A quick disclaimer before I start.
This is not a post about Oscar Gamble. I repeat, this post will not have anything to do with Gamble and his huge 'fro.
If you're still reading, I thank you.
In this post, the word "gamble" will simply carry its normal meaning.
After all, the world of baseball cards has become like a casino to quite a few "collectors", especially in recent years. (Emphasis on the quotation marks there.)
I guess you could say the card companies are the "dealers". Pack searchers are those underhanded people that "count cards". (Almost literally.)
The stories I've heard still amaze me to this day. People walking into card shops, ripping open one of the "high-end" packs on the shelves, dropping hundreds of dollars in search of that one "mojo" hit. If they don't get it in the first pack, they'll move on and drop a few more hundred bucks on another. And another...
The part that leaves me a bit queasy is that some of those people simply leave the "insignificant" base cards on the card shop counter and walk out, acting like they don't even matter.
Look, I'm not one to tell people how to spend their money. If they want to do that, they're free to do what they wish.
Just know that with cards, as with a casino, the house always wins. If you really want to gamble, why not just try a sports betting site or something?
Leave cardboard out of it.
If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that I'll never, ever become a "high-end" aficionado. Even if I win the lottery one day or hit it big on a casino slot machine, I wouldn't change a thing with how I collect. I'd just have more money for low-end cards.
Okay, that might not be a hundred percent true. I'd definitely treat myself to a few cardboard luxuries.
But until my days of winning the lottery come, I'm perfectly happy with the type of collector I am now.
That's part of the reason I love the blogosphere so much. That type of mindset is basically the norm here.
In fact, I just completed a trade with another like-minded collector. Josh, author of the great blog "Royals and Randoms", sent me a bunch of extra Mike Sweeney cards he had lying around in exchange for most of my extra Sweeney cards and a few other Royals.
My first ever Sweeney-themed swap. I love it.
I already recounted the backstory behind my Mike Sweeney collection in a recent flea market post. It's one of my most sentimental player collections because of the fact that one of my friends was the one who initially peaked my interest in Sweeney.
I know we both would've gone crazy for this awesome Collector's Choice issue of his, back when he still handled catching duties for the Royals.
It's great to reflect on a time when I had a card-collecting friend.
Every Sweeney card I own is almost like my own personal "flashback".
Although I don't like to admit it, I am one of those collectors who checks the "odds" on the back of every pack of baseball cards I purchase.
I don't know why. By now, I just assume it's some sort of unwanted habit.
No matter what type of collector you are, buying a pack of baseball cards is indeed a "gamble". Even though I'm not looking for the gigantic mondo-hit, there's a chance that I won't pull anything I want.
Being the "glass half-full" type of person I am, I can usually try and find something I like in every pack, though.
Occasionally, collectors do hit the "jackpot". Take a look at this if you don't believe me.
I wouldn't count on me pulling anything like that in the near future. Then again, you just never know. While I am a low-end collector, having a card like that pop out of an innocent retail pack would be quite a rush, I'll admit.
But in the meantime, trading with fellow bloggers helps me quash any of my "gambling" thoughts.
The odds are pretty much 100 percent that you'll get a few great new pieces to your collection with a blogosphere swap. Am I right?
You could say that every new Sweeney card I acquire is like a low-end "jackpot". And Josh sent me over twenty of them.
Jackpot, times twenty.
A "royal flush", perhaps?
I'm not going to lie to you.
I'm definitely looking forward to my twenty-first birthday next year, the day when I can finally legally step foot into a casino. (Although I'll need money first.)
If I wanted to, there's plenty of ways I could've gambled before then, though.
In fact, I've been noticing that the legalization of sports betting is gaining more and more steam these days.
Trouble is, that's already been around for a while now in this hobby. The only difference is that you're betting on individual players, not teams.
Also known as "prospecting".
I already described my lone attempt at it, way back when I was still a stupid kid.
Long story short, it's not for me. And in many ways, it represents everything that I don't like about the current hobby.
I'll stick with guys that I genuinely watching and enjoy collecting cards of, not some "prospect" who might make me a few bucks down the road.
Mike Sweeney always has been and always will be one of those select players, especially when we're talking about these rare circular-style cards.
I was excited to receive a disc-shaped card of Barry Bonds a few days ago, easily one of my least favorite ballplayers in the history of the game.
You can imagine how ecstatic I was to receive not one, but two circular cards of one of my all-time favorites, Mike Sweeney.
Thanks to the generosity of fellow blogger Josh, I definitely hit the "jackpot" here.
No casino needed.
No three-hundred dollar packs of baseball cards necessary.
Although I'd still like to win the lottery one day.