Friday, June 13, 2008

Pack Searchers - Part Deux - Boxes, Cases and Beyond

Recently I posted about what I now call "Mish-Mash Packs" which can be found at most major retail stores (Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, etc.) A week ago I ran over to the local Wal-Mart and wasted a few dollars on one more of these types of packs in order to post some pictures for anyone unfamiliar with this product.
Now, keep in mind, this is not an expose’ of any sort. I am not attempting to call out MJ Holdings Company, LLC as being unscrupulous. I am in now way advocating that this company is guilty of or under suspicion of any wrongdoing or that they should be necessarily suspected of such.

I am simply trying to illustrate a point which I consider to be a major concern for many readers. I could be wrong, and if so I apologize, but I tend to question everything. I’m a pessimist, therefore, as my good friend Brock Puckett would say, “I’m either always right or pleasantly surprised.”

To reiterate the previous post, my concern is whether or not these packs are subject to what we in the hobby world call "pack searchers" or "dirt-bag punks screwing the hobby". I think that I like the latter description better.

I’m not even sure that the packs sold by the MJ Holdings Company are in a position to be searched prior to resell. I have no idea how their process works and I assume that this is an honest company with a good reputation that it desires to uphold. But, being a pessimist, I’m led to feel differently.

Part of the reason that I feel that way is that I have had 0% luck pulling anything other than base cards and an occasional insert. I have never pulled a game used, autograph, or serial numbered card from these products.

Back to the subject at hand, in my most recent purchase I pulled the following three packs from the mish-mash pack.

Can this company, or any other company, “insure” that there are pulls of any sort in these packs. A resounding, “NO!” is in order. But, can they insure that there are no pulls in these packs? You would have to be the judge of that and there’s not much info to go on.

For that matter, is ANYTHING safe from pack searchers? My wife disagreed with me after a lengthy discussion about this (I expect her to disagree with me, that’s why I married her. I wanted someone to balance me out. Single guys - write that down.)

Before we go on, here are the cards from the three packs above to prove my point:

To clarify what I’m about to say, Card Companies insert their pulls “on average”. This is all predicated on the instance that you might pull more than the average. I would say that out of 50,000 boxes you might pull more than it says you will from 10 of them. Does anyone disagree with this statement? I’ve never seen anything to the contrary. If you have, please let me know about it.

My argument is that, in most cases, anything could be a searched product. With packs I think it’s self explanatory. Anyone with the knowledge of how to do it, could do it. Especially with retail. But, in my opinion, hobby packs are not entirely safe either.

For hobby boxes I will use 2008 Bowman Baseball as an example. In each box you have 1 guaranteed Rookie Auto and 1 guaranteed Signs of the Future Auto. (I know the box above says 3 autos but it’s the jumbo hobby. I couldn’t find a picture of the regular hobby for some reason.)

Let’s say, for instance, that Joseph Bagadonuts in Spokane, WA buys a hobby box of 2008 Bowman. 24 packs. 10 cards per pack. Mr. B. is an eBay powerseller. He opens 6 packs and pulls the rookie auto. He opens the next 6 packs and pulls the Signs of the Future. He’s finished and so he goes to his computer. He lists a hobby pack of 2008 Bowman Baseball with a quantity of 12. The standard 7 day auction ends and 12 different people purchase one pack apiece with a “Buy It Now” price of $4.49.

Little Sally Wantsadonut is one of those 12. Now, she is under the impression that she has a 1 in 12 chance of a guaranteed pull. She opens her pack and the best she gets is a Jose Reyes gold variation. Better luck next time.

What little Sally Dubya doesn’t realize, as is the case with the other 11 buyers, is that Mr. B. has already “pulled the pulls” and you have a 1 in 0 chance of anything but base cards and a gold variation.

What about cases? Well, the same would I apply, I suppose. 2008 SpX is a prime example. For 10 packs of 3 cards you are guaranteed a mix of 10 Autos or G/U cards in every box, one of which is a patch. But, if you buy a case you are guaranteed 2 Mystery Rookie Redemption Cards. Now, mind you, you will pay upwards of $1,500 for the case. The law of averages once again applies. If you decide to buy a single hobby box of this year’s SpX you have, according to Upper Deck, a 1 in 5 chance of pulling a Mystery Rookie Redemption card. Unfortunately, Mr. B. bought a case of the stuff and you just bought the 9th box out of his case. He pulled the first MRR card in box 3 and the second one in box 8.

My question is, “Is this fair?” In all honesty, I don’t buy boxes in search of pulls. I do love them immensely. I fear the day that Game Used and Autos in packs, even sticker autos, go the way of the Pinnacle Tin. I LOVE THEM! But, I don’t buy products based on pulls. How many of today’s collectors can say the same thing? Probably not many. Most of today’s young collectors buy for the pulls and then set everything else to the side.

So, all of that being said, is this there a fix for this? I think that there is.

I would rather buy a hobby box of SpX with all of the guaranteed pulls just like it says on the box. I would rather everything stay the same except for one thing. Upper Deck and Topps have been fairly consistent with the “On Average” part of the wording. How often have you personally pulled 3 autos from a box that guaranteed only two? How often have you pulled 5 game used memorabilia cards from a box that stated it contained 3 on average?

What if card companies went to an “at least” mentality? What if you were guaranteed 2 pulls but occasionally pulled 3? I know it’s only one small fix to one small aspect of this issue and that it would mainly affect only those collectors that DO purchase products based on the pull ratio. I know that this doesn’t apply to most of us in the truest sense.

But, then again, how many times have you hit the 6th pack of a box, pulled everything guaranteed, and then lost interest in the rest of the box? It’s almost a double-edged sword in that it’s possible to buy something that you think is something else while at the same time it takes away some of the joy of what box / pack / case bustin’ has become today.

Have I spent 3 hours ranting about something that doesn’t matter? Is this a legitimate concern. Card companies now “guaranty” a certain number of hits per box. What if they could guaranty a high likelihood of an undisclosed amount of additional hits per box? I personally think that this would limit those shady individuals and increase the likelihood that you won’t get screwed by buying a box or pack or case in which the pulls are already gone.

Am I crazy or does anyone else agree?


Beppo said...

June 13, 2008 at 6:46 pm e

I’ve wondered about that, too. I heard someone say you should buy packs/boxes from a company who doesn’t sell singles, which makes sense, but I’m not sure who that is yet. I know of companies who guarantee that there has been no searching, but how do I really know?

That said, I still buy some cards when I get a chance. But I’ve never pulled anything really valuable. I don’t have to, because I enjoy it either way, but sometimes I do wonder how many packs I have to open to get a valuable pull. (It would be great if my collecting could pay for itself. My wife would really like that, too.) :)

jv said...

June 14, 2008 at 7:40 am e

I can’t speak for the integrity of but I can say that they usually have the lowest prices. I only buy my boxes through card kid and an occasional box from a card show or card shop.

Cliff said...

June 14, 2008 at 10:20 pm e

I just linked here from Wax Heaven so I’m a first time reader. I had to read your Bagofdonuts/Wantsadonut story a couple of times before I got it. Maybe I’m a bit slow. I don’t buy single packs of cards on eBay but if I did, I don’t think that I’d expect my chances of getting a hit would be the same as the chances listed on a hobby box. Does anybody think that? Like you, I don’t know. I often buy single packs of cards in Target or Walmart but I never expect to get a hit in one of those. I buy those because I just have a bad habit of buying baseball cards.

I buy lots of blaster boxes and these often have some ‘on average’ claim. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed. Well, I did buy two blasters of 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum and got the exact same Mike Piazza relic card in both.

As to your comment about repacks, I’m pretty sure I’ve never gotten a relic or auto in any of those,and I’ve bought a lot of these over the past few years. Some people sell repacks of loose cards, maybe a pack or two and a loose relic or auto. I suspect they search the packs they’ve got for those. So pretty much I think you shouldn’t expect a hit in one of these repacks unless they promise one on the package.

jv said...

jv Says:
June 16, 2008 at 3:12 am e

Wanna trade on of the Piazza’s? I don’t collect him but considering that you can find a cheap g/u of just about everyone I’m thinking of building a collection of g/u one of each player. Not sure exactly yet which players I want to include but I know Piazza’s on the list. I never collected him but I’ve always loved watching him play. His retirement makes me feel old…haha.

Thanks for reading, Cliff! Come back anytime…

Matt Lange said...

June 16, 2008 at 12:51 pm e

I dont have a baseball card blog, but am starting one up.

I just got back into this and I have to 100% agree with this posting. I dont really know how to word what I’m trying to say. But I dont think people should buy based on guaranteed pulls. What fun is that? When I was a kid it was exciting to get random Joe Blow’s whatever in a pack. Why would I pay $115 bucks a pack and know that it’s got something in it no matter what? I think it’s dumb to collect based on that. No excitement.

Cliff said...

June 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm e

I had posted the Spectrum box break on my blog ( a few weeks ago and the nice lady at Dinged Corners jumped all over that 2nd Piazza.