By Matt Goldberg aka Rivera42
How does one choose a favorite player? After all, the majority of us are fans of numerous sports and even a variety of teams. Scattered among these menagerie of teams are certain players that stand out, even transcending their chosen sport. Some might be flashy and outspoken, starring in numerous commercials and needing to be in the limelight. Shaq is the first athlete that comes to mind, and personifies this scenario. The man was one of the best players to ever step foot onto the hardwood and his personality matched his huge stature. He was a rapper (or at least attempted to be), starred in movies, had/has his own TV shows and who can forget “Kazaam”. I would consider Shaq to be on one end of the spectrum, while at the complete other end is a man known as “The Sandman”, number 42, Mariano Rivera.
As a kid born in the mid 80s, the Yankees were unwatchable. They were the modern day Mets. A complete failure of a franchise and their glory days of years past felt like another lifetime. Then things changed in 1995. Although the season didn’t end the way Yankees fans had hoped, they were finally going in the right direction. At that time I was only 10 or 11 and didn’t have a “favorite” baseball player. All of my friends had “favorite” players, and I really could not make up my mind who I wanted to anoint with this honor. Slowly Paul O’Neill became the player I idolized. This guy had everything, he was a fierce competitor, a true warrior who played the game with integrity and toughness that was unmatched. Around the same time I began noticing Mariano Rivera.
The Mariano to Wetteland connection was a joy to watch. Even in 1996 I knew Mo was special, he had an indescribable “it” factor that gave fans confidence that this guy would come in and get the job done. After John Wetteland left, Rivera took over the closer duties. He was so dominant the game really became 7 or 8 innings, other teams knew once Mo ran out from the bullpen it was over. As a fan, the final outs of a close game were always the most stressful. Even my mom, who was a casual baseball fan at best, knew that when number 42 was out there we could breathe a sigh of relief (no pun intended). We could rest assured that the Yankees would maintain the lead and win the game. Of course there were times when this was not the case, as in a certain playoff game against Cleveland and in 2001 against Arizona.
Statistics speak for themselves and nobody can deny that Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer to ever play the game. However, there is more to becoming a true icon in the sports world than just stats. There are countless players who were excellent, even legendary, but they never were revered and praised as much as Mariano. Of course I do not know him personally, I had the pleasure of meeting Mo once and he was terrific. Very mild mannered, friendly, and humble. Exactly the way I would have expected him to be. There seemed to be no differences between the gentleman we see take the mound and the man I had the honor of meeting off the field. Over the course of such a long and storied career there has not been one negative story about Mariano Rivera. No scandals, no failed HGH tests, just a clean record and playing the game the right way. In my opinion we have seen the perfect athlete, did his job better than anyone else, did it with quietly and with dignity.
We all know the saying “good things don’t last forever”, although I wish he could pitch forever it is not reality. As this is his last season Mariano is putting up amazing numbers and showing no signs of age. A legend should make his exit graceful, while still being able to show the world what made him great. Did we really need to see Willie Mays on the Mets or Patrick Ewing on the Sonics and Magic? There is nothing better and more rewarding than to see my favorite player, Mariano Rivera leave the game on his terms and as one of the last true gentleman in the sport. Personifying the number 42 on his back, just as the late Jackie Robinson had so many years prior, with 100% pure class. All Mariano fans can agree we are sad to see him go, but are glad he came.
By J.R. Lebert aka jrlebert
On May 20, 2013, one of the most special, caring, and important people I will ever know, Theresa Agro, my grandmother, “Me-Ma”, passed away. Me-Ma was a profound influence on my life, and, oddly enough, on my love for baseball and the New York Mets.
Little does he know, but in a way, today is a sad day for David Wright. You see, back in 2005, my grandmother started a relationship with David. He became her boyfriend. Charmed by his good looks, but thrilled more with his prowess at the plate, David Wright gave Me-Ma someone to cheer for again on her beloved Mets. Every time he got a big hit, or made a diving catch, she would always say the same thing: “Did you see my boyfriend? Did you see him do that?” I only wish she was in better health to have seen him in this year’s World Baseball Classic, performing so well, some gave him the nickname Captain America. On Monday, David lost a potential suitor.
Me-Ma’s love affair with the Mets, and eventually Mr. Wright, started way back in the late 60s. Many Mets and future Mets lived within a few miles of her, in Westchester, NY. She corresponded with Art Shamsky, and any other of the Mets who would come by his house. I still have the signed card she got, personalized, to me. She was a long time jeweler in White Plains, and other ballplayers would stop in, and she would strike up conversations with them, too. Through and through, to the end, Me-Ma was a Mets fan.
In a family full of Yankees fans, there were a few of us who stuck out, but none more so than Me-Ma, and her sister, my Aunt Lou. They were both fervent Mets fans, and would talk on the phone after games, often heatedly, about their performance on the field. Me-Ma always said the Mets gave her “agita”, and looking at their record in her life time, it’s not hard to see why. She was a fan through the mostly dismal 60s, the almost always dreadful 70s, and of course the eventful and flashy 80s, which is where I come in the picture.
One of, if not THE first baseball memory of mine, is sitting on her couch, watching Darryl Strawberry and the 1986 Mets. Me-Ma LOVED those late-80s Mets, with Darryl, Doc, Gary Carter, Bobby Ojeda (she called him Bobby Agita, of course), and Lee Mazzilli, the Italian superstar. It was those memories of watching games with her that turned this kid born and raised in Los Angeles into a lifelong Mets fan. Every time Me-Ma and I talked during baseball season, one of the first things that would come up would be our Metropolitans. She was able to see many more games than I, as I was in L.A. I was never sure if this was a good thing or not for her stress level, because the conversation always started with, “Did you see what they did last night? What were they thinking?”
In 2000, Me-Ma and I talked before, during, or after every single game of the World Series. Needless to say, Armando Benitez was never a favorite of hers. Few things brought her more joy recently, however, than watching her boyfriend, David Wright. He was, in her eyes, the perfect Met. He was good looking, a good person, and a good player, and that was really all she needed in a suitor. No matter that the relationship was a bit one-sided (he never did take her on a date…), she loved her David, and her Mets.
Just last month, I visited her in the hospital, and it was obvious her health was not good. She was in and out of it, as I would imagine many are at the age of 93, and we had very few conversations, none of which lasted very long. There was, of course, the one moment she was with it that the Mets came up. I was telling her about what else I had planned during my stay in New York. My primary reason, of course, was to see and spend time with her. Weeks ago, when I planned the trip, I looked to see if my Mets were home, and of course they were. It was only a few days before the game, however, that I realized I would be able to see Matt Harvey throw against Steven Strasburg!
I told Me-Ma that I was going to the game, and even as out of it as she was, she looked me dead in the eye and told me, “I hope they win!” True to the end, Me-Ma was a Mets fan.
Thank you, Me-Ma, for being my grandmother, and the greatest fan the Mets ever had.
By Tony Gaspar aka YummiestBeef
It’s rare gift to be able to predict the future. Many people claim to be able to do it and several people make money by claiming to do it. I am here to tell you that I possess this rare gift of predicting the future. The unfortunate truth however, is that the gift only applies to Major League Baseball.
All right so I didn’t predict that the Blue Jays would be in last place in the AL East in mid-May but I did expect the Houston Astros to bring up the rear in the AL West (along with every other baseball fan on Earth). I also predicted that the Minnesota Twins would not be as bad as several ‘experts’ said they would be and would likely finish the season near .500. Low and behold look where they are now, one game under .500.
Now that you are convinced of my gift of psychic abilities I present to you the winners of the World Series from 2013-2017:
2013 World Series Champion: Detroit Tigers
As much as it pains me to do this I have to give the 2013 trophy to the Detroit Tigers. Victor Martinez has looked like a shadow of his former self at the plate this year posting a pathetic .215/.272/.306 clip. Martinez, however, is in his first year back from a torn ACL and is generally considered to be a slow starter. Despite the Tigers’ $50 million dollar man hitting slightly better than a National League pitcher they still rank 1st in both batting average and on-base percentage and 5th in slugging percentage. These stats are good enough to give the Tigers a league best 206 runs scored. While Cabrera is destroying the ball so far this year and we would expect his numbers to drop a little bit we can reasonably expect Victor Martinez to post numbers at least a little closer to his career line of .300/.367/.464. Needless to say this team will put enough runs on the board to win it all. This brings us to the rotation, which possesses arguably the best 1-2-3 lineup in the majors with Verlander-Scherzer-Sanchez all pitching lights out so far this year. Even Doug Fister is getting in on the action. Fister, a control master, has only eight walks this year and posts a respectable 9 hits per 9 innings. Verlander’s strike out numbers have dipped slightly this year and his WHIP has increased but he has maintained a 1.93 ERA so far this season. As long as the other members of the rotation continue to produce decent numbers the offense will be able to carry this team through October and into November.
2014 World Series Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
So here’s the deal, Clayton Kershaw is THE BEST PITCHER IN THE MLB and you cannot even have a rational argument about it. Chad Billingsley had season ending surgery this year but should be ready to go in time for the 2014 season. Billingsley had a rather successful 2012 campaign with a 10-9 record and a 3.55 ERA. Add that with Zack Greinke, who was inked to a six year deal for the 2013 season, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who both have been lights out in their first seasons with the Dodgers this year, and you have the makings of one of the best pitching staffs the MLB has seen in quite some time. As if the pitching isn’t enough to win them the World Series their lineup will include; Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier. That equates to roughly 120 home runs and arguably the best 2-5 hitters in the National League. In 2014 we should also expect the speedy Dee Gordon, who is tearing up AAA Albuquerque this year, and possibly Yasiel Puig who is expected to hit somewhere between 40-50 million home runs in his career.
2015 World Series Champion: Washington Nationals
We all knew they would appear somewhere on this list. After coming close in 2013 and 2014, 2015 will prove to be their year. Ryan Zimmerman has been dealing with injury issues recently but assuming he can stay healthy for the 2015 season he will play a key role in the Nationals’ October run. We all know Bryce Harper is an absolute stud, and will be a large reason for the Nats’ success. Inking Denard Span to a long-term deal will also be important, as good leadoff hitters are not as prevalent in the league as they once were. Washington will have to had some free-agent hitters though, as they do not possess many solid bats in the minor leagues aside from third-baseman Anthony Rendon. After trading Alex Meyer in the Denard Span deal during the offseason the Nats have also depleted the arms down on the farm. Nathan Karns looks to be a solid pitching prospect who projects as a 3-4 starter. Other than that the Nationals will have to rely on Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren, and Stephen Strasburg. Yeah, I think I’d be okay relying on those guys too.
2016 World Series Champion: Baltimore Orioles
A current roster that is brimming with young talent anchored by superstar sluggers Manny Machado and Adam Jones the future looks bright in Baltimore and they may put it together as early as 2014. Jones has improved his stat lines nearly every year and there is no reason to think that the now 27 year old will stop anytime soon. After clubbing 34 dingers in 2012, Jones could easily match these totals for years to come. Along with Adam Jones in the lineup are Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. Machado is an absolute beast on the defensive side of the ball and nearly unmatchable in offense. After hitting 7 home runs in 191 at-bats last year Machado has nearly matched that total in 20 less at-bats in 2013. This kid has all the makings of a bonafide superstar at third base. As we know hitting isn’t everything in baseball and holy hell have the O’s put together a fearsome pitching staff. Chris Tillman and Wei-Yin Chen, the 1-2 starters for Baltimore, are two young pitchers who so far in 2013 have posted WHIPs below 1.3 and a K/9 ratio over 5. The funny thing is these two guys may only be the 3-4 starters in 2016 as Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are both fantastic pitching prospects expected to make an immediate impact in 2014 and beyond.
2017 World Series Champion: Minnesota Twins
Before I get called out for riding the bias bus let me just say this; The Twins outfield in 2017 will consist of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton, and Oswaldo Arcia. Hicks has struggled at times this year but has also showed flashes of promise as epitomized by his two-homer game in which he made a Torii Hunteresque catch to rob Adam Dunn of a home run. Buxton has reached safely in every game he’s played in with Class A Cedar Rapids and Arcia has shown at 22 what the Twins should expect posting a .286/.318/.476 in 23 games at the big league level. Not only that but the Twins will also have Dominican Slugger Miguel Sano who, in all likelihood, will end up at first base with Travis Harrison or Trevor Plouffe anchoring third base. Lest I forget the other portion of the Twins offense Joe Mauer, this team will not have a problem with run support. But with the pitching prospects the Twins have they may not need much run support. Alex Meyer, who came over from Washington in the Denard Span deal is an absolute dominating force on the mound. J.O. Berrios who has posted a fantastic K/BB ratio of 5.4 so far in Class A may challenge Meyer for the title of staff ace. Finally Trevor May projects as an easy 2-3 starter for this staff and assuming some decent free-agent pickups this team could be scary good in 2017.
By Kyle Gilbraith aka TheNati#22
Vontaze Burfict was the highest rated inside linebacker coming out of high school in 2009. A legitimate 5 star recruit and one of the highest rated recruits to ever sign a letter of intent with Arizona State University. After an All-American type sophomore season where he was ASU’s first 1st team All-America since Terrell Suggs he struggled to stay in shape and keep his focus on the field and in the class room. It was also a challenge to make eligible grades to continue his career but he did manage to get his GPA high enough to continue playing. His junior year in college was plagued by inconsistent play and penalties which cost his team some significant losses. Vontaze chose to forgo his senior year and entered into the NFL draft where he was once projected to be a 1st round pick.
That all changed after an awful showing at the NFL scouting combine. By his own admission his performance was average. Not only was he out of shape which led to a 5.09 second 40 yard dash, the slowest of any linebacker to run. His interviews with teams went just as bad. He blamed his coaches for his poor junior year, tested positive for marijuana and showed an all around lack of maturity and questionable work ethic which led to all 32 teams passing on him in the draft. He did not get down on himself though. Rather he switched trainers sought out advice from current NFL linebacker Nick Barnett and continued to work.
His fortune quickly turned when shortly after the draft the Cincinnati Bengals decided to give him a chance as an undrafted rookie free agent, keeping their reputation of giving talented players with checkered backgrounds a chance to prove themselves. After fighting his way to a spot on the 53 man roster and struggling to get playing time at the start of the season Burfict took his chance to claim the starting job when then starter Thomas Howard went down with a torn ACL. He then started 14 games and led a top 10 defense to the playoffs while also leading the team in tackles. He was also in the running for defensive rookie of the year. Which he later lost out on.
It may be a little early to say that the Bengals struck gold on what could be one of the biggest draft oversights in recent memory but it is clear that Vontaze Burfict is on a mission to prove his naysayers wrong. Having always been a physically talented and instinctual player, the chance the Bengals gave him was not wasted. He showed why he was once rated the best inside linebacker and a potential early round draft choice. Entering his second year and backed with a young group of talented core players I really believe his career is looking very promising. Against the 2 biggest division rivals in the AFC north he had some of his finest games. Racking up 18 tackles in the finale against the Ravens and 15 tackles in the mid season match with the Steelers.
Vontaze Burfict has quickly become one of my favorite players to watch and to collect. I usually collect defensive players because my funds are not up to par with the high end guys like A.J. Green and top end national treasures of Andy Dalton. I am usually looking to spend $50 or so here and there and usually make a couple purchases a month. I am very happy that I now have a defensive player with unlimited potential to collect from my favorite team. I hope that he and the Bengals continue to grow as a unit and keep us fans entertained for years to come.
His story is that of a true underdog. Growing up in a rough neighborhood, having a father that was in a gang, dealing drugs and in prison for most of his life, he stayed the course looking to make the most of the chances he was given. His story should be an inspiration to many. Showing that we all have bumps in the road and we will all have our doubters, it is what we do with our opportunities and what we learn from our trials that define us.
By Mason Hermann aka antropov14
Two years ago, I sustained an injury that required back surgery to correct it. While recovering in Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto at the age of 14, after surgery, a children’s clown entertainer came along with his bag of tricks to keep patients’ spirits up, and provide a distraction to the situation at hand. As I was on the older end of patients, I normally wouldn’t be entertained by watching a clown, but I was tired and sore, and this was definitely a great way to pass some time. Furthermore, only about five days later I would discover just how important this clown really turned out to be, and the lesson he taught I will remember forever.
The clown came in and did the usual routine, a few jokes, tricks, and put on a little act, but seeing that I was older than most, he had something special up his sleeve for me. I was astounded even in my sleepy state to see him pull out a deck of hockey cards from his bag of tricks and a roll of tape. Now fully attentive, I watched as he showed me how to make a simple wallet out of six cards and clear packaging tape. He let me choose my favourite six cards that he had, and helped me tape it up (the IV in each hand made this a little difficult for me). I was so thrilled at what had just happened I ended up remembering about some hockey cards that I had brought to the hospital from home.
Before I left for Toronto, I ended up going through my collection and sorting out about 150 base and insert cards and packaging them up in groups of 10-12 cards and putting them in my suitcase. I was planning to give them to a patient in a waiting room, or donate them to give out to other children who were to come in the future. I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to give back and I knew this was a sign. I asked for someone to get the cards from my bag and give them to the clown. He accepted them graciously and was thrilled to add to his stock so that many other kids could be making wallets with him on his rounds in the hospital.
He absolutely made my day, and I know that I also made his. I felt overjoyed at how perfectly this opportunity was presented, and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.
The real significance and lesson truly comes full circle a few days later, on the way home from Toronto. After staying in hospital for three days, and in a hotel for a few more, I was feeling ready for the car trip home. I had been regularly making small trips around the hotel with my walker, building up my strength again little by little each day. We departed in the morning and proceeded to make our trip home.
Along the way, I knew of a card shop that I had never visited before and I was feeling strong enough to stop in for a few minutes and get moving to stretch my back and legs. Prior to the surgery, I had not been out of the house for two weeks so as not to get sick, as then the surgery would have been cancelled. I was excited to see something new and different. The shop owner was astounded to see how eager I was, even in my condition to be looking around and searching through some cards. After a little time chatting and the purchase of a Rick DiPietro pad save card from ITG (still one of my favorite cards to date) and one pack of SP Authentic, I was ready to get back in the car and head home. I said goodbye to the owner and turned for my walker and was heading out when he called me back.
To my astonishment, he reached down to a stack of 2008-09 UD Series Two boxes (the full 24 packs), and handed me one. I was speechless. It was a genuine gesture and an extremely generous one at that. I thanked him profusely and then we continued home.
Only later in discussion did the idea hit me. It was only days prior that I had myself given away some cards as a genuine gesture of kindness, and karma was repaying me back. It was the only good reason I could think of. I had only spent $15 on the pack and card I bought, and the owner ended up giving me a box worth $40 just like that. I truly see what people mean by karma and I know that even the smallest contributions and kindness will go a long way. This really was an eye opener for me, and it stood out so clearly that I know I will never forget this collecting story. I had a great trip home from there, opening my box in the car, and being thrilled when I pulled a Shanahan jersey card. I still have that card in my collection today, and I will always have that story with me forever.
My card wallet from Sick Kids Hospital
By Ryan Kalmoe aka SWOWannabe
If you’re at all like me and the vast majority of collectors, the only zeros in your checking account balance is what it shows after you’ve paid your bills for the month. It can be a very difficult to manage your finances, especially with a family. Every expert will agree, however, that the age-old adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” holds true in every regard – if at all possible we should have some sort of entertainment budget each month. The problem is that because it’s more fun to buy baseball cards than pay insurance premiums, it can be all too easy to overspend on our favorite hobby which can lead to stress and other negative consequences in other aspects of our lives. I’m here to share with you several of my strategies and secrets to enjoying the hobby on a budget. You’re certainly welcome to try any and all of them yourself. With a little patience, a little work, and a little luck, you can see your collection grow without seeing your wallet shrink!
The first area many people miss out on is the opportunity to win free cards from contests. Contests are held daily in some form throughout the collecting world. Topps frequently holds contests on Twitter, along with several other independent sources. Panini usually has at least one contest a week on their blog. There are contests right here on Sports Card Forum that you can enter. The amount of work required varies, as do the rewards. Topps and Panini, for example, give away memorabilia and autographed cards alongside entire boxes of product. Other contests may have a single card up for grabs, and most commonly here on SCF you can win Card Cash. Check your local card shop, too, as many of them run contests at varying intervals with prizes. My old card shop had a bonus lottery-style drawing at the end of each month for an assortment of packs. My current card shop has Pack Wars on a monthly basis where you can win a wide range of prizes. This month there is an unopened 2012 Black Friday promotional pack, a John Kerry cut autograph, and several other excellent prizes to be won.
Now, entering contests may seem like common sense. However, most people do not enter these contests. Let me reiterate – most people DO NOT ENTER. They dismiss the contest as too much work, or why bother if it is an easy contest because they’ll never win? I can’t guarantee that you will win if you enter. I can guarantee that you will not win if you do not enter. I’ve had varying degrees of success with contests in my short two years of collecting. My best win was a 2012 Elite autograph of Ryan Tannehill with a twist – it was a personal edition of the card unavailable in packs. I’ve since traded the card for baseball cards, since I don’t collect football cards.
This brings me to another point about contests. Just because the prize isn’t up your alley doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enter. I’ll enter contests for football, basketball, hockey, even soccer and golf cards. If you manage to win, someone somewhere will likely want the card and you’ll be able to trade it for something you do collect, or you can sell it to them in an absolute worst-case scenario. You may think it isn’t fair to be ‘stealing’ these sports cards from hobbyists that actually collect that sport. It is a noble thought, but I view myself more as a general sports card collector than just a baseball card collector. Besides, there are plenty of people that collect more than one sport and it never hurts to have more than just your primary sport to expand the number of hobbyists you’re able to trade with.
Contests are the first and easiest way to make your collecting budget go farther. They’re hopefully free to enter, and if you enter enough of them you’re bound to win eventually. Perseverance is key. Don’t get discouraged after a few (or even more than a few) contests that you don’t win. While you mathematically can win them all, it is highly unlikely that you will win even the majority of them. Just be excited when you do win and keep entering!
Wait, what? Free money? Yes, if you’re on a cardboard budget there are ways to drum up extra revenue without doing much more than your daily activities. You could apply this to any aspect of your life – groceries, clothing, etc. I choose to use the extra money on baseball cards. Most of the extra revenue comes in the form of gift cards to various locations – Amazon.com, Target, etc. If you’re on a strict $20 a month budget for baseball cards, coming up with an extra $200 a year in gift cards through various programs can really expand your collection in a hurry.
One way to earn these gift cards are through certain reputable sites that essentially pay you to be a consumer. There are two that I use and can attest to their legitimacy. Bing.com and Swagbucks both have rewards programs for using their search engines. You won’t see instant gratification with them, but with a little bit of presence and perseverance, you can very easily earn a $5 Amazon gift card each month from those sites. There is the potential to earn much more, but it depends on the amount of effort you put forth. There are other rewards available on Swagbucks, namely Paypal. Who doesn’t love Paypal? To date I have personally earned over $300 in absolutely 100% free gift cards between these two sites. Some months I put a lot of effort into earning more gift cards while other months I’ve done next to nothing. The sites themselves are fairly self-explanatory as to how to earn their points and how to redeem the points for gift cards. If you’re curious how they can do that, they have sponsors that pay them to target advertisements at consumers like you and I. Instead of keeping that revenue for themselves, they share it amongst their users to attract users in the first place. So it is up to you if you want to line Google’s pockets or your own for using the internet.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a Smartphone, there are a few Apps that will let you earn free gift cards. They vary depending on the platform you are on, but the three that I use on my Android are Shopkicks, Checkpoints, and Nielsen Mobile Rewards. Shopkicks and Checkpoints are apps that will give you points for walking into certain stores with the option to scan items with your smart phone for additional points. Again, it is targeted advertisement with revenue sharing. If you’re going to Target anyways, why not earn some gift cards while you’re at it? Nielsen Mobile Rewards is another animal altogether. By downloading the program you’re consenting to let Nielsen’s application collect data on your phone usage for use in their research. If you’re not comfortable with that, don’t use the application. I’m a pretty easy-going guy and don’t mind if someone is observing that I occasionally search the internet for a place to eat, use my map a lot because I get lost, and make about 1 phone call a month. Again ,it is up to you, but the program is a lot easier to use since it just runs in the background and each month you get points as long as it remains installed on your phone. I’m closing in on redeeming for a $50 Amazon gift card after roughly a year of use.
There are other rewards programs that can be used, I’m just sharing with you a few that I’ve found and have had success with. I’ve used one of my hotel loyalty programs to earn gift cards and I could use the points I earn for using my credit card each month. The opportunities are out there, and maybe you already do all of these things but choose to use your gift cards on something other than baseball cards. That’s great. If you don’t, consider looking into one or all of these programs and before you know it you’ll be checking out at Target with a blaster of 2013 Allen and Ginter and having the cashier scan a gift card you just redeemed for on your phone. It is a pretty awesome feeling.
This one is by far the hardest. Finding a budget and sticking to it. It may be easy for some collectors and more difficult for others. A kid with an allowance each month is going to have a lot easier time sticking to his budget than an adult who could potentially spend a lot of money on cards but needs to practice self-restraint. Figure out what is a reasonable amount of money each month to spend on cards and stick to that. If you have problems sticking to that, consider either using only cash and setting aside a certain amount each month and when it’s gone it is gone, or setting up a completely separate checking account with a fixed amount allocated to it each month. I use a free online checking account that gets a small direct deposit each month. When it is gone, no more cards until next pay day! Also, it can help if you set a goal for yourself and save a portion of your budget each month. If your goal is to purchase a hobby box of a certain product, plan your budget out several months in advance, allocating a certain amount each month towards that box.
You can also look into selling some of your collection if you’re looking for creative ways to stretch your budget. Don’t buy cards thinking you’re going to turn a profit, that’s counter to the entire spirit of the hobby. However, if you are lucky enough to pull a nice autograph from a star player and don’t have anyone to trade it to, many people prefer to only deal with monetary transactions for cards. Since the money came from cards, it’s only fair to me that I be allowed to put that back into the purchase of more cards. It isn’t a strategy I use often, but if I find I have some higher value cards I have a problem trading, I’ll just sell them to make it easier. Then I can go and purchase something that I may want.
So there you have it. This article is by no means the be all, end all of how to collect on a budget. But if you’re like me and aren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford a case of every new product that comes out, maybe you can utilize some of these tips to pick up an extra blaster here or there, or win a free card from time to time. Often there isn’t a significant time commitment, so you don’t have a whole lot to lose, if anything. So give one or all of the aforementioned suggestions a try!*
*Disclaimer: If you are underaged, do not sign up for or download any of these apps without your parent’s consent!
The Ryan Tannehill Personal Edition autograph I won from a contest off of the Knight’s Lance, Panini America’s official blog.
Part of my entry for the annual Gint-a-Cuffs contest. Alas, I did not win this year. I took second to last. But, you have to enter to win!