When the maniacal buying habits of Stephen Strasburg collectors reached its peak, many card shop owners and distributors bought in to the future products in a similarly ridiculous way. When Strasburg’s elbow went the way of Mark Prior’s career, many of said retailers got into some very hot water, especially with Topps and Bowman Chrome. Because the products were unable to carry weight solely on Strasburg’s perceived potential anymore, collectors were no longer poised to make these products as popular as many expected them to be.
I have gotten emails from two separate people affiliated with distributors around the country, and both were saying that they and many of their competitors have needed to drop prices across the board to make up for the money they would be losing on Topps and Bowman Chrome. When I heard that, it struck me as kind of weird, yet very scary, especially considering how many shops were already in trouble due to recent economic troubles. I mean, when was the last time any injury cost people THIS much money?
Now that Bowman Chrome has hit shelves, and prices on boxes and cases are starting off WELL below expectations, Stras-mas may end up being more of a debilitating shit storm than the whirling dervish it was expected to be. With Bryce Harper mania coming next year in similar fashion, I wonder if people will approach it differently considering what has happened with Baseball’s most hyped player in recent memory. Topps has already made Harper the mascot of their Diamond anniversary, and I think more than a few people are already making the skeptical face before we even get into the thick of the 2011 release calendar.
Harper is a bit of a different animal, mainly because fire ball pitchers are always more of injury risk, and Harper’s talent level may be far above where Strasburg’s was come the beginning of 2010. Harper is also a power hitting catcher, and we all know, chicks dig the long ball. Its almost creating a perfect storm similar to the one created when Strasburg was called up and struck out as many batters as he did. But, will this storm continue to run at F5 the whole year, or will the crazy people who don’t understand when to buy be left holding another stack of greatly diminished cards.
Don’t get me wrong, this is just as much about buying habits as anything, as there was no sane reason why anyone should have been paying what they were for Stras’ cards when there was ABSOLUTELY no ability to make any sort of return on them. Even Strasburg fans or Nationals fans should have waited out the initial frenzy, because as we found out, for every .com boom, there is a bubble that bursts eventually. Just like a bad recession has forced Americans into saving money for the first time in decades, the Strasburg investment bust may shun people away from spending the money they normally would on Harper.
In the end, both Stras and Harper could end up being superstars, even though signs point that one or both will end up in the hole of mediocrity according to the odds. With Bowman Chrome sales where they are, hopefully people will get that no investment is a sure thing, and that waiting it out and losing the big gain is a lot less risky than jumping in and losing everything.