Monday, July 21, 2008

Its A Beckett World, We Just Live In It.

After an awesome comment by "Gary in AZ" on Charlie's Allen and Ginter first look post, I think its about time for me to go over a few things here. First off, I am pretty sure that all the people I savage on a daily basis read this blog, and that makes me happy. They need to know that there are more people with voices besides Ben Henry and Mario Alejandro. Mario has a great blog, probably the best there is when it comes to card blogging, but I don’t think he necessarily has the avenue to express any true issues he has with the people in the industry itself (Zack Hample aside). When it came to starting my own blog, I wanted to make sure that there was nothing held back about the people who are making this place a shithole for the collectors. I have no connections, my posts arent published anywhere, and there is a minimal amount of exposure for what I write. That doesn’t mean that what I say means anything less than blogs with thousands of hits per day.

Secondly, I have also encouraged the people I hate on to come on and answer for the accusations and commentary I make. That has happened... somewhat. Upper Deck has agreed in principle to an interview detailing what we can expect in the future from them, Donruss has been interviewed, and Beckett seems to like leaving weirdly placed comments on random posts rather than writing anything that could even be considered a mental fart.

Thirdly, I wanted to go over a highlight reel of sorts for people who don’t necessarily want to read through the 300 or so posts there are to read, and all the comments that go along with them. Since Beckett just thinks of me as "So young and so angry" lets put the pedophilic and homoerotic comments aside and begin this by saying what there is to say.

To start, we cant forget what happened with the year worth of video box breaks we have had to painfully endure. Despite being a complete conflict of interest, Beckett accepts free boxes from any and all companies for their editors and employees to open on camera. Since about 2006, they have pulled 5-6 cards from less than 40 boxes of product that would be considered "pulls of a lifetime" with 2-3 being $1000+ in value or more. Lets recap:

1. Joe Dimaggio Cut Signature 1/1 from Topps Sterling
2. Vince Young Exquisite 3 Color Patch Auto RC
3. Adrian Peterson 1/1(!!!) Exquisite Auto Patch RC
4. Brady Quinn 1/1 National Treasures Logo Patch Auto
5. Walter Payton/Brian Piccolo Exquisite dual cut auto 1/1
6. Ladanian Tomlinson Exquisite 1/1 Base card
7. Matt Ryan/Brian Brohm/Andre Woodson Topps RP Triple Auto /10?
Plus other cards from the multiple boxes they are sent.

That is a bat-shit crazy list of cards to think that something isnt up. Upper Deck swears to me that it was all a big misunderstanding regarding the Exquisite fiasco, but that shit-eating grin on Hackler's face when he pulls those cards says otherwise. Granted, most of these cards were probably given away, but the fact remains that this type of stuff should NOT have been sent to the hobby's biggest magazine instead of collectors. We know for a fact that they are sent cases at a time, so who knows what else is out there that we havent seen.

Beckett also produces a magazine full of advertisement to boot, and to think that this magazine is responsible for setting the price on cards for a sickening 75-80% of the industry, it seems a little out of place to buy millions worth of advertising space, send them cases of product, and also shirts, hats, and anything else they desire short of a BJ. Well, not entirely sure they havent gotten the latter at some point. Let me break this down in an equation for you.

High Beckett Prices = Product more valuable in collector's eyes = more product sold


High Prices = Freebies+ Ad revenue

See what I am saying now? As a private publication with no reason to provide accurate numbers other than ethics and morals, they can do whatever they fucking want to. Plus the fact that it shows with their prices in general, but Ill get to that in a minute.

Basically, its not fair for the collector because they really have no one to answer to. The are considered the foremost authority on the hobby by millions of stupid people who don’t question what they say. If they say its just luck in their box breaks, that becomes gospel. If they say your card is worth thousands, that’s what its worth. No one has had the balls to publically stand up and say, "THIS IS BEYOND FUCKING CRAZY!!!"

As for Book Value, it is the standard by which all cards are living. For every collector like me, there are 50-100 that swear by this false bible of card values. Before the internet, there was no global marketplace for peope to sell their cards, so shops and card shows were the norm. Since shop owners and dealers at shows did not have the collectors at heart, Dr. Beckett did some "market research" and released the first guide of prices for the cards on the market. There were articles and reviews, but everyone bought it for the guide. Within a few years, the guide was the status quo at any shop and any show table. After the internet was created, things started to change because people had a more viable way to get what they needed. Plus with cards becoming exceedingly rarer, this became the way to go. When eBay was created, collectors had a huge marketplace to buy within months. These days, eBay conducts millions (if not billions) in sales of cards each year. What is great, is now collectors have a free way of seeing exactly what their cards are worth. By putting a card up for auction in the eBay marketplace, the seller is forced to provide the item at the price it is sold. People do not have to pay to join, and sellers pay relatively nothing for selling their item. It is a true free marketplace, and no longer does book value even have a smidgeon of relevance.

Does this put a hamper in Becketts plan? No. They try to make the guide more important because they say eBay is too volatile to price cards. They are 100% correct, pricing is volatile on eBay because value changes on an daily if not hourly basis. Putting out a guide for cards on monthly basis is like releasing a magazine guide for stocks and bonds - CRAZY FUCKING TALK. Plus, it would be one thing if the guide was even CLOSE to what the price actually was. Despite changing daily, it usually stays within a certain range that could be updated on an online guide. Yet, for some reason, Beckett doesn’t even consider that an option. Instead they do their own market research to determine prices, or instead they just pull out the almighty "pricing hat."

What's even more disturbing, is this: Beckett has the time and resources to make their online price guide a way to disseminate CORRECT prices for cards to collectors. But, like their actual magazines, it is not updated daily, or even weekly, it is updated monthly. Even funnier is that the guide now comes out Bi-monthly, making it even more disconnected with reality. This begs the question as to why these guides still exist? I would say mainly because the industry is a recession proof billion dollar venture. Companies know that by advertising in the magazine and having high prices for their cards in that magazine, they will generate more product buzz than eBay or any blog could give them. This is because 99% of the collectors don’t think about what could actually be happening. They have no clue that they are the Joe Collectors I talk about almost daily. Now, with the creation of the idiot bomb message boards on Beckett's website, this idea has grown to epic proportions. Who cares what evidence is thrown in front of them, they stand by the hobby's number one authority on douchebaggery.

The funniest thing of all: Beckett utilizes eBay to sell their own cards and cards for collectors.

Lets move on to the Beckett Grading Service Business, or the other part of the industry Beckett was a needless pioneer in. Grading was created so that people buying on the internet knew exactly what condition a card was in before buying. It has since morphed into the only way to increase a card's value beyond what it is normally worth. Again, collectors pay Beckett as a third party to evaluate their card on a 10 point scale. Why Beckett? Well, of course, because they are the ones that make the price guide. They would know! Seriously though, this is a huge industry for the magazine, and it is pretty obvious that people who submit enormous amounts of cards on a frequent basis get favorable treatment. After publishing my post on the matter, I got 10 different emails from people who had experiences with this. I could break it down in another equation, but instead, just read the post.

This grading business has also led to Beckett selling graded cards on eBay. What the hell? That is a giant conflict of interest in every way. Yet, for some god forsaken reason, no one seems to mind other than a select few.

Still think Beckett is the greatest thing? No?

Lastly, they have also started a blog where they detail hobby news and post incidentals about the hobby. On the blog they have taken a medium that collectors have used to post their own viewpoints and made it a place where they can interject what they think. I hate to launch accusations at the blogosphere, but I think that a lot of people stay off the Beckett topic so they can be a part of this blog for traffic reasons. I wont call out people specifically, but I think you can tell yourself. The problem here is that now people wont spend the time talking about the miscues that happen on a bi-daily basis over there in dallas, because they could be made to be a black sheep on their blog. Links removed, posts taken down, no more guest authorships. That’s a log of traffic to miss out on. Personally I don’t care about traffic, so fuck em.

(Note: this is not a shot at Mario, who I respect very much. Please go check out his site here)

Hopefully people begin to see the anger is a little bit deeper than just a random dart thrown at a random target.

More later.


  1. Man Gellman, I didn't realize I was going to create such a shitstorm. I just wanted to give people a look at the new A & G release. Sorry about all the bullshit that came along with it.

    I guess next time, I'll just post some pics from eBay.

    Love this post though. Maybe now, some people will realize that the anger is not misdirected. Although I'm sure most prefer to keep the blinders on, and believe that their "SICK MOJO!!!!!!!!" pulls are worth what the pricing hat says they are.

  2. Great Post! But, I want to put my two cents in if you don't mind...

    When my son was an infant I didn't spank him, obviously. When he became a toddler and openly defied me, testing the waters, I (as we say in the South) tore his little ass up...

    When I first came back into the hobby, I did it with the intention of selling all of my collection. I archived EVERYTHING and immediately went to Beckett. I had no idea where else to go.

    After plugging everything in the Online Database I found that I was sitting on over $10,000! This includes all of the 1990 stuff that added up to well over $800 alone...

    Then my wife said, "You should look at listing this on eBay!"

    What. The. Fuck.

    I was completely bewildered by the differences. I got frustrated almost immediately because I had "$10k+" worth of cardboard and I could probably clear $1,000.

    Then I became a hobby toddler and realized that there was more to life than Beckett's playpen.

    SCU, thank your beating my ass into submission everytime I've given a "Beckett for President" rant. I have truly seen the error of my ways.

    Beckett, the best thing you could do is to get out of the Pricing market until you figure out what the hell you're doing. Focus on being the greatest, most efficient, card database on the planet and then jump back into pricing when you're relevant again.

    SCU, don't let up on these guys. My motto with the assistant managers that work for me is, "I'll make you better...or, I'll make you leave. Either way, I'll win."

    Sock it to 'em, Dude...

    ps I'll still gloat if they publish and/or promote something I write though. I need all the exposure I can get if I want to be a professional writer one day. I'll try to prewarn you if I post something so you can avoid

  3. I remember when Beckett's other mags first hit the market (no, I"m not old enough to remember the first Beckett Baseball mag), and they made a BIG point about NOT accepting advertising that sold singles or boxes for that matter. I don't know what happened along the way since, but Dr. James Beckett certainly isn't running the show anymore, because he wouldn't stand for the garbage that they put out on a regular basis.

    Hell, when he STARTED pricing cards back in the mid-70's he GAVE away the price guides.

    That's certainly not the paradigm the company operates on today.

  4. JV, I think there are about 50 people per day who have your experience. It really blows.

    As for your posts on beckett, have fun and live a long and happy blog life. I know you write a different kind of blog that fits more easily into their space, so im not hating on you.

    Im still waiting for that one person who I directed that at to show up. He hasnt commented before, but I know he reads this blog.

  5. Had a feeling it was a post for a "certain someone" and I didn't take offense to it.

    If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for every person that comes blindly back into the hobby to first find, Not me, Not Mario, Not Ben Henry, but you to guide them in the ways of virtue and serenity...

    That one person that could teach their virgin tongues to utter the phrase for the first time and feel the sweet release of a hobby long gone...

    "Fuck Beckett."

    (Old Steve Martin Rocks...)

  6. Steve Martin needs to stop doing bad movies like Cheaper By The Dozen and do some more awesome movies like "The Jerk." Classic shit.

  7. My experience is very similar to JVs. About a month ago my dad basically told me it was time to get all of my shit out of his basement. This included my baseball cards which, of course, had to immediately be reorganized, cataloged, accounted for, and whatever the hell else you can do with a card collection. The first thing I did was (obviously) go out and buy the most recent Beckett.

    I also signed up on the online site and started to enter my collection. I got 12 cards in and decided that it would take too long. Thank god I quit before I paid for a year of the online price guide. Also, I had no idea what the hell any of this shit was anymore. I remembered Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and UD. I didn't know what any a relic, refractor,auto, etc. were. So, I got online to try to find out and found Ben Henry's blog. From there I found SCU and pretty much read everything.

    It didn't take long to realize what total bullshit Beckett has become. I don't doubt I would have eventually figured it out, but it probably would have taken a while. So, I definately have Gellman to thank for saving me a lot of time.

    I know that so far my story is completely typical and there are many others like me. The difference in my story is my reaction to finding out that my entire collection is worth absolutely dick. I imagine most people would be disappointed or discouraged to find this out. Not me. I was overjoyed and felt completely liberated by it.

    I was probably a typical adolescent in that I was very preoccupied by what Beckett said were the value of my cards. I wanted cards for only one reason...because they were more valuable than others. Shit, I remember paying $15 for a Jerome Walton RC. That is serious scratch for a kid back then. I feel like I missed out on some joy due to this mindset.

    But now, I am free to collect who and what I want, and trade for who and what I want without worrying about a card's value. Shit, I can give away doubles to friends and other bloggers free just because it's a cool thing to do. I can just have fun collecting now. Finally.

    And Beckett is STILL trying, and largely succeeding, at fucking it all up for everyone by denying them the basic fun in collecting, and trying to turn everyone into an inversor first, hobbyist second. It's too bad that the first thing most people still think about when they pull there cards isn't that they like the player, card, picture, team, or's still "how much is this card worth?" It's a sad state of affairs.

    I really feel like I have Gellman to thank for making me think about a lot of that. I really feel like I have more fun and enjoy my cards more because of it.

    Sorry this is so long and uninteresting. I didn't start out intending for it to be that. Just wanted to show my appreciation.

    And by the way, I do like chrome. I can't help it. They're so fucking shiny!

  8. Oh god, "How Much is it Worth?" I hate that question.

    On one particular corporate website, some kid asked in an open forum how much a Tools of the Trade Ichiro Relic bat card was worth. I quickly checked eBay and discovered that there were three of the very same card listed, and all three started at a buck, with no bidders. Being the generous type, I said that it MIGHT be worth about $5 at some point, but that at the moment it wasn't worth more than a buck.

    The kid replied that book value was $15, and that that's what he considered it to be worth.

    How fucking moronic is that? People need a lesson in supply and demand. If there's too much supply and not enough demand, then there's very little value.

    Face it, these things are cardboard with a picture on them. Sometimes they're autographed or have a piece of some jersey that some bat boy might have worn during batting practice on the alternate Tuesday that the team was off. Cards have VERY little actual value whatsoever. They're worth whatever you can sell them to someone for.

    That's it.

    Though there's ONE area that Beckett would be valuable for, and that's insurance. If you have a collection of tons of 90's crapola, get that stuff on a list, figure out what Beckett says it's worth, insure it for that amount, then torch your house, because that's the ONLY way you're going to make money off that crap.

    Oh and $15 for a Jerome Walton RC? Man, that sucks. That's why even as a teenager in the 80's I NEVER paid more than $5 for any given single. I'd rather buy the pack that the RC came out of than buy the single.

    Of course, that was then, this is now, and sometimes buying singles is the only way to get that card you want. Even still I have an upper threshold of, wait for it...


    If I can't but it for $10 or less, I don't need it. Plus if I spent more than $10 on a single card, I'd be sleeping in the car, not the couch.

  9. Good call on the selling of cards. I think it is a conflict of interest with Beckett.

    For example, Morningstar rates stocks, funds, etc... they say which are good, which are bad. But they don't sell them because it would be a conflict of interest.

    Keep blogging away... your site is always a good read.

  10. Totally, totally, totally awesome post! I think that every card blog should have a permanent link to this post displayed in a prominent part of their blog. This is a great synopsis of everything that you've been saying about Beckett for months.

    I have an idea for something that all of us bloggers can do about Beckett that I'm going to write about soon...

    Thanks Gellman!

  11. While I agree to a degree about some things, the pricing aspect of Beckett is necessary for me at least. I do a lot of trading/selling on online card forums and many cards I have listed never show up on eBay so I can't get a value from there. Also, if two collector's disagree over how much value should be placed on a 1991 Bowman Frank Thomas, Beckett can be used as a happy medium.

    Nevertheless, they do have all the issues you talked about in this post which I found very enjoyable.

  12. You are welcome for the comment Gellman, I love reading your blog and seeing what you have to say. Not many people have enough to say about all the things that make us mad, so I feel like you are the voice of the people. Too bad only a priviledged portion of the hobby does read the blog.

  13. Beckett does have blatant conflict of interest issues that they don't even bother to hide anymore and/or justify to the collecting public.

    When it comes to JCs finding out their collection isn't worth much at all, it isn't the fault of Beckett.

    It is the fault of the incessant hoarding by pack rats who thought they could finance their college educations on cases of 1988 Donruss or 1992 Topps.

  14. I also signed up on the online site and started to enter my collection. I got 12 cards in and decided that it would take too long. Thank god I quit before I paid for a year of the online price guide. Also, I had no idea what the hell any of this shit was anymore. I remembered Topps, Donruss, Fleer, and UD. I didn't know what any a relic, refractor,auto, etc. were. So, I got online to try to find out and found Ben Henry's blog. From there I found SCU and pretty much read everything.