Friday, July 19, 2019

Buyback Franken-set: Updating a Couple of Pages

It's Friday, it's hot as hell out, and it's Buyback Franken-set time!  Today's batch is a bunch of random pulls from my backlog, sourced from all over the place really.  Let's do it!

1964 Topps #164 - Bud Daley

Bud Daley was an All-Star pitcher with the Kansas City Athletics before being dealt to the Yankees in the summer of '61.  The trade worked out well for Bud, as he'd win World Series' with New York in both 1961 and 1962.  I picked this buyback up from an eBay seller way back in January because it cost just a buck and didn't add any shipping costs to a purchase I already had going.  A fantastic example from the '64 Topps set for sure.  This looks exactly how a vintage baseball card should in my humble opinion.

Mickey Lolich's '79 release is in slot 164 of the binder.  Hmm...neither one of these is a bad card, tough choice.

I'm going to oust Lolich in favor of Daley, based largely on aesthetics.  The '64 Topps set is just far superior to their '79 effort if you ask me.

1988 Topps #363 - Willie Fraser

Willie Fraser carved out an 8-year MLB career, mostly with the Angels.  This is a nice enough card I guess, if a little bland.  I do like that Willie overlaps the Angels team name, and the photo is cropped pretty well.  As for the subject though, Fraser finished 1988 with a sub-.500 record and an ERA on the wrong side of 5.00.

Had this '93 John Smiley in pocket #363 already...

...and I don't see any particular reason to oust him for Willie Fraser.

2006 Topps #158 - Mike Timlin

Here's a cool one, at least for a Red Sox fan like myself.  If memory serves I actually hand-selected this one for a quarter from a huge lot of buyback single auctions that were all ending around the same time on eBay.  Timlin was a solid relief guy for the mid-2000s Red Sox and ate up a ton of innings.  I'd love to be able to welcome this buyback to the franken-set binder.

1966 Topps Jim Brewer has something to say about that though, blocking Timlin's path.  This one has some things going for it as far as '60s cards go.  For one thing, the subject is actually wearing a cap.  We've got some interesting background trees here as well.

In the end though, that wasn't enough to beat out Mike Timlin.  My Red Sox bias may have played a part here, but it's my franken-set, my decisions!

1991 Topps Traded #2T - Roberto Alomar

I think I grabbed this one from the same seller as the Timlin, also for a quarter.  Alomar was the man in the early '90s, and it's cool to have the card that signifies his trade to the Jays in buyback format.  Just one problem though, this is from the 1991 Topps Traded set.

As such, it's not eligible for the franken-set.  Nevertheless, a very solid addition to the box of rejected buybacks.

1970 Topps #36 - Danny Breeden/Bernie Carbo

Here's one from COMC, records show that I shelled out a whole $1.25 for this card.  Not really sure why to be quite honest, probably because Carbo had some memorable moments with Boston later in the decade and I thought it would be cool to have his rookie in buyback form.  A low number here at 36, how's it looking as far as the binder goes?

Well, it wasn't a vacant slot, as Joe Lovitto's '75 release has been resident there for some time now.  Kind of a tough choice here...

...but I'm going with the Carbo rookie.  I just don't really have any connection to, or recollection of, Joe Lovitto, simple as that.

The fourth page of the binder is a complete one, and it was altered based on the outcome of that last battle.  Here's the way it looked prior, with Lovitto in place...

...and the updated look, with Carbo (and Breeden!).  1973 Topps is dominating here, with a full third of the page.

1967 Topps #439 - Byron Browne

Byron Browne earned the Topps All-Star Rookie Cup treatment in the '67 Topps set, after he collected over 100 hits in his rookie season of 1966.  He also hit just .243 that year though, and struck out a league-leading 143 times.  Still, a nice photograph, and I think it's impossible to like vintage baseball cards and not appreciate that gigantic trophy logo.  This one makes a strong case for inclusion!

Standing in Browne's way is yet another '75 buyback.  There's no Rookie Cup logo to be found here, but I enjoy the "nerdy" look of Ed Brinkman, and there sure is a whole lot going on in that tilted background.  For reasons I find hard to properly articulate, I like this card quite a bit.

Down goes Browne!

1967 Topps #184 - George Thomas

Sticking with '67 Topps for a moment, here's Red Sox outfielder George Thomas.  I'm particularly fond of any '67 Red Sox card since it's one of the more infamous seasons in team history.  True, Thomas had less than 100 plate appearances for Boston in '67, but he was on the roster (and in the team set!) anyway.

This '65 John Boozer buyback is already in slot 184.  What a bold, colorful example of why 1965 Topps is one of the finest sets of its decade.

Even as a Red Sox fan, I couldn't lift Boozer in favor of Thomas.  Maybe this off-sets the earlier Mike Timlin decision a bit?

1989 Topps #193 - Sparky Anderson

Final card for this evening, a nice buyback of baseball lifer Sparky Anderson.  The Tigers may have gone 59-103 in 1989, but this is a cool card regardless.  A worthy opponent for the existing #193 buyback in the franken-set, which is...

...a Chris Ray?  Despite a 6-year MLB career, I couldn't tell you the first thing about this guy.  Sorry Orioles fans.

Sparky Anderson wins in a route!

This number is part of a complete page.  You can see Chris Ray halfway up on the left there.

Looks a little better with Sparky in there if you ask me.

That's a wrap for tonight.  Not a single new number for the set among the 8 challengers, but we had some good battles and a few cards fought their way in to strengthen the binder overall.  Still hanging at 82% complete here, and creeping ever closer to 1,400 total buybacks.

Thanks for stopping by!

Franken-set Progress: 651/792 (82%)
1990 Topps Buyback Set: 118/792 (14%)
"Rejected" Buybacks: 598
Total Buybacks in Collection: 1,367

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Cardboard Finance - Do You Set or Keep a Hobby Budget?

*Because every post is better with a card included, and I wanted an excuse to show this one again

Collecting should be about fun, first and foremost.  While I agree with that whole-heartedly, the reality is that there are many underlying factors to enjoying this hobby of ours.  Whether we like it or not, one of the most prevalent and critical is money.  Except for rare cases, like this wonderful blogging community of ours, most of us aren't running around scooping up the cards we're looking for at absolutely no cost.  For better or worse, money is at the root of much of what we do as collectors.

While I make every effort not to let money dictate my life, I am admittedly a nerd (should not be a surprise given that I write a baseball card blog) and I find finance a somewhat interesting topic generally speaking.  I've got some ideas that I plan to turn into a short series of posts here on the blog exploring the link between funding and our wonderful hobby, under the title Cardboard Finance.

For the first post in the series, we'll discuss one of the most obvious intersections between these two topics...card collecting (or, insert hobby name here) budgets!

I'm confident that, like nearly everything else in our hobby, there will be a wide range of opinions and approaches to this topic.  For every collector out there who has no sense of a budget whatsoever and simply buys whatever they fancy, I'm willing to bet there's another one on the opposite end of the spectrum that strictly limits their spending and tracks every penny.

For me personally, I've gone through two different phases/approaches with respect to budgeting since I returned to collecting about a dozen years ago now.  Let's take a quick look at each...

Approach #1 - Hard Limit on Hobby Spending Each Paycheck

From the point when I re-entered the hobby in 2007, through the end of last year, this was my method of hobby budgeting.  I'd determine a maximum amount of money that I was comfortable and willing to spend on cards each paycheck, and keep a tally of my purchases in order to cut myself off if and when I reached that maximum.

To me, a budget has to be very simple to keep up with or I'll quickly abandon it, so I decided to track this in a basic notepad file on my computer.  The snippet above gives you the general idea, and you can see how I did with my mid-April 2017 paycheck.

Make a purchase, note the dollar amount rounded to an even dollar for simplicity, with a brief description of the item.  At the bottom tally them all up, tally up any shipping costs (since much of what I buy is online), then add those two together and you've got my total spend for the pay period.

I've got two sections like this per month, twelve months a year, going back well over a decade in my file now.  This method worked fairly well for me for a long time.  Some paychecks I'd admittedly go a little over budget, others I'd come in under, but what was important was that I was aware of what I was spending.  Also, it's kind of neat to be able to scroll back through the file and recall some of my purchases from long ago, or see how my hobby spending is trending over time.

What I didn't like about the approach as time wore on was the rigidity of it.  I'd typically try to limit myself to between $50 and $75 a check, or $100 to $150 a month, on cards and related expenses.  If I wanted to make a big purchase, or went a little wild one month, I'd feel a little guilty.  On the other side of the coin, if I stayed well under budget it felt great, but also felt like I missed out on some more potential fun acquisitions.

After a long time operating under this model, I made a change at the beginning of 2019 that I've been pleased with so far...

Approach #2 - Invest or Save $1 for Every $1 Spent on Cards

The title pretty much says it all, but let me elaborate a little.  Instead of keeping a strict monthly or twice-monthly spending limit, I loosened things up a bit.  First and foremost, I moved to tracking expenses by the month instead of by the paycheck, cutting my "boring book-keeping/reconciliation process" down from 24 times a year to 12.

Secondly, I decided on an approach that would greatly simplify things, give me much more flexibility at the same time, but still keep me honest and feeling good about the amount of money that I'm spending on my hobby.

The rules are simple, I can in theory spend as much as I want on sports cards.  However, every dollar that I spend on the hobby requires that I save an equal amount.  That can come in the form of putting it in a savings account, or investing in the stock market; either is fine so long as I'm saving.  To clarify, this is out of my take home pay.  Money that comes out of my paycheck pre-tax for my work 401k retirement fund doesn't factor in here at all.

Here's a snippet of a month under the new model, last month in fact.  Only takes me a minute to note the date, description and amount whenever I make a purchase.  End of the month I tally it up, and ensure that I saved or invested an equal amount during that same stretch (in the case of June I deposited the $65 into my Stash app, and bought fractional shares of both Paypal and Amazon!).

I informally keep an eye on it throughout the month to make sure I'm generally on track, but if I end up slightly behind when the month ends I simply don't allow myself to purchase any cards the next month until I've "paid the previous month off" by investing or saving what I needed to break even.

I'm loving this approach so far I have to say.  It's actually motivated me to, in most cases, spend less money per month than I was under my former model.  As a side effect, I'm learning a ton about investing, and it feels great to watch my savings build up at the same time that my collection does.  I'm intrigued by the "unlimited potential" of this model and the flexibility to pick up some really big cards if I can stay patient.  So much so that it has motivated me to start selling off some parts of my collection that I'm not as keen on anymore in order to raise more money for new cards and for investing (the subject of a future Cardboard Finance post).

I also dropped the tracking of shipping costs in this new model.  They were kind of a pain to keep track of, and at the end of the day the hobby is supposed to be enjoyable.  If something's bothering you about your budget, or any other aspect of your collecting for that matter, just don't do it!  I feel that I'm being responsible enough with my purchases in this scenario that if I don't account for a few bucks in shipping each month, so be it.


So, there's my two cents on budgeting in our hobby, and a little overview of the two approaches I've used over time.  How about you?  Do you have a collecting budget, or would having one sap some of the innocence and enjoyment out of the hobby for you?  If you do have a budget, how does yours operate compared to the approaches I've used and outlined above?

If someone asked you how much money you spend on sports cards, how would you answer the question?  I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments below, or even better if you have your own blog I'd love to read an entire post on the topic!

Monday, July 15, 2019

One Card Post - Back in the Saddle

What:  1960 Topps #71 - Marty Keough
Where:  COMC
How Much?:  $.50

Why?:  I was off work last week on vacation, and decided to make it a vacation from cards and the blog as well.  Spent a lot of time with friends, outdoors, and enjoyed a few amazing concerts.  Also took a road trip to Saratoga Springs, which was pretty cool.  All in all, a good week.  It's a little tough getting back on the horse here, so I'll go with a one card post here tonight.

Red Sox team set need from the '60s for two quarters?  Bent corner or not, I'll take that deal any time!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Scratchin' that Itch - Even More Re-pack Packs

When I last left off with the contents of the 100-pack re-pack I got from Wal-Mart online for $40, I was 61 packs in.  Let's tear into another batch of 20 today...

1989 Bowman, 1989 Topps, 1991 Upper Deck, 2014 Topps and 2007 Upper Deck.  Oh boy.  The 2014 Topps pack was actually the stinker of the group, don't have a single card to show from that one.  The other four at least yielded something of interest...

Even the lowly 1989 Topps pack resulted in a nice, new Cal Ripken.  Given that he was a childhood favorite, it's really inexcusable that I don't have the complete run of Cal's flagship Topps cards by now.  At least I'm one closer.

This Carlos Quintana spilled out of that pack as well, and it turns out it's a need for my Red Sox collection.  Can't beat that!

1989 Bowman is generally detested among collectors, due in part to its large size, and in part to its uninspiring photography.  There are some diamonds in the rough though, like this Barry Bonds card that I plan on keeping.

I also got this Jackie Robinson reprint.  I've got a thing for 1950 Bowman, and Jackie's card from that set is an absolute dream card of mine.  For now though, this reprint will have to do.

The 1991 Upper Deck pack lacked any real star power, but it did yield a new Red Sox card...

...and some of the stellar photography that Upper Deck is known for.

I don't plan to keep the Riles or the Girardi, in fact I think I already shipped them away, but included the scans here because even though they don't fit in my collection they're both really nice shots.

The 2007 Upper Deck pack resulted in a new Red Sox card also!  I really can't complain about the number of additions to my team collection that have come from this lot so far.

Next batch of five!  Once again I did better with the older stuff here.  The 2013 Topps Series 1 and 2, and 2012 Archives packs contained nothing at all that I plan on keeping.

2005 Donruss had this Manny Ramirez inside though, yet another new Red Sox card.

1990 Fleer had a couple of big names on each side of the ball, with power-hitter Mark McGwire...

...and first-ballot HOF hurler Tom Glavine!

The next batch of five is all about the Topps flagship, with a pack of 2008, Series 1 and 2 from 2013, a 2015 Series 1 and a 2017 Series 2.

My streak of new Red Sox cards continued here, with the 2017 pack providing a card of somewhat obscure reliever Tyler Thornburg.

Also of note, a RC of former Red Sox prospect Manny Margot.

My lone insert in the 2008 pack was this Year in Review card, and once again a new Red Sox card.  I truly think I'm beating the odds at this point not only in pulling so many Red Sox, but in pulling so many Red Sox that I didn't happen to already have.

I've nearly completed the 2015 Topps set at this point, so I was psyched to score one of the few remaining cards I was missing with this Juan Lagares Future Stars.

Even 2013 Topps resulted in something at least interesting this time around, with surefire future HOFer Adrian Beltre.

Final five packs, three 2015 Topps and two 2013 Topps.  Guess what happened here?  Yup, I got skunked.  Not a single card I plan on keeping out of any of these five packs.

81 packs into the lot now, and I've decided to keep 64 cards in my collection at this point.  That means I've payed about 62 cents per card I've kept so far, but I still have nearly 20 packs to go and that doesn't factor in the enjoyment of ripping all this wax either (or the tremendous amount of cards I was able to ship to others).

I'll probably try to put this lot to rest with one more installment soon.  Thanks for stopping by!
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