Friday, January 30, 2009

Value Breakdown in 2009: Or Why Things Will Always Stay The Same

After reading some recent posts about hobby value and what contributes to it, I wanted to throw my opinion hat into the ring. Ill try to explain my perspective from both baseball and football, as they are vastly different, but its still relatively based on the same factors.

Number of products

I believe that the number of products contributes to the relative lack of value in baseball, but not as much as people think. As discussed before, baseball cards are no longer primed to be valuable because there arent many players under the MLB license that can garner a lot of value, and I don’t really think it matters that there are a lot of products. Personally, I like seeing more products because I see how many bombs there are each year. If there were less products, would companies spend more time on actually putting together worthwhile sets? I would hope so. Would it cost less for them to do it? Without a doubt, but they would also make less in sales due to less diversification. Would it be good for the hobby? Secondary market, yes, overall long term, no. Especially if they continued on the same path they are on now, and launched a slew of awful products. It would suck to wait three months for the next set to come out without anything to collect.


Innovation always sells well. When the jersey card first came out, it was the biggest thing ever. It still is, now, to a fault. In fact, I think that value hinges so much on innovation, that whenever the "Next Gen" jersey card comes out, whatever that may be, the hobby will change even more drastically than in 1996. Hell, even introducing super high-end products brought about a value revolution due to the sheer innovation of the cards that they produced. Dual, trip, and quad logos and autos, huge RC patch autos, cut autos at a large insertion rate, etc. all contributed to a value problems in the lower end.

A Well Put Together Card

Nothing beats a well put together card. Not contrived scarcity, not cost of the product, nothing. Look at SPA football as an example. They have been #2 on the value scale for a long, long time, even above the $400/pack juggernaut that is national treasures. You know why? Even though it is numbered above 100, even though the product only costs $100 per box, the cards ALWAYS look amazing. That drives value more than anything. They are always the cleanest cards, the best designed, and most importantly, they have a following based on years worth of good looking cards.


Brand name also drives a product's value, and that is why Panini will never make it in the NBA card market. Look at Razor baseball, for example. Even though they had every draft pick known to man, they had a problem because Chrome was king. Chrome also looked like it was a nicely produced set rather than a tristar set, so that also factors into it. Its almost the same reason that it is so tough to create a well put together set. Card companies that have the brand recognition/money already have half of what they need to drive a product. Because of that fact, many times, the other half is forgotten - design.


Sadly this category has recently been bastardized by Topps, but it still drives a card's worth. If your card is numbered, it is automatically worth that much more. Since this fact has been discovered by the companies, ALL CARDS are now numbered, so its not AS important as it was before. Because baseball players cant drive a card's value as much any more, a lot of the products put out by the big three, now focus on this to drive the secondary market.

Team Market

Lets face it, if you play in new york, boston, etc, you are going to have a more widespread market over the national scene than if you play in say, Minnnesota. I put Derek Jeter at the top of this list, as I think he stands for everything this rule is about. The sad thing is that I think this is hurting the baseball part of the hobby more than anything, as the Yankees and Red Sox are the only cards that worth anything when it comes to current players.

When it comes down to it in the end, value will decline as the economy gets worse, and come up when the economy gets better. It wont be solved by fixing just one aspect of this equation, as not one of these by themselves direct the value of a card. Besides, if our focus continues to be to drive up value in the secondary market, the primary market will not necessarily follow the same path. Just because Albert Pujols' BC RC Auto is worth thousands because there are no parallels and not as many products from that year, does not mean that it could be duplicated under the same circumstances today. It is a different market each year, and yet we always try to compare the new market to one of the past. Its time to realize that 1996 was 12 years ago and things are going to happen in a much different fashion. We can wish all day long that things would go back to our personal definition of the golden years, but the reality is that the new way is here to stay regardless of our own feelings.

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