Monday, October 26, 2009

Tuff Stuff Wants To Discover What's Wrong With The Hobby

Recently, Tuff Stuff has taken it upon themselves to go over what readers think is wrong with the hobby and to look for possible solutions. I think its a bold step, but in my opinion, a generally horrible idea in this format. First, the average reader has no fucking clue as to what is truly the more IMPORTANT bad things, and that will lead to a pretty boring list. Second, half the major problems in the hobby stem from things the magazine does themselves. Anyways, here is what their list will probably be, followed by mine.

TUFF STUFF PROJECTED LIST (not in order of importance):

1) Redemptions - I have said it before, its more the players than the companies that have problems with redemptions. If the players dont sign, the cards cant go out. I think the expectations set by the company, replacements for unsigned cards as well as lack of updates are the bigger problems. I will give kudos to Topps for publicizing their redemption updates via twitter.

2) Number of products - I cant tell you how much I hate it when people say that product variety is a problem. There are five million car companies, but no one ever complains that they have too many choices. Number of products as a complaint is shit. Just buy what you want and shut up.

3) Lack of kids/cost of boxes - Again kids havent been the primary focus of the hobby since the late 80s, and yet people think they are the answer to everyone's problems. Complete crap. As that relates to the cost of boxes, its easy to blame the companies again, but the players are just as much to blame. There are still a lot of lower end products that are good, and yet the variety thing comes into play again. Yes, there are very costly products, but they dont account for everything.

4) Fake patches/cards/autos - I agree with this one, but the only solution is a photo database that is easily accessible to everyone. There are a few users who have taken it upon themselves to take care of this themselves, but it isnt perfect.

5) Some sort of eBay complaint - eBay sucks at doing some things, but is great about others. I will say that I would take eBay the way it is any day than having to buy singles at shows or at stores.

MY LIST (not in order of importance):

1) Price Guides - There is no reason for a price guide, especially one that is run by people making money off the hobby. The guides out there present unrealistic expectations of value, and cause more problems than they solve. Their existence continues to show that this hobby is more about vanity and money than about fun.

2) Boring concepts / Gimmicks - This hobby has spiraled into a snoozefest of products that are not designed well and feature horrible concepts and themes. Its time to get a better design team in there that focuses more about a good looking product. No more rehashes, no more copycatting.

3) Beckett - Their arrogance of their place in the hobby, as well as the fact that they serve more as an ad vehicle rather than an objective source is detrimental to the people that still follow them. Beckett as a group is underhanded, vindictive, and ethically objectionable, and has yet to provide a worthwhile contribution to the hobby. They also have a public relationship with a card company that breaks all sorts of moral rules.

4) Grading/Authentication - there is no need for it, especially by humans. Besides being completely subjective and arbitrary, it is commonly used as a publicity machine as well as a way to please large customers. On top of all of this, Beckett sells their own graded cards. As for the authentication, there are so many stories of people sending in IP autos they themselves have gotten and not getting auth. Just shows that humans are just that, human.

5) Complacency of the companies towards Fake autos/Fake Patches - There hasnt been much done to counteract the criminal empire created by thieves on eBay. Ebay wont do anything, the card companies wont do anything, and the collectors only have so much of a voice. Until a bigger focus is made policy, we will continue to be victims of the great douches of the hobby.

6) Boxes for Review - Again, this whole practice solves absolutely nothing, and creates a ton of problems. There are currently more than 50 different groups of people who receive free product the companies. More than half hold a vested interest in the product's success. That means, ad money, publicity, reviews, etc. This is not just for highly produced stuff, but also the very limited products too. Beckett received 4 boxes of 2009-10 Exquisite Basketball. That is close to 2400 retail dollars of swag. Completely unacceptable considering that they price cards for over 50% of the uniformed hobby.

7) Lack of communication - Card companies are about as transparent as a lead door in this industry. There is rarely any info transmitted that actually gives collectors what they want, and that needs to stop. There needs to be better websites, more feedback, and more involvement with the collecting public. Talk to the boards instead of with Beckett.

8) Brand/Player/Sport exclusive contracts - there is nothing worse for collectors than exclusive anything. This should be at the top of everyone's list. The fact that there is only one NBA license and only one MLB license is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous that players like Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Jeter, Griffey, A-Rod, Pujols and company are only able to sign for one brand. That is a poor situation. Look at the NFL, there is no exclusives and it is one of the best places to start a player collection. So many choices, and that is a great thing!

In all reality, there could be a huge economic disaster, worse than the last few years, and the hobby would still survive. People like to collect shit. That will always be a given. The industry part may fall by the wayside, but cards will always be a commodity. So, to put together a list like this is easy, but pretty much ineffective. The effective part comes from the buying public, as they need to put their money where their mouth is. I have been practicing this for the last few years, only buying the stuff I like, instead of wasting my money on stuff that is just there, or buying because I am bored. As a result, I have a collection to be proud of, rather than a hoarded mess of cards I have no connection to. Hopefully others will follow suit and not give their money to products and company that shouldnt get it.


  1. I have been reading SU for about a year, and I almost appreciate everything that has been said on this blog, minus the Adrian Peterson Man-Crush and the over the top anti Beckett rants. Most people read this blog, because they agree with SU, not because they need convincing that Beckett pricing is worthless.

    I feel the most needed item to sustain the hobby is a magazine directed towards 10 - 16 year olds. Something that makes their growing collection relevant. Something that educates on how to take care of your cards, what kind of cards were around prior to them beginning in the hobby. Hot/cold list of players, not cards. I don't even think I care when the rookie of the week occupies 37 of the top 50 cards this month. I do like when Beckett writes about the undervalued RCs (10 under $10) and player and older set spotlights.

    Right now this hobby is sustained mostly by adult men with some disposable income. Most of whom started collecting in the 80's and ramped up in the 90's. The days of the card show and card shops. This is where the money is and this is who is driving the industry. Can kids find a way in easily with an nice RC anymore or are their tortured dreams littered with $200 autos, patches, and designs based on nothing to do with the player itself.

    My collection focuses on vintage pre 1986. I love the fact that I can get a nice Hank Aaron card from the 50's for about the same cost as a no name prospect gold refractor #'d to 50. In my mind I remember Beckett fondly as I poured over all of the cards I wish I could have, but couldn't afford. Now I can afford them and they sell for a 10th of what Beckett used to price them at. Either way it's Win-Win for me that e-bay is the new price guide.

    I believe Tuff Stuff realizes that the current hobby population can't support the industry indefinitely. That a larger younger population must be tapped. Sure the hobby can be past from parent to child, but last time I checked a sports card collection does not get you dates and should be mentioned only when it's no longer a deal breaker.

    I would say combine a few blogs such as Porter's prospect report, SU, Wax Heaven, and Bad Wax. Show some current e-bay sales of hot cards and you have a great magazine that will appeal to the collector. Of course SU would need to remove the anti Beckett posts.

  2. Lack of transparency is a good one and I'm with you on the box breaks.

  3. If I get one more Yankee Stadium Legacy, A-Roid Road to 5 Million, or any other stupid insert, I may kill someone.
    Also, the dearth of short prints drives me nuts. I have busted 6 hobby boxes, 20-30 blasters, and dozens of packs of 2008 Goudey...still don't have a damn complete set.

  4. I'm with you, and have always supported your anti-too many products crusade. But as I've been thinking about it more...there are too many products. I'm not talking about limiting choice, but car companies are a bad example. The failing car companies had too many products--the successful ones make one or two strong offerings per category. Releases with no clear target market or purpose should be eliminated, and companies should refocus to make strong releases in each market segment. There is just too much shit out there, and I buy less because of it. Maybe that's just me though.

  5. This was the best post I've read on the industry. Period.