Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is This Wrong?

I was in Target the other day and while dropping the customary 100 dollars on household goods (why does this always happen at Target?!?), I stopped by the baseball card aisle. I was inspired by SOSG Sax and Roberto over at VSIMH and thought maybe I could get lucky. However I haven't bought a baseball card pack for many years because: 1. They are so damn expensive and I am a cheap bastard (seriously two bucks for a pack?) and 2. I remember hearing many years ago that all the dealers and hard core collectors know exactly which packs are good in the box and pick those out before they sell to the general public.

So I rounded the corner and noticed this guy on the ground with a bunch of Topps Heritage cards on the floor and a portable scale. I asked what he was doing and he said that more valuable packs weighed a certain amount. Of course, this just reaffirmed my previous hesitancy to buy any cards and I passed on dropping my hard earned cash on cards and instead used it for toilet paper (I guess I could have used some of the cards as toilet paper too, depending who I got - Andruw Jones...cough cough). But I wanted to ask - DOES THIS REALLY WORK? Do the the more valued cards weigh more and which are the more valued cards? Is this guy taking all the fun out of it and ruining it for everyone else or is he just conducting his business? Let me know what you think!

40 comments:

Jason said...

Has to be said... I bet that Andruw Jones card would clog even the most industrial duty toilet on the way down.

I LOVE THIS GAME said...

That is very wrong!

Dusty Baker said...

This punk should not have been let out of his mother's basement.

Loney Fan said...

If that guy is taking a portable scale to Target and sitting on the floor weighing packs of cards you have to ask yourself "Doesn't he want it more than me?" What is stopping any one of us from doing the same? Our rationality for one thing. Let this guy enjoy his obsessive hobby, he obviously needs this more than you.

Steve Dittmore said...

My initial reaction was that it was wrong. Then I remembered that as a kid in the 1970s, I would scour those Topps 1976 rak packs to find ones with Dodgers showing on the front or the back. A pack with Stan Wall on the front was more valuable to me, but I might have passed on a pack with Nolan Ryan.

His "weighted" pack could contain the coveted Andruw Jones game used jock strap card, or a Jackie Robinson game used bat. So, I'm not certain how this is different than the 1976 example.

The fact that you took the picture is classic.

fanerman said...

I don't think it's a big deal. People do what they like, even if it is kinda weird. Who knows if he's actually right, anyway.

J. Steve said...

I don't think there's anything "wrong" with it, but I now have no desire to buy a pack of baseball cards.

If it's true that the weight predicts pack value (which seems far-fetched, but who knows?) and people are sitting down in Targets picking out the high value packs, why would I ever buy a pack? In theory, all that would be left would be the low-value packs. I don't feel the need to guarantee myself cards of the stature of Jon Garland, Brad Penny, or someone on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dusty Baker said...

That's some good perspective, Steve.

My strategy was always to beg as much much as I could from the old man and just buy everything up that I could in the little mom and pop grocery store I would ride my bike to in Conway, AR, circa 1977.

Dusty Baker said...

Coincidentally, toward the end of last season, Mrs. Dusty and Mrs. Dusty-in-law and I were perusing the card section of the Target in Pasadena. A rather odd middle-aged lady, dressed kind of like the pigeon lady in HOME ALONE II, walked up to my sister-in-law and started talking to her about how much she liked collecting baseball cards. She was buying loads of them. Sis-in-law was having a hard time determining if pigeon lady was mentally challenged in some way or just really into her baseball cards. Eventually, sis-in-law got an invite to look at all the other cards pigeon lady had with her in her car that Saturday morning. I made a quick move to distract and got us all the hell out of there.

Moral of the story: As long as it's vaguely legal, then to each his or her own. But the card aisle in Target is often the breeding ground for those who may be a little too into their hobby.

Eric Karros said...

I actually did a brief analysis awhile back and concluded that yes indeed more valuable cards weigh slightly more.

The starting weight of a card is about 1/3 of an ounce. But then add to that a bit more depending on the players' career stats. HR's weigh about 3mg apiece, RBI's about 0.5mg, and stolen bases about 1mg apiece.

Still calibrating the weight of pitching stats, will keep you posted.

Fred's Brim said...

@DB - what was your distraction move?

Dusty Baker said...

@FB

"Hey, is that a 1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie?!?"

Steve Dittmore said...

@Dusty - I usually concluded those bicycle rides in Wayzata, MN with a can of "Rondo - The Thirst Chrusher"

Fred's Brim said...

haha well played, DB!

Dusty Baker said...

Rondo - interesting. Never heard of it. Love regional offerings like that.

I strictly represented Dr. Pepper at the time - and still do.

Steve Sax said...

Interesting post AC. I agree with a lot of the posts here--to each his own and if that is how this guy wants to spend his spare time, go nuts--but I have to say this also deters me from buying packs "off the shelf" in unsealed boxes that have already been pilfered and weighed by other goons.

I was in a comic store once (Collectors Exchange over on Sepulveda; small store but nice people) and saw a guy come in and take a specific pack out of a box of newly-opened Topps cards. You know, the one with four stacks of card packs? He took something like the third pack in the back left stack or something like that. Then bought it, and walked out. And from that point on, I looked askance at the remainder of "pegwarmer" packs just sitting there in half-empty boxes; it seemed like the dregs left for an easy mark.

As for Steve Dittmore's comment, I think there's a difference between the Dodger clearly visible on the top or back of the cellophane-wrapped wax pack, and the guy using the equivalent of x-ray specs to judge the contents of the pack. But hey, caveat emptor I suppose.

Oh, and that box I bought a couple of weeks ago? It was a sealed mini-box of 10 packs. Sorry, portable scale dude--no chance for pilfering there!

Steve Dittmore said...

Seriously? Never heard of Rondo?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P1hNs94tG0

Steve Dittmore said...

@Sax I guess my point is that each person sees value in something different. For portable scale dude, the value is economic as he can flip this "hot" pack on eBay for profit. And for the person who buys it on eBay, the value is still economic.

As for my quest for Stan Wall or Rick Auerbach or Leron Lee or any of the other 76 Dodger cards, the value is psychological.

And so, as you said, to each his own.

Steve Sax said...

@Steve, I hear you. I guess I need to get a new pair of x-ray specs.

However, if I did have said pair, I wouldn't be in the baseball card aisle. If you know what I mean.

Dusty Baker said...

That's exactly what I was going to say, Steve. The value of getting a Ron Cey card when you're 7 is, I would argue, infinitely greater to a little lad than any monetary value one might place on such a card that is, after all, a piece of cardboard with ink on it.

Hong Like a Chih Kuo said...

There are much better things he could be doing with his digital scale.

Mr. Customer said...

@HLACK

Like calculate postage?

Hong Like a Chih Kuo said...

If Alton Brown has taught us anything, its to measure dry goods for baking by weight, NOT using the volumetric method.

Steve Sax said...

@HLACK: I've always been more of a Avoirdupois man myself.

Small Sample Size said...

Dusty Baker that is funny....I live in Conway Ar. Small world.

Orel said...

Hardcore collectors buy by the box or case nowadays, I think.

Alex Cora said...

Thanks for all the comments. Consensus seems to be for each his own. I still don't know if this really works - is there a baseball card expert out there who also does this or know if it works or not?

Ben Goetting said...

It sucks but A lot of guys use the BENDING the pack method since the thicker relic cards offer more resistance.

However except for the Ginter product .. autographed cards weigh the same as a regular card and you can't pack search for them. I pulled one from a target pack the other day. 95% of relic cards can be had on ebay for a few bucks anyway. Buy packs for the cards not the hits.

KempKershaw said...

Big League Stew linked to the story.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Sign-No-732-you-have-a-baseball-card-collecting?urn=mlb,229701

Steve Sax said...

@KempKershaw: Thanks for the update. Wow, we even got photo cred too!

Sidebar updated.

Neeebs said...

I know I'm late to this game, but from my experience growing up in NoHo, the thicker cards make way cooler sounds in the spokes of my tires. And if they were Reds, then the satisfaction was much better.

Delino DeShields said...

We've now seen the Black Hole of Nerd-dom. No virginity ever escapes it.

Dusty Baker said...

Assuming you were talking about the subject of this post, and not about Neeebs, that's an excellent summation, Delino.

Alan Carrier said...

went to target today for some cleaning supplies. Figured I should get some cards while im there. I was looking through the warapper on the 2010 topps heritage packs. to my surprise, I found a Juan Marichal autographed card!

Alex Cora said...

Alan: NICE!!!

Alex Cora said...

Alan: How much did it weigh? Just kidding.

Joe 1-5960 said...

It's not the guys who weigh or bend the packs, it's the ones who tamper with the packs by 'opening' one end and then carefully slide the cards out part way to check for high-priced inserts. These are the guys who should need to be escorted out and BANNED from these stores! This happens much more often then you would believe.

BIGDADDYFILTH said...

If you had called for store security it would of made for a very fun video...!!!! You missed out on the $10,000.

The Ranter said...

You should have kicked him right in the penis... oh wait he doesn't have one.

John said...

I thought of it as wrong at first, but then I thought, Is it wrong to take a tape measure to the hardware section to make sure your buying the right sized length of wood? A hobbiest builder surly does that.
The packs are there to be wieghed by anyone, if the store permits it and card companys dont make thier "dummy card" system better, so be it. The card companys have probably gained tenfold in customers since the new bat/jersy style cards came out, what do they care if they are being weighed. Just sells more hobby boxes for them in the end.