Monday, August 24, 2009

In The Times Of Great Douchebaggery, It Becomes Our Responsibility

Over the last year and a half, there has been a lot of stuff that I have written about in terms of the dark underbelly of the hobby. Much to the chagrin of a few people, Beckett has been the center of about 90% of it. I really dont think that people understand just how bad it can get, as its still unclear as to how far down the rabbit hole goes. Most people just think about it from a standpoint that its just a hobby and they dont care as long as they get whatever they usually do via ebay or the local shop. The issue is, that this hobby is one based on chance and random, so any dillution of those factors has an impact on anyone who participates in the purchase of cards. Therefore everyone should feel the effect with each card that is taken out of circulation.

One of the major pain points for people like me, is that the stuff that is given to people who have no business receiving it. Whether its product, swag, or just ad money in general, free stuff complicates everything, especially when you have done nothing to receive it. Since I first started up March 2007, Beckett has been the prime focus of my anger, mainly because of all of the stuff they do that compromises the integrity of their perceived place as THE hobby news source. Most of the time, with every product release, Beckett gets a box full of stuff to pass around to their lackeys, with wax being a main focus. I have gotten emails from former Beckett employees talking about all the stuff that comes through the door, and just how little of it actually makes it to the people its supposed to go to - you. So far this year alone, Beckett has received close to 50 boxes of product from companies that have actually made it onto video. There are many more that dont, according to my sources. This is completely frustrating to collectors once they find out how much money they are actually getting, in addition to the ad money for products in the magazine. Why is this acceptable for a "news source" to receive? It creates a huge problem.

Then we have the recent video, where Beckett has received a full case of Exquisite Basketball from Upper Deck. This is the first public box of Exquisite they have received from Upper Deck since the 2007 fiasco, despite the fact that we have been told a number of times that it wouldnt be happening again. When you think of the fact that a case of Exquisite can cost in upwards of $1,800, its a little bit more apparent how much money Beckett receives from the companies each year. I think this is a direct reflection of the companies themselves, as they should know better than to flaunt their subtle kickbacks to the magazine that can easily make or break a product. As for Exquisite, a product that features one of the lowest print runs of any product ever produced, it is also unfair to expect collectors to sit back and watch Beckett receive all they do, when so few of the cards actually exist. Its funny too, because they tell us how all these cards are going to be available for the public to win in contests, but I have yet to see how that is even remotely true. Sure, some the fifteen pulls of a lifetime and 1 of 1s they have pulled since 2007 have been given out to contest winners, but why are those enormous pulls even going to Beckett in the first place? What does that accomplish for the collectors in general? More and more are seeing through the practice of doing the video box breaks, so why even risk it?

Its become a disgusting display each time Hackler and the Giant appear on their vid player, as we can see the grease in the wheels being replentished with each turn. Its pretty much become a display of the constant arrogance and douchebaggery that Beckett displays every time. This is the same arrogance that makes them spit on the blogs saying they dont deserve the news, when in reality, many blogs are ten times the news source they are. On top of all of this, there is zero reason why Beckett cannot tap into the thousands of collector videos on youtube, or why the manufacturers cannot do the same. Video box breaks have reached a point of parody, as we have seen with "Packs to the People," a feature created to break the monotony of the breaks. Based on that premise, Beckett's breaks should go the way of the dodo as well.

As for the rest of the shipments that Beckett gets almost daily, its time for the general collector base realizes the giant conflict of interest at work. If Upper Deck decides that providing thousands of dollars worth of product in one shipment is worth the exposure when the boxes are broken for the world, its our job to continually voice our disapproval. Beckett has become an organization whose sole purpose is promote an agenda of certain interests that pad their bottom line. When you see that the only reason for their existence is to make money for the parent company, it becomes very clear that they have zero responsibility to maintain content that has informative purposes rather than advertisement purposes. Look down the product lines, and really see what is being sold to people. Is it information, or is it instead ways for the companies to garner more revenue on product sales resulting from what is laid out in the pages?

The one indisputable fact is this:

This whole situation is a double edged sword, bloodied by the wounds of the dishonesty displayed by both Beckett and the card companies. When the companies, like Upper Deck and the recent Exquisite break, send the boxes for Beckett to break, the collectors lose. Not just because the cards in those boxes are no longer available for collectors to pull, but because it creates an environment where people who dont know any better are preyed upon. Its obvious that Upper Deck didnt care how much backlash they would get from the people in the know, because they knew there would be thousands who would see it. Also, it may have begun to repair a damaged relationship with the magazine over relationships created with blogs like Wax Heaven and this one. Clearly Beckett didnt care about any voiced disapproval because they got those thousands to watch it and come to their site. Because of this, it is now our responsibility to call them out as publically as possible, just to show them the thousands who will now spread the word against their practices. I may only get 600 visitors here per day, but if 200 of those people tell one friend, and they tell another, you can see what I mean. Its time for you guys to really show what you are about.

19 comments:

  1. So do collector's lose when the companies send boxes to Sports Card Forum, Trade Cards Now, Wax Heaven, etc. to break too? Your written argument says yes, but I bet you say no.

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  2. Any of it. Free product should not be given out just for being a news source. I was asked to do a similar thing as mario has done, but turned it down. If every box offered the same thing, and had no chance or odds, it would be different. Especially when you think how few cases of exquisite were produced.

    Then when you see just how many crazy pulls Beckett has had out of so few boxes, then you know what I mean.

    I have managed to review just about every FB product just from my access to local stores, ebay and the message boards. I dont need the company to send me shit for me to cover it. I see enough of it on my own.

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  3. Ah yes, the Weekly "Let's bring down Beckett" rant. 2 years of this buffoonary and still trying to stir the pot. I guess if you got some swag, it would all cool beans. Unfortuantely (for you), you've burned so many bridges that you're now just a skidmark on the hobby, along with Upper Deck. The jealousy just reeks.

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  4. Ryan, being the only beckett apologist I have known, Ive always wondered why you always come back. You take the time to read what I say, take more time to leave a comment, and then take even more time to check back and leave more comments. You sure invest a lot of effort in something that brings so much odd frustration out of you.

    Maybe if someone else had won those NFL tickets you won from Beckett, you wouldnt be walking around with your hands over your eyes and ears. So far, all you have exhibited is typical Beckett arrogance in that no one else deserves a voice. I guess its no surprise considering that you write for them (however stupid your SP articles may be).

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  5. I didn't have to read the whole attempt, just the first few lines that mention Beckett, then I knew what it would be about. You tend to repeat yourself over and over again until it just becomes boring and listless. It's fun to needle you because I know you take it to heart.

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  6. And, for the record, I have no problem with other's opinions. Mario and I had a relatively pleasent conversation over email a few nights ago. It's people like you, who have very little experience in the card market/business/hobby who spout off "facts" that are blatantly false and are the fruits of pent-up frustation over other, non-related, things. I respect Mario's opinion, he's be in the game for a long time now. You're still a rookie with a lot to learn.

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  7. I'm a little torn on this topic. In general, I don't a problem with any company sending samples of their products for review whether it is a card company or any other product. But there are some caveats...

    1) The sample must be an average representation of the product. For example, a car critic should not receive a souped up, customized vehicle. He should get the average car off the line. For cards, they (Beckett, WaxHeaven, etc) should get a random box. No loaded boxes.
    2) There should be no strings attached to the sample. Advertising dollars, future samples, etc should not require positive reviews. Other industries can handle this. For example, video game magazines review free copies from games and accept advertising dollars, but they still can provide some horrible reviews. It can be done. But is it?
    3) There should be no substantial personal enrichment. Any product of any value should not be retained by the company or any individual. Most companies have policies that don't allow gifts of any value (usually a minimum between $15 and $25). In this case, it's better to give away the cards than to trash them after a review.

    I can see your point about rarer cards not being to buy in packs if they wind up in sample boxes. But if one accepts the concept that sample boxes are OK, then that is going to happen on occasion. It is a problem though if they get loaded boxes. Otherwise they would have to intentionally pack "bad" boxes which wouldn't be representative of the product and wouldn't be very good advertising.

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  8. I agree in general with the premise here. I tend to lean toward NTX's opinion. Most industries have samples, but none are used to prop themselves up in the same way Beckett does.

    Beckett uses 'Contest' give-aways to drive readership and web-page hits, in turn driving advertising. And sometimes keeping cards of large value for their own gain. I specifically remember David Lee keeping a SP Authentic 3 Color Patch Auto of Vince Young.

    That is the part you don't see in other industries. And it's wrong.

    A better option would be to actually do a series of videos where they send someone (preferably a new hire) across the country sampling boxes at Hobby Shops by actually buying the boxes live. Then they could give the cards directly to kids in the shop. Keeping none for themselves.

    Talk about building loyalty from the ground up. A series like that, combined with rejecting all future direct samples would go a long way toward gaining back some respect from people within the hobby.

    As far as Ryan goes, if you are going to argue that Gellman lies by making up 'facts' as you put it, please enlighten the rest of us as to what those points are. By just saying Gellman is a rookie with a lot to learn and not revealing to the readers of what you are referring to makes you come off as just some schlub who writes crappy articles for the very magazine you pretend to objectively defend.

    Wait . . .

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  9. The heart of the matter is that Beckett doesn't add anything to the hobby. As soon as you realize that their price guides are worthless and that graded cards are bologna you understand that Beckett doesn't do anything worthwhile for your hobby enjoyment. What would happen if Beckett went away tomorrow? Nothing.

    Ryan, why do you stand up for Beckett?

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  10. I think the difference is that samples from this industry are different, mainly because of serial numbered cards and low print runs. Its especially problematic for a product like exquisite, where every card has practically 100 copies or less.

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  11. Gellman, did UD respond through Twitter when you asked them why they sent over a case to Beckett?

    For the record, I know you have always been against companies sending free products out to anyone.

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  12. Here is my problem with the Beckett Book; A dude has a Griffey Jr. on eBay that I want. He will not sell it for less than "BOOK" value. The damn card has been there all summer. No one has paid his exorbitant, inflated price. I have offered many reasonable offers...dude just says "it books for $450". Stupid book believers.

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  13. Voluntarheel's idea about how to do reviews is damn near perfect. It would give exposure to hobby shops as well, the success of which is vital to the success of Beckett (sales of publications). I actually would read those, if they did a tour of five hobby shops in a region, busting the same product at each, and doing some kind of community outreach at each location.

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  14. Agree with this post. People are writing this off as a rant like some other posts, but this is an argument that I agree with. Ever since the 07 Exquisite breaks, it's clear what both the UD and Beckett agendas contain. Although, blogs are not holier than thou. I don't think you give any company but UD a fair shake, not sure why but it is what it is, and its not just design, you don't slam UD over real crummy stuff the way you do other brands. I tend to think it's sycophant behavior for the access they give bloggers, not all that different from Beckett. How about that guy that did the Mayo review too, he gave it huge ratings, even though its condition sensitive, the sell-sheet was robbery, and the value wasn't great. Bloggers do this all the time. That's just my view that could very well be wrong, and I read you regularly now because your content is great for the most part, so it's not a personal attack you seem to get from these folks leaving comments.

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  15. Although, blogs are not holier than thou. I don't think you give any company but UD a fair shake, not sure why but it is what it is, and its not just design, you don't slam UD over real crummy stuff the way you do other brands.

    All blogs are is opinion, and in my opinion UD is the best Football brand there is. I think most people would agree on the design aspect part of that. Having access doesnt hurt, but it doesnt sway things the way people think.

    People say that I dont cover the crap UD does, but really, its the fact that every other company does more wrong than right in football. Considering that football is what I follow, I dont really get to a lot of the baseball stuff, so it seems like I ignore it. Mainly its that I dont look into it.

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  16. I can understand that. UD is the better brand in football. Donruss used to be my favorite, but we all know what that has produced lately.

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  17. Fuck Upper Deck Gellman. They are far more to blame in this situation. Beckett is not going anywhere so get used to it. Still around after all your predictions. You need to quit sucking Gregs cock and call him on the carpet.

    -wheeler281

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  18. Wheels, I havent spoken with anyone over at UD in months.

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