The Truth Shall Set Me Free!

For over a month I have been biting my tongue. I am an extremely proud individual who has never found much success in my life until Wax Heaven. The day Upper Deck company became a sponsor I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I felt that I belonged with the “big boys”, who at the time I considered friends (Tracy Hackler and Eric Jahnke).

For months I read Gellman’s rants on their box breaks and frankly did not care. I wanted Wax Heaven to continue to prosper and knew having Beckett Media on my side would help. Hell, they even asked me to meet them during the 2009 Nationals. These were guys from a magazine that was once my Bible. How lucky was I?

During my time before being sponsored I was receiving (along with many others) Upper Deck press releases with every single new product they were releasing. Considering my job at the time involved being on the Internet, I could post the scans before anyone else 99% of the time. To me, that was just not good enough. I wanted an exclusive. I wanted to be, pardon the Donruss pun, Elite.

As you can imagine, I pestered U.D for exclusives almost daily. I had a great relationship with these guys and was proud they were working with me, even in a minimal capacity. One day Stale Gum posted product details for 2009 Upper Deck minus the scans and I tried my luck with Upper Deck. Miraculously, they sent me a Power Point with images that led to the first images of 2009 Upper Deck anywhere on the Internet (link). To me, this was Wax Heaven’s shining moment.

EMAIL #1 – Upper Deck sends the images

Here is the email with the scans of 2009 Upper Deck.

EMAIL #2 – Beckett has betrayed Wax Heaven

Within less than two hours after my 2009 Upper Deck preview is up, I get an emergency e-mail from U.D

From Upper Deck: “Beckett is not pleased” after he tells me he received two e-mails and two voice mails, not doubt bitching that some blog has taken their news item. At first I was disappointed, then came the anger, finally came the punch in the balls when I was asked to keep this private. It’s been eating at me ever since. Around this time Beckett removed my link from their blog, after a year of it being there.

EMAIL #3 – I am in complete disbelief.

Despite my anger, you can clearly see I am hoping it’s not Tracy or Eric. This was not me fishing for information, this was me upset that two friends might have betrayed me. His last words to me was “Tracy was one of them”.

As you can imagine, my relationship with U.D was never the same and front that point on those emails with new products stopped showing up in my email and Beckett has gotten the exclusive on every single U.D product, including 2009 SPx and 2009 A Piece of History.

Obviously, by exposing the truth I have put myself in a position to be blackballed from The Hobby with regards to receiving any future exclusives. If that is the case, so be it. I have thousands of worthless cards that I can write about for the rest of my life and still make interesting. My goal was to explain my side of the anti-Beckett posts and to show you why I take it so personal.

Wax Heaven is a haven for collectors, young and old. I made the mistake of getting involved in politics and it has bitten me in the ass. I want to have fun again like I did when I filmed my first ever video box break. Is there any way to return to how it used to be when I didn’t have to worry about bickering, backstabbers, and liars? Probably not.

I do have control over Wax Heaven, though and tonight I make a promise to refrain from ever mentioning Beckett Media or any other entities I am not happy with. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you decide to keep reading. I know I will keep writing for as long as possible with the hopes that 2009 brings a new page for myself and the blog.


-Mario Alejandro


49 thoughts on “The Truth Shall Set Me Free!

  1. That pretty much nails Beckett as being the cuplrit, with UD at least, if not all the companies, being afraid that if they don’t pony up and play that Beckett will trash them.

    I’m not sure how to respond at this moment.

  2. It’s going to sound cheesy but this has eaten at me ever since it happened. I have proof all over this blog about how much I loved Beckett and how proud I was that they had displayed my stories on the front of their old site.

    Turns out they are just bullies who want a monopoly on information.

  3. Well….while I do not have much time anymore to post I can say one thing, if noone reads Beckett it is only a matter of time before they fold up. it has been a long time coming ever since they started with this canceling magazine titles and box breaks and crap. I am sick of them and have canceled all of my subscriptions. They basically determine the prices of card based on who gives them more exposure in my opinion. I never had a liking for them especially since they combined all of the magazines and screwed me over on my baseball monthly.

    Ebay and card shows (if you can find one) are what determines value in my opinion. If a certain brand snubs beckett than all of a sudden their cards are crap but when one kisses their ass….as you can see…..they obtain max exposure. It was only a matter of time before this was exposed to how the industry is really run. Just like politics as Mario has stated. The big guns have all of the control while the little guys get the shaft. I say that we all stop reading the overpriced garbage they print every month and move to Mario’s blog for info.

    If UD had any balls they also would not cave for Beckett….but then again who will push their kindling that retailers like myself cannot move? I give Beckett a few more years after all of the screwups they have made the past two years…(canceling…combining….non glossy pages etc.) yeah I am the #1 Beckett Hater and proud to say it.

    Sorry for the rant…


  4. Hey Mario,

    Sucks about what’s happening, but if you are blackballed (highly doubt it), look at what you still have here. The best sports card website (not blog) on the internet, tons of readers, and a great skill of writing about what you love.

    You are doing the right thing in washing your hands of this mess. I’m neither for or against Beckett, so I don’t take sides.

    If you still do plan on going to the 09 Nationals, I’d like to meet you there and hook you up with plenty of Fish gear.

    Keep up the good blogging, regardless of who messes with you.

  5. I think the first misstep was considering those guys “friends.” Business acquaintances? Maybe. But nothing more, especially since you apparently never met them in person.

    Honestly, I can see why Beckett would be pissed about a blog “scooping” them. For two decades Beckett has been the main publication, the hobby’s primary source of information, and then seemingly out of nowhere they are blindsided by a blogger who breaks the news on 2009 Upper Deck. It’s bad for their business and having to “share” the news flow with bloggers hurts their cause. That is why they apparently asked UD to stop giving you info. It makes sense from a business standpoint.

    Did Beckett ask UD to stop sharing information with other bloggers? If it was only you (and there is proof of this) then I might change my opinion. But even if it was just you, it might simply be because their business is threatened by your presence and the demand for your Web site.

    I can see how you, someone who believed he had a good relationship with these people, would be hurt. But what I have not seen in these e-mails you provided is a personal attack on Mario Alejandro by anyone at Beckett. Hell, I don’t even see anything form Beckett, just words relayed along by some Upper Deck employee. (Again, this opinion can be changed if it there is evidence of that.) What I see is the ugly side of business.

    From a personal standpoint, I have been in a position such as Beckett’s in the underlying situation. As some of you know, I am a newspaper reporter (totally unrelated to my blog) and when I get scooped by an out-of-town newspaper on a story in “my backyard,” I get pissed and start asking my source how in the hell that other person got the story first. How does this relate? Well, when a publication is scooped on news it feels it should have had first, that publication will do everything in its power to make sure it does not happen again. It’s strictly business.

    In the end you have to realize that this is a business for Beckett and Upper Deck, and a hobby for you. (Note: Blogging is a hobby for me, too.) This is not to marginalize what you’ve done here, Mario. It is simply the truth of the matter. And what difference does this make? All the difference.

    Both Beckett and Upper Deck have lots to offer each other, and I’m not talking about alleged loaded boxes and under-the-table jerk sessions. I’m talking about legitimate business opportunities. Beckett can chose to highlight lots of Upper Deck products in its magazine and use UD cards on the cover while showcasing players. Meanwhile, Upper Deck can chose to buy several full-page ads, possibly even a double truck (two pages next to each other) in the magazine. It’s all about money.

    Mario also has stuff to offer UD, primarily a huge readership anxious to buy and critic new products. But it’s not the same, and ultimately the almighty dollar rules.

    In many ways, business is politics. Everything is. If I were to come here and make some ridiculous assertion about Mario, I myself might even be blackballed. The end result: My removal from the Heavenly 7 and ultimately a decline in readership.

    Blogs have become a VERY important part of the hobby, and what you’ve done in a little more than a year is incredible. I can’t even fathom half a million page views. I’m still giddy about breaking 10,000 this weekend.

    That being said, blogs in general (even in other aspects of life) are in their infancy. They have not become a proven means of legitimately sharing information. Shuttling info along with a little opinion mixed in? Yes. But proven to spread the word like traditional types of media (newspapers, magazine, etc), not yet. That is not to say that will never happen, but the time has not arrived yet.

  6. I don’t know newspaperman, I think that this is a bit different than a news story, this is advertising. It seems in your business, getting the information first is your lifeblood. Advertising dollars are advertising dollars, doesn’t matter how you get them as long as you do.

    It is childish for Beckett to do and in a lot of ways worse for Upper Deck to bow to their pressure. I doubt Beckett would ever turn down Upper Deck advertising dollars.

    Look at what Beckett is doing for Razor. Frankly Razor has a crap product line. Its liquid poop from top to bottom, yet Beckett is eating up those advertising dollars because money talks. If Razor came to Mario first and sponsored him, Beckett would still take Razor’s money and free product and do the same thing they are doing now.

    This is nothing more than Beckett wanting to be top dog. Keep their pride intact and keep feeling like they are Number 1. Nothing more nothing less. It appears to be their desperate attempt to keep their business from slipping away. People do irrational and petty things for no other reason than pride. That’s why pride is one of the deadly sins. I am not a religious guy, but there is something to that.

    How did it really hurt Beckett for Mario to get the info just before or at the same time? It didn’t, just silly pride.

  7. Newspaperman, I think if you were on the other side you’d have a different opinion. To me it’s plain and simple.

    Mario got an exclusive
    Beckett complains about an exclusive
    Mario never gets an exclusive again

    Do you think all Beckett did was ask politely not to give me information? Four messages in two hours suggests they were mighty ticked.

  8. Keep on doing good work and collectors will continue to read your excellent blog and supporting you. I’m sorry to hear about the dirty side of this business that you got caught up in.

  9. Don’t worry Mario – You keep writing and we’ll keep reading, no matter what the subject.

  10. Mario my friend just keep up the excellent work! Never worry about anything when reporting the truth! Someone people can’t handle the truth!
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Years!

  11. Mario,

    Why should we have to wait up to two months, to get the kind of info you can put up overnight. Is Beckett so self deprecating that they really think magazine sales will go down if they don’t break the info? The truth is I could care less about anything they write in their silly magazine,I just want to laugh about what they think cards are worth.

    Happy Holidays,

  12. Mario

    I have been a fan of your blog for a long time now. I much rather get my collecting news from you then Beckett any day. Plus Becketts site is so bad even if they have exclusive by the time someone can even find it Wax Heaven would already have an honest opinion about the product.

  13. I was a subscriber since ’89. My subscription has been trashed since the combo magazine and no more baseball monthly. Not missed at all.

    Keep up the good work Mario.

  14. I wouldn’t sweat it as distributors of cards seem to have info before Beckett does in many cases and Beckett has gone downhill. I used to not subscribe to Beckett just so I could get a nice newstand copy, read it, and then try to get it autographed. Now that Beckett is $10 a pop with little substance, there’s no point. I did subscribe eventually but the emphasis on the price guide that wasn’t relative to the real world made it an easy call. The message boards over there are really quiet too due to a recent change and I bet many people are never going back on there.

  15. Thanks for sharing this, Mario. This isn’t surprising, and it’s just another sad example of how Beckett operates. I really think they picked the wrong person to screw over. You have a HUGE following on the web, and I think it’s safe to say that almost anyone who has read your blog would prefer to get their news from you than from Beckett. What they don’t realize is that by screwing you over, they also screwed over all of your readers. And it’s clear from reading most of the comments that they pissed a lot of people off. There’s a limited number of collectors left in the hobby in this day and age. Alienating so many of them can’t possible be good for Beckett’s business. The more that I learn about how that company is run, the more I would be surprised if they are still in business one year from now.

    The only thing about your post that I disagree with is when you say that you’ll refrain from mentioning Beckett Media from now on. I think that you have a lot of power to show collectors how Beckett really operates, and I’d love to see you continue to do that. If anyone doesn’t want to read your posts about Beckett, they can just skip over them. You write a ton of posts every day; there’s always something for anyone to enjoy. It’s like when you write about boxing. I don’t like boxing, so I skip over those posts. But I’m not going to complain that you have posts about boxing. And so it should be with the people who’ve asked you not to write about Beckett…

  16. Hahahahaha, this is awesome.

    Beckett just doesnt get that they need to be more acknowleging of the online crowd. This just screwed the pooch. Amazing.

  17. I can certainly see the reason for the anger. But if you had of maintained a poker face through this, would your site be in a better position today than it was yesterday?

  18. I think you could potentially turn this negative into a positive: what if somebody at Topps would read about this? Upper Deck has caved to the demands of an industry publication, but Topps is the hobby’s mainstay. Who knows? Maybe they’ll start sending you product to break, showing the collectors that they won’t be strong-armed by Beckett Publications. I know, it’s a stretch, but one can never tell.

    Regardless of if you ever receive more products to break, or you don’t get the very first images of 2009 product, people are still going to come here to hear about it, and discuss it freely. Beckett fancies themselves an industry powerhouse, yet for as big as they are, and for as small as they perceive you to be, the reader participation is more active here.

    It sucks that your sponsorship with UD had to end, but, that aside, you can take pride in knowing that the articles you write are far and away more interesting than any puff piece they put out. Sooner or later, they’ll fall into irrelevance and blogs like this will become the industry standard, if they already haven’t. Take pride in knowing that yours is the flagship.

  19. Mario, it’s messed up what Beckett did, and the fact that UD caved to them, but you were the #1 Card blog before the exclusives. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I remember as a kid loving Beckett. The glossy front and back cover, the drawings on the insides of the covers, the hot/cold lists, and pricing that was similar to what you’d actually pay. I loved it all! Now, if I was stranded on a desert island with just a current Beckett, I would use leaves instead of its pages to wipe my ass. My ass deserves better than that rag!

  20. I agreed with Dave. If you remain silent it’s almost like they win. This isn’t a case of “even bad publicity is good publicity” for them. The more the TRUTH is spoken the more minds we will change.

    They are living on the premise that if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough it becomes the truth.

    We can’t let that continue to happen.

    Please don’t give up the fight.

  21. This is and isn’t about advertising. Beckett was pissed because they didn’t have it FIRST. This is about being first. All news is about being first (and accuracy). The fact that Mario got it first makes Beckett seem inferior in the hobby and ultimately hurts its business. If Beckett “reported” on its Web site about 2009 UD 45 minutes before Mario, I do not think we have this situation. Mario and others likely would have seen the info on Beckett’s site, re-reported the info (or linked to it) and everything in the world is fine. Hell, Mario may have ended up as a Beckett employee for all we know since he caught the attention of some higher ups in Texas

    Beckett may be a trade magazine, but one of its primary functions (especially since many feel the price guide has become obsolete) is to offer information, this including product previews. Beckett may also be pissed because they see a relative outsider (Mario, who in a sense is like an average collector) receive the same info they did. Is that chicken shit? Absolutely. But complaining to UD is what they had to do to help their business purpose … AND IT HELPED THEM.

    I understand the uproar. The Internet is the future, and in a sense Beckett has failed to embrace the Online community as a whole. I get that, from a collector’s standpoint. But for Bekett to do so wholly also would hurt business because there is little to no money in hosting a free trading site, free message boards, etc.

    This is EXACTLY the same situation as the print media (particularly newspapers.) The Internet has attacked the base revenue for all of print media. It has sucked the life line out of the business. And as a result newspapers are changing across the country.

    As it pertains to Beckett, some of the main reasons why the magazine side of the business remains in operation is because of the product previews and price guide. If lots of people believe the price guide is crap, believe the reviews are slanted due to “loaded” boxes and are getting second-rate news, then what is left?

    The magazine’s news offering may be old once it hits news stands or your doorstep, but fact is it is still a product that some feel is important. Not everyone sits at their computers every day waiting for Beckett, Wax Heaven, Sports Cards Uncensored, Stale Gum or whatever to update its site with previews a product. If people REALLY wanted the info, all they’d have to do is go to the manufacturer’s Web site to get the info.

    But some collectors are casual collectors and like their information printed in a magazine, one they can read while using the restroom, while on a train or visiting the in-laws.

    Back to the advertising: I say this is about advertising because if Beckett reports the news first, collectors and bloggers flock to its site in droves to see the images. Ultimately the hit count goes up and with is comes the prospect of picking up advertising from businesses looking to hit a target market.

    And finally, to address Mario’s response to my initial comment: If I were in your shoes, I’d be pissed too because this is an example of the big boys flexing their muscle to hold you down. But what I would do is keep plugging away and continue to put the bug in the ear (i.e. continue contacting manufacturers, even UD). Things don’t change overnight. If you can prove to manufacturers that you provide them with a worthy service (drumming up interest in their product) you’ll become their best friend, too. Hell, I’d shoot an e-mail back to Upper Deck and tell them about how you’re offering them free advertising with no strings attached.

  22. How do you get “black balled” from the Hobby? I mean no one can stop you from buying cards or giving your commentary on cards that have come out.

    I find it a bit ironic that Beckett, which supposedly is no longer relevant in the hobby, is pretty much the topic of choice for so many sites (many of which consider themselves anti-Beckett).

  23. Mario,

    Blogs will soon put Beckett out of business. It only takes time. Hell, I had images of the new UD Iconic Cuts up on Sports Card Info before Beckett did. Before I started Sports Card Info, I had been published a few times in their magazine. They have really lost their way in the last few years. The other week they sent me 3 free packs of cards for just using their website correctly. I think its pretty bad when they need to send free stuff to people to use their site. I’ll admit, I’ve tried sending them stuff trying to slip Sports Card Info’s name into their magazine but it hasn’t worked. I would much rather have a guest blog spot on your site than Beckett’s. Perhaps someday when Beckett is out of the picture Wax Heaven and other blogs will have stands at the National.

  24. “But some collectors are casual collectors and like their information printed in a magazine, one they can read while using the restroom, while on a train or visiting the in-laws.”


  25. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and it’s great, and I’d say I’d probably be nearer to your side’s than Beckett’s on this issue, undoubtedly. But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stay true to this promise:

    “I do have control over Wax Heaven, though and tonight I make a promise to refrain from ever mentioning Beckett Media or any other entities I am not happy with.”

    Just end this whole thing already, damn. Someone needs to do it.

  26. I didn’t read this before my email. There is the truth. Nothing surprises me with those guys. They continue to make problems with collectors. Without grading, I don’t think these guys would be in business.

  27. You know over the past 2 weeks this is all I have been reading about Beckett, scams, opinions on good vs evil. My conclusion to all this is MY GOD. I have a book I want each of you to read, Controversy creates cash, it is writen by Eric Bishoff.

  28. Mario – Keep doing your thing. I wouldn’t be so concerned about being first, but be best. It’s hard to compete with a big entity on being first, but you can make your content, your opinions, and your stories better.

    Newspaperman – Blogs are the future?? Come on, blogs are the now! You mentioned the readership levels of print publications yourself.

    Six months ago I called on Beckett and SCD to create a community and treat their blog as a blog, not a web site. To their credit, Beckett started to do that. They had guest columnist, guest blog entries, and stories for the web, but that seemed to end in the fall. I wish they’d bring that approach back to their blog.

  29. “You know over the past 2 weeks this is all I have been reading about Beckett, scams, opinions on good vs evil. My conclusion to all this is MY GOD. I have a book I want each of you to read, Controversy creates cash, it is writen by Eric Bishoff.”

    Bischoff has a book? This I have to read.

  30. haha, I read the Bischoff book over the summer during work, it’s awful. A fun read but truly an awful book. It is however, very apropos to this situation. Grown people bitching, fake and blown-out-of-proportion controversy gaining people’s interest and the thus generating cash flow, idiotic back and forth, It’s this same situation except in wrestling

  31. The truth is, I hate most wrestling books. I read a sentence, a paragraph, sometimes a page, then quit. They don’t take a serious look at the enterprise. Most are bitter, self-serving revisionist history at best — and monuments to bullshit at their worst. A lot of the guys who write them seem desperate to have the last word on everything. Rather than telling people what we’re really all about, they refight old battles that everyone but them has forgotten. They come off like whiners, complaining about everything.

    Just replace wresling book with blogs.

  32. I read this blog for information on sports card collecting and other fun stuff. In the immortal words of Papa Joe, “Beckett…you can BITE ME!”.
    Keep up the good work Mario. Merry Christmas to you and the infamous one.

  33. Keep up the good work here on Wax Haven and reach out to UD again. You never know until you ask, and ask again. When business gets emotional = poor decisions. In the end, we must cultivate our own gardens.
    Happy Holidays everyone!

  34. beckett is and has been irrelevant for many years now. Ebay is the new price guide…blogs are the new articles section. beckett is nothing more than a tool for the ignorant.

  35. It’s amazing how many times in the last year I have felt like I was back in grade school. All the nonsense back when Mario was first sponsored with UD and now the nonsense coming from Beckett. What do those guys truly have to fear that they felt it was necessary to shut down Mario’s connection with UD? I mean, seriously, Beckett has been around since the 80’s. It has since survived the massive take over of the internet. Are you really telling me that those “big boys” are afraid of a little competition from Wax Heaven? It’s pretty pathetic if you ask me.
    I enjoyed getting sample boxes from UD, because sadly I find myself in a predicament which does not allow me to buy these expensive products so my husband can do what he loves. Receiving these products allowed Wax Heaven to reach out to it’s readers, and despite my husband being unemployed he was still able to scrounge up some money to mail out packages with the cards he pulled from these sample boxes. Now it has ended because the dim wits at Beckett have their tail between their legs.
    I have known for awhile now that something was going on with Beckett. I knew the economy was in a rut, but it just didn’t feel right when I caught wind that Brandon Cacek was let go… and his wife was only a few weeks shy of giving birth. Now my suspicions have been confirmed through this whole ordeal. I never really read Beckett. I bought a couple of issues for Mario back in the day, but now, Beckett magazine wouldn’t even be good enough to wipe my ass with.

  36. Mario,

    I agree with newspaper man that this is business… but it is also PR. Beckett and UD played this one by the old rules… the ones that likely ruled the relationship between Beckett and Tuff Stuff. I’ll bet those two mags were at each others throats for info, but they would never acknowledge each other’s existence at the end of the day. They had too much vested in their operations.

    As you’ve stated, you’re not as vested and went public with what happened. Beckett got egg on their face, and UD too. They were hoping you’d play by the old rules… and maybe it would be been to your long-term benefit to do so. That, however, is past. They aren’t going to be happy for awhile, but I’d encourage you to not take it too personal. The fundamentals for your relationship with UD still exist. UD benefits from exposure in your blog and UD knows that Beckett Media is going the way of all print publications these days.

    If it were me, I’d apologize to UD for airing their dirty laundry, then look to gradually rebuild the relationship. Even if you do nothing, don’t be surprised if UD comes knocking on your door in the next year.


  37. I remember this post well. This was probably the biggest piece of the puzzle for me realizing just how shady Beckett really is. Everything since then has just solidified this point in my mind.

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