Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dime box prospecting

I worry sometimes that I come off as vengeful or irrationally angry when I talk about my disdain for prospectors.

Let me make this clear: when I say "prospectors," I don't mean the base origin of the term, I more mean what it's become -- investing on cards of young players with the sole intention of profit. In other words, I dislike prospecting when it's discussed as basically a gambling substitute. That's not collecting, that's the stock market.

But I have no problem with prospectors who genuinely enjoy learning about the up-and-coming players of tomorrow, and I actually kind of admire them for it. While it's personally not my thing to follow things like the draft and Single-A rosters, I sometimes think the minor leagues represents baseball in its purest form.

One guy who prospects in the purest sense of the word is our own Zippy Zappy of "Torren' Up Cards," who recently bestowed an infamous Zapping on me.

In addition to the Salvy Perez parallel at the top of this post (a nice add to my collection but definitely not the reason most people buy Bowman) came these two cool but kinda haunting minor league mascots.

Heck, I'd buy minor league packs for these alone.

But it wouldn't be a Zippy Zapping without awesome Japanese cards, including my first-ever autograph from the Rising Sun (how cool is that?).


I admit, I've dabbled in prospecting here and there over the years -- not for profit, but merely to see whether guys I expect to be good actually turn out that way.

Yeah: I'm horrible at it. I thought Josh Vitters was the Cubs' third baseman of the future, which do I really need to say anything else? Dude wound up being a career .121 hitter. Oy.

I still collect the guy (for reasons I'm not quite sure of), which made this minor-league Vitters I received from Mark of "This Way to the Clubhouse..." fame, a longtime friend of the blog and still an active trader despite his retirement from blogging.

Thankfully, Mark sent me a couple much more successful Cubs to accompany the dismal Mr. Vitters.

And even some spiffy Sox too!

Mini-collection hits abound, including that sweet Mags throwback from a set I don't even remember (Upper Deck Etchings?).

But here's where Mark really went for the jugular: a whole stack of SI for Kids cards!

This is one of the greatest things anyone's ever sent me because of the sheer fact that I have a hard time finding even one of these, much less an entire page full of 'em. I've said this before, and I'm not proud of it, but I used to steal SI for Kids cards from my grammar school's library when I was a kid.

But no matter the reason why, there's still a whole lot of childhood nostalgia wrapped up in these, which made them a huge treat to see fall out of a trade package.

Aside from the whole stock-market aspect of it, "prospecting" in the bad sense of the term is weird because it's just so much of an unnecessary headache, wondering if the dudes you invested in will ever amount to anything (and thus make you money).

It's a crapshoot more often than not: sometimes mediocre low-minors pitchers on the verge of being released (like Stan Musial) end up becoming the game's biggest stars. This particular card from Mark was especially cool because it's the first one I've ever seen that features Stan the Man's lesser-known pitching days.

Following the stars of tomorrow is indeed a worthy pursuit if it's done genuinely -- me, though: I tend to wait until they've already risen, hoping they don't turn out to be the next Josh Vitters.


P-town Tom said...

Josh Vitters. Oy is right!

Julie Owens said...

Sigh. SI for Kids. These are grand designs! It's a bit late for me to be getting into these cards but so be it. I subscribed a year ago.

Fuji said...

I still steal SI for Kids cards from my school library. Just kidding. My librarian will hook me up with the card every now and then before she discards the older magazines.