Featured Cards: 2002 Upper Deck Ovation Diamond Futures #DF-JR, Jimmy Rollins; 2012 Topps Five Star Autgraph Relics #FSAR-MS, Mike Schmidt
It’s the start of a new year, but before I resume semi-regular posting again, I feel the need to address a couple old grudges I have with how the media treats baseball cards.
My first beef is an old flame that ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield rekindled when he posted “Baseball card industry grows up” to his SweetSpot Blog on Christmas Eve. What annoys me about pieces like this one is that the various national media outlets run similarly written pieces with infrequent regularity to show the current state of the hobby. They all read the same, but worse than that, they are always written by hobby outsiders. Yes, Schoenfield made an effort to interview attendees of the card show he reported from, but the perspective is all wrong. Pieces like this should at a minimum incorporate in-depth views from an insider — in particular, collectors like myself and (I assume) those who read this blog. In my experience, the overwhelming majority of the articles such as Schoenfield’s rarely attempt to convey the opinions of hard-core collectors who continue to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a year cultivating their collections. Although I greatly respect Schoenfield’s baseball writing, his reporting on the state of the hobby really did not do properly demonstrate the hobby’s current state.
This leads to my other grudge: the sheer laziness exhibited by Beckett (supposedly, the voice of the hobby) when it comes to “real” reporting. My hackles were raised once again after reading the travesty of an interview conducted by Chris Olds in the February 2012 issue of Beckett Baseball. In it, he discusses Topps Five Star with Topps’s Director of Product Development, Clay Luraschi. I had been looking forward to it because a month ago Beckett posted on its website a teaser which stated that the chipping issue would be one of the things addressed. Sadly, this was the entirety of the interview regarding the horrible state in which so many Five Star cards emerged from their $500/pack boxes:
Q: With the chipping issue on some cards … has Topps Identified the cause?
Yes, we have received collector feedback on the quality of some of the cards and we are addressing it internally. We feel confident that it’s an issue that can be resolved moving forward.
Really, that was it; nothing more is stated about it. No follow-ups regarding how Topps is going to address the issue or the potential causes. There’s not even a piece of PR fluff acknowledging just how bad the problem was and that Topps understands why this was such a huge, hoary deal. Olds’s fluff interview with Luraschi really reads more like a press release hyping the set — there’s no depth at all too it. I understand Beckett probably feels that it needs to be an industry cheerleader of sorts, but it’s also one of the few established media sources where real reporting is likely to happen regarding sports cards. Yes, they need the advertising money that comes from the dealers and manufacturers, but they also need to be responsive to the needs of the collectors. I started buying individual issues of Beckett again a few months ago, and I’m becoming more and more glad that I didn’t just purchase an annual description. Simply put, the cost of an issue of the magazine (even at discounted subscription rates) grossly exceeds the worth of the small amount of usable information in any given issue.
Blogs are great because of the voice they give so many people. However, very few of us who maintain them have the resources available to media companies such as Beckett. It would be nice to see their editors expend some time and energy engaging in something more than PR and industry cheer leading.