Sunday, August 29, 2010

ESPN.....Masters of the Obvious

The Worldwide Leader tells us what we already knew......

Stephen Strasburg created buzz in trading cards

In spite of the "well, duh" headline, the figures quoted on the amount spent on Strasburg cards in 2010 are pretty staggering.  It is also indicative of the new era where there is a relatively limited amount of Strasburg product on the market.  Triple Threads will be a very interesting release to watch being the first post-injury release to hit the shelves.  Will the buzz still be there, and will it be anywhere near the Bowman Auto Superfractor frenzy? 


Friday, August 27, 2010

An injury of Strasburgian proportions......

The torn ligament heard 'round the world has now proven to be true.  The fallout, financial and otherwise, is already being discussed ad nauseum across the Web and as part of the 24 hour news and sports cycle.  With Topps centering most of their MLB releases around Strasburg.....what will this mean for the hobby, which has received more mainstream coverage and seems to be in healthier shape than it has in quite some time?  Does this just mean a lull until Bryce Harper Mania next summer?  Or will the sand castle wash away before it was ever really fully built? 

Regardless of the fallout, I have to feel bad for the kid.  And as far as Tommy John surgery has come and as many careers as it has prolonged over the years, I have to wonder when modern medicine and training staffs are going to finally wake up and emphasize preventive maintenance on a pitcher's arm over the ease of doing nothing & continuing a seemingly endless stream of pitchers having this surgery in their early 20's and gambling on them having any sort of post-surgery future?  I'm no expert, but I've had it explained well enough to me that I know how the human elbow isn't built to hold up to what a big league pitcher puts it through, but certainly there's GOT to be an answer to keep this from happening so often. 

I dare say this might be as much of a reason for steroids becoming as prevalent as they've been in baseball as the veterans who hit the wall and want to prolong their careers once it was established that some pitchers have used as heavily as power hitters and position players.  I would think the "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" philosophy would rarely be more applicable than in the case of a bonus baby's pitching arm.  I'm not privy to a big league clubhouse, so maybe I'm missing something or maybe someone can fill me in on IF some teams are doing preventive maintenance. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No 'minor' accomplishment

At some point during out stint as card collectors, we embark on a Holy Grail-like quest to complete a particular set.  We all have different reasons for chasing these sets, and in most cases there are usually one or two cards that prove to be particularly elusive in our attempt to put the set together.  It's hard enough to get some sets together when dealing with any of the "major" sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, etc.), but it must have been an exhaustive process to collect everything this guy has managed to put together.......

Ill. man keeps minor league baseball collection

There are two kinds of collectors in the world....

At least according to the author of this piece, and I tend to agree.  This column was very relatable to someone like me who is also re-entering the hobby after an extended absence.  There is also a strong parallel with my profession of radio broadcasting.  When the true broadcasters sold out to all the Prospectors in the mid-90's, the golden goose was eventually slaughtered.  ANY industry taken over by investors who value the dollar over the product will suffer the same fate.  I certainly hope the resurgence we're seeing brings the true Collector back to the hobby, 'cause when the bell cow is milked dry by the Prospectors, there won't be anything left. 

What happened to card collecting?

Monday, August 23, 2010

A peek into the crystal ball.......

As collectors of sports cards, where will our love for the hobby lead us?  Well, if you believe everything you read, the next stop is becoming degenerate gamblers :-)

Tampa poker prodigy ready for final table of World Series of Poker

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's 4:20 somewhere......

Other than my immediate thought upon reading this article that this could have been a subset Topps rejected for an Allen & Ginter set, I have nothing to say about this.  I'm not sure this is the right way to "bring back the kids" to the hobby :-)

California Cannabis Goes Pro - With Baseball Cards?


Monday, August 16, 2010

Will the sequel be better than the original?

Just moving across online sources as I get ready to turn in for the evening........

Nationals, Harper agree right before midnight

Compared to the Summer of Strasburg in the sports card hobby, will this be more Toy Story 3........or Speed 2? 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And a child shall lead them

This article, like others I've posted here, points out something that I fear might keep the current sports card resurgence from being a long term phenomenon.

Baseball cards top draw at national collector's convention

The National seems to "get it" in terms of ways to get kids in the door, but once they hit a couple of dealers and realize that neither they nor their parents can afford 90% of the merchandise there, THEN what are you gonna do to lure 'em in, let alone keep 'em coming back? 

The hobby owes quite a bit to Stephen Strasburg, and a greatly reduced amount of product in the hands of a few companies should, theoretically, prevent saturation in the marketplace like we saw in the 90' least in the short term.  Think back, however, to how old you were when you began collecting.  I dare say anyone reading this, including myself, became collectors as a kid.  I don't think we'll see a new halcyon period until the card companies figure out a way to bring the kids back, and to do that you're going to have to dramatically lower price points on certain products or create a "budget line" making sets easy, and affordable, to build. 

I have a 3 year old and 1 year old niece that are at my house the better part of the day five days a week.  As a result, I speak fluent Nick Jr., Disney Channel, Toon Disney, and PBS Sprout.  Obviously you wouldn't see this on PBS Sprout, but I have yet to see a Topps Attax ad on any of those channels.  Wouldn't you at least try to put a little bit of marketing muscle behind something that could ultimately lead to another boom cycle?  Was this discussed at all at the Topps panel at the National?  If anyone was there, let us know. 

I'm optimistic about the future of the hobby, but grown ups will only take this train to a certain point.  I could say something really corny and Whitney Houston-ish here like "I believe the children are our future", but I'll refrain :-) 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

As the old Dairy Queen slogan used to go.....

"We Treat You Right!"  I've mentioned how I still have a soft spot for the brick-and-mortar card shops.  By best estimates, there are only about 500 of them across the country.  There's a common thread in the articles I've posted beyond the fact that they are associated with the same product.  Notice that each one still practices what has become a lost art.........above and beyond, world class customer service.  They know every customer by name.  They know some well enough to have given them nicknames.  They probably remember most of their birthdays and other monumental life events, and above all, they know what and who they like to collect like the back of their hand.  They also know that when their computer dies or their car malfunctions or a leak is sprung in the bathroom, they normally see and experience the worst in customer service.  There's still room for the mom and pop shops in the card industry, and that's a refreshing reminder of everything that has ever been good in this country.......and can be again.  The ones that are still with us where many others aren't remind us that they were never really in it for the money.  They were in it for the cameraderie, the relationships, and the love of the game(s).  There are a million "marketing experts" in the world today, especially with the boom in social media, and if they needed textbook examples on teaching their students the value of customer service, they could use card shops as a very valuable and practical example.  In fact, one person has done the work for them........

Guess who?

Not that it comes as a shock, but one star shined way above and beyond the rest at The National over the weekend......

Strasburg trading cards do great business at national convention

I still think the all the hype is a little too much, but let's face it......PLENTY of people are a lot more famous for accomplishing a whole lot less, or in some cases, nothing at all (see Hilton, Paris or Kardashian, Kim or Casted In A Reality TV Show, Anyone).  From a mainstream standpoint, the hobby is getting more attention than ever.  Granted, there are more media outlets than ever to cover it, but the coverage has been overwhelmingly positive after Upper Deck's problems started the year off on a bad note.  Whether or not Strasburg gets a plaque in Cooperstown, he's bringing people back to the hobby that the hobby needs to remain viable as a hobby (get all that?).  If someone at Topps or one of the other companies can stumble onto a way to bring the kids back from "Magic - The Gathering", what is currently a mini-Renaissance can turn into a full-blown boom again.  Let's just hope history doesn't repeat itself and overproduction takes over again. 


Thursday, August 5, 2010

In case Rick Sanchez is reading this.......

If anyone is a fan of "Rick's List" on CNN, you're probably familiar with his daily feature "The List You Don't Want To Be On".  They've now made one of those for baseball cards........

The 30 Worst Baseball Cards of All Time

In defense of the players featured on here, there are (by my count) 6 All-Stars, one of the Top 10 all-time home run hitters (albeit with the proverbial *), and several guys who wear World Series rings.  Then there's poor Oscar Gamble.  None of your memorabilia is featured in Cooperstown, but you make this Hall of Shame TWICE! :-)  I'd be horrified to see the groupies these guys attracted at the ol' ballpark (just in case your appetite wasn't already ruined).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A lifetime of memories? Priceless.......

I think most of us who have ever enjoyed the sports card hobby have been buyers, sellers, traders and collectors simultaneously at certain points of our lives.  As Dave Jamieson reminds us in his excellent book, Mint Condition, however, most of the folks who have made tons of money in the hobby will be the first to tell you they never gave that part a second thought.  They never got into it for the money. 

For most of us, sports cards became something we collected first and saw as a possible way of sending the kids to college and/or passing down as an heirloom later.  With that in mind, I think we all have at least a handful of "untouchable" cards.....some valuable, some you could probably find at the bottom of the bargain bin.......that we would never, ever sell regardless of how far in the stratosphere "book value" may take them.

Which cards in your collection are those you would never get rid of for any reason?  Share those with us by Commenting here, and also the stories behind them. 

One man from the Baltimore area just discovered those cards in his collection.....just ahead of the National, where he might have made a mint :-) ................

Remembrances of baseball's past

Just a reminder.....

31 days until college football!!  Time to go back-to-back in Titletown.  Fans of other schools, there's really no sense in getting your hopes too high........the Tide will be #1 start to finish.  How many other coaches can claim to be the subject of a major motion picture? 

See y'all in Glendale on January 10th!!  ROLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE ROLL!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

How much is enough?

Just in case you were one of the 2 or 3 people who thought circa 1993 and beyond, "Gee.....there aren't nearly enough sports cards being produced these days", see if this doesn't FINALLY make you a believer........

Alex Rodriguez appears on nearly 18000 cards

Wonder how many of those he posed for clean? :-)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A point to ponder......

Are Halls of Fame becoming like sports cards in the 90's or awards shows on TV..........there's just too many of 'em?  One familiar name associated with one of the "go to" reference guides in our hobby thinks it's a good idea, and he even nominates a charter member.......

Cowboys great Emmitt Smith should be in collectible hall of fame, too

The idea brings up several interesting questions.  Where would be an ideal location for a "Sports Collectibles Hall of Fame"?  What would the criteria be for selection?  Would there be folks that might get shut out of Canton, Cooperstown, and Springfield who would be charter members and/or subsequent first balloters here?  I can think of several in baseball who either didn't have the numbers (Don Mattingly, Dwight Gooden, etc.), became allegedly chemically enhanced (Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens, Jose Canseco), or were found guilty of various other sins (Pete Rose) who have created massive buzz among collectors at certain points in their careers.  I wouldn't think that would count here. 
Furthermore......would you make a pilgrimage to a Sports Collectibles Hall of Fame?  Comment below!!