Death and Collecting – Is There a Good Way to Deal With the Worst Situation?

Each of the last two years, we have had horrible tragedies that have taken the life of a baseball player within the confines of the existing season. Not only are these tragedies national news, but they represent one of the worst situations that happens in sports. I would go so far as saying baseball has been impacted by these types of situations more times than any of the other sports that I can remember, going back to players like Roberto Clemente’s death in 1972.



Last year, Oscar Taveras, a widely collected prospect and major league star for the Cardinals was killed in an auto accident, and this year, Jose Fernandez lost his life in a boating accident earlier this week. For both players it has left collectors with very tough choices to make in how to proceed with personal collections, especially because both players were so early in their careers. When Clemente died, his legacy was already cemented as a HOFer with over 3000 hits to his name. These two were far from cementing their careers as stars, but were beloved for their potential as futures of their respective franchises.

The question is what do you do when the player you collect passes away suddenly, even if they are no longer playing? I remember Sean Taylor in the NFL was a huge story because like Hernandez, his future was incredibly bright. Same thing could be said about Steve McNair on the other end of things, as his career was already relatively over when he was murdered. Both times, collectors were left with a choice, and I still dont know the right answer to this question. Do you sell off and profit from a TERRIBLE situation, or wait as the demand for their cards drop?

For some, like Reggie White and Walter Payton, their lives ended prematurely too, but well after their playing days were over. Health issues for football players are common, and both White and Payton died early because of sad circumstances from diseases out of their control. Yet like Clemente, their cards have only increased in value because they are no longer around to participate in the collecting game. Im curious if players like Fernandez and Taveras, who had massive but short lived success will have a similar approach, especially because they are both players whose heritage is part of what made them fan favorites. Taveras I would guess will be a stretch to hold any type of long term value, but Fernandez could be different. He was such a huge part of the Marlins’ organization, and as a Cuban player, many collectors gravitated towards his accomplishments as a parallel to their own nationality.

Bottom line, no one wants to deal with a time after a player has died, especially if its not anything related to drugs, alcohol or other self inflicted means. It can be heartbreaking, and for many people who have poured money into stashes of cards, it can be debilitating to one’s confidence of ever really getting back into the hobby the same way. Im not sure I could sell off cards just to profit off a situation like this, and sometimes eBay prevents it from happening like we saw with Junior Seau. At some point, the collection question will come up, and I do not envy anyone that has to go through it.

Hopefully peace has come to Jose Fernandez, as its clear his death is one that many will have a hard time moving on from.

Panini’s 2016 Football Calendar Might End Up As Historically Awful

So far this year, we have seen Panini literally release product after product, week after week. It would be one thing if the products were actually reasonably okay, but we have seen products so bad, that it might contribute to their 2016 calendar being one of the worst ever. This includes their 2011 calendar, which still remains one of the worst in football history. With the release of Infinity today (yes, they actually named a product Infinity), I honestly believe there needs to be an award for releasing a slate of products THIS shitty.

When you click to see the cards, just be prepared to shield your eyes. The posed pictures, the giant boxes for signatures, the terrible names, its so bad there isnt a combination of adjectives available that can put true context around my feelings of discontent.

2016 Panini Infinity Paxton Lynch Auto RC

2016 Panini Infinity Roger Staubach Exalted Auto

2016 Panini Infinity Matt Ryan Myriad Marks Auto – They must not know what Myriad means.

2016 Panini Infinity Will Fuller Infinite Potential /8

Im literally losing my mind here. Panini’s constant failure to produce sets that deliver even a smidgen of creativity or attractive content is baffling to me. First, they released Unparalleled, which naturally had a ton of parallels. It also looked as bad as Infinity does. Big boxes for signatures, goofy posed photos, all the same mistakes. Its like its a formula.

Then they released Gala, whose theme and motif was so forced and off kilter that the whole set bombed just like it did in Basketball. Yes, they actually named a set "action autographs." Im not kidding.

Continue onto Spectra, which remains the worst product series of the last 10-15 years. Its cards also look like a 1990s trapper keeper got wasted and barfed on some card stock. It makes me nauseous to think about ripping boxes of Spectra at 300 fucking dollars a pop.

Now, with Infinity, I am questioning their ability to deliver good products at any rate, let alone at a sustained enough clip to keep collectors interested in football. If you thought a lack of competition would be a good thing for Panini, you would be as wrong as wearing socks with sandals.

The only product worth a damn from Panini this year is the one they literally lifted directly from Topps. No changes, no adjustments, just Inception with a new name. Outside of that, one set is worse than the next. And to think! We still have to survive Phoenix, which hasnt been released yet.

It hurts, because I love football and have nothing left. Its been burned to a crisp by Panini’s inability to design good looking trading cards.

Boom or Bust – Collecting Rookies in the New NFL

After the lockout of 2011, a new rookie wage scale was implemented that prevented teams from having to drop 50 million plus guaranteed to the top picks in the draft. With football cards predicated on rookies, this had a more profound effect than ever before because it meant that teams were not anchored to their new players if they didnt pan out immediately.

Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, teams would give a much longer leash to top rookies that struggled, only because it was so detrimental to the team’s budget and ownership to give up on a guy that you gave so much money to. Now, that isnt so much of a problem. It also means that the fans are becoming more and more conditioned to seeing players cut or traded before their first few years are over, and collectors have also started adopting that mentality.

This boom or bust approach has major impact on value – especially for rookies. If a QB comes out and plays well for a few games at the beginning, it can sustain value for the entire year. If a rookie sits or plays poorly, sometimes that can hurt the value immensely, to the point where it wont spike as high if they eventually figure things out down the road. Right now, Carson Wentz is playing very well against some pretty bad teams. Regardless, his stat lines are pretty nice looking, and has gotten a lot of attention from collectors who feel he is the real deal.

His cards after a big Monday Night nationally televised game have been showing some nice prices:

2016 Origins Carson Wentz Jumbo Patch Auto RC

2016 Absolute Carson Wentz Quad Relic Auto RC

2016 Immaculate NCAA Carson Wentz Auto Patch RC

Similar things can be said about Dak Prescott, who has played WELL above his draft position, posting some similarly good numbers. Collectors put his value into the stratosphere thanks to a great preseason performance, and those values have stayed high as he has seemingly adjusted well to the real defenses of the regular season.

Here are his cards, which are still riding high:

2016 Origins Dak Prescott / Carson Wentz Dual Auto Booklet

2016 Certified Dak Prescott Freshman Fabrics Auto Patch

2016 Leaf Metal Draft Dak Prescott Auto RC

As for Jared Goff, who was inactive week one and on the bench week two, it hasnt been as easy going. Case Keenum has shown to be a lackluster option for the Rams, but Jeff Fisher is determined to let his top pick develop before throwing him to the wolves. Collectors see it as a huge detriment to potential, and even if his numbers end up being equal to Wentz in the long run, Goff may always be lower because he sat.

In terms of the discussion here, collectors (as much as the ownership/coaches) want to see results from rookies almost immediately. There are exceptions sure, and being a number one pick can be a factor, but nothing brings in the big bucks like a huge game or two. Personally, I dont think that this is a good thing for QBs, especially when its clear that it is literally one of the toughest positions to be successful in all of sports. Sometimes it takes forever.

Players like Brock Osweiler and Jimmy Garoppolo are interesting counterpoints here, as they both are in the bucket of players who didnt get to play right away. Both got their shot and both have performed pretty well. Collectors havent put enormous numbers on their cards, but the value has spiked in a pretty good way that shows people havent given up quite yet. Prospecting in football rarely works the same way it does in baseball, but these two players are great examples of when it does.

The message to talk about here is that looking at cards from an investment standpoint is probably a bad idea. At the same time, its fun to speculate and see your favorite cards be worth something to more than just you. Vanity and swinging a big collecting dick is a pretty huge part of the hobby and its clear that seeing your cards increase in value is something we all enjoy. I just wish it wasnt so dependent on the first few games of a player’s career.

On the Radar: 2016 Panini Infinity Football

After looking at this garbage, I have one thought. Its a simple thought, so bare with me.


Whew, that about sums it up. Aside from ANOTHER god awful name for a product, this one looks just as bad from a design perspective as all their other shit has looked this year. Its unimaginative, it uses those goofy ass posed pictures, and has more sticker replacement with what looks to be sheet metal from the scrap yard. One person on Twitter mused it looked like dumpster bound iPad backs, which I can no longer unsee.

The bottom line is this. Panini sucks at making sets (see Unparalleled, Gala, and Phoenix), and can only succeed when they blatantly rip off their competitors (origins). I dont understand why they continue to churn out this type of donkey turd, knowing its just going to be another notch on the bedpost when it ends up in the bargain bin. Its no wonder why sales have been slumping, and shops have been complaining about how they cant move a single Panini product, let alone a new piece of crap every week.

If Panini want to continue driving their product line into the ground, that’s on them. The issue is that there is no other pro licensed product out there to save us from this burning building. When Panini succeeds in scaring off half the people who are left after Topps was cut from the NFL, maybe then we can finally go back to a state where I dont have to sit around wishing it was 2015 anymore. Its pretty clear that all those red numbers next to Panini football products arent there because things are selling like hot cakes, and its only going to get worse if they think we are stupid enough to buy their scraps off the trash heap from previous years.

Man, I am getting more and more pessimistic by the day over the future of this industry.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2016 Spectra Football is Back With More Garbage

I hate Spectra. I have hated it since 2014, and this year is no different. It was so bad last year that I added it to my worst products of the last 10 years list, and I dont see it getting any better this year. Everything about the product makes my stomach turn and my eyes hurt, and aside from Unparalleled, this is another feather in the cap for Panini in making the worst products in the history of the hobby.

Check out these cards – please have a vomit receptacle near by.

2016 Spectra Dak Prescott / Ezekiel Elliot Dual Patch Auto Pink

2016 Spectra Laquon Treadwell Logo Patch Auto Orange

2016 Spectra Michael Strahan Auto Pink – This white box is so big you can see it from space.

2016 Spectra Carson Wentz / Jared Goff Dual Tag Auto 1/1

Spectra has four enormous things that all work against it. First is design. The whole look of the product, even without the other three things in play, would be a shit sandwich just because of base concept itself. When you add in Price, the ridiculous patterns on the card stock, and those horrible stickers with neon pens, its a storm of epic proportions. Worth mentioning that when Panini decided to rip off Topps’ entire slate of chrome based product lines with Prizm (Topps Chrome), Select (Finest), and this for Bowman Sterling, they didnt realize how many people already despised Sterling. Its basically the same setup, but Bowman Sterling rarely had design issues, and never used these god awful neon stickers.

Its kind of scary that anyone would really consider dropping the insane price point for this, as it just doesnt deliver much worth buying. The autographs for the main hits are not on card, and the theme of the set is literally nothing new for Panini. Its almost built for group breaks, which is becoming a normal thing for their product lines, and that should really scare everyone more than the ineptitude displayed in actually building the set itself. Its clear that orders werent all that strong, as they added case incentives to try to get the rest of the product off their shelves.

Have our standards dropped this low? How are people not soiling themselves with anger over the slap in the face Spectra represents. They couldnt even get these cards done in a way that reflects the price of the box, and to see such a terrible looking set get into the mix with an even worse history, why do people stand by and let Panini go without repercussions from their spending habits.

Its kind of funny how many collectors who were once Panini fans have emailed me with their disapproval of the garbage this year. Here is one from Jason, who said he has been a Panini fan for a while. I have gotten quite a few of these, but nothing as interesting as this one was.


First off, I really dont agree with much of what you say on your site. Although you have a good thing going in the style of your blog, your ideas never really resonated with me. I have been a Panini fan for most of the time, mainly because I love their Basketball stuff so much, but have dabbled in football too. 

It was only natural that I was happy they got the exclusive, and I fully expected you to go off the deep end, which you kind of have. 

That being the case, all I can say is that all those things you complained about possibly happening when the exclusive took hold have seemingly been woven into the fabric of their 2016 football line. One product is worse than the next and I am completely bored out of my mind. I still dont think that I fully agree with the way you trash their product setups but their design has fallen off a cliff and these products are pretty laughable for people like me. 

I bought a number of Panini boxes and cases last year, and at least one of every product. So far, I have spent close to nothing this year. I hope they change, because I have liked what they did before, but if it continues to go this way, Im staying out of football for good. My shop owner down here said his sales have dropped so much that he doesnt pre-order cases anymore. He cant afford to let their crap collect dust on his shelf with how little he makes as it is. 

Anyways, just wanted to give you some fuel for your fire, as I think your rants might actually end up being mutually beneficial.


Interesting stuff indeed, and I only expect it to get worse as Panini waters down their brand names with identical NCAA and pro releases side by side. This industry was already going down the toilet, Panini only makes it worse.