I often find myself in the middle of never-ending debates concerning vintage vs. modern, or retail vs. online. Periodically, when I feature a modern set that may not be up to my standards, commenters will jump on my negative vibe and say something like, "thanks for reminding me why I don't waste my money on the garbage they're putting out today."
I wasn't really saying "this set has flaws, therefore burn all of your post-1994 cards." I was just saying "this set has flaws."
Or I'll feature a beloved vintage card of some sort and the response will be *crickets.* Not enough modern innovation for the mojo crowd, I guess.
The same goes for retail vs. online. Although I haven't really come across a ton of collectors advocating for retail, I do come across plenty advocating the online route. Their main clinching argument is: "and that's what I picked up for the price of a blaster."
It's a pretty good argument. I can't find any holes in that. I, too, have just about eliminated full-price blasters from my budget as anyone who has been reading here lately knows. There are more cost-effective ways to get the cards that you want.
But I don't want to eliminate retail pack purchases altogether ever.
It's called The Fun Aspect. I am in this hobby for the fun.
Now, everyone's definition of fun is different. You can talk about hunting for online buys as "fun," and I don't dispute that you consider it fun. But I don't. Shopping for cards online for me is almost work. Searching and comparing and calculating. Ugh. I hate shopping period, whether it's in person or over the intertubes. I am not one of those people who gets a high over landing a great deal. So the appeal is lost on me.
I see "fun" when I walk up to the card aisle and am rewarded with shelves and shelves of brightly colored packs and boxes, all of which I can pick up and examine (but not fondle!). I can also buy them and open them instantly. No waiting, unless you count the time you're standing in the checkout line.
Buying random packs also allows me to acquire cards that I can use for trade bait. It's a much preferable way for me to acquire trade bait then to actually hunt down cards of players I don't collect in hopes that I might be able to flip it for something I like. Although that way may be quite effective, that's too much work for me, and really undermines the whole "fun" aspect that is the key factor in this hobby for me.
Another fun element for me is NOT pinching pennies. This doesn't mean I go overboard and throw the family into debt. I have a card budget. It's very small and it doesn't prevent me from paying bills. But I refuse to beat myself up over buying a pack of Donruss Americana if the mood strikes me. Why did I blow $2.99 on that pack? Because I thought it might be fun. That's all. If it turns out it wasn't (and it wasn't), I'm not going to go into my ledger and scribble $2.99 off the budget and write in bright red letters, never do that again!!!!
Buying cards in this manner is not efficient. I'll admit that.
But I'm not in this hobby for "efficient."
I'm in it for "fun."
"Efficient" comes into play in other, more important aspects of my life, aspects that aren't necessarily fun, thereby causing me to use grown-up, adult words like "efficient."
I don't want to use grown-up adult words when I collect baseball cards. The card budget in the spreadsheet is there in the background to make sure I don't go overboard, but otherwise we don't communicate much. I set the budget, it says, "you go out and play," and I'm off.
There are times when money is tight and I need to hold back. I'll stop retail shopping during those times and go online more often -- if I even can afford to do that. But then in a couple of weeks, I'm back to picking up a few stray retail packs again.
And then there's this: you expect me to go to Target or Walmart and NOT stop by the card aisle? If I didn't buy any retail packs, a trip to Target or Walmart would be as dreary as a trip to any other store that I enter. If I'm at Target with my family and can't hit the card aisle, I might as well be in Fashion Bug. Target will never be my friend again.
Same deal with Walmart. In fact, I don't think you would ever be able to get me to Walmart again if it didn't have cards.
So retail-pack shopping often takes the edge off of what would be an extraordinarily mundane/aggravating store visit.
Online card shopping definitely has its positive points. There are loads of cards online that you'll never find in retail, which is almost 100 percent of the reason why I shop online. There are boxes of cards, which I rarely can afford, but they're there. And online shopping makes the mailbox a lot more pleasant part of the home decor.
But sometimes I don't want to sit around and wait for "fun." I want to go out and get "fun" myself.
So, here are some of the cards I got over the weekend while trying to make my hobby fun:
Yes, I really bought another pack of Topps Attax. But the only reason I did so is because I still needed the Dodger Stadium card. Guess what I pulled in the pack? Great fun.
This came out of the rack pack of Chrome. I'm really excited about what Dee Gordon can do in his first full season at shortstop in 2012.
When the orange refractors are paired up with the right team, there is almost no better card. When they are paired up with a company that uses orange as their primary color, as in Gulf Oil, it is an unbeatable card. Throw in a Hooters girl and I'd have to get this baby slabbed.
This card is too weird. But I know someone will take it off my hands.
I bought a single pack of Allen & Ginter. It contained TWO code parallels, two base set needs, a Hometown Heroes card, AND a Flora of the World card.
This is the second Flora of the World card I've pulled, both out of random packs. I believe these are one per hobby box? Someone really wants me to take up gardening.
Walmart has '08 Baseball Heroes blasters for 9 bucks. This is what I thought they should be selling for in 2008. So, now that the price came down to something reasonable, I bought it.
The box was beat to hell. I half expected to open it and all the cards would come pouring out minus the wrappers. That didn't happen. It was pretty much the same dull packs and dull cards I remembered. But emerald Robin saved the day.
I also grabbed a 5-dollar repack rack pack when we were at the drug store stocking up on paper supplies. I know these packs have a bunch of '87 Topps. They also have 1969 cards of Luis Tiant.
This is why I'm still buying random packs.