Klein’s Korner: Addressing a Scandal in the Hobby – If you are a hobby “insider” as most of the GTS readers are, you are probably familiar in many ways with what seems to be a growing “scandal” in the baseball card industry. There are trimmed cards getting past graders which were fixed by hobby doctors, shill bidding on eBay items by various people to pump up some other expensive items and I don’t even know what else I’m missing. Frankly, I can not keep up with all of these things.
I’ve had a really difficult time getting my head around all of these and more so I’m just going to do some bullet points, sometimes with a sentence or two of explanation and sometimes without.
1) The work being done by these internet sleuths is very important. PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. They’ve done a great job in explaining why they believe cards have been altered, conserved or whatever adjective you want to use. This is wrong today and wrong 30 years ago when Alan Rosen would take out space in his expensive ads to try to sell an item called: “Don’t Get Trimmed” which was a device used to ensure cards were the proper size. In those days, that was more common than today’s micro trimming. 20 years ago, the new fad was “power erasing“, which was something else to make cards look even better. None of these are good for the hobby. PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE.
This is a cool photoshopped image of Alan. And the stuff is by someone who did not like him. As I always stated, Alan was fairer than most people realize.
2) Most collectors and even many dealers don’t care about this issue. Why? It does not affect our or their enjoyment of the hobby. I have mentioned that perhaps three total people out of the 125-150 or so who were at my show this weekend even brought up the subject. Granted, my show this weekend was affected as most of the dealers I would have had with higher-end material were in Houston for Tri-Star but still if it was prevalent more people would bring up the issue. You really think the customer who spends $20-40 with me every show on vg/ex 1960’s material cares or the new comers who attended because they saw the cards from the their collecting era and could get back in at such a reasonable price level really cared. No and the LCS which is less than five minutes from my show says some of his customers (mainly breakers of new boxes) are aware of this issue but they just like to open and enjoy packs.
3) We have to be careful in what we tell our customers. We can’t stick our heads in the sand but we also can’t be so negative about our hobby we drive people away. If you are an internet poster I get it, it’s fun to be part of the group piling on, but if you’re actually the ones dealing with collectors it’s not as easy as you think. We want to be alert to those possibilities and protect our customers to the best of our abilities.
Klein’s Korner: Addressing a Scandal in the Hobby
4) If you post and you make a mistake on just ONE fact, then everything you say can be held in question. So if you are posting on message boards be very careful with verifiable facts. Someone posted a help wanted ad which stated the $14-15 beginning wage was barely minimum wage. Actually in Texas, that’s double minimum wage and that’s the type of mistake which people on the other side will exploit. Just make sure you keep your facts as facts. Now if that poster had said, that’s barely above a living wage, then no one could dispute said post.
5) Someone is always going to come up with a way of beating the system. One of my vendors has a bunch of 660 ct. boxes without a top lid and let’s say he sells, fill up a box for $25. Now most people put their cards in sideways which makes them look nice and seemingly is better for their condition. Well, of course, we discovered this weekend, one person stood the cards up and then put cards on the side so he could get extra cards into the box. And how many times on message boards do we hear about great buys from someone who does not know the current market value? Someone is always looking for an edge.
6) The technology has improved to the point where some of these items can now be caught. Again, that’s good work to keep working on.
7) I’m trying to keep my opinions down the middle. I’m reminded during these type of discussions of something Mitch Albom said during a Sports Reporters show on ESPN (Which I miss terribly as that was for me appointment television) about the Duke Lacrosse team scandal. He said, instead of assuming they are guilty let’s see what shakes out. Well they were not guilty of anything but bad judgement in whom they were dealing with. But the stories turned out to be fabricated. All I ever ask of people on the message boards is don’t say anything you would be not be comfortable saying in a court of law. And if you are proven correct, and people admit (or are convicted) of these issues then I will be first to congratulate you on a great job! Mitch is not in the photo above but any excuse to show the great Dick Schaap doing what he did best is fine by me.
I got nothing more… Wish I did but this all I have. These are harder for me to write than anyone realizes.
For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.
Rich’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Klein’s Korner. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Klein’s Korner: Addressing a Scandal in the Hobby
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