New NCC Post: A Definitive Hobby Glossary

Over the last few weeks I have been compiling some definitions of terms that may have an overwhelming effect on collectors who are coming back to the hobby, or people who are new. For the next New Collector Corner post on the Upper Deck Blog, I posted all of the different official terms I could think of with pictures to follow along. Hopefully, we can use it for helping people get acclimated a tad faster than they would by scouring blogs and message boards for definitions.

Check out the first New Collector Corner article HERE.

Check out the second in the series HERE.

The UD Blog and Educating The Masses

A couple of weeks ago, Toby from the UD blog asked me to put together a piece designed to help new collectors start up in the hobby. We settled on a series that should be published periodically focusing on questions a lot of people have, mainly with transitioning from a love of sports to a love of cards.

The first article is up now, I encourage you to check it out. I know a few other card bloggers are also working on posts as well, so be sure to keep checking out the updates.

Im personally glad that UD has reached out to the network of people around the net to get some outside perspective on the hobby. Kudos to them for tapping into our vast body of knowledge.

You can follow the Upper Deck Blog at upperdeckblog.com or on twitter at twitter.com/upperdeckblog.

Player Collecting And Survival

There are a lot of player collectors in this hobby, myself included. Personally, its the only way I can stay sane, because if chased after everything from a team or a college, I would be broke. Same with set collecting, its tough to devote the time for trading and watching eBay. However, that isnt a bad thing in any way. If you are one of those team or set collectors, you have my kudos for your dedication.

Despite the sheer number of ways to collect, I get a lot of emails from fledgling player collecting that ask where to start. Its easy to see why that is a big problem for people who dont know much about the hobby, as the number of options out there can be tough to decipher.
First, and most importantly for player collectors, you need your player’s rookie card. Its tough to identify with a collection unless you see that rookie card in there. Of course, that may not be possible with some of the older, more expensive players, but for the modern guys, it shouldnt be too hard to find an affordable one. For me, I always get the Topps Chrome offering, as it is the one I have always gone after since the inception of the brand. If there isnt a Topps Chrome card for your guy, due to age of the player or otherwise, eBay is always a good place to look for one that looks the best for you. Take someone like Jared Allen, a guy who doesnt have many cards, especially from his rookie year. When I started to collect him, I had to do some research before I found out that the 2005 Score auto was the only early card worth going after for him, as Rookie cards were scarce for him. The 2004 Bowman card didnt seem like a good bet for a nice rookie centerpiece, so I had to get the auto as my staple. Yes, I know its a second year, but its all I cared about.
The second thing I think you need as a player collector, is a good auto centerpiece. In my mind, there is nothing better than Exquisite or National Treasures for that card, although the money may be a deterrant. I would say that if you can afford it, go straight for the on card auto out of one of these sets. If not, the next level of cards would come from SP Authentic, and luckily, there are a lot of on card subsets to chase from the product. The design is always great, and the autos are usually a great piece for many player collectors. They also have VERY few parallels, meaning that the numbering on those cards is legit, unlike sets like Triple Threads.
Also, if you see that auto cards are out of your price range, auto’ed memorabilia is actually a great alternative. Most 8×10′s are great for framing and mini helmets can look amazing on a shelf. They also cost a lot less than many of the top RC autos, which is great. I know those mini helmets are always a priority for every player I collect. The thing I would watch out for are fakes, as signed memorabilia is always a risk if you didnt see the guy sign the item himself.
Many player collectors also love 1/1s, especially if they have a league or team logo on it. I think that certain 1/1s are definitely worth your time, but I would watch out for others. For instance, if you have the cash to go after a logo patch card, go for it, but if its a printing plate, leave it alone. Printing plates rarely hold value, you have to pay a lot for some of them, and in my opinion, they are some of the ugliest pieces of shit out there. Save your money for other stuff, especially when you find out that most printing plates arent 1/1s, more like 1/4s due to the colors needed to print a card. Topps, UD and others number them 1/1s to hook you in to buying more product. If they make the chase easier to catch, people buy more – right Moments and Milestones?
Many player collectors also delve into super collecting, a practice where they try to get one of everything for a certain player. I really dont think this a good idea due to the number of cards and 1/1s that players have, so its better to just focus on what you like. I kind of relate super collecting to Heroin Hero from South Park, as you chase the dragon forever but never catch it. Instead of super collecting, I would rather suggest saving your money up and buying a game used item like a jersey, or going hardcore for a nice autographed item like a bat or football. If memorabilia is not your thing, there is always bigger and better. There is not a good reason to try to get every base Topps card parallel if you hate the cards. Go after something you like.
Lastly, you really should go after anything that catches your eye, but dont go busting wax to find it. The way to find it is to set up searches under “my eBay” by clicking the “save this search” at the top of search result pages on the site. You can then receive daily email notification under the settings that are customized to whatever you are looking for.What I do is I break the searches down by the categories on the side of the page to avoid general results. If you are looking for a certain card, this can be a great way to be alerted. For me, I am a huge fan of many of the late year Upper Deck broducts because I see them to be the best designed and the most valuable football products there are. I set up my searches when the products come out, and buy the ones I think look cool.
Overall, player collecting is a great way to get going in a hobby. It gives you a specific target to branch out from, and really gives you a great idea of the true value of certain products without having to monitor a ton of cards on eBay or scanning tons of message boards for trade requests. Most of the time, barring extenuating circumstances like extreme SPs, if a card for your guy is worth more in one set than another, those values should hold for the rest of the players too. Keep your head on a swivel and try to become very familiar with your likes and dislikes so that you can learn to avoid scams and problems. Of course, you can always look for answers here and on the other blogs too. We are always happy to help.

Bidding On Ebay: Dont Get Eaten Alive

Since eBay is the lifeblood of many of us for singles that we want to purchase, I want to discuss bidding practices for possibly getting the card you want, at the price you want it. I know for me, I have personal policies that I only break under very particular circumstances, and I am hoping that this discussion can help some people out, or at least prevent stupid bids from happening to my card.

First, the question of bidding late versus bidding early always presents itself with an auction that is not BIN/BO. I know when I take a look at an item, I always look at the clock first. Normally, unless it is a card that I know wont come up again for a while, I wont even open an auction unless there is a BIN or less than a day left. Its just pointless to examine an auction for a non-rare card if there is eight days left on the timer. In fact, if the card isnt low numbered or rare, you shouldn’t be bidding early either. Just put it on your watch list if its important, and wait until later. Early bidders suck when an auction first comes up, mainly because it normally disqualifies a BIN/BO, and puts the auction in the seller’s court if he is a shiller. If the card is rare, it’s a little different, because early bids can sometimes prevent off eBay sales, and can put you in the drivers seat for watching the item grow. However, the shill is still a factor, and it is always a good idea to look out for that.

As for the BIN/BO auctions, its always safe to believe that the card is not going to go for less than it usually does. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but it’s mostly a waste of time to use lowball offers. If you actually want the card, its better to just offer fair market value, plus a possible incentive of a few extra dollars, just to prevent a loss because the seller hates you. BIN/BO is a great way to buy cards, unless you are dealing with a shop that still operates on book value. Then you should just avoid the item in the interest of time, as they are not going to be accepting reasonable offers. Also, if you want the card, and you put in a lowball offer, don’t expect a counteroffer. Most people, including myself sometimes, just think you are some kid who doesn’t know any better, and will deny you without a thought. If you are indifferent to the card, go ahead and lowball, you may get lucky. No reason to risk a card you want because you want a crazy good deal.

In terms of late bidding, I usually wont bid on a card unless there is less than 30 seconds in the auction. Because sniping, or “eFucking” as my dad calls it, has become so popular, its stupid to put in an early bid on a card you want without considering how many other people want it. Sniping is a great idea, especially if you have found a good program, because you can easily enter in the max price you want without having to sit there and wait. As for me, I don’t like to use programs, mostly because I like to see the auction develop in the last seconds. If the card ends late, I will set an alarm if its important. Its just a thing for me, doesn’t happen often that I need to go out of my way to be there. Plus, the card is going to go at or around SV 99% of the time, so putting in early bids of 10 bucks on a 100 dollar card is just not going to be a good use of resources – unless, like above, its rare and succeptible to off eBay deals.

The important thing remains, if you see a card you want, just be smart about it. Don’t be stupid enough to let a card go because you want to get the best possible deal. Its better to assume the card will go at the expected price, and feel good when you get a deal. Also, the golden rule remains, unless you get some 2,000 dollar card for 200 bucks, there is no reason to go posting steals all over message boards. I will come and strangle you with the cord from your desk lamp.