The Problem with Buying Boxes These Days

I haven’t bought a (hobby) box of baseball cards since I got two boxes of Allen & Ginter back in the summer, around July. Before that, I bought two boxes of Bowman Chrome back in October or November of 2007. Between then, I have bought a couple boxes of retail here and there, but my retail box breaking days over now over. I finally have some money leftover from Christmas and I’m looking into buying a box. But wait, I should do some cost-benefit analysis first.

I’ve looked at a couple of products to buy, mainly 2007 Sweet Spot and 2008 Playoff Prime Cuts IV.  As usual, I scoured eBay completed listings for the cheapest price of these boxes. The lowest price including shipping for Sweet Spot was around $50 and Prime Cuts was almost $200, maybe a little under, around $190. Here’s my dilemma: I love busting boxes just because it’s fun and you get a chance to get something really nice, but I am only after certain products and have no interest in other players. For Sweet Spot, I’m only after the Lincecum autographed cards and don’t really care about the base or even the rookie helmet signatures. For Prime Cuts, I’m not really looking for anything other than the Joe Jackson or Babe Ruth cuts. Everything else is nice too, but I’m just not interested in them. I actually have a Pete Rose autograph ball and met him in Vegas so I have no interest in his card.

For such a narrow interest range, is it even worth it to buy boxes? I really don’t think so. By looking on eBay, I can pretty much buy the card, which is the same cost or slightly more than a box. A lot of Lincecum Sweet Spot cards have sold for around $60 (I don’t know who would buy those BINs for $199+). That’s like breaking a box and a half. If I buy 1-2 boxes, I’m not guaranteed to get anything I want, whereas I’d be getting directly what I’m aiming for from eBay. The only benefit is if by that small chance I do get what I’m looking for, I also get a bunch of other nice cards that I could give to people or trade.

I think that same logic has talked me out of buying Prime Cuts because even if I do get something decent, I’ll probably just sell it back on eBay anyway to recoup my losses from the box. I don’t know, maybe this is just the mindset of a player-collector. I really want to focus this year and not go off on so many different tangents in my collection.

What do you guys think? I’m leaning towards a box or two of Sweet Spot just because it limits me on the number of crap base cards so I don’t accumulate a mound of useless cards and is affordable. Any suggestions for other products?

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5 Responses to “The Problem with Buying Boxes These Days”

  1. Babe ruth’s cuts have already been pulled from Prime Cuts. Its a great bust though if you are looking for awesome cards. You could buy the lincecum cards from sweet spot for less than a box though.

  2. Breaking boxes may not be in your “best” interest- at least not at this point in time. Nothing wrong with that. Unless they come out with a Lincecum only product, I’d think your funds would best be served picking up individual cards that you want.

  3. Thanks for the advice guys. I think I might stick to individual cards for now just because it meets my goal and makes more sense financially. However, I will look toward products in the near future – there is just a certain thrill with box busting that just isn’t met with buying cards on eBay.

  4. This is the great mystery of card collecting: why we want boxes even though that makes absolutely no sense. However, since you have ONE player you focus on, rather than a few players, your chances of getting what you want are so small that you should probably stick with eBay.

  5. Player collectors shouldn’t bust boxes looking for their player. If you are looking to have fun then by all means buy some boxes but if you are after lincecum just buy the card.

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