Friday, November 14, 2014
Virtual bargain hunting, revisited
I thought I kicked my brief addiction to virtual bargain hunting.
That all changed when I found myself scouring through Ebay cheapies one night about a month ago. I threw out bids on a couple cards, not really expecting to win any of them.
But I won all of them.
Sure, finding those few gems required sifting through a good amount of junk. But, man, winning auction after auction during a virtual bargain hunt is a rush unlike no other. I was hooked. Again.
The PWEs started to pile up in the mailbox over the course of the following weeks. Find after find for pennies on the dollar. The Mantle you see above was the first to arrive and the one that pretty much restarted the addiction.
It's some kind of oddball that pays tribute to The Mick after his death in 1995. I can't find any concrete information on it.
All I know is that it was an absolute steal at just 28 cents.
"Bargain" and "Derek Jeter" kind of sounds like an oxymoron.
People pay big bucks for cards of The Captain, and that's doubly true when we're talking about Ebay. This autograph shot is certainly a beauty, but I didn't think I had any chance of actually winning it.
To my utter surprise, I ended out coming on out on top. And for only 71 cents. I mean, just look at that beautiful Yankee Stadium backdrop.
Speaking of which...
You wouldn't think brand spankin' new 2014s would be eligible for this whole virtual bargain hunting thing.
But they are.
A mere 36 cents was all it took to land this one.
A couple more from the 2014 file.
My new Jose Altuve collection is progressing nicely, and it became even stronger with that "Pastime's Pastimes" insert. The wild clash of candy orange and black became mine for a whopping 13 cents.
The Kinsler is an International parallel fro this year's Bowman. More importantly, it features a double dip complete with a Josh Donaldson cameo.
Mine for 17 cents.
Josh(ua) Donaldson got a spot all to himself in my recent bargain binge.
Though I've tried my hardest to forget, he was once a catcher in the Cubs' organization. That minor league issue features him as a member of the Boise Hawks, who were then a Single-A affiliate of the Cubbies. Reminded of a painful memory for 41 cents.
I've come to the conclusion that Prizm's colored parallels actually aren't that bad. The base cards are the ugly ones.
The Street set me back a quarter, and is probably the bluest blue parallel you'll ever find.
A little miscellany from the virtual bargain bins.
I'm sure thousands and thousands of copies of that Clark are sitting untouched in basements and garages across the country. And, yet, I somehow didn't have one for my "Short Term Stops" collection. A mere 11 cents rectified that.
The Reese is Home Team Advantage parallel from 2000 Topps. Exactly the same as the base card except for that little stamp in the bottom-right corner. Hey, different is different, right?
At 15 cents, it was the "high end" of this pair.
"Car-Go" is another recent addition to my player collection catalog.
While his nickname is one of the most uninspired in history, this shockingly nice GQ insert became mine for an even more shocking 12 cents.
Gonzalez made another appearance in the bargain bins with that 2011 Topps issue, priced at a couch cushion-worthy 11 cents.
I'm nearing the 200-card mark with Mike Schmidt, which is awesome considering I just decided to start full-on collecting the guy about a year ago. For a mere quarter, that UD Hall of Famers issue brought me one step closer to 200.
Note the bunting in the background.
Of all the bargains I found, this may have been the biggest steal.
Granted, a lot of what I bought during my recent run are major-brand issues and ones I could've probably found somewhere else.
But a Starlin Castro minor league card? You don't see that everyday.
This comes from the 2009 Choice checklist, back when Castro was a member of the High-A Daytona Cubs. His first Topps issues wouldn't hit the shelves until a full year later. Not an easy find, by any means.
And yet I snagged it for just 28 cents.
There's no easy way to put this.
Mike Olt sucked in his first season as a Cub. He hit .160 and managed to strike out 100 times in 89 games last year.
On the bright side, Olt's 12 homers were second amongst NL rookies, second only to Travis d'Arnaud's 13 dingers. Maybe I'm just a glass half-full kind of guy, but I still think Olt could be a decent contributor in the years to come.
His 2011 Bowman rookie cost just 26 cents, and that Finest refractor set me back 55 cents.
I'll still be collecting him no matter what he does in 2015.
The Castro, Olts, and these Bryants all came from the same seller.
While I wasn't sure if it was made by a licensed company or some guy in a basement, I pulled the trigger on one of these curious Kris Bryant rookies nonetheless. I was outbid the first couple times, but I finally nabbed a copy for 81 cents.
For whatever reason, the guy sent me five of them, which I think confirms the fact that they're customs. Still cool, though, and about as oddball as it gets.
Oh, and if you happen to want one of these, I'm your guy.
It's mini time!
This handful of minis came from a few different auctions. The pair of Golden Ages came from a lot of four that I won for 55 cents. While I didn't need the other two that were included, President Taft and Al Simmons more than made it worth the price tag.
I won the black-bordered Sabathia from a separate auction for a paltry 17 cents. The Heyward (11 cents) and Beltre (26 cents) minis both came from yet another seller.
Minis at big bargains.
If my math is right, I scored all the cards I've shown so far for a tick over six bucks total.
At an eye-popping $2.76, then, the lot of 18 Nolan Ryans I bought seems like a '52 Mantle in comparison to the loose change I spent on all my other bargains.
Normally, I limit my Ebay auctions to anything in the sub-dollar category. But I think I ended up throwing out a bid of around four bucks for these Ryans and ended up winning it for under three.
I only ended up needing a fraction of the 18 cards. That, then, begs the question.
Why spend almost three bucks if I only needed five or six of the cards?
This is why.
I'd been trying to land a copy of this card for a couple months before I stumbled across that Nolan Ryan lot. I probably tried bidding on four or five different auctions of it and came up empty every time. I bid a whole five bucks on the last try and still lost.
And yet a lot of eighteen Nolan Ryans WITH the famous card in question ended up in my hands for half of that. I don't get Ebay sometimes.
This amazing card closes a vital cap in my collection that I thought would never be filled. What you see here is my very first (and probably only) addition to my "base-brawl" mini-collection.
I don't have specifics on it, but this terrific oddball features a shot from the famous Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura brawl, complete with a Pudge Rodriguez cameo for good measure.
I'm not one to advocate fighting, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I enjoyed seeing a baseball fight every now and then. It's a shot of emotion in a game that sometimes prides itself on stoicism.
It's good to finally see one immortalized on cardboard.
I've cooled down with my virtual bargain hunting as of late, but it's hard to know when the addiction will start back up again.
It's unpredictable that way.