I bought some retail packs of Heritage the other day. I regretted it even before I got to the register to pay for my purchases. I regretted it as I pulled the rack pack off of the peg. I regretted the purchase as I selected a hanger box. And I regretted the purchase after I opened the packs and sorted through the cards.
The Red Sox team card was the first out of the pack. That alone was a pretty bad start, by my reckoning. In all I got 51 base cards, 1 SP (Shelby Miller), and 3 inserts. The cards themselves are fine. I like the design. I like the card stock. I like the wooden posed images. The inserts are okay, even though with Heritage the base set is the main draw for me. My problem is that I wasted money just to bust a couple of packs that I knew wouldn't be worth it. I just wanted some new Heritage to hold in my hands.
According to my math and a little bit of eBay browsing in the name of research, you can pretty readily get a Master Set of Heritage (425 base cards, 75 short-printed cards, 50 inserts) for $200, with that amount breaking down to about $35 for the base, $140 for the SPs, and $25 for the inserts. That's around $0.08 for a base card, $1.87 for an SP, and $0.50 for an insert.
|That Derek Norris is an okay card for a PC I nearly started. Miguel Sano is on my fantasy baseball team.|
I paid $16.94 for my cards. Honestly I probably should have just bought a blaster at that point, but I was already not thinking clearly. Going back to the valuation I mentioned above, I can put a value on my purchase by adding up the 51 base cards ($4.20), the 1 SP ($1.87) and the 3 inserts ($1.50) for a total value of $7.57. Yuck. That's a $9.37 loss right there. In reality all of the money was wasted, though, because I am probably going to buy a set from a breaker anyway. If I had banked that $16.94 I'd be nearly 8.5% of the way toward saving up for my set. From this point on continuing to bust packs to build a set would likely just increase the loss, as the specter of doubles looms large. There is the minuscule chance that I could regain some money by hitting something valuable, but I'd say Heritage is about the worst product for that kind of hoping. In theory I could trade these doubles with other collectors to gain needed cards, but I've got a couple thousand extra 2014 Heritage cards that show trading will only take you so far. Additionally, postage begins to be an issue. Don't get me wrong. I like trading, but overall it's not the most efficient way to build a set.
I did get the intangible benefits of opening some packs and getting some content for my blog. There is the off chance that some of these cards could be moved to gain something desirable to me. Are those intangibles worth $9.37 to me? Probably not. Are they worth it to someone else? Maybe. Will I keep doing the irrational thing and buy packs when I know it's not the best allocation of my resources? Yes. I know that this thing I do is dumb and I know that 90% of the time I will come away from a retail card purchase disappointed, but I also know that when Topps Series 2 or Bowman comes out I will be there in the card aisle selecting a couple of packs to open and blog about. Heck, there were some 2015 Bowman packs in the discount bin that I am still a little tempted by. Every time one of the different Press Pass racing products with a guaranteed hit comes up in the discount bin I know I will buy it, even though my guaranteed hit is always like a David Ragan sheet metal relic or something that I don't even have the heart to post on my blog. No offense is meant to David Ragan, but that's just not a card that fits into my collection, especially not at the cost of a discount blaster from Target.
I feel like I should apologize for the negative tone of this post. I like cards and I like collecting them. I'm aware that this entire hobby is sort of silly, throwing money around in exchange for bits of printed cardboard. I've just been exploring how I collect and what I might do to expand the joy I get out of the hobby. I am pretty sure that retail packs come in pretty low on the joy per dollar table of hobby activities.