Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Craziness Over Subjectivity

Mario posted recently about the Jordan rookie BGS 10 that has popped up on ebay with a feeding frenzy in tow. Wow, already over $50,000, right?

The question I have is whether or not we should actually trust that these cards are not just publicity stunts that have benefitted one fortunate collector. Since one cannot challenge the subjectivity of the grading process without destroying an obviously valuable piece, it falls on the shoulders of the buyers to avoid those cards .

As soon as Beckett created a higher-than-mint grade, we should have already questioned whether this was the point of the grading process in general. If you look at the cards that get the 9.5s and 10s over the 9s, even with a magnifying glass, show me the difference in grade between each of those levels. Each of you would have different answers. Considering the grading process was created as a service to help with internet buying, why should we believe that the graders have the means, as well as the expertise, to tell us when some piece of cardboard has exceeded the worldwide standard of mint? On the post, one of the commenters suggested this is a "we go to 11" type of standard to differentiate their process from others, and I wholeheartedly agree. As a result of this, when a card like the Jordan and the Montana receive those types of grades, things go nuts. If not only because it is publicized by the company that is responsible for the service. With that understanding, we should not have faith in the people known for having more conflicts of interest than any other hobby company in history. By giving a card that grade, especially one like this Jordan, having a system that prevents people from questioning the result, and the fact that Beckett receives almost national attention, its easy to see why its beneficial to manufacture an event like this. Obviously, the Jordan was graded a while ago, but it hasnt come up for sale since that time. Now that the Montana has sold for crazy go nuts prices, this card was sure to follow.

One of the things we have to realize is that there is not a specific standard that applies to each card without subjectivity. In the end, its always a human with emotions who makes the decision. Obviously when you price, sell and advertise these cards as well as providing the service itself, things are going to get suspicious with every public result. So, if a 10 to one person is a 9.5 to another, why do we allow these stunts to continue to grab our attention? As buyers, in an age when digital cameras and scanners are in the 10 megapixel range, this type of service isnt needed any more. Add in that most of the valuable modern cards are worth what they are regardless of condition, mainly due to contrived scarcity, the grading process then becomes even less of a necessity. As of now, the only reason to have this service is to allow people to exploit the grades they get for more money, make more money for a failing magazine, and to give another way for people to wrongly invest money in a medium that has a subjective element.

Until grading becomes more than a guy in texas examining your card, it will never be a worthy expense. Save yourself $80,000 and go buy a regular card. It will look just as nice, I promise.


  1. Got to agree - this seems like a publicity stunt just like the Montana circus a while back.

    However, I like graded cards in general. I collect vintage cards so grading does matter to me somewhat, especially when buying single cards off Ebay. If I can get a high-end graded card of a player for a good price, I'll do it. Too many douchebags on Ebay that inflate the condition of their cards -Near Mints that just turn out to be excellent once they arrive in the mail. I'm sick of that shit. At least I know what I'm getting with graded cards.

    However, I would never drop stupid amounts of cash on a card like the Jordan in question. You can get a PSA 9 Jordan rookie on Ebay for 1/50th the price and you still have a great card.

  2. Oh yeah, Beckett grading is a huge conflict of interest as you have documented many times. I still like PSA graded cards though, and here's why they're needed. Many old/vintage cards are highly counterfeited, and the Jordan rookie is a prime example. There's no way that I'd buy that card ungraded and take the chance that it's a fake. And the actual grade tells you what condition the card is in without seeing it in person. I agree that grading is a total waste for new cards, but for anything old that can be counterfeited and that has a value that is very dependent on the condition, PSA grading is very important.