June 30, 2010

Strasburg Finest redemption #6

So, now that the news is trickling that Stephen Strasburg is Finest redemption #6, I'm sure eBay is going crazy.

Let's take a look together (link).

The Finest gold redemption is quickly escalating in price.

The Strasburg phenomena is becoming very interesting to me. He's drawing in casual and non-collectors to the scene, nevermind the ones who have never left.

The question I have though, are people collecting the cards for future investment (I don't see how you can profit on getting these cards) or do people just want to own the best Strasburg collection out there?



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Speaking of Strasburg ...

Where are the Allen & Ginter minis? When Stephen Strasburg made his debut Topps announced the Washington Nationals rookie would be included in Allen and Ginter with a mini and an auto redemption only.

That was enough for collectors who wanted his card or were looking to flip anything with his name on it.

Two auctions for the mini were on eBay Tuesday night with the same stock photo that has been around the Internet for the last 24 hours. Wednesday morning, both auctions were taken down.

Chris Olds had an interesting piece this morning on Beckett's blog. Strasburg minis have yet to be found said the folks he has spoken with.

Let's take a look a stroll around the Internet to see what others are saying:

On Twitter, Brent Williams (@brentandbecca) wrote: "@toppscards Where are the Strasburg mini cards & auto redemptions. I opened 25 cases! between 2 other guys 28 cases & boards full of others"

Let's take a look at the case breaks at Blowout's forums ... hang on as I rummage through posts and scans. Ah, no Strasburg here. 

Let's check Freedom Cardboard ... wait, oh no, nevermind. There aren't any there either. 

This is a huge PR problem for Topps. Allen and Ginter is always a popular product for them and didn't really need the hype of Strasburg to make it any better, but considered he was a late addition to the set he could be in later cases and not the early ones. 

If that's the case, this will hurt brick and mortar shops and those who always buy early because they would have gotten the cases shipped to them first. Does this help retail since they tend to get their product later than hobby shops.


When the first REAL Strasburg mini shows up, I want to see a scan of the back of the card.



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So where did the Strasburg auto 1/1 end up?

First, let me start by saying thanks to the auction for ruining my fun idea of a contest. That card didn't sell on eBay because I believe (I have no spoken with the seller so I do not know) that he got fed up with all the fake bids. The seller stated in the auction he was deleting any bidders with less than five feedback and eventually pre-approved bidders.

The auction's price jumped wildly going as high as a million and dropped to $250K before it was finally pulled.

The card is now headed to Huggins and Scott's Auction, an auction house based in Florida, according to an NBC report.

The card is planned to go to auction in mid-July with a tentative minimum bid of $9,000.



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June 29, 2010

What the $!%* is going on?

Yeah, so I go to eBay to see if there are any Stephen Strasburg Allen & Ginter minis floating around yet.

So far, I found one (auction link).

What in the world?

I get a the superfractor going for an insane price. I kind of get the his base cards going for a pretty penny, but I am not sure I get where all this is actually going.

His cards are just absolutely ridiculous right now. If this card goes for over a grand, what are his autos from this set going to be worth?

Goodness, you might as well buy a case of this just to grab one or two of these cards. It would pay for the whole case and perhaps even then some.

It's a crazy world out there!

You can stop buying 2010 Bowman

Man, all of the big cards have pretty much bell pulled. The 2010 Bowman Bryce Harper superfractor has been spotted on Freedom Cardboard (link).



This card actually looks reaaaally good. Looks better than the Stephen Strasburg, I think.

Honey, I'm home.

Greetings all! For those of you who do not use twitter, I was away from Thursday to Monday night. I went out to the L.A. area to see the Yankees v. Dodgers game first and foremost, and then do some other "touristy" types of things.

I went to the Friday night game and it was awesome to finally get to Dodger Stadium after years of watching the games on TV and thinking it would be awesome to get there. The drive there was full of traffic, which if you have been to L.A. you know that every day, almost all day there is traffic. It was glorious at first site. I love new stadiums. We hiked up many stairs that we did not need to bother with trying to get to the gift shop, which by the way, was on the ground level.

As we entered the stadium we were given rally towels, though the guy didn't look like he wanted to give me one, or thought I wouldn't want it. I wanted it. I noticed now when unpacking that there is a sticker on the towel from the 2009 World Series. I know when teams don't win in the playoffs they send the shirts and hats to other countries, but I guess they keep the towels for giveaways during big games.... I would have rather seen a Yankees v. Dodgers World Series last year, and I am sure Sooz would have as well seeing as she could have watched the games as a fan rather than a reporter working.


The first glimpse of the field is always my favorite. I took some pictures with my phone and with my regular camera but I didn't upload the ones from the camera yet. Early on there weren't many people around, but there were plenty of Yankees fans walking around and some high 5-ing me for wearing my Jorge Posada road jersey and some just yelling, "Yeaaahhhhh Yankees!!!"

My first stop was the clubhouse shop to get a couple of t-shirts for my ever growing player t-shirt collection. I added a Matt Kemp t-shirt, and a new Russ Martin t-shirt (the back says J. Martin). My Russ t-shirt was a $5 eBay "imperfect" shirt and well let's just say it was sewn kinda crazy and the back of the shirt always feels like is pulled in a direction. So I can retire that one or wear it to the gym. I also bought a program and kept score of the whole game, with only one mystery out.

Dodger fans were fine until the game started and then the Dodger fans started in on the Yankees fans. It was no where near as bad as what happens to opposing fans in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, but they were obnoxious. What I found funny was that they play goofy songs in which the whole stadium actually sings along with, like Living on a Prayer and Don't Stop Believing. They also sing LOUD and proud, Take me out to the ball game TWICE back to back. Seriously, maybe 9 people sing at Yankee Stadium. The bleachers have their own version of this song which is what I heard in my head as these dorks sang in unison at Dodger Stadium.

Yankees won the game 2-1, so the walk to the car was quiet as you can imagine. I enjoyed the game and the stadium very much. Despite being a Yankees fan, I follow the Dodgers quite closely and they are one of my favorites to watch.

I did a few other fun things on the trip, Santa Monica Pier (overrated), Disney, Universal, and...... I finally made the mecca to In-N-Out, which was awesome. The Simpsons ride was all I had hoped it would be, and all it was hyped up to be. I only wish the line was shorter because I would have gone on a second and maybe third time.



There were 2 baseball card shops in the area I was staying in, but being there for a weekend and wanting to see things I can't see at home made it hard to try and make time for the shops. It just means my local shop will get my money instead, and I would prefer to see it go there anyway. I had no internet access from Wednesday until I got home late Monday night, and hadn't seen a baseball card for that time either. It's good to be home even if there is 100% humidity. It's the last week of my online class, so I should be back to blogging often after that ends.

Anyone else going on a road trip to see their team play? Or going to your hometown team to see your favorite team?

June 28, 2010

I love street release dates

Because they mean we'll see the card two to three days ahead of time. EBay sellers cannot keep their cases closed once they get the cards in hand.

So, 2010 Allen and Ginter is set to go live on June 30, we actually have auctions for single cards already on eBay.

Anything fun, you ask?

Well, let's see:

- Sailors of the Seven Seas
- World's wordsmiths (I may actually collect this set)
- Lords of Olympus
- Monsters of the Mesozoic
- National Animals

For Marie, there is an Adam Lind GU jersey card.

The rainbow is so pretty

I'd like to think I can be a patient person. I think that quality was a lot better when I was younger. However, when it comes to baseball cards, I've been decent with it when I've been looking for certain cards to fill my collection.

My Kevin Kouzmanoff is coming along nicely. I have all the base, most of the higher-numbered cards and many low-numbered cards. However, certain cards have eluded my grip over the last three years and, amazingly, two of them came into my hands last week.

The first is 2007 Bowman's Best gold auto /50.

The card wasn't actually difficult to find. A seller or two had it on eBay, but for a prize I wasn't willing to part with for this auto. Finally, one popped up in an auction and I snagged it. It didn't take many cards to complete this rainbow (I don't count 1/1 cards), but it's still very pretty to me.



Looking at Upper Deck's plan for CLC license


In about six weeks, Upper Deck will begin releasing its line of cards with the Collegiate License Company that gives the company the right to NCAA logos and team names.

In early August, 2010 NCAA Sweet Spot, a football product, is expected to be released.

Upper Deck released information this weekend for a planned baseball product. 2010-2011 Ultimate Collection Basketball will feature many of this weekend's lottery picks such as Derrick Favors (No. 3 pick overall), DeMarcus Cousins (No. 5), Ekpe Udoh (No. 6), Greg Monroe (No. 7), Gordon Hayward (No. 9), Paul George (No. 10), Cole Aldrich (No. 11), Xavier Henry (No. 12) and Luke Babbitt (No. 16).

UD also has exclusive deals with Lebron James and Michael Jordon, both of which will have autos in the set.


Jordan also recently for the 2010 product Greats of the Game.


June 27, 2010

Sunday Question

We had a contest going here where if you guess the ending price of the Stephen Strasburg 2010 Bowman auto 1/1 (auction link), you would win six Topps Million cards.

Not one person saw where this crazy auction was going even if it is legitimate. The numbers have bounced around too. The auction was near one million dollars, then dropped to around $500K. The auction sits at $225K right now. The seller has finally started to pre-approve bidders, which accounts for the change in price. Took long enough considering there is just a little over a day on the auction, but that price is still crazy.

The question is, what to do about the contest? Do I give it to the person that guessed the highest amount or have a new contest?

I'm inclined to just give it to the person who guessed the highest before the deadline, but I am open to suggestions.

Update: And, now the Strasburg auto has ended with no sale. Looks like the seller got sick of the auction. I'm curious where it goes from here. So, now, I definitely have no winner.

June 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Just wanted to wish Derek Jeter and happy 36th birthday. Him and his bitches.


June 25, 2010

Someone who needs a little press

We all hear about THE minor leaguers, the ones who are going to make it big one day. The ones who will be the next Albert Pujols or Nolan Ryan.

But what happens to the guys who play well, they put up good numbers, but you know why aren't going to get a shot with the big club?

Here we have Brandon Laird, a third baseman for the Yankees Double-A affiliate Trenton Thunder. Laird was drafted in the 27th round in 2005 and 2007, first by the Indians and then by the Yankees. He's 22 years old and has a guy ahead of him in New York that may not be going anywhere anytime soon.

Alex Rodriguez has dealt with injuries as of late, but he is signed through 2017. ARod will be 40 by then.

Laird is hitting the ball well in double-A. Through Thursday, he has a .293 batting average, but 18 home runs and 76 RBIs through 71 RBIs.

Laird doesn't have much out there when it comes to baseball cards. He appeared in 2008 Bowman Chrome. That's it.

What do you do with a guy like this?


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June 24, 2010

Arguing for and against the Strasburg BGS grade

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

Mint 9
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.

June 23, 2010

An interview with Upper Deck president Paul Meyer

Paul Meyer took over as The Upper Deck Company’s president two months ago. After several months of turmoil between lost licenses and litigations at Upper Deck, Meyer is looking toward the future of the company.

The native New Yorker has had several high-level positions at companies such as Shuffle Master and has worked in toy manufacturing, video game developing and publishing, and consulting.

“I would love the company to find the next big thing,” Meyer said. “You do that by thinking outside the box. You do that by extending the company’s reach.”

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WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FOCUS AT UPPER DECK THE PAST TWO MONTHS?

It’s not designing trading cards. The company clearly needed lots of improvement in internal communication, I found. Now, I have weekly staff meetings.

As I told the people here, we have to eliminate triangular communication. A good example of that, during one conference call (last week), we talked about some soccer cards we have in inventory in North Carolina. Wouldn’t it be great if the customer taking those could take them before the World Cup is over? The Director of Operations talked to the Director of Sales and there it was.

I am also in the interim filling in the CFO role. I am currently President, COO and CFO. I think (my strengths are) communication, financial planning and resource allocation.

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HOW WILL YOUR PAST HELP YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

- I think my specialty is motivation, teamwork and encouragement. However, I love to collect input, but ultimately someone has to make a decision. The process can’t keep going on and on. I run a multi-national company. I’ve been part of consumer product companies, industrial product companies, technology product companies. I put this one in consumer product range.

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WITHOUT HAVING EXPERIENCE IN TRADING CARDS, HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO RELY ON THE INPUT OF OTHERS?

- I do rely on them. We have a brand manager Josh Zusman, who is great. Our contacts with the NHL and NHLPA love him. His boss is great. I don’t have that kind of ego or pride of authorship that I am going to sit here and insist that all new products, product briefs and the type setting has to be reviewed with me. That’s not been the issue. Product quality and innovation has never been an issue here at Upper Deck. If I thought it was, I would plug into it.

One of my concerns, though it sounds a little pejorative, is to make sure we’re prepared for what I call the digital evolution. Even for people collecting trading cards, this is a different business today than it was when I was a kid.

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HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THE LOST LICENSES?

- Upper Deck lost the baseball license, the NFL, the Yu-Gi-Oh license and the World of Warcraft.
As you have seen, the company scaled back infrastructure in terms of trying to match cost and revenue. There‘s no question that we are in a rebuilding mode. The NHL licenses we have are pretty prized. We think the CLC (NCAA) license has lots of potential.

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WHEN IT COMES TO LICENSING, WHERE DOES UPPER DECK GO FROM HERE?

- Topps has the MLB license. It will be hard to get it back. The company (Upper Deck) is in a rebuilding phase. We’re not going to get the baseball or the NFL licenses back anytime soon. What the company is doing is focusing on its premier license, which is NHL. Then doing a bunch of other licenses that don’t rank with MLB and NFL, but can be built over time.

In a sense, this company is back to being like a bit of a start up. That’s kind of what we and I have been presented with. We like to maintain good relationships with our licensors. We have CLC, we have MLS, and we have Major League Lacrosse. We still have some exclusive licenses for Upper Deck Authenticated with worldwide distribution. It is back to baby steps. I think the challenge here and opportunity is to keep moving it forward.

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HOW EXCITING IS IT FOR YOU COMING IN - IN A SENSE - ON THE GROUND LEVEL?

- That’s the opportunity. That’s what I see. The question is the time period in what the company is now and when it will start to get back to its former glory and splendor. Everyone knew Upper Deck.

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HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA AND BLOGS AFFECTED THE HOBBY WORLD?
- It has affected every world. Information spins around those sites at the speed of light. Part of the issue, more than just the hobby world and collecting community, is we communicate much differently now. Personally, I stop following stuff because there is so much misinformation out there. One of the blogs I saw about me said when I took over Shuffle Master in November 2007 the stock went down. I am sorry, but I never took over Shuffle Master. I worked for the head of Shuffle Master, who worked for the Board of Directors.

All this stuff affects not only the hobby, but everyone’s world, because information flies so quickly. There is just no legitimizing it. No one is responsible for what they say. There is no accountability for accuracy.

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HOW DO YOU COMBAT THE NEGATIVE PUBLICITY FROM THE LAWSUITS?
- What we try to do is emphasize the positive. The litigation and judgments are what they are. We can’t pretend we didn’t have MLB and Konami.

There was a lot of buzz and negativity about how far behind the company was in redemptions, now we are getting some positive buzz because we are just knocking that down by emphasizing and prioritizing where cash goes.

We’ll do press releases in the positive. My own pr philosophy is you don’t saturate the wires - I think when a company has something to say, positively, it says it. I think in time what will happen is if we maintain good relationships with our partners and constituents, the judgments in litigations will start to fade into the background. I think that’s all we can do about it.

Lucky enough to get Strasburg's first RC? ... Get it signed, for a price

Topps released this information this morning on the Stephen Strasburg 2010 Topps RC #661:

On June 8, the day of Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg’s MLB debut, the Topps Company released a special rookie card exclusively available through code cards found in Topps baseball packs. Today, the company has announced that 300 collectors can have Stephen Strasburg personally autograph their limited edition rookie card!

“We are thrilled to offer baseball fans yet another opportunity to memorialize Stephen’s spectacular MLB debut. This very limited autograph card will be an incredible collectible for years to come”, said Warren Friss, Topps GM. “This is another way we can use our successful online million card giveaway program and get MLB fans even closer to the game”.

In order to purchase this autographed version you must have Stephen's rookie card in your collection at www.toppsmillion.com. Code cards that may unlock the Strasburg rookie card can be found in packs of 2010 Topps Baseball Series 1and 2. Each autographed card will be sequentially numbered and certified. The autograph will cost $350 each. The offer is limited to the first 300 people that have the rookie card and purchase the autograph.

That leads us to believe there will be at least 300 cards of his released on the Topps Million site. That information was actually never given out. However, at last look only 119 of them have been unlocked.

If all 300 cards get signed, that's over $100K in Topps pocket from Strasburg. I don't know what he charges Topps, but I see the exclusive baseball card company making a nice profit.



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June 22, 2010

Last call for contest entries

At midnight, the contest will close to see where the Strasburg 2010 Bowman red auto 1/1 is going to end.

The prize: six Topps million codes.

Don't leave comments on this post. Put them all on this post. Since the card has been going up so much, if you previously entered and want to change your entry, go ahead. But you only have one more shot.

Midnight it's over!

Red Hot Rookie Redemption #2 is .....


Jose Tabata.

I have a real sore spot for this guy that I have talked about a numbers of times. My first attempt at prospecting, mainly because he was a Yankee. He ended up going crazy and the Yankees traded him to Pittsburgh.

Glad to see him doing well and, hopefully, he has his head on his shoulders.

Strasburg Superfractor back on eBay?

http://blogbeckett.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/strasburg-superfractor-owner-tries-for-hail-mary-in-wake-of-red-11-auction/Last week, Chris Olds had an exclusive interview with the Stephen Strasburg superfractor buyer (link). He talked about his impulse to buy the card and so on. He didn't know what he would do with the card.

I didn’t think of selling the card. I was just anxious to actually receive it.  As for this being a long-term purchase or not, it’s difficult to say. Luckily, my wife is very supportive, even though her first response was “Are you crazy?  That is a lot of money for one baseball card.” But I think after his first start, she was even more supportive.
I would like to keep it displayed at my office, but I suppose everything has its price.  I do consider it to be an investment, hopefully in the best pitcher of all time.  But with Strasburg-mania running so high, I have thought about posting it on eBay just to gauge the interest.  I guess we’ll see.

I guess it didn't take that long. After three stars, Strasburg is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA and, remarkably, 32 strikeouts and five walks in 19 1/3 innings.

So, now, the card is back on eBay (auction link).

According to the auction, the card is off in the grading house, but pictures are available upon request. Additionally, there is a reserve to this auction. I would imagine the reserve is around $20,000 since he paid about $16,800 for it.

I do have questions. I looked at the feedback for the seller. How come he hasn't been active apparently since 2008 and why wouldn't the original seller of the Superfractor card leave him any feedback? Things I think about at midnight while the Yankees are getting clobbered by the Diamondbacks.

Update: Beckett confirmed with the owner of the card, the auction is legit. 



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June 21, 2010

Strasburg eTopps allocated

We waited - not so long. Topps issued Stephen Strasburg as part of last week's eTopps release. With a 1,999 limit, not everyone got their cards.

I put in for five. Yep, I'm greedy, but ended with one. I figured I would only get one, but thought I would go for a handful anyway.

Funny this is, I haven't even received the email yet from Topps telling me how many I "won." I hopped on my account to check it out and saw one sitting in my portfolio. eTopps also gives the option of checking to see the auctions on eBay of that card.

As of 7:37 p.m., 33 are already online. The cards ending soonest are selling for $30 or more.

Did you pick up any of these coveted cards? If you missed out on them, do you plan on purchasing on eBay?

All questions I wonder while sitting on the couch starting at eBay.



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