Cut Autos for the Sake of Cut Autos

I have never been someone who likes cut autographs, especially ones that have been created in the last few years. I completely understand the necessity of having cuts in a lot of the cases in which they are used, but it seems like the companies are losing sight of what makes them awesome. It used to be that pulling a cut auto was like hitting a cardboard meal ticket in every way, where now, some cuts are offered at one per case.

As with every innovation in the industry, the manufacturers will exploit it like a child actor. Its gotten to the point now that companies have forgone paying for the licensing fees of including player pictures, only because the cuts need to be made as cheaply as possible. Then, when half the cuts themselves are of people that the casual or even hardcore fan has never heard of, things start to look more and more like the cards are becoming a gimmick rather than a worthwhile addition to the set.

This is one thing that Topps has actually done better than both Upper Deck and Panini put together, mainly because they use cut autos sparingly in most of the products that contain them. Of course, the cuts themselves usually look ridiculously awful, but at least the players are worthy of being included. However, Topps has had problems with including fake cut autographs in high end products, similar to what Upper Deck ran into a few years ago, and that brings them right back down to everyone else’s level.

In all truthfulness, are cut autos even that necessary anymore? Every player that needs a cut auto has one, and its only getting worse when you are pulling a ten dollar cut from a product that costs 200 dollars a box or more. Even in the recent Panini Classics product, almost 90% of the cuts in the product sell for less than half the cost of a box, and at that point, I would much rather have another scrub rookie than a signed piece of paper from some guy I have never heard of.

The worst thing is when companies destroy valuable pieces of American history to create the cards. I mean, there cant be THAT many letters and things signed by George Washington any more, right? Even if there are ten thousand valid sigs out there, its still a part of our country’s history that maybe should remain intact. Thats just me, im sure others love that they have these types of opportunities.

Either way, cuts are still out of control. Look at some of these recent ones I saw on eBay:

Brett Favre Cut Auto – A cut auto of a living player that signs no shortage of items? WTF. Seriously, WTF.

Mantle/Williams Cut Yaz/Robinson Sticker I actually dont even know where to start with this abomination. Triple threads is bad to begin with, but sticker autos on top of cuts? Cmon, I cant understand why this was even conceived.

Mantle Picture Cut – Aside from the fact that Mantle has one of the most forged signatures in history, im not sure why a card like this happens. I would much rather just have a redemption for the whole picture they cut up for this card. Happens all the time, and I just dont see the appeal in half of a signed pic of the Mick’s calves.

Lee Smith Cut Baseball Card – Tristar is almost offensive the way they do cuts, and this is a prime example. I think this franken-cut speaks for itself. Holy shit.

Walter Payton Phone Card Cut Auto – Considering how many autos Payton has out there, its terrible that Donruss has used these phone cards to death. Even worse than the fact that they look terrible, they cost about 90 bucks if you want to buy one uncut. It could be so much better for not much more cost.

Of all the things that companies could cut back on without problem, cuts are at the top of the list. I dont think there would be an outcry if the cuts went back to the way they were. With Razor and Tristar creating entire products centered on the cuts with no other redeeming factor, I think its time to give them a rest. You wouldnt hear boo out of me, and the companies could devote more money to creating better looking and more unique content in their products.

Updates on the Fake Babe Ruth Cut From 2009 Triple Threads

Fake cut signature cards have been a huge issue for everyone involved since the time card companies started using deceased players as a chase for their higher end products. In 2008, Upper Deck received a ton of criticism and negative press for releasing a quad cut signature card with fake cuts in the card. It was featured on HBO and eventually the owner received some cards as a repayment that many collectors would kill for, including a replacement for the actual cuts themselves.

More recently, Topps has had a very similar problem with a card out of my all time favorite set, Triple Threads. In the 2009 product, a dual cut of Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig made the rounds as a card that was featured as THE chase for the product. It was pulled by a collector and immediately posted on eBay, as expected. Within a few days, rumors were running rampant that not only was the Ruth cut featured in the card not real, but that Topps knew ahead of time and still released the card. The auction was pulled and the card was submitted to a number of grading services to determine authenticity of both cuts, with mostly negative results. Although the Gherig was determined to be likely genuine, the Ruth received “no comment” or “not likely genuine” across the board.

After all of this took place, the collector placed the card on eBay AGAIN with wording that commented on the authenticity of the card according to Topps, not any of the services that had returned their opinions. It was pulled again, and the collector was left with a pretty large problem. Keep the card knowing it contained a fake signature, or sell the card under false or truthful pretenses. From the explanation given by the collector, Topps eventually produced the original COAs, and forced the collector to send in the card for further investigation. After a number of days, they have made good on their promise to replace the fraudulent signature, and the collector has a new card.

Personally, the way this was handled by both the collector and the company was terrible. The collector should not have relisted the card after getting bad news from all those services, and Topps should have made good immediately instead of dragging out the process.

When it comes down to it, cut signatures will always be a venture into trust. You have to trust the company that made the card, you have to trust the service that originally authenticated it, and you have to trust that the opinions of those people are correct. I do not have that trust under most circumstances, especially those of services like PSA, JSA, and company. I get that they cant always be perfect, but people treat them as such. PSA seems to have just as many problems as JSA, and a lot of collectors have sworn off authenticated autographs simply because of their past experiences. I only own one piece authenticated by either service, and I still question it to this day. It seems to me that PSA and JSA (especially JSA due to their partnership with Beckett) are only out to make money rather than performing a needed service for collectors. In the end, it will always come down your eye versus theirs, your level of expertise versus theirs and both your and their abilities to outsmart the douchebags out there that live off of selling fakes.

Watch your ass.