Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Buying Baseball Cards

Every year I buy 1 (one) pack of baseball cards. This is in part a nod to the collecting mania I had when I was a kid - not as an investor but as someone who genuinely loved baseball cards to play with and flip with friends and whatever - and in part annual ritual that has become part of my annual routine.

Yesterday, I decided, was the day I was going to buy my pack of cards. I was at Target for some errands, mostly cat related, and I walked past the aisle near checkout where they have the various cards for sale. It's largely dominated by Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and other CCG stuff these days, and there's plenty of media tie-in material - Five Nights At Freddy's cards? That was a surprise - and then there's sports cards. Football, mostly. Basketball. And baseball.

Series One. Series Two. Opening Day. Cards done in the style of 1967 cards. Cards whose main selling point I literally could not distinguish. Cards sold in individual packs, cards sold in boxes of individual packs that were actually more expensive than buying individual packs, cards sold in "giant" packages that weren't all that giant. Options galore. Made-up differences intended to stoke speculator and collector behavior.

And I, the middle aged doofus, just stood there and blinked. My simple mission - grab a pack of cards and go - had become a complicated matrix exercise in judging the relative value of set vs. set and packaging model vs. packaging model. It's no longer about grabbing a pack of cards and going. It's about grabbing the right pack of cards.

Dimly, I sense a child of about 9 watching me impatiently. In his eyes, I have clearly already failed. 

And then I realize: all of this is utterly irrelevant. I don't give the smallest damn about which of these cards might hold better resale value ten years down the road. I don't give a crap about the tiny chance of opening the pack and finding an autographed card inside. All that I want is the simple pleasure of buying a pack of baseball cards, opening it, and seeing who's inside.

So I grabbed a pack. Bought it. Took it home. And at some point before the end of the season, I'll open it up and see who's inside. All the rest is details.
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