Friday, September 15, 2006

Cub Scouts To Save Us All!!!

Well, I guess you can't blame them for trying! According to a post on Tuff Stuff Magazine's website, the MLBPA is now looking for Baseball Card Hobby Shops to host events, Baseball Card Clubhouse, for Cub Scout troops all accross the nation, so they can earn a merit badge for collecting and the shops can get people to their stores in an attempt to create collectors. The idea is solid, they give the kids a free "kit" that includes a pack of cards and they get to play games, but they apparently are having issues with finding hobby shops to host the events. Hobby shops that cater to baseball fans have become more scarce over the last 10 years, with an owner in Maryland telling me that there are approximately 1200 in total in the whole United States, as of 3 years ago. That comes out to approximately 24 per state. I have seen many hobby shops over the last 10 years that have given up on the 'brick and morter" stores to go web / internet only! Lower overhead, no insurance for accident liability protection, the store and it's inventory, less out of pocket money to get started, no sting operations to see if they are buying stolen product from walk-in traffic, much easier hours to operate and they are basically open 24/7. You still deal with competition, but can reach a much broader audience as well. Back to the article, while I applaud the MLBPA for trying, I still think that the real issues are going to continue to erode the hobby. The fact that the game of baseball is tainted by it's players, who apparently believe that without them, baseball would be nothing at all! Without multi-million dollar paychecks they won't play. They apparently don't realize that without us, the fans and supporters of Major League Baseball, they have no jobs in baseball and they wouldn't get endorsements for products related to fitness and baseball. They, the majority, act like they are above everyone else, because of their ability to play baseball. They expect to be given special treatment as if they were royalty or something. Don't get me wrong, I love baseball! I enjoy playing it, watching it and collecting memorabilia from it, but long gone are the days of world famous players, like Babe Ruth, who recognized the need to make the public happy as well as play great baseball! Look through baseball history books, and you will almost always see a picture of Babe Ruth with some fans, posing for pictures, signing and giving away bats, balls, shirts, whatever they had and the public wanted. For the most part, I believe, players of that era remembered that they were just as human as their fans were and could remember the time before there was professional baseball. Yes, there have been scandals about sports for as long as sports have been played, but baseball overcame all of these until steroids and other drugs became available. Corked bats, DUI's, Spousal abuse, Fist fights both on the field and off, Drug use, Steroids, Strikes over multi-million dollar contracts and the list continues to grow! When will the league and the players finally realize that we the public are the real signers of their paychecks and we don't like what they have done to today's baseball! This brings me back to the Cub Scout tie-in: The Boy Scout's of America, is an orginization that is attempting to educate and train our male youth to do just the opposite of what is currently happening in MLB by these bad players. We need some heroes in Baseball and America. Long live Baseball and may God bless the USA!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Death of Donruss LP Baseball Cards!

Late July 2005, Donruss LP was informed by the Major League Baseball Players Association, usually printed MLBPA, that their license to make baseball cards would not be renewed in 2006. According to the MLBPA, the industry was just too cluttered with the myriad of products produced, that kids were no longer looking to baseball cards as their preferred hobby. They of course haven't stopped licensing video games, clothing, figures and toys, but apparently Donruss LP was the cause of all the "confusion". Yeah, kids have too many options at card shops and retail stores to decide which cards to collect, so they decide to not collect baseball cards? Give me a break! There are so many things taking up "free time" for children these days, that saying a lack of support in this market by children is because there are too many products out there is insane! Saying that Donruss LP is bad for MLB and the MLBPA is ridiculous! Oh Yeah, they didn't say that Donruss LP was bad, just didn't renew their license. Here is the actual statement:

"Although we are confident that the trading card category now will be most favorably positioned for future growth, the decision to move forward with only two licensees was not an easy one for us to make," said Judy Heeter, MLBPA Director of Business Affairs and Licensing. "We have enjoyed our personal and professional relationships with all the wonderful people at Donruss, we have the utmost respect for them and the venerable Donruss and Leaf brands, and we wish them all well."

Here are a few paragraphs from Beckett about it:

'Under the new agreements, baseball cards will be designed, marketed and promoted to attract kids and new consumers while still providing excitement and value to the current collector base. Promotional programs by licensors and manufacturers will have special appeal for baseball fans of all ages, and the presence of fewer products in the marketplace will reduce consumer confusion and clutter on retail shelves. In making the announcement, Evan Kaplan, MLBPA Director of Trading Cards and Collectibles, said, "Our licensees recognized the need to make improvements in every aspect of the trading card business. They are fully committed to building a wide spectrum of products that will meet the expectations of all fans."

With only two baseball trading card manufacturers, the new licensing landscape will focus on strong brand presence, longer shelf life and fewer, stronger products in the marketplace to simplify the retail experience for consumers. Emphasis on marketing, promotion and product development to attract new purchasers, especially kids, will bring renewed excitement to the category.'

Well, I have been collecting cards for 22 years. I started as a 14 year old kid, spending my lunch money and summer job money buying 1984 Fleer Baseball cards. They were on clearance at the Walgreens for $ .25 a cello pack! I bought so much that I filled an entire garbage bag! Not the best way to store them, but I didn't know anybody else that collected them and my parents thought it was all trash anyway, so it was perfect. I lost them all just 1 1/2 years later when my father threw them all away because we were moving across the country and he always hated them. In all of this time, I never felt confused as to what to buy when I was ready to buy more cards. If I like how they look, they feature players I collect and are within my budget, then I purchase them. If the cards were not up to my qualifiers, I never blamed the MLBPA, or MLB, I blame the manufacturer. Just like any other product offered to the public, if it is not liked and there are other options, the better product wins out. If a company can't sell what they make, they will change it or die out. What does the MLBPA know about making collectible cards and what the public, children in particular, wants? But, apparently, all of this survival of the fittest wasn't fast enough for the MLBPA. Or was it Topps and Upper Deck that put the "knife-in-the-back" of Donruss LP? Who wins with this decision?

"We couldn't be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a cleaner, more consumer-friendly retail environment", said Scott Silverstein, President of The Topps Company. "We believe this development will enable us to better serve our core customers and reach out to a broader base of new collectors with special emphasis on bringing back kids to the market."

“We are extremely pleased and proud to be given the opportunity to create a more comprehensive and robust marketplace to ensure the long-term preservation of our beloved hobby for future generations of baseball fans and enthusiasts,” said Richard McWilliam, Chairman and Founder of the Upper Deck Company.

Not either one of them was quoted saying that Donruss LP will be missed as a competitor. No recognition of how Donruss LP pushed them to do better or the innovations that were brought about by them. Instead, they just act as if Donruss LP never existed. Until competition entered the market, Topps never considered changing anything to their product other than the total print run of another cheap set to produce. Competition from several companies was what brought about the beautiful product we see in stores now!

Speaking of competition, they had just spent a lot of money signing exclusive deals with several of baseballs greatest players:

They bought one of Babe Ruth's rarest Home jerseys! Only 3 are known to exist, and this one was cut into swatches for cards. They spent a record setting amount of $264,911 to get it!

I am still not understanding who the people that were complaining are and why I or anyone else I have ever met, as a life long collector, was not asked what our opinion was to the "great problem" in today's market. If they were trying to make cards more available to a younger audience than what the average age of the current collector is, then why do it this way? The price of low end packs is about $1.00 per pack and these packs have a minuscule chance of getting the preferred memorabilia card in them. These cards are also, usually, the ugliest cards you have ever seen. The cards with more value to the manufacturer are also the most sought after by the collector. Basically, I think that MLBPA made a huge mistake, if their stated goals are actually what they are trying to achieve, Donruss LP was not the problem. Kids don't collect cards like they did in the past because they think baseball cards aren't cool, ok some do, they don't because of what is available to them now. Video games, you can play them anywhere now and they are a lot more fun, TV programs, Nascar collectibles, NFL collectibles, NBA collectibles, NHL collectibles, majorly bad press on steroid use in sports by the players and then lying about it (a hero doesn't lie), Pokemon, Movies and how about the major push in today's society for children to become adults much sooner than they should?!?!

I keep collecting based on the premise that my collection, kept in great condition, will be worth more than I have spent on it when I want or need to "cash it in" or pass it on to my family when the time is right. I collect from all of the manufacturers over the years and with Donruss LP out of the options, there isn't as much product for me to select from. Just the opposite of what the MLBPA said this would do. They can't seem to control the players at all, so I guess they are taking it out on the fans, by showing how much power they actually have. They have also shown me just how little they know of the baseball card industry. Limiting each company to only 20 sets per year, but not a limit on the actual total amount of product printed is a major blunder! Make MLB affordable again, both in tickets to the games, souvenirs, and other licensed products and you have a better chance to draw some youngsters into a very expensive hobby. Make baseball "cool" and all of the ephemera will follow suit! If you have lung cancer, cutting off the hand that you smoked with will not cure you! If you are dying on the inside, a face lift, liposuction and a tan will not make you live any longer! MLBPA, work on the issues that your clients and MLB have first and most of these other "issues" will be taken care of automatically!


Sunday, August 27, 2006


Well, though I am not surprised, I am still bewildered, maybe even bumfuzzled, as to why people keep making mistakes in describing their items they list for sale on Ebay. I am a Cal Ripken, Jr. fan, so I check out many of his items listed in Ebay on a regular basis. It is a common mistake for a "Rookie Collector" to make the "Rookie Card Distinction Error" but when a "card dealer" makes this same mistake, it is almost always an attempt to mislead their customers in order to build a false value in their product. According to industry / hobby standards, a "Rookie Card" is the first regular edition card of a player. This regular edition refers to the card being available in non-set form, like a wax box. Topps, for many years now, has been making a Topps Traded boxed set of cards. This is an add-on to their regular Topps set, but in a complete set form. The idea was to offer a card of the players who have been traded to another team and rookies who may have been brought up from the minors, so they were not already in the regular set. In these boxed complete sets you know exactly who you are going to get by simply reviewing the checklist. So, since this was like shooting fish in a barrel, when it comes to getting a "Rookie Card", they had the title descriptor of "XRC" for Extra Rookie Card in the price guide. Many of these XRC cards are considered more valuable due to the fact that there were less of them produced than the RC, but this does not make it "the real rookie" as compared to the regular issue, like some would want you to believe in order to get more money from you as a buyer. The only thing we can do colectively as a hobby, is to let others know the difference and to not reward these "con-artists" by buying their items until they correct their blatant error.

Friday, August 25, 2006


First, I would like to say, I appreciate that someone else shares my passion with baseball cards and has used their time, money and abilities to assist others in their shared interests. I have been a subscriber of Beckett Magazines / Price Guides for many years now. I love to read each article in order to gain more information about the hobby I love so much. To this end, Beckett has been a great resource of information. They offer pictures of many cards, that otherwise, I would never see. They have reviews of new products including interviews with card company executives that discuss what the manufacturers are doing next. There is a running tally on what cards are currently "hot" in the market. They print reader's letters, questions and comments about everything to do with the hobby and the game, list where the next card show will be, and even give us a history lesson in not only baseball cards but the game of baseball and all of it's attributes. For all of these things and more, I say thank you!

It started as a "Price Guide" for a hobby that was lacking in information for the masses and has evolved into a beautiful publication. From cheap newspaper print in the beginning to full glossy eye catching front covers that are almost as collectible as the items it covers, Beckett Baseball has emerged as a hobby cornerstone. I originally purchased the publication to get an "idea" of what my collection was worth and what I should expect to be asked to pay when I finally find a card that I want or need for my collection. I was lead to believe that this publication was "only a guide" and not the "baseball card price bible" that many have touted it as. Basically, it was to inform you as to the national average price paid for any one card or set. For example: If you lived in New York and wanted to buy a 1984 Fleer Don Mattingly RC, you would expect to pay more than "guide" price in New York as compared to buying it while on vacation in Florida, because Don Mattingly was an All-Star player for the New York Yankees. The idea of regional pricing was easily understood and the publication itself made sure to notify each reader that this was only a guide and the market itself determines a real value for each card. Despite this same information being printed in each of their publications, most collectors use the Beckett Baseball magazine as "the true value for how they calculate the price of their cards for sale". Most dealers and card shops ask for what they perceive as a regional price for what they have to offer based on the Beckett "Price Guide". If someone asks for more than what the guide lists, most collectors see it as "price gouging" or an attempt to rip-off an uninformed buyer but if they ask for less than "guide price" they are seen as a discounter in the industry and collectors are more likely to continue to shop and buy from them first and foremost. This is all based on the Beckett Baseball publication. If Beckett prints an article on Jon Papelbon with a positive spin, the collectors take notice and the majority of Jon Papelbon's cards will sell and many will draw an increase in the previous months "price". If next year he gets injured and his cards stop selling at a premium, they will print that in one form or another and his card sale prices will plummet downward even further. This is evidence that Becket Baseball magazine has a "biblical effect" on the entire marketplace of baseball cards. Evidence is provided everyday in our court system, as to whether it is accepted by the jury or judge depends on their judgement at that given time and in the context in which they were to determine whether it was true or false. My evidence is my determination and interpretation of what I have seen and experienced. I say all of this to make this statement: If Beckett Baseball prints that a Jonathan Papelbon and Craig Breslow 2006 Topps Co-Signers Dual Autograph card is currently "valued" at $50 and I can get one on EBAY for $40, then I made a good purchase, because the card "books" for $50. The perceived "value" for me, based on the magazine is still $50! If everyone decides that this is a card that they too would want to get at a discount, that does not mean that the value of the card has been lowered, just that people want to spend as little as possible to get what they want and seeing a higher value in that item is a major factor in their purchasing decision. That is why Wal Mart is a giant in retail. People want to get a "deal"! I do not expect a baseball card to depreciate like an automobile, because I am going to protect it and not wear it out causing it to be in worse condition than I bought it in. It is an investment that I expect to keep it's value or grow as long as the player pictured on it keeps doing well, stays off of the scandal pages, stays away from steroids and doesn't shun baseball fans at every turn(Barry Bonds). All of this perceived value has many other factors to calculate into the equation: How much were the unwrapped cards selling for when they first hit the market? Despite the manufacturer's "Suggested Retail Price" per pack, how much is the public actually paying to get it? How much product was produced? How well was the product received by the public? How available was the product to the public, as in was it a HOBBY ONLY EDITION or was it available at retail stores too? Were many of the original sales of "raw" product done by stores that offer a discount in order to get traffic and stay in business? I know that there are some hobby stores that sell the boxes of product at a very minor profit, (as little as $5 per box) just to try and compete for the business that bigger companies are able to generate with their ability to buy direct from the manufacturer and offer discounts in order to keep from having their money sit on shelves. How much are some stores asking for their product and not selling until they get it? If it doesn't sell right now, then Beckett doesn't use that asking price in the equation. I might have bought a card for only $25 but if I will not sell it unless someone offers me at least $60, doesn't that value need to be calculated into the "market price"? If someone is selling one or is willing to let it go for $45, that doesn't mean it is worth that to everyone. No, I am not saying that Beckett Baseball is claiming that the prices published are the "set in stone price or value", I am stating that they have a lot of power to wield with their publication and if they say jump, the majority of the hobby will. They need to be more forthcoming with where they are getting their information. I know they have a link with EBAY, to scan all of the baseball card sales that occur on any given day. They do not claim that they also search through the EBAY Stores listings, nor any other web based retailer as to what a real Internet retailer is willing to sell their products for. They claim to have key retailers in the industry, hobby shops, that supply them with pricing information, but they do not say who they are, so the general public has no ability to scrutinize their "evidence" in order to see if it is accurate in their eyes or not. You can tell me all day long that the person you get the information from is an expert, but with no real credentials out for all to see, it is like putting David Hasselhoff in as a judge of talent in a talent show contest. Many restaurants have the kitchen clearly visible for the guests to see them prepare the meals and so that guest can witness that their dinner was prepared without mucous and or saliva from their cook or waiter.

So, if you want to try and wade through all of this and publish a price "guide", based on an open to the public to scrutinize policy, then I think you are using your powers properly. Without all of these determining factors in the calculation, you end up with really outrageous information. For instance, if 2006 Fleer is available at Wal Mart for $1 per pack and has more cards than 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter which sells for $2.99 per pack, how can a common card from Fleer be valued at $ .40 per card and Topps's A & G commons are currently de-valued at $ .20 per card? All I want, is the "industry giant" to put some actual value in a market that they helped create. If you are trying to tell me that there were too many cards produced in the 80's making the market "flooded" then you need to recognize exactly how many cards are actually printed today and by only 2 companies. Well, I feel a little better getting it out, hopefully you feel informed and perhaps a little outraged too.

I am currently building a website of my own, , and I will have everything from things that make sense to common cards for only a few cents!