A place where Colorado Rockies baseball card collectors (all 3 of us) can waste some time reading about our favorite sport. The Rockies and their cards will be the primary focus, but I like to go off on tangents as well so anything and everything baseball related may be covered here.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Unwrapping the Sportlots Box #1

A few weeks back the great Night Owl wrote a post about the difference between saving your money vs. getting what you want quickly with the Sportlots box concept as the main character of the argument.  It's a great read like just about everything he puts out, but this is one of the few posts he has made that I vehemently disagree with.  Before I begin, I want to make crystal clear that this is not me calling Night Owl wrong, because that story is his opinion and by definition an opinion can never be wrong.  The way he collects, his way is right for him.  I just want to showcase one possible alternative way of using the Sportlots box to both get what you want and save money. 

I am a very eclectic collector.  My Rockies are main collection, but I have several other interests that I collect to varying degrees.  I collect my UK basketball guys.  I collect vintage Topps sets.  I collect insert sets that hold a particular appeal to me.  And I am currently working on a 9 rainbow parallel 2020 Donruss set, which I will go into greater detail about on a later day.  

Because I have so many interests, I get different hankerings when I visit Sportlots.  Most of the time I go there to find the Rockies team set for the most recent releases.  I have found that I can save 50% or even more by buying team sets individually instead of just getting one on eBay.  Most of the time I can get an entire team set from one seller, but not always.  This is where the box savings helps.  


Let's take the 2020 Bowman/Draft set for example.  The Rockies have one of the hot names in that set in Zac Veen so naturally his cards are drastically overpriced for a player that has never played a single minor league game.  I refuse to pay the "I think he will good" tax that so many have been charging.  But I still want the rest of the team set, so instead of paying $10 on eBay for a set including Veen, I got the rest of the set (+ 2 chrome parallels) for less than $2 including shipping by using box shipping.  It took two different sellers and if I used quicker shipping, the cost would have been over $8.  I am not a skinflint, but I am not wealthy to pay 300% more than I need to.  BTW, Case Williams is a real zero year guy because he has never and will never suit up for even a minor league game for the Rockies.  He was traded to the Reds in the Jeff Hoffman/Robert Stephenson deal after the season.

This also works for other minor league sets such as these examples from 2020 Topps/Heritage Minors and prospect heavy sets like 2020 Bowman/Platinum.  Of course, Tyler Nevin and "Jedi Master" Terrin Vavra were no longer Rockies by the time these cards came out.  They were sent to Baltimore in the still hard to understand Mychal Givens deal.


Inserts and parallels are also a very good thing to get through the box system, especially when buying from a smaller seller.  Most small sellers do not open enough product to get large quantities of inserts and parallels, but they could have that one that you want for a good price.  What I do is find a card I want such as these 2020 Bowman/Platinum ice parallel Trevor Story, 2020 Topps/Gallery rainbow Jesus Tinoco and 2020 Panini/Absolute Rookie Roundup Sam Hilliard.  Not many small sellers have multiple needed parallels and inserts for the Rockies, so I have to buy from several different to complete team sets.  

So many card sets were jammed into a very short time period.  There were at least 16 sets that were released in November and December.  Some of them I haven't completed checklists for, let alone picking up team sets.  But I was able to just add a few cards as filler to orders for other cards I truly wanted to buy that day.  This 2020 Stadium Club/Chrome Brendan Rodgers is an example of that.  I think the set, but did anyone truly have enough time to enjoy it?  Same with the 2020 Topps/Fire Flame Sam Hilliard.  Kind of a weird set, but it's not a bad design.  But there was no time to take it in before the next new thing came out.  Topps Gold Label is one of those sets that if it went away, would anyone really miss it or even notice?  But since it is around I grabbed this one.  The final Rockies card here is from a set I didn't even know contained MLB players for a while after its release.  2020 Panini/Contenders was written about on Baseballcardpedia as NOT containing MLB players.  Well, it does as shown by this Chuck Nazty.  Not a bad set, I like it in basketball, but again would anyone miss it if it disappeared in MLB?


Now we get to the actual greatness of the box orders.  With regular shipping, my cards would have likely ended there.  But with box shipping, I can look at additional cards that I otherwise wouldn't buy.  The one area of my collection that has benefited most is my vintage sets.  An example is with the Bowman Platinum Trevor Story from above.  I found it for around 30 cents or so.  With shipping at 75 cents, I could have gotten it a couple weeks ago for around a buck.  However, this seller offered box shipping of up to 25 cards shipped for $1.  So I checked his inventory and didn't see much more I needed with Rockies or NBA cards.  But I noticed he had a nice chunk of vintage for low prices.  So I added 23 1975 Topps and a 1982 Topps Dale Murphy to the order.  Not only did I get a few cards from two sets that I have little from, but the seller also benefited.  Instead of making a few cents off a dollar order that costs 75 cents to ship, the seller got a $5 order from me and was probably able to package my order with others to save shipping costs himself.  

I have been doing that regularly since the box system started.  Two sets that I have been steadily building with orders like that are 1974 Topps and 1981 Topps.  I have the 74 set within about 50 cards or so of completion.  This early Dwight Evans is one of the few I need that I found for decent prices.  The 74 Rangers checklist is one of 8 that I got from a seller, some of which were new to me and some were upgrades of others.  I very seriously doubt I would have bothered to collect the checklist set if it wasn't for shipping filler. 

By the way, is it possible that the Bob Knepper is the best mustache in the history of humanity?  Or is it the worst?  I can't decide whether I love it or hate it.

Another thing that I have been working on is my 2020 Donruss rainbow set.  It is another project that requires multiple sellers.  The orange parallels like the Yadier Molina only showed up at 4 per hanger box.  With a 300 card set, one guy is not likely to have all I need.  So you pop in one or two along with the rest of an order and before you know it, you are around 70% complete of a 2700 card project.  The Kershaw is one of the weird one that has a back variant with the same photo on the front.  I don't like that practice at all.  But anyway.  The main parallel that I am behind on is the Baby Sharks like the Kershaw.  I have a lot (50 I think), but there are a lot to go and they aren't cheap.  Although this time, I was able to add Kershaw along with 4 others.  

Let's end this thing by showing another couple of forms of shipping filler, my NBA collection and a really neat insert set that I have been very passively collecting, 2020 Topps/Big League Defensive Wizards.  First off is a 2019 Panini/Chronicles Panini Keldon Johnson.  I'm not a huge fan of Chronicles just because it is so limited on player selection.  It's a few superstars in the base set and then almost all rookies on 10-20 different designs.  Although the sheer number of cards per rookie do tend to help the collector afford them.  I got this Keldon before he has emerged as a future star in San Antonio this year.  I doubt I will get any more of his rooks as cheaply.  Finally, I added this Matt Chapman (along with a Bryce Harper) to my very passively collected set.  I have 13 of the 15 now.  I need the Trout and the Tater Tot (Fernando Tatis Jr.) cards to complete the set if you happen to have any laying around.

Most of those cards I would have never gotten to appreciate were it not for shipping filler and the Sportlots box system.  I love it both as a buyer and a seller.  It won't work if you just want to place one order from a single seller every so often.  In that case, just pay the full shipping, it will be better for you.  But if you are like me and buy from SL several times a month, the box system will save you money.  Actually that isn't true, because I still spend the same amount of money, but I get a lot more cards for that money.  And for me that is what is truly important.

Thanx for reading.


Fuji said...

The 74T Evans is nice. I always enjoy a 70's Oakland Coliseum sighting.

night owl said...

This makes my head hurt.

I have multiple interests, too, and use multiple sellers on sportlots. I can see the savings of the box feature, I just don't want to wait the extra time usually. I realize my timing of ordering that way was a factor because of the holiday and the post office issues, but again, I'm not someone who thinks obsessively about SAVINGS, so anything that makes me think too hard or is savings "but you gotta do something else," I disregard.

hiflew said...

@Fuji - It always amazes me when people are able to easily identify stadiums on cards. I have never been good at that unless it was blatantly obvious such as the Green Monster or the ivy covered wall at Wrigley.

hiflew said...

@night owl

I understand your point and I am sorry for the headache, but I wanted to give you credit for inspiring the idea. Maybe the difference of opinion really just highlights my thriftiness. I am proudly a thrifty man in all aspects of my life. Maybe it has to do with growing up very poor and having to be thrifty without choice. Who knows, but I like saving a buck even if it means going to three different stores to buy the same products when I could easily buy them all at one store for a higher price. To each their own I guess. There is plenty of room in the world for differing opinions.

Fuji said...

I actually really suck at identifying stadiums... but I've been to the Oakland Coliseum a ton of times... and it helps that they're featured on a lot of 70's Topps cards. Other than that I can usually only spot the iconic parks like Yankee Stadium, Fenway (Green Monster), Wrigley (bricks & ivy), Dodger Stadium, Candlestick Park, and AT&T (SF Giants ballpark).

Jeff Laws said...

It's funny because in most aspects of my life, I'm all about the instant gratification. I love buying stuff and having it in a day or 2 with Amazon. Except with cards, because like you, I like to get more bang for my buck. I, more or less, do the same thing on Sportlots. I have a budget I spend every week. I grab the cards that I'm looking for and for the rest of my budget, I go through the sellers that I only purchased one or two cards from and look for other stuff so I'm not wasting their time.

I used to use that budget on Ebay but with Sportlots box shipping, I get hundreds of cards for the price that I would pay for 25 or so cards on Ebay. I can definitely wait a month or 2 to get my cards for that much savings.