Friday, July 31, 2009

Carrying the Banner - Rob From VOTC

My friend and yours, Rob from Voice of the Collector, should be walking around the national show this weekend with a very special shirt that was produced especially for the occasion. His idea, posted on his blog, was to produce a custom "Beckett Sucks" t-shirt for him to walk the show floor in, to which I offered to pay for his costs of creating said shirt. After the money was donated and the shirt was delivered, I realized this could be a pretty worthwhile adventure due to his tenacity and hatred for all things douchey. Personally, I wanted him to put "Ask me why!" on the back of it, but then I thought he wouldn’t be able to enjoy his trip with constant bombardment from the thousands of JCs that are at the show.

Either way, if you see Rob and his t-shirt tribute to the hobby's number one source on douchebaggery, go and take a picture with him. Send them to me so I can get a gallery going of our exploits. Obviously this shirt isnt going to be an OMG!! type of thing at the show, but it’s a good inside joke for the people who read the blogs here and at VOTC. Be sure to give him a whistle or two just so he feels pretty, or at least the call of a dying giraffe so he knows you are with him.

As for Rob, he shouldn’t get kicked out of the show, nor cause a ruckus, yet, I wanted him to hang around Panini's booth and Beckett's booth and take some photos himself. I hope he comes through big, it’s a great banner for his site, and I even have a feeling that they will think he is me. Even though I couldn’t be there in person due to work, I will at least get to have some lame fun at the expense of a few people I dislike.

We all have seen Beckett walking around Panini's booth on video, highlighting all the offerings from their butt buddies, how great would it be to get him in one of those? I would laugh pretty hard.

Rob, Here's to your reckless and humorous take on sticking it to the man.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can We Ever Trust Buybacks Again?

Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time discussing fake autos, fake patches, and all sorts of scams across this hobby. Lately the amount of certain types of fakes has nearly quadrupled, leading me to question every single part of every auto that makes it on eBay. Its tiring really.

One of the scams that has blown up recently has been the production of fake buybacks, mostly bad ones. Sellers take cards that are pretty much worthless unsigned, and sign them illegitamately themselves under the auspices that the card was re-purchased by the manufacturer and signed officially. The term for these cards is "buyback" because the company actually goes out and buys unsigned versions of old cards for signatures. They are pretty rare in most cases, unless you look at a product like Bowman Originals, a set comprised completely of buybacks.

The problem is, people have found ways to transfer stickers or cases that usually secure the cards as real. This has caused a boom in fakes, and even people who just dont care enough to do it the convincing way.

When it comes to any future buybacks, im pretty much going to say right now that this situation has prevented me from buying one ever again. Now that Rookie Premiere Autographs are ruined, as well as these, non-scam ridden card types are dropping like flies. Of course, because companies REFUSE to do anything to prevent it, and eBay makes tons of money off it, no one will ever force them to stop.

Hopefully, over the next few years, companies can find a way to make the cards tamperproof. However, when you see that people can fake slabs on PSA cards, its going to be really tough to figure out a way to stop the scammers. I say that educating the uneducated is the best answer, even though there are people out there who think that one shouldnt do anything until they are scammed themselves. As stupid as that sounds, these douchebags take advantage of every edge they can get. Give em an inch and they take a mile. Do you have any ideas?

How Bad Of A Sticker Dump Is 2009 Topps Football?

Yesterday I talked about that 2009 Topps Football was one of the best looking Base Topps products they have done in a long time. I also said that you should wait before you buy, because of how far the product price will drop over the course of the season. Dont believe me? Check this picture out:

That was from a couple of cases at six boxes a case. That means that he averaged an Earl Bennett autograph every other box, and that most likely he had a few boxes that contained both Bennett and either Avant or Hester.

I know that the lower Groups of autos have pretty much per box odds, but to get the same guys box after box after box must be frustrating. This person busted two cases and did not pull one RPA, but he did pull so many bad autos that there is no way he could ever make his money back.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, as people have been reporting awful collation in their cases. Maybe later cases have better autos, but its becoming obvious that most of these cards were created to dump the thousands of stickers from awful players in their vault. Magic was similar in the dump, and I am guessing that Triple Threads (barf) wont be much better.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Still No Progress On 1st Round Pick Signings

What the fuck?

Thats all I have to say right now.

As of right this second, there hasnt been any type of movement in the signings of just about every fucking draft pick on the board. Although the second round picks are finally inking those contracts, Stafford, Sanchez and Mack seem to be the only ones who will sign before training camp begins.

I have one question for the rookies, and its basically why they are waiting to the last possible minute to sign? Most of the time, if you hold out, you are at a disadvantage for the first season of your career and possibly longer. That means less money in the future, which makes me wonder if they are so greedy in the short term that they arent thinking about the long term.

Seriously, some stuff gets worse by the day, for example, Crabby Crabtree and his quest for top 3 money. Even though he WASNT top 3, he wants the money, thus forcing Hey-Bey's people to wait, and of course forcing all the others to wait on everyone before them. Fuck, Maclin cant even negotiate a first year salary due to the 25% rule, so why cant they just hammer it out?

If this is going to be a year without any rookies in camp, there is going to be a tough decision for many teams on approaching contracts with the same ideas as before, or adapting to fit new demands. I sincerely hope that they teach these idiots and their agents a lesson, force them to sign under normal terms instead of caving. That means that if Freeman wants to hold out and ruin his first season, let him. It will be a lesson that you dont bite the hand that feeds you. Its going to be better if he sits anyways, so force his hand. See how far they will let the prospect of a starting job inflate the dollar signs in his Agent's eyes. Also, I think its more beneficial to approach things the way the Eagles did rather than starting at the top and working down. Maybe thats what the Bucs should do.

Meanwhile, my two favorite background guys have signed, Laurinaitis with the Rams for four years, and Loadholt with the Vikings for an undisclosed contract. I hope both of them have good seasons.

To keep up with things, here is a good link for RC contract updates.

Product Review: 2009 Topps Football

When it comes to Topps products, much of their success hinges on the content of their base set and Chrome series. Both Base Topps and Chrome this year have looked promising, and we get our first taste starting today. Before I move into the review of the set, I want to say that this could be the first time I would support buying any of the base product instead of chrome, as it seems as though topps has really took stock of the necessity for having content in the base set.


I applaud the Topps designers for the great design this year for the base and for Topps chrome. I really like it a lot, and I especially like that each card is team color coordinated. The border on the design gives maximum space for the picture, unlike 2008, and you can really tell that the photos have benefitted from it. The 2008 cards suffered from cramped pictures taken from a mile away, where 2009 seems to be more up close and personal. I cant tell you how much better this makes the product, as what is true for base is true for chrome.

Topps has also gone with a number of variations in the base set, something I think is necessary to show collectors that the base set is worth your money. Before, it was almost stupid to buy this product unless you always collected the base set or if you were going to go after the rookie premiere autos. Now, it seems like there is more content for you to go after, mainly because the extra content seems to be very, very rare. I wholeheartedly support this, as I never thought of Base Topps as worth my or anyone's time, but these could do a lot for the set.

They have also included throwback retro cards that resemble the famous National Chicle Bronko Nagurski card, which is how I wish most retro sets would be done. No need to do a whole fucking National Chicle set when they look just as good as add ons to a set that never has anything worth getting. Im still not quite sure why 2009 is the year of the National Chicle invasion, but I am much more apt to support it as an insert than a focus of a particular product.

Personally, I think low end is the last thing that Topps has going for it when it comes to football, and I am glad to see they did a really good job with it this year. Color me very satisfied.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

In base topps there are two types of autos that one can always expect. The first is always one of the most anticipated cards of the year in the Rookie Premiere autos, and this year they are great. I stayed far away from the 2008 RPAs because of the weird flag they used in the background of the pictures and the lack of a good border design, but 2009 has cured all and made it better. The way they incorporated the autograph into the new design is great, thus alleviating the concern that they would just draw a white line above the bottom of the border and fill it in with a white space for the player to sign. I think that of the last 5 years, 2009 could be the best of all of them when it comes to these cards, and you will see that the value will follow.

When looking at the duals and the quads, the way they adapted everything was very cool. It seems as though over the last few years they just made the multiples look like multiple cards pasted together, however, this year its different. I really like them a lot, and I may even have to put in some cash on a Moreno/Staffford one.

As for the second type of auto, the unfortunately named Career Best autos look so much better in terms of design this year, something which makes me that much happier about the product. Last year they looked ridiculous, while this year they look polished and well put together. Even though they are stickers, the stickers are done well. I have said before that a sticker should be produced as if it were on card, and topps has definitely made strides in making this the case. Still not 100% awesome, but so much better.

Rating =

Relic Cards

Topps has tried to make a push with Manufactured Non-Autoed Letter cards in this set, which was something I hoped would stay quarrantined in UD Icons. I said before that I really dislike the use of these cards, though the design in Icons this year had alleviated some of the gag reflex I had over them. In Base Topps, the cards may have well been put into Triple Threads as they opted for a tiny little picture and homage to the 2009 base design. Why even do this? I have no Idea. Plus, it looks like they included many of the 2008 rookie premiere players, even though many of them DO NOT deserve a second year card, let alone a fucking letter patch. See Andre Caldwell for example.

They have also included the Career Best relic cards, which actually were much better in 2008. The have some floating swatches that obstruct player pictures, which always make my blood boil as to why they were even included in the first place. Last year, they just put the swatches into the base design, which would have worked much better this year. I think we may need to get rid of these types of cards all together. They arent Donini level crimes against my eyes, but they are pretty bad.

Rating =

Value to the Collector

I think when it comes to the acutal worth of the base cards and parallels, the set will always hold value to the purists who have closets full of Topps sets that go back however many years. Individually, they arent worth much. However, this year, the variations and low numbered parallels seem to be getting a lot more value on eBay, so maybe things are on the up and up for Base Topps.

As for the RPAs, they are always going to hold their value, as the red inks, duals and quads are some of the most valuable rookie autos of the year. If you are lucky enough to pull a good auto, consider yourself to be in possesion of one to hold onto for the season. Otherwise, be sure to sell early enough to get top dollar.

If you are considering a box or two, I would actually hold off, as box prices for base Topps always drop dramatically as the new prodcuts come out. Stick to singles, as you can avoid astronomical group A odds on the autographs, and not have to worry about paying for a bunch of cards you don’t want.

Rating =

Overall Impressions

I would say that Base Topps has been the best its been over the last half decade. I congratulate them on creating a good way to bolster value, and I applaud them for doing such a good job with the RPAs. I still think Chrome is going to be the true test of how far this design can go, but I have high hopes after seeing some of the great looking cards that are coming. I would have liked to see some Chomies inserted into this set, but they have at least made other changes to make up for not having Chome aspects of the set. I still think that the Parallels of the base set need a revamp, but base topps parallels have never been too much of a focus as they are in the chrome. Maybe next year we can see some sweeping changes.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). Topps Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Icons Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Heroes Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
5(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
5(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
5(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
5(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
9. Score Inscriptions Football (1/5 GELLMANS)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Look: 2009 SP Signature Edition Football

This set was definitely a surprise edition to the calendar, and I think that I am going to like this product based on the few previews that UD posted on facebook. However, after considering things, I cant help but draw parallels to the awful 2007 Chirography attempt at a product like this. Chirography was such a bomb that any correllation makes me very, VERY weary.

These cards do look very good however, and SP Signature has been a success in the past, but I get a strange tingle up the back of my neck that tells me to be very cautious about latching on to a product like this. First, I know the MSRP wont be ridiculous like it was for Chirography, Im guessing around 80 bucks, and the cards wont be completely cookie cutter either. Factor in that the autos look on card, and I could be pleasantly surprised.

I will say this, to see a great product like Premier get the axe instead of a price and content cut, only to be replaced by another SP set, makes me angry. Maybe things will work out though.

2009 Topps Football Is Live

2009 Topps has hit the bay, and I think this could be a really good year for them. First off, I know that they ditched the flag backgrounds for the RPAs, as long as the photos I saw were used, and secondly, they switched away from those awful looking Career Best auto designs from last year.

I liked this year's base auto design in baseball, and it also looks good in football, though Im not sure why they have career best cards for the rookies who have never played a down. I think we need to change the name there.

EDIT: The first RPA is up, and I am digging the way the borders look, though the player looks a little to stark against that background. Im not a helmet off picture supporter, but this design looks good. See? Topps low end is where its at.

EDIT 2: The duals look great. Kudos to Topps on those.

Edit 3: I have seen variations on some of the rookie cards popping up on the bay, makes me wonder how these will factor into the sets. Ive also noticed that Topps wasnt shy about including some of the premiere tents in the photos, which is a letdown, but I can deal with it. Maybe they will edit the photos when chrome comes around.

Product Review: 2009 Score Inscriptions Football

I know this is a little late, but Score Inscriptions has released and I feel obligated to review it, despite the fact that many of you would never even think of buying a pack of it. Basically, this set has replaced the Score Select junk that seems to make its way onto the market each year, even though they really did nothing to make this set worth anyone's time.


As if Select wasn’t bad enough last year, this year had no where to go but up. It didn’t really offer much improvement in the base set or in the "hot rookies," but it is a better look. Don’t get me wrong, I would never think of this product as even in the same zip code as the top of the pack in terms of design, but it is a little better than the year before. I really dislike that Score has become of a place where graffiti artists go for their card design, as it makes everything look really weird and busy. For the last few years, its almost like they want the cards to look like they were spraypainted on the inside of an overpass tunnel, but they never really hit the mark. This set pretty much looks like an afterthought.

The Hot Rookies look as ridiculous as they did in 2008 and 2007, and you can see that this whole concept needs to be scrapped faster than any future Family Guy spinoffs. Score was better when it was just a low end solution to one's hankering for set collecting, and adding in all these weirdly named parallels and awful insert sets hasn’t done much to bolster value.

The one seemingly redeemable factor about this entire product is the 1989 Score remake SPs. Each of the premiere rookies has their own addition to the iconic set of Sanders and Aikman, though the cards don’t feature much of what made the old cards great except for the border design. I could see these cards as a great addition to a set that actually matters, but I just don’t think there is much you can do for any Score branded set anymore. Im not a fan of these cards myself, only because of the helmet off pics, but I can see the appeal for people who don’t really care. I may pick up a Harvin just for kicks because these cards will be so cheap.

Rating =

Autograph Cards

The autograph cards in this set are pretty standard for any low end product. Slap a few stickers on the base cards and parallels, and you have yourself a set that many unsuspecting collectors will buy. The problem is, with so many oddly numbered parallels of every card, I would say you could have some scrubs with close to 1500 autographs in this set. Really, there just isnt much to say other than "This set contains autos. Yay."

The 1989 Score reprint autos should be pretty valuable to start, only because they are exceedingly rare in a low end set. It would have been cool to see some on card autos here, but we all know that Donini thinks of hard signed as an exception rather than the rule. I may buy the Harvin auto later this year when the price of the set drops 80%.

Rating =

Relic Cards

There are no relic cards in this product.

Value To The Collector

Right now, it will cost you close to 100 dollars at some stores to buy a box of this junk. I am completely serious, and I saw it a few places at more than 100 bucks a box this weekend. I can tell you right now that any packs or boxes of Inscriptions bought at that price is money you are throwing in to a fire. You may end up with three autos, but the value will drop faster than Mike Singletary's pants at halftime of a 49ers game.

For the last 2 years, Score Select has dropped more than 60% in terms of box price over the year, and even at 29.99 for a box, its still too expensive. Most people are just starved for good products, so they will open anything they can find just to test it out, and really, I cant tell you how stupid it is to even consider buying any of this product at the price its at right now.

When it comes to the value of the actual cards, the 1989 Score autos may hold SOME of their value, but the rest of the set will not. Don’t waste your time.

Rating =

Overall Impressions

Its Score Inscriptions. I don’t need to say anything else.

Average Rating =

2009 Product Leaderboard (SO FAR)

1(t). UD Icons Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Heroes Football (3/5 GELLMANS)
1(t). UD Draft Edition (3/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Donruss Classics (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Donruss Elite (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Playoff Prestige (2/5 GELLMANS)
3(t). Bowman Draft Picks (2/5 GELLMANS)
8. Score Inscriptions Football (1/5 GELLMANS)

What A Weekend!

Wow, what a weekend. Had an awesome birthday, got to go to a beautiful wedding, and I got to eat at all my favorite places. You never really know what you are missing until you actually leave. I had a few experiences worth talking about, and most of all, I learned a few funny things.

First, my birthday was a little different this year because I had to spend it at my wife's cousin's wedding. That was not fun. Yet, I still got to eat my steak dinner and get my presents on the night before, which was great. I didn’t get any card or autograph stuff, but I did get my first BlackBerry. It’s a whole new world of cell phone technology, and I am STILL adjusting. Let me know if you have BB messenger so we can chat.

I think the best part of the trip was being back where your favorite teams are stationed. It was fucking amazing to be drowning in Twins and Vikings merch. It was like being in heaven when I walked around the malls, and I even got to boost my jersey wardrobe too. I got one of the new Twins throwbacks they are wearing this year, and it is so boss that I couldn’t even tell you. It cost a lot, but it was worth every penny. I cant wait to go to a game with it.

Also, I got to go to a Field of Dreams store where everything was ridiculously priced, but also ridiculously cool. My wife wanted to get me a baseball display for our wall, and I thought they may have them, but they didn’t. The store was worth the trip regardless, as the stuff they had was beyond anything I could ever wish to own. I did discover that a mat on photo can make or break the piece, as I saw the sweetest AD photo ever. It was taken on one of the TD runs from his NFL record game, and the entire thing was in black and white except for him. It was signed in bold black ink, which popped against the purple, and the pic looked amazing. What was even better was the mat job, as it was framed in a special way that made the Viking head on the mat look like it was in a shadow box. I drooled at it, and almost plunked down the $550 bucks, but the guy was SUCH a fucking jerk to me when I asked him questions that I just walked out without thinking twice. The store was empty, and he could have taken the time to help me out. Instead he gave me one word answers in a curt manner, and even turned and ignored my wife when she wanted to know a few things. Maybe if he had just been a little bit more friendly, he would have had a sale instead of nothing.

Another great thing, I got a game used ball with the "Goodbye Metrodome" logo on it that was game used on 5/26. It was 20 bucks, and looked cool, so I picked it up when I saw it at the Twins Team store. The MLB authentication even had pitchers listed for the day it was obtained. Pretty cool for not much money.

In sports celebrity sightings, during the trip home last night, I saw Dave Winfield in the airport coming back from the HOF ceremony, dressed in all HOF logo garb. He is a BIG guy and moved slowly, but he was nice and chatted for a few minutes while getting luggage. No one else knew who he was, but he was very friendly and happy when I told him we were coming from Minnesota. He goes every year, and was carrying a bag full of autographed stuff from his friends.

Lastly, Ive pretty much decided to go with the mob and buy something awesome rather than buying a case. I saw so much while I was home, that I really see a few particular things I may want to get. Ill let you know what I decide on.

That’s about it for now, still catching up on a few things from the last few days. Im sure there will be more posts to come.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beckett Grading Has Issues

Check out this thread on SCF about a member getting their cards jacked from Beckett's grading service. Considering the shear stupidity of grading cards in the first place, I am tempted to give a big I told you so. However, I still feel bad for him...

Shameless Plug: The Fan Zone In Willmar, MN

I know I havent posted in the last few days, but actually it was for a good reason. I have been home to attend the wedding of one of my wife's family members, and for a small town, they have pretty much everything - including a card store.

A few months ago, John from the local radio station emailed me about some questions he had on a product bust they were planning at his local store. Funny enough, he was from Willmar, where my wife was actually from, and I remembered the store he was talking about. Its really got everything a small town collector would need to avoid the retail crap at Wal-Mart and Target, and the guys who work there are quite a good bunch to shoot the shit with.

I found some time to stop by today, hoping to talk to John, but unfortunately he wasnt there at the moment. Instead I stayed for a while, busted some packs and talked about the recent trends of the hobby with the guys at the store. I found out they read SCU daily, which was a surprise, so we talked for a while about how they stumbled on it.

I also managed to pull a nice James Laurinaitis jersey auto #5/25 out of my packs which was pleasant outcome to the disappearance of my money.

Most importantly, if you live in the Willmar area, go check out the store, I guarantee you it will be worth your time. They have a great selection of stuff and good prices, as well as some pretty sweet autographed bats and jerseys. Be sure to tell them I sent you, as I know I will be going back next time I am in town.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Look: 2009 Donruss Gridiron Gear Football

In 2007, Gridiron Gear was one of my favorite sets of the year, but in 2008, it dropped well below acceptable standards to me. The continued use of event used footballs, as well as a RC Patch auto design that didnt lend well to parallels sold the product down the river to me.

I see a lot of 2008's product in 2009's preview, which concerns me, in addition to ANOTHER Donini set with sticker autos, despite a focus on hard signed products elsewhere. Gridiron Gear is like SPA and Limited is like Ultimate in terms of the release calendar, and both are at a disadvantage to UDs sets before a preview is even released. See, I love UD products because they are the best, its not even a contest, especially when Donini continually falls short of product expectations.

Ill give you an example.

Instead of retiring lame gimmicks like signed plastic NFL fields, and cards with rubber helmets embedded in them, they are issued as a staple in the product. I cant tell you how bored I am with these cards, even when they were created in 2007, and it makes me really frustated to think how lazy the Donini designers are. Why not focus on the design of the Gridiron Gems to ASSURE that every parallel fits into the design. It didnt last year, and from the preview of the sanchez here, this year's is the same. Look at the tapering of the window in relation to the design. It looks off, because the card was actually designed for the other parallels. This fact, in turn, makes the window look like it is breaking through the borders of the card.

Here is the reality I see in Donini cards for 2009. Who ever is designing them was just given the old set and adobe photoshop and told to reinvent. Rather than starting from scratch as UD and Topps usually do, they just tweak little parts of the old cards. Im guessing its because of a lack of talent/lack of knowhow in the designers' repetoir, but it could just be that they have no resources - hence all the stickers.

As I said in my UD bias post, I give them more positive press because they are just better at making cards. Donini and Topps are second tier when you hold up the calendar against each other. Sadly, the second tier is second class in this case. Ill take SPA and Ultimate over Limited and Gridiron Gear every day of the week.

The Case Bust Dilemma

I never thought I would be in a position where I had this choice to make, but alas, here I am. About a week ago, I found out I had pretty much won 400 dollars in a contest at work, which made me extatic. However, the 400 dollars wasnt cash, but instead it was gift cards that could be used like credit cards. There is a list of merchants you can use them at, and eBay is one of them. In addition, Saturday is my birthday and I have received more eBay money to spend as well. That means, I have about 600 bucks to spend however I want on eBay, if thats the way it goes.

In my mind, I have two options, and I am wholly considering both as a viable option.

First option is to go buy an awesome piece that I wouldnt normally buy. A Mantle ball, a Ted Williams ball, a Mauer or Peterson Jersey, pretty much anything. Jordan if I desired.

Second option is to buy a case of 2009 Topps Chrome or something similar once I see what is actually contained in the product. There are a few factors that would prevent me from doing this, mainly extra cost, and possibility of getting a bunch of crap in it. Buying and busting a case would be a ton of fun, however, and it would be a great thing to post here.

Of course there are pros and cons to both ideas, so ill examine those too.

With the first option, the biggest pro is getting an item that is awesome. Its the best argument there is, and it may tip things over for me. You are guaranteed an item you know is worth the money, and you get to pick the player and item. However, I pretty much have most of what I need, and there is no way I would spend 600 bucks on Peterson stuff. Its too much to spend on a modern guy. That means I would have to get something else from Baseball legends, and after Operation Bullpen, you know there are seemingly more fakes than reals, and PSA and JSA cannot be trusted. Also, because its a baseball legend or something like that, the attachment wont be as strong either, making me question as to why I am even bothering.

With the second option, I wont have another chance to bust a case without strings attached ever again, possibly. Because it isnt my money, and I HAVE to spend it on eBay, why not? I have a good feeling about a few of the rookies this year, and Harvin is a great target to tie me to a product. Plus, I would probably end up trading or selling the team lots and rookie lots to get more stuff I want like above. The cons of this are big though, and thats the major problem. What if you get a case with 10 of the same scrub autos? It happens all the time, and that would SUCK. Also, Chrome is not the ideal product I would like to bust, as SPA would be 10 times better. However, SPA is also more expensive, so that isnt happening. Having chrome as a second or third choice is bad for me, as why would I want to spend 600 bucks on a second choice?

What do you guys think? If only I could just put the money in the bank. That would be my first choice without remorse. Stupid work.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Please Leave The Mayo To Hellman's

Most of you know that I am not a fan of retro sets. Personally, I think it’s a sign of laziness and lack of creativity to just redo an old set for today's market. Of course, for people unlike me, Retro sets are a must buy, mostly because they are designed to play to a collector's set building side as well as their nostalgic sentiments about a product from their childhood or earlier.

So far, Magic and Philadelphia were the only slated retro sets of the year, and that was more than enough for me, but not for everyone else. Obviously, Topps finally realized that they were going to have a tough sell for everything not named Chrome or something similar, so they put Mayo football back on the calendar for 2009. After last year, many people lost faith in the product after checklist and collation snafus, so this year they basically decided to remake Allen and Ginter baseball into a football product and call it a day. They have now announced Rip Cards, minis, tons of parallels, framed autos, and box loaders, all of which make this a set that they knew could sell very well, instead of actually making a worthwhile product based on an original idea. Mayo's current release information is frustrating and boring to me, as I would much rather have something completely different from what is out there already. Why not just insert mayo cards into an existing set? That would be much better.

Im sure that Mayo football wont be awful, retro products never are (except for Magic), but it stinks of stale formats, and makes me want to scream. Im sure that once collectors get bored with buying modernized versions of older cards, there wont be many more retro products that are made. Don’t get me wrong, collectors WILL get bored, as we all know that card companies never get the "too much of a good thing" idea down. When the calendar is stuffed to the seems with old products that have been updated, people will want the creativity back. Until then, I guess Ill have to suffer through all the ones on the calendar this year. Although Im guessing that UD Philadelphia will be the best of the bunch this year due to the inscriptions, on card autos, and use of the most popular retro designs on the market, Im not going to buy any of it. Same with Magic, same with Mayo, same with all the retro sets they make.

I want more sets with simple designs like SP Authentic and Topps Chrome, products that focus on the layout and design of a card as the selling point rather than a gimmick or a stale idea like the retro sets. Both Chrome and SPA have been around for years, but neither seem outdated to me. Its because the cards are focused on as the way to show off the brands, resulting in awesome cards that collectors love.

H/T Matt for the Mayo Pic.

Beckett's Upcoming National Show Report: REVEALED!

Guys, I just got an exclusive preview of Beckett's national card show report, as my personal psychic has dictated it word for word to me per her vision of the future. At this point in our technology, we are unable to time travel into the future, but this is a pretty good replacement. For your warning, I want to post this just so you have an idea of what is going to go down this week, before it happens. Thanks to Madame Cleo for this:

Beckett Is A Bright Star At The National Card Show

By Tracy Hackler, Editor, Beckett Everything Magazine

Golly! What a week at the national card show! We had a blast showing everyone the awesome things that Beckett has done over the last year as well as what is coming up for 2009 and 2010! I cant believe how many collectors we met, as well as all of the amazing things that at the best booth at the show! Here is a recap of what went down.

- Most of you heard about the Pristine 10 BGS Montana RC from last year's show, but just wait until you hear about this year! In front of everyone, we graded the first ever Pristine BGS Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer RC! It was a sight, and a great investment for a collector who wished to remain anonymous. At least he was wearing a Beckett shirt, which was great for working the booth after the commotion died down! Who would have guessed that the biggest card grade in history would have come from the biggest show on the planet? We didnt!

- There were also a ton of people who came and told us how much they loved seeing us do our Beckett Box Busters! Unfortunately, there are a few vocal people out there who tell us that this is a huge problem, but the ten or so people we talked to all told us how much they loved it. Shows how much those downers out there know about collectors! Then, when those Beckett fans broke the boxes we gave them, they told us about how much more they loved the Beckett Box Busters! We aim to please!

- On Friday, our own Chris Olds and Timmy, a ten year old collector from Cleveland, got a chance for his own special episode of box busters! Thanks to our "friends" at Panini, they were able to break dueling boxes of Panini's upcoming Absolute Memorabilia, more than 2 months early! To our amazement, Chris ended up pulling a 1/1 Michael Crabtree auto patch! Talk about luck, right? As for Timmy, he pulled a sweet Andre Caldwell auto, so he went away happy too!

- Beckett also unveiled that in addition to grading cards on the spot at the show, they were also starting up the first ever completely graded card live auction! We opened the huge Beckett vaults, pulled out as many 9.5s of some of the most important cards in history, and made them available for the first time to you! The auction was a huge success, and it also allowed us to pay the electric bill we have been trying to avoid paying for so long. People may have complained that the cards we sold didn’t look right, but our grades are completely legit, as they always truly are. These are the ones graded by our top graders over the last few years, and the grading standard has been accepted by collectors worldwide. Also, some of these graded cards will be available again on the new Beckett Graded Card Marketplace, where you can buy the 9.5s directly from us!

- We also got compliment after compliment from kids at the show who told us how happy they were to find out that their collections were worth so much in the price guide. After using our "my collection" station, 8 year old Joey C found out that the cards his dad had given him from 1987 were worth over $1000 dollars due to the sheer number he had! Again Beckett satisfies another collector, good luck selling those million cards Joey!

- Fresh off his sweet box break, Chris Olds was also a big hit! He wowed us with material from the best blog on the net, showing everyone why the Beckett blog should be the ONLY stop you make on the blogosphere. We are so glad to see that his work paid off in talking about the Craigslist Collector Corner, where he tried to educate a few people on how outdated their ads were. He also showed a few previews for his expose on the fake Topps rookie premiere autographs, as well as his "man on the street" features. Chris is definitely the most innovative blogger out there.

- Lastly, Panini and Beckett embarked on a long standing relationship with our teams formally announcing that all high end Panini products will feature Beckett/JSA authenticated player autos, as well as a special Panini page on the Beckett site. Despite accusations that the new partnership stood against everything that is right and just in the hobby, we promised that no favoritism would occur. In fact, we even showcased the first pricing for Panini's Donruss Elite, the most valuable set of the year so far! This is great news for this new company on the block, as well as great news for our new special Panini Market Analysts, who will be working directly with the manufacturer to make sure all pricing reflects exactly what the cards are worth.

The folks here and in Texas cannot wait for next year's show, so be sure to check back to for more overage and pictures!

Im so glad that Madame Cleo had such a good vision of the future! This is some gold right here!

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Look: 2009 Leaf Limited Football

First off, let me say how surprised I am by how good some of these cards look. Have things started to turn around for the bastard child of bad ideas and poor design? Possibly.

The best part about these cards is that they seem to be the first design update for any release that Donini has had for the entire year. They acutally look somewhat different from 2008. As for the Leaf Limited slideshow autos, the design looks pretty cool for me, the best of the previews. When it comes to all the RC Phenoms Patch Autos, the one they showed looks much better than last year, though I am VERY scared for the parallels that are not out of 5. Usually with these cards, there are a million parallels, and many of them just say "RC" in die cut windows, or have the number of the player. These particular ones will be the most short printed of the non-logos, and I cant fathom where they are going to put the patch for the normal card out of 99. The Cut autos look very good as well, but I never really saw the appeal in cuts to begin with. At least if you pull one, it wont be a crappy looking card.

The Letters are always a favorite of the fans, as they are really the only game used autographed letter cards out there. Factoring in that these will also be pro bowl ones, will make people very happy. Personally, I know they wont be the ACTUAL Pro Bowl jerseys, but rather a practice one or something similar, as the actual ones are coveted possessions of the players. Plus, im not a fan of the pro-bowl to begin with, so its not a big deal to me. Hopefully there will game used ones as well.

Lastly, there are a few AWFUL parts to this product. Of course, the main one is that the base cards look ridiculous, especially when they have a swatch involved. Although the swatch is in the right place, I cant get passed the hypnotizing design. What an awful choice for a theme for the set. Secondly, for what you get, the price point is going to be beyond stupid. They are going back to the one pack box, which I wholly support, but they are giving you 1 auto and 1 jersey for 100 fucking dollars. Sorry, but Limited is always a good affordable option for higher class cards, and they are now taking that away. Very problematic to me, as they just priced me out of a few boxes, especially with dealer markup. Then, when you add in the diluted RC premiere class from 2009, and you just priced a lot of the rest of the collectors out of this product. This will be a big problem, and I dont think Donini knows any better.

You can color me exicited for the possibility of buying some cool singles, but I will not even consider buying a box of Limited this year thanks to the configuration. Too bad really.

A Comment On eBay's New Auction Layout

Over the last few months, eBay has been playing around with their auction pages, something that has made a lot of people angry. The exception to this was, up until about a week ago, you had the choice of using the old style page or the new one. As far as I can tell, from this point forward, we are not going to have that choice, which is both very good and bad at the same time.

First the good.

One of the biggest eBay auction page gripes of the last five years has been the timer, or really, lack there of. Although the clock counted down, it didnt do it in real time. This meant either having to set a snipe to win something in the last moments, or being very clever with page reloads and multiple windows. Considering that Java technology was more than equipped to handle a real time countdown with 1 click bidding, many eBayers were consistently shafted with inferior tech. Now, thank the lord, that has all changed, as one click bidding WITH a real time counter is now available. I cant tell you how happy this makes me, especially with my paranoia over giving my eBay info to a sniper service.

Secondly, the picture options have changed a lot, mostly when it comes to size and location. Instead of having to scroll through miles of text to find the "official" pic, its now handy, right up in the corner, larger than it normally was before. I like that. There are bad parts, too, but Ill get to that in a second.

Lastly, when it comes to loading everything on a big auction, it seems like it does everything a lot faster. I cant tell you how helpful that is, as before it took a long fucking time to load an auction with a ton of shit in it. Now, that seems to be a thing of the past thanks to the new "leaner" layout.

Yet, with every good thing, there are also bad things, though fortunately most of the bad things are minor.

The main gripe I have of the new auction page is the lack of being able to see all the pics without clicking on the new picture box. I have missed things here and there because of my misunderstanding, as not all pictures are readily available for viewing. That can be very, very problematic.

Also, even though the page does load faster, it looks very odd. Seems like it was designed to avoid large loading times instead of being practical enough with the layout to have a small load rate regardless. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but again, its minor.

Overall, my dissatisfaction will be crushed by the new real time status stuff, so im not too concerned. How about you?

Saturday, July 18, 2009


For those of you newer readers of SCU, im sure you have seen a recent focus on scams and fakes. Exposing scams are actually nothing new to this site, and its always fun when a past expose comes back around for a second helping of disgust.

Shit, did I say fun? I meant totally fucking idiotic. Unfortunately for us, there is a sucker born every half second in this hobby, and even worse, they have tons of fucking cheese to spend.

A little backgroud:

Last year, a viking head logo Peterson Exquisite surfaced on eBay, with an "authenticity" letter provided by Gregg Kohn of Upper Deck. Seemingly at the same time, an identical patch auto was also posted with the same viking head logo. Gregg, upon my request, confirmed the authenticity of the letter for the first one, and confirmed that the second was fake.

Obviously, people never learn, as there is now a THIRD fake Peterson Viking head logo patch, with this one already up over 1000 dollars. The reason I know its fake is because Gregg was positive that only one Viking logo was known to be in the product, making this one a fraud. Also, the colors and stitching style of the viking head, as well as the material its sewn onto are completely wrong. This would stick out like a Beckett box break to any informed collector, but that doesnt stop the idiots from jumping on it. To think that someone would destroy this amazing card with a fake patch is completely fucking ridiculous in the first place, but it isnt the first and wont be the last. It is the best non 1/1 card of 2007, and now this one is destroyed. Wonderful. Maybe UD will pull it down, doubtful though.

Glad to see that douchebaggery faces us at every turn.

h/t Wheeler and Jason

A Different Kind Of Matt Ryan Logo is Up On Ebay

For you fans of Ultimate Collection football, there is card up on eBay right now that I believe you will like. This Matt Ryan 1/1 "logo" patch is not quite what people are used to when it comes to the typical NFL 1/1's, but I love the idea none-the-less.

Each year, Ultimate Collection is one of the top valued RC cards because of the cost of its wax. It was the first super high end product, and the ideas of what the product holds have pretty much held the same through the years. In 2007, Ultimate Collection was far and away the worst product of the year. The designers of the product used stickers and photoshop to basically make each card look the same, in order to fill out the new format of one auto per pack. That meant that if you pulled a Sunday Stars auto, it looked exactly like Ultimate Ink, but with a different title on the card.

Ultimate also had a bunch of logo cards over the years, with many of them just being the normal NFL shield in a diecut window. The "logo" cards from 2008 were different, using a special tag from specially designed NFL throwbacks, and I think they look awesome. Its always good to think outside the box, as long as the result isnt too nuts. This Matt Ryan fits that mold, in my opinion.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Please Start Filing 2008 Rookie Premieres Under The Possible Scam Umbrella

Ever since the obviously fake 2007 rookie premiere autos have surfaced like a spreading disease, I wondered how long it would take before the other years started their infections. Unfortunately, 2008's RPAs have entered that status much earlier than I expected.

The issue with some of the 2008 ones that I have seen is that some of them are questionable, but given up by some of the other cards the seller has for sale. Take this guy for example, as his 2008 rookie premieres look off, but not awful. Then look at the other cards, especially this Cutler and Winfield, and everything comes into focus.

Guys, this type of thing has been a problem from the inception of the rookie premiere autos, but never like this. Hopefully Topps will do something about it.

h/t Voluntarheel

They Cost How Much?!?

Recently, one of the readers of SCU emailed me about an idea for a product based on the idea of eliminating scrub autos. He was concerned about the amount of value one gets out of a box in relation to the price one pays for said box, a feeling that many of us have on a regular basis. In most cases, when you pull an auto of a backup's backup, you wont get more than a dollar in return if sold. Considering that these types of hits litter the products year round for all three companies, he wanted some justice in his wax buying.

What most people dont understand is just how much players actually charge for the autographs that the big three put into their products. Its this type of misunderstanding that lead to people's poor attitude about busting wax as a way the companies are screwing them out of their money. Although the attitude IS justified, there really isnt a way to fix it without ridding products of autographs completely in some cases. We all know that wouldnt fly with most of the collectors out there, myself included, so there is a resulting high profile dilemma on what is happening in terms of signatures.

Just to give you some of the information, player autographs are one of the most expensive parts of a product. You already knew that, though. What you may not know is the degree that this cripples parts of some releases. Players like Emmitt Smith and Joe Montana charge so much for their autograph, that they have almost priced themselves out of many products. I have heard figures as high as $225 per card, but nothing lower than $150 for every signature they sign. How crazy is that?!? Think about it for a second, and then think about how many players like that are necessary for a checklist to be considered viable. Even younger players like Adrian Peterson, Matt Ryan and Reggie Bush also charge a ton, with cards costing the companies as much as $150 a piece just to have them sign.

It doesnt end there, unfortunately for us. Even for rookies that will most likely never play a down, card companies are forced to pay them more than you would expect. I have confirmed figures as high as $35 per card for the lower tier of the rookies who attended the premiere, a figure that surprised me to no end.

What all of this leads to is higher prices on boxes and more and more scrubs being used to fill out checklists. Why? Because its required by the league to have X% of the set being rookies, and because its too expensive to do it any other way. There are always exceptions like Paul Hornung and other older people who charge very little, but the majority of the athletes want a ton.

This also factors into stickers versus on card, as I have been told there is no difference in price paid for the auto. Im guessing this is the main reason that Upper Deck has pretty much done whatever they could to avoid stickers, as it seems like more of a waste to pay for an auto if it isnt directly on the card going into the pack.

As long as this is forced to continue by the players, wax prices will never drop as long as they contain autographs. Personally, I am happily able to accept the trade-off due to my love for autos, but a portion of the older collectors have sworn off wax altogether because of it.

Im not sure what the future holds, but I dont think it will ever be like it was, especially in terms of price. With the subjects of the cards becoming more like primadonnas every year, its not always the fault of the people who produce the products. Yet, because of a lack of info that is out there, most of us just blame them anyways. Maybe its time to show us what's really going on.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Deep Does The Relationship Between Beckett and Panini Really Go?

We all know the events of the past four or five months, Beckett and Panini have basically declared their sloppy love for each other, even going pretty far in showing that relationship off to the public. Although its pretty sickening to me, not many people know how deep that love really is.

It starts with tiny stuff, like Beckett receiving boxes weeks ahead of their release, and larger amounts exclusive info here and there. For each of the last Panini releases, Beckett has gotten boxes up to ten to fifteen days ahead of the street date, some of them with pretty nice stuff in it. You may remember that after the hype machine behind the school colors on card autos, Beckett pulled a Percy Harvin, a card I have yet to see being offered to the public. Although it wasnt a huge dollar pull, it was a card from an overhyped, ugly product that needed a little push. I rarely believe these things to be a coincidence.

Of course, this was after the massive amounts of exclusive previews that Beckett receives directly from Panini, sometimes needlessly so. Its almost like they are providing Beckett with these things to try to show people that when it comes to news, Beckett is it, despite the fact that are continually out-scooped by the blogs. Add in that stories are consistently ripped off of the people who do it for fun, and you see why this practice is necessary. Beckett is basically facing the fact that message boards and blogs are now the number one source for hobby news, and they are left with Wrestling cards and promises of finding love for lonely collectors.

What people arent familiar with is that Scott Prusha of Panini Marketing, and Tracy Hackler have been best friends since Prusha started his career with Beckett media. In fact, Prusha and Hackler have such a close relationship, that Hackler was the best man at Prusha's wedding. To think that these two people have teamed together to boost each of the products the other offers, doesnt seem like so much of a stretch anymore. Not only that, but it may be the evidence people are looking for when it comes to establishing the link between Panini and Beckett's coexistance.

Its also kind of interesting that Panini products have been hailed by Beckett Football as the best of the year so far, even though there are less than 10 total products from three companies on the market. Plus, the UD products have made the Panini products look like they were done by people who didnt know what the fuck they were doing, so the title of best of the year seems like a huge stretch. Why else would that be the case other than pure favoritism?

The reason that I focus on this so much is because of what it means for average collectors, who may not spend the time on the blogs. They see Beckett as a legit news source, when really it is just advertising for their buddies. Im guessing that prices for Panini will also be higher this year despite the "market analysts" they have, yeah fucking right. I would go so far as saying that new collectors may be so jaded on this that Panini sales are above where they actually should be, despite the already poor performance they have had on the primary and secondary markets.

Lastly, we already know that Beckett and Panini have had and will have events together that showcase the relationship they have built. There have also been multiple sources that have told me that Panini reps will be at Beckett's national booth, and vice versa. So, based on that information, isnt it safe to say that a company like Panini should not be supported the way that other companies are? I dont remember hearing anything about a Topps/Tuff Stuff relationship where both companies worked together to help the other out.

See, when you present yourself as an objective news source and price guide for the hobby, relationships like the one Panini and Beckett have should not be fucking tolerated. Bottom line. The problem is that Beckett has no responsibility to the people they consider to be their reader base, so they end up doing some of the douchebaggiest things since UD printed extra griffey rookies on the weekends. Sadly, the people they hurt are not the type of people that read SCU and Wax Heaven, but rather the collectors who dont have those opportunities. Each kid who picks up a Beckett forms an opinion, some of those opinions being ones entirely based on the info they read. I know I did as a kid. With that information and those opinions, new ideas are formed, most of which are based on lies.

Ask yourself, are these the type of people you want to support?

SCU At The 2009 ESPY Awards

Every once in a while you get an amazing opportunity that you cant pass up, and last night was one of those opportunities for me. Thanks to my My cousin, I had orchestra seats to the 2009 ESPYs, and I got to meet a lot of the people who I write about every day here. It was a great time, and the show actually turned out to be pretty entertaining. I would definitely encourage you all to watch it on the 19th, you wont be disappointed.

My cousin is an emmy winning editor, and has worked on everything from the Beijing Olympics to the Super Bowl, and the ESPYs were one of his first sports projects back a few years ago. Funny enough, he is as much of a non-sports fan as you can be, which is odd that he has chosen sports editing as a focus for his work. For me, its great, as it means that I get a lot of perks like this, and my Uncle and I got to spend the night amongst top athletes from every sport.

When we got to the show, the arrival point was roped off so that people with credentials and people with tickets were automatically separated and shuttled to their "areas" very quickly. For an event that’s all about the fans, there werent many places for interaction, even from a distance. We were on a weird level of access, because we had special tickets but didn’t have credentials, so my uncle and I just walked right into the theater and grabbed a drink while we waited for the show to start. The minute I got there, I knew that I wouldn’t be getting any autographs, though a handshake or two wasn’t out of the question if I got lucky. While we were milling, Donald Driver and his people walked right by us, though we didn’t even notice until we saw some people mumbling about who it was. It was that kind of atmosphere, where you just couldn’t tell if someone was famous or not, because so many people actually were.

After about ten minutes, my uncle said we should take a look around rather than standing for 45 minutes. We walked around the front of the lobby until we saw the red carpet, and followed that down to a hallway where the athletes and celebs were heading to their seats. You could see a lot of tall people through the window, so it was pretty obvious that was where we needed to be. Before we could get close, a security guy blocked our path and said that only credentialed people could pass. He offered us the chance to answer his questions three, but we didn’t want to waste the time. Kidding.

When things got closer to showtime, that guy just walked away. I immidiately pounced on the opportunity to walk down, and stood right by where everyone was arriving. You could tell that most of the people were late, because a lot of the PAs were scrambling to find out what was going on. Every once in awhile you would hear the red carpet announcer say a name, followed by cheers, so that’s when we got ready. After we were done on the red carpet, we had gotten to meet Jeremy Piven, Bruce Jenner, Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell, Carmelo Anthony, Knowshon Moreno, and a few other unidentified athletes and celebs. As Piven said, "I havent seen so much ice since my Bar Mitzvah!" Even though we didn’t get to have them sign any autographs, it was fun to be in the area.

We hustled to our seats as things were about to get started, but actually ended up waiting another 30 minutes before it did. A comedian came out and started doing off-color stand up about the people who were still coming in, especially Venus and Serena Williams, who didn’t look amused. When things around the door started to thin out, we heard a bunch of shouts and commotion, which made us wonder what was happening. First, Michael Phelps came in to a big ovation, followed by Kobe Bryant. Kobe obviously was the player people from LA wanted to see, so the comedian even pointed him out to the throngs of fans in the balcony.

The show got started, not without problems from the teleprompters and cameras, so they had to stop things a few times. Suprising enough to me, they didn’t really do any retakes or anything, but instead left it up to the post-show guys to clean up. I leaned over to my cousin and told him that he had his work cut out for him, to which he said that "work is an understatement."

Twitter had a bit that they did through the whole show, lame as hell, much to the chagrin of Danica Patrick who was the butt of a few of the jokes. I will say she looked pretty hot when she was angry. However, the on stage stuff wasn’t even close to the best part of the show, and we all waited for the "commercial" breaks to watch the stuff that would be shown during the actual brodcast. The pre-taped segments were AMAZINGLY FUNNY, especially one with Peyton Manning making calls to people from the ESPN set. Kenny Mayne also had a great one with Scoop Jackson, but im not going to spoil them for you. They were too funny to rob you of that hillarity.

It was fun to actually be at the awards show, though I noticed that most of the nominees werent even there. All the people whose cards I brought didn’t come, but most of the main winners seemed to be there just by happenstance, I mean, it was pretty obvious they knew things ahead of time. I guess when you have to spring for whole entourages to come instead of just the person, its tough to invite a lot of people.

Michael Phelps was the big winner, though Natalie Gulbis was my favorite person to watch. She had on a TINY white dress, and she looked smokin. Nastia Liukin, gold medal winning gymnist even looked hot, which was kind of odd considering how small she is.

When the show was over, everyone started to file into the after party, which we werent invited to, but the lobby was filled with famous people heading over there. Luc Robataille stopped and took some pics with fans, but mostly everyone else entered behind a black sectioned off area. Instead of waiting around, my uncle and I left with my cousin and some of the other editors and headed across the street to ESPN zone to get some food and drinks.

Overall, it was a blast, though I wish I would have been able to take some pictures for everyone to see. They were really strict about everything, so we only had the chance to take one family picture with my cousin's iPhone. Hopefully next year we will get to be a little closer to the action, but the opportunity to be there was awesome either way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Autographs and Hunters - Drawing the Line

When it comes to the opportunities to get autographs, I get shaky and anxious. I cant tell you about the feeling, but I have the idea that most of you have experienced it. There really isnt anything like the chance to meet your favorite player, and you better believe that I live for it when the chance comes around.

Luckily for me, I have had the chance to meet every single one of my favorite players, with the exception of Adrian Peterson. As a kid, I got to meet Kirby Puckett on the field of the Metrodome during batting practice. I got to meet Kevin Garnett at a Target signing during his first year in the league. I got to meet Joe Mauer twice, and you already know the story behind that one. My apartment is full of signed memorabilia from all of these players as well as Adrian Peterson, despite the fact we have never met. I have said before that being involved in the sports card hobby is my way of feeding my hunger for player autographs, and still I feel jittery when I get the chance to meet anyone famous, let alone the players I follow.

Despite my innocent "im not ever going to sell any of this" attitude about it, autograph hounds like myself fall into two categories. The first category consists of people like me who will hold onto whatever they get forever. The second category is full of people who do whatever they can to get the most autographs possible to sell rather than to keep. Type 2 hounds are also the reason that people like Neil Armstrong and JD Salinger never sign anymore, and certain practices have led to record prices in auctions due to lack of supply.

Where do you draw the line, however? I know that if I see a famous person, Im going to ask for a signature if I have something for them to sign. Does that kind tenacity lump me in with the guys who wait outside of hotels for athletes with backpacks filled with baseballs? I havent ever done something like that before, but I have tried to fight through crowds to get the signature of a few bands that I loved growing up.

Considering how many lines I have waited in to meet someone, four hours at a time, six hours, I think maybe even eight hours once, I consider myself to be borderline. The thing that I think separates me is that 95% of my autographs have been from sanctioned signings, and most of the others are from TTM and other times.

Where do you draw the line? Im not a guy that will fight through throngs of screaming kids to shove a card into the face of a player at a game, but I will go out of my way to attend places where I know athletes and actors to be. I guess its a grayer area than once expected.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Is Going On With NFL Rookie Contracts?

So far, only 2 of the first 32 picks in the draft this year have been signed. That is a ridiculous number, to say the least, eventhough only a few are considered to be possible hold outs. Oddly enough, one of them is Andre "Sta-Puft" Smith, the guy who left the combine because he wasnt prepared for the biggest day of his professional life. Regardless of who actually signs eventually, its beyond crazy to think we are close to a month away from the beginning of the pre-season, and less than a few weeks from camp with less than 1/16th of the big rookies under contract.

Right now, the Eagles and Jeremy Maclin are pretty much the only non-negotiators in the field of players. Philly has already signed their entire draft class leaving only a portion of the 25% maximum left for Maclin's contract. Other than that, players are sitting around waiting for teams to get things going with negotiations or holding off until more first rounders are signed.

When it comes down to contract negotiations and people like Drew Rosenhaus, I hate this part of the year. It shouldnt be this hard to get rookies to sign on the dotted line. There should be set rookie contracts, because there is not a reason in fucking hell that Matt Stafford should be making more money than over 75% of the league's QBs.

With the season so close, I am hoping that things get done, and quick. Holdouts only mean disaster for everyone's team, everyone's cards, and everyone's investments when they hold out or dont sign. The rookies also are very aware of the fact that missing that first camp can be career crippling as well, so I dont think its them that have as many problems as their greedy agents and stingy team owners.

Can we get this done so I dont have to worry anymore?

SCU Breaks: Exquisite Box Cards Have Shipped

Just wanted to let you know that all of the Exquisite cards are in the mail and you should be receiving notifications if you hit a card. They should be getting to you within the week or early next week at the latest. Let me know if something happens that doesnt seem right.

Also, ScubaSteve won the Triple Autograph in the random. Sorry Nick, but he did have two of the teams on the card. If you care, video will be up tonight when I get home from work.

Thanks guys!

2005 Artifacts May Be My Favorite Baseball Set Of All Time

Dont get me started on the value of busting this product, but I love so many of the cards from this set that I wish more of it were surfacing lately. See, the issue with this set is that boxes of 2005 Artifacts could be some of the worst box breaks known to man. However, if you hit a biggie like the Mauer I just bought, you may have one of the sexiest cards produced in the modern era.

The problem with 2005 Artifacts was that it was as much of a checklist poop as it was an on-card auto mecca. Some of the autographs from this set were so bad that they bordered on insanity. A while ago I covered some of the cards, including a relief pitcher that only made like 8 big league appearances before cashing in the chips. Cards like that are the reason that no one would pay the price tag of 100 bucks a box. Also, because the good ones were so rare, its like UD knew what was going to happen and designed them as gods among men. Trust me, do some searching, you will see what I mean.

Despite the lack of a good checklist for half the set, people like my man Billy Packer saw the diamond in the rough. In fact, for that favorite Mauer patch set of mine, he has collected over 80% of the whole thing, including hard to get ones like Jeter and Griffey. As with most tough tasks in the hobby, he has hit a roadblock on the remaining cards he doesnt have yet. That means that if you are at the national, send him a PM at FCB if you see one he doesnt have. I know he would greatly appreciate it.

Of course, that patch set isnt the only amazing part of the product, either. It is filled to the brim with jersey button/laundry tag/on card autos, as well a many other dreams for player collectors and team collectors alike.

Listen, I know the product in general has a ton of down points, but the highlights are too beautiful to ignore.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Comment On VOTC's National Show Coverage

The National is nigh, and Rob from VOTC has posted a great guide to making it the card show experience of your life. I do have a few things to add, as I see it a little differently than most of the others out there. Obviously, I cant go due to having to work this weekend and being across the country, but I hope a lot of you do. It looks like a lot of fun, and you are really going to have to watch your wallet.

Before you go splurge on your future collection centerpieces, remember that eBay is still the best way to get cards, hands down. Even though this show will pretty much have everything you could ever need, its still a show. Also remember that when you go from table to table, the prices are still show prices, and that most of the regular cards wont be worth your time unless you are trading your stuff away. Even in that case, I would probably wait before handing your collection to a dealer booth, as they will only give you trade values based on them making money(we all know what that means).

What I would suggest is trying to find those cards that wont be available anywhere else. You know there are going to be some ridiculous cards, in a good way, and this may be your time to A) see what is out there B) window shop and C) secure some nice rarities and oddballs. Other than that, I would be very careful if you are going to buy mid to high end stuff at show prices.

Second, the manufacturers booths are the way to go as Rob said. They have awesome giveaways and ways to get free stuff. If you do one thing at the show, its go to these booths.

In terms of buying versus trading, this is a show that has thousands of collectors there for one reason. I would not hesitate to set up some trades with collectors instead of the dealers, as you know that they don’t have to pay overhead for booth space. I have heard so many amazing stories of trades that go down, and I assume that if you look, you should be able to find a lot of the action.

Another great thing is the case breaks that go down, because as you can imagine, collectors from all walks of life will be there. Last year I heard there were so many Cup and Exquisite breaks that they almost devoted a whole room to the people who spend 20K and break it all there. Keep your eyes out as you may see something that you will never be able to see again in that respect. Also, many of these people bust for stuff to sell at the show, so it’s a good chance that you would be able to work out a deal for any card they pull. Not always, but I got an email from a guy last year who said he purchased a Brady Quinn Exquisite Patch Rookie Auto for 20 bucks. The scan alone was worth that.

Of course, Beckett will be there, and they are going to be surrounded by everything that makes them the devil in this industry. They surely will grade your cards on the spot, and they will also have something called "Raw Card Review" like they do at every show. It is the biggest rip off ever created, don’t fall for it. RCR is basically them stealing your money, as they take a quick look at your unslabbed card and give it an "expected" grade. The problem is that these grades are NOT guaranteed to transfer to a slab and are not held with the same premium as the regular slabs. It will still cost you a long wait and some cash you could spend elsewhere. Also, there will be about 100,000 cards they will need to slab in three days, so the attention your card will get will be minimal compared to the regular process. This could work to your advantage, but it could also screw you out of getting a deserved higher grade. I don’t support grading at all, but if you have to do it, wait for better ways, or don’t request on the spot service.

With Beckett, they seem to think that the people at the National justify a lot of their horrible existence, but you will see why I have some of the problems I do with their practices, just from observing their booth. From what I have heard from my industry sources, there may be Panini reps AT the Beckett booth, and many of the Beckett giveaways will be Panini in nature. No surprise there. Either way, I am confident that Tracy Hackler will be sure to give his report of how much positive feedback they get at the show, but as an enlightened collector, I would stay far away from anything they have to offer. That is, unless you actually want to be surrounded by a bunch of price guide thumping idiots who want to suckle at the teat of the hobby's number one source on douchebaggery. Really, I'm sure there will be enough price guide propaganda outside of the area around their station, as this show will probably be ripe with JCs who don’t know anything about the sheer stupidity of everything Beckett preaches.

Also, Blowout and DACardworld are going to be there and they always have some sweet deals on wax. If you are looking for older stuff, or stuff that has been out for a few years even, check out the booths, they will have some rock bottom prices.

Just be sure to remember that it may be the national, but its still a card show. It will be a blast even if you don’t buy anything, so don’t think you are wasting time and money if you just go there to see the gathering. I think that because so many of your contacts from the blogs and the message boards will be there, it would be a great way to put some faces and personalities to the names. Keep your eyes peeled for good deals, and avoid tables with price guides sitting in prominent places.

Most importantly, send me the pictures!!