Where Do We Go From Here?

Its been a long time since I have posted directly on the state of affairs around the Card Blogger Network, but I feel at this point it is necessary for the new people who have come on lately (and there have been a lot of them). For those of you who are unfamiliar with the situation, check out Mario’s final post over at Wax Heaven. Mario, though I believe he will be back, was the top blog for card info by far, and that source is closed indefinitely. Love him or hate him, Mario was a driving force around here, and his departure creates a new situation for the rest of us.

First off, for those of you struggling to find a new place to go for all your info, Mario could not have picked a better time to leave. Thanks to social networking, the card companies are much more transparent in news dissemination than ever before. You can check out Upper Deck, Panini America, and Topps all on Twitter as well as facebook for a great run down of the news without fluff. Upper Deck also has a blog and twitter account stemming from that blog, both of which you will see content from me and other bloggers. Earlier this year, there were only a handful of independent sites dedicated to providing actual up to date hobby info, though now, it’s a completely different story.

If you are more looking for news plus commentary, there are a lot of great sites around in addition to this one. As Mario said, the Sports Card Blogroll is a great way to stay on top of every bit of news that comes flowing down the pipe. I have a number of favorites, and though I wont single out any of them due to the shear number of sites I read every day, I would wholeheartedly suggest you develop your own list.

Secondly, I would rush over to Blowoutcards‘ Forum and Freedom Card Board and get signed up right away. These forums are free and filled with an above average amount of informed collectors. I visit these sites regularly because they are unlike some of the other Mojo-loving pantheons that have sprung up over the last few years. I know both of these boards owners very well, and I also know that they are only about providing good service to their members rather than forcing an agenda down your throat.

In addition, there are a ton of the blogs and collectors on Twitter, and I follow most of them to get better connections with what is going on. Most of the bloggers post links from their site, or shortened commentary, and I would think there is no better way to just flood your mind with card news each morning. Here is a link to a list I think does a great job of giving you some suggestions on who to follow.

Thirdly, to all the bloggers out there, its time to step up and show what you got. You may only get 20 hits per day, but that is still 20 people you are reaching. I would check out this post I wrote a while ago about getting your blog on track, and continue to pump out thoughtful commentary and info at every turn. One of the most effective parts of running a successful blog has always been frequent updates, so I would encourage all of you to do as much as you can to keep people on the Card Blogger Network train.

Lastly, if you are a reader of this site or of Mario’s, there is nothing better to replace the downfall of the biggest site around than starting new blogs that have just as much talent in writing and new viewpoints to offer. I have always said that the best part of having new bloggers is having voices in the fray, and I will never hesisate to give you a spot on the blogroll to your right. Also, Chris at Freedom Card Board has created a place for you to start a new blog with little problems if you are unfamiliar with the medium.

I think this is going to be a tough time for the information network we have built, mainly because of how many thousands of people loved reading Mario’s site. Although I think he did a good job with what he did, it was not mainly discussed of the service that the blogs provide. Unlike the douchebags over at Beckett, we bloggers do this all for free and the love of the game, and our business is promoting the things we love and our profit is giving commentary to place we feel needs improvement. We don’t care about ad money, readership or profit margins, and the only green we strive for is a refractor out of Chrome, not cash. The extract that is created from this fruit is pure, unadulterated opinion and content, and you can bet your ass that every word is important. As long as we continue to voice our praises and criticisms, the only thing that can be hurt is culture of mistrust and criminality in this hobby.

Guys, I cannot be the only person rallying the troops, and I need you to match my commitment to helping keep the online community as the number one source for hobby information. Hopefully over the next few months we can rebuild a greater place for collectors to come than ever before.

Thanks again for all of your continued support.

Another Comment On Grading

Chris over at Blowout Cards just tweeted on Beckett’s story that a near “perfect” Michael Jordan Fleer RC has sold for over $200,000 per the people over at Scamville, USA. Let me respond by saying that this is further evidence that shows grading is about as subjective and arbitrary as PSA and their autograph fraud detection services. Basically, a guy in texas gets a good copy of a Jordan RC in for “grading.” After seeing that it is a good copy, he has a choice – as a human being – about how to continue with “grading” the card. I mean, there is very little concrete differences about what can be a 9.5 and what can be a 10, and no one would ever question a good grade on a card like that, so who is to say he doesnt act with bias.

See, as a human, not a machine, he makes arbitrary and subjective calls due to his inconsolable nature. When Beckett created a grade higher than mint, despite this problem, the goal was not to show the perfection of a card, but to add more reasons for people to submit their cards for “grading.” If it was just a scale from shitty to mint, it would only be used as the service it was supposed to be (a fraud prevention device for online sales), rather than a way for people to make money.
Let me put it this way, grading is a complete scam, like most of the other shit Beckett does on a regular basis. Because it is done with only loose standards applied to human eyes, with little reason to question any positive result, Beckett has created a loop hole for their ad vehicle, as well as their big customers.
Ill give you an example to illustrate what I am saying.
Because no one will question a positive “grading” result (no matter how fraudulent it may look), due to increased value of the card in the slab, Beckett has an out. This means if you buy a Beckett 9.5 slabbed card that is really an 8, it is now a 9.5 and no one will question that. Same with the 10 above, as it could really be a 9.5, but no one in their right mind would ever try to dispute that with the prospective loss of thousands of dollars. This also means that for each customer that submits huge orders on a regular basis, Beckett now has the ability to reward them for their business without establishing that the “graded” cards are done so at a lower standard as a favor. If a guy sends in thousands of cards each month to be graded, and consistently receives 8.5s and 9s, he has every reason to stop his submissions or go to another company. If he continually gets 9.5s and 10s, thats more and more business Beckett would receive. Because the “grading” process is so arbitrary and subjective, there is no ability for me to prove this happens, but I have definitely seen the possibility in action with sellers like Wolverine24 and others.
The possibility of helping out a high profile card can also be used as a ridiculously potent ad vehicle, as we saw with the absurd Montana 10 sale, and the previous Jordan 10. Its almost like people cant see through the thinly veiled attempt at promoting the service, and pay the price of a FUCKING HOUSE to get these cards, despite the fact that cracking them and resubmitting them would almost surely result in a lower grade.
There sure are a lot of people out there who cant understand why I despise Beckett as much as I do, but I have my hundreds of reasons for doing so. The fact has always remained, with no objective non-profit regulating body, Beckett has ZERO responsibility to provide a service to collectors that doesnt have huge conflicts of interest built in. Every single thing they do is designed to make them money, not provide you with real information or a realistic view of what is actually happening in the hobby. For that reason alone, the tip of my iceberg was created, and luckily for me, I have developed a great vehicle of my own to show how much of it lies below the surface of the water.


I am … a Joe Collector.

I value relics and stickers over design and concept.
I bust products because Beckett has them on the hot list.

I post every pack on a message board.

I videotape my maildays.

I harass people on youtube.

I live for last pack MOJO, and you will hear me scream it.

I let the price guide rule my trades.

I am Topps Triple Threads.

Well, this might as well be what they had posted.

Beckett Announces That They Have Pulled ANOTHER 1of1 From Finest

Jim emailed me today with some very interesting news. He said that Beckett has announced that they have pulled ANOTHER 1 of 1 from their EARLY box of Topps Finest football. Regardless if this card is a printing plate, or a superfractor, the principle of the matter is that it is still a 1/1 that a collector will not be able to get in their box they BUY.

Just for shits and giggles, Im going to run down the list of cards they have pulled since they first started video taping their boxes. Remember, Beckett is not the only ones to blame, but they sure do like to pander to the card companies looking for more opportunities. Yes, multiple sources have told me that they have been approached by Beckett to provide a more active role in their box breaking episodes. On top of all of that, Beckett also doesnt show every box they break, only the ones they feel appropriate. Glad they are committed to providing a realistic picture of what is actually happening when you break a box of cards.
Here is the list:
1. 2006 Vince Young Exquisite Rookie Auto Patch /99 – The most valuable rookie at the time it was pulled. Worth more than $1,000.
2. Adrian Peterson Exquisite Rookie Auto Patch 1/1 – The most valuable Exqusite rookie auto patch of all time.
3. Walter Payton/Brian Piccolo Exquisite Dual Ledenary Cut 1/1 – A truly amazing card.
4. Ladanian Tomlinson 1/1 Exquisite Base Card
5. Joe Dimaggio Topps Sterling 1/1 cut auto jersey – The only one in 2007 Topps sterling
6. Brady Quinn 2007 National Treasures 1/1 Patch auto – Just a ridiculous patch
7. Topps Ticket To Stardom 1/1 Ticket Stub – not a horribly expensive card, but still a 1/1
8. Lucille Ball 1/1 Razor Cut Signature
9. Ryan Howard Topps Triple Threads Letter Fold out 1/1
10. Alex Rodriguez Topps Sterling Jersey Auto /10
11. Shoeless Joe Jackson Dual Bat /25
12. Matt Ryan Topps Rookie Progression Triple Auto – again, not worth much, but a ridiculous pull from a shitty product.
13. 2009 Topps Finest Football 1/1 – ???
So far thats more cards than could be counted on two hands. Again, the manufacturers are just as much to blame here, but the fact that Beckett runs it out there like a prized pig is getting to be one of the most disgusting displays in the hobby. I have said hundreds of times that each time Beckett pulls a “Beckett” it presents a horrible unrealistic expectation for the uniformed somebody who watches it, and I am encouraging the manufacturers to stop. As one blogger who commented on facebook said, “each time I see a box broken by Beckett, I lose respect for the people who send it.” From that, maybe marketing your product this way is not a good idea, especially when people only watch it to see them to fuck it up.
These breaks, hobby wide, are considered scams by most of the informed collectors. Of course, there are apologists, but walk into any store, and ask them what they think of Beckett’s string of “good luck.” In fact, I know the manufacturers are aware of our feelings, and either refuse to comment on it, or just say that they have a job to do to market their products effectively. Although I do understand that Beckett does get lots of viewers that will see the products, when do you start to question the fact that there is more negative feelings generated than positive? Personally, I had received handfuls of emails congratulating Upper Deck from ceasing their Beckett shipments, only to have the same people email me later in anger once they started up again.
I have also received emails from five or six shops saying that they had stopped carrying Beckett in their store, including one that had instead put a laptop on the counter with a place for collectors to look up their pulls on eBay. Of course, being the arrogant people that they are, Beckett will continue to force their prowess as the “number one source” down your throat, but fail to see the turn in the collecting culture over the last few years. Remember, hating Beckett used to be the exception to the rule, now supporting them is taking its place.
I mean, if they were really going to present a realistic picture, how hard is it to form a partnership with Blowout or DA? Show your receipt, buy your boxes like everyone else, and then there isnt a need to have to find the time to go to a shop and buy the boxes. They can be shipped overnight right to Dallas. That way, if Beckett actually does pull a 1/1, it will be with the same chances that everyone else had, and Blowout or DA gets a little publicity along the way.
Yet, Beckett doesnt think like that, they are above the plebes down here in the mud. They want their thousands of dollars worth of product to be free, and they dont give a fuck what we think. Maybe they should keep on doing what they are doing, because I also run this site for free, and I have no staffers to pay. I can keep on writing, and do it for the love of the game without fear of money. Beckett, on the other hand, cannot. Its all about green for them, and eventually that green will dry up. When it does, ill be there to laugh a great big fat belly laugh at them.

Tuff Stuff Wants To Discover What’s Wrong With The Hobby

Recently, Tuff Stuff has taken it upon themselves to go over what readers think is wrong with the hobby and to look for possible solutions. I think its a bold step, but in my opinion, a generally horrible idea in this format. First, the average reader has no fucking clue as to what is truly the more IMPORTANT bad things, and that will lead to a pretty boring list. Second, half the major problems in the hobby stem from things the magazine does themselves. Anyways, here is what their list will probably be, followed by mine.

TUFF STUFF PROJECTED LIST (not in order of importance):
1) Redemptions – I have said it before, its more the players than the companies that have problems with redemptions. If the players dont sign, the cards cant go out. I think the expectations set by the company, replacements for unsigned cards as well as lack of updates are the bigger problems. I will give kudos to Topps for publicizing their redemption updates via twitter.
2) Number of products – I cant tell you how much I hate it when people say that product variety is a problem. There are five million car companies, but no one ever complains that they have too many choices. Number of products as a complaint is shit. Just buy what you want and shut up.
3) Lack of kids/cost of boxes – Again kids havent been the primary focus of the hobby since the late 80s, and yet people think they are the answer to everyone’s problems. Complete crap. As that relates to the cost of boxes, its easy to blame the companies again, but the players are just as much to blame. There are still a lot of lower end products that are good, and yet the variety thing comes into play again. Yes, there are very costly products, but they dont account for everything.
4) Fake patches/cards/autos – I agree with this one, but the only solution is a photo database that is easily accessible to everyone. There are a few users who have taken it upon themselves to take care of this themselves, but it isnt perfect.
5) Some sort of eBay complaint – eBay sucks at doing some things, but is great about others. I will say that I would take eBay the way it is any day than having to buy singles at shows or at stores.
MY LIST (not in order of importance):
1) Price Guides – There is no reason for a price guide, especially one that is run by people making money off the hobby. The guides out there present unrealistic expectations of value, and cause more problems than they solve. Their existence continues to show that this hobby is more about vanity and money than about fun.
2) Boring concepts / Gimmicks – This hobby has spiraled into a snoozefest of products that are not designed well and feature horrible concepts and themes. Its time to get a better design team in there that focuses more about a good looking product. No more rehashes, no more copycatting.
3) Beckett – Their arrogance of their place in the hobby, as well as the fact that they serve more as an ad vehicle rather than an objective source is detrimental to the people that still follow them. Beckett as a group is underhanded, vindictive, and ethically objectionable, and has yet to provide a worthwhile contribution to the hobby. They also have a public relationship with a card company that breaks all sorts of moral rules.
4) Grading/Authentication – there is no need for it, especially by humans. Besides being completely subjective and arbitrary, it is commonly used as a publicity machine as well as a way to please large customers. On top of all of this, Beckett sells their own graded cards. As for the authentication, there are so many stories of people sending in IP autos they themselves have gotten and not getting auth. Just shows that humans are just that, human.
5) Complacency of the companies towards Fake autos/Fake Patches – There hasnt been much done to counteract the criminal empire created by thieves on eBay. Ebay wont do anything, the card companies wont do anything, and the collectors only have so much of a voice. Until a bigger focus is made policy, we will continue to be victims of the great douches of the hobby.
6) Boxes for Review – Again, this whole practice solves absolutely nothing, and creates a ton of problems. There are currently more than 50 different groups of people who receive free product the companies. More than half hold a vested interest in the product’s success. That means, ad money, publicity, reviews, etc. This is not just for highly produced stuff, but also the very limited products too. Beckett received 4 boxes of 2009-10 Exquisite Basketball. That is close to 2400 retail dollars of swag. Completely unacceptable considering that they price cards for over 50% of the uniformed hobby.
7) Lack of communication – Card companies are about as transparent as a lead door in this industry. There is rarely any info transmitted that actually gives collectors what they want, and that needs to stop. There needs to be better websites, more feedback, and more involvement with the collecting public. Talk to the boards instead of with Beckett.
8) Brand/Player/Sport exclusive contracts – there is nothing worse for collectors than exclusive anything. This should be at the top of everyone’s list. The fact that there is only one NBA license and only one MLB license is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous that players like Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Jeter, Griffey, A-Rod, Pujols and company are only able to sign for one brand. That is a poor situation. Look at the NFL, there is no exclusives and it is one of the best places to start a player collection. So many choices, and that is a great thing!
In all reality, there could be a huge economic disaster, worse than the last few years, and the hobby would still survive. People like to collect shit. That will always be a given. The industry part may fall by the wayside, but cards will always be a commodity. So, to put together a list like this is easy, but pretty much ineffective. The effective part comes from the buying public, as they need to put their money where their mouth is. I have been practicing this for the last few years, only buying the stuff I like, instead of wasting my money on stuff that is just there, or buying because I am bored. As a result, I have a collection to be proud of, rather than a hoarded mess of cards I have no connection to. Hopefully others will follow suit and not give their money to products and company that shouldnt get it.