A Quick Response To Beckett’s Crap

I saw on Blowout that Beckett had opened some early boxes of Topps series two, and found that they were offering a program for people to create their own sketch cards. I think the program is cool, but I want to respond to the first part of their article, not the merits of the program. Their lead in touched on a few things that were obviously directed at the Card Blogger Network, and more specifically my April Fools Prank, I suspect. I think I need to say some stuff as a result.

They start:

Collectors often clamor for more interaction with trading card companies — feeling the need to tell them their demands while also telling them what they don’t like, telling them what they do like and more.

This is complete bullshit. Beckett is the only group of people I would expect this kind of arrogance from. Are they actually implying that we post “demands” on the companies themselves? I don’t think that could be any further from the truth. How about all those whining emails that were sent back when Mario got some exclusives for his site? Those don’t count? Cmon, don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house, boys.

The reason I say this is because for 99% of the blog posts out there, bloggers just post what they think and feel about different news items from the day. That’s what blogging is. No one is demanding changes, we are just expressing that we feel there are changes that need to be made, IN OUR OPINIONS. I mean, I think this is a pretty necessary interaction, especially considering the fluff pieces that Beckett usually writes on products. If there isnt anyone to challenge the status quo reporting, how will any feedback ever be exchanged.

Although Beckett has started to change a few of their ways thanks to constant and never ending badgering from people on the net, they are still far from offering any real opinions or commentary on things that need to be spoken about. So to criticize card blogs for “clamoring” for more interaction is the equivalent of saying “stay off our territory.” Well, fuck you. Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on. Card blogs are exploring all sorts of new territory, most of which Beckett wouldn’t touch out of fear of retribution. Beckett may be able to hold readership over the heads of their advertisers, but that doesn’t give them a pass for looking over the things that hurt the general hobby collector base.

Listen, my history with Beckett and their damage to the hobby has been well documented. They have even taken it upon themselves to come on this site and make aloof comments in response to my criticism. I have laid off lately, mainy because I have been bored with their path. Its basically SSDD with them all the time, and I don’t have the energy any more to respond like I once wanted to. There are more important things now, and yet, Beckett still shows how they loathe the existence of people who do what they do, and do it better. Not only do they do it better, but they do it without looking to pad their bottom line or please their advertisers. All opinion, all the time, no reason to pull any punches. Panini may use my posts as toilet paper, but that isnt going to force me to try to bring them on as an advertiser.

I do understand that most bloggers crave more interaction, but that interaction expands way beyond just the card companies. Its why there are trades, awards, and collector blog bat arounds, not just emails to Clay Luraschi, Scott Prusha, and Chris Carlin crying about lack of exclusive content for the site. We crave community, and if the card manufacturers want to be a part of it, any of us will welcome them with open arms.

I mean, did Beckett even care to think that maybe the companies crave more interaction with us? Why the fuck would they get on Twitter and Facebook the way they did if we hadnt pioneered it first? Think about it. It’s the same reason why collectors are starting to email us rather than looking at a Beckett, because they know we are going to give them a straight answer, no BS.

Beckett’s statements go on:

Sometimes, for varying ego-related reasons, individuals insist they should appear on a card inside a Topps wrapper, too.

Obviously Beckett didn’t get the memo on April 1st. Typical. I seriously want to know who is insisting that they should appear on a card. I don’t think anyone has even “demanded” that type of “interaction” even once. We would all love the honor of being on our very own Allen and Ginter card, but we arent offended by it not happening. We don’t think it’s a good idea to force collectors of those products into collecting cards of people that barely matter in the grand scheme of things. Yet, we are a fun bunch, and its easy to see why a prank like what we pulled resonated with so many people (both positively and negatively). The bottom line is that bloggers are gaining notoriety among collectors, which is further evidence of why the companies probably crave our attention as well as us theirs.

Also, I don’t really get these “ego-related reasons,” as I don’t think any blogger over estimates their worth to the hobby. I reach 1200 people a day TOPS, how is that even gum on the sidewalk to the overall number of people that collect? I was actually surprised how far my posts could reach back when I announced the rumors that Upper Deck had lost their NFL license. I think just about everyone else felt the same way, including Upper Deck. Does that mean I don’t matter? No, but it does mean that I (and we) have a long way to go before we actually have the power to make a huge difference.

That is where Beckett is correct, they have the interaction, they have the ability to “demand” and “insist.” However, the way they use it for the greater good is like Aquaman’s contributions to the Justice League. Instead of being the Hobby Superman, they instead act like Alfred, just tidying up after everyone, making sure Wayne Manor looks good for when Batman gets back.

Well, blogs may be the equivalent of Kick-Ass right now, but like his rise to fame, ours is coming via other channels. We may not have the super powers or the history that Beckett does, but we have a lot of unconventional ways to make ourselves known. Beckett can rest on their laurels from the pre-internet days of collecting, but their days are numbered due to the trends of the world. You know what I lose if I shut down this blog today? Nothing. I don’t lose a single thing. Beckett loses everything. Maybe they should keep that in mind before launching molotov cocktails from their crumbling pedestal.

Has The Upper Deck Lawsuit Done More Good Than Bad?

The Upper Deck lawsuits have brought a lot of attention to the hobby, some good, a lot bad. Oddly enough, with all of the bad press, there sure have been a lot of people who have started poking around on here. Ill give you an example. Since the lawsuits have broken on ESPN and other news outlets, SCU has gotten close to 1,000 visits per day. That is 35% more than I would normally get in a day, and I had not broken 1K before without a link from Deadspin. Although some blogs are fighting to drive up traffic with days devoted to giveaways, SCU has greatly benefitted from people looking to actually find out about the lawsuits and other hobby info. In addtion to that, many of them have returned multiple times for both updates and other articles and posts. At least 2 people in the Ultimate break came to the site as a result of hearing about the lawsuit coverage from a news source other than a shop or a hobby site.

In fact, since the Upper Deck lawsuit posts have run on SCU, I have received about 10-15 emails a day asking both about the lawsuit, or about the lawsuit and how the hobby has changed over the years. One person, Jeremy, wanted to start collecting cards after he heard that autographs and game jerseys were packed out in boxes now. That, my friends, is the great audience that baseball cards have. Although a few of these people have never collected cards, they have heard they exist, and now want to start as a result of info gleaned from the lawsuit publicity. Whoever said that any publicity is good publicity is right, because there are more new faces on this site than ever.

What is even better is that instead of going to a place like Beckett, they are turning elsewhere. Instead of getting bombarded with fluff and regurgitated crap about how book value is still relevant in this world, they are coming to SCU and other blogs. Because of these sites, they get the real meat of what to expect when joining or rejoining the collector ranks, instead of unrealistic expectations. Im not saying that Beckett wont get traffic as a result of giving away 2 dollar jersey cards, but at least there are that many more people who are now seeing how to function in this hobby without a price guide at their eye level. So far this week, posts from SCU’s almost two year existence have gotten more clicks than ever, especially ones about the evils of Beckett’s grasp on the uniformed part of the hobby.

Personally, I think its kind of funny that this kind of stuff is growing the number of people who buy cards, as you would expect it to be the opposite. Even the local shop I visit has had increased traffic over the last few weeks. That is crazy, especially when you consider the nature of what is going on. I will say this, products like Ultimate may be in Topps’ best interest to stick around, because it has really been a LONG FUCKING TIME since something good has come out, and they can definitely benefit from its success.

In all seriousness, I am just happy that SCU is reaching a broader audience than it ever has, especially in covering fakes and scams. Although I may have “appointed [myself] a guardian of the hobby,” I fail to see why that is bad. More people are wising up, and even more people are starting to realize why Beckett is no longer the number one source anymore, thanks to the card blogger network and message boards. Remember, two years ago, there was only a minority of people who had lost faith in the hobby media’s attention to the important parts of the industry. Now, it’s an expected outcome with every informed collector, and I credit the number of people who do their fucking homework. Now that sites like this are coming up at the top of google seaches rather than the same old bullshit, you are starting to see a lot of differences in the way people function. That fact is all because of how a voice is all that is needed to make waves, and I encourage all of you to speak up to make it more turbulent in these waters. Even if we don’t agree, informed commentary is always a better thing than posting news releases and official statements 24/7. That way, the future of the hobby is what WE make of it, not some disconnected curmudgeons who have no clue of what is going on.