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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Observe & Report

The best part about blogging is the fact that it is self-regulated.  If you have something to say, you can say it.  If you have nothing to say, you don't have to trump something up.  If you don't have time to blog, you don't have to. 

That's kind of where I have been lately.  A couple weeks ago while driving to work in the morning, I was rear ended while sitting at an intersection.  My truck was recommended to be undriveable by the tow company that arrived at the scene and even the police officer that responded to the accident said I better hold off.  I was taken to the hospital with a head injury as my seat belt failed to catch and my head ricocheted off the steering wheel.  Airbags?  Well 9 times out of 10, they don't deploy in a rear end collision so there you have it.

After being checked out, there were no neck or back injuries.  The only issue was the fact my eye was slashed open and my vision had yet to return.  I was sent to a specialist and now have a bunch of follow ups to figure out if my vision will return.  My truck has still not been returned and I have been in a rental since then.  As for insurance, it will all be taken care of by the guy who hit me and I am not worried about it so other than the vision thing, which is improving, all is well.

Speaking of all things being well, that brings me to my next point.  The "million card giveaway" that I recently came into contact with is now a reality.  The price was cut in half and some additional incentives were added to the pot so I was cornered into a position where I really had no option.  I took the plunge and am now slowly taking possession of the collection.  It probably would have only taken 2-3 trips with my truck, but I think I have already covered that.  The rental car they gave me is a small, compact car that holds maybe a couple dozen monster boxes. 

But the issue I am dealing with at this point is space.  I have none.  The boxes have all taken up residence in my garage for the time being until I have some time and energy to start going through them.  I have gone through quite a few and found some great stuff which I am sure I will talk about later on, but in the grand scheme of things, I haven't even dented what is out there. 

My goal here is to make my cash back as quickly as I can and then use the rest to fill some sets, round out some collections, and maybe start making some trades for some stuff in my PC.  I have been trying to figure out the best way to do this.  I have looked at COMC, Ebay, Sportlots, and Sportsbuy.  I am still torn with what to do.  While COMC does most of the work, there is a big front end cost and an even bigger penalty for cashout at the end.  Ebay, as we all know, is full of fees and craziness, plus chances are you are only going to get 10-20% of what you want.  Although the odds of selling the items are pretty good.  Sportlots looks interesting but it seems more focused on common cards for set builders.  Sportsbuy, or NAXCOM as most people remember, seems to be a pretty good option for now but I am just not sure on the amount of people that see this on a daily basis. 

Any advice from the peanut gallery?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What If Scenario #17

Ever made a bucket list?  I never have put it on paper but there have always been a few things in my head that I wouldn't mind doing before I'm gone.  Besides, seeing my kids grow up and have their own families one day, I'm talking about more materialistic things.  Like stuff you want to do, see, or accomplish.  One of mine was always to own a huge collection and run a shop.  I think about it sometimes and always play out stuff I would do different from what I see being done around me.  It is probably a pipe-dream that will never occur but it is a fun game.  So let's play another what if scenario out here for fun, shall we?

A local card dealer decides to unload another dealer's inventory they acquired some months ago.  The stuff that was acquired seemed like a good idea for an investment at the time but it is causing all sorts of issues with space constraints, not to mention asthetics.  There aren't enough hours in the business day to deal with sorting, listing, pricing, etc. when it is a one man operation.  Business was great back in the junk wax years and everyone was happy.  Stuff moved quick and a collection like this would move in no time.  Then came the late 90s and the wheels fell off.  Fast forward 10 years and here we are.

In walks an everyday-Joe kind of collector and sees a chin high stack of boxes that stretches 5' x 12' through the back of the shop.  "What's going on", the unsuspecting patron inquires? 

"This stuff has got to go.  It has been sitting here for too long and I am tired of looking at it," says the shop owner.

"Are you selling this by the box, or singles, or what", asks the curious shopper?

"The whole lot of it...together", exclaims the dealer.  "Why?  Do you know someone that's interested?"

"Yeah, me", you think to yourself.  So here is the deal.  You can ask a billion and one questions about this lot but make no mistake...there are approximately 1,000,000 cards in this pile.  This lot has been looked through many times by the owner but since about 2003, has sat virtually untouched with the exception of adding more boxes to it.  Sure they aren't all Mickey Mantle/Wayne Gretzky/Michael Jordan/[insert name here] rookie cards but you have to imagine there are at least a few thousand major acquisitions in the mix.  Odds are, there has to be. 

"What do you want for it," the confused collector inquires.

"Well, I have it listed at auction for $4000 right now.  A guy from [insert State] called two days ago about making a swap for part cash/part memorabilia.  I have had about 8 offers so far since posting it but nothing has really gotten me to bite."

"So you want $4000 for it?" I asked...I mean, the collector asks. 

"Well, tell you what.  If you are interested, I'll make it worth your while..." 

Peering through a few of the boxes uncovers tons of stars and semi-stars from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s in all sports (even golf, boxing, tennis, and water polo...water polo!!??).  There are even at least 100 graded cards in a box that include autographs, game-used, and some rookies (including an AP rookie [not Topps]graded 9.5, a Troy Aikman GU, a John Riggins rookie, and a Magic Johnson autograph, to name a few).  There are sets galore, ranging from the early 1980s all the way to today (a few visible on top include the 1982 Fleer baseball, 1984-1993 Topps baseball, 1981 Donruss baseball, and 1984-85 Topps hockey).  There are even ten or so boxes (as in 2'x2' UHaul style boxes) filed with unopened wax, retail promotional stuff, and other sports related collectibles.

The devil on the shoulder tells you to make an offer.  He says you have to.  He says you will never have an opportunity like this again.  He says you'll eventually be able to open up that business you've always wanted with minimal inventory constraints.  He says you can start to deal online on a regular basis and make some money doing what you love.  The angel on the other shoulder is supposed to come out next and be the contrarian however he may have gotten lost on the way to work so for now it's just you and the devil.  So the gears in the head begin to turn.  In the meantime, you see a Walter Payton rookie, not in the best condition, but 4 sharp corners and it looks great.  Two boxes later you find both a Dan Marino and a John Elway rookie.

If money isn't one of the major issues, do you do it?  Notice I didn't say money was no object because it is, but thinking of your own situation, what do you offer?  Compare your ideal buying price to what you spend in a year...two years...three years, on cards.  How do you make it work from a logistical standpoint?  What would be the deal breaker, one way or the other?  Could you store this many cards in one place?  How to you begin to organize these for sale? 

Keep in mind here that if you have never seen 1,000,000 cards, you probably have no ability to understand what this looks like.  I would advise you not to even try because it is bigger than whatever image you think.  I would have taken a picture but seeing as this is hypothetical, I had no camera available at the time I imagined it.

Regardless of all that, I want to hear from readers out there.  What Would You Do?

(Again, all this is hypothetical and I am just asking for research purposes...yeah, that's it, research.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

We Are Family...You Just Aren't In It Anymore

John Russell = FIRED

I'm happy with it.  Not because he is now gone but because they are moving on from a bad situation.  I don't blame Russell for the Pirates season.  It was going to result in this anyway whether it was 70 loses, 90 loses, or 105.  He joined a sinking ship with almost zero chance of righting itself during his tenure and is basically just a victim of circumstance.  My blame goes higher.  I would be happier if they would keep going up the totem pole with the pink slips, like maybe the GM Neal Huntington.  Or maybe team president Frank Coonelly.  Or how about the owner, Bob Nutting.  Can you even fire an owner?

Instead, Huntington made the official announcement, meaning that he, himself still has a job for now.  He said,

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for JR, both personally and professionally.  He took on a difficult challenge, overseeing a major overhaul in the makeup of our team." 

Really?  What was that overhaul?  Dump all your talent?  Put a hiring freeze on quality ball players?  Pay people?  It certainly wasn't a change in attitude toward a committment to winning ball games. 

My favorite quote came when he said,

"...In the end, we decided that new leadership in the clubhouse would give us the best opportunity to move this major league team forward." 

Not "move this team" forward", or "move the Pirates forward".  He said "move this major league team forward", indicating that the rest of America (and the Universe, for that matter) have all forgotten that the Bucs were actually in Major League baseball and weren't just a farm team that occasionally showed up on gameday. 

I don't know about the rest of the baseball fans out there but I'm glad the lights are shut off in PNC Park for another year.  My return to actively following my team after a long hiatus was nothing more than a dismal failure and an eye opener to many of the things that are wrong with baseball.  Perhaps next year I will think before getting excited over America's Pasttime because it's way past time for the Pirates to stop losing.

Mr. Comrie + Mr. Malkin = Mr. Win

In lieu of my normal Random Steeler Monday, I decided for a more subtle and less card related rant. 

It might be a he, or it could be a she.  I don't really know, nor do I really care to find out.  But the fact that it was said questions the integrity of the source, in my opinion.

I was reading some recaps of the weekend hockey games in preparation for my fantasy hockey draft tonight.  I happened upon the recap of the Penguins 5-2 win over the Red Wings yesterday.  I know it is still preseason but anytime a Pens team (especially a banged up one) can take the ice and out score, out goaltend, and out hustle a Red Wings team (predominantly the A squad), it makes for some great hockey.  (Queue the Wings fans flaming emails...I predict at least 10 before noon). 

In the final preseason game, coach Dan Bylsma was once again tweaking the line pairings in preparation for the season.  He put Mike Comrie on the line with Evgeni Malkin and it was almost slightly magical.  Comrie tallied two goals and Malkin had one and three helpers.  That line worked together like a fine oiled machine.  I went back and watched the rebroadcast online and I was quite impressed by what I saw from the two of them, especially considering the Pens were without Sid, Staal, Asham, or Orpik.

All I can say about it is this...if that is indicative of the kind of play we are going to see from the hockey-smart, 10 year veteran Comrie, I'm sold.  Plus, he is only collecting the league minimum $500,000.  That, my friends, is complete insanity!!  I just hope he can keep it up for a whole season and not put on his trademark 3 month offensive clinic followed by his 6 month hybernation period.

But here is what I wanted to point out about this little recap from the AP.  About half way through the article, there is a statement that goes like this...

"Comrie, who married actress Hilary Duff this summer, said he fits well with the Penguins."


Are you kidding me?

They couldn't just say, "Comrie, who is beginning his 10th year in the NHL"  or "Comrie, who came to the Penguins in a free agent signing this summer" or "Comrie, the other white meat"?  No, they had to say he married Hilary this summer. 

Much to everyone's surprise, I'm not a writer.  I don't work for a news organization.  I'm not a credit worthy author or sports commentator.  But, you have to joking when you make some half-assed attempt at trying to connect some kind of pop-culture reference that ties hockey to the mainstream.  That is bush-league, isn't it?  That is borderline tabloid reporting, isn't it?  This is an author that says, "well no real hockey fans will read this article so since no one outside of that realm knows Mike Comrie, mentioning Hilary Duff will get me the web hits I need to keep my job".  I'm only asking these questions because I am not privy to the unwritten rules of sports writing, if there are any.  If it is fair game, then I apologize.  But something tells me, it was just stupid.
I need to go look at my new prize to help calm me down after reading that article.  Who are these nameless AP writer's anyway?  Did they come from TMZ?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Megatron, aka: Calvin Johnson Artist Sketch

2010 Topps Calvin Johnson Artist Sketch by Brian Kong 1/1

Everyone says that if you open wax long enough, one day odds are you will pull a 1/1.  Today was my day!!  This is an Artist Sketch card from the 2010 Topps Football release.  These cards are seeded at 1:1710 packs.  I'm not sure if that means hobby packs, HTA packs, or the entire print run of hobby packs.  Either way, we can assume this is a pretty rare card (something in the realm of 1 per 20-30 cases).  Not bad for my first 1/1.  And, I'm now immortalized in my LCS's "Best Pull" book.

I'm still not sure yet what it's intended purpose will be.  I'm not ready to stop basking in it's glory yet.

A Sense of Accomplishment

I finally finished half a set this week.  The 2008-09 Upper Deck Hockey Series I base set is now complete after the final 6 cards fell into my mitts.  How you ask when I wasn't acquiring anything new?  My son and his blooming collection, that's how. 

My wife will occasionally allow my son to pick up some cards when they are at the store.  I guess Target had some 08-09 UD Hockey Series I rack packs on clearance.  He was allowed to get 2 and brought them home, very excited.  After watching him open them, and repeatedly jump up and down after getting a player he "liked", I recognized at least two I needed.  So the gears of the trade machine began turning. 

It's weird trading with your son because you get that feeling that you don't want to rip them off and want to be fair yet deep down you know "his" cards are really "your" cards.  Afterall, you are the one with the job and paycheck.  It was your money that bought the cards.  You should just be able to take the ones you want and he just has to suck it up.  But I digress...He got a good deal.  I get 6 base cards I need and he got a couple dozen cards of players he actually recognizes and can pronounce their names.

I love when I complete sets.  It makes me happy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Topps Football - - My first packs

Now that the 2010 Topps Football has permeated it's way through all the store shelves and all the blogs, I decided enough was enough and I wasn't about to get left behind.  I finally took a stab at a few packs.

I decided about a year or so ago that since I build sets and I need the most bang for my buck, retail shelf rack packs were always my best bet.  Some argue that these are the worst because the odds are different for the "hits" but you get the most for your money out of these packs because of the sheer number of cards and price per card.

Feel free to disagree as I know many of you will but when you have very little access to a card shop and means out of my own control preventing ordering hobby boxes online, retail is sometimes your only option.  Since I can't bring myself to trust loose packs on the shelf or those nifty gravity boxes because of all the pack searchers, I keep returning to the rack packs.  Sure, blaster boxes can get you some guaranteed hits as well as some increasingly fair collation over the last few years.  But the cost per card is higher than a rack pack and I'm really not interested in anymore of these "hits" that contain plain white swatches of bench players (regardless of sport) or prospect autographs of guys that will never get off their minor league islands.

Did I mention I picked up a few packs?  Well I did.  10 to be exact.  At $4.99 a pop, that was a nice piece of change until I realized all the trading cards were an additional 30% off.  Sweet, $3.50 a pack!!  There were only 10 or else I would have picked up a few more.  At any rate, I'll get this out of the way real quick...there were no autos, no game used, no super short prints, and no rookie variations.  Instead there were tons of base cards that put me well on my way to putting the set together, 10 Gridiron Lineage cards, 10 Topps Attaks/Toppstown cards, 10 Peak Performances, 2 Topps Gold /2010, 3 75th Anniversary Draft cards, 10 '52 Bowman reprints, and 2 55th Anniversary reprints.  Plus, out of 10 packs, I pulled 7 Gridiron Giveaway cards.

These are what I wanted to focus on because everyone out there has already seen the base and the inserts a hundred times.  Not being one to allow anything to sit more than 10 minutes, I immediately logged into the TGG site, surprisingly using my same ID and PW for the TMCG site.  I checked their "transmogrifier" for any recent trends in new vs. old and noticed it was a pretty even mix so I figured why not?  Here they are in no particular order...

1988 Jim Covert

2006 Doug Gabriel

1979 Lenvil Elliott

1979 Raymond Clayborn

1959 Joe Fortunato (R)

1984 Garry Cobb

1999 Travis Hall

This was a pretty interesting mix.  Better variety than the over-abundance of 1985-1989 on it's baseball counterpart.  I unlocked 2 cards from the 70s, 2 from the 80s, 1 from the 90s, 1 from the 2000s, and my one and only card from the 50s that I own that isn't a Pittsburgh Steeler.  Joe Fortunado's rookie card, as it appears to be, is probably still a common by all other standards but since I live in the Chicago area, he's at least a guy I have heard of.  Playing 12 seasons for the Bears, he made the Pro Bowl 5 times and is considered one of the top 300 players of all time.  He was named to the All Decade team of the 50s.  

I have already sorted my base cards but I haven't made a list of what I need yet.  That will go to my set needs page as soon as I have an opportunity.  I also pulled a small pile of doubles and a few triples surprisingly so if anyone else is putting this together, let me know.

I know, I know.  I said I wasn't picking up anything new for awhile a few posts ago but the urge to bust wax overcame me and I caved.  It won't happen