No Hobby Love – Trailblazers Edition

What is love?

The Portland Trailblazers were a playoff team the past few years and have a number of very good players on their team. Sure they are in a small market, but the fans here are rabid. I love picking up new Trailblazers autographs, especially of my favorite Blazer Nicolas Batum. But it seems as though the Blazers get no love in the hobby.

It’s hard finding sports cards featuring some of the smaller market teams in every sport. But due to economics, a lot of those teams don’t have much talent. The Trailblazers have a ton of talent but barely any higher end autographs or game-used cards on the market.

Everyone reading this is thinking about all the great Brandon Roy cards out there. I know, I understand, but Brandon Roy isn’t the whole team. This year I was lucky enough to see a Marcus Camby patch from Absolute on eBay but missed my chance at it. But I never see anyone other then Brandon Roy and the occasion LaMarcus Aldridge autographs floating around. What is it about the players that the card companies don’t like?

I understand Brandon Roy is a super star despite his injuries. Who else besides LeBron or Kobe could of taken over that playoff Game 3 against the Mavericks? But where is more LaMarcus, Batum, Wes Matthews, or Andre Miller? Nicolas hasn’t had an autograph in a product since Upper Deck was dropping inventory for 09-10 Upper Deck. Wes Matthews only has rookie autographs and he is probably one of the best sophomores in the league this last year. Andre Miller is probably the smartest and deceptive point guards in the league and has been around for years bringing great success. Hell, Andre Miller dropped 52 against Dallas 2 years ago. It was kind of a fluke but which point guards in the NBA can say they dropped 52 in a game?

The Lakers are a more popular team but a simple search of eBay shows several different current Lakers autographs. Lamar Odom autographs? I’m sorry, but isn’t he a backup? Sasha Vujacic? Who? Luke Walton? Does he even play anymore? Derek Fisher? Any other team and he wouldn’t have the same minutes because Kobe has a man crush on him. And finally, headcase Ron Artest?

Blazers on eBay? Roy, Aldridge, and rookie autos. Will I ever see an Andre Miller auto with a Blazers uniform on? A Wes Matthews? Marcus Camby? If I can get an autograph of Ron Artest I should be able to get an autograph of at least Wes Matthews.

Panini, I think it’s time to expand the autograph checklists a bit. Bring us closer to the game and the players and teams we love. Sure, everyone would love to pull a Kobe auto, but I’m sure others would love to pull a Nicolas Batum just as much.

Panini don’t hurt me, no more.

General Site News – WordPress or Blogger?

There are some things I want to do on this sports card blog. Some big things, some interesting things, and some off the wall things involving cardboard. I just realized that I should of looked more into what I could do with just a free blog and a domain from WordPress. I should of learned that I can’t have my own inconspicuous ads (those ads you see make WP money, not me), I can’t have a place to sell some cards (against TOS), and can’t even use Java Script which would make for some nicer widgets and other fun stuff.

I have two options I can go with:

- Move to WordPress.org (while paying a small hosting fee)

- Move to Blogger (free, but looks less appealing)

I’m considering going to WP.org so I can just import all of this stuff seamlessly and then redesign everything to my liking by learning the basics myself so I don’t have to pay anyone to do it. I’ve been looking at hosts and found some pretty cheap and reliable hosts.

I want more freedom and both options give me that freedom, just trying to figure out if it’s worth continuing to use the WordPress platform or moving to Blogger. WordPress will give me more freedom then Blogger.

Oh what to do. Who has experience in this area and can give me their opinions?

Hobby vs. Retail Packs and Boxes

So you’re new to collecting and are ready to start buying some product directly from the stores. Wonderful, welcome to the hobby. But before you go, do you understand the difference between hobby and retail packs or boxes? Sports Card Blog is here to help you.

Manufacturers bring out to separate types of boxes to broaden the spectrum of who and where they sell their products. Retail products are often sold at places like Wal-Mart, Target, Fred Meyer, or Winners (for you Canadians out there). These products usually cost less then hobby products and are good for collecting if you are on a low budget or you want to collect a brand’s set. Hobby products are almost exclusively sold at hobby shops and can get quite expensive depending on what you are buying. Yes, you will receive pretty much the same cards from both retail or hobby. The difference is the odds.

Hobby product odds are usually significantly better to pull something of value in your packs or box. Just take a look at the back of a pack of cards from a hobby box and then from a retail box and you can see the differences in what the odds are to pull something nice. On rare occasions, the odds are exactly the same. In this case, you may find the product cheaper at retail stores, so go for it! But the vast majority of the time, your odds are much better in hobby boxes to get a game used or autographed card as well as those harder to get inserts or rookies. However, one of the newer trends by the companies is to insert special “retail only” inserts to get you to buy retail boxes, so there are benefits to buying retail if you are looking for more then just set building or you are on a lower budget.

But Sports Card Blog, what should I buy?

Buy retail if:

  • You plan on just building base sets
  • Have a lower budget to spend on cards
  • Low priced gifts to fellow collectors
  • Better for little kids who are new to collecting
  • Want to open packs just for fun
  • You don’t have a hobby shop around and are too impatient to wait for online hobby shops to send to you (me!)

Buy hobby if:

  • You want to get better, more valuable hits more often
  • Have a higher budget to spend on cards
  • Want to build a full set (including autographs, game used, and inserts)
  • Want more variety. There are a ton more sets available as hobby only

I hope this helps any new collectors who come across this blog and want to know what is best for them.

Whether it be retail or hobby, may the mojo be with you.

Suggestions to Fix Expired Redemptions

Expired redemptions are a black mark on the hobby today. When you open a pack or a box of older cards you always fear the worst. You don’t fear a career minor leaguer, you don’t fear being shorted hits, and you don’t fear pulling a Gypsy Queen jewel relic (or something like it). You fear pulling an expired redemption, especially if it’s of a great player. I was watching some YouTube box breaks today and saw someone pull an expired Sidney Crosby autograph. How crappy does that guy feel?

Redemptions are in the product because the athlete had not signed the card (or sticker, jersey, etc.) and it was not back in the factory at the time of pack out. That leaves little printed stickers on cardboard telling you they owe you a card. Also on that card is an expiration date. Why? Some states apparently consider redemption cards “sweepstakes” and there must be a definite start date and end date.

First, why not make the end date 10 years from the start date? Extending the redemption end period would solve so many problems. Upper Deck has claimed close to 90% of redemptions are claimed within the two years. How about making it 99% and extending the redemption dates? Especially for those players that take forever to sign. I’m talking to you Vince Carter and Monta Ellis.

Speaking of players taking forever or not signing, why not add in a little something to the contract? If you do not autograph these items by xx/xx/xx your contract for this product is void and you are not getting your money. Hit them where it hurts. I know you want to get checklists out and promos out ahead of time but which is worse? A late checklist or angry customers because they never get their redemption? It should be focused on customers first.

But what is done with the cards once the redemption has ended? Some companies use those cards as replacements to other redemptions that people have sent in. Others are known to destroy those cards. Why in the world would you destroy them? Why not just use some of the older redemption cards as replacements for an expired redemption? How about a box of cards from the latest product for those higher end redemptions? What about another sport? I’m just tire kicking here but there has to be something the company can do.

You want to “bring back the card shop” then do something to help make their boxes worth something if they have extra product laying around. Prices of boxes with expired redemptions are dropping and the “hobby shops” you all adore are having to take losses because of these redemptions. They will continue that trend for as long as redemptions are in products and expire after two years. How much will you be able to get Panini Limited hockey for after their redemptions expire? (In case you don’t get the reference, some Limited boxes have had as many as 3 redemptions inside.)

What Box To Break?

Well I was hoping to bring a nice surprise retail break today of Gypsy Queen since everyone else is doing it, but Fred Meyer did not have any Gypsy Queen to be had. Sorry, I’m not going to drive a half-hour to try Target or go get shot at my Wal-Mart 20 minutes away. So with no Gypsies or Queens to be had, I pocketed the money to wait. There was a plethora of 2010 blasters available at my disposal, but nothing I really wanted. Oh, and NO HOCKEY! Why do I have to live in a state without any hockey love. Our WHL team is in the finals and they can’t even fill the lower bowl at the Rose Garden. So, my attempt to bring Gypsy Queen has failed.

So that leaves me with pretending I had cards to open. I was stuck looking at previews of products soon to come out. Sure, I have a little money in my PayPal account but it’ll take forever to get a hobby box here. Plus, I WAS going to save the majority of it for a couple boxes of 2010-11 Upper Deck Ultimate hockey but it was delayed…again, like every other Upper Deck product. I think it was pushed another month to June 24th. Same thing happened when I wanted to buy The Cup last year. I had the money available and they kept pushing it back. I ended up spending the money on something else.

Okay, I’m done ranting on that.

But a good thing did happen today. After I got home from failing to find some GQ, I looked in my mailbox and received a package from Panini. In March, I had opened a box of Certified hockey up in Edmonton and did not receive the correct number of hits. I’ve never requested a replacement before as I figured it was just luck of the draw but this time I did. I sent in all the information and my replacement was received today. It was this:

2010-11 Certified Certified Champion Jordan Staal Auto #/50

Not bad for a replacement, wish it was his brother Eric though. It’s definitely better then nothing and I thank Panini for sending me the hit I was missing in my box.

Speaking of boxes, I really want to open some boxes. I want to open one hobby box from each sport and review it here, preferably using each of the major card companies. So I need ideas. I also wouldn’t mind just one from each card company so we can see what each one brings to the table.

I would like at least one Topps, one Panini, and one Upper Deck. If I have anything extra I could try some ITG too. What should I review? Let me know your thoughts.