Yesterday, most of the talk surrounded the grade the 2010 Bowman Stephen Strasburg superfractor received from Beckett Grading Services. I wanted to wait a day to write about it simply because I needed time to let it fester. Knee-jerk reactions just aren’t my thing because I usually ended saying something stupid.
Here's a scan of the card that was posted by the person who originally pulled the card.
Instead of offering an opinion, let’s look at both sides of the argument.
Here are the guidelines as written on Beckett’s website:
Gem Mint 9.5
Centering: 50/50 one way, 55/45 the other on front. 65/35 or better on back
Corners: Mint to the naked eye, but slight imperfections allowed under magnification.
Edges: Virtually Mint to the naked eye. A speck of wear is allowed under intense scrutiny.
Surface: A few extremely minor print spots, detectable only under intense scrutiny. Deep color, devoid of registration or focus imperfections. Perfect gloss, devoid of scratches and metallic print lines
Centering: 55/45 both ways on front. 70/30 or better on back.
Corners: Mint upon close inspection. A speck of wear is allowed under intense scrutiny.
Edges: Virtually Mint to the naked eye. Unobtrusive specks of chipping on the borders are allowed.
Surface: A handful of printing specks or one minor spot. Very minor focus or color imperfections. Clean gloss with one or two tiny scratches barely noticeable to the naked eye. One faint, unobtrusive metallic print line is allowed.
Argument for the grade: Yesterday, Beckett posted on their blog an interview with director of BGS Mark Anderson and senior grader David Poole.
“The weakest grade is the 9 centering,” Poole said. “It’s off left to right, just within our guidelines of being 9 guidelines. Back off as well.”
He also said the corners have some problems on the back, but not anything to keep it from a 9.5 corner. In addition, he said: “the edge has some roughness going on, but still within the 9.5 guideline range.”
Regarding the surface, Poole said there were some indentations on the back, but hard to see.
Argument against the grade: Reading the blogs and forums, there are a lot (if not most) of the people arguing against the grade. The centering might fall within BGS’s guidelines, especially since the back is probably within the 70/30 guideline. The front is too difficult to tell in a scan, but 55/45 might be generous.
The biggest issue with the grading is the edges. According to Beckett’s guidelines, edges are to be virtually mint to the naked eye. Based on the scan of the card, you can see fraying without the help of magnifying glass or microscope or whatever fancy tools are used.
Unfortunately, just based on scans it’s too difficult to tell about surface and corners.
The person who originally pulled the card even said on Freedom Cardboard’s forum: “I had to say wow when I saw this story. I personally held it and I thought for sure no chance at 9.5 … more like 8.5 the edge is rough real rough … it’s not 1979/80 opc with wire cuts so I dunno what BGS is thinking.”
Conclusion: Regardless if the card deserved the grade, perception is reality in this world. Too many collectors that are on the social media sites do not agree with the grade. Some have said they will no longer use BGS while I am sure there are many people who continue to grade their cards.
There is a conflict of interest here, but the same thing can be said for anyone even though spouting against the grade. How many blogs out there get free or sponsored boxes from card companies? How many blogs use advertising on their site? With media companies such as newspaper and magazines, they are still in the business of making money. If they didn’t make money, many people wouldn’t have jobs. But there is a fine line for everyone here.