Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Redemption Game - How Do You Play?

Over the last few years, redemptions have become an inevitablity, seemingly for every product with few exceptions. The problem I want to address has nothing to do with the time frame it takes to redeem them, or the fact that they have to be replaced if not produced. I want to look at the prospects of redeeming one, and what that could mean for your initial investment.

No longer are redemptions solely for cards that have little meaning, and if Panini is any indicator, some of the best players have acutally been more redemptions than not. The issue with this is that a player's signature, especially on a tiny sticker, can be both great or horrible, and there is nothing you can do to choose which you get. When you buy a redemption or pull one out of a pack, the card usually has not been produced, and you wont see it until it shows up at your door. This means you could easily end up with a shitty autograph from the run, and your options to change that become slim to none. Players like Adrian Peterson, who are known for their erratic signatures, have brought this issue to the forefront of many people who invest in the redemptions before the cards go live. You could get a card that looks great, has a clear signature with no run-offs, or you could get a card where the auto is halfway off the sticker, bubbly on the card, or just poor quality. You pay the same for the redemption either way, so what is the solution?

Well, this is simple and complicated at the same time, as stupid as that sounds. The practical thing would be to wait for the cards to go live and pick your poison, however that may mean two things. First, the price for a live card will be more (especially when they first hit), and secondly, it may be too rare to wait for again. At this point, paying 20% less for a redemption may be worth your while, unless the card is known to have autograph problems like the ones out of 2009 Contenders. At that point you HAVE to wait because there is no reason to risk it, knowing your card has a good chance of coming out like a bubbly mess.

The second issue is the pieces of memorabilia, as it is always a chance that you could end up with a bad swatch instead of a good one. A great example of this double whammy is 2009 Limited, where the patch cards of 80% of the top players were redemptions. A three color is always going to get you more money than a one color, and when you factor in that a player like Percy Harvin has a signature that varies from okay to horrible, it may be better to wait. I took the chance and ended up with a great card, but there are just as many people out there who should have waited to choose.

You also have to make sure that you can wait before sinking your money into a card that isnt (and may never end up in) your hands. I have had to wait anywhere from a week to 12 months for a redemption, and I am the least patient person on the planet. During that timeframe, you also run the risk of the card losing value due to performance or other things, so that is also an argument for waiting. Then again, if the card is already pretty cheap, this may not matter.

Overall, there is no clear cut answer as to whether it is better to wait or jump. I have jumped more times than not, and have had good results, however, it easily could have gone the other way. I guess it depends on how much money you are willing to part with, as well as how much patience you have stored up.


  1. im opening a box of threads baseball as i read this and literally the next pack i open has a redemption in it. FUCK!

  2. If it's a player I collect, I'd redeem it. But past that, I pass it on at a discount on an auction and let somebody else take the chance.

    But I don't buy any redemptions online. I wait for cards I want to go live and see how they pan out.

  3. Well I know I have bought exactly one redemption from ebay...it was from 2008 UD Heroes football of Wes Welker auto numbered to 5. I knew that he had signed stuff from that set, and I am able to get it for 15 shipped, which is a steal. If it is a set you know the player signed from, than it isn't quite as much of a risk...it is a nice part of the Patriots PC

  4. ewensel:
    It's not always less of a risk if you know the player signed for the set. I collect Chris Douglas-Roberts in the NBA. His UD Premier 1/1, /15, and /75 have been produced (I know the /15 was a redemption), but his RC /199 is still outstanding.