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Archive for the ‘Blog Bat Around Entries’ Category

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Ahh…the monthly Blog Bat Around topic. This usually makes me take a more critical and objective look at the hobby that I tend to dump a bunch of my hard earned cash into, and that’s a good thing. I’ve been on record here a few times saying that in order to get the most out of this hobby you have to step back once in awhile and evaluate what you have, what you’re doing, and what you want. If you don’t, you’re pretty much a blind sheep or a lemming, and who wants that?

Dave’s topic this month is very broad. I could pretty much write on every single thing he brought up but that would turn this into a multi-page diatribe and do any of you really want to read that? So what I am going to talk about is something that I’m noticing far too often….product not delivering value.

We live in a world where the card companies have given us three levels of products to choose from. We have the low-end cards such as Topps Series I that is primarily designed for set builders. Then we have products that I would call mid-range like UD’s Spectrum, Sweet Spot, and Topps Co-Signers. And finally we have the products on the high-end. Those are your UD Premier and Topps Triple Threads and Sterling.

By looking at that, you would assume that the low-end products would have simple relic cards and sporadic autographs….and they do. You would also assume that your mid-range products would have maybe a few more autographs and the addition of patches…and they do. And you would assume that your high-end products would have autographs from upper tier players and have some very nice relics….

WRONG!!! And this is the biggest thing I think we need to see fixed in the collecting world.

I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to charge a premium price for a product (upwards of $175 per box), you better damn well put value into that box and the card companies simply aren’t doing that. Take a look at the card below. This card is from the 2008 edition of UD Premier.

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Upper Deck should be embarassed to put the word “Premier” on this card. These are the same plain single color jersey swatches they are putting in their low-end products like First Edition. This is probably nothing more than a $15 card on the secondary market. While that is really nice to pull from a low-end product, it’s ridiculous to be pulling from a box that probably cost the buyer $175 or more. The card below is from the 2007 edition of Premier and is more like the type of card that should be pulled frequently from a high end product.

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The first card (trio) is numbered to 33. The card above (Fielder/Morneau) is numbered to 50. So explain to me what a card that is supposed to be more rare and more sought after contains crappy relics and they managed to get very nice patch relics into a card that was produced more? This looks to me like a giant step backward.

Upper Deck isn’t alone in this folly. Topps is just as guilty. Take a look at this Morneau item from this year’s Triple Threads. This is their highly touted “XXIV Card” that they raved about prior to the products release. First I’ll show you an actual Morneau card and then I’ll show you how Topps hyped this particular card and you tell me what you see. First the REAL card…

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And here is the image of these 24-relic cards that Topps advertised in their sell sheets…

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Hmmm…..bait and switch?? I guess it’s just basic marketing…make your product look amazing and then deliver something underwhelming. The Wright card shown in the sell sheets contains nice patches and plenty of color. I haven’t seen such a card. All of these XXIV cards look like the Morneau card above.

So what needs to be done?

The answer is actually pretty simple. The card companies need to take a step back and look at what they are delivering and ask themselves “are we really giving the collectors the value for their money?” As of right now, they are not. Have you seen all the simple single color jersey swatches that are coming out of Topps Sterling? This is supposed to be THE high end product and they are certainly not delivering value. Imagine if you bought a $225 box and got nothing but a Robin Yount quad jersey relic with 4 simple single color swatches. Is that value?!? NO!

Honestly, if I’m Upper Deck or Topps, I’m scrambling to be the first company to fix this problem because you know the first one that does will reap the rewards. I would also be the first to go out and bring in a true collector as an advisor into product development. It’s very apparent from the crappy products we’re getting that the people in charge are far from being in touch with what the average collector wants.

Oh, and get rid of redemptions too. They suck!

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I have to give Gellman some credit on this one. The first Bat Around topic was good and it made me have to sit and think, but this one actually caused me to sit and evaluate my collection and I think that is something that we all need to do from time to time. In my opinion, I think we all need to step back at least a couple times a year and take a good long look at the items in our collection and make sure that we’re not acquiring items just for the sake of it and that we’re collecting these things for the right reasons.

So I know what you’re thinking. This is a site that is written by a Justin Morneau collector so the most prized piece in his collection HAS to be a Morneau item. 2988738839_c88aa1ec9bRight? Maybe a great patch card that I was lucky enough to pull from a pack? Or maybe it was at autographed item that I somehow managed to get Justin to sign in person or through the mail. I’ll admit, I have a lot of nice looking Morneau items in my collection. I have some great looking cards and I also have things like baseballs, pictures, a bat, and some game used batting gloves. Sadly, I haven’t had the luxury or the luck to pull any of these cards myself or get any of them signed on my own. Trust me, I’ve tried both more time than I’d like to admit. So because of that, I wouldn’t say that I have an emotional tie to any of my Morneau items. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly really like them or I wouldn’t have them. But there’s no story behind them and to me, it takes a story to make an item in your collection special.

I have a lot of great items in my collection. I have baseballs signed by Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Mariano Rivera, and many others. I have a 16×20 picture of A-Rod and Derek Jeter that is signed by both. I have a Peyton Manning jersey that I would be sad to see go. But there aren’t stories behind those items. I do have two items in my possession that do have stories behind them, and those are my most coveted items.

Both of those items were gifts to me from my wife. My wife doesn’t really “get” or understand my hobby and sometimes she probably finds it silly and wishes I would spend my money on other things. But she does recognize that my hobby could be a lot worse and be something that requires way more money and time away from the family. Once in a great while, she’ll try to buy something to add to the collection.

The first item is this 8×10 photo collage of Ryne Sandberg that was produced the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. This particular photo was a limited edition produced by a store in our area called Von Maur. It is the type of rs23store that sells $30 pairs of socks so I am pretty sure my wife had to overpay for it. But she knew the item was authentic and it came with an additional perk…each photo purchased came with a ticket so you could meet Ryne Sandberg in person! As you know, I’m a die hard Cubs fan and some of my fondest memories as a kid was the season in 1984 when the Cubs won the N.L. East. That was the first year I can remember following baseball with my dad (who died unexpectedly that winter). He gave me my love for baseball. That season we watched “Ryno” and Jody and I put those two guys on a pedestal. So getting a chance to meet Sandberg was something I never expected. The meeting really wasn’t anything special. You went up there and got a chance to get your picture taken with him and exchange a few quick pleasantries. But it was cool and something I would have never had a chance to do on my own. (By the way, my wife would shit if she knew I put this picture up with her in it! ha ha!)

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The other cherished item in my collection was another gift from my wife. This time it was an engagement gift. I mp22suppose she felt as though she needed to get me something nice since I spent a fortune on a ring for her. We were engaged in November of 2003 and that was during the height of Wood/Prior mania in Chicago. Like many other Cub fans, I was certain that the Cubs had two guys that would battle it out for Cy Young awards for the next 10 years. My wife had to jump through a lot of hoops but she managed to get me this signed Mark Prior jersey. At the time, I couldn’t believe it. This was THE crown jewel of my new collection. Mark Prior has since moved on and won’t become the Hall of Fame pitcher that many predicted, but this jersey will never leave my possession. I know all of the thought and love that went into it and I remember the look of excitement on my wife’s face as I opened it. I don’t think she’s ever been prouder of any gift she has ever given me.

Do I have items in my collection that have more value on the secondary market than these two items? Sure I do. But I don’t think market value should dictate whether or not an item (or items) are the “centerpieces” of your collection. I’m not even real sure “centerpiece” is the best term. To me, these two items are my most cherished. Looking at them on my wall brings back great memories. And those are memories I plan to keep with me forever.

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“Class, today we will be writing a theme.”

 

Groooaan!!

 

“What I want for Christmas.”

 

Ok, so I guess it wasn’t like that exactly, but once I read Gellman’s post about our first Bat Around topic, I admit I felt a little like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. My first thought was….damn, this is like some sort of college application essay. Who am I? Ugh…that’s the kind of thinking I haven’t had to do since my days on campus at Indiana (and many of those days involved beerm so often time I had no idea who I was or where I was). But then I thought about it a little bit more and realized that this could be a good opportunity to explain why I collect cards in the matter that I do.

 

Like many of the people in our hobby today, I was deep into it in my youth and then got out for an extended period of time and then got back into it. I find that many people have taken a similar route. All my life I have been somewhat of a geek so during my card respite, I got into collecting Star Wars ggbobastitems. No, I didn’t have room full of unopened toys; I went more for the statues, maquettes, mini-busts, and things like that. After that line of products started to sway into the ridiculous with variations out the wazoo and items that were getting crazy expensive, I started doing statues of my favorite Marvel characters and that was a lot of fun. But one day I sat down and looked at my collection and realized that sports are my thing and I should really try doing something like that. I mean, I had this nice fully finished basement that my wife said was “my area” and I wanted to do it up with sports stuff.

 

Hang with me here….this really is going somewhere.

 

I started out collecting autographed baseballs and photos. Then I progressed to a couple jerseys. After awhile, I had built up a pretty decent collection. Then I decided to start trying to collect 23ph_i027_e_mlbautographs through the mail. I didn’t really have anything to send so I went out to buy a pack of cards for the first time in almost 16 years. And THAT is how I got sucked back in. I bought two packs that day and then ended up back there the next day and bought a couple more. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed going through the cards. It was like being 12 all over again. Then I found online store like DCS Sportscards (the first place I ordered a box from upon my return) and Blowout Cards and that’s pretty much where it all ended.

 

I got out of the hobby before they started inserting things like jersey and autograph cards. I found myself on ebay searching around for cards with autographs and/or relics of the players I liked. I built up a nice little collection of these cards and was happy. Then I looked around my Man Fort one afternoon and realized that I had a lot of stuff in there that I wasn’t really emotionally invested in and that bothered me. What good is having all these neat cards if you aren’t all that into them? I was buying stuff just for the sake of buying things. That is not collecting, that’s hoarding!

 

So on that day, I made my decision to become a PLAYER COLLECTOR. I would still continue to dabble in memorabilia (baseballs, photos, etc), but I really needed to add some focus to my card collecting. I had trouble initially narrowing it down to just one player since I love baseball so much. So I chose 5 players and decided to focus in on them. I chose Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, Derrek Lee, and Travis Hafner. They were guys I really enjoyed watching play. I tried that for awhile and found that I was stretched a little too thin so I had to get down to just one guy. After some back and forth in my head, I made my choice. I was now a Justin Morneau collector.

 

But you see….I’m not just any player collector. A lot of player collectors will go out there and grab anything they can get with their player on it. I really have no interest in that. In the Star Wars collecting community (and in the card world as well), those people are called “completists”. I want cards that I feel something for, not something I feel like I need just because it has the player I like on it. So when I go out looking for Morneau cards, I’m somewhat picky. I’ll pass on just about every single color jersey swatch cards out there. To me, those are boring. I also pass on a lot of numbered parallels. They also don’t do much for me. I pass on EVERY base card. When I was a kid, everything was base and that was fine then. But now I want more.

 

Give me that patch card.

 

That autograph card sucks!! No thanks.

 

Ooh, I like that autographed card.

 

An autographed card with Morneau and Nick Swisher? Blah!

 

An autographed double relic card with Morneau and Joe Mauer….you betcha!

 

Game used batting gloves….where do I send the money??

 

So what do I do with all the cards I get? Ahh…that’s where the previous geek collecting comes in handy. I had a nice display case left over from those days and after a purchase of some acrylic cards stands off ebay, I have my best cards on display in their full glory in a glass case. So yes, I like to show off what I have. I want them in full sight when I sit down at my desk. I want people to come in and say “Wow! That Morneau card is awesome!”. If I paid for it, I want to see it every day and want other people to see it.

 

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Who am I? You can call me…the SELECTIVE PLAYER COLLECTOR.

 

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