Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SCU Breaks: Exquisite Randomizer

Here are the results for the Exquisite random team generator done by, video will be posted on here as soon as Youtube finishes processing it. Although this video is in crap definition, the actual break will be filmed in HD and the crap to make sure I get one of them to work.

Trading will be allowed until 7pm EST tomorrow, please do all trading in the comments.

Steve O - Broncos, Bucs, Saints, Panthers
Jon F - Steelers, Pats
James C - Colts, Cowboys
John S - Ravens, Chargers, Eagles, Falcons
Bobby P - Dolphins, Seahawks, Bears, Jets
Daniel V - Bengals, Chiefs
James Co - Texans, Raiders, Rams, Titans
Voluntarheel - Cardinals, Niners
Mario Z - Bills, Lions
Brian N - Browns, Jaguars
Jeff C - Vikings, Giants
Ethan M - Redskins, Packers

HUGE Announcement Coming Tomorrow

I am literally shaking right now, yes its that big of an announcement, at least for me. Although I cant say anything until the official report has been "declassified" if you will, I will say that it is something that has never happened on any card blog in history. I was just given the details a few hours ago, and I literally could not be more excited.

Be sure to check back as I will post as soon as I can.

Fixing The Upper Deck Awards

The UD awards were an idea that was interestingly put together to celebrate social media in the hobby. Instead, they have created riffs and accusations among the nominated and the snubs, causing more problems than partying over being recognized as one of the best. On Twitter, many of the blogs (nominated and not) have been discussing a better system and suggestions to revamp the awards to be more mutually inclusive rather than exclusive. Although SCU was left off the ballot due to some odd occurances, this site was actually among a large handful of pages that were not among the nominees. Considering that many of the top hobby blogs were left out of the awards, the disappointment felt by those sites is definitely warranted.

I will say that even if the UD awards were all inclusive, it would remain a popularity and traffic driving contest rather than who actually deserves to win. Even now, communities are bickering over cheating accusations and vote stuffing instead of trying to show why their site deserves the award. One forum has already said they are giving everything back if they win, which could be likely considering the race.

In my opinion, these awards are intrinsically flawed because the sites with the most traffic will always have the advantage. One could argue that traffic is gained by the effectiveness of the site, but Im not entirely in support of that. There have been a few suggestions to redo the format to neutralize this fact, and I think its worth repeating here due to the number of manufacturers that read this site over twitter.

My Suggestion

Instead of an awards program, I am suggesting the creation of an MVP program or something similar. This means that no one site or forum gains all the spoils of an award based on who can drive the most people to a poll. The manufacturer would designate blogs, forums, youtube box breakers, whoever they want as part of the program either through application or recognition, and that person would be able to display a badge on their site proclaiming as such. The MVPs would get the product to open and giveaways, much like the awards are now, and the manufacturer would get free advertising on the site thanks to the badge and the posts about the giveaways. Multiple people would be able to be recognized for their contributions rather than one or two. That would solve lots of the issues created by the awards, and it would be a great boost for the people who gain MVP status.

Cardboard Problem's Suggestion

Sooz from Cardboard Problem suggested a bracket style tournament where each blog would face off against another until only one remained. It would give more people more chances to win, and let people decide based on the matchup rather than everyone all at once. Personally, I still think this has the traffic problem, as the more popular site will always have the advantage.

Wax Wombat's Suggestion

The hobby's only card marsupial suggested that Upper Deck recognize each blog with a letter and a pack of cards for their contributions. I think this is a good idea, but when it comes to recognition, this idea really doesn’t give that. For the sites that could use the recognition, it doesn’t give them a bump, even though they are receiving contact from Upper Deck thanking them for their work.

Im interested to see what other people think, hopefully there will be some great ideas. I think at the very least, there needs to be more order in running the awards, and more security measures to prevent cheating. Maybe next time this will be the way its done. I hope they move away from recognizing so few people, as there are tons of sites that deserve to be in the spotlight.

SCU Breaks - Boxes Arrive Tomorrow, Random Will Be Up Tonight

For those of you who are participating in the Exquisite Break coming up, the randomizer will be up with team assignments as soon as it is done around 5pm PST. Ill get the video up shortly after. At that point you will be able to trade.

Break will be LATE tomorrow, I wasnt expecting the packages to arrive so quickly.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

McCoy/Maclin Exquisite Dual Logo Is Up, Looks Different

You have all seen the previews of what the quad logo looks like out of Exquisite, but the dual logos look COMPLETELY different. I think the cards are good looking, but definitely dont compare to the awesome ones from last year. Last year's single and dual logo cards were some of my favorite ones of all time, but these arent on that level. Dont get me wrong, they are still pretty cool looking, its just tough to live up to 2008.

Im interested to see what other gems are lurking in this product, as I dont think we got the complete picture with the packout.

Its Not All Fuzzy Bunnies and Rainbows With Exquisite

Exquisite is live, and there are some breaks that are finally making their way onto message boards. It gives people a first look at box makeup, and results have been good and bad. I think the way the cards look are very much living up to the previews we got from Upper Deck during packout, but a few complaints are surfacing about a few things that seem unacceptable to me if true. Outside of these few complaints, I think that we are going to have a blast with the boxes that we will be getting, and hopefully the cards will equal the excitement that I have over the product in general.

The main complaint so far is that there seems to be a lot of chipping and damage to the cards in the boxes. I have commented numerous times how terrible this can be, especially for a card that is as rare as some of the chase examples are. My suggestion has always been encasement, but more than one manufacturer has expressed how costly and time consuming that would be when the issue has been brought up. Not that its an excuse for the damage displayed so far, but when the cards are put in cardboard boxes without holders and handled by a number of people, it increases the possible damage to the card. That sucks, bad.

I will say that this is nothing new for Exquisite and nothing new for hand packaged products in general. Its expected, as unforuntate as that is, and it doesn’t stop many collectors from buying the chipped cards because of the extreme rarity that characterizes the product. No one should be grading these cards, and I have said before that its more about the card itself than the condition with these. Regardless of collector's willingness to put up with chipping, it doesn’t make it any less of a crap oversight.

Another thing I noticed is a lack of a certain player in the set, something I talked about when the checklist was first released. The darlings of last year's season were definitely Drew Brees and Brett Favre, but only one is reflected with presence in the set. Brees has many cards in the product including cool inscriptions, but Favre only has 1 or 2 without a single auto. A rare materials was pulled on blowout, but the pic has him in a Vikings uniform, where the jersey swatches are from the Packers. I understand why this is the case (the cost of Favre stuff from the Vikings is astronomical), but I think a lack of Favre autos in this product will hurt a lot of prospects for Vikings fans and Favre fans.

Lastly, the box configuration seems to be more geared towards additional swatch cards than additional auto cards. I understand that cost is mutually exclusive to adding further auto content, but I dont think thats what people are thinking about when opening a box of this stuff. Much like Ultimate, the cool auto cards are awesome enough to chase a box or two, but the jersey ones have huge potential to kill a box. However, that is the nature of a product like this. At least you are guaranteed an extra auto in the bonus packs, and there are no more non-auto jersey cards, only patches.

EDIT: Just got confirmation that its 1 base, 1 Rookie Patch Auto, 1 Rookie Auto, 1 "Additional" auto, 2 patch cards, 1 signed booklet. This is a change from previous years where it was 1 jersey/1 patch.

Personally, I will hunt singles in this set like a shark, so I am definitely on board with this Exquisite. I guess we will just have to wait and see how everything turns out after a few more breaks before passing final judgement.

SCU Breaks - Exquisite Boxes and Ultimate Box Have Been Ordered

I placed the order yesterday for the Exquisite boxes with Blowout cards, and added on the Ultimate box to our break. We should have the boxes later this week or Monday of next week depending on UPS, and the randomizer will be posted soon.

Exquisite is popping up more and more on eBay and we should have a good look at a box very soon.

Good luck to everyone involved, Im pulling for you guys to have three great boxes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Exquisite Hits The Bay, Waiting On More

Exquisite has now hit the bay as expected, and most of the cards posted so far have been variations of the ones posted on UD's facebook page. Once we have a better idea of what the general set looks like come tomorrow, Ill have my thoughts on the overall product.

Here is what is up so far.

Peyton Manning Inscription - I love inscriptions like this, more so than ones pertaining to their personal life. Very cool.

Jeremy Maclin Signature Swatch - These cards look ten times better than last year's, despite Maclin's pen problems. Completely unacceptable in a product like this.

Donovan McNabb Rare Materials - I love the look of these cards, will be waiting on a Peterson to show up.

Knowshon Moreno Rookie Auto Patch - Moreno has a good looking card and sig this year. These are going to be pretty nice.

Kenny Britt Notable Nameplates - I didnt know there were non-autos of these, which is too bad. These are the cards that could kill a box.

Sanchez Bookmark Signature Swatch - I think these cards would have been awesome if not for the foldout crap. They should have been singles. Still better than a crap gold auto, though.

As soon as more of the biggies hit, ill post more. So far, nothing new has surfaced, though more is expected.

I Guess Ill Just Have To Take His Word For It

I was on ebay today trying to find if any of the 2009 Exquisite Cards had slipped through, and I found this auction that gave me quite a chuckle. My favorite part is the subtitle.

Although I dont doubt that this one is probably real, he took his guarantee to a whole new hilarious level.

First Look: 2010 Donruss Elite


I have never been a fan of early release products mainly because of the lack of the rookies in their nfl uniforms, an overabundance of bad designs, and tons sticker autos. This set is usually one of the first off the presses, and last year was nothing short of a complete crapfest that broke all of my rules. The cards looked horrible with the electrical storm background, the swatches were grossly out of place, and the whole thing was parallel after parallel.

This year's set preliminarily looks a lot better because of a more simplistic design with less confusing lines and better layout. The subsets look a better as well due to less swatch placement issues and better looking cards - so far. The problem is that we are STILL going to get those stupid ass signed manupatch things, the set will be 100% foilboard, and im sure these will ALL be stickers. Typical Panini stuff. I really wish the companies would wait until after the premiere to do their second sets after the normal draft set, but it looks like Panini and UD will both continue the pre-premiere onslaught.

Regardless of how much better this looks than last year's abomination, there is nothing new about Elite. The Torch autos will still be the chase, all the subsets are the same, and there probably wont be any cards worth paying 100 bucks a box for. At least they are offering one good auto per case, but from what I remember, the cases are expensive and have large configurations.

Prestige Chrome Elite is stale beyond believe thanks to years of producing EXACTLY the same crap year after year. At least Bowman Chrome, a set functioning on a similar concept, looks good each year, adds a few things here and there, and maintains a low price point under 60 bucks. Elite does none of those things. Thats why I love the Chromes and stay far away from this.

SCU Breaks: Question For The Participants

Guys, I got a great deal on the Exquisite boxes from BO and I will have 72 dollars left over. I can either refund the 4.50 per slot, or we can get a box of Ultimate or something similar with the left over money.

Please let me know via comments, I just wanted to see what everyone thinks. Unless there is an overwhelming vote for the boxes, refunds will probably be given.

Upper Deck Awards - Voting Starts Today

For those of you who have been following along, Upper Deck has been soliciting noms for their awards that celebrate different parts of the Hobby's social media. Voting is scheduled to start today, and SCU should be among the blogs with a chance to win. As soon as the link is up, ill post here so that you can vote on the Facebook page. Even if SCU is not considered for the award, be sure to vote for your favorites, as everyone definitely deserves the consideration.

Here is the link to UD's facebook page where Voting will take place.

For the winner of each of the categories, Upper Deck is providing a bunch of giveaways that look to be pretty epic. They have announced that one of the prizes will be a football signed by all the attendees of the 2009 Rookie Premiere, meaning Sanchez, Harvin, Stafford, Moreno and such. They will also get a bunch of other stuff to give away, which I am excited at the possibility of doing.

Hopefully you will vote for this site, as I have worked extremely hard to make SCU worthy of your support. Otherwise, I will be first in line to congratulate the winner.

Thanks guys!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SCU Breaks Going HD: 2 Box Break of 2009 Exquisite Football

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you're doing and listen. SCU BREAKS IS GOING HD!

Yes, with my little Gellman coming, I decided it was time to get a brand new full HD camcorder to document his lifetime of exploits. Luckily for all of you, it means we can do HD box breaks that are now supported by YouTube. I want to kick off this new Era of box breaking with a 2 box break of the brand new 2009 Exquisite Football that is in distributor's hands as we speak.

Here are the break specs. 2 boxes of Exquisite Football, 68.50 per random 2 team slot. Should be 6-7 hits per box including the bonus pack. USA participants ONLY. Max 2 slots per person. If we pull a multi team card, it will be randomed off to the teams involved. Paypal sent to gets you a slot. I will not be participating, all cards will be sent.

1. Voluntarheel (PAID)
2. Brian N (PAID)
3. Jeff C (PAID)
4. Mario Z (PAID)
5. James C (PAID)
6. Jon F (PAID)
7. Steve O (PAID)
8. Steve O (PAID)
9. John S (PAID)
10. John S (PAID)
11. James Co (PAID)
12. James Co (PAID)
13. Bobby P (PAID)
14. Bobby P (PAID)
15. Daniel V (PAID)
16. Ethan M (PAID)

Thanks, and good luck.

Friday, March 26, 2010

UD Sneaks In Under the Gun, Renews NFL License for 2010 and 2011

I had reported a couple of days ago that UD was on a short road to losing their NFL license due to payment issues. My source(s) had all echoed this as likely, mainly because of the shear amount of money that was needed did not seem to be within their means in the time it was needed. I got word today that Upper Deck was able to secure the money, and get the license renewed for both 2010 and 2011, something I am EXTREMELY happy about.

From the article written about the recent change to the licensing, it looks like the NFL was going to give out four licenses, but decided to go back to two in order to keep the "watering down" to a minimum. Although I think that is a bunch of shit and the more the merrier, at least the big two are back in it.

Topps will remain on the outside looking in, though I doubt they are too concerned considering the huge victory that was won a few weeks ago.

Personally, I am glad that Upper Deck is back in the game because it allows for the good design river to continue flowing in the right direction. As collectors have shown on the numerous threads posted on numerous boards, there will be A LOT of people who are going to be very happy about this.

With Exquisite less than a week away, and many collectors eagerly awaiting its release, this news could not be better for those of us who believe that when it comes to producing the best cards, Upper Deck is the top of the mountain.

My State of the Union: Happy Second Birthday SCU!

Today is the day that SCU was born, two years ago. In fact, I cannot believe its been two years already. Feels like yesterday I was just another angry collector. Although the blog is two years old now, reaching over 20,000 visitors per month, and is responsible for people recognizing me at card shows, its still fun to do each and every day. I cant think of a reason why I would have kept going if it hadnt been fun this whole time. I have obviously had my ups and downs, built and burned bridges, and even inspired a few hate blogs in retaliation, but that is never an occurance I would have fathomed possible in the beginning of this site. SCU has outgrown even my own dreams for this once tiny blog.

When I started SCU, I was looking for a place to write, mainly because of my background in English from my undergrad at George Washington U. I loved creative writing, and I knew that I wanted some place to express it. Unlike most creative writers, I needed to write solely about something I love, and cards became that subject after a few tries at other things. Its rare that one can find something that provides as much material as this hobby has, and I am glad to say that material is not drying up either.

I think its also rare to find a community of people like we have here in the card blogger network, something that is one of the best things about the hobby. When I started you could pretty much count the blogs on two hands, instead of now, where hundreds of people have signed up to write about what they collect. I didn’t even know about sites like Stale Gum or Wax Heaven at the beginning of my tenure here, but I soon came to understand what it meant to have to work to get to the top. Chris and Mario were two of the first people to welcome me to the net, even going above and beyond to help educate me in some cases. It was easy to see how much work they put into their sites, and it was where I discovered how to turn SCU into where it is today. Although the community is much, much bigger now, I consistently see others working together to spread the word, supporting their bretheren and sisteren(?) regardless of whether or not they agree. A blogger is a blogger, no matter the site, and almost all of us understand that speaking out is worth supporting, no matter the discussion topics.

The community itself has led to a number of events that wouldn’t be possible without a wonderful community. Whether it’s the wildly successful group breaks on here and other sites, the blog bat around (which will be making a comeback shortly), or even just the twitter discussions we all seem to have daily, we have created a media source unlike any other. No editors or people to answer to, no alterior motives, no bullshit, we do it because we love it, and that’s what makes it great.

On top of all of that, blogs have often become the defacto police force of the internet, a role I take very seriously here. Fakes and scams have always been a huge target for me, even before SCU, as my crusader nature has always lent well to rooting out the douchebags who make the hobby a terrible place. I will voice a commitment to continue that as long as this site is up, as I don’t think I will ever be able to let someone take advantage of an uninformed collector without saying something first. Not only that, but I hope others will do the same thing, as our voices collectively is much more powerful.

Now that two years have past, its tough not to look towards the future, which is becoming more and more uncertain with the drastic changes coming in my life. Although Im not sure how active I will be able to stay, I know that all the people who live to hate me arent going to win any time soon. You have already seen guest posts from Voluntarheel, and he will not be the only one taking up the SCU flag in the future. One of the great things about having a site like this is it becomes easier to connect with likeminded people, thus giving me a good bullpen to work with when I cant meet the demands of the site. Thank you in advance to those people.

Speaking of haters, I have oddly developed a following of fans whose sole purpose is to express how awful of a person I am. Whether its claiming that I am laughably paid by Upper Deck, or any number of other things they like to harp on, I cant help but laugh (and ignore) their constant prodding. Much to their chagrin, it is one of the reasons that SCU has survived as long as it has, and most likely will be a reason why it will continue to thrive. There is no such thing as bad publicity, and I take the good with the bad in terms of people. It also helps that the letters from new collectors I get daily always contradict everything they say, as I have always prided myself at being a resource for uniformed people looking for info.

Lastly, thank you to the fans of SCU, the people who make this site a daily stop on their trek through the web. I live for you guys and gals, and you drive me towards success more than anything or anyone else. Nothing makes me happier than helping someone find an answer, start a blog, or even just talk about the hobby in their own way, and I think the favor is returned every day in many numbers of awesome ways. Then to see their support help get SCU onto ESPN, Deadspin, and Yardbarker's front page, makes me even more thankful for the copious amounts of support they give.

Lets face it, I may not be the easiest person to agree with, read about, or cheer for, but I appreciate the ability to be a part of your favorite pasttime. Thank you all, and here's to another two years!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some People Dont Know How To Be Good At Being Bad

GUEST POSTER: Voluntarheel

Buy one jersey, make a bunch of fakes. That seems to be the modus operandi for the faker elite. From what I have found, these guys pay very little for jerseys and turn them into their fake swatches. Some just buy the singular patches. But it seems Mr. Turtle_crazy_va can only pinch 4 fakes off of his loaf. How do I know this? Well just take a look at what he is selling at the moment.

Not only that, but he has also sold 8 other Kevin Kolb LOGO SPA RPA's in the last 3 months. Must have only gotten enough money to buy two jerseys.

Go ahead and add turtle_crazy_va to your 'do not purchase' list, maybe even your 'do not pee on if on fire' list as well. You know, if you have one of those. I do.

Stay Away From These SPAs

While I was out, Heel posted on the makeup of what an SPA scammer is all about. He mentioned a guy, ufjumper7, who is starting to make waves as quite possibly the dumbest faker in recent memory. Usually, scammers use two accounts to complete their fakes, one to buy and one to sell. Obviously ufjumper didnt get the memo. Must not have had a cover sheet, I guess.

Over on FCB, a good break down of his purchases versus sales was discussed, further cementing what Heel originally posted. Here are some of the examples:

LeSean McCoy BEFORE - 1 color patch, same sig, same number.
LeSean McCoy AFTER - Ridiculous patch, same sig same number.

Mark Sanchez BEFORE - 2 color patch ( a good patch ruined), same sig, same number.
Mark Sanchez AFTER - Logo patch, same sig, same number.

Matt Stafford BEFORE - 1 color patch, same sig, same number.
Matt Stafford AFTER - 4 color patch, same sig, same number.

Also, as I failed to mention in the original draft of this post, the guy has bought close to 30 versions of redemptions from the guys who havent signed yet. I think its safe to say what is going to happen with those.

Is this really what we have come to? Scammers arent even trying anymore. I hope this guy gets crapped on by a dog today, a nice runny one, that would only be a portion of what he deserves.

h/t Wheeler

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Real/Fake Line For Ultimate Baseball is GONE.

The patch cards in Ultimate Baseball are one of the main reasons why the product was so successful. They are also to a point now where the line has been blurred past the point of where one can tell fake or real. Although there are people who have undoubtedly faked these cards, there are also so many real logo patches that its almost impossible to tell.

Check out these cards that have been posted and sold on eBay over the last couple of days. Some I can tell, some are way too hard to determine.

Carlton Fisk - The patch is weird on this, too weird to consider it to be fake. It still makes me uncomfortable.

Paul Konerko - I dont trust this guy at all. There is already speculation around the boards that all are fake, and this card definitely looks that way.

Brandon Webb - A great patch, but it does look real because the window looks good and has non-patch material in the window.

Tom Seaver - 100% fake, this guy has already been covered on this blog before and his cards arent even questionable. UD was meticulous in matching player pics with uni swatches, which disqualifies this card all the way.

Roy Ozwalt - Another questionable patch, but too tough to make a sure determination.

Brandon Phillips - A cool patch with too much detail to seem fake, but again, this is a cheap pickup to fake if needed. Im not sure.

Carlos Beltran - another patch from this seller that is almost 100% fake. Just look at the separation between the swatch and the patch. Like he slipped it in over the crappy swatch.

Basically, Ultimate was the one set that needed a database, and its too bad it wasnt done ahead of time. Its just too easy to fake these cards, and it brings back memories of the faker favorite set of the century - 2005 Donruss Prime Patches. The difference between Prime Patches and this, is that its easy to tell fakes from that set because of card labeling, but Ultimate is ALL patches so its almost impossible.

I would employ a few rules that should start becoming applicable soon:

1. Dont buy Ultimate Patch cards where the logo patch takes up the whole window. Its not worth the risk.

2. Look for window damage. Its tough to get a patch out of the card without nicking the edges of the swatch window.

3. Avoid NEW patches. The jerseys that UD used seem to be at least a few years old, and the new sleeve patches from last season are easy to come by on ebay.

4. Avoid World Series, Commemorative, and All Star Patches. Its too easy for scammers to sell you on your salivation over such a unique patch. Its almost unheard of for any of them to be real.

5. Avoid sellers who have a ton of logo patches for sale. This is pretty much the case for everyone regardless of the patch card, as scammers will sell a never ending stream of crap to make maximum dollars.

Let me know if you have any questions about authenticity and ill do my best to scope it out.

Upper Deck Responds To Rumors Of Loss of License

Just to update the situation, Upper Deck's twitter account has responded to my post of the rumors that their NFL license is being cancelled due to a number of reasons.

First off, let me say that I am glad that they have responded to the post. I think to have official word is better than leaving it out in the open. My post of an unconfirmed rumor may have been premature, but I feel it was necessary to inform people of the chatter I had heard. Although there is a chance that the rumor may be true, I think there is just as much of a chance that it may not be per my post.

This hobby has been in a state of flux for the last few months, and part of that was viciously swirling around Upper Deck's future. Although I believe that Upper Deck makes the best products on the market, their state of affairs has seemed disheveled as of late. First the Konami lawsuit, then the MLBP lawsuit, the cancellation of UD draft football and the rest of the baseball calendar, and most recently, reports of a new license for Panini in the once Upper Deck exclusive sport of hockey. Its tough to ignore the problems that seem to be plaguing the company.

I sincerely hope that UD continues to be able to produce football cards, as I dont think any other company produces products with the quality that they do. Despite this fact, not everyone is happy with their recent business practices, and it has led to some venom on the side of the collectors. It has also contributed to people trying to sabotage certain programs, and I can see if this is one of those rumors that may fall under that category.

I wish UD the best of luck in maintaining their brand, hopefully it will continue to be able to be produced.

DEVELOPING STORY: Upper Deck Loses Their Football License?

Well, I have some bad news for football collectors, news that I have been expecting for a few weeks now. I got word from the peanut gallery that Upper Deck is losing their football license due to non-payment on the fees or something to that degree. Although this news is speculative at this point, and very much unconfirmed, I have a feeling we will get the news later this month or early next month. After recent troubles, speculation on lack of funds has run rampant, and this should only add fuel to the fire.

With UD possibly leaving football for the foreseeable future, it leaves an open spot for Topps to return to the fold, which may be the other side of the announcement. It may also spell the end of a company who has produced the best looking cards of anyone in the football market in the last few years. With their baseball and basketball arms all but severed, Im not sure how much longer they will be able to stay viable. Football was a profitable brand, and Exquisite is looking to be one of the best products in a long time. As this news would suggest, it’s the last product they will make in the football market, something that makes me a very sad panda.

I cant really fault anyone but the top brass over at Upper Deck, as the management of the company has been piss poor lately. Where UD had finally started to build a good reputation among people, that construction was mostly destroyed with the news of the Konami lawsuit. Though Topps may return with fan favorites like their base set and the Chromes, we are also going to have a hole where Upper Deck's MO of great looking cards and on card sigs usually fit. Its rare that a company has as many problems as Upper Deck has had in the last few months, especially with so many of them stemming from unethical and unsound financial behavior. I guess this is the nail in the coffin.

For me, if this situation turns out to be true, im pretty much done buying current football cards unless Panini and Topps change their tendencies to match my tastes. I doubt that will happen, so that makes me feel extra cynical about the future of what I will buy in the upcoming years.

Hopefully, I am wrong.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Not To Do A Cut Auto, Volume 1,000,000

Topps has a record of doing terrible things to cut auto cards, and in all honesty, they arent even the only one to do it industry wide. Either way, this card was brought to my attention, mainly because of how terrible the card looks. As usual, Topps didnt even try to make this card look good, and did even a worse job cutting the sigs. Cosigners has always been one of the worst looking products on the market, so this definitely doesnt surprise me.

Bascially, Cut autos have jumped the shark, and this one from 2007 was a good example of it. Collectors still clamor for any cut they can get their hands on for some reason, but this should show a little bit of why its important to think twice before emptying the bank account. For this price, one could easily obtain a Mantle Signed ball, a Dimaggio signed ball, an Arod ball, and a case to display them.

With that in mind, why even let the thought cross your mind to buy this junk?

I Have Been Had By The Fake Twitter Account, As Much As I Hate To Say It

Yesterday, the web was all abuzz with the promise of the UD Awards unveiling. One person, someone close to the program it seems, took the opportunity to capitalize on the event. This person created a fake Twitter account (@upperdeckawards), started tweeting, and we listened and responded quite intently. There are definitely some questions I have, especially considering that UD had nothing to say about it, even now.

First, the Upper deck account knew quite a bit about what was going to happen. How would they have that info? We could all guess, but they were pretty much on top of a lot of it.

Secondly, Upper Deck has more than one twitter account that was active, why didnt they tweet their followers to inform them it wasnt real? Its quite simple, just tell us. We could have avoided lots of confusion since almost all of us follow both accounts.

Lastly, I get that these awards are polarizing, as are some of the responses to it. However, I feel like someone is pulling strings that shouldnt be pulled. I guess when you offer free stuff, including elusive recognition, we all freak. We all want a piece of the action, and a lot of us throw caution to the wind (myself included) when we get a whiff of a cool opportunity.

I failed to follow my own rules about fakes, and I should have known better. My apologies to everyone. Be sure to voice your support for SCU on the awards, I guess I am now eligible again.

What The UD Awards Say About Hobby Reporting

Since 2008, the hobby media has gone through MANY significant changes, especially with the advent of social media. First there was the 2008-2009 blog boom, then facebook, then twitter, all of which contributed to collectors being the most informed "generation" in sports card history. Message boards also have contributed their share of connection tools as well, mainly that there is a growing number of places where collectors can converse without leaving their house. Thanks to sites like eBay, Blowout Cards, and DA Cardworld, the internet has basically rendered the shop and show obsolete, and I am one who welcomes the digression from the norm of the last 25 years. Collectors are now tied together more readily and easily than ever before, and I love it.

Yesterday, we entered a new chapter in this ever changing saga, as Upper Deck became the first manufacturer to offer awards for excellence in these mediums. Unlike other hobby media who loathes the loss of their reporting territory and prominence, Upper Deck has chosen to embrace it. Although the idea is most definitely a publicity tool to drive people to their site, the concept reflects how social media has revolutionized the hobby's reporting crew. Three years ago, if a anyone offered awards like this, there would only be a handful of people around to accept them, now there are thousands. Collectors are starting blogs like it’s a job, mainly because of the wonderful community that has been established by the hundreds already in existence. Twitter is catching on as well, with manufacturers starting their own pages to complement the many blogs and message boards that are already established. Through these Blogs, Twitter and Facebook, collectors no longer have to search for the info they need through pages of outdated and disconnected magazines or through posts on countless forums. Instead they can go to the Blogs or Facebook pages and see a ton of information as it becomes available.

With the recent advent of awards for best of the best, I can forsee a lot more people getting started in speaking their mind through places like Twitter and Blogs. With magazine readership dropping, people who do it for fun have become the best resource for information and commentary, as there is no ad revenue or editors to worry about. Most of the time, that leads to free roam of the hobby landscape, something that has never been offered before, ever. It also gives people the opportunity to police the douchebags, as previous hobby news sources still try to shy away from exposing the "dark side" of collecting.

For a lot of the people who casually stumble across the hobby, the mantra usually is a variance of "its just card board," but for a lot of us, its more than that. Its something we use to better writing skills, build resumes, and most of all have fun doing. There are no limits and no censorship, and because of that fact, online collectors are quickly starting to outnumber old and stubborn curmudgeons.

I doubt the Upper Deck awards will be the last of its kind, because its obvious that its online success will produce copycats. Im fine with that as long as the contests facilitate more people take up the banner and start their own way of reporting on the hobby they love. Just because there are hundreds of blogs and message boards out there already, doesn’t mean there isnt room for you to find your niche as a new member of the online community. As I have said a hundred times before, I will not hesitate to add any new people to the sidebar and give you a link, or answer any questions you have in getting started.

Remember, if you have something to say, there will always be people willing to listen. Then, if you are fortunate enough to have great content and good readership, you now have the ability to be recognized industry wide.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vote For Your Favorites in the Upper Deck Awards

This year is a first for these types of things, but I think it bears mentioning here. Over on twitter and possibly facebook, Upper Deck is soliciting collector votes for their favorites of the net. Award categories include collector of the year, blog of the year, forum of the year, and the like.

As a person who puts a ton of work into this site, I would love your support for Blog of the Year, but I am not eligible because I contribute to UD's site. Therefore, throw your support to who you feel did the best job this year, and hopefully, they will be recognized.

You can nominate blogs and collectors by responding to Upper Deck's facebook page, and im sure their website will also be a hub for vote collecting. Even if you are not going to be voting for this blog, I encourage you to support your favorites by checking out the contest.

Mauer Signs and I Am Very Happy

I have seriously been watching the Twins' MLB webpage and MLB Trade Rumors like a hawk these past few weeks, and I am very glad to see that Mauer has finally jumped on board for a good part of the rest of his career. His contract may be the fourth biggest of all time, but I believe it was a move that Minnesota could not have done without. Im not just talking about the Twins, but Minnesota in general.

See, in Minnesota, Mauer is like Jesus. If he were to have signed elsewhere come next spring, there may have been a riot. On my end of things, if he came back in pinstripes or in a Sox jersey, I probably would have cried. In that, I dont think I would be alone. He is the hometown boy, and could turn out to be the best catcher in MLB history, so why not throw money at him like we were the Yankees?

A lot of people are questioning the money spent on him as a limitation from signing other players in the future. To that I ask about whether or not we are watching the same team. I mean, I dont think I have ever seen the Twins sign a guy that wasnt on the downside of the downslope of their career, and many of the pieces of their team nucleus are signed long term. Although it will be tougher to afford to resign guys like Morneau in 2013, I would think that the new stadium should help to make the Twins into a larger market team.

Regardless of how the deal looks, I believe Mauer is worth every penny, and funny enough, so do all the people who have driven up his card prices. I own close to 40 different Mauer autographs, including some incredibly rare ones, and I couldnt be happier that his 2002 Chrome auto is selling at close to 300 raw. I bought mine for about a hundred bucks, and its pretty crazy to think that it has almost tripled in true value. Even his weird, common autos are selling through the roof, and that is nuts! If he has a good year this year, again, who knows where the peak will be. Considering I also have a signed game model bat authenticated by MLB, I may be sitting on a gold mine - that is - if I were ever going to dump his stuff.

Realistically, Mauer probably wont play at the level of A-Rod or Pujols, despite his contract reflecting that level of talent. However, I do think this is good for small-market baseball, and definitely good for Minnesota. Hell, if Mauer did end up as a fucking Yankee, I may have had to put my eternal hatred of them on hold for awhile. That would be bad.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jared Allen At The Sun Times Show: Results Are Just As Awesome

Along with Percy Harvin, I also commissioned someone to get me Jared Allen, who was also signing at the show. Eric did a great job with helping me out, and I now have a second piece to add to my collection that I absolutely love. Although the price turned out to be a little more expensive than I had originally hoped, I still think it was well worth the money.


Thanks again to Eric!

Percy Harvin At The Sun Times Show: Results Are AWESOME

First off, I want to thank James for doing this for me. He was nice, communicative, and incredibly easy to work with. You have made me very happy.

Secondly, I discussed a few days ago how much I loved autographs, and this one is definitely a new centerpiece to my Percy Harvin collection. From the pics it looks absolutely amazing, and very much worth the money I spent to have it taken care of.

I cant wait to have it in hand, should be perfect next to my Peterson one.

What a rush!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Matt Ryan SPA Logo 1/1 Is Back Up On Ebay

I really dont understand these cards and their sales most of the time. Its rare that someone buys the SPA logos and actually hangs onto them, as I see so many of them up for auction quite a few times. The Matt Ryan is back up with a ridiculous BIN, which makes me question a few things.

First, why would anyone sell it during the offseason? The Falcons look like they should be a good team again next year, and prices drop after the Super Bowl, so its better to wait until the winter. Not a good time to list it right now. Second, why put such a high BIN on it? Last time it sold it was under 2K I believe, and eBay should not be your personal photobucket. Lastly, this card is arguably the best pull out of 2008 SP Authentic, and it was purchased for a ton of money. Why buy if you are just going to throw it back up there?

I dont get it.

Looking Into My In Person Autograph Collection

I love autographs, and I have said on numerous occasions that autographs are what brought me to card collecting. My dad collects autographs, my brother collects autographs, and I STILL collect autographs of all of my favorite players and celebrities. Cards are my preferred way of growing my collection, but I never turn down a new opportunity.

This weekend in Chicago, I saw a chance to add to my collection when two of my favorite Vikings sign at the Sun Times Show there. Although I have condemned card shows as a place you shouldnt go to buy cards, autographs are a different story. Lucky for me Percy Harvin and Jared Allen dont charge that much (yet) for their signatures, and I am having a few people secure me a signature of them to display next to my Adrian Peterson stuff.

Here are my thoughts on it. In baseball, the signed official league ball is the preferred piece of memorabilia to have signed. Its universal, there is a standard, and players know where to sign. I have many baseballs that have signatures of all my favorite players, mainly because they are easy to display and fun to appreciate. In football, there isnt something like that. A standard football is too big, and a jersey can be extremely expensive and hard to prep for display. Therefore, the football mini helmet has become the preferred signing vehicle, even starting to gain favor with a lot of the players per a discussion I had with Beanie Wells during a signing here in LA.

Based on that fact, and my own personal affinity for the football mini helmet, I decided that it was going to be my piece of choice for this signing. I also thought it was a good idea to pay for the inscription, and Ill get to that in a second. Since my Adrian Peterson mini helmet is signed in silver, I asked my helpful acquaintances to do the same. I figured they would all look nice side by side on my shelf.

On a side note, I have two signed mini authentic NFL footballs. One by Percy Harvin and one by Stafford and Moreno. The mini footballs are a perfect size to display, but very few people make displays for them. I had a hell of a time finding a display, but settled on a custom one from eBay. Yes, it turned out great, but these minis could be the new OMLBs like in baseball. Take note Ultra Pro.

Moving on to the inscription part of the auto, this is where people usually use every creative bone in their body, or they pick something standard like HOF or whatever. Me, I love having personalized autos because my goal is not to sell them. Even though I could have gotten Harvin to sign "ROY 2009" and Allen to sign "Mullet Militia," I wanted something more personal to display on my shelf. I decided on "To Adam" because I rarely have the chance to get something like that. I can always buy other stuff that has the inscriptions that I was just explaining, and that is why I want something that is more just for me.

I guess you can consider me the set collector equivalent of the Autograph hobby. The reason is that I dont collect the autos to sell, but rather to keep. Making money on an auto isnt my goal, its more the fun of adding to the collection. This is similar to some of those collectors out there who try to complete set after set because its fun for the sense of accomplishment, not to make money on their completed product. Despite that my taste in cards is completely different, I have adopted a similar MO for autos. So much so that I even have a hierarchy of what I like signed.

Baseball - 1. OMLB, signed in blue ball point ink 2. Bat that is used by the player, not just some bat 3. Mini batting helmet 4. jersey signed on the back number 5. 8x10 photo

Football - 1. official mini helmet 2. authentic NFL football 3. photo 4. jersey signed on the back number 5. mini NFL authentic football with white panel

If I can get any of these things personalized, I will. When I got the chance to meet Beanie Wells, I had him sign the football "To Adam" just like above. People at the shop he was signing said I was nuts to do it that way, but I continued to tell them that I was a collector not a seller.

Even if I dont get the chance to meet the player themselves, I am very happy doing things the way I do it, and that is all that matters. If you are a collector just like me, I would definitely find your niche as well. Find something that makes you happy in a similar way and then go for it. There is nothing cooler than a man cave filled wall to wall with autographs. It never ceases to amaze me what people are capable of.

Friday, March 19, 2010

While I Was Out: Upper Deck Lays Off Entertainment Employees

I know there are a lot of people out there who hate Upper Deck, but people losing jobs is never something to celebrate. Honestly, this move was expected, as the Entertainment division is slowly becoming obsolete after the Konami lawsuit was settled. The next division to take a hit is likely the baseball part of UD's operations, as many of the goals that were on the list are no longer able to be accomplished.

When it comes down to financials, its still unclear how bad it actually is for Upper Deck. Rumors are flying like boogers after a sneeze, but its rare that a company would ever give us advanced notice of any problems. I still believe that UD will continue to have its crew of footballers at full strength, as the brand seems to be running pretty normally. As for Hockey and Basketball, I see little evidence that things will be slowing down, even if Panini ends up with a license.

Is UD out of the storm quite yet? Yes and no. Financial instability will always be a question whenever a problem comes up, but I doubt its as big of a factor as some of the skeptics out there are making it out to be at this particular moment. The future is yet to be seen, however, and things could easily change instantaneously.

Regardless of how you feel about the company, I would hate to imagine how many families would be saddled with huge problems if Upper Deck closed its doors. I will say that a lot of this could have been prevented with better business ethics, and that is something the brass at UD will have to live with for a long, long time.

More Exquisite From Upper Deck

Upper Deck recently posted more Exquisite images on their facebook page, and they continue to impress. The interesting card in this batch is the quad logo card, which I find to be something of a rarity in creation, not in circulation. See, usually, there is one or two good players on a quad and one or two duds. This one, much to my surprise, looks to have four of the better players of the class. Nice.

Here is the latest batch:

Think Twice Before Throwing Your Money Away

have always stood by the fact that investing early in the top QBs of the class is a terrible idea. Although many of them have the talent to be good QBs, the teams they usually go to are horrible for promoting growth in a young player that starts from Day 1. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, they fail quite hard until later in their career.

The main factors that should go into your decision of whether or not to buy usually rests with the team the guy plays for. In the case of Matthew Stafford, I advised to stay far away because of the team he played for. The offensive line was in shambles, the running game still need to prove its worth, and Calvin Johnson was all they had to help Stafford out. Sure enough, Stafford got banged around and ended up missing six games due to injury. In the case of Mark Sanchez, the Jets were in a MUCH different situation, and it showed. Although I didn’t think pumping dollars into Sanchez was a good idea either, at least he had better prospects of doing well off the bat.

In 2008, the situation was very similar to 2009 with Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. Matt Ryan was coming back to a Falcons team that had pieces in place, but no one to lead. Flacco had a super bowl contender in Baltimore, having been drafted late in the first round. Because the Falcons and Ravens had better teams to complement the talent of the QBs, they did much better than expected.

This year, there are quite a few players that are already tickling the collective nutsacks of prospectors looking to burn a few bucks. The top guy should be Sam Bradford, likely going to the Rams after a DISASTEROUS 2009 season. Bradford has size and talent, and is expected to be a good quarterback. The Rams' lack of success could be as much attributed to injuries as anything, as many of their starters spent the year on the pine. Does this mean he is worth throwing a ton of money at when the products are released? Fuck no. Bradford is not going to have the year that Ryan had, and probably wont even have the underperforming year that Sanchez had on a playoff team. The Rams will go 3-13 at best, and that’s if Steven Jackson stays healthy. On the other hand, the Rams do have some talent that is building up to be good players. Jason Smith had a below average year, but is showing promise. Same with Donnie Avery and some of the other pieces of the Rams offense. This may help Bradford in the long run, but will limit his immediate potential.

As for Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, it is likely that they will have a similar experience. Clausen may end up in Washington at number 4 or Cleveland at number 7, with both teams being terrible in their offensive prowess. McCoy may end up as a 2nd round pick, as will Tebow, and both should spend their first years on the bench. In McCoy's case, injuries likely put him out of the first round to begin with, though he has the talent to be a great QB. Tebow, well, if you throw money at his cards, you might as well burn that cash instead. As evidenced by his pro day film, he still has major problems with the exact issues he had before and may even end up as a Wildcat QB/TE when all is said and done. With the Wildcat becoming more of a tolerated offense, he is likely to spend more time on the bench than on the field during his career.

People may cite the success of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Tony Romo as reasons to get in on the ground floor, but I disagree. Prospecting has become so commonplace in football that prices are high from the beginning. In fact, the price Matt Ryan commanded originally didn’t grow THAT much over the course of his successful first season. Paying an extra 20-30 bucks, shouldn’t be that big of a deal once the guy proves his worth to his team.

Basically, your best targets will always be WRs and RBs. Top WRs are usually on the field from day one, with many being productive from the get go. Backs are the same, especially with 99% of the teams using a two back system. They command the value that they do because of that early production, though only the running backs will carry it on consistently. Funny enough, this year is so loaded with defensive talent, there could be a starvation rule in effect, with many collectors wondering what direction to go. It should be interesting to see where things end up.