Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting to the bottom of the Chrome Fukudome

I just got off the phone with Topps Customer Service regarding the Bowman Chrome Fukudome Error cards that Cardboard Mania blogged about first, and I Commented on yesterday.

It's a total error card. According to the rep I spoke to there are NO Fukudome Autographs in the Bowman set, now whether or not there were supposed to be is anyone's guess and the rep couldn't tell me that for sure. However, he did say that going forward there will be no more authentication stickers on the backs of cards, so that's a bit of interesting information.

I asked him point blank if this was a deliberate short-print or simply an error, and he said without hesitation that it was an error.

So we've now boiled it down to either an error or a counterfeit card. Since they are all coming out of the Far East (except for the one that's in Florida), I'm venturing to guess that something is happening at the overseas plant where Topps cards are printed (if they are indeed printed overseas, I'm not sure where they are printed to be honest, and another attempt to get to a Topps rep failed).

So despite all the bad mojo that we've been attributing to Topps lately, this particular card doesn't seem to be a part of that. An error, yes, short printed? Almost certainly, but deliberate? No.

Some people will continue to disbelieve though, for whatever reason. Having worked in large corporations in the past, I'm not quite as skeptical because I understand the process that these things have to go through to get to market. I'm much more willing to believe that these particular cards were either a) conterfeited or b) the work of a couple of individuals who have the access to create and distribute such an item. I find it very difficult to believe that the company itself deliberately created such an item in order to foist it off on unsuspecting collectors and make a FEW dollars here and there.

It just doesn't make sense to me. Now, in 1978 a SINGLE Topps employee may have managed to magically graft a penis onto C-3PO in the fourth series of original Star Wars Cards (though Snopes is claiming that the single artist theory is indeterminate). Of course, we all know about Billy Ripken and the "fuck face" bat card, and then there's the Alex Gordon cards from a few years ago, so the fact is that occasionally mistakes get made and cards that weren't supposed to make it to market do.

However, to imply that Topps as a publically traded corporation would deliberately make a handful of "error" cards to capitalize on a given player's popularity in the secondary market is just silly. Topps wouldn't bother to do that, because let's face it, even if by some chance each card sold for $500 a piece, and there' let's say, six of them, that's only a $3,000 profit. Topps is a 370 MILLION dollar market cap company according to their financial records (and this site). Three grand is a drop in their proverbial buckets.

I do love how some bloggers will deliberately mis-state numbers though, for example, one blog post questioning another quickly becomes "many people began talking about it maybe being an honest manufacturing error." Really? Many people? Who? If there were more blogs about this issue, I didn't see them.


  1. For your information, there are more collectors who talk about things that those in the blog world so that whole slap in the face paragraph about no other blogs was quite uncalled for. I heard from other collectors that they thought maybe it was a manufacturer error, and I agreed with them.

    I see what you typed and respect that it is information that a Topps representative gave you, but there's going to be a gray area with this card unless Topps make an official statement. I've noticed throughout the year that Topps is usually a week or so behind the blogsphere in making announcements of that kind.

    Also the whole Taiwan thing is a skewed stat but still interesting to note. The majority of the eBay listings for the card are from the US. Nevertheless, the fact that so much fishy stuff has been coming from Topps out of Taiwan is another story in itself.

  2. Will, thank you for using the word Mojo correctly.

    As for the whole topps gimmick thing, its become about as annoying as the Brett Favre story.

    Harner, keep your pants on, Will is a nice guy and meant no harm.

  3. I know Will is a nice guy and I respect him very much as a blogger, but sometimes you have to defend your home turf.

  4. Who said your home turf needed to be defended? Will called out a valid point.

    Plus, for someone that focuses so much on objectivity based on what some emails have told me, you really have posted non-objectively quite a bit on this topic. Will just called to light that All is not what it seems.

  5. If I have to be the one to say, it I will.

    Hug it out bitches!

  6. Fool me once, shame on you.

    Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Keep trying to fool me eight times after that and I'm just not going to believe you anymore.

    The key to all this is that Topps has an express and firm policy that they do NOT correct error cards. They do one run of the cards, destroy or pack out the press plates and that's it. If EVERY Fukudome card had the sticker square on the back, that would be an error. If EVERY Joba card from 2007 Updates and Highlights were a reverse negative, that would be a legit error. The fact that these error cards - ONLY of the hottest rookies on the market - keep popping up like clockwork mean that Topps is not following their own corporate policy (and lord do they make enough mistakes to warrant a second corrected printing) and is doing it on purpose to boost sales.

    There are conspiracy theories and there is Occam's Razor. Topps does not correct error cards. A corrected error card of a hot rookie has popped up two straight years in a row. What's the simplest explanation for this?

  7. I'm objective with the facts when they come out. I stated that there was a Fukudome error card on eBay and the crucial facts about it. Then I proceeded to give my opinion about what I thought because, you know, that's what journalists do.

    I then followed up on my initial post with new information I have.

    I also see that Chris Harris has gone from gimmick to calling it a legit error card overnight. Someone might want to mention to him he can't do that like you did to me? Just a thought.

    And as for that e-mail, I told him that yes. I don't want a Beckett basher in my blogroll because I have no problem with the company. Yet, you can't call me a homer there because I've reported more negative than positive about them.

    So let's put it here, I've been trying to contact Topps myself about this card. I will not say anything more about barring hearing from Topps or another big development.

    That way, we can call this whole thing done. Agreed?

  8. First off, objectivity is a myth.

    Secondly, editorial journalists give opinion, "objective" journalists report. If a person who reports gives outright opinion, they are very much in trouble - if it gets through the editor.

    So, if you want to belittle a new blogger because he isnt objective, thats crap, because neither are you. If you dont want to deal with him because he posts about something you disagree with, thats different. And lastly, if you want to tell someone that you wont put them on the blogroll - which no one ever does around the blogosphere - do it nicely, which you didnt.

    We are a close knit community, and for you to do what you did to a new blogger was uncalled for. I put anyone on the blogroll who asks, as does everyone I have met on here, and I have never had any problems. And dont worry, Beckett wont remove you from their blogroll if you link to beckett hating sites.

    Ask Mario.

  9. Oh, and sorry for hijacking this Will, I had a few emails from three different people about this situation.

  10. I'm not worried about being on Beckett's blogroll. I haven't even read their blog in weeks. Do you really think I need Beckett to still get consistent traffic? I think not.

    Objectivity is not a myth, and it is practiced on Cardboard Mania mixed in with some opinion. That's how the blog world works. Facts mixed with opinion. I'm in journalism school, I think I'm qualified to know what a blog is.

    And being my own entity, I can say whatever I want anyway. You obviously say what you want and are not even close to objective a lot of times. I'm sure you can find some posts on my blog where I was completely objective. In fact, I'll assure it, but you'll find a whole lot more on there that are.

    As for the new blogger, I told him very nicely why I wasn't including him. I didn't say anything out of line to him, I just explained my blogroll policy. I don't just accept anyone like some people.

    I don't know what he told you, but I have the e-mails to prove that I said nothing negative. I told him I was sorry I couldn't include a blog with his beliefs and wished him luck in future blogging. I never once belittle him or stated that I was better. As you said, I disagree with what he posted - his title and description - and as you said, that's different.

    I hold a little bit higher standard than some people in this blogsphere. You won't find a swear word in any of my posts, and I give appropriate coverage to all areas of the hobby; some more than other. I'm sorry I don't just let anyone become linked from my site.

    Honestly, I don't agree with a lot of the things you say, and that is why you don't have a link on my site.

    No one cries when Mario changes his top 7 and takes someone off his site completely do they?

    Now I have an idea, let's call this over. I don't have any more time to waste arguing with someone I don't even know who's telling I did something I didn't. Good day, I'll continue reading and commenting like always and happy blogging.

  11. Thats cool. Dropped.

    I must have gotten some wrong info if you were in fact nice to him. My apologies.

  12. Wow, I go out shopping for a couple of hours and I come back to find more comments on this entry than any other I've done!


    Harner - I will apologize for my remarks in the last paragraph, however, this is the second time that a single opinion of mine has been taken by another blogger and blown up out of proportion, and let's face it, snark is the tone of this blog, and thus I write in the appropriate tone. If you were offended, well, I'm sorry, but my perceptions were that you took my single entry to being indicative of the entire blogosphere, or at least a large majority of individuals, and that's just misrepresentation. I would love for my words to be that influential, but I just don't see that they are, at the moment anyway.

    I have no idea what you and Gellman were discussing on the whole blog roll issue, so I'll leave that alone.

    But, getting back to the original issue at hand, it's just unfathomable to me that such a large company as Topps is that they would deliberately create such a card and distribute it outside of their normal distribution channels just to make a few bucks. Things just don't happen that way in corporate America.

    Now, am I saying that some single employee of Topps or group of employees at Topps aren't doing something that's not 100% above board? No, I'm not. That scenario is still in play here, and until we hear from Topps regarding this particular card, we can only go by what their corporate reps have to say, which is the research that I did.

    The other gimmick cards that have enraged collectors in the past several years, despite how much collectors may dislike them, are all legitimate cards that are acknowledged as such by the company. Except in the case of the Alex Gordon card, when clearly legal issues created a problem in the hobby.

    Dayf - you make an interesting point about the error cards, in this particular case, I don't believe that this card was ever intended for distribution. My belief is that at some point in the design and manufacturing process either Fukudome couldn't or wouldn't sign the stickers, or Topps didn't get them back on time.

    I don't see any other autograph listings for Fukudome, so that leads me to believe that he hasn't signed any cards yet. I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong. I do now see that there are a whopping NINE of these cards now on eBay, and who knows how many others are out there.

    The real oddity here is that all the other Bowman Chrome cards have the facsimile signature on the front, and this one doesn't. While I don't have one in my possession to check, I would venture to guess that the standard set card doens't have the "not valid" box on the back either.

    So let's wait and see what Harner can come up with and see if we can really get to the bottom of it, because to me it's a fascinating mystery.

    Oh and I'll have to do more research on the other errors mentioned, because I don't know enough about them to really have an opinion.

  13. Just to be clear Will, you did read where I said it wasn't you that made me change me stand?