The Death of the Base Card

The Baseball Gods have heard your Boomer rants and have watched your Boomer tears roll down your face and into your grey beard and they did not care. Juan Soto, with all his confident swag and obnoxious butt shaking at the plate, is a once in a lifetime baseball talent. It cannot be denied or ignored any longer. If he bulks up and adds some muscle to his young frame, he could wind up being the single greatest player to ever step foot on a diamond. As you can imagine, the baseball card market has reacted with extreme greed as you’d expect from this bunch.

According to PSA, there are over 25,000, graded 2018 Topps Update Juan Soto rookie cards. Folks, that is just ONE grading company and one single card. That doesn’t even include the several parallels of the same card or any of the other endless companies that graded that specific card. Oh, and out of those 25,000+ graded cards, almost 19,000 of them received a Gem Mint grade. To put that into perspective, there are 10,000, 1991 Donruss Elite Jose Canseco cards total, making a junk wax insert more rare than a card released just a few years ago. That’s astonishing.

In essence, what that means is that in order for you to own a truly valuable and sought-after Juan Soto rookie card you have no real choice but to disregard the base card and pursue a much more valuable parallel. Thankfully, Topps has been prepping for decades for this very moment and has released 9 different versions of the Soto card, not including the printing plate and platinum, which are both 1/1s and well beyond most collector’s price range. Then of course you have the Topps Chrome Update versions, which is almost identical to the Update Base, except for the “chrome”.

Now, if you’re one of the 10,000+ collectors to have sent the 2018 Topps Chrome Update Juan Soto base card to PSA, congratulations. You and 10K others own one of Soto’s premier rookie cards. Well, that is unless you want the autographed version, which has also done impressive numbers for PSA but to a lesser extent. That version, as you can already imagine, also has several different parallels, a total of 10 to be exact. I guess my point is that if the Update and Update Chrome have dozens of versions and all three have the exact same photo and design, why even bother with a lowly base card?

Now add in all the other products Topps churned out in 2018 and you may begin see where I’m going. The base card is dead and Topps really can’t be to blame for this one. Sure, it’s clear that they have upped production on all their brands and have added more products to their release schedule than anything we could have ever imagined a decade ago but if the demand is there, why in the world would Topps or ANY other card company leave that kind of money on the table? As long as collectors buy every single box that Topps throws out there, it’s reasonable to expect them to increase the quantity.

Juan Soto’s 27,000+ PSA 2018 Update is only the beginning. By now, Topps has likely doubled the production of their big sellers for the next big thing to come out of the Dominican Republic (or elsewhere but more than likely D.R.). I would not be surprised to see a PSA registry of 50,000 or more of a rookie before Topps completely loses their baseball license. At that point, this current baseball card bubble we are in may finally explode but by then it will be Fanatics’ problem to deal with. What do they care? CUE SARCASM. They have Garbage Pail Kids to fall back on.

And Yes, Topps now produces Chrome versions of Garbage Pail Kids cards and this year’s release/s included 21 different parallels, including printing plates and the once rare Superfractor. If you’re pushing 40, this is the equivalent of Michael Bay directing a Ninja Turtles movie but turning the loveable characters from the early-90s into grotesque aliens. Wait, that actually happened? You know what? Maybe Topps Company is to blame for the good and the absolutely awful this once great hobby has slowly morphed into. Oh, and yes, collectors are sending in Garbage Pail Kids in to PSA like there’s no tomorrow.

I wasn’t kidding when I said your childhood is dead.

4 thoughts on “The Death of the Base Card

  1. Wow. Not sure what’s more surprising…

    A. 25k Soto rookies have been sent in to PSA to be graded.
    or
    B. 19k of those Sotos received PSA 10 grades.

    I guess it makes sense. Lots of hype around graded cards (and Soto)… and these days it seems like at least a percentage of collectors are extremely careful when they open up packs… using gloves and stuff.

  2. There are a bunch of collectors who aren’t even in the same hobby as me. Sure we’re both accumulating cards but that’s the only thing in common. They don’t want to do what I do and I definitely don’t want to do what they do.

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