Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Listia's Immaturity - Great Deals, Odd Users

I previously posted a very glowing review of Listia and how it was the future and blah blah blah...

Although I still like Listia and it has perks over the 'Bay, it is somewhat lacking in the professionalism found on the 'Bay.

I have posted about ~150 card auctions on Listia from a stock of ~60 cards. Even though the listings clearly stated $1 shipping, I received shipping charges from maybe 25% of the winners.

One responses I received from a non-payers, however, was very memorable:

  • from JD11592: dont have a pay pal keep your crap

Some of the payers have had unique reactions, too:

  • After paying $2 for shipping via PayPal, and confirming via email to me that he received the items, user DrizztBingaman filed a PayPal refund request claiming I had made an unauthorized withdrawal from his account. I emailed PayPal a PDF copy of his email to me stating he had received the cards and PayPal dropped the dispute (the first time I as the buyer have ever won a case with PayPal!)
  • One user asked to mail $1 because they only had $.93 in their PayPal account, which I said was fine. Yesterday I received a large, hand-made bubble mailer that I figured held a bunch of relic cards or something very, very fragile. Inside, taped together with a bunch of packaging tape was $1 in loose change from the buyer. The postage for the package to send me $1? $1.64. How did they pay? PayPal...

Listia makes eBay look like the mature sibling.

I have won a boatload of vintage Topps cards (not disclosing the particular year because the average card has already risen from ~750 credits to ~1500 credits in the past two weeks), but I will post pictures of some other fun stuff soon (maybe, who knows).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bastardization of the Rookie Card

The rookie card is the hobby's gold standard of ill-conceived investment plans; both the producer and consumer understand the rookie card's intrinsic value and exploit their downstream market.

If we presume that producer's position is to make as much money as possible and the consumer's position is to maximize the value of his purchase, and the rookie card holds the most promise for higher value, then it comes as no surprise that the producer would create as many rookie cards as possible and the consumer would buy as many rookie cards as possible.

Because the cost to produce the rookie card is equal to or minutely lower than any other card, the producer has no reason to not over-saturate the rookie card market.

Likewise, if the producer had the option to produce one rookie card but has two potential rookies that could go on the card, it is logical that they would choose the one rookie that would maximize their profits.

With these thoughts in mind, I present to you a basic analysis of four rookies that debuted in 2011: Eric Hosmer, Brandon Crawford, Jemile Weeks, and Mike Trout.

Hosmer debuted on May 6, 2011. Crawford debuted on May 27, 2011. Weeks debuted on June 7, 2011. Trout debuted on July 8, 2011.

Which player had the most cards debuted in his RC-year? (RC-year is defined as the year a player's rookie card debuted even if different than the player's debut year).

Did you guess Weeks? You should have. Although Weeks debuted a month after Hosmer and a month before Trout, Weeks' Rookie Card wasn't released until 2012, and Topps included his Rookie Card in their Bowman, Series Two, Allen and Ginter, Archives, Chrome, Gypsy Queen, Heritage, and Mini sets, and there were at least 127 different Jemile Weeks baseball cards produced by Topps in 2012 (includes inserts, parallels, etc.).

Trout, who you might have heard about, had 33 cards produced in his RC-year, and was included in only three sets: Bowman, Finest, and Topps Update. I guess Topps thought the market for Weeks rookie cards would be a bit more lucrative than Trout rookie cards.

Hosmer and Crawford debuted exactly three weeks apart, yet Hosmer had 66 different cards in his RC-year while Crawford had only 14, the least of all four players.

So what's the point?

There is no way to predict the demands of the market, but we can predict how rational actors should behave in any given set of circumstances. It is not surprising that the market gets flooded with hot prospect rookies, thus creating a huge imbalance when those prospects bust and under-the-radar players like Trout and Crawford begin to emerge. Imagine if Topps hadn't squeezed every last opportunity of producing Darvish, Harper, and Strasburg rookie cards and those cards were just as scarce as Trout's.

Mickey Mantle's 1952 Topps rookie card is so valuable because of the player and the relative scarcity of the card; there would be hundreds of variations of his rookie card if Mick had debuted in April of 2012, and they would never be worth much more than a few bucks.

Topps has already announced that Manny Machado, who debuted on August 9, 2012, will have his rookie card in Topps 2013 Series One, which means there will be about a bajillion more Machado rookie cards released in 2013, and they will probably be a dime-a-dozen by this time next year. Why didn't they include Machado in 2012 Update? Who knows. Topps found a way to include the players from the Sox-Dodgers trade in 2012 Update even though they didn't play for LA until August 25, 2012.

We are in a new junk wax era, but it's a much more targeted junk, tarnishing only those players as they shine when they shine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trade Bait & Hit Locator - Topps Update Break Analysis

My goal in life is to destroy the eBay'ers who hawk 'Hot Packs'. I am not morally opposed to their gig, but I am opposed to how shittily they do their job. If those jabroneys listed specific pack weights, box order, etc.,  in their item description they could have a much stronger product because the optimum market requires perfect information.

From two jumbo boxes I was able to surmise to pretty general findings that probably hold true across most boxes. My self-confidence boosts every time my confidence in Topps diminishes.

Placement of SPs and Hits:
Both SPs, Votto and Robinson Cano, were pulled in the second pack of each box, and the cards were in spots #31 and #32, respectively, in each pack (second pack is the pack on the right on the top layer).

Both All-Star Game Jersey Cards, Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter, were in the seventh pack in each box (seventh pack is fourth pack down on the right).

The manu-relics, the Henderson HOF Plaque and the Mays ROY ring were both in the second layer of the box.

Crappy Card Sequencing:
I pulled the following two sequences four times each during the break:

  • US229
  • US109
  • US297
  • US264

  • US301
  • US168 (Yu Darvish!)
  • US312

Horrid Insertion Rates:
I also pulled 25 Golden Giveaway Code cards from the boxes, even though they were suppose to be only one per pack.

And here's a listing of the other pulls:

Frank Wren (Atlanta Braves GM)
Yoenis Cespedes Golden Debut
Mark Hamburger Golden Debut

Black Bordered:
Randy Choate #15/61
Craig Breslow #59/61

Presidential Predictor:
Barack Obama PPO-25 (Missouri) - FiveThirtyEight gives Obama a 5% chance of winning Missouri.

Gold-Bordered Serial Numbered Mega Insert Set:
Approximately one metric crap-ton, at least I pulled a Jeter

In sum, I was very surprised/disappointed at the consistency of the pulls, specifically location within the box, and the quadruplicate sequencing base card pulls.

That's about it for now. Drop me a note if you want any to trade/buy any of the above, they'll be slapped up on the 'Bay in the next few days.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Trade Bait from 2012 Update Series Break

All hits, inserts, base cards, etc. I pulled are open for trade and/or other considerations. I have received some private messages regarding certain cards, so I figured I would publicize it a bit better.

Email me at to make an offer.

My plan is to facilitate private transactions for a few days, then list on the 'Bay for a couple of weeks, and then to move the remaining inventory to Listia.

I will put up scans over the next few days and will provide an updated listing of available trade bait.

Closing Thoughts - 2012 Topps Update Series Break

Nearly 2am, all the cards have been logged into a massive spreadsheet. Some obvious patterns have emerged regarding collation and placement of key cards....pretty standard.

I was amazed by the disparity between the two boxes. Box #1 had 14 Golden Giveaway code cards, Box #2 had 10. Box #1 had two amazing autos (GM Wren and Cespedes) and Box #2 had one lousy auto (Hamburger). 

The serial-numbered gold cards seemed to be a gigantic filler and could have easily been left out of the set (there is nothing more disheartening than pulling card after card of a 990-card insert set that you will never attempt).

Most of the cards will end up on the 'Bay or on Listia. I will post links once they are live. I'll have more detailed analysis of the break throughout the week. I understand the sample size is nowhere near ideal, but we're not dealing with perfect randomness either, so I think it will work out.

Hit #9 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

Box #2, Pack #7: Derek Jeter All-Star Game Jersey Piece

Hit #8 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

...Mark Hamburger Gold Debut Auto...crap.

Hits #6 and #7 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

Can you tell it's getting late for me and I'm not as enthusiastic about posting?

Hit #6 was the Robinson Cano SP and Hit #7 was a Rickey Henderson HOF Plaque (this came from the pack that weighed more than any other pack).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hit #5 Topps 2012 Update Series Break






Pinch me. Unreal. This box is like the A's 2012 postseason run...unlikely to be good...doing better...ok, getting a little better...looking like crap again...OHMYGODWHATJUSTHAPPENED.

Box #1, Pack #8, Card #31

Collation Bullshit - Topps Update Series 2012

I'm officially playing the game under protest. Calling shenanigans. There's an infield fly. Et cetera, et cetera.

Cards #1-21 in Pack #3 were in this order:

  • 140
  • 63
  • 113
  • 12
  • 290
  • 114
  • 233
  • 246
  • 76
  • 6
  • 184
  • 112
  • 132
  • 187
  • 195
  • 152
  • 264
  • 297
  • 109
  • 229
  • 208

And Cards #3-22 in Pack #7 were in this order:
  • 140
  • 63
  • 113
  • 63
  • 113
  • 12
  • 290
  • 246
  • 76
  • 6
  • 184
  • 112
  • 132
  • 187
  • 152
  • 264
  • 297
  • 109
  • 229
  • 208
The only difference was card US195 in Pack #3. Exact same order except for one card. I'm a goddamned miracle worker.

Hit #4 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

Chipper Jones All-Star Game Jersey Piece - Not Bad!

Jones has been one of my favorite players for the same reason as everybody else - he's a nice dude and a good ballplayer.

Box #1, Pack #7, Card #31

Hit #3 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

Frank Wren Auto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Atlanta Braves GM!!!!

Yes, it's a sticker auto and no, I do not like sticker autos. However, I am HUGELY in favor of adding GMs to the series because GMs are underappreciated by the hobby and I would buy an entire set of GM cards if I could afford it.

In Pack #6 of Box #1.

Mid-Box Update - Topps 2012 Update Series - Box #1

I have busted 5 of the 10 packs of my first HTA Jumbo Box of Topps 2012 Update Series...and I have completed 51.5% of a base set:

  • 170 of the 330-card set pulled
  • 198 base cards pulled of the projected 250 cards in the packs
  • 28 duplicate base cards
The un-perfect collation isn't quite as ridiculous as the Topps Chrome box I busted, yet.

Hit #2 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

Willie Mays Commemorative Gold Ring ROY

Box #1, Pack #4 (this was the lighter of the two 'heavy' packs I mentioned earlier - I'm very curious as to the other pack now!).

This card is a freaking monster. It won't even fit into my fattest top loaders. It's heavy enough to be a door stop. Jeebus.

Hit #1 Topps 2012 Update Series Break

Joey Votto SP US255

Pack #2, Card 32 in Pack

2012 Update Series - I Found a Monster!

I found some time to start the bust of my two HTA Jumbo Boxes of Topps 2012 Update Series. And here are some initial metrics:

  • Box #1 weighs 2 lbs. 2.75 oz.
  • Box #2 weighs 2 lbs. 3.25 oz.

All of the packs weighed 3.25 oz., except for one in each box which weighed more than 3.25 oz. Both of those packs were found in the second layer of packs from the top of the box.

I'm assuming the two outlier packs are the manufactured relics because their weights are probably less predictable than a tiny slice of wood or jerey. One of the heavier packs weighed 3.375 oz. (1/8 oz. more than the average pack).

The other pack, which I'm very excited to open (which means I will probably be let down), weighs in at a monstrous 4 oz.! That's nearly 25% more weight than the average pack.

I will be busting the packs and maybe some pictures later tonight, no sooner than 9 PM PST.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2012 Triple Threads Fluff 'N Stuff

When I saw the American History relic inserts in Topps' 2012 Triple Threads my disdain for Fluff 'N Stuff reared itself and I felt a tremendously ominous post a'brewing at my fingertips.

But then Topps bested me. And pretty much the whole hobby. The fake relics of the non-ballplayers did not count towards the promised hits, so they don't qualify as Fluff 'N Stuff; and they don't even replace an anticipated base card, they're a pure bonus. I guess I should call them Stuff?

Here are pictures of the three insert cards, serial numbered to 5, courtesy of Topps' guerrilla mouthpiece:

You know how frustrating it is when you get all pumped for a fight only to have the person walk away? Yeah. Thanks, Topps.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

False Advertising for 2012 Topps Update?

I bought a few jumbo boxes of 2012 Topps Update and was preparing my pull predictions (more un-perfect collation thoughts coming in a new post), and realized that most major online Topps retailers, including Topps themselves, market the Jumbo box as having "10 packs of 50 cards."

However, when those packs hit the streets they usually include a disclaimer on the front like the one on the Topps 2012 Series 1 Jumbo Pack: "Packs with a relic or cut signature card contain 47, 46, 45, or 44 cards."

Since Topps guarantees that each HTA Jumbo Box will include 1 autograph and 2 relics, aren't they lying when they claim each box will contain 10 packs of 50 cards? (assuming, of course, that similar disclaimers will be printed on the Update Jumbo packs)

The online retailer I purchased my cards from stated in their product description that I would receive 10 packs of 50 cards in each of my HTA Jumbo Boxes - maybe my biggest hit will be as the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit!*

*NOTE: I have no intention of filing a class action lawsuit as I purchased the boxes in good faith that they would not actually contain 10 packs of 50 cards.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Topps Chases A Million More Dollars with a Terrible 2013 Series One Promotion

The unoriginality of Topps' 2013 Series One contest "The Million Dollar Chase" is mind-numbingly absurd.

This ploy reminds me of a similar promotion that made national headlines months ago last week.

Here's a press release from MLB on their near-identical promotion: MLBAM Statement On Beat The Streak® Presented By Scotts

So, as stated by MLB, it seems that in over a decade nobody has been able to put together 57 consecutive fantasy-style hits even when they had every single MLB player available. And Topps wants us to believe that their promotion is different, how?

Topps' promotion is much more restrictive, you can only use players you unlock with code cards, so if you only pull five or six code cards, your likelihood of putting together the streak is pretty slim.

Also, I love how much of a shill Cardboard Connection is for Topps. Here's a PDF of Topps' Million Dollar Chase promotional flyer, and here's Cardboard Connection's article on the promotion; maybe their PR folks work for the same firm?

I doubt the other giveaways being promised by Topps for this Chase will be any more lucrative (or non-virtual) than the bloated Golden Giveaway coin chest.