Sunday, June 29, 2008

Am I Less of a Collector Because I Don't Complain About Not Getting the "Hits"?

The only baseball cards I buy are from Topps eponymous products, the flagship Baseball Series I and II, and whatever they call their Update set (whether it's Traded, Traded and Rookies, or Updates and Highlights). I will occasionally splurge on other products like all the Retro sets (Topps 206, 205, Cracker Jack, Turkey Red, Allen & Ginter), or the Archives/ATFF sets, but only if I am able to buy a complete set (with SP's). Heck, when I have the money, I'll even go online and buy the 14-card blister packs of every MLB team (which I've done for the last three years now).

I have never bought a product where the pack SRP was above $10.00. I have never been interested in cards where the inserts are promoted in the product more than the base set. I have never really been into relic cards/patch cards/autograph cards/autograph-relic cards and so forth. I have never bought a product just to see if I got the "hit." And even in boxes of base product that I do buy, it never bothered me if I got a uniform card of Ichiro (which I did twice in 2008 Topps Series II) or a uniform card of Mike Maroth. Heck, I don't care if I don't even get the autos/relics in my boxes at all, it just means that the likelihood of me completing my set is greater because those cards are missing.

Does it make me less of a collector because I don't spend the big bucks on high end product and then fail to justify my purchase when I don't find the card that will get me my money back???

Does it make me less of a collector because I don't complain to the companies that I didn't the superstar autographed or relic card that I never cared for in the first place?

Does it make me less of a collector because the way of how and what I collect has not changed dramatically in 21 years of being in the hobby???

I don't pretend to know or understand why people complain about not getting the "hits" they expect when they buy the big stuff. And I'm pretty sure I don't know a majority of the reasons behind it. They will say that they spent the money on high-end, so they "expect" to get something that made it spending it worthwhile. Not everyone can get the megasuperstar patch/jersey card in their packs. In many cases, they "prize" card they get will be of the player who was just sent down to the minors, or that fourth guy out of the bullpen. They moan about not getting the "value" out of their box. And then when it is announced that someone else got the "biggest hit" in the product, and it doesn't matter if it's one of the big companies (you know who you are), or a regular guy who suddenly has the "won the lottery" feeling, people are up-in-arms because now the product they spent big bucks on is now, or should be, worth less because the hits they want have already been found.

I am not going to tell you how to spend your money. I don't have the answers to your complaints. I am not going to preach about the virtue of just buying complete sets. And it would be completely ignorant of me to say, "just buy the cards you want online after someone else broke the product and move on with your lives." But people come on, do you expect either company (or let's expand it outside the big two), ANY COMPANY, to neglect the average joe player and only focus on getting autographs, uniforms, patches, on the "superstars"? Do you think that these guys don't know how much of a demand there is for anything that has their likeness on it, let alone their signature or a piece of clothing that touched their skin??? Of course they do, and they want compensation for it. The companies sign AND PAY athletes for this stuff. And of course, even with retired players uniforms, just getting them from a major auction house can cost a lot of money. Because the companies try and get as many players, from the best, to the "just happy to be here" players, the costs just to CREATE the products can get expensive. That's why it becomes expensive just to buy the products by the time it leaves the factory's hands and reaches our favorite hobby shop.

I know that we're in tougher times. Money is tight. Gas prices are up. Food prices are up. And our Hobby, for as much as we love it, is not really a "necessity" (I am sorry if I just offended the shop owners). The cards we covet are "demand" items. We can do without it temporarily. Some people stop for a while, and then come back when their situation is better (and are welcomed back with open arms).

To the collectors that do spend the money on higher end products. I do agree that you should get what you pay for. The reason why the companies make the product in the first place is because there are people like you who are willing to buy them. The reasons the companies spend the money on research, and getting the athletes to participate in the creation of their products, is because you are willing to spend the money for higher quality product. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But do know this, not everyone will sympathize with your complaints, especially those who are outside of our "circle" of collectors. And even those of us within it, those who don't buy the products you do, most likely will not feel sorry for you as well. No matter how much "complaining" there is done, or how many "I will no longer buy these products until they improve the quality" remarks are announced, there will be many people behind you that will want to take your place in line and buy the stuff. And if they don't complain, it doesn't mean that they're ignorant, but they may have either hit the jackpot, or found a "hit" from a journeyman middle infielder.


JayBee Anama

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