What Factors Go Into A Player’s Value?

We all know that production is the forefront of where value is determined in this hobby. If you produce, your cards will be valuable, so much so that if you producED at some point, they will still hold some value even if you are not producing now. However, there are a few things that can add to that value, most of which don’t necessarily stem from long term production, and some of them are pretty nuts.

Aside from sustained production, the main contributing value add on is dominance. If a player is good to the point where they are dominating the league, value jumps into the stratosphere. Look at Jordan, LeBron, Peterson, Tiger, Pujols, they are all incredible players that dominate the games they play, and are all the highest value in their sports. These guys have added that wow factor to their production, and they have achieved more in the hobby than the guys who just have that long period of sustained production.

Piggybacking on dominance, setting records has a lot to do with value. Look at what happened to Favre’s cards when he set the TD record, it was very similar to what happened to Tom Brady’s cards when he set the single season record. Peterson set the NFL single game rushing record in his ROOKIE season, and his cards almost became un-buyable because of the cost at that point. Its very comparable to things like the 500 home run/3000 hit club in baseball, as those “records” usually put you in a higher value class.

Another more interesting factor in value is attitude, both good and bad. The more flamboyant you are, the more your cards are worth, with a few exceptions. Its why people like Chad Ochocinco are worth more than people like Reggie Wayne – he is always in the news cycle at the beginning of the week, and the end of the week. This drives him to the forefront of people’s mind when they buy, thus putting him in a higher tier. In fact, I believe his TD dances alone have raised his value 5-10% minimum. That’s the kind of effect a certain attitude can have on someone’s cards.

It does work both ways, however, as people like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have definitely gone completely the other direction. For both, their attitudes have been so poor in the past that card companies have pretty much stopped approaching them for autographs. Not because they don’t want them in the sets, but because the cost of dealing with them and the opportunity cost of maintaining a relationship with someone like that is very high. It goes to show that having fun will always net you more than complaining in any sport.

If you have production, dominance, attitude and you do it for a long time, you are going to end up in the HOF. Being in the hall adds that much more on top of everything, more importantly if the player is older and playing baseball. Even some of the least well known hall of fame baseball players are regularly sought by collectors, and this actually drives more of the business than most of the other factors. The HOF is like a stamp on your permanent record, and unless you kill someone or get arrested (or both in OJ’s case), value will always be had.

In football and baseball, the position a player has on the team can also be a factor. In football, unless they play running back, quarterback or wide receiver, a guy is rarely going to be worth anything. In baseball, the corners, the OF, and the shortstops carry more value than a second baseman for instance, even many dominating pitchers don’t achieve much.

Lastly, and sometimes most importantly, production in your rookie year can do more for you than anything else. Players like LeBron, Derek Rose, Peterson, Matt Ryan, Rick Porcello, and others all had amazing rookie seasons, and therefore ignited a lot of people prospecting their futures. If you can get the prospectors on board, and you deliver for a few years after, things can get crazy. Its like a compounding of the different x factors, all of which are then exponentially exacerbated by a great rookie campaign. If a guy doesn’t perform as a rookie, it can take years before people in the hobby notice his production or even dominance. Because the hobby’s success usually depends on rookie cards, rookie performance is that much more important.

In most cases, value is never going to be a formula, and that’s why it is so dynamic. Guides try to capture a fraction of that, and it’s the biggest reason they fail miserably. For something that changes as much as hobby prices do, there is little any static number can show. This is mainly because of how many of the above factors can change week to week, and this is only a short list. Because each collector values certain characteristics over others, prices can go every which way. In the end, its up to us to determine what we are willing to pay, and its up to the companies to provide the products that we love. It can be a vicious cycle, but ill take it.

In The Times Of Great Douchebaggery, It Becomes Our Responsibility

Over the last year and a half, there has been a lot of stuff that I have written about in terms of the dark underbelly of the hobby. Much to the chagrin of a few people, Beckett has been the center of about 90% of it. I really dont think that people understand just how bad it can get, as its still unclear as to how far down the rabbit hole goes. Most people just think about it from a standpoint that its just a hobby and they dont care as long as they get whatever they usually do via ebay or the local shop. The issue is, that this hobby is one based on chance and random, so any dillution of those factors has an impact on anyone who participates in the purchase of cards. Therefore everyone should feel the effect with each card that is taken out of circulation.

One of the major pain points for people like me, is that the stuff that is given to people who have no business receiving it. Whether its product, swag, or just ad money in general, free stuff complicates everything, especially when you have done nothing to receive it. Since I first started up March 2007, Beckett has been the prime focus of my anger, mainly because of all of the stuff they do that compromises the integrity of their perceived place as THE hobby news source. Most of the time, with every product release, Beckett gets a box full of stuff to pass around to their lackeys, with wax being a main focus. I have gotten emails from former Beckett employees talking about all the stuff that comes through the door, and just how little of it actually makes it to the people its supposed to go to – you. So far this year alone, Beckett has received close to 50 boxes of product from companies that have actually made it onto video. There are many more that dont, according to my sources. This is completely frustrating to collectors once they find out how much money they are actually getting, in addition to the ad money for products in the magazine. Why is this acceptable for a “news source” to receive? It creates a huge problem.

Then we have the recent video, where Beckett has received a full case of Exquisite Basketball from Upper Deck. This is the first public box of Exquisite they have received from Upper Deck since the 2007 fiasco, despite the fact that we have been told a number of times that it wouldnt be happening again. When you think of the fact that a case of Exquisite can cost in upwards of $1,800, its a little bit more apparent how much money Beckett receives from the companies each year. I think this is a direct reflection of the companies themselves, as they should know better than to flaunt their subtle kickbacks to the magazine that can easily make or break a product. As for Exquisite, a product that features one of the lowest print runs of any product ever produced, it is also unfair to expect collectors to sit back and watch Beckett receive all they do, when so few of the cards actually exist. Its funny too, because they tell us how all these cards are going to be available for the public to win in contests, but I have yet to see how that is even remotely true. Sure, some the fifteen pulls of a lifetime and 1 of 1s they have pulled since 2007 have been given out to contest winners, but why are those enormous pulls even going to Beckett in the first place? What does that accomplish for the collectors in general? More and more are seeing through the practice of doing the video box breaks, so why even risk it?

Its become a disgusting display each time Hackler and the Giant appear on their vid player, as we can see the grease in the wheels being replentished with each turn. Its pretty much become a display of the constant arrogance and douchebaggery that Beckett displays every time. This is the same arrogance that makes them spit on the blogs saying they dont deserve the news, when in reality, many blogs are ten times the news source they are. On top of all of this, there is zero reason why Beckett cannot tap into the thousands of collector videos on youtube, or why the manufacturers cannot do the same. Video box breaks have reached a point of parody, as we have seen with “Packs to the People,” a feature created to break the monotony of the breaks. Based on that premise, Beckett’s breaks should go the way of the dodo as well.

As for the rest of the shipments that Beckett gets almost daily, its time for the general collector base realizes the giant conflict of interest at work. If Upper Deck decides that providing thousands of dollars worth of product in one shipment is worth the exposure when the boxes are broken for the world, its our job to continually voice our disapproval. Beckett has become an organization whose sole purpose is promote an agenda of certain interests that pad their bottom line. When you see that the only reason for their existence is to make money for the parent company, it becomes very clear that they have zero responsibility to maintain content that has informative purposes rather than advertisement purposes. Look down the product lines, and really see what is being sold to people. Is it information, or is it instead ways for the companies to garner more revenue on product sales resulting from what is laid out in the pages?

The one indisputable fact is this:

This whole situation is a double edged sword, bloodied by the wounds of the dishonesty displayed by both Beckett and the card companies. When the companies, like Upper Deck and the recent Exquisite break, send the boxes for Beckett to break, the collectors lose. Not just because the cards in those boxes are no longer available for collectors to pull, but because it creates an environment where people who dont know any better are preyed upon. Its obvious that Upper Deck didnt care how much backlash they would get from the people in the know, because they knew there would be thousands who would see it. Also, it may have begun to repair a damaged relationship with the magazine over relationships created with blogs like Wax Heaven and this one. Clearly Beckett didnt care about any voiced disapproval because they got those thousands to watch it and come to their site. Because of this, it is now our responsibility to call them out as publically as possible, just to show them the thousands who will now spread the word against their practices. I may only get 600 visitors here per day, but if 200 of those people tell one friend, and they tell another, you can see what I mean. Its time for you guys to really show what you are about.

More Craziness Over Subjectivity

Mario posted recently about the Jordan rookie BGS 10 that has popped up on ebay with a feeding frenzy in tow. Wow, already over $50,000, right?

The question I have is whether or not we should actually trust that these cards are not just publicity stunts that have benefitted one fortunate collector. Since one cannot challenge the subjectivity of the grading process without destroying an obviously valuable piece, it falls on the shoulders of the buyers to avoid those cards .

As soon as Beckett created a higher-than-mint grade, we should have already questioned whether this was the point of the grading process in general. If you look at the cards that get the 9.5s and 10s over the 9s, even with a magnifying glass, show me the difference in grade between each of those levels. Each of you would have different answers. Considering the grading process was created as a service to help with internet buying, why should we believe that the graders have the means, as well as the expertise, to tell us when some piece of cardboard has exceeded the worldwide standard of mint? On the post, one of the commenters suggested this is a “we go to 11″ type of standard to differentiate their process from others, and I wholeheartedly agree. As a result of this, when a card like the Jordan and the Montana receive those types of grades, things go nuts. If not only because it is publicized by the company that is responsible for the service. With that understanding, we should not have faith in the people known for having more conflicts of interest than any other hobby company in history. By giving a card that grade, especially one like this Jordan, having a system that prevents people from questioning the result, and the fact that Beckett receives almost national attention, its easy to see why its beneficial to manufacture an event like this. Obviously, the Jordan was graded a while ago, but it hasnt come up for sale since that time. Now that the Montana has sold for crazy go nuts prices, this card was sure to follow.

One of the things we have to realize is that there is not a specific standard that applies to each card without subjectivity. In the end, its always a human with emotions who makes the decision. Obviously when you price, sell and advertise these cards as well as providing the service itself, things are going to get suspicious with every public result. So, if a 10 to one person is a 9.5 to another, why do we allow these stunts to continue to grab our attention? As buyers, in an age when digital cameras and scanners are in the 10 megapixel range, this type of service isnt needed any more. Add in that most of the valuable modern cards are worth what they are regardless of condition, mainly due to contrived scarcity, the grading process then becomes even less of a necessity. As of now, the only reason to have this service is to allow people to exploit the grades they get for more money, make more money for a failing magazine, and to give another way for people to wrongly invest money in a medium that has a subjective element.

Until grading becomes more than a guy in texas examining your card, it will never be a worthy expense. Save yourself $80,000 and go buy a regular card. It will look just as nice, I promise.

Carrying the Banner – Rob From VOTC

My friend and yours, Rob from Voice of the Collector, should be walking around the national show this weekend with a very special shirt that was produced especially for the occasion. His idea, posted on his blog, was to produce a custom “Beckett Sucks” t-shirt for him to walk the show floor in, to which I offered to pay for his costs of creating said shirt. After the money was donated and the shirt was delivered, I realized this could be a pretty worthwhile adventure due to his tenacity and hatred for all things douchey. Personally, I wanted him to put “Ask me why!” on the back of it, but then I thought he wouldn’t be able to enjoy his trip with constant bombardment from the thousands of JCs that are at the show.

Either way, if you see Rob and his t-shirt tribute to the hobby’s number one source on douchebaggery, go and take a picture with him. Send them to me so I can get a gallery going of our exploits. Obviously this shirt isnt going to be an OMG!! type of thing at the show, but it’s a good inside joke for the people who read the blogs here and at VOTC. Be sure to give him a whistle or two just so he feels pretty, or at least the call of a dying giraffe so he knows you are with him.

As for Rob, he shouldn’t get kicked out of the show, nor cause a ruckus, yet, I wanted him to hang around Panini’s booth and Beckett’s booth and take some photos himself. I hope he comes through big, it’s a great banner for his site, and I even have a feeling that they will think he is me. Even though I couldn’t be there in person due to work, I will at least get to have some lame fun at the expense of a few people I dislike.

We all have seen Beckett walking around Panini’s booth on video, highlighting all the offerings from their butt buddies, how great would it be to get him in one of those? I would laugh pretty hard.

Rob, Here’s to your reckless and humorous take on sticking it to the man.