Friday, November 30, 2012

History of "The Card" an Infographic Timeline

(Click to see the image larger)


By now, many of you have read the news, as first reported by the New York Daily News Sports I-Team that Bill Mastro, the prima donna of the high-end sports collectibles auction world has plead guilty to altering the fabled T-206 Honus Wagner card. 

While it has long been suspected by many hobby elites that the card had been altered to earn it's grade of a PSA 8, (which was also the first card ever graded by the company) the cat is now out of the bag. Knowing that the ugliness of a trial would ultimately do more harm than good, Mastro changed his plea after being indicted several years ago for this and other charges including, "routinely defrauding customers, rigged auctions and inflated prices paid by unwitting bidders."

Many of you might remember the ill-fated attempt by Sports Collector's Digest and it's has been "journalist" T.S. O'Connell, some years ago, who had the gall to disable comments on his blog rather than answer critics questions regarding the issue, mine included. Here are links to those posts from several years ago.

TS O'Connell, SCD, Mastro, FBI

T.S O'Connell Loses Hobby Credibility

Mastro Auctions No More

O'Connell's deer in the headlights response to this new  fangled social media platform called blogging and it's intent to be a two-way dialogue and not just another means of broadcast, only served to solidify what most educated collectors already knew and that was the fact that Tuff Stuff and SCD's time in the hobby as a reputable, reliable and newsworthy source of hobby media, were long gone.

O'Connell's defense of his "friend" and the free publicity given to the auctioning of the once fabled Mastro Collection, despite occurring amid these far reaching and damning allegations was indefensible. O'Connell's posts have long been deleted along with the numerous comments questioning the integrity of him and SCD as an unbiased news outlet.

While Bill Mastro had a good run, in the end sweet justice has been served. As for T.S. O'Connell, he's crawled under some rock of obscurity, hopefully never to be heard from again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Random Thoughts and Musings

Between Twitter and the radio show it's no secret that most of the commentary I used to provide on this blog has moved to those outlets but I know not everyone follows or listens (BUT YOU SHOULD!) Anyway here are somethings that I have been thinking about lately.

Entertainment trading cards- I love collecting products from movies I like and TV shows I watch like Fringe, the Big Bang Theory, etc. I know that not all show can justify a stand alone product but I would love to see a network based card set for USA. it would work brilliantly with their Characters Unite tag line. It could incorporate shows like Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, White Collar, Suits and others.

Topps Five Star Membership- There is absolutely nothing wrong with Topps wanting to make available a club for its high rollers and to provide them some perks and freebies. The problems I have with it are in the language of the application.

  1. To say that the club is for Topps most "passionate" collectors is a bit of a slap in the face to many consumers of their product because it equates passion to $'s spent. How do you think that statement makes the guy who buys a box of every baseball product they buy or the life long set builder?
  2. There is specific language that states that by be accepted into the club you agree to "position Topps in a favorable light". Listen, if I'm spending $10k a year on your product, I am going to say anything I want to, pro or con. Only a company insecure about negative criticism would feel the need to include such language in what is essentially a rewards program.
Five Star Baseball from Topps- I can't afford it so I really don't care. Most of the cards do like beautiful though and it has been interesting to see that even the base cards have been selling for double digits as player collectors pony-up.

Collector Entitlement- There is a disturbing trend that seems to exist amongst many collectors that reflects the notion that in some way card manufacturers owe them something above and beyond the contents of the box they purchase. I don't get it.

Social Media Has Changed Everything- Topps and Panini have given away more product via Twitter and Facebook than I have witnessed in the history of the hobby.

Topps Chrome Football- What a cash cow this product is. At a $100 a box you are getting only 4-cards per pack and (1) autograph per box. The appeal of this product is obviously the on-card rookie autographs and more importantly the gamble of the chance at pulling the likes of the top players in the frehsman class like RG3, Luck, Richardson, etc. Few other products can get away with that price tag and just one hit. Others come close but as this product starts to dry up you will begin to see it in the $110 to $120 range. That's a pricey gamble but one in which many collectors appear willing to take.

No Hockey has me Bummed Beyond Belief- I can't even get myself interested in purchasing new hockey products. Upper Deck Series One is an annual favorite of mine but I could care less this year. Donald Fehr, the NHLPA rep is a greedy fool and Commissioner Gary Betteman is an evil midget. Everyone's a loser so far especially the fans.

Leaf and In The Game- Both companies never cease to amaze me with their pack-out configurations and value propositions. There products aren't for everybody but I am glad they are around. They often show collectors that while the big boys say "It can't be done.", that in fact it can. Case in point. For years, collectors have asked for an image database of serial numbered patch cards to help thwart counterfeits. Time and time again we have been told by the likes of Topps, Upper Deck and Panini that it can't be done. Here is proof in the form of Albert Pujols that it can be done. Ichiro has one also.Way to go Brian Gray! So to all the others, don't say we can't, tell the truth and say, "We don't want too."

PSA Collector Resources- Over the last year, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA/DNA) have been assembling one of the most comprehensive resources for autograph and game used memorabilia collectors. Their latest initiative AutographFacts provides collectors with a wealth of images of authentic exemplars to compare against autograph collectors are considering purchasing. No other enity in the hobby could provide this depth of information and the fact that it is FREE, I believe, really says something about their interests for the hobby. I know they have been caught up in their own issues and errors but this show of good faith is a much need resource for the collecting community. Well done!