My War Against Unnecessary Cut Autographs

Every singe day on Twitter I read collectors’ messages ranting about Panini America redemptions, complaining about Topps’ lack of quality control, or simply bitching about overpriced boxes that yield cards worth less than 10% of the investment. Still, no one seems to do anything about it. In 2007, I bought at least one Hobby box of every single Topps Company baseball release that year. It was an expensive experiment and also the last time I spent money on unopened product. Upon my return to collecting in 2018, I was hit by temptation frequently but ultimately only bought singles on the secondary market exclusively. I chose to stop spending my hard-earned money on “wax” but day in and day out, year after year, I see the same people complaining and ultimately, settling for less in order to scratch their collecting itch.

Most recently, collectors went GAGA over 2019 Topps WWE Transcendent, a $13,000 product that came with some of the hobby’s most embarrassing cut autographs in the history of collecting. You can read my scathing coverage here. The problem is that high-end breakers were heavily invested in this product therefor not a single negative word  was uttered by breakers like LaytonSportsCards, HoudiniCollector, SteelCityBreakRoom, and others who were making money off the product. We are now in a new era of collecting where the actual card shop owners are the ones being honest with collectors, while high-end breakers do their absolute best to pull the wool over our eyes in order to keep their products moving day after day, all at your expense.

Here’s an idea. Instead of paying $3,000 for a Randy Savage card that looks like it was designed by a pre-school child making a collage, buy an actual, on-card Topps Macho Man signature. This card was licensed and produced by a much more respected version of Topps Company in 1998. Recently, a version Randy signed on both sides by mistake sold for just $650 dollars. That’s TWO Macho Man signatures on a well-designed card for much less than the awful cuts produced by Topps Company. What’s great about this hobby is that during the days of free competition, all card manufacturers were working on creating the best products around to compete for your business so there is so much from 20-25 years ago that is relevant even today in 2019.

In 1990, Upper Deck introduced the pack-inserted certified autograph with a ‘Baseball Heroes’ Reggie Jackson card that forever changed the game. BUT DID YOU KNOW … that in 1991, the company that would soon be known as Pinnacle Brands crushed Upper Deck’s innovation with on-card autographs of one of the greatest players of all-time, Mickey Mantle? Lazy card companies have been advertising awful Mantle cut signatures for more than a decade, which always sell for more than they are worth but these ’91 Score cards continue to fly under the radar and are way more “traditional” (full photo, MLB license, on-card auto) that modern cuts. Why anyone would want a cut autograph, usually plain in design and featuring cut-off signatures is beyond my understanding.

To me, Mickey Mantle had one of the most beautiful signatures known to man. I collect one player exclusively, but if I didn’t, I’d want to own a Mantle autograph. If I were in the market, I would choose a ’91 Score over ANY cut signature 10 out of 10 times. I am a baseball card collector first, not a cut signature collector. If my baseball card comes with a certified, on-card autograph or a non-intrusive sticker, I am all for it. Selling me the equivalent of a tossed out document with a scribble autograph and a fancy frame with a Topps logo is not something I will ever pursue. If that is something that is up your alley, more power to you. We can’t all collect the same. Collect what you love and how you love.

My advice to collectors, from a guy who has been doing it since 1990 is, DO NOT SETTLE. Do your research, buy vintage autographs and always remember, you get what you pay for. A 1997 Donruss Signature Tony Gwynn is one million times more appealing than the embarrassing 2018 Heroes of the Game tickets from Leaf Trading Cards. Google them if you must. I refuse to post there here again. It comes down to what type of collector you are so do as you please. To me, nothing beats the magic of 1997 Donruss Signature, which by the way was produced by Donruss’ new owners, Pinnacle Brands. In nearly 30 years of collecting, all I know is that you can never go wrong with Pinnacle Brands.

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Don’t Dead Open Inside

I started out the 2019 year HOT, with over 100 new Jose Canseco cards added to my collection. However, as the year slowly progressed, I began to lose a little steam. By March, I was at a complete standstill. Maybe it had to do with the return of “Tanman”, back so soon from his religious sabbatical, which brings a lot more unwanted attention to the Canseco secondary market. Or just maybe it has something to do with Jose not appearing in any 2019 products (as of March 9th), including Panini’s awful version of Donruss, which actually looks promising. Whatever the reason, I found myself looking at eBay less and less in February and only picked up a small handful of cards for the month.

That being said, one particular card grabbed all of my attention last week. It is an eerie throwback to the beloved ’90 Fleer set, which was basically my introduction to baseball cards as a child and features “Zombie”-style artwork of Mr. Canseco. There was very little information about the card in question but thanks to obsessive research I was able to discover that the card was a promotional item gifted to buyers of the rare ‘Anonymous x Unheardof x Nike SB Dunk Collection’ shoes released around Christmas of 2015. I even found there was a second card produced, a ’90 Topps “Zombie” Eric Davis. After talking with an “insider”, I was told there are between 200-400 of each card.

 

These Nike shoes weren’t exactly expensive ($190 for the pair) but only those purchasing the limited edition version with the baseball wax box-style packaging got the cards. The shoes were also released with traditional Nike shoe boxes but those did not come with the two Zombie baseball cards. Unfortunately, these shoes were only sold in one store in the entire United States, in Cincinnati, of all places. That makes these unlicensed, Broder-style cards officially a regional baseball card release and one that will only get more hard to come by as time rolls on. Shoe collectors tend to be young and “hip”, while baseball collectors tend to be older and nostalgia-driven these days.

As you might expect, there are no current eBay auctions of either card and only one pair of the shoes for sale, which is a size 8 and doesn’t specify is the card/s are included. Insanely enough, there is no available data for these cards being sold separately on eBay going back to late-2015. It is very likely that sneaker heads who bought these cards eventually discarded the promotional items, much like what happens with most “freebies”. I received a limited edition Venom comic book when I went to see the 2018 Sony ‘Venom’ movie and that thing never even made it home. It sat in my back seat for a few weeks before being tossed out while cleaning out my car. I expect these two cards to continue flying well under the hobby radar.

If you live in the Cincinnati area and come across either of these two cards at a card shop, card show, or flea market, please contact me immediately. I always have my PayPal fully stocked and your generosity will put you in the “Friends and Family” category till the end of time. I would gladly take either card off your hands and trust me when I say that it will go into the home of a true fan and Jose Canseco baseball card collector of 29 years. The quickest way to track me down is on Twitter, as I am most active on there but if you’re old-fashioned, you can also email me at WaxMorgue@gmail.com. Hell, I may even buy your Nike pair if it’s a size 11 1/2 but only the Bash Brothers version.

Table Cloth-GATE

I’m not a huge fan of Topps Now. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my favorite player, Jose Canseco, last played in the Majors almost two decades ago. It’s just not a concept for me because I am a one-trick pony, an exclusive player collector who won’t dare touch any other players or sports. I call it being loyal. Still, I can see how some collectors enjoy receiving Topps cards featuring the biggest moments of the baseball season a little early. Neat idea, especially if your favorite ball player is a fan favorite.

Below is a Topps Now card of Manny Machado, Miguel Cabrera’s uglier and less talented brother from another mother. From the notes on the card (I don’t keep up with baseball), it says he recently signed the biggest free-agent contract in American sports history. If you want to add one of these cards to your collection, you have 17 hours, 21 minutes, and 15 seconds to order (as of writing this) for the insane and absolutely ridiculous amount of $9.99. Don’t worry, folks … Topps generously discounts your price if you order in bulk. For example, if you decide to order 20 of them, you will only be charged $70 dollars. LIFEHACK!

Had Topps left things alone with this ugly base card, all would be forgotten in a couple of days. Unfortunately, that’s not something Topps Company is capable of. The folks in New York decided to double dip on Manny’s fans and produce a version featuring a piece of memorabilia. They could have gone with his hat, maybe even that over sized jersey he’s sporting in the picture. Again, this is Topps, so not happening. The “official” baseball card manufacturer for Major League Baseball decided to produce a Topps Now card featuring a piece of the mother-fucking table-cloth that was on the table during the press conference. I know this sounds like a bad joke but I am sadly, dead serious. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to.

Below is the “base” version of the Topps Now Manny Machado “Event-Used Table Cloth” card #’d to 99, which by the way is going for an outrageous $39.99. As of writing this, you have exactly 17 hours, 11 minutes, and 50 seconds left to purchase one. Unlike the base card, Topps offers you no discount this time around. It should be noted that you can find certified autographs of Manny for much less than the price of this “Event-Used Table Cloth”. God, I really hate typing that out.

Unfortunately, it does not end there. No, not even close. Topps Company has produced several tiers of parallels for their groundbreaking, table-cloth card. This beautiful card you see below is #’d to 50 copies and is available for just $69.99 for the next 17 hours, 3 minutes, and 42 seconds. As you can see, it’s a whole different color. Clearly, Topps’ design team is creating masterpieces on Photoshop because this card is truly special when compared to the boring and dull version above. WHAT WILL THEY COME UP WITH NEXT?!!!! I myself cannot wait to see what the geniuses at Topps have up their sleeves.

Well, what do you know? Topps made yet another version of the table-cloth card, this time it is ultra-rare and numbered to just 25 copies. Oh, I almost forgot to mention … it too has a different colored background. But wait, this baby is gonna set you back $99.99, at least for the next 16 hours, 58 minutes, and 14 seconds, anyway. Again, you can buy multiple, low-end autographs of Machado or several, high-end parallels for that price but seriously, why would you even collect baseball cards of such a mediocre player to begin with? Don’t you have standards, asked the man who collects Jose Canseco.

If you think this debacle ends here, well sir, you don’t know Topps Company. The truth is, for Topps to make any sort of profit with their exclusive MLB monopoly they have to literally stay printing cards non-stop. We are now stuck in a flooded market the likes of which we haven’t seen or experienced since the days of the “Junk Wax” era. Of course, Hobby apologists who earn a small living promoting trading cards will never admit this. WHO CARES?!! You have just 16 hours, 44 minutes, and 57 seconds to drop $149.99 on the card below, which by the way is serial numbered to 10.

Oh no folks, don’t “X” out of your browser just yet because Topps Company has something really special for you, at least for the next 16 hours, 40 minutes, and 49 seconds. The stunning card you see below is serial numbered to just 5 copies (!!!) and can be had for the low, low price of just $249.99! Now, I have to say this because it is important. Please don’t be offended. IF YOU PAY $250 FOR AN EVENT-USED TABLE CLOTH, YOU’RE A GOD DAMNED MORON. But anyway, in the words of Ryan Cracknell, “Collect What You Love”. Be my fucking guest, you damn fool.

Well, here it is. The “White Whale” of this historic “Event-Used Table Cloth” baseball card. This is the “One of One”, which can be yours for the very reasonable price of $799.99. Hurry, supplies are limited and time is running out (16H, 35M, 08S). Let me just make this clear … if anyone buys this, they will officially be the biggest suckers in the history of baseball cards. A fool and his money are soon parted, but my friend and future owner of this “1 of 1”, think long and hard before you give your money to Topps because they will only continue to manufacture garbage like this if you keep buying it.

Let’s say you’re the biggest idiot or a die-hard Manny Machado fan. Let’s also say you are wealthy enough to want one of each of these cards, including the one of a kind version. To pick them all up, plus the base card would set you back $1,419.93. If you think you this hobby is now at the point where pieces of a table-cloth should demand that kind of money, by all means continue buying up Topps’ warez. Just don’t come crying when they continue this trend or worse, somehow find something even more ridiculous than a table cloth to insert into their overproduced cards.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED …

UPDATE: As of 12:06 AM, the red “Event-Used Table Cloth” cards of Machado #’d to 5 have sold out. That’s right, in the 30+ minutes I began writing this piece, collectors purchased all five versions for a total $1,249.95, not including tax.

UPDATE 2: Crackin’ Wax has created “Event-Used Table Cloth” t-shirts with a very limited run. You can find them HERE. These shirts will sell-out. Get them while they are still available.