Monday, May 31, 2010

Filling Holes Left By Upper Deck's NFL License

Up until this year, it was rare to lose a company in a sport, either by choice or by force. This past year, it has happened twice in football, with one company luckily getting another shot at making football cards. Upper Deck, obviously wasnt so lucky with the ability to produce licensed NFL cards, and we have yet to see how their NCAA products turn out. With that in mind, there are some spots that Panini and Topps will be looking to fill (hopefully effectively), and that is what I want to go over here.

Exquisite - Upper Deck has already confirmed that Exquisite is out for 2010, and personally I think it was the right call because of the situation. Most people would expect National Treasures to fill the void left by the industry's best high end product, but Im not so sure it will actually happen. Last year's National Treasures set was terrible, looking more like a 400 dollar box of Donruss Threads than a box of high end goodness. That will not be able to happen this year, and it looks like Panini is already taking steps to better the product by adding on card signatures for some of the big chase cards. It still looks as if the rest of the product will be stickers, something that is completely unacceptable, so Im not sure how far their efforts will take them.

SP Authentic - SPA was the premiere product for Football cards, and has been since its inception. Collectors eagerly await the release of this product every year because of its consistent great designs and amazing box content for about 100 bucks. This year, the SPA we know and love will be revamped for the NCAA exclusive, and I am still confident that it can live up to expectations. However, that wont stop Topps and Panini from gunning for it. Topps Platinum was supposed to be the answer in 2009, however it failed to even come close to delivering. The same was said about Topps Unique, but it was anything but Unique with boring designs and terrible content. At this point Leaf Limited is the only product that could possibly live up to SPA, but it will take a huge improvement and a huge push towards the concepts that made SPA so popular. Im not sure if they will be able to make that jump.

Ultimate Collection - I loved Ultimate Collection this year, and I dont think it will be making a comeback for 2010. I think that this particular segment of the product calendar will be left behind, though Triple Threads may take a shot at it. Obviously, you all know my feelings on what I think is one of the worst product ever created, so I dont really need to elaborate on that. Ultimate could come back with a focus on bringing more inscriptions and stuff to compensate for the lack of logos, but im not sure it would be enough to get some of the collectors to buy into the new format.

SPX - I actually think that the NCAA license fits SPX more than any other product in UD's early product line. SPX has always been about rookies and getting deep into the draft class, and this is the perfect opportunity to exploit that. The price point would need to come down, but there is a definite possibility of making this a banner product for the early calendar. Obviously Topps is taking notice of the lack of good products in the early part of the year with the release of Platinum in September, so I would think that UD should do the same with getting SPX out as quickly as possible.

Flagship Upper Deck - Topps has had this part of the calendar since the early 60's so I dont think that a lack of Upper Deck low end is going to be missed all that much. Topps' flagship product is looking so ridiculous at this point, that Im not sure Panini will even be able to compete at all. Elite will be featuring a Rookie Premiere Signature set for the first time, but it is one subset in a complete product filled with headshots of college players due to a lack of an ability to display college jerseys.

Honestly, if you asked me a few months ago if Upper Deck would be able to compete without a license, I would have said you were nuts. But because of the holes their phenomenal products leave behind, its not as big of a gap anymore.

New City, New Baby, New Problems?

What a week, that is all I have to say right now. First we have to pack up our stuff and move halfway across the nation, and then we have to take our 5 week old son on his first plane ride in order to make it in time to meet our stuff. Luckily for us, he was a complete gentleman for the move and on the plane, no crying, no fussing, nothing. It was as good as it could be. I couldnt ask for a better situation with him.

Then the fun starts. When we check into the hotel, he starts up a storm, screaming at the top of his lungs. As he is doing this, the computer we have been using for the last five plus years goes to shit, and we are left with a crying baby and no way to get the addresses we need to get around a foreign city. I had been to San Antonio before, and knew that we were probably going to buy an Apple computer for the first time, so I said that we should just go to the nearest store and buy our new machine. Our phones were dead from travelling, so we couldnt really get the addresses (as I said), but I knew where the local mall was to get our computer and get home. My wife added insult to injury by saying we were on our last few diapers, but I figured that it would be easy to stop at one of the five million Targets around the area.

So, we get to the mall, which was surprisingly easy to get to, and we pick out our new Macbook Pro that will be our computer for the foreseeable future. Easy enough. Wrong. We cant pay using our check cards for two reasons - the daily limit is less than the cost of the computer, and our bank thinks we are still living in Los Angeles. Fraud alert city, right? Yeah, that second one was my bad. After having a quick chat with them, everything gets sorted out, and we walk out the door without a problem. We stop in at Target, get our diapers and head back to the hotel for the night.

After all that, Noah calmed down at about 11pm, and we were able to get some sleep. We really needed it after waking up at 4am, but it sure did take an army to get him to stop fussing. Our first San Antonio experience may not have been a great one, but it was definitely representative of our normal luck as the Gellman family, so I guess I shouldnt complain. The new computer is set up and is awesome, and I cannot believe I didnt switch sooner. Im a Mac and I dont need to think to get shit done on my computer. Take your Windows 7 idea and go complicate someone's life, haha.

Well, as a new resident of a southern red state, let me be the first to say, "Y'all, im fixin' to get goin' here, but ill still post as the week goes on. Ya'hear?"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

After All That, Strasburg Finally Sells

When the Strasburg superfractor was first listed at the $20,000 buy it now, I couldnt believe that it would even come close. I have always said that when it comes to normal cards from normal packs, there is a ceiling of 10,000 that is almost impossible to break, barring unusual circumstances. Obviously, after all the attention that this card has gotten, the modern card ceiling has been shattered and then some. I literally cannot believe how much this card sold for. It is practically unfathomable.

Although you could easily buy any other card from any other set along with an autograph of any living or dead player, plus a down payment on a nice car for this price, someone still thought it was a good idea. I completely disagree, and here is why. In 2010 Bowman Chrome, Strasburg will have an autographed Superfractor, and at the point of release, the price of this card will drop - DRASTICALLY. The first autographs out of Chrome are always more important than the non-autographs (see Jason Heyward), and this will be no different. Try reselling this card at the price it sold for come october and it will almost be impossible to get half.

My theory has been that its okay to spend a couple hundred on an untested guy, because its only a couple hundred. Its not going to make or break someone. 16,000 bucks can easily mean the difference between financial success and failure for a good part of this country, and to risk it on the arm of a guy with no big league experience is ludicrous, no matter how good his numbers are.

Friday, May 28, 2010

First Look: 2010 Topps Platinum Football

Previews for Topps Platinum hit the web while I was out, and I am a little shocked by what I see. Although the design does look a lot better than last year, it still has a lot of the same flaws as 2009 Platinum, including some I was not hoping to see.

First off, I have been told for the last few months that Topps Platinum would be this year's answer to the loss of a licensed SPA product. On card autographs, great design, and huge content in the box for a great price. Obviously that is not the case as the stickers are still built into the design, and your eye is drawn to the fact that some of the box will again cover up the player. I have never understood Topps' reason for making the sticker the focus of the product, especially considering that stickers were invented to hide the fact that the cards werent handled by the atheletes.

Secondly, the way the players are silhouetted on the cards doesn’t lend very well to the chrome style stock. I mentioned last year that the cards themselves looked weird because of the solid silver, black, or red background. The reason the Chromes are so successful is because of how great the field pictures look on a chrome stock. It has always been an industry success story of how great chrome is, and when you take one of the elements out of it, things don’t look right. Its why foilboard always looks ridiculous, straight pics with no scenery don’t work. If it were flat stock it would be different a la SPA, National Treasures and Exquisite, but this doesn’t work.

Lastly, I do think this set looks better than last year, as some of the cards make last year's look like they were designed by an amateur. However, this set is far from the level it should be at, despite the fact that it is a welcome January level product in September. I think Topps will no doubt have lots of success with it.

New Directions and New Beginnings

Wow, the last week has been a virtual nightmare. Let me just put it that way. On top of a brand new baby, we have had to begin the process of moving to Texas, which makes things infinitely more complicated than they normally would be. I have also begun interviewing for a promotion at work, so the stress level of everything going on has been through the roof, to boot. I sincerely hope that after next week, the only thing going on will be everything with the baby, but we all know that is a pipe dream.

Honestly, some of the most complicated stuff was how to get my card and memorabilia collection to the new place in one piece. Yes, everything is in holders and cases, but I don’t know if I could ever trust anyone with the amount of money that it is worth. So many of those things are irreplaceable, so to find out after the fact that they are missing upon arrival would be devastating. Since we are shipping the cars and no one will be entering the vehicles after we drop them off, I decided to lock everything up in the trunk. Hopefully it all makes it there in one piece, I took extra steps and miles of bubble wrap to ensure safe travel. Who knows, anything is possible though, right?

After yesterday and seeing the complete clusterfuck that the movers perpetuated, I am very glad to be taking that approach. They basically threw everything into boxes, and to think that the same would have happened with my treasured pieces would have been ridiculous. At least the baby was good while they packed everything up, he slept or kept quiet the whole time, despite all the noise and packing tape pulling sounds.

Personally, I cannot wait to get started in San Antonio, as it looks to be a midwestern style town in the south instead of a concrete jungle in the west like LA. I have already gotten a few great suggestions on card shops to make my own, though im not sure how much time I will be able to spend searching them out now. I am a little sad to leave LA, as the opportunities here have been tremendous, but the nature of the city takes my sadness and throws four hours of traffic on it to make me happy I am leaving again.

Although there are no major sports other than basketball in San Antonio, college football is not far away in Austin, which is a whole new world of fandom for me. Im not sure if we will ever make it to a game, but the football culture in Texas is almost as zealous as the religious culture there. Then again, the Trojans were just down the road here and we never went to one of those games, so... yeah.

Lastly, I am looking at this move as a new start to the life of my family, and hopefully it will be a positive one. My new place in San Antonio makes my current one look like the ghetto, so that will be amazing for both me, and my wife who has to stay home all day until the baby gets to be a little older. Regardless, Im trading in my fast paced life in a laid back area for family life in a family oriented mecca, which cant be a bad thing. Here's to hoping everything works out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Starlin Castro Superfractor Ridiculousity

I just posted about how ridiculous the sale of the Strasburg superfractor was getting, but this completed auction is almost that much more ridiculous. Starlin Castro is the shortstop for the Cubs that started off hot and is probably in contention to be ROY if Heyward slips. Despite his hot start (21 hits in 60 ABs), its only a small sample size. That small sample size obviously has done nothing but spark hype in his cards, with this one topping the astounding list. Seriously, the money spent on this card is so out of touch, that I dont actually understand how someone could pay that amount for it, even if they had the money to spare.

I mean, just because you can afford to buy a golden, diamond encrusted cell phone, doesnt mean it is worth your time to do so. I think this falls under that same category. Go ahead and spend a couple bills on a few Castros if you are a Cubs fan, but there is no reason to spend thousands. Even if he becomes the next all star shortstop, its not going to do much for these cards. In fact, he almost has to reach Jeter or A-Rod popularity levels to make up for the amount of money this person spent.

Dont get me wrong, I completely understand prospecting, but this is NOT prospecting. This is being stupid.

Companies Are FINALLY Getting the Picture

I just saw these full sized Kobe items start to show up on eBay, which is a new direction that is exactly what I have been talking about for months. Panini has started to go the right way with these redemptions, and I hope that they continue to be a part of products in the future. From what I have heard, they did get full sized jerseys signed at the NFL rookie premiere, so that could be a signal that these will be a part of football products too.

They werent the only ones getting jerseys signed either, as topps definitely had the pens to the fabric at their station too, something only further hinted by tweets from the company. I sincerely hope we are heading in a direction like that, because why have only a small part of the jersey when you can redeem for the whole thing. It adds a whole new level to a high end product, and I would even go so far as saying an entire product based on full sized items may be the best thing ever.

Press pass also has redemptions for full sized items in its products, but the difference between a college football or mini helmet and a full sized authentic jersey is quite large. I would love to be able to pull those things out of a box, and to add them as a case hit would be even better.

Strasburg Superfractor Entering Unheard of Territory

There are certain things that I could understand spending an exorbitant amount of money on, especially if you make a ton of it. When I saw the price that the Strasburg superfractor is going for, it had past the point of sanity by at least 7,000 dollars. I mean, this card is now eclipsing the cost of a mid size car, all for a guy that has not pitched a single pitch in pro ball. It would be one thing if it were a hundred bucks, or even two hundred, but when you get up into this price range, it becomes investment suicide.

I get that Strasburg is dominating at AAA, but there have been a handful of times where a guy who dominates at a lower level does not come close in the bigs. Strasburg looks like he will be great, but with the propensity of fireball pitchers to burn out, is it worth taking a high dollar risk on a non-autographed card? I mean, if the non auto is going for as much as it is, what happens when the auto version is listed? I think this auction could drive up the price of both Topps and Bowman Chrome to a point of craziness, even before release.

It comes down to hype versus actual production, something we have yet to be able to compare. The closest person in terms of hype and production is Tim Lincecum who had the benefit of the hype machine back in 2007. Since 2007, Lincecum has been ridiculous, winning two Cy Young awards and being a general pitching superhero. His Superfractor was autographed in 2007, and if sold today, would have trouble hitting the price this Strasburg is at with MORE than 5 days to go. Lets say this card ends higher than 15,000 dollars, is there really a good chance that it is going to be worth half of that come 10 years from now? Probably not. Is there a good chance this card wouldnt break 10K once the auto version is released and pulled? I dont think so. This begs the question then of why anyone would ever think of paying as much as this is going for.

Just ridiculous, pure and simple.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another Day With The Attendees of the 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Today was the second time I had a chance to interact with the attendees of the 2010 Rookie Premiere, and though it wasnt as epic as Friday night, today was still a very fun time. I arrived at Santa Monica High School around 11:45 and made my way over to the event. Panini was set up there with a booth next to the merch tent from NFLPA, as well as a DJ from 102.7 KIIS FM. The music from the field was already blaring, so I couldnt really see the point of an extra place for music, but whatever. They also had Coffee Bean stuff there for sale, but they looked bored without anyone coming to buy.

Panini handed out packs of 2009 Prestige, which came in very handy in the later parts of the event. They were also handing out mammoth posters that featured all the rookie cards from 2010 Prestige, though I was kind of disappointed they didnt have current packs to open for the rookies at the event.

There were a ton of fans lining the entry way looking to get autographs, and as the event participants rolled in, they signed for just about everyone. The people I recognized immediately were Brandon Routh, who played Superman in the latest film, Bill Bellamy of MTV fame, and one of the Sklar brothers who had a show on ESPN Classic as well as some well known stand up comedy stuff.

I walked around a little before making my way up to Media/VIP check in, but there really wasnt much happening on the actual grounds of the event until things got going. NFLPA had set up huge video screens and decorated everything to the nines, so that was cool too. As I walked into the tent where all the event personnel were hanging out, I could see that once again, the NFLPA didnt mistreat its people.

Just like on Friday, the spread was impressive, this time featuring sandwiches from a great local deli, sweets from a local restaurant, salads and steak sandwiches from Morton's steakhouse, among other stuff. No one was really there when the event started, so I grabbed some food and waited to see if any of the card people were going to come. Much to my dismay, none of them were able to make it to the event, except for a few people I had met on Friday night from Upper Deck. I later found out that some of them had some very unfortunate circumstances at the hotel involving cars and towing. It was really too bad they couldnt be there.

A few of the rookies that were still in town showed up around 12:30 in a big group, and I used the opportunity to fill out my collection of autographs from the guys I didnt have. The first person I talked to was Eric Decker, a Broncos wide receiver who walked in wearing his new jersey. He was an alum of the University of Minnesota, and a VERY nice guy, so we chatted about our common heritage and Minnesota connection. He was happy to sign a card for me, which was great, considering how few people were actually there.

CJ Spiller walked in next, with Dexter McCluster, Damian Williams, and Demaryius Thomas in tow. Ben Tate, Golden Tate, and Toby Gerhart walked in next, followed by Mardy Gilyard and Arrelious Benn. I didnt have either of the Tates, and both were happy to sign for me. Everyone who was there started taking pictures with them, and reporters from the school newspaper interviewed a few of them. That would have been an awesome experience to have as a high schooler, thats for sure.

I noticed Eric Dickerson sitting at a table waiting for his game to start, so I walked over and chatted to him about life after football. He lives very close to me in the valley here in LA, and was a very nice guy all around. I didnt realize how cool his signature looked until he was finished signing, and it was one that I was glad to have.

TJ Houshmanzadeh was also there, and here is where it was handy to have a never ending supply of Panini cards for him to sign. Everyone there had his 2009 Prestige card and he signed about 4 of them before I got a chance. He was also a class act, but laughed when his card featured him as a Bengal.

I had CJ Spiller sign a football I brought with me, and he was much more friendly about it than on Friday night. he gave me a full sig with a personalization, and I could not be happier about it. Maurice Jones Drew was also milling about, but he was extremely busy filming stuff for the NFL network. Lucky I got him previously, because I didnt see an opportunity this time around.

Because I was wearing my Vikings shirt, Toby Gerhart came up and said "Go Vikes!" before getting in line to get some lunch. I got in line behind him, and asked him how yesterday went. He said he had a blast, and it was really cool to see all his cards that were being made. He loved the first opportunity to get dressed in full garb, and said he was glad he got to attend. He was wearing a Topps hat, something I didnt expect.

All in all, this weekend was a tremendous experience, and I am glad I got to be a part of it before I left Los Angeles for good. This rookie class, with few exceptions, were a bunch of amazing guys, and I hope that somewhere in the ranks there is a few NFL Superstars in the making. Because of my interactions with them, I have acquired a few new targets for next year, and thankfully there are going to be some awesome cards. Upper Deck, Panini, and Topps did a great job putting this event together, as always, and hopefully in the future I can make it back for another one.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Night At The 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Just from living here in Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to do things that I never would have thought possible. In 2008 I was able to attend the red carpet premiere of Guitar Hero III, where Poison played a spectacular show for less than 500 people. There were celebrities, there was great food, open bar, the works. That was nothing compared to what I got to do last night.

Because of some inside information, I knew where the players were going to be and when they were going to be there. Being the autograph hound I am, I decided it was worth an effort to try to get signatures from as many of the rookies as I could. As there is every year, there is a huge party in Santa Monica the night before the main event, so I made it a point to be at the venue as the players arrived. Boy am I glad I decided to go.

I arrived around 6:45 and sat down in the lobby with a stack of cards freshly pulled from packs of Prestige and notecards for the players I couldnt get. I had a football as well, but I was going to save it for the right moment. Around 7:00 players started walking in, no entourage, no anything. I walked up to Ndamukong Suh, who was probably one of the biggest beasts I had ever seen and asked if he could sign one of my cards. He was extremely nice, and happily obliged. As soon as people saw that the players were there, three others started to walk over. He signed for all of them without blinking an eye and even chatted with us for a few moments.

Ryan Mathews was next, and like Suh, he was incredibly nice. He posed for pictures, he signed whatever we wanted and hung around for a few minutes. As a Chargers player, he had to sign for just about everyone, but he was cordial and never made any notice of being swarmed.

Dexter McCluster stopped by as well, but didnt say much. Oddly enough, he hung around the lobby the most of any of the players before everything started.

After Mathews left, Eric Berry walked in, but was more hesitant to sign for us. After he got a few requests from kids there, he ended up signing for everyone, taking pictures and so on.

Jimmy Clausen showed up while Berry was signing, and I broke away immediately to go and get him. Clausen was a BIG guy, surprisingly, and signed the first of my cards that I had brought with me. He was somewhat cold at first, but didnt have a problem playing the role once he realized that we were all there.

Demaryius Thomas showed up around the same time as Clausen, so I had him sign the card I had for him as well. He was VERY shy and just passed through on his way to the elevator.

After Thomas left, it was about 7:20, and we hit a lull. We waited for more people, but no one showed until around 7:30. Thats when things got nuts. First Maurice Jones Drew, who was there for the NFL network walked in, and no one even noticed him. Once we got a clue, who he was, he nicely signed for the two of us who walked up to him. Then CJ Spiller walked in the door, and you could tell that everyone wanted his picture and autograph. He signed a card for me, though he didnt say much to anyone. That was two big names off my list. Then the boom fell.

Tim Tebow walked in, and he was pretty much on a mission. He saw that all his player friends were signing, did a complete 180 and headed straight the other way for the elevator. I was standing right there and asked him for his autograph to give away on the site. He shrugged me off with a "not now" as a woman walked up for a picture. She shoved the camera in my hands and asked for a shot, which I took. At that point, a bald guy walked up and confronted the five or six of us that were there. He wasnt with the hotel, but told us to leave because we were "harassing" the guests. Jumping on his cell phone, he said "im going to get hotel management over here" and pointed to the door. At this point, I was more interested in avoiding confrontation because I had just received news that I was going to be able to attend the actual party that night.

Shaking with excitement over the news of my party pass, I walked outside and waited for it to arrive. In the meantime, I saw a bunch of familiar faces milling about, including Tracy Hackler, but ill get to that later.

After my pass arrived, I chilled for a while to see if anyone else was going to show up. At around 7:45, I met up with Chris Carlin and Terry Melia of Upper Deck for a pre-arranged meeting and we walked into the party. It was like a mecca of complete ridiculous-ness and awesome-ness. I couldnt believe that I was going to be able to experience it, and was glad that I brought a huge stack of notecards. There was food, there was drink, there was everything, and it was pimped out with EA sports stuff and NFL players EVERYWHERE.

Considering I had never met Chris or Terry face to face before, I spent time with them talking about life and the upcoming year. Both of them were incredibly friendly, and were just happy to be in such a cool place, just like I was. For guys who spend their days around this sort of stuff, they seemed like fans too, it was kind of refreshing in a way. Chris promised me that this year, Upper Deck's stuff would be incredible for football, despite the fact that their NFL license was gone. He knew it would be tough to carve out a new niche, but he felt confident that the design team would continue to make Upper Deck's products look better than any others out there.

After we were done chatting, I started to walk around. The spread they had set up was crazy beyond belief. The party spanned the entire pool area, bordering the beach and the ocean, something that added a bunch of allure to the status of the event itself. They had a station where they made their own Chili, a station with a Mini Donut making company who did fresh donuts, a table filled with candy and caramel apples, a sliders station (chicken, pulled pork, burgers, and other stuff), a mashed potatoes station, and of course, an open bar. It was the first time I wished I hadnt had my surgery, but I was okay settling on the smell of the food rather than eating it.

In the midst of walking around, I got Sam Bradford to sign another card for me, Clausen to sign my football, Arrelious Benn to sign a card, and a few others. I still hadnt seen Toby Gerhart, which was sad, so I decided to schmooze a little more. I was introduced to a few distributors and others who were there, all of which were pretty shocked to see me. I saw Tracy Hackler again, and introduced myself, we chatted for 30 seconds and I walked away. Nothing bad, just wanted to actually meet him.

After my Beckett encounter, I started to chat with the Marketing director for Upper Deck, who may have been one of the nicest people at the party. She was so happy and excited about the weekend, and I saw exactly why she had her job. She treated me more like a friend than a blogger, which I very much appreciated, and I hope I get copies of the pictures she took of all of us (hint hint).

I was in line to get some water when Scott Prusha of Panini walked right up to me and got in my face. Decked out in Adrenalyn garb for their new product he laid into me for past posts on SCU. For a smaller gentleman, he can be quite intimidating, thats for sure. I held my ground, hoping he wouldnt go too far into our history, but he wanted to make some points, and I was more than willing to hear what he had to say. We talked for about 20 minutes, and he actually had some pretty invaluable advice that I will definitely be using in the future for this site. After he warmed up a little, he wanted me to know that he really wasnt concerned with the business side of my blog, but more the history of my actions. He understood that my opinion on Panini products was just that, and didnt really care about what I said. He told me he really didnt read the site anymore, which was fine, but he was happy that the baby was doing well. Scott and I broke our conversation on good terms, but its not like we are going out for a drink any time soon.

At this point, it was about 8:30, and I was nearing the end of my rope with being away from the baby. I still hadnt found Toby Gerhart in the sea of 250 people, but I was determined. I spotted him at a corner table sitting with Colt McCoy, and approached him immediately. I told him I was from Minneapolis and asked him how things were going. He was genuinely a class act and started laughing about the picture from his Prestige card. They passed it around and he signed it for me. Colt McCoy signed another card for me, and I had determined my night was complete.

I saw Tim Tebow again, waiting in line for something, and tried approaching him more in a different situation than before. Again he told me he wouldnt sign and shrugged me off again. Others were coming up to him as well, to which they got the same answer. From what I was told, Tebow didnt sign a single autograph all night long.

Before I left, I had a great chat with a person from the Washington Post about writing and the way each person builds their brand. Chris had told him all about the site, and he thought it was pretty cool that I would be so passionate about writing about this stuff. Being on the business side of the paper, he completely understood the building of a "character" in your writing, and wished me the best of luck with the blog. Going to school in Washington DC meant that we had lots to talk about, hopefully Ill have another shot at talking to him in the future.

I think the most surprising thing about the night, other than the accessibility of the players, was how well the card companies got along. Even though they are in a brutally competitive industry, and really would benefit from each other's destruction, they are all on good terms with each other. The goal of the night, and the weekend really, was to promote the cards and the players, something that definitely resonated with me. I know that I can get caught up in the soft underbelly of what goes on around the hobby, but this night was a completely positive experience thanks to the professionalism of the people from Upper Deck and Panini. Congrats on that to all of them, I want them to know that.

All in all, this night was epic to say the least, something I will never forget. A huge thank you to Chris and Upper Deck, Scott and Panini, and Clay from Topps for putting on a great event with EA Sports. It was truly the best way to leave Los Angeles behind, I had the time of my life.

2010 NFL Rookie Premiere Pics - ALL AROUND HOBBY WIN

The main event is happening as we speak here in LA, with most of the top rookies suiting up their full pro uniforms for the first time. Upper Deck, Topps, and Panini are all there, and they will be taking pictures, getting cards signed, and setting up their 2010 products all day long. Because of the advent of social media, many pictures will be posted all day long.

Here are some of them, Ill update them as I have a chance:

Plus a few Sweet Spot pics from Upper Deck! The inscriptions are what will divide this product from its competitors, as I know that they are trying to get as many as they possibly can this year.

Here is the first pic of dual rookie premiere auto from Topps. I definitely like the look of these.

The new Rookie Premiere signed cards from topps look great:

HUGE props to Panini for getting pro stuff onto the Pen pals cards, they look great this year:

Elite's new on card stuff looks pretty good too. Panini looks like they are on top of it this year for once.

Very cool stuff, check back for a post on one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Let The Festivities Begin - 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

As per tweets from the NFL, the rookies are slowly arriving in LA yesterday and today, to start their journey to the field for the upcoming season. This is where it starts, as for most of them, it will be the first time they have ever put on their full pro uniform. Although the event breeds event used jersey cards for the whole season, I have come to embrace the weekend as an opportunity to get cards of the rookies that I desire. See, without this premiere, at least this year, there would be helmet off head shots of rookies up until September, and that just aint alright with me. I get that the event used jerseys complicate things for most of the year despite my need for pro uniform cards, but I would much rather put up with a necessary evil than be forced to wait on rookie cards in full game garb.

Starting today, all three companies will be working with the entire premiere class to get cards signed and get photos taken, though this year there seems to be more of a focus on the public side of the event rather than the private and secret side. This new aspect of the premiere starts today in Oxnard, CA, where Panini will be taking over a Wal-mart with a few rookies attending this weekend. Colt McCoy and Toby Gerhart are the only big names on that list of 15, so im not sure if its worth taking off work to go if you are planning on attending. Its really too bad that they didnt select a better location or a better time, but face time is face time, so go if you have the chance.

On Sunday, there will be a celebrity flag football game at Santa Monica High School, an event that is open to the public, which means that you can come and hang out in the sun and have a good time with more NFL players and local personalities. Should be an interesting event.

Topps and Upper Deck will also have a huge impact on the event with their unparalleled use of social media, which im sure will include pictures of upcoming products being signed and events from the weekend as well. Follow @toppscards and @upperdecksports to get full coverage of the weekend.

Things to watch for:

Topps Rookie Premiere Autographs - These cards are some of the best that come out of the entire weekend because they are the only ones usually available to sign the next day. Upper Deck used to do their "Same Day Signature" cards but there is a good chance that wont be happening this weekend. Topps should have pics on their blog and on twitter at some point.

Donruss Elite Next Day Signatures - These cards are pretty much just Panini's version of the RPAs from Topps, but I am eager to see if they turn out well. Panini has had a terrible track record of fucking up everything they touch when it comes to on card signatures from the premiere (see the school colors autos from last year), so hopefully they have learned their lesson.

Upper Deck Anything - Upper Deck will be making football cards this year, though they will all be college uniforms to conform to their CLC exclusive. They have the potential to get their entire line of rookie stuff signed this weekend, and I assume that there will be a ton of pictures posted. SP Authentic has been slated for a College comeback this year as well, hopefully we get a look at its new format.

Contests - Last year Upper Deck sponsored the rookie TD dance competition and I assume there will be something similar this year. It seemed kind of lame, but some of the rookies always take the premiere seriously enough to have a good time doing it.

The premiere is always a fun weekend in LA, and I will try to be at some of the events hanging around. If you are going, let me know via email, and ill let you know where we can meet up. I am always eager to connect with other collectors, and hopefully things will turn out well for the companies too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Quick Response To Beckett's Crap

I saw on Blowout that Beckett had opened some early boxes of Topps series two, and found that they were offering a program for people to create their own sketch cards. I think the program is cool, but I want to respond to the first part of their article, not the merits of the program. Their lead in touched on a few things that were obviously directed at the Card Blogger Network, and more specifically my April Fools Prank, I suspect. I think I need to say some stuff as a result.

They start:

Collectors often clamor for more interaction with trading card companies — feeling the need to tell them their demands while also telling them what they don’t like, telling them what they do like and more.

This is complete bullshit. Beckett is the only group of people I would expect this kind of arrogance from. Are they actually implying that we post "demands" on the companies themselves? I don’t think that could be any further from the truth. How about all those whining emails that were sent back when Mario got some exclusives for his site? Those don’t count? Cmon, don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house, boys.

The reason I say this is because for 99% of the blog posts out there, bloggers just post what they think and feel about different news items from the day. That's what blogging is. No one is demanding changes, we are just expressing that we feel there are changes that need to be made, IN OUR OPINIONS. I mean, I think this is a pretty necessary interaction, especially considering the fluff pieces that Beckett usually writes on products. If there isnt anyone to challenge the status quo reporting, how will any feedback ever be exchanged.

Although Beckett has started to change a few of their ways thanks to constant and never ending badgering from people on the net, they are still far from offering any real opinions or commentary on things that need to be spoken about. So to criticize card blogs for "clamoring" for more interaction is the equivalent of saying "stay off our territory." Well, fuck you. Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on. Card blogs are exploring all sorts of new territory, most of which Beckett wouldn’t touch out of fear of retribution. Beckett may be able to hold readership over the heads of their advertisers, but that doesn’t give them a pass for looking over the things that hurt the general hobby collector base.

Listen, my history with Beckett and their damage to the hobby has been well documented. They have even taken it upon themselves to come on this site and make aloof comments in response to my criticism. I have laid off lately, mainy because I have been bored with their path. Its basically SSDD with them all the time, and I don’t have the energy any more to respond like I once wanted to. There are more important things now, and yet, Beckett still shows how they loathe the existence of people who do what they do, and do it better. Not only do they do it better, but they do it without looking to pad their bottom line or please their advertisers. All opinion, all the time, no reason to pull any punches. Panini may use my posts as toilet paper, but that isnt going to force me to try to bring them on as an advertiser.

I do understand that most bloggers crave more interaction, but that interaction expands way beyond just the card companies. Its why there are trades, awards, and collector blog bat arounds, not just emails to Clay Luraschi, Scott Prusha, and Chris Carlin crying about lack of exclusive content for the site. We crave community, and if the card manufacturers want to be a part of it, any of us will welcome them with open arms.

I mean, did Beckett even care to think that maybe the companies crave more interaction with us? Why the fuck would they get on Twitter and Facebook the way they did if we hadnt pioneered it first? Think about it. It’s the same reason why collectors are starting to email us rather than looking at a Beckett, because they know we are going to give them a straight answer, no BS.

Beckett's statements go on:

Sometimes, for varying ego-related reasons, individuals insist they should appear on a card inside a Topps wrapper, too.

Obviously Beckett didn’t get the memo on April 1st. Typical. I seriously want to know who is insisting that they should appear on a card. I don’t think anyone has even "demanded" that type of "interaction" even once. We would all love the honor of being on our very own Allen and Ginter card, but we arent offended by it not happening. We don’t think it’s a good idea to force collectors of those products into collecting cards of people that barely matter in the grand scheme of things. Yet, we are a fun bunch, and its easy to see why a prank like what we pulled resonated with so many people (both positively and negatively). The bottom line is that bloggers are gaining notoriety among collectors, which is further evidence of why the companies probably crave our attention as well as us theirs.

Also, I don’t really get these "ego-related reasons," as I don’t think any blogger over estimates their worth to the hobby. I reach 1200 people a day TOPS, how is that even gum on the sidewalk to the overall number of people that collect? I was actually surprised how far my posts could reach back when I announced the rumors that Upper Deck had lost their NFL license. I think just about everyone else felt the same way, including Upper Deck. Does that mean I don’t matter? No, but it does mean that I (and we) have a long way to go before we actually have the power to make a huge difference.

That is where Beckett is correct, they have the interaction, they have the ability to "demand" and "insist." However, the way they use it for the greater good is like Aquaman's contributions to the Justice League. Instead of being the Hobby Superman, they instead act like Alfred, just tidying up after everyone, making sure Wayne Manor looks good for when Batman gets back.

Well, blogs may be the equivalent of Kick-Ass right now, but like his rise to fame, ours is coming via other channels. We may not have the super powers or the history that Beckett does, but we have a lot of unconventional ways to make ourselves known. Beckett can rest on their laurels from the pre-internet days of collecting, but their days are numbered due to the trends of the world. You know what I lose if I shut down this blog today? Nothing. I don’t lose a single thing. Beckett loses everything. Maybe they should keep that in mind before launching molotov cocktails from their crumbling pedestal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Strasburg Superfractor Listed Without Reserve

A few of you probably remember the hoopla surrounding the Strasburg superfractor that was pulled back around the release of 2010. The person originally listed the card at 20K, only to decline over 30 offers for the card. Now its up without a BIN, without a reserve, and its already at a ridiculous price with more than 9 days to go.

All I have to say is HO-LEE-SHIT.

I once said that the ceiling on raw modern cards is $10,000 but after so many consecutive scoreless innings on his way to a June 4th call up, this may have a chance at shattering that.

More Details On Friday's NFL Rookie Premiere Event

On Friday, the biggest public event of the weekend will be taking place, and I just got some details through some simple detective work. The event will be taking place at the Wal-mart in Oxnard, and it looks like Panini will be the people responsible for putting it on.

The shitty part about it is that it runs from 1-3pm, and I cant fathom a way that most people will be able to go. They have already announced that 15 of the rookies will be there signing and opening packs, though they have not told anyone which 15 it will be. That means the one hour trip each way, the traffic, and the lack of knowledge is prohibiting my attendance. Im guessing it will be whoever is free to do it, much like Hakeem Nicks and Beanie Wells last year. They should have done it around 7 or 8, which would be much more likely that people will come.

Another shitty part of this event is that it replaces other great stuff from the last few years. None of the local shops in the area will be getting players to sign, something I am pretty pissed about. Last year's sigining with Beanie Wells was fucking awesome, and the year before with DeSean Jackson was sweet too. It was a very personal atmosphere and the giveaways were cool as well, but this year there doesnt seem to be any room for that aspect. I still havent decided on autograph hunting this weekend, even though I know where the players are staying, but who knows. Ill have to wait until tomorrow to see how the baby is doing.

Either way, if anyone is planning on attending, please shoot me an email at, I have some questions.

Examining Potential 2010 Rookie Targets

Sometimes its tough to pick a target for the year, especially when your team doesn’t have a discernable rookie that will be a huge factor during the season. Last year, I was lucky to be able to chase Percy Harvin on his way to eventually being named rookie of the year, but this year it isnt so cut an dry without a Vikings first round pick. I know that most of you out there are starting to begin your chase for cards, so here is who I would chase and who I would stay away from.

The Top Offensive Picks

Sam Bradford - I wouldn’t touch Sam Bradford right now, as he is not worth the money that some people are paying. He may eventually be a great QB, but the Rams are so terrible, he should end up very much like Stafford. That is, he should end up like Stafford if he gets signed in time. Because he may not start from day one, and because he will most like have a myriad of problems without a good receiving corps, he is a no go.

Tim Tebow - If you buy Tim Tebow right now, you must have a few screws loose. His value is so ridiculous based on his college career, that I don’t even think I would spend someone else's money on him. In fact, if I go to the rookie premiere events this week, I wont even bother looking for him because there are much better uses for my time. Per early reports he is number 4 on the depth chart, and though Denver wont be able to keep him there for long, he isnt going to play for a long time. If he does end up on the field in the distant future, I am almost positive he will not be effective.

CJ Spiller - Spiller has the biggest opportunity of anyone at the top of the draft, mainly because of how much he will play. The problem is that Buffalo's offensive line has the effectiveness equal to Marshawn Lynch's english speaking skills. This will hinder Spiller tremendously, and he will most likely end up more like Laurence Maroney than Maurice Jones-Drew when all is said and done. Watch out.

Dez Bryant - Its tough to deny that Bryant has the skills to be a great receiver, and playing in Dallas sure helps that cause. His prices are astronomical right now, and he easily could live up to them after being surrounded by Romo, Austin, and Williams. I would give him a good shot at the ROY if he can keep his head on straight, but then again, who wants a WR that isnt all about themselves? Their job is to be a ball hawk, so a me-first attitude can help in a lot of situations.

Demaryous Thomas - I have this gut feeling that he will turn out to be this year's Hey-Bey. He was a big reach over both Benn and Bryant, so Im not sure if I would even waste any time on him. Orton really has a lot of expectations to fufill, which could work in his favor without a true number one in Denver anymore. However, with the additions of him and Eric Decker, they may end up battling for reps if production falters for either one.

Ryan Mathews - This is a guy I would chase, he looks like he is going to have a great situation in San Diego when he gets there. A good QB, a good offensive line, and Darren Sproles. If you are a charger fan, you are happy they picked him, though you are sad that his prices are inflated due to the Peterson effect. Ryan Mathews is a sleeper for ROY, and as time moves on, he should end up being the best RB in the class. That’s my prediction.

Jahvid Best - See CJ Spiller's predicament, because Best is going to have a similar challenge. The Lions are just a terrible team and their offensive line is not where it needs to be. However, he will have more reps due to Kevin Smith's injury, but im not sure if it will matter all that much. Its tough to be a good running back when your team has more three and outs than anyone else in the league.

Jimmy Clausen - I like Clausen a lot, and I was pissed when the Vikings passed on him TWICE. He was projected as a top 5 pick, but teams didn’t think it was worth passing on a lot of the amazing defensive talents in the draft. I think Clausen will have the biggest impact of any of the rookie QBs in the first few years, only because Carolina is the best team with a new QB. The Panthers tore it up the last few weeks of the season and I think they will have a better year this year despite losing Julius Peppers. They play in a weaker division than I would expect, and Matt Moore doesn’t look like he is primed for a long run as their QB. Clausen could get on the field this year, and I have a feeling he will be effective as soon as he is handed the reigns.

Colt McCoy - McCoy is more NFL ready than Tebow in my opinion, but like St Louis, the Browns are horrid. He has nobody to throw to even if they let him play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns pick number 1 next year and take a QB again. Stay away from McCoy for that reason.

Sleeper Offensive Players to Watch

Toby Gerhart - As a Vikings player, he will have a huge following. As a Vikings player he will also be limited in his carries and role in the offense. He was selected to replace Chester Taylor, but I think a combination of Percy Harvin and Peterson will fill the role initially. He will get touches, but not a major amount until next year. Gerhart was a beast in college, but lost stock because of a less than stellar 40 time and because he didn’t have a big program on jersey. He may have been second in the Heisman voting, but im not sure what kind of success he will have, especially if Favre retires.

Jonathan Dwyer - Same situation, but in Pittsburgh. Dwyer has Rashard Mendenhall to compete with, and as a later round pick, they don’t have much invested in him. Yet, with all Steelers guys, they always find a way to be good, so don’t count him out. His stuff will probably be cheap, so its not going to be a big investment to buy in.

Eric Decker - I like Decker a lot, and think he can be a good number 2 receiver in the pros. I definitely think he could end up being better than Thomas, but it will all depend on who plays QB. Decker's stuff wont go for shit, so again, it may be worth it to buy a few cards just because.

Ben Tate - Slaton has fumblitis, and was hurt last year, which means that Tate will get some reps. I mean, look at who they ran with last year. Brown? Cmon. Tate has a lot of upside, but his stuff is high because of where he played in college. I think if he shows initial promise, it’s a good idea to buy in. He plays for a good team with a good line, so he may be this year's LeSean McCoy.

Golden Tate - WRs always have a shot, but they are never worth very much unless they are named Jerry Rice. Tate will have a great shot in Seattle, mainly because of lack of options not named Houshmanzadeh. Tate showed flashes of brilliance in College and was a projected first rounder. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being Carroll's number 2.

Ill be doing the normal Rookie Battle Royales again this year with focus on these guys, so check in as we get closer to the season for more updates.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Details on the Sunday NFL Rookie Premiere Event

I just got a bunch of details on the event that is going down this Sunday at Santa Monica High School. Basically, there will be a celebrity flag football game that has a mix of California celebs and retired players. The list of people is below, some are guys I would like to get signatures from. Tickets are free and are open to the public, the event is 12-3pm.

Here is who is playing:

Andre Rison - Indianapolis, Atlanta, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Kansas City, Oakland
Corey Dillon - Cincinnati, New England
Curtis Conway – Chicago, San Diego, New York Jets, San Francisco
Jason Sehorn - New York Giants, St. Louis
Jeff Blake - New York, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Baltimore, Arizona, Philadelphia, Chicago
Ken O’Brien - New York Jets, Philadelphia
Raghib Ismail - Los Angeles Raiders, Carolina, Dallas
Ricky Watters - San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle
Roger Craig - San Francisco, Los Angeles Raiders, Minnesota
Steve Bono – Minnesota, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City, Green Bay, St. Louis, Carolina
Willie Gault - Chicago, Los Angeles Raiders
Willie McGinest - New England, Cleveland


Alan Ritchson (Blue Mountain State)
Arlen Escarpeta (We Are Marshall, Friday the 13th)
Bill Bellamy (Any Given Sunday, How to be a Player)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, The Take)
Brian White (Stomp the Yard, This Christmas)
Christopher Mintz Plasse (Superbad, Role Models)
Clark Gregg (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, New Adventures of Old Christine)
Columbus Short (Losers, Accepted, Stomp they Yard)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark, Superman, Ripley’s Believe it or Not)
Frankie Delgado (The Hills, Bromance)
Geoff Stults (Happytown, She’s Out of My League, Wedding Crashers)
Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted, Desperate Housewives, Summerland)
Joel David Moore (Avatar, Grandma’s Boy)
Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia, Center of the Universe)
Ryan McPartlin (Chuck)
Ryan Rottman (Gigantic)
Sam Page (Desperate Housewives, Shark, Mad Men)
Stephen Colletti (One Tree Hill, Laguna Beach)
Steve Harris (Minority Report, The Practice)
Thad Luckinbill (Young and the Restless)
Travis Van Winkle (90210, Friday the 13th)
Wood Harris (Remember the Titans, The Wire)

Some of the rookies will be in attendence, though they will not be playing for obvious reasons. Sounds like a fun event, though the Wal-mart one seems to be better for actually getting autos. I know there will also be a huge party somewhere in Santa Monica on Thursday and Friday nights if you want to camp out. I know there were a few last year where a lot of people got a lot of signatures of past and present rookies.

A Topps Announcement That Makes Topps Football Worth Everyone's Time

Over the last few years, its rare that I bought into base Topps over a product like Topps Chrome. I am not a set collector, and I do not collect Topps products because of the brand, and most of the time the Rookie Premiere autos are the only draw. This year is different. This year, Topps is adding more content to their flagship product that is proving to make buying a case of jumbos worth my (and everyone's) while.

First, they are going to be offering the sister program to the Million Card Giveaway for their vintage football products. This has the potential to be cool, but vintage football just doesnt have the appeal as vintage baseball. Im not saying there arent cards that are awesome (Topps Montana or Rice RCs), but its not going to generate as much buzz as baseball. Is it cool? Yes. Is it the difference maker? No. They are inserted at 1:6 Packs, and function exactly like the MCG.

Second, for the first time, the rookie premieres are serially numbered, as has been covered numerous times here on SCU. It should help us all avoid complete traveshamockeries like these, and it will finally solidify the print runs in case there are questions about how many there actually are. I sincerely hope Topps has this down to a fucking science, because I hate having to question every goddamn RPA from past years.

Third, for the first time, as well, they are including sketch cards in the product. Sketch cards have become extremely popular, and I see exactly why after seeing some recent examples out of baseball. This is a great addition and should be ridiculously cool to chase.

Also, they are finally changing the autograph program in their boxes, this time offering the red zone autos instead of the lame and terrible performance highlights autos that have plagued the product for the last few years. Hopefully they are on card, but probably will be stickers. Either way, they still look to be a million times better than any of the others from past years. They are also doing the Ring of Honor Drew Brees autos, and also an auto set that features top draft picks from previous years. Im sure there will be more content in terms of autographs, and so far things are looking much, much better.

Lastly, they are bringing back the Variations that were so popular last year, and I think that the variations are what make some of the rookies in this product worth chasing. I immediately went after the Peterson variation in both this set and Chrome last year, both of which I think were great ideas.

If Flagship Topps is looking to be this good, I can only imagine what is in store for Chrome.

More Details Emerging on the 2010 NFL Rookie Premiere

Ive gotten a few emails over the last day or so explaining that there is going to be a very public focus to the rookie premiere this year, mostly centered on spreading word on the hobby. I assume that between now and friday, each company will make an announcement that reveals their event that is open to the public.

Yesterday, Panini announced that they are going to be taking over a Wal Mart in Oxnard, CA with 15 of the players from the premiere. They will be doing pack wars, signing autographs, and im sure giving away lots of prizes. Personally, Ill decide whether or not to make the trip once I figure out the schedule to the event, as well as determine if the baby is going to cooperate at home with my wife, so who knows. I would much rather spend my time at a local shop like previous years rather than a freaking Wal Mart, but I am guessing that they just need the space for all the people that are going to come. Too bad they couldnt find a way to spread the wealth among the shops in the area, because I know a few of them could definitely use the people. Besides, for a company that has spent so much time stroking the nervous necks of the shop owners, they sure did take it in the complete opposite direction.

On Sunday, there is also an event scheduled at Santa Monica High School, which probably is Upper Deck's thing, though not as many details have been announced. I have an email into Upper Deck for more info, we will see what they say.

That leaves Thursday or Saturday for Topps, but they may also be jumping on with Upper Deck. If you are an autograph hound like myself, I think it may be in your best interest to keep checking back, there are a lot of details yet to be hammered out. This may be your chance to get early autographs of the 2010 Rookies, and you do not want to miss out if you live in or near LA.

Ill keep you updated as my sources update me, maybe ill just pay a reporter who is already going to be there like Beckett will to get my coverage.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Insanity From 2010 Bowman

I just saw this posted on FCB, and I believe this price on the Dustin Ackley Superfractor auto 1/1 is totally and utterly insane. Even if this guy turns out to be a perennial all star, maybe winning a few MVPs, there is no way this price has anywhere to go but down. Look at what Ryan Braun sold for, and then consider the price on this guy. I mean think of all you could have instead of dropping this kind of coin on a guy who may OR may not pan out. I can understand spending 100 bucks, maybe 200 if you are a huge Mariners fan who wants to get some cards of the highly touted prospect. But that kind of money? Cmon.

Ackley isnt the only one garnering ridiculous prices for his parallels either:

I mean, I get that they are 1/1s, but you could have an auto of just about anyone for those prices. Wow. Prospecting is one thing, this is completely different.