from 2021 Topps Series 1 costs $8. That can't be right, can it?

How about somethings that make me happy?

  1. - What a great place to get singles for a cheap price. I love their new "box" shipping method and have used it nine times already.
  2. Bloggers - It's nice to know there are like-minded people out there who put out fun content to read. 
  3. The new, simple and cheap way to ship cards on Ebay - I'm so happy there's a $1 option out there for shipping when buying singles on Ebay. I hope to never pay $4 for S&H again!
  4. High End breakers selling on Ebay - This is the only way I could ever to secure Vogelbach cards from sets like National Treasures, Definitive, Triple Threads, Museum & etc. 
  5. Bloggers - You are a truly generous lot. I have a decade's worth of cards to prove it!
  6. Collecting the same I way I did when I was twelve by chasing cards of my favorite player VOGELMONSTER, building the occasional set and dabbling with mini collections of randomness. Sometimes I just don't want to grow up.
  7. Vintage - Fuzzy corners, creases, pen marks, paper loss... these characteristics just further elevate cards of legendary players who help to tell the history of the sport I love. 
  8. Bloggers - The community keeps the hobby fun for me.
  9. Binders - Paging up cards and turning pages of awesome cardboard is something I'll never tire of. 
  10. The Chase - I hope to frequent a card show (after Covid) and track down the gems on my want list and the others I didn't know existed.
A common theme from the positive list? I'm a collector, not an investor/prospector/flipper, and I going to do my hobby my way. 

So, what about the change? 

I think I'm pretty much done with modern day cards, even Big League. I've built the last three master sets of my favorite release, but it was really hard to find product this spring when it was released and I can't see it getting an easier this time around.  

It'll take something really special to catch my eye before I pull the trigger.  Like this 2020 Parkside NLBM Centennial Draft Class card of the Cubs' #1 pick, Ed Howard. 
I think a card of one of the Cubs' top prospects, photoshopped into a vintage Negro League uniform, is a winner in my book. What a sharp looking card design as well.  I didn't buy any Bowman of Ed Howard, but this one I couldn't resist! Perhaps I'll invest in a Gold Sharpie with the hopes Howard is assigned to the South Bend Cubs this summer. 

Instead of focusing on modern cards and releases I'm going to dive into the world of vintage. I have two dozen cards left to track down for 1982 Topps set build and then I think I'll choose a vintage set to slowly work on. 
I found a 30-year-old Beckett in a collection gifted to me, which has allowed me to get a better feeling for what vintage sets are out there and their prices relative to one another. I was thinking about 1951 Bowman and I snagged the Hank Sauer, pictured above, for less than half a pack of 2021 Topps. Then I scanned the listing of big name cards in the set from the pages of the Beckett magazine. 
Yeah, um, no. I will not be chasing a set which has a Mantle rookie in it! Can you imagine what a $5,000 Mickey Mantle card in 1991 would be going for in today's market? 😂 Maybe I'll take a look at one of the 1970's Kellogg's sets or perhaps early 1960's Fleer? That could be fun. 


Trading. I love blind trades and when other bloggers send cards unannounced, but it also stresses me out.  I'm the type of person where a little voice in my head constantly reminds me, "You owe cards to bloggers X, Y & Z. You owe cards to bloggers X, Y & Z." It just gnaws at me until I can send out a return package and it actually makes the hobby less enjoyable for me. 

You're probably thinking, "Just send some cards out. What's the big deal?" If I had something in my reserves to send I would, but the coffers are bare and I'm not buying new product to restock them. To be honest, about 95% of the cards I have placed into mailers the last few years to fulfill return packages have come from Ebay and Sportlots. This may be selfish of me, but I'd like to worry less and I'd also like to spend more of my budget on cards for my collection, not on cardboard to even the score on a trade package. 

So, I implore you to think twice about sending me a padded mailer of cards. I appreciate all the cards I've been sent in the past decade, there's no doubt about that, but times are changing for this blogger. So, please, pump the breaks when considering sending me a package.  

I hope the hobby makes you happy. And if not, then don't be afraid to make the changes you need so it can put a smile on your face. 😀

Thanks reading and Happy Collecting!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Making a New Storage Box

 I reached the point where I needed a third storage box for my Vogelbach printing plates, relics, and autograph cards. 

I bought a couple of one row boxes which were designed for graded cards. I originally liked this idea because all of my Vogelmonster hits were already sleeved up, plus I have a few graded cards of my favorite masher which have been gifted to me over the years.

The "before" picture.

The boxes are very tall and for whatever reason I had trouble getting the lids back on. Ugh. 

My biggest issue was that I wanted all of my Vogelbach cards in one box. I recently came to the revelation that I wasn't making the effort to flip through and enjoy the cards because two boxes simply weren't as convenient as one. Adding a third box was not going to be an option. 

After doing some internet shopping and not finding exactly what I wanted I decided to make my own. I've assembled a fair share of multi-row monster boxes in the past I decided it shouldn't be too difficult of a task to make one from scratch. 

It helped that I an old "file folder" box laying around that I could cut down to size. I repurposed a couple of other boxes to make a couple of dividers for the interior walls of the three storage rows. After a decent amount of measuring, cutting, scoring and folding I was about done. Lastly, I tacked in a couple of flaps with the glue gun to finish the project off. 

It took about an hour total for this project, but I enjoyed every second of it. I didn't have a template to follow, just what I had in the ol' memory banks from my past experience with monster boxes. So, yeah, it was a little challenging, but definitely fun and I'm very happy with the result. 

I was even able to re-use the old file folder lid. It had lots of writing on the top, so I just took it apart and turned it inside out. I made this box last weekend when it so brutally cold outside and I've already taken it off the shelf to flip through the cards twice this past week. Loving it! 

Oh, and the best part is there's probably enough room for another 50+ Vogelbach relics, autos and the like! 😁 

What do you think of my new Vogelmonster storage box? Have you ever made a storage box for your collection?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Snow Day Randomness, in Cards and Otherwise

 I'm not sure about you, but seeing as though there is a 2,000+ mile stretch of winter weather from deep in the heart of Texas extending to most of the original 13 colonies I'm going to assume you're ready for spring. I would definitely place myself in that lot. 

My school district is 1-to-1, which means each student has their own school provided Chromebook. With that being said part of me thought we had seen our last Snow Days. 

Last spring we were remote for the last nine weeks of the school year. So, naturally, I thought we would just have a remote day when Old Man Winter paid us a chilly visit. 

Enter Covid-19. Our state board of education gifted each school district five remote planning days for teachers. These days give us teacher folk a day's worth planning when a surprise arises, which can really be a blessing. Additionally these days are also non-attendance days for students, which I'm sure they also feel is a blessing! LOL 

I'm going to miss Yu!

Too much blowing snow? Well, kids, you take the day off and the teachers will use one of the banked remote planning days. 

It's not exactly a Snow Day so to speak, but I'm sure the kids aren't arguing with the decision. I'm sure someday down the road we'll all just go remote when the weather is all surly, but in the meantime I guess this is the plan. 

We'll have a "normal" school year again. We will. I'm staying positive! But, put me down in the column for "Normal can't come soon enough."

It's probably time to acknowledge the baseball cards inserted throughout my weather and school related ramblings. A big shoutout to Nick, of Dime Boxes lore, for his generous contribution to my player collections and Cubs collection in general. Nick always seems to have a stack of Cubs on the ready to head down I-55 at a moment's notice. Thanks, Nick!

Nick, myself, The Lost Collector, and Torren Up Cards are all celebrating our 10th blogging anniversary sometime this year. (I'm sure there's someone else I've forgotten. Sorry!) It's not 70 years, ala Topps, but it's still pretty impressive. 

This card came in the penny sleeve to the right. Wait, what? I don't think the photo of the front does it justice, because I took the picture head on. Here's a shot of the back at an angle. 
Trust me, this is not a "chrome" version of this 1962 Topps Ron Santo. I'm not sure where Nick finds these things, but his packages always find a way to surprise me. 
Here's another shocker for me. Kerry Wood and Rod Beck are two of my favorite pitchers of all time. I also love cards that show pitching grips. I actually have a folder dedicated to this little niche type of card. One of these cards is a first for my collection though. Behold:
This is my first Mother's Cookies card. This may not be a big deal for those of you who call the west coast home, but to find one of these in the midwest is pretty rare! Pure awesomeness! The card of "Shooter" goes straight to the binder!
Kellogh's 3-D Super Stars for the win!  I'm trying to decided which vintage set I'm next going to build. Currently I'm very much like a kindergartener who has walks into Baskin Robbins 31-flavors. Tooooo many great options! Kellogg's wasn't on my radar until Nick threw a Kong into the package.  Thanks, Nick!  It's like you just added Cookies N' Cream to the menu! 😄
Have you seen the new minor league structure? I'm digging the realignment, but I'm sorry it had to come at the expense of so many fanbases losing their MLB affiliation. A couple of former Midwest League teams are now homes to college prospect teams and one will try their luck at being an independent franchise. 
I'm glad the minor league players were given a bit of a raise to their annual wages, but in my opinion it's not enough. It's a start, but it's hardly above minimum wage when you break it down. 
What I'm most excited about is the idea that the South Bend Cubs will be visiting my local Peoria Chiefs at least once every season. When Covid is out of the equation I'm hoping it's two or three times a season. Plus, the Chiefs moved up slightly from Low-A to High-A. 
Also, the Iowa Cubs are coming east to play their away games. I could see myself taking a weekend in the summer to watch them play in Louisville or Indianapolis. I get excited just thinking about it... an actual road trip to watch baseball in person!
How about this Ernie Banks Dover reprint? Apparently Topps gave Dover "kind permission" to reprint the card. I'm not saying Topps isn't "kind" any longer, but I don't see anyway they grant an outside company this type of leniency in the future. 
Ooooh!  Brooks Kieschnick autograph mojo! Very cool indeed!  What do you think about that signature? I can make out maybe three letters, but he does a good job with the first letters and it's actually kind of pretty. The back end of "Kieschnick" actually reminds me of Ichiro's auto a bit. No?
Vogey Voges! That's my guy right there! I'm a little worried about his playing time in Milwaukee now the DH is off the table for 2021. MLB wanted the DH and the players association wanted the DH, but they couldn't agree on other matters so here we are. No DH. (It honestly makes me sick to my stomach thinking about the negotiating of the next CBA after this season.) 

Thanks again to Nick for a wonderful batch of cards and thanks to you, the readers, for listening to some of the randomness in my head. 

Stay warm out there!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Changing the Way I Collect, Part I

The topic of How I Collect, at least for me, could go off on any number of tangents. Even though I pretty much stick to one sport, I do have multiple different collections which I'm constantly adding cards to. The variety keeps things interesting for me. None of my mini collections grew more in 2020 than my Dan Vogelbach player collection. 

My love for the VOGELMONSTER has been documented ad infinitum on this humble little blog. Vogey, as he is affectionally known by teammates, is a fun-loving player who seems to be a genuinely good person. I've crossed paths with the masher a few times and always had a pleasant experience. 

2020 was a banner year for Vogelbach cardboard. In fact, my Google Sheet list shows 251 unique 2020 Vogelbach cards in my collection. Remember, Vogelbach was the Mariners' All-Star game representative in 2019. So, maybe he deserves 250+ cards? Although, 2020 was not such a banner year, as he was sold to the Blue Jays and then lost to the Brewers when he was claimed off waivers. So, maybe 250+ is not warranted? I guess that's for Topps (and Panini) to decide.

Regardless, that's a BUNCH of cards!  Vogelbach was given his first card in the 2011 Bowman release. That's right, somehow we've snuck up on ten years of Vogelbach cards and of me being a Dan Vogelbach super collector. Wow, does time fly! 

Here's the change: I'm removing the "super" from my self-proclaimed title. I enjoy chasing a rainbow, but I shudder at thinking how much I paid in shipping for all of the 251 Vogelbach cards I purchased this year. A handful were added to my collection via trade packages from blogging buddies, but not one Vogelbach card was purchased at a card show or my LCS. Yes, for awhile, I think I may have been single handedly kept the USPS in business. 😅

Even though I do dearly love adding Vogelbach cards there are certainly better ways to spend my money. I get it. It's a hobby. Actually, it's my hobby. I can collect how I want and I could continue to track down all of the Vogelmonster's cardboard. But, it's time for a change. Ten years of super collecting is a long time. 

I hope Topps deems Vogelbach, he of three teams in 2020 lore, worthy of cardboard in 2021. If they do, then I'll still be hunting them down, but with one major difference. No more parallels, which means no more rainbow chasing either. This post shows 56 different versions of the 2020 Topps base card, #99. Some of them are from Opening Day, some are from Topps Chrome, some are from the Ben Baller Chrome set, some are from the United Kingdom set and some are minis. They have the same picture and design, and nearly all of them are gimmicky. Yes, Topps, please stop with all of the incessant parallels and variations!

My hope is I feel safe attending a card show at some point in 2021 and I can search for Vogelbach's in the wild! That would be so much fun! You ever have a dealer ask you what you're looking for and then say a player's name like "Vogelbach," and then watch their facial reaction? Oh, it's the best! At the end of the 2021 cardboard season I can venture on over to Sportlots and pick up all the cards listed for 18 cents and put together a well thought out box order. I figure if it's not Sportlots and it can't be purchased for a quarter or less, then I don't need it.

So, there you have it. This is one way I'm changing the way I collect. I have one more post planned, but you'll have to wait until the blogging bug bites me again to see what other direction I'm going.

Are you doing anything different with your collecting habits in 2021? Feel free to share below. 

Thanks for reading!