I tried my best to stay far away from the biggest hobby-related scandal of 2018 (so far) but my Twitter feed is going nuts discussing the strange situation between collectors pulling unsigned Topps cards and Beckett Grading Service refusing to slab them. I have so many questions and concerns about this situation so if I call you out, do not take it personal. This is one of the most intriguing situations I’ve seen in a long time. I am not even sure who is most at fault; Topps Company or Beckett Grading Services but what is MOST important is that this is affecting collectors and this secrecy is giving this industry a black eye it most definitely does not need right now.
Before I begin, take a look at the source. First, the Blowout Cards topic where it all began. It is a very interesting read. Maybe MLBPA associates should read how some collectors feel about Topps Company and consider giving Panini America a baseball license after the 2020 deal has ended.
Second, is one of the collectors who found these unsigned cards and the man behind the drama involved with Beckett Grading Services. He has absolutely blasted BGS and Topps on Twitter, unfortunately, with just 30 followers, maybe the word isn’t getting out fast enough. I recommend you check out his Twitter account.
The Topps Company
First and foremost, why do these cards exist and why were they pulled from completely different products? We already know companies print extra cards and hold them back in case of damages. I can tell you myself companies hold back 1/1 cards because one company once sent me a “one of one” Albert Pujols to give away in a contest (it was) in 2009. My question is are there truly one of one cards in existence and if not, do these companies have the right people in place to protect collectors from these cards hitting the market? Who was responsible for these Topps cards hitting live products and what is being done to prevent this from happening again? Accidents happen but where is the accountability?
Card blogger and now Topps employee Sooz holds a very popular Twitter hashtag segment, if you will, #CardChat. Why isn’t she used by Topps to address controversies instead of just serving as Topps market research analyst that only benefits the company she works for? Seems like someone with such a huge Twitter following and respect from many collectors could help ease those upset by Topps for this incident or even the outrage, albeit somewhat exaggerated, about the loss of Topps stats on the backs of their cards. Look, free cards and weekly contests are great but what about at least one person in place with THE ONLY OFFICIAL BASEBALL CARD COMPANY who is on Twitter to TALK to collectors on Twitter about more than just the positive. There are collectors spending thousands of dollars monthly who are getting the runaround from Topps Company.
Beckett Grading Services
In case you missed it, BGS released a statement regarding these cards. Unfortunately, the statement angered the the man behind this movement even more by calling these unsigned cards “questionable”. To me, that suggests that these cards were stolen from Topps or are not authentic despite proof of them being pulled from products on video. What is really upsetting the customer in question, besides the wording of “questionable” is that Beckett is refusing to slab these cards because Topps told them not to. My question, along with pretty much every other collector’s question is WHY would BGS refuse to grade a card because an outside company told them not to? That’s like Papa John’s not putting pineapple on their pizza because Pizza Hut asked them not to.
I can imagine BGS not having any idea what these cards were and calling Topps Company to find out. They surely did nothing wrong there. OR, I can see them having previous knowledge of these cards and having that response given to them in late 2017 and just letting the customer know. David did receive a refund but his card remains unslabbed and lets face it, BGS is not only the preferred company among collectors but they also have the nicest-looking slabs. The man wanted it graded and authenticated by BGS and they turned him away.
I am more concerned with Topps’ error than I am with BGS, however, Topps does not run BGS so they should not have any say on what card is authenticated and graded, PERIOD. Collectors must be able to trust BGS with their cards and no questions of integrity should ever arise from a grading and authentication company unless this is a case of custom printed cards being sent out and obviously from the video, that is not the case here. Certainly, Topps is not BGS’ only client but I am sure more than half the items sent to them are Topps brands. Is this a case of an independent grading company being afraid to upset the only MLB-licensed baseball card company in the industry? Or did BGS attempt to shield Topps as a favor that ultimately turned ugly?
Again, my issue is with these Topps cards being out on the market. Topps is running a baseball card monopoly which I am hoping comes to an end after 2020 but it is imperative that an independently-owned and operated company like Beckett Media has our best interest because we are the ones using and supporting them and have been doing so for a very long time. Had these cards been, at the very least, slabbed and authenticated as being true Topps cards, BGS wouldn’t have anything more to worry about and again the spotlight would be on Topps. Instead, they turned away an already angry customer and then threw gasoline on the fire by calling his cards “questionable” and not having someone on Twitter or their blog put out this fire.
It is time for this industry to stop hiding behind a cloak of invisibility. Surely Topps can afford to hire a PR person to address these issues on their website or Twitter and to give out a response that will clear the air and not sound like something a robot lawyer came up with. The same goes for BGS. Why are these cards questionable, exactly? Are you saying there is a conspiracy going on and someone has created these cards to look like Topps made them? If so, let us collectors know. Don’t just pass the buck because as you can see, that doesn’t always work out.
Finally, the real “victims” are collectors who are being duped by these so-called error cards. It’s time to stop toying with customers who are shelling out thousands of dollars on brand new products. Stop with the childish gimmicks and upside down cards. You are alienating collectors who have been customers for DECADES, some of them for most of their entire lives. Do you have people in place who know and understand the hobby (besides Sooz) or are you just hiring college graduates with no interest in trading cards? If so, you would understand why collectors are upset right now about so much.
Please, don’t follow in Upper Deck’s footsteps.