About Me

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Really Panini? Who designs this stuff?

Perhaps these cards come from the brightest minds in the hobby like S Judd (Who seems to have worked for every card company out there, didn't last long at any it seems), C Olds, and others that think they know so much more than the rest of us and WE just don't get it.  What do we know, we are just collectors.

Of course its possible to fuck up on card autos too

Looks to be a beckett 9.5 to me I mean the all four corners are only .5 points total and the centering "is within the guidelines of a 9" and "doesn't keep it from being...", oh I'm sorry there is nothing to be gained by Beckett by grading it a 9.5 so it will only get a 7 like it deserves.
But whatever.


beardy said...


Anonymous said...

And the summer of hobby love keeps rolling right along.

-- Tracy Hackler

stusigpi said...

Mr. Hackler

Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot to love right now. There have been some positives. For example, Topps has been putting out some good products lately, but frankly Panini has been a mess. Upper Deck has come through their tussle and is laying low.

Topps has been going a little crazy with the Stasburg stuff but they are marketing and I can't blame them for that.

Then Beckett comes along and grades the strasburg and obviously the grade was tenious at best. The bloggers complained and then things settled down.

Then Chris Olds makes the "experts" comment. That was just uncalled for as I think our criticism was at least reasonable whether you agree with it or not.

Meanwhile, the entire time, Judd specifically, even when he had his blog, talked down to everyone because he was "in the know". The bloggers and many collectors feel this has been going on for many many moons.

That's where the negativity comes from. Unfortunately those within the industry, it seems, feel that we bloggers have nothing positive to ad to the industry. Why is that?

Thorzul said...

Well, I was going to mention how much of a corporate asshat Tracy Hackler is, but then realized how that would contribute to the perceived blogger negativity.


Tracy Hackler is THE BEST corporate asshat.

(Smiles, hugs, and positive feelings follow.)

Anonymous said...

Stusigpi, although I'm an aged 40 years old, being called "Mr." just makes me feel so much older.

Did you know that we have more than 150 hobby blogs -- including this one -- listed on the Beckett Blogroll?

I think "the blogosphere" has a great deal of positivity to add -- and I think most manufacturers feel the same. A lot of that positivity, though, gets muffled by the seemingly unending stream of negativity from an outspoken few.

Seeing something as positive or negative is really an issue of perspective. We see what we want to see. Most of the time I choose to see the positive side of things, partly because that's my demeanor, partly because that's been Beckett's corporate culture from Day One and partly because there's an ample amount of negative coverage all around us.

On a product-by-product basis, people don't need us to rip everything that comes out. We offer negative criticism when it's warranted. Whether a product stinks or shines, our audience is intelligent enough to know -- and it will voice its opinion with its collective wallet.

The Strasburg Super created quite the firestorm, no question about that. Was it a 9.5? I don't know; I'm probably one of the "experts" Chris was referring to. I'm not a trained grader, neither is Chris. I think many people took his "experts" line too personally, but I can see how that could've been taken the wrong.

The volume and quantity of criticism regarding the actual grade of the card speaks for itself. Clearly, a lot of folks felt the grade was too lenient. Duly noted.

As for Steven Judd, I know him well and have been friends with him for a long time. Frankly, I didn't witness him talking down to anyone, but he's talked down to me before -- many times. He's an opinionated hobbyist who doesn't really care what anyone else thinks. That's part of his charm.

We can agree to disagree on some things, but I appreciate the dialogue regardless. Those sworn to detest me or Beckett are sure to have a field day ripping this comment apart, dismissing it as nothing more than the ramblings of "the best corporate asshat" going. That's cool.

I've been called much worse, and I continue to smile.

-- Tracy Hackler

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

It would be nice, just once, in print, loud and clear, to hear Beckett say about a product, "This is an overpriced product that doesn't deliver the value a collector should expect. (Insert company here) really dropped the ball on this one." But you can't or won't.

As for blogs linked on your site, 2 of the most notable Sports Cards Uncensored and Wax Heaven (in its prime) as well as mine, Voice of the Collector, have never been linked. Which would be fine if I didn't have recorded audio of you at the National last year saying, when asked about dissenting opinions, "There is room for everyone in The Hobby including those of a contrary opinion."

Now I understand why you don't (link) but then at the same time comments like the above seem to then be spoken with a forked tongue.

If you are afraid of writing honest product reviews due to the potential of lost ad revenue (and having several years in publishing and ad sales I understand the fine balance) the truth is the mfgs need you as much as you need them so call a spade a spade and let the chips fall where they will.

The truth is that your price guide has been complicit in misrepresenting card values for years and the resulting ramifications of that misinformation in regards to trading, people leaving The Hobby after realizing "book value" is nothing but a gauge best used by retailers, etc.

The editorial talents of the Beckett staff are of unquestioned quality. Why not dump the price guide once and for all or if you must, print it as a supplement for dealers and retailers.

I would actually subscribe to a Beckett print publication if that were the case.

Having done this for as long as you have, haven't you ever once thought, " It sure would be nice for Panini to differentiate their brands and not rubber stamp them from sport to sport." Or, "Crap! What a beautiful card ruined by a sticker autograph." Or that card is just," U-G-L-Y". Or "How much is the f@#$ing product?"

Having done product reviews for Card Corner Club for over 7 years now, I know I do and can't imagine that behind closed doors you don't have similar sentiments. Like, "Oh God here comes another release of the confusing and redundant BDPP."

When you don't react the way a lot of collectors would react to a product, Beckett comes off as simply being an extension of the manufacturers public relations firm or department, thus losing all editorial integrity.

We can agree to disagree about things, sure, but that won't help collectors or your company in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the feedback, Rob. It's nice to know we all can have civil conversations about what have in the past proven to be hot-button topics.

Look, there's a difference between "dissenting opinions" and personal and professional attacks from those who clearly want nothing more than to remove Beckett and all its employees from the face of the earth in the most painful way possible. Like I said before, there is room for those folks, too -- we're just not going to promote them.

(As an aside, you might find it interesting to know that Mario and I exchange friendly emails fairly regularly. Don't tell anyone, though; it might ruin the mystique.)

There seems to be a real disconnect between your perception of what Beckett is and what it really is. Most of our reviews in print contain a "Thumbs Up" and a "Thumbs Down" element, allowing us to discuss the good and the bad. Again, Dr. Beckett founded the company 30 years ago on the basis of "positive tone," so we'll always have more positive leanings. But we have been, and will continue to be, critical. If we're not as critical or as harsh as you think we should be now, then we probably never have been.

You can say what you want to, but ripping every product that comes along will do nothing to grow the hobby. And again, if a product is an absolute bomb, the results will speak for themselves. We'll probably speak to it, too.

As for our reliance upon manufacturer print advertising, that's a popular refrain that just doesn't ring true if you've actually picked up any of our sports card magazines recently. There are fewer manufacturer ads in our magazines than ever before. Don't take my word for it -- you can see for yourself by thumbing through them. Obviously, I'd love to see more, but having tons of ads or having none doesn't change how we treat the manufacturers or their products.

Ultimately, our content -- editorial, Price Guide or otherwise -- sells (or doesn't) based on its overall worth to the audience. Our customers are the most important folks we serve. When they don't like something, they tell us. When they do like something, they tell us. Our products are a reflection of their reaction.

Thanks again, Rob, for the back and forth and to iamjoecollector.com for the venue.

-- Tracy Hackler

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

One misnomer I'd like to clarify is that myself and Card Corner Club have never "slammed" every product as your resulting point of that is obviosuly true. I believe every product has its good points and bad, some tilting more one way than another, which you know to be true. HOW that information is disseminated editorially to collectors is obviously something we will never see eye to eye on, but I too appreciate the dialogue.
I have tried to be very concious of seperating people from the organization and refrain from personal attacks. I have quite publically stated, on one more than one occasion this year, that I have no personal animosity towards yourself, Chris or other Beckett staff. If at one point in the past I failed on that level, I apologize. We may never be friends but I think we can both agree that our passion does have one singular goal, making The Hobby better and providing information to collectors. How we choose to do that is what differentiates us, that's all.

stusigpi said...

The discussion has been good but I wanted to add a few specifics and examples.

First, slamming of products. Those of us that don't get boxes from sponsors have a different perspective sometimes.

Take '52 rookies. Chances of pulling a good rookie auto...slim to none, but the purpose of the products is unknown rookie and prospect autos, so I give it a pass.

07-08 Finest Basketball on the other hand. You want to pull some decent rookie autos and redemption rookies as well. I didn't see 1 decent rookie auto pulled in all the boxes I opened and the Ripmaster rip party either. Additionally the Redemptions expire in no time, like the following summer. It was a horrible value product but not a pure money grab.

Donruss Panini products on the other hand feel like a money grab when you open them, nothing more. That's a major problem when I have just plunked down cash for a product. That's where the slamming and negative view of a product comes from. All of those negatives that you feel when you break a product provided by a sponsor are amplified by that $75 bucks you have spent.

This seamingly bitter battle between hobby insiders and us bloggers has some roots in the very core of our hobby..the products.

About a year or so ago, I was lamenting about the free agent rookie autos in Donruss products and the "depth" of the autos in 2008 heroes. 2008 Heroes has one of the best auto checklists, combined with number of hits per box and cost we have had in the last...well ever. 2008 heroes is awesome to bust.

Anyway, the discussion was how deep a company should go in the draft to include rookie autos in a product. I was told 3rd hand that I didn't know what I was talking about because I had never put a product together and basically the concept was beyond me and us.

Here's the deal. Many of the bloggers seem to be pretty intelligent people. But I'll just speak about myself. I know cards, I've been collecting for 30 years and buying and selling in the marketplace for 22. I hold a law degree (no this doesn't make me qualified to run a card company), but I also know math and finance. You see, I am a math guy. I was the math nerd that moved easily between accounting, physics and chemistry. My real strength is numbers. What I am trying to say is that concepts of finance are not beyond my comprehension even though I do not currently work in that field.

stusigpi said...

To apply that to products, I understand that the stronger the checklist (the more veteran stars and potentially HOF players), the more expensive the product is to produce. Additionally, the product is required to have a certain percentage of rookie autos and other contractual obligations.

Without knowing their audience, these hobby insiders dismiss many of our comments instead of exploring them.

To wit, I am not upset that I pulled a Marc "I wish I was Kurt Warner" Bulger/Matt Schaub dual auto from exquisite because those are 2 starting qb's albeit not the top stars at the time. Then Schaub blows up last year and maybe its a good card now. What I am upset about is things like SP Authentic, exquisite, Certified and other products where to fill out the number of hits, we get tons of free agent rookie autos, guys that have no shot being anything and guys that do have a shot of making aroster but never being worth more than $2. Yet for some reason comanies continue to include these guys and it drives the cost of the product up.

Listen...DB's, Offensive and defensive lineman from the late first round, and later have no business in every product. Especially if a box has 1 auto and that is it. No one I know likes those cards yet companies continue to include them. Give me mid range draft QB's if you must. I also understand that every auto cannot be Manning, Ryan, Flacco, etc.

Anyway, that's the basis of my usual negativity. That's why I have always thought that companies should do real focus groups and really work with those of us that do have a bit of input into the hobby.

Maybe UD could have avoided there abomination of baseball products of the last few years.

Gellman said...

I just read this discussion for the first time and I couldn't help but laugh at a lot of what Tracy was saying. The discussion tactics of taking the "I'm going to remove myself from the fray" is commonly used to make others look fanatical when they rant and rave. Even though the discussion points brought up are valid, they can't be taken as seriously because the person is yhought of as riled up compared to the calm respondee.

I'm not going to get into my anti beckett arguments because my feelings and points are well documented. What I want to say is that when tracy sits in his ivory tower and lofts those meatballs of responses, it only reflects more on the arrogance that Beckett continually displays. They don't need to respond to criticism because they do what their customers ask? Cmon. Just like mcdonalds doesn't address weight gain issues because their food isn't meant to be consumed on as regular of a basis as it is.

The basdic point I make is that Beckett preseNts such an unrealistic view of the hobby for collectors who buy their ad rag that the good they think they provide is counterpointed by the actual experience of the people who thump their mag like the Bible.

Gellman said...

Sorry for the mistakes, I typed thst on my blackberry.