Category Archives: Nicaragua

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.

A Night Out – a short story

Editor’s note: A Night Out is the first short story published on One Sorry Blog. Please leave a comment letting us know what you think. We would like to feature short stories regularly. If you or someone you know writes fiction, consider becoming a contributor to One Sorry Blog.

A Night Out
By Paul Rivas

“I’m going ten meters across the street for dinner.”

It was exaggerated compliance with her request that he tell her where he was going when he walked out, rather than just walking out, and he’d meant it to be rude. Now Restaurant Other Fish was closed.

All he’d wanted was the shrimp dinner and Premium beer he’d had the night before. He had been counting on it being open. It had been open earlier; he had seen the girls that worked there sitting out front. Then again, maybe they had only been sitting out front because they didn’t know where else to sit on their day off. It was impossible to know. He could have asked if they were open, but still he could never be sure that they hadn’t just made up an answer on the spot. He could never really know what their status had been at the very moment that he had seen them sitting there, before he’d asked out loud and given them time to think about it.

Michael estimated that he and his girlfriend had fought 14 times in the last two weeks. Now Other Fish was closed.

He could see that the Irish bar at the end of the block was dark, so he went back across the street and continued two blocks in the other direction, past the bus company building and the taxi drivers and deadbeats who hung out there. There was a place open on the far corner. There were people eating there, and there was an old man with a cart alongside.

“Is there anything to eat?”

“Barbeque.”

“One then. Is there any beer?”

“Toña, Victoria.”

“Victoria. A liter.”

“They’re gonna have somebody bring it.”

He turned and recognized the young man who had spoken as the crackhead who had inserted himself into the baseball game that afternoon. He had waltzed right in and demanded an immediate turn at bat, and Michael had lobbed the first pitch at his head.

Although a crackhead, the kid was still a friendly face. Michael nodded a non-verbal greeting at him and sat down.

The food came and was delicious. He hadn’t eaten real barbeque, the kind that reminded him of home, in three months. He ate slowly to avoid finishing before the beer came, which it eventually did. The guy who brought it had the face of a 24-year-old, but none of a 24-year-old’s enthusiasm. The beer was not Toña or Victoria, but Brahma.

At least it wasn’t Quilmes, he told himself.

“Fucking foreigner. I asked him if he could spare a peso for food, and he started giving me shit. I should go back there and fuck him up. Fucking foreigner. If it was for vice, I wouldn’t have asked, but it was for food. I’m so fucking hungry I can’t stand it. Do you mind if I sit down?”

“Please. Drink beer.”

The guy had just walked up, and was Michael’s age. He wore jeans that didn’t fasten and a baseball uniform undershirt, white with red sleeves and collar. His left arm and leg hung crooked and almost useless at his side, very nearly more trouble to drag around than they were worth.

“Everyone calls me Scatterbrain, even my grandma. ‘Scatterbrain, dinner’s ready.’ I used to be a little crazy. I was skinny.”

He was a crackhead. Michael suspected he was also furious at his disability.

“That’s Candy. He’s like a Volkswagen.”

He was talking about the guy who had brought the beer. Michael encouraged his tablemate to explain by raising his right eyebrow slightly and winking halfway with his left eyelid.

“He’s got his motor in back. He likes to get it from behind.”

Michael smiled and made a noise. He noticed for the first time that Scatterbrain was so unwell, he looked as though finishing his beer might kill him. There were few streetlights in this neighborhood, and the last thing Michael wanted was the death of a local on his hands, even a crackhead.

No one else seemed concerned. The two women continued to eat and serve food, first to a woman walking by with a small child, then to a taxi driver idling at the curb. Candy paid scant attention to the addict’s chatter, which did not diminish in volume or pace despite his abject appearance.

“What’s your name, friend?”

“Miguel.”

People here pronounced his name Mycole when hearing it and Meetchelle when reading it, so he always just said Miguel.

“Miguelito. Did what I said bother you? About the fucking foreigner?”

Michael shook his head sympathetically.

“Good. Because I’m telling you, I should have killed him. Oh, and watch out for this guy, though. He’s a thief and a criminal.”

Michael looked at the man Scatterbrain indicated. He had faintly muscular arms and a few amateur tattoos.

“Good evening, ma’am. Miguelito here is gonna buy me a dinner and a beer.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Michael saw the woman laugh off the request and the man chuckle.

“If you want marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or a woman, Scatterbrain can help you. He’s into that stuff.”

The crackhead nodded much more assuringly than Michael would have thought him capable of.

“Or maybe you’d rather take a spin with Candy?”

The man shrugged, indicating it wouldn’t be the first time a stranger had taken a liking to Candy. Scatterbrain encouraged him.

“She’ll appreciate it. Look at her, she’s excited already!”

Even crackheads hit the nail on the head once in a while, Michael thought. Candy half smiled, his lips lengthening and shining wet. He wore a scarf, despite the heat, and his eyebrows were almost entirely shaved off.

“Look at her! Posing!”

“Candy! Is your name Candy, or isn’t it?”

“My name is Ricardo.”

“Or María Ricarda. Candy or María Ricarda.”

Scatterbrain seemed to continually be trying to convince himself that he occupied a superior position in the neighborhood hierarchy than the gay prostitute. Michael wondered who really outranked whom. If nothing else, Michael thought, Scatterbrain could be sure that Candy would never stab him. Any other of the neighborhood nightcrawlers was liable to get fed up with him and become violent at any time.

Michael felt himself relax a little, but remained wary of slipping into overconfidence. Scatterbrain seemed to notice.

“Buy me a meal. You bought me a drink, and I appreciate that, but what I really need is a meal. I’m starving.”

“I’d love to be able to buy everyone a meal.”

Michael didn’t explain that what he’d really done was to invite the altered young man to help him finish a bottle of beer that he knew he wouldn’t finish alone. He had intended to get drunk, but thought better of it after seeing how many guys with nothing to lose were out on the dark street between the hotel and the restaurant. His girlfriend didn’t drink at all anymore, and now two beers were almost too many.

“Buy him some dinner, and buy me some dinner and some beer.”

The tattooed man had initially put on a stone cold straight face, but abandoned it when he saw Michael smirking.

When a particularly antagonizing crackhead went by and fired a toy gun at him, Scatterbrain found the energy to stand up and hurl the empty pint glass at his enemy’s head and yell that he was sick of the guy. Still, he hadn’t forgotten his hunger.

“Miguelito won’t buy a guy a plate of food, but he’ll buy him a beer.”

Michael thought this sounded terrible, but decided that it was probably true. The tattooed man just laughed.

“Miguelito’s gonna wish he never ate here. You can tell that he’s good at dodging conversation, though.”

Michael took the comment as a sign of approval, a message that he could relax. Here he would be free of the usual harassment of foreign faces, on account of his having shown himself to be adept at avoiding becoming nervous or being sucked into any double-meaning sex jokes, a pastime in that part of the world. It felt good to have the backing of someone from the neighborhood who knew everybody and whom everybody knew.

A boy from the baseball game came running up to the man to ask permission to stay out until nine o’clock. When Michael showed himself curious, the man said it was his nephew.

Michael heard people call the man Oscar. He had a cell phone, and for the last half hour, when he wasn’t renting it to passers-by, he had been calling home to ask whether or not the milk had been delivered yet.

Somebody asked why he bought milk from that son of a bitch instead of over at the other place, where they bring it right away.

“Because that son of a bitch is cheaper, that’s why. 70 pesos instead of 84. Here, Miguelito, have a beer. Go on, drink it, it’s cold.”

“Alright.”

“I practically never leave my house, you know? I’m only out here right now because I got in a fight with my wife.”

Michael laughed an honest laugh.

“Me too.”

“Drink the beer, it’s cold. Scatterbrain, take this and go buy yourself something to eat.”