Card collecting in 2020, 2021 comes with many inconveniences that weren't around even a couple of years ago.
I'm right with people who have experienced empty card aisles, delayed packages and shuttered card shows.
But what I haven't experienced all that much is higher prices.
Oh, I know they exist. I've seen the inflated prices on blasters and other card wall items. I've scrolled through Amazon or ebay and laughed at what someone is charging for a 2021 rack pack or, worse, a collection of junk wax from 1990. And I do know that you can't buy on comc what you could buy on comc only four years ago.
However, I haven't had any trouble buying cards that I want.
I hear that prices for vintage cards are out of sight now. But I managed to complete the 1956 Topps set in the thick of supposed card-price inflation. I bought a Mays, Clemente, Aaron, Killebrew and MANTLE all during the height of the current card craze.
I'm not seeing anything that hurts me in any of my other recent quests either, stuff like Kellogg's and Hostess cards and random Dodger card pickups.
But I'm not saying the inflation doesn't exist. I'm not super-experienced in buying vintage online, having only ditched my preferred route to vintage -- card shows -- in the last year-and-a-half. So I can't compare the online cost now to the cost three years ago. All I know is I'm doing OK.
Until one stupid set came along.
Since card shelves have been empty, I've been making completing sets more of a priority than ever. And I'm very happy to have completed several loved sets that had been sitting dormant for years, even decades.
I figured the time was right to tackle that one, neglected set that I've bitched and moaned about for as long as this blog has existed: the 2008 Heritage set.
This one set is the source of my conflict with modern sets, my disgust with short-prints and Heritage short-prints in particular, my disappointment with how much card companies can string-along the traditional set collector and skepticism over ever finishing another modern set.
In protest, I ignored the '08 Heritage set for a long time, with only 15 or so cards to go, almost all of them short-prints. Then, after a few years of that, I picked up a short-print here and there -- like once-a-year here-and-there. I couldn't get myself to buy or care much anymore. I'm still thinking of getting rid of all of the black backs in this set.
But, what the heck, there is no 2021 product to waste money on, let's get those last five SPs and be done with it, OK?
I landed the Ichiro All-Star card pretty quickly, I figured this would be the last one I'd get. Then, just last week, the Shawn Green Heritage card arrived. Both of them cost your traditional Heritage SP prices. Both well under 10 bucks apiece. Perfectly fine for a now 13-year-old set.
Then I started to look for the final three. And this is where I can finally say I'm feeling the pinch of current-year card costs.
First up was Kevin Gregg. Nobody remembers that guy, right? How much can it be? I checked on Sportlots first. There was one card available for 10 bucks. I didn't really feel like spending 10 bucks for Kevin Gregg, so I went to ebay, where there was also one card available.
OK, that's a little ridiculous for a 2008 card. I don't care if it's an SP. I'm not paying that for a Marlins reliever.
Let's move on to -- gulp -- Jon Lester.
I can't say I'm that surprised. There was just one available here, too. There is no way, absolutely no way, I am spending 40 bucks on a card that's younger than Joey Votto's career.
So, let's move on to the other 2008 Heritage SP that I need. I'm not all that hopeful after looking at the first two. But it's a card of Jacque Jones. Nobody remembers him for sure. Maybe it's another $17 card ... or maybe less! I can hope, right?
Nope. I can't hope. All hope is gone. Hope was fired and punted out into the street. It's been replaced by get-rich-quick schemers and "wait-for-the-next-sucker" types. I am not spending 90 DOLLARS for any card that is less than 40 years old.
That's the only version available on ebay, too. Neither the Lester nor Jones is available on Sportlots or comc. (I just bought a 2003 Heritage SP for 2 bucks, so I don't know what's going on with '08).
I could buy the chrome versions of these cards for more reasonable prices and I probably should, but I'm not collecting the chrome set. I'm collecting Heritage, with its SSPs (Stupid Short Prints).
So, I'm not sure when I'll get that 2008 Heritage set complete, obviously not any time soon. I've waited 13 years, I guess I can wait awhile longer.
Sure is a weird place to feel the hobby pinch though.