Hobby Musings: The importance of choice as a buyer
Topps recently released a card commemorating Manny Machado’s introductory press conference with the Padres. Going a step further than an ordinary base card, Topps also included a relic piece from the press conference. The relic wasn’t from the jersey or hat he was wearing, but rather a piece of the table cloth from the table he was sitting at. Labeled as an event-used relic card, it drew a myriad of reactions from the social media community. Many of them being rather negative.
Some people, myself included, reacted with confusion over the outrage. The Machado table cloth relic, unlike a card inserted into a pack, was available for purchase via Topps’ website. As such, the buying of the card was strictly up to the purchaser, with the price being clearly stated at the time of purchase.
Whether you were a fan of this card or found it completely absurd, one simple fact remains. The choice to add or not add it was strictly up to the consumer. Topps made the decision to acquire the relic and produce a card that would be considered unorthodox. They certainly didn’t force anyone to buy it. It was a gamble by the company to even produce it not knowing the demand. Given that people were buying it, there seemed to be at least some market for it.
The Machado incident highlighted something that often gets lost in the negative comments or day-to-day dealings of the hobby. That would be the power of choice when it comes to buying cards or any other memorabilia. For better or worse, what you choose to buy, be it a stack of nickel cards or a $25,000 box, is entirely up to you as a collector.
Over the roughly 20 years I’ve been collecting, I’ve ventured into almost every category the hobby has to offer. My collecting tastes have often changed. Be it star base cards, minor league cards, memorabilia cards or the rookie vintage I’m currently chasing. While I look back with some minor regret over not buying or even putting money into certain parts of my collection, I don’t regret the journey that’s gotten me to this point. It sounds dramatic and cliché, but a lot of fun in collecting is chasing stuff for yourself and letting your tastes evolve over time.
A couple of years ago, I was strictly against getting vintage, especially graded vintage. I thought it was a rabbit hole that I would never want to sink my collecting dollars into. In 2019, it’s my 1B collecting option next to my baseball Hall of Fame autograph collection. Honestly, chasing vintage has helped to reinvigorate me as a collector. It gives me a better appreciation for the history of cards. Chasing only one main category was making me stale and even a little cynical as a collector. I still primarily focus on chasing the HOF ink. However, having another base of cards to collect gives me something else fun to do while diversifying my collection.
My overall point is that I made the choice to change my habits over time. Nobody forced me into it and nobody made me focus my dollars there. Just like nobody made anybody buy the Machado relic. Unconventional relic cards have been in boxes for years now and they’ve received a mixed reception in the hobby. To me though, a Machado table cloth relic from his introductory press conference is no less crazy than some of the others we’ve seen. For some collectors, it’s a welcome change of pace. Either as a box pull or something to buy as a single.
Buy What Makes You Happy
Often, we hear people ask what they should buy. Worse, we hear people demand what people should purchase. The comforting response I see from many is that people should buy what makes them happy. I don’t think it hurts to offer some friendly advice or sound information to people, especially younger or inexperienced buyers. It’s good to let them discover for themselves what makes them happy with their collections. That’s how it was with me as my dad supported my collection however he could, even though he wasn’t into it himself. While he had the good sense to buy me things that I wasn’t interested in at the time, Hank Aaron autographed baseball, he would take heed of my Christmas list and get me that random box that I may or may not still have a card from in my collection.
There’s always going to be a level of negativity in the hobby. Even if the industry was a utopia where everything was truly good, people would still find things to complain about. That’s not just the hobby, it’s any aspect of life.
To be fair to the naysayers, there’s often a suitable place for those complaints. The current state of the hobby is as strong as it’s been in recent memory. That being said, a lot of old hurts that have plagued the hobby, namely redemptions, are still hot button issues today.
Innovation is Important
One thing that’s not a problem though, exclusive licenses aside, is the amount of choice we have with our trading cards. While the amount of trading cards available today can be a problem in some respects depending on your place in the hobby, there is no doubt that it’s afforded collectors a lot of options for what they add. The Machado table cloth card likely won’t be the last thing that draws outrage from the collecting community. Hopefully though, the people that don’t like cards like that will respect the choice of the companies to make cards like that, as well as the choice of the people who do buy it. No matter what, choice in the hobby is a wonderful thing, and one that I intend to exercise for as long as I collect. I would certainly hope that you all do the same. As always, happy collecting.
For more Hobby Musings from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Hobby Musings: The importance of choice as a buyer
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.