2010 Bowman Is Live, Ridiculous

2010 Bowman is hitting shelves, and it is the first in the line of 3 Bowman products this year for baseball. Each year, in addition to this product that features Chrome prospect cards, we also get an entire 2010 Bowman Chrome set, and the ever-popular 2010 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects that will feature players from this year’s amateur draft. Its part of a yearly onslaught from Topps, designed to capitalize on the collectors who want to invest early in players who have yet to make the major league club.

This particular Bowman product is extremely special, mainly due to the players that are included on the autograph checklist. In addition to Stephen Strasburg, last year’s number one pick, whom I posted about earlier, there is also a slew of talented players who are likely to be every day contributors for their major league clubs, including some who already have. Thanks to the first Chrome autographs from players like recent call up Starlin Castro, as well Mariners prospects Dustin Ackley and Jose Iglesisas, and Padres prospect Donavan Tate, this set is loaded.

As a result of how packed Bowman is this year, the hype machine is in overdrive, something further fueled by Topps’ exclusive license. Because Topps is the only game in town, there is more focus on products like this, even outside of the prospecting community. Personally, I love when the hype machine gets behind products like this, because I think it helps move the hobby along. Although I don’t think it’s a good idea to purchase some of the top singles from the set at the current prices, I definitely like how people are rallying behind it. I think Topps realized how crazy this product would be, because auto cards from Jason Heyward and Austin Jackson are also going to help bring that desire to a breaking point.

I find it actually kind of crazy how much some of the cards are going for, especially some of the lots and higher end rookies:

Steven Strasburg Base Chrome 20 Ct Lot- $455 (25 per card almost!!)
Bryce Harper USA Base Chrome- $25 (THIS IS A BASE CARD!)
Austin Jackson Refractor Auto- $29 (His third chrome card?)
Steven Strasburg Refractor /500- $60 (for a base refractor?)
Donavan Tate Blue Auto /250 – $55
Jason Heyward Blue Auto /250- $105 (this is his second chrome auto, third card)

That being said, these prices are sure to drive up the cost of the boxes and cases even further than they already have. I can only imagine what is going to happen when Strasburg’s first CHROME auto comes out with 2010 Bowman Chrome in a few months. That will truly be a testament to how loud the hype machine can get.

Why Parallels Work In Chrome

I just bought the Harvin Red Refractor yesterday evening, and it got me thinking. Why do I do this every freaking year? Why do I value these parallels when every other type makes me cringe?

Chrome may be the only product left that you buy not because there are hits in a box. With only one autograph in each box, and still carrying a price tag over 50 bucks per box, the product is banking on the value of more than just the value of the auto. With more than 50% of the boxes containing an auto of a non-premiere rookie, its almost a surprise that collectors still love this product as much as they do. In fact, there are a few explanations including price, value of the base cards, but also importantly, the parallels.

In every other product during the course of the year, non-auto parallels of veterans of rookies rarely take more value than the parallels in chrome. A base parallel of a guy like Tom Brady numbered to 24 in Donruss Elite versus a red refractor numbered to 25 of him in Chrome are not comaprable in any way. Elite costs more per box, has more hits per box, but the base parallels are pretty much worthless. What makes Topps Chrome parallels work?
First is design. Always design. The base chrome parallels in Topps always are some of the best looking cards of the year. Simplicity rules the game, and there are never any lightning storms on the cards. Second, they have been around for fucking ever, and collectors value the history as much as the brand itself. However, Elite has been around a long time as well. Third, I believe the name has something to do with it, as Refractor has become synonymous with rarity and cool technology. Lastly, I think the Topps brand has a lot to do with it too. Topps collectors are never going to hesitate to go to extreme lengths to complete a set. When you have people like that, who have been collecting the set since my father was a kid, you are going to have demand. Where there is demand, there is value.
I think nostalgia has a good factor in this as well, as most of the older collectors out there can remember back to 1993 Finest baseball. When you have a pedestal like that in your head, its easy to justify value of a card that has very little basic differences than other base parallels.
Also, when you have EASY to follow color schemes, the parallels become idiot proof. For instance, which sounds better? Elite Status or Red? More people can identify with a color than a word. Color is the most basic common denominator out there. If you ask anyone out there which they perceived to be a more valuable parallel, copper (/649), or gold (/10), they would always say gold. It crosses boundaries.
Im not saying you should go out there and chase rainbows, but I will say it will be fun if you do. I have collected chrome since I was a child, and I can say that I have never had many complaints about the basic concepts of the product. For every player I have collected, I have a chrome rookie, usually multiples. The fact that there are thousands of people out there like me will mean that the brand will never lose its bang. Chrome is king, even in football.