Category Archives: Baseball Cards

Trying not to buy cards

Part 10 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

I already mentioned spending $5.50 at my local card shop on three 86-87 Fleer cards, a move I fruitlessly tried to justify by selling off the DJ card on ebay. The card didn’t sell – twice – and now I’m stuck with it, to go with Tom Chambers, Larry Nance and George Gervin (I can’t remember if I still have the Gervin or if I gave it to the person who bought my Gervin lot). Which got me thinking, maybe I should collect the 86-87 Fleer set, or at least all those that I can get cheaply. There was an eight-card lot on ebay that went for $5 including shipping, and it was a struggle not to bid. Last night I fought myself in my dreams as to whether or not buying 86-87 Fleer could be called anything other than addiction. In my sleep, I regretted selling my Dr. J sticker card for $1.25. Awake, I don’t find it nearly as difficult to not buy things, but in that dream it was tough.

Everyone knows it’s insane to buy cards during a firesale. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Chambers and Nance cards are pop art pieces well worth their $2 price tag, but that’s exactly what most of the 167 things I just sold on ebay were. Style is no excuse. Quite apart from the fact that my relapse almost inspired me to make good on a long-held collecting fantasy, I shouldn’t have gone against the principle of the sale. Remember how hot 86-87 Fleer cards were? They were hot, and I’ve always sort of wished I’d bought them in 1986, when I started collecting, instead of 86 Topps baseball, but that’s another gripe entirely. I acknowledge that I did a stupid thing, but I’m not sorry, and therein could be where the addiction lies.

I knew when this Sell-Off started that it would be all-consuming and heavy duty for as long as it lasted, and that it wouldn’t last very long. All of a sudden, the payments have all but stopped coming, and the 4:45 trips to the post-office are a thing of the past. Maybe I anticipated missing it all, and that’s why I bought those three cards. I tend to think it had more to do with my having come straight from looking at cards with Rob H. for three hours when I bought them. In any event, my ebay feedback is up to 68 now, 100 positives overall and the one mutual punk-out I had with one of my first buyers. It feels good, I suppose, having perfect feedback, and that’s where they get you. Despite being a nightmare to navigate, ebay is sure fun, and easy to get sucked into. As I write this, I’m watching five auctions for 86-87 Fleer items.

Saturday, I listed 14 lots, the last of the singles that are worth the effort and shipping costs to sell. In fact, their worth could not be more in question. I’ve lumped bunches of things together that didn’t sell or that I’d yet to try to sell. I started them all at the legal minimum $0.01, and have slashed shipping costs. It’s likely that some of the 14 lots will sell for less than the worth of their $0.08 rigid top-loaders. On the other end, I’m hoping the Kobe and Garnett stuff brings at least $5 per go. Of course, the stuff in the middle that I don’t think about is what will determine whether or not I make enough money to have made it worth the hour or two I put in on Saturday. Starting everything at $0.01 was Andrew Nixon’s suggestion, and starting the auctions on a Saturday afternoon was Rob Helms’s.

I predict that everything will sell for $0.01!

i’m trying to fix this.

How much is my baseball card collection worth?

Part 7 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

It was in Nicaragua, the country that gave you Dennis Martinez. We were in the last days of the big schlep. Clare had flown home with her Network TV Slut of a sister. I had risen at 5:00 a.m., a good hour or two later than the hours at which I would be asked to rise for the next two days’ buses to San Salvador and then Tapachula. Alone on my last night in Managua, I watched my first American football game of the season, Monday Night Pats at Ravens. I decided to start rooting hard for the Patriots to go undefeated and my Randy Moss rookie cards to be hot at $100 apiece. There followed some thoughts on what I would do for money when I got back to the U.S., and what I would do with all the stuff that I had stored around the county and forgotten about in my two years living in South America. By the time the Pats had pulled it out, I’d decided that slashing 30,000 cards would clean out the closets and bring a few dollars at the same time.

In Santa Barbara, two months, 95 auctions, three private sales and $1163 later, the Nicaragua story is laughable. The Pats slothed it in the Super Bowl, the Moss cards are the only ones I haven’t reclaimed from consignment at the card shop to auction on ebay, and a visit with a friend has served to remind me that 30,000 ain’t even that many: Rob, who has commented on this series, keeps 70,000 1987 Topps.

Dude’s got fourteen 5000-count monster boxes of 87 Topps. Think about what that means for my unopened wax box of the stuff. No good. Garnett cards are hot now, good. Kobe scoring 100 before I list my last ten of his rookie cards, also good. But a 96 Score Cal Ripken #2131 1:100,000,000 packs only brings $0.99? No good. I had dedicated a line or two in this limited edition blog (you are 1:120, one of only 120 readers per day) to how that card was the best card I ever got out of a pack and how I got it in the last pack I ever bought at Great American Baseball Cards. The card was on ebay seven days and inspired $0.99 (49p UK) in bids. How many 12-year-olds made mint condition Leaf sets in 1990 in Santa Barbara? That should make my 1990 Leaf set 1 of 1 or 2, tops, right? And if it is the only one, why shouldn’t the first and best 1990 Leaf set ever assembled by a Santa Barbara 12-year-old command a premium? Here I have the answer to the question of the year: How much is my baseball card collection worth?

86 Donruss Canseco rookie? $7.50. 85 Topps McGwire Olympic rookie professionally graded NM-MT? $10.50. Two (2) mint 87 Fleer Bonds rookies? $23.50. What surprised me is how I couldn’t find anything bad to say about a market such as the current one, a market in which a graded 95 Bowman Andruw Jones NM-MT is only worth $5.50. Who’s Andruw Jones? That card shouldn’t be worth money! Neither should elementary school kids have to spend four years’ allowance to get a nice Canseco rookie! I have no problem with a world in which a mint 93 SP Jeter is $132.50 and a 94 SP A-Rod PSA 8 is $127.50. I say cheap Cansecos for the kids. Meanwhile all adults should read Canseco’s book. You read it on One Sorry Blog: Canseco’s is a hilarious, truthful, irreverent, watershed work, the modern day Oddballs, only in the A Monograph on the Juice called Juiced! sort of way, in which only one in eight paragraphs begins, “I remember this one time in Oakland…” or whichever city. My copy was a present sent first class USPS to Buenos Aires, and I read it the day it arrived.

At the rate things are going, I’ll be selling stuff for another ten days or so. I can imagine listing the last saleable items in the next few days, or maybe I’ll wait to see how the current stuff ends up. I have four real nice sets for sale right now, two of which are missing the best card. I have two very nice rookie card lots for both Kobe and KG to put up today or tomorrow. Beyond that, I can’t see there being very much to sell that’s worth the five minutes and $0.20 required to list it on ebay. I suppose I could package a bunch of rookie and star cards together from ten-year spans and sell those, but it sounds like a right kerfuffle.

Then again, why not? I’m still of the mind that everything, if sold on its own and for its own merits, will sell. I can give you ten good reasons to buy my entire Nolan Ryan collection, but will you want to pay enough to make it worth my while to dig it all up? The fact is, a very high percentage of baseball cards are not only worthless, but a liability. Unless you’re selling the cards out of the back of your Volkswagen, as I have three times since this firesale began, somebody’ll have to pay to ship the stuff. I make no money on shipping, because I think that for what I’m doing, making money on shipping is bad style. If it’s not postage, it’s gasoline spent to get out to Longs on a Saturday, or the half hour spent in line waiting behind two moneygrams to Mexico that the computer was slow to process. I want this firesale to serve as a real-life price guide for the month of February 2008 for anyone who finds himself wondering what a certain of these cards is worth. The final price of all my auctions is the actual price the buyer is willing to pay plus the actual shipping charges and expenses. All the end-of-auction prices for the cards in my collection are, to the penny, exactly what those cards were worth, that week, on ebay.

Large-scale price study underway

Part 6 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

Thanks to the many multiple buyers I’ve had so far! I think this is what we’re all striving for. In my experience, doing several deals with the same buyer or seller makes life easier and cheaper on all fronts. I suppose these folks have been enticed by the option ebay gives viewers to view a seller’s other items, as opposed to finding several of my cards on unrelated individual searches, but I don’t know for sure.

Today was my first big day item-wise, with 27 auctions closing. 24 things sold for about $100 total. Not surprisingly, two Jermaine O’Neal parallels and a chingered Doug Flutie rookie did not sell. I still have 131 items for sale, and each of the next few days will involve action similar to today’s. My autographed George Gervin white replica rookie from Topps Chrome, I think, went for $12.05. I’d started it at $9.99, the highest minimum bid I placed on any card in this entire firesale, because I wasn’t sure too many people would be looking for Gervin cards, and I didn’t want to let it go for too little, since I like it plenty and would have been happy to have kept it. Yet today I posted a remarkable 12-card Gervin lot that already has one bid. I also have an 86-87 Fleer card of him for sale. Jermaine O’Neal and Al Harrington autograph inserts bring a buck or two. This shocked me as being absurdly low, but I suppose it shouldn’t. My Byron Scott autographics only went for $4, and he used to run with Showtime. Remember those Skybox autographics? I knew a guy in town who paid $200 for the Grant Hill.

If you’re wondering which is Kobe’s best rookie card besides Chrome, it’s apparently E-XL 2000 by a nose. My Kobe E-XL-2000 sold for $19.05 as compared to my Finest, which only brought $17.50. I professed to have every Kobe rookie card, which I was sure I did until I went running to my parents’ house to dig up the Topps Chrome that I saw was bringing $130 on ebay only to find that I literally had every one but that one. Disappointing, but had I checked my inventory beforehand, I wouldn’t have wasted a trip. I had the O’Neal and Garnett 96-97 Topps Chrome, but not the Kobe. I do have every Garnett rookie, but they’re going fast. It’ll be interesting to see which inserts command bucks and which slip by for 99 cents.

A Canadian bought my Mark McGwire Finest mullet card, and my autographed Garnett insert is going to France. People are really taking to my $1.50 shipping option, as I thought they would. All I did today was put up that Gervin lot and possibly the only two sets I’ll sell intact: 90 Leaf and 96 SPX. I was proud to have made the 90 Leaf set, and I was probably one of the only 12-year-olds in town to put one together. I collected the 96 SPX in my time working at Rob and Eric’s card shop. I tried something a little different today, and listed the shipping for each of the above three items at $9, instructing buyers to consider this when bidding. I’m curious as to whether it will have any effect on the final price. I have quite a few older basketball cards finishing tomorrow.

Whose rookie year card do you think will bring in the most: Dr. J, Moses Malone, Gervin, Darryl Dawkins, Magic, Bird or Rodman?

Feedback’s a bitch

Part 4 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

Remember that guy who didn’t pay until I took him to ebay court? Well I was struggling with what Feedback to give him, and I finally opted for neutral. Feedback is what each party says about the other after the transaction, and it’s overwhelmingly positive. A legitimate negative Feedback usually means the person is either an idiot or an asshole. After no contact from ebay username greightwhitehype (lame) anytime in the regulation seven-day period following him winning $178.50 in auctions, I filed a dispute, because, damn it, this is a firesale and I’ve got to get this stuff out the door! He paid the next morning (yesterday) and I shipped him the cards the same day WITH FREE INSURANCE to show that I appreciated his paying, even though I’d felt compelled to leave neutral feedback on account of his flakiness.

This morning I fire up ebay and see that the cheeky bastard left me negative Feedback, saying “BAD EBAYER DOES NOT GIVE ANYTIME TO PAY FOR AUCTION!”

I know, huh?

So I sent him a message right away saying:

EBAY POLICY IS 7 DAYS TO PAY. NOT ONLY DID YOU NOT PAY, BUT YOU NEVER EVEN CONTACTED ME. I WAS THE BIGGER MAN HERE AND GAVE YOU NEUTRAL FEEDBACK EVEN WHEN I COULD HAVE GIVEN YOU NEGATIVE, AND HERE YOU GO AND SCREW ME! AND ALL OF THIS AFTER I SHIPPED YOUR ITEMS THE SAME DAY I RECEIVED PAYMENT AND WITH FREE INSURANCE!!! YOU LOW-RENT PUNK!!! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. YOU’RE A DISGRACE TO THE HOBBY AND TO EBAY.

I then logged on to gmail and saw that he had also followed up the negative Feedback he he left with a proposal that we mutually remove the feedback we left about each other. Since I’d already given him a good written undressing, I reluctantly accepted. When I see a negative comment, I always go and read what the other side said. I’m confident that people would do this in my case, particularly since these two negatives (two items sold to this gypsy) are coming after three glowing positives, the entirety of my Feedback, but I’d still rather not have 40% of my Feedback coming from this blackmailer. After more than 100 transactions over the years, I’ve never had a negative Feedback on ebay, and I’d just as soon keep it that way.

His excuse was that he’d been out of town and couldn’t get to a computer. Then how did he ever bid? And why didn’t he say so when he made that Immaculate Bid?

What do you folks think happened here? Do you think he was trying to either not pay or screw me from the beginning? Did I overract to his having gone in the tank for a week?

Flipping cards for cash ain’t easy

Part 1 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

Greetings to all you noble collectors out there, millennial hobbyists. I’m selling my sports card collection for whatever I can get for it on ebay, trading memories for cash. This blog series is my contribution to the hobby, a chance for everyone who has ever collected cards in the last 20 years to see exactly what their cards are “worth”.

First, here’s a few things that are important to remember but too depressing to repeat: baseball cards from 1986 to 1996 are the most difficult to sell of any in history due to overproduction and steroids; baseball cards are difficult to sell in February because the season doesn’t properly start until April; football season is well over, and basketball playoff excitement is still months away.

Laughing at these negative market forces, somewhere along the big schlep I decided to sell my cards. It was all part of moving back to my home country for a third time and getting rid of a bunch of stuff that I’d even forgot I had because it’d been stored in my parents’ closets so long. Stuff like Pulp Fiction posters and t-shirts that are no longer appropriate for an engaged man to wear in public. The only differences was that I had over 30,000 baseball cards. Shortly came my first major realization of how this whole process was going to work:

Nobody cares what sets you have!
Aside from the fact that they’re a hassle to ship and almost impossible to grade accurately for prospective buyers, sets are out. I had success selling my boss’ sets from the 70s on ebay about ten years ago, which is not at all relevant to my case today. As a set collector, this was probably the most heart-wrenching revelation of the whole deal: if I ever wanted to sell anything, I’d have to break my painstakingly assembled sets wide open and sack them for the one or two cards in each that someone might buy. In preparing to do so, I learned the most important factor in the card business today:

Condition is king!
Since there is no shortage of even the best cards from each set, the overriding determinant of price is condition. There are plenty of 89 Upper Deck Griffeys, but they’re not all in certifiable mint condition, as identified with a professional grade of PSA 9. Having a handful of cards graded in my final days as a collector was the smartest thing I ever did. Graded cards are the easiest to sell, as their condition is assumed to be indisputable. My graded cards were the first to go on ebay and brought in the most money, by far, per card. In turn, this simple fact drives all card sales on ebay. Any card that is a legitimate candidate for a mint or gem mint grading is one that will command a good price at auction. Check out some completed auction results if you don’t believe me. I have posted 75 cards for sale this week, the condition of every one of which I scrutinized and described as best I could. I’d gained a reputation for being a scrupulous descriptor of the condition of those 70s cards, and I feel that dedicating five minutes per card (the time it takes to scan the card, write the description and post the item on ebay) to describe each card accurately is a good investment. The last thing you want in a firesale is customers returning things. And in a true firesale…

Everything must go!
I ritualistically sorted through my singles eight or nine times, sorting and resorting into smaller and smaller piles, until I realized that I’d rather have the money for all but one or two of them, which comic man Shane Amaya aptly described as more pop art than sports cards. A stack of very nice 70s and 80s basketball cards that I’d set aside for myself went on ebay the next day. Why in hell was I selling them if I didn’t want to sell the nice ones? Five minutes per card is a lot of work when there are 30,000 to go, and if anything was worth selling, it was the historically and stylistically influential cards that I’d handpicked in my last couple years collecting as being culturally relevant. Surely the point of selling any collection is to sell the best pieces. Here I began to understand the crucial role that guys like me play in the sports card hobby:

Save the baseball card hobby – sell your collection!
When you commit to selling your collection piece by piece to the highest bidder, holding nothing back and accepting practically any price, you have a chance to do something great. Nice cards are injected into the hobby at a rate of 25 per day (two hours at the computer). By writing even a one-line explanation of why one of my favorite cards would be a worthy addition to any collection, I initiate a relationship with potential buyers. I can be sure that potential bidders will at least be aware of my point of view, which I hope will be inspiring. Just because I’ve decided I don’t need a great 87-88 Larry Bird showing his leg way up in the air after a rebound and Kurt Rambis in the background anymore doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. It’s a great card! That’s why I got it in the first place! And because it’s in great condition, it’s suitable for even the most discerning collector. Whether it goes to a Larry Bird fan who doesn’t care what the corners are like, to somebody trying to build an entire 87-88 set in NM-MT+, or to a white power group, I can be sure it’ll be appreciated. Buyers get exactly the carefully selected cards they’ve been looking for and I am assured of getting exactly what their cards are really “worth”, and…

They’re only worth what somebody will actually pay for them on ebay!
There must be other sports card selling sites out there, but none can have anywhere near the traffic that ebay has, or be as easy to use. I’ve been astonished at how much simpler ebay is to use than I remember it and also at how much more I can do on ebay. ebay keeps track of everything. Paypal is awesome, and payment can be instantaneous. The trick is to get as much money as you can out of each card. When there were no bids on my graded Gwynn, McGwire and Piazza cards after three days, rather than risk somebody being the only one in seven days to be looking for a 93 Finest Piazza PSA 9 and grabbing the card for the starting bid of $0.99, I ended the auction and relisted them at $8.99, $5.99 and $4.99, respectively. They’re all selling now. I didn’t do that for my 95 Bowman Andruw Jones PSA 8, and after a week of very low traffic the winning bidder only had to shell out $5.50, probably a bit lower than what he would have had to pay if I’d started it at $4.99. There’s no danger of starting high-traffic items, like PSA 8 94 SP A-Rods, at $0.99, because the market will not let one of those sell for less than $120 or so. There is, however, a very real chance that there’s only one person looking for a Darryl Dawkins rookie card this week and that that person is willing to pay more than the $0.99 starting price tag. Cards like that one may only worth paying $0.20 to list on ebay, whereas $0.70 spent to list an exceptional 93 SP Jeter with pictures all over the place may have more than a $0.50 impact on the price of the final bid. ebay takes this fee plus 1% of sales, in my case, and Paypal takes another bit from credit and debit card payments.

So those are the dominant themes from these first couple weeks, which thus far include eight sales for about $280 (with one deadbeat buyer not having yet paid his $180 bill) with another 67 cards currently on auction. I’ll put another chunk up today, and hopefully every day, until they no longer bring in enough money to make it worthwhile. I’ll be posting new blog entries as often as interesting stuff happens.

How much would you pay for a 93 Finest McGwire showing his red mullet on front and back?

What’s one card from 1986 to 1996 that you’d like to have?

Unemployed, 29-year-old scuttles baseball card collection

A One Sorry Blog News Service Special Report

1993 SP Derek Jeter rookie card

Somewhere near the Goleta-Santa Barbara border, California – Today One Sorry Blog Editor Paul Rivas announced a firesale on his baseball card holdings “while supplies last,” encouraging all who have ever had baseball cards to “come out and check out what this crap actually sells for.”

Everyone knows that this is the worst time in the history of the hobby to attempt to sell baseball cards for cash-money, a notion Rivas wholeheartedly accepts, but shrugs off.

Ni modo,” the erstwhile collector said in a statement issued following his all-too-brief announcement.

Rivas knows that to sell a baseball card today is to convince the buyer to forget that it’s only been six weeks since Christmas and he has no money, to inspire him to buck the lethargy of the winter, when there is no more football for a long time, spring training hasn’t started and the pinche NBA isn’t even at the all-star break, and to tell him to forget about steroids already.

Yet now is when the unemployed Rivas has the time to cull 800-count boxes for the one card, rarely two, that will bring a few quid on ebay. And why not? When one dedicates dear time and other resources into a hobby for so many years, as Rivas, a Fernando Valenzuela collector, did, one doesn’t seek material reward. One understands that the selling is all part of the collecting, that the collection has an end and a beginning, usually in the very same place, in Rivas’ case, the hallowed Great American Baseball Cards, his “honorary headquarters”.

Rivas is conducting the One Sorry Blog BASEBALL CARD SELL-OFF on ebay with seller name onesorryblog. Sales totals for Week 1 were $262.71, including an OSBBCSO record $127.50 for a 1994 SP A-Rod PSA 8. Today, Rivas posted a 93 SP Derek Jeter that gambling expert Ace Cummins described as “tits”.

As a card collector, Rivas made two insanely successful speculative deals before he could even drive. Now, he is content in his role as a selling contributor to “the whole deal”. Persuaded to explain to his fellow collectors and readers why he would sell-off, for ha’pennies on the dollar, all the time he had invested as a child, in the form of more Barry Bonds rookie cards than he ever knew he had, Rivas said:

“They take up space, they’re dusty and nobody will pay money for them. For every one that goes on ebay, there are 1000 that are going in the fire. I’ll keep the Santa Barbara Islanders cards, the Gauchos’ cards, the Fernandos, the Travis Frymans, the Bo Jacksons and the Billy Ripken Fuck Face card. The rest of it, chinga su madre. It’s not sad; in fact, I’m quite enjoying it. Getting one last thrill out of the bastards. And ebay is great. So much easier and better than when I last used it eight years ago. There are a few that I’d like to see go to good homes, but otherwise, I could use the money. I’m gonna donate the 30,000 that don’t sell to Rene Spilborghs [father of Santa Barbara native and Colorado Rockies centerfielder Ryan Spilborghs] to use at his discretion. I found out yesterday at Craig’s that he reads One Sorry Blog.”