Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Strasburg Superfractor Has Beckett Written All Over It

Because its so rare that I get worked up over something that happens in the hobby, I think its only natural that I comment on the recent sale of the Strasburg superfractor to Razor entertainment for a little over $21,000. This card sure has generated a lot of press, including national media outlets, and when I read about the sale on Blowout, I became awfully frustrated with the guy who paid the original ridiculous price for a ridiculous card. Of course, my frustration with Beckett followed suit, as well.

When Power, an accountant, purchased the Superfractor for 16,000 dollars, there was so much shock in the sale that a lot of us were questioning the motives of a guy who had just come back to the hobby. It didn’t look like he knew anything about the card, and really didn’t even look like he knew anything about cards in general. Then, after a high(er) profile interview on ESPN, he relisted the card, much to the dismay of all the collectors who originally supported him (and those who didn’t). The card sold again for much more than he originally paid for it, but much like everyone expected, the sale did not go through. The card was eventually sold to Brian Grey and Razor for around 21K to be used in an upcoming product as the holy grail.

Beckett, in all their infinite wisdom, decided it was worth their time to check in again with Power, this time to find out why he gave up on his investment so quickly. Personally, I could have told you the reason in one sentence, but they decided it was worth about 20 pages. Its pretty obvious to me that even Power understood that keeping a card like that was not going to be worth his time, thanks to the extreme popularity and potential surrounding Stras' first few starts, and decided to get his money back plus some. However, Beckett thought that it needed more than a simple explanation, and showed just what the hobby can do to a new collector. The problem with that is not what Power experienced as a person who bought one of the most high profile cards on the planet, its what Beckett brought to his door, and that’s what I feel bears discussion.

First off, Power sites negativity as a main reason for his resale of the card. To that I want to call shenanigans, and offer this commentary. I mean, I just don’t understand what he expected to happen. Did he think that hundreds of people were going to praise him for choosing a baseball card over a new Honda Accord or something like that? With fame comes haters, and those haters have nothing better to do than try to make you feel like you are a douche. Haters are only successful if they get to you, which is why just about every person who has a hater posse just ignores them. I don’t even read comments from my hater posse anymore, I actually have a special spam folder set up for them. What is the point?

Secondly, why would you complain about how many messages you get when you are the one who gave that initial interview? Power easily could have remained in the dark, keeping the card he "had to have." Instead he went on the main hobby news source, ESPN, and just about every other place to talk about his buy. If that isnt asking, scratch that, BEGGING for attention, I don’t know what is. My favorite part of this is that Beckett seems to take an omniscent narrator stance on this whole thing, like they had nothing to do with the negativity surrounding the card. If anything, I would say they are responsible for most of it. They presented Power like he was some sort of folk hero, and then did even more damage by giving the card the grade they did. In fact, I would say most of the negativity, at least now, surrounds Beckett's biased grade of the card rather than Power himself. Maybe he needs to talk to them about the bad press rather than whining about how negativity spoiled his hobby rebirth.

All of that is just par for the course for Beckett, and I guess that Power really doesn’t have the hobby experience to know that. Five years ago, maybe this would have been a much different situation, but Beckett has done so much over that period of time to soil their reputation, that its become more commonplace to hate Beckett than side with them now. I remember when I first discovered online collecting and how many people loved each and every box break that Beckett did. These days, that’s not even close to the case, and I still laugh when people snark at a big pull with "those boxes were meant for Beckett."

Hell, just writing this post has made it tough to avoid another huge rant on the grading business or Beckett in general, and I think that is just a testament to the polarization that Beckett propagates in this hobby. You either are or you arent, and its really too bad that Power didn’t have the forsight to realize that the Beckett "aren'ts" and fame stalkers wouldn’t let him have a pass. I guess that’s what you get with 15 minutes of fame, and for our friends in Texas to take a "hands washed" stance on it like they did is completely stupid. Nice job again Beckett. Even nicer job Mr. Power.


  1. what, no comment about the Beckett article that had this in it: "Power opted to have his card graded by Beckett Grading Services, a division of Beckett Media’s business operations separate from its publishing and sports data-gathering operations." ;)

    yes, Power had to sell it while Strasburg was still hot. If he carried out one creative idea I came up with, he could have kept the card and made more money than he paid for it, so he could have had the card virtually for free.

    I can't wait for the one who pulls that card from a pack and might be lucky to get $8-10K for it if Strasburg even is a star pitcher in a few years.

  2. I've been collecting sports cards since 1957 and still love it. I don't like everything about the state of the hobby but I still love it.

    There is something for everyone in this hobby. Some people find worth in owning (even if only for a short time) that card that others can only wish they could afford. These people are probably not collectors but investors. Investors are good for the hobby because they generate interest from the general public and bring in new collectors to the hobby.

    Since investors don't want too much risk involved in their transaction, they want a reputable source to provide input as to the condition of their next investment. And, yes there seems to be no purpose to grading a 1 of 1. However, it may make the new buyer feel better knowing the card that they are about to lay $20,000 on has no major flaw or is in better condition than most other cards.

    It is my judgement that all grading services are not 100% correct nor 100% consistent in their grading. However, after viewing thousands of graded cards with my 50 plus years of collecting experience, I have concluded that Beckett Grading is the hardest grader and the most consistent with regards to their published standards.

    I am also of the opinion that most people have reached the same conclusion. For example, That is why an 86-87 Michael Jordan RC BVG 9 sells for a higher price than all other company's 9.

    If you are sure that the sports cards manufacturers are sending Beckett loaded boxes for their "On-line Box Breaks," who is the villan? Is it the manufacturer's who want you to believe most boxes are loaded?

    Why must there be a villan? If you don't believe you will get your money's worth by opening boxes, don't open boxes. Just buy the card you want. And if you don't trust the graded card, take your chances with a raw card on eBay, or buy one only after you viewed it first hand.

  3. At least somebody else sees this for what it really is. Here's an idea Beckett, don't make the entire community out to be bullies when you're the biggest one of all.

  4. I find it rather amusing that Brian Grey from Razor bought the dang card and is going to re-release it in a razor product.

  5. A would-be (and sometimes-is) card producer mogul being the high buyer of a hype card only highlights the fact that there isn't much of a real market of collector buyers at that level.

    Or at least not for cards born yesterday with scarcity based on easily-punctured artificiality.