Taking Issue With Beckett Media

Author: Mario Alejandro

No, it’s not what you think. I am not back to blogging full-time, nor is this another jab at Beckett Baseball’s editor, Chris Olds. Actually, since my departure from the blogosphere, Beckett’s blog has become a daily visit for me, believe it or not. While my days of collecting are behind me, I still have an interest in The Hobby, which is why I have become an avid reader of that site.

I no longer have time to keep up with the “inside” info great forums like Freedom Card Board provide, or from reading the hundreds of collector blogs so Beckett provides just the right amount of information for someone like me who wants just the facts sprinkled with the images and details. That way I can kinda sorta pretend like I know what I’m talking about on the rare occasion I log into my Wax Heaven Twitter account.

That being said, something Chris Olds said in a recent blog really irked me. Forget about the fact that I wrote about a very similar story well over a year ago. What really gets me is his assumption that many collectors “cringe” when reminded of Fleer’s Metal Universe line from the late-90’s. Yes, the cards were not as valuable as other releases from that year but are they any worse than today’s sets because it lacked relics and autographs and were a little, well, over the top? Absolutely not.

I challenge any collector to purchase a box of Metal Universe from the few years it was in production (I believe ’96-’98) and tell me what they think. First off, notice how much more enjoyable (and valuable) parallels are when they are actual tough pulls and not 10-12 per box. Second, look at the base cards and tell me when was the last time a card company put that much time and effort into their cards.

Just go out and bust a box of the uberhot 2010 Bowman and tell me how much fun you have if you don’t pull a Stephen Strasburg base or parallel. Yes, the cards are well produced, feature above average photography (most of the time) and the Refractor parallels are beautiful but how much time did you spend looking through your duds AKA commons?

With every card in Metal Universe, you had something great to look at and it didn’t matter if you just pulled a Ken Griffey Jr. or a Billy Ripken. In a day and age in collecting when parallels consist of an extra border or reflective film on a card, Metal Universe was a step in the right direction by a company that was clearly on its last legs.

No, I’m not calling for The Hobby to go back to the “good ole days” when base was everything, relics didn’t exist and autographs in packs were only done by Upper Deck; I’m just saying that a forgotten brand like Metal Universe deserves a little respect by Beckett Media since it is clear that collectors on eBay, browsing forums, and writing blogs already have plenty of respect for this unique brand from yesteryear.

For more coverage on Metal Universe, click HERE.


The FTC Goes After Bloggers

There was once a time when you could find my articles on the front of Beckett.com and even on their blog. Of course, that was when Eric Jahnke was running the blog and doing a mighty fine job of it.

Today, out of the blue I received an e-mail from Eric with a link to a very interesting story. As it turns out, the Federal Trade Commission is now going to go directly after advertisers who cross the line with free gifts & money for bloggers who write reviews.

For the record, I have not received one penny for my work with Wax Heaven. Both Upper Deck & Topps have been very respectful and have never asked for anything more than a fair, honest review which is what they have gotten in return. The same goes for Tristar and most recently, Panini America.

On the site we have reviewed over 100 different products. Mr. Scott of The Wax Report and Shane of the ‘Man on the Street’ have purchased all their boxes, while I have purchased about 40% of the products reviewed. My goal is to give my opinion, while opening the forum to anyone who wants to add their two cents.

While Beckett’s Tracy Hackler has been having a blast taking shots at me though Twitter, I have not changed my review style one bit. In fact, in 23 months of writing reviews, I’ve only given out one “D” grade and usually set my focus on the good of every product rather than bashing away at everything I do not like.

If anyone ever has any questions regarding the sponsors, box breaks, or anything else, feel free to contact me 24/7 through e-mail at Waxheaven@gmail.com. Furthermore, I am giving away everything I receive on the Wax Heaven Social Network. Make sure to join!

Wax Heaven & Beckett Media?

The #1 Authority on Collectibles?

It’s been several days since the news broke that a handful of NBA stars were suing the Topps Company for allegedly not bein paid what they were promised. Wax Heaven and several other sources (including TMZ) reported the news immediately without making any assumptions or giving an opinion on the matter.

Since that time, Beckett has curiously avoided anything having to due with the lawsuit and instead has treated collectors to exclusive first looks into 2009 Topps Tribute and some more 2009 Topps UFC autographs. Keep in mind that this is the same company that immediately published reports of MLB’s lawsuit against Donruss and Topps’ lawsuit against Upper Deck.

So what exactly is the delay in publishing a story if you claim to be the “#1 authority” and say your blog has “breaking news”? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the October issue of Beckett Baseball now would it? You know, the one in which Topps Company gave you a first look into Topps T-206.

For the record, Tuff Stuff also didn’t cover the lawsuit.

The Beckett-Exquisite Dilemma

When I announced over a year ago that Upper Deck would be sponsoring Wax Heaven, all hell broke loose. Many predicted I would become a shill, while others simply stopped supporting the site. Looking back now, anyone who reads the site knows very well that everyone (even Panini) gets equal coverage.

Recently, some dust has been kicked up because Beckett Media received an entire case (or more) of Upper Deck Exquisite. My personal opinion is that in order for me to write a full, detailed review I have to have the product in my hands. I simply cannot go off by what others report and/or scan on message boards or through eBay auctions.

Perhaps creating a “Sample Pack” for each product would be the best way to go. The sample pack would include 5-7 base cards, 3-5 inserts & parallels, and 1-3 “hits”. It would be more affective than sending out an entire box to a small number of websites or in Upper Deck’s case, $2,000+ dollars worth of product to one site.

Besides, with sample packs, more than just a few would be able to review new releases. Not everyone has the resources to pick up every single product released; this would be the perfect solution. Remember, the more product you can get out to the masses, the more coverage your product will receive.

Note to Beckett: You guys need to step it up on your box breaks. These things are harder to watch than an episode of “Packs to the People”. It would help if Chris would stop looking miserable for at least a few minutes.

Tell him to pretend it’s World of Warcraft or something…

My encounter with a Joe Collector!

Remember the “Joe Collector” craze started by Sports Cards Uncensored? During that time, I rarely got involved in those discussions because I don’t care how collectors price their own cards. I rarely make trades and when I do, I have been fortunate enough to deal with people who don’t worship the Beckett bible.

The other day while surfing through Freedom Card Board I ran into a topic from a user politely asking for the Beckett price of an Evan Longoria autograph. If you’ve ever been to a card forum you run into these posts on a daily basis, even though many pretend not to give a crap about “book value”. Obviously, many collectors do still care.

After a few polite responses, one person recommended the user check out the eBay completed auctions to see what the card was selling for on the secondary market. The advice was not sarcastic, rude, or anything but trying to be helpful. The Joe Collector’s response shocked me.

“I don’t want the fake eBay price, I want what it’s actually worth according to Beckett”

At that point, one member pointed out that many collectors use eBay completed auctions to gauge the price of a card but unfortunately, this seemed to irritate the Joe Collector even more.

“I don’t care what it sold for on eBay where someone paid what money they had in their pocket”.

At this point I realized how bitter this user was. Clearly he had spent thousands of dollars on cards over his lifetime only to be laughed at when trying to sell them according to his bible’s guide. Hell, we all want our cards to be worth and even sell for what Beckett quotes but 99% of sane collectors know that is not going to happen.

I can understand the old school train of thought of not wanting to switch over to eBay prices. Frankly, I don’t care if you use Beckett or not. Who am I to judge what’s right and what’s wrong? All I am saying is that if you’re going to be that upset at the mere thought of using another resource… something might be wrong with you.

Maybe I found a sucker to sell of these cards to?

Is there room for one more magazine?

There was once a time when you couldn’t hit a local book store/magazine stand without finding multiple trading card related magazines. Today, the only two left are Beckett and Sports Collectors Monthly. The problem is that both of those magazines feature outlandish, inaccurate price guides that so many collectors rely on.

My version of a perfect baseball card magazine would feature no such thing as a price guide. Instead, I would point collectors to eBay, the only true meter for measuring what your card is worth. If you have some rare, low-numbered parallel with no recent auctions, put it up and see what it brings. Simple?

Along with multiple, diverse commentaries, the magazine would also including a Top 20 list of cards that are hot and since it would be a monthly magazine, a complete checklist of new products. So if you have three releases in the month of March, in the April issue you would have three complete checklists to look through.

At the moment there are several online magazines related to the hobby. Recently, Card Informant released an online card magazine, Insider’s Edge is now selling hard copies, and other sites are working on their future products. Clearly this new format is becoming the next step in blogging. Why settle for a magazine published by companies who rely on sponsors?

Wax Heaven cannot go on forever, at least not on this pace. I believe the day this site closes it will be to start a bi-monthly magazine to focus on commentary and old school box breaks. It will in no way attempt to compete with anyone, online or in book stores, but it will definitely have that Wax Heaven flavor that has made this site popular.

What would make the perfect baseball card magazine for you?

Beckett living in a glass house

…and throwing stones at the blogosphere.

I just spoke with a former employee of Beckett Media. I was informed that not only do they loathe 90% of the hobby blogs but they are actually going out of their way to have card companies no longer sponsor or deal with any of us. If you read Wax Heaven, you likely already know about their failed power move last year.

Not only are they squeezing down on card companies, one of them is already in bed with them and has refused to share news stories/product previews with anyone BUT Beckett (hint: they just gave away a bunch of Ric Flair autographs). It turns out DonNini’s marketing director and Tracy Hackler go “way back”, whatever that means.

So while “The #1 Source” continues to disregard the same collectors who kept them in business all these years because they have chosen to report rather than be reported to, remember that we will continue to work and get bigger while your company continues its massive layoffs and outsourcing.

As for Panini, you’ve made a terrible decision by shunning the blogosphere just to keep your buddies in Texas happy. I only hope the new management realizes what a bonehead move you guys made by entrusting your product to Chris Olds and company.

On the Internet, message boards and hobby blogs are the number one source.