Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Waiting it out

Do you remember when this card was a big deal?

In 2013, Yasiel Puig arrived in the major leagues in June. He tore up the league and became the rookie sensation of the year. Since Puig had not been an established minor league presence, there were almost no cards of him. Bowman had just arrived and there were a couple of cards of Puig in that set, but the hype was strong and the demand for more cards was loud.

So Leaf in its usual ugly, nonlicensed way, issued a six-card redemption set of Puig that was available at the National, which took place two months after Puig's debut. Open enough product at the Leaf booth and you could win some "Leaf Bucks" to purchase the six-card set, which was Puig in six different poses.

I had been hit by Puig fever and really did want that set. I'd settle for even one card.

The set wasn't exactly available to us commoners who couldn't travel 1,500 miles to open cards from a company we barely knew. So, eventually the hype waned and I forgot about the cards. I was able to accumulate plenty of Puig cards, the licensed variety, in the years that followed.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was conducting my annual "50 under .50" ritual in which I try to find 50 Dodger cards on COMC that I don't have each for under 50 cents.

The above redemption Puig card popped up. It was 44 cents. Three-and-a-half years later, the card had fallen into my wheelhouse.

When the card arrived with the rest of the items, I looked at it and winced. What an ugly card. Glad I didn't pay whatever I could have paid in 2013 for that.

And that sums up one of my few pieces of strategy in this hobby: Wait it out.

Almost no card is worth the price that it's going for in the year in which it was issued. Sure, some card prices will never, ever come down. But the vast majority do. And if you're a dedicated collector who will still be collecting in 2 or 3 years, you can have that card for a reasonable price.

My assortment of 50 Under .50 cards was filled with sensations whose cards went for a lot more years ago.

Jerry Sands. Remember when Dodger fans horded Sands cards in 2011 because they were sure he would rule the outfield for years to come? Numbered blue card. 40 cents.

Kaz Ishii cards from 2002. I don't know how many different cards of Ishii were issued in 2002. I wasn't collecting then. But if I had to guess, I'd say "millions." I'm assuming most of them went for a million dollars, too.

These days, I can have just about any Ishii card I want for under a dollar. These two were much less than that.

I don't know how much Eric Gagne cards were going for in 2000. I barely paid attention to cards then and I certainly didn't know who Gagne was. But I know his cards rocketed in price in 2003 and 2004. His rookie-ish type cards probably did, too. But not anymore, you can get all the Gagne cards you want for pennies.

Wait it out. Players get hurt, take drugs, people come to their senses. Whatever.

Sparkly Bowman Is Back cards from 2014. Remember these? They were pretty cool and semi-coveted at the time. I waited it out and got both cheaply. Sure, both players have fallen on hard times. But they're both Dodgers, so I don't care.

Another Yasiel Puig card for under 50 cents, from one of my all-time favorite Finest sets, 2014. I am positive this was not going for 50 cents in 2014.

Those are a bunch of cheap parallels. You'll always get me with those color parallels. I'd like you to turn your attention to the Matt Kemp cards in each group of four. I remember the days (2011 again) when nobody wanted to give up their Kemp cards. But now that he has the stink of Padre/Brave on him, his cards are as cheap as they've ever been.

I don't get the sense that Hyun-Jin Ryu's cards were ever that costly, but I also know they weren't selling for 40 cents in 2013.

One trend I don't understand is pricing Joc Pederson inserts for under 50 cents. Please continue to do it, but he's still a player I like quite a bit. I guess people thought he was going to hit like he did in that one All-Star Game Home Run Derby.

There are two players that don't appear in the "under 50 cents" category very often. And I jump for joy when I find a card of them for that cheap.

One is Hideo Nomo. There will always be Nomo collectors and I will always be one of them.

The other is Clayton Kershaw. About the only COMC under-.50 cards of Kershaw are Panini cards. Those rarely get me interested, but I am a sucker for clear acetate cards so I added this one.

Speaking of Panini and awfulness, there is this disaster. I actually laughed out loud when I saw this card. Prizm and I will never see eye-to-eye, but add the black&white, the blatant white-washing of any logo and Murray's crestfallen look and, of course, I had to hit "ship".

I like the back of this card even more than the front. I think Topps should consider putting shaded mugshots on the back of every card. That will finally get people to look at their card backs.

The overall winner in this edition of 50 Under .50 was Mike Piazza. Two of the five Piazza cards I ordered completed Dodger team sets for me. The Metal card above ...

... and this card from '96 Upper Deck. (I'm sure I've owned this card previously).

I'm just going to show you the rest of my loot because I've babbled long enough.

If you were insane enough to count all of the cards on this post, you came up with 48 cards, not 50.

So where are the other two?

These are the other two. I had both of them already. So these are dupes for under 50 cents. It's the perils of searching for a lot of cards that you don't have at once. There's only so much time to recheck everything.

But I will happily take 48 cards that I both need and want for just under the price of a blaster, plus $3.99 shipping.

I'm not the kind of collector who has to search for deals all the time. But like many, I have a budget and the best way to stay under that budget is to wait it out.

You'll be happy you did.


  1. Don't know if it matters at all [since it pictures the player in a Dodgers uniform], but the Steve Finley card actually lists him with the Angels.

    1. I'm aware. It doesn't matter. Dodger uniform/Dodger card. I was quite pleased it was listed as a Dodger card on COMC or else I may have never found it.

  2. Not all of that Puig Leaf card is ugly - at least it has a nice shot of the Chicago skyline in the background! The rest of it, blah, but that part is neat.

  3. Nice haul. I might try to do something similar to this at the card show I'm attending this weekend (assuming there are solid dime boxes, quarter bins, and 50¢ boxes.

  4. Eddie Murray is my favorite. That being said...I see no need adding that card to my collection.