Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is It Really That Shocking?

Before March of 2008, the only known scam on the market was related to stuff perpetrated by secondary market collectors, mainly fake cards, fake patches, and trimmed cards, etc. Any manufacturer stuff, wasnt prevelant at the time. People just didnt have it on their mind. Mainly people focused their hatred of manufacturers through their thoughts about redemptions and how they were the devil because of the ridiculous time frame that was needed for them. There really wasn’t a widespread feeling of the industry operating under the table in underhanded techniques. Most people didn’t even think poorly about Beckett due to their enormous message board and magazine. Even though the guide was out of date and really didn’t make much sense, people didn’t really care.

Then we were exposed, almost brick in the face style, to what could happen when scams are perpetrated by the manufacturers rather than the collectors on the secondary market. It pained more people to see the magazine that they loved as kid be at the forefront of it, mainly due to their obvious prior notification of the reception of the scam boxes. This was a new era in cards.

Immediately, within hours, there were consipiracy theories that dated back pre-youtube and video breaks, automatically assuming that this was only the first UNCOVERED scheme of unethical behavior, and really there were tons of instances before that time which were never brought to light. Manufacturers were almost assumed to supply their best customers with loaded boxes and cases, and there were plenty other ideas that were thrown out there. It was always sort of a "my cousin's friend" type of thing, but it made sense at the time.

Simultaneously, Card Sharks became completely relevant again. What was McWilliams up to now? What scam was he pulling to fatten his wallet all over again, just like in 1989? The question was very relevant and still is. I had an epiphany at that time, and I consider myself a saved Joe Collector since that point when the house of cards (no pun intended) came tumbling down.

Personally, Card Sharks is/was not shocking to me in the least. Im sure there is stuff today that makes those 1989 scams look like an 8 track when compared to a CD. I have always preached that where ever there is money to be made, someone will be there to exploit it. When stuff comes to light, some people even shield themselves from it to prevent any preconceived trust from being destroyed. We are just not equipped to deal a leader in the industry also being the worst thing for it.

Whether its "game used" swatches that really werent used in games despite their labeling, or handing over the best cards to all the best customers instead of packing them out, I guarantee it has happened and it will surely continue. If you add in a guy like McWilliams, who's ethics have already been tainted by previous experiences that have come to light, anything becomes part of the realm of possibility.

That means, for me, when I see this stuff come to be known, I become happy that we get to see it. It doesn’t shock me, but it does make me angry. I will say that when something big does happen, and there is an inkling of proof of wrongdoing, it will not stop with me and this blog. Collectors are more informed now, the global community is tiny in the space between communication thanks to the internet, which means if you do something bad, its going to come out somehow. When it does, get ready for the shitstorm of anger that will rain down upon you in both words and wallets. The card industry is teetering on extinction, lets hope the execs realize this fact, and change their ways. It’s a pipe dream, I know, but I havent given up hope in change.



  1. The hobby is not teetering on the edge of extinction, but the industry might be. There is a big difference between the two. Don't mistake one for the other.

  2. I think Steve has a good point. For guys like me, if the Big 3 quit making cards tomorrow, it wouldn't matter that much. There's probably another 20 or 30 years worth of Dawson cards that I've never seen or heard of for me to collect.

    You'd probably see a big jump in prices across the board, but I still wouldn't run out of things to collect, because there are 10's of 1000's of un-opened wax boxes out there, probably just from the last 5-6 years.

  3. Thank you for the clarification, you are correct.

  4. I think it will be more "Industry" then hobby with Ebay and many other "portals" readily available to turn your "hobby" into a business. When it truly was a hobby no one was that concerned with Beckett values or what it sells for on ebay. It is easy to blame the "Industry" for the situation we are in today, but in my opinion the "hobby" shares blame as well for getting away from the roots of what made this great when we were kids...MOO

  5. I think that one of the reasons for the lack of ethics in the hobby is the poor quality of management.

    Most of the people involved in management, be it at Beckett, PSA, Upper Deck, Topps, or the auction houses are former collectors or dealers, not professional managers. You could probably count the number of people in the card industry who have worked for a Fortune 500 company or who have a MBA on one hand.

    While lack of a professional management training and experience doesn't explain the lack of ethics, since Wall Street and Fortune 500 companies can be just as unethical as the card dealer down the street, it does, to some extent, explain the poor quality of management that pervades the hobby.

    As Steve noted on his blog, card manufactuers are probably the only retail companies out there that do not do extensive market research before releasing a new product, and probably the only companies that worry about where to slot a product into their release calendar before they've even designed it.

    No offense, but a bunch of high school kids could manage these companies better than their current management does....

  6. When it comes down to it, I think that you are correct that the hobby will continue with or with out the big 3. Plus, I would assume that there will always be someone to take up the Mantle (literally) and run with it. Will they ultimately be sucessful? Who knows.

    But, I will say this. Just because there is a lack of management or ethics, does not give them an excuse to fuck us over.

  7. Will it continue for a new Generation of collectors with any of the big three? It is selfish to say that there will always be Andre Dawson cards to collect, but what about kids that want to collect cards of a new generation of stars? I think people need to look in the mirror and control what they buy instead of thinking everyone is out to fuck them over. I am not a fan of any of the so called big three or four, but when this "hobby" as turned into "hey, I paid $100 for this and only got $25 ebay sales" then who is at fault there?

  8. If you are wondering who is at fault for the value that you lose in box breaks, its really just the price increase. Bigger dollar gambles will have big jackpots and lots of losers. Thats the way it has worked for the last 10 years, and I think it drew A LOT of people to this hobby, both good and bad.

    If you want to blame the manufacturers for putting out thousands of jersey and auto cards until you cant breathe anymore, I think that its partially to blame. Then again, the manufacturers probably wouldnt be where they are today without that idea.

    If you think we should blame ourselves for buying, I think you would be right as well. But, as long as I think the cards look cool, I will buy. If they suck, I wont/dont. The crazy thing is that you have a lot of people who buy just to buy, because they think they can make money. Those are the people that also help create that gap, because they foster the idea that cards only exist as a way to make money.

  9. Just to clear a couple of things up.

    1. Steve noted in one of his recent interviews that one of the problems with the hobby is that the upper mgmt at Upper Deck are NOT collectors. They are in fact MBA's, etc. who know jack shit about sports cards.

    2. I really don't care if it's selfish to only care about what I collect. Why should I care about anything else?

    I'm am either in a hobby shop, Target, or Wally World 3-4 times a week. There AREN'T any kids buying sports cards, period. There might be a clueless parent buying their 12 year old a blaster of Opening Day for $10, but I guarantee you 99 times out of 100 that kid would rather have Yu Gi Oh or anything else besides baseball cards.

  10. Woah Anon. You may only have $25 of ebay sales, but you probably have $250 of Beckett value. Soooo, yeah. Lets keep things in perspective.

    (drink with heavy sarcasm)

  11. Anybody who buys a baseball card as an investment, or spends an insane amount of money without carefully weighing the potential outcomes, is a doofus who deserves to be screwed. It's a hobby that's supposed to be fun. I personally don't give a fuck if all the card companies and dealers close down tomorrow. There's plenty of product out there and I'm cool to look at my dinged-up old $30 Mantle or shiny new 10-cent Pujols. You don't want to lose $5,000 investing in a baseball card? Simple: don't spend $5,000 on a baseball card.

  12. Given the ongoing bastardisation (proper English spelling of the word - remember,the language is English, not American) of the hobby by Upper Deck, I hope you really stick it to Gregg Kohn in your next talk with him. Otherwise (and I truly hope this isn't the case) you appear to be a coward - all willing to shoot your mouth off about something when you can censore people's replies, but lacking the courage to do it when you are face to face with a person.

  13. Dude, I said I was sorry for accidentally rejecting one of your comments. If you want to include that in every one of your comments, its fine, but at least know that I said I was sorry a while ago.

    In case you missed it, Im sorry again.

    Now, in the interest of the main point of your comment, I will say this. Currently, Gregg is not returning emails of mine since I posted the letter about the plant closing. Secondly, if I do have another conversation with him, I will call em as I see em. The first time we talked, he had some very candid thoughts on my opinion of where upper deck stood with the collectors, and I am sure he would share those with you. Considering that the topic has already been discussed, I dont see a need to bring it up and further damage a strained, if not destroyed, relationship.

    In addition to the fact that he hasnt returned my emails, he also did not answer any of the questions from the readers that he said he would. I am very disappointed in that for sure.

  14. Gellman,
    Check out
    They just posted a new article exposing the autopenned (machined signed) and secretarial autographs found in UD and Razor Presidential Cuts cards.

  15. That's fine, you accidentally deleted one of my comments.

    However, what I am referring to is the fact that you have admitted to not posting other people's comments that attack you. That is your choice, it's your blog. However, to me at least, this doesn't send the right message given some of your attacks on others.

    However, that a the minor point which I will move on from.

    As for Upper Deck, why does your response on Upper Deck giving you the cold shoulder not surprise me? To me this indicates that the negative things said about Upper Deck are likely true - because if it wasn't, wouldn't you want to set the story straight? I mean, if there was a different side to the story, wouldn't you want it put out there?

    It just goes to show the utter contempt they seem to have for the people who buy their products. At least that is what it looks like to me.

  16. Well, I will address it if it continues to be a problem. Right now, they have just not returned my email. I would expect that for two reasons. First is the post with the email, but that may not be the case. Second is that they are too busy with Exquisite. I expect the first, but the latter is possible. Ill give them a chance before I post more.