Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bloggers are Evil... again.

In case you didn't know. . . Bob Costas still has a TV show on HBO, "Costas Now." Although, if you're like most people, you have no idea when it's on and only catch the end of the show while you're waiting for another episode of "Taxicab Confessions" or Bunnie Ranch follies.

But his little show is providing a stage for some "Whack-a-blogger" theater. Here's a link to a recap and thanks Eddie Kranepool for posting this on his blog.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stretching Your Autograph Dollars

Start saving your loose change, skip your daily $5 mocha latte, and quit buying bottled water. There are some great autograph shows coming this summer and early fall.

Before you starting writing these down, grabbing the URLs and checking sites every day. The best way to keep track of announced guests is to get a membership. I'm not going to talk about announced guests, show announcements or anything like that on this blog until the event is over. Join if you want that kind of information.

The purpose of this blog entry should serve as a wake-up call to get ready for a great summer of autographs!

  • In May, MAB has their Subway Series show. This is a great baseball show to get some of your Yankee and Mets players.
  • In July, CSA has their summer show. CSA always has great HOF football players, with a little baseball and hockey mixed in. The National is also in July. This year it is in Chicago - Triumph Sports does the autograph pavilion. MAB also has a baseball HOF show in Cooperstown, NY.
  • In August, the Football HOF in Canton, OH has their induction ceremony. The past couple of years Mounted Memories has promoted an autograph show. Some of the local Canton Malls have great guests too. I got an Art Donovan autograph at one of these malls last year.
  • In October, MAB has another show with some great HOF baseball players. CSA has their fall show at the end of the month.
I hope to make it to one or two of these shows. Its great to get the autographs and to see what projects other people are starting. I'm amazed every year at the Canton Hall of Fame show. The HOF collections that people have are amazing to see. I keep checking my signingshotline alerts to see who has been added!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 25 is Mets Harry Chiti Day

Forty six years ago, Harry Chiti became the answer to dubious baseball trivial question. Harry Chiti is the only baseball player ever traded... for himself!

On April 25, 1962, the expansion NY Mets traded for a Cleveland Catcher named Harry Chiti for a player to be named later and cash. When it time for the Mets to give Cleveland their "player to be named later" on June 15, the Mets sent the Indians. . . Harry Chiti!

This either says that Chiti was so bad, that a team which would lose 120 games didn't even want him. Or, this says the Mets had no idea what they were doing.

Just think, if the Mets had kept Chiti... maybe they could have only lost 117 games or so that year!?! :-)

Chiti began with the Chicago Cubs when he was 17, put his career on hold to serve in the Korean War, and is a .238 lifetime hitter with 41 home runs.

You can find some old Bowman and Topps cards on eBay of Harry Chiti (although at the time I was writing this, I couldn't find any). I think there are also some autograph cards out there too.

Celebrate Harry Chiti day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tiger Stadium Deserved Better Than This

The remains of Tiger Stadium are getting tossed around Detroit's City Council like a hot potato.

A nonprofit group has been circling the bases trying to find $15 million to save part of Tiger Stadium before the wrecking ball cracks the outfield wall. A council agreement with demolition companies gives the nonprofit group until June 1 to raise part of the money - $369,000 to save the dugouts and homeplate.

I wish the corner of Michigan and Trumball could be turned into a museum. Baseball (before Tiger Stadium even) has been played there since 1895. Where are we in society and where is the state of baseball when we could lose the baseball history of Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium in the same year?

Last year Schneider Industries auction house was given permission by the city of Detroit to sell some pieces of Tiger Stadium. From what I read online, Schneider was not prepared for the web traffic and their site crashed in the early hours of the auction.

The opening bid on a pair of seats was $279.00... not bad, considering that Yankee and Shea Stadium bidding will be 2x that amount! (Steiner are you listening?) I wish I had known about this a year or so ago. I'd rather have some of these pieces in my house than in a Michigan scrap pile.

Tiger Stadium's fate deserves better, Tiger fans deserve better, and the history of the game deserves better. Detroit needs to get its act together and preserve this historic landmark before it becomes home to another house project or casino.

A more detailed city council battle story was posted today on the Detroit News web site. That is where I found a lot of this information.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gary Carter - Hall of Famer Without a Team

What logo is Gary Carter wearing on his hat?

Carter's saga is a long, twisted drama that currently has Gary in the Hall of Fame for a team that no one recognizes and a Mets franchise that wouldn't give him a career path.

When Gary Carter was elected to the HOF in 2003 - he specifically asked (then) HOF President Dale Petroksey for a NY Met logo on his HOF plaque. Dale refused to honor the Hall of Famers' request saying that he should go in as a Montreal Expo. Carter even tried to get a compromise where he had both Montreal and NY logos on his hat. At the time, Carter's concern was being tagged to a franchise that would soon no longer exist. Gary's prediction was more than accurate. The Expos moved to Washington D.C. and left the Montreal history north of the border! Carter's number 8, once retired in Montreal, is now being worn by Aaron Boone!

Before Willie Randolph was hired by the Mets, the Wilpon family told Carter that he needed to get some managerial experience before taking the Mets job. So Carter took a job with the Mets Class A team in Port St. Lucie, FL and watched Randolph take the Mets job and Joe Girardi take the Marlins job across the state (both sans managerial experience).

After a successful Port St. Lucie season Gary talked to Mets GM Omar Minaya about a career path. Omar offered Gary the Binghampton Class AA Mets job, but still no path.

Today Gary Carter is working for the Orange County Flyers... near Gary's hometown in CA. The Orange County Flyers are a 3 year-old Professional Independent Baseball Team in the Golden Baseball League. They play an 88-game schedule with 44 home games in Fullerton, CA.

I listened to Gary talk about this when he was on WFAN last Wednesday morning (10:30) to promote his new book "Still a Kid at Heart."

Carter deserves better. I've met Gary Carter at a couple of autograph sessions with MAB an The National. He's always talking to the fans is one of the nicest ex-players you'll ever meet.

The Mets should bring him back into the franchise and place at the AAA level coaching under Ken Oberkfell. He's been a winner at every level and the game needs more quality people like Gary Carter.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cursed Red Sox Jersey up for Auction

It's not exactly game used... but still a cool memorabilia item!

The unearthed Red Sox jersey that was buried in the New Yankee Stadium visitor's locker room is up for auction! The auction will be on eBay and proceeds will benefit the children's cancer charity via the Jimmy Fund.

The Yankees donated it to the Jimmy Fund after a tip lead them to the discovery.

What will the Yankees do if they find Jimmy Hoffa in the old Yankee Stadium rubble?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NY Yankees to Pope - Keep Off the Grass!

Are you kidding me? He may be the Pope, but to the NY Yankees he's not as important as the Yankee Stadium Grounds Keeper.

The Yankees are so full of themselves they've told the Pope to keep his Popemobile off the grass! What do they think is going to happen? Is "American-Idle" Carl Pavano scheduled to make an appearance soon? Only he could suffer an injury from the Pope!

If I'm the Yankees, I'm asking the Pope to do whatever he wants to that grass and especially the pitching mound.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No More Rex Romo? Gumbel Leaves Play-by-Play Duties

I really like Bryant Gumbel's work on HBO's Real Sports - it's top-notch. The show has great reporters doing great sports journalism work. Bryant Gumbel's play-by-play work on the NFL Network... not so much.

Apparently the NFL Network and Gumbel agree. It was announced last week that Gumbel will no longer do play-by-play for NFL Network games.

His continued fumbling of sports names (Tony Romo vs. Rex Romo) and poor ability to remember who the head coaches are in a football game made him a bad match for play-by-play duties.

I was in Dallas after the Cowboys/Packers game last year and the local sports radio had a field day listing the Gumbel gaffes throughout the afternoon. It was an embarrassment for the NFL Network and Gumbel.

Now who will replace him? Does Rich Eisen move to the play-by-play duties?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Show us Your Web Site?

Beckett's blog Monday morning has a great entry re: the Hawaii Trade Conference. The great thing about the blog entry is Beckett's willingness and offer to take questions from their readers and present them to conference attendees.

Hopefully Beckett will get some answers to some really good questions that have already been posted on their blog. Check it out if you haven't yet.

My 2 cents
Beckett's got it right with their increasing their emphasis on the web and trying to get closer to their customers. But what about the other companies?

I looked at the conferences' agenda and to be honest, I'm less than impressed. It doesn't look like much more than golf outings, dinners, and a chance to get on the Diamondbacks baseball field. I did find on the last day of the conference a meeting titled "Show us Your Web Site." Great... a topic they should have discussed 15 years ago!

Instead of having a meeting about web site front-ends and 'state of hobby shops,' perhaps the card and media companies would be better served by having topics such as "Getting Closer to Your Audience" and "Position Your Company to Take Advantage of Social Marketing."

Maybe next year's conference will address that subject - or maybe they'll discuss how card companies can be Y2K compliant.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Pro Football HOF is Missing an Opportunity

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is on the edge of having a really cool draft event.

Art Rooney Jr. is the headline attendee at an NFL Tailgaiting Party in Canton, OH on April 26, 2008. The event (for a $40 presale ticket) offers fans an “insider’s” look at the workings of an NFL war room with Art Rooney Jr. and former player/scout George Saimes.

This is a great start, but lets add some players and autographs. $40 is pretty high for two drink tickets, a chair to watch the draft and listen to Art Rooney Jr. I'd like to see some NFL Greats talk about their experience when they got the call from their new head coach. I'd even like to hear the thoughts from players who dropped further than expected in the draft like Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers. Brady's from Columbus and plays in Cleveland - couldn't he spend an hour at the HOF?

The HOF could end the day with a cool autograph session with the players who attended. I think it would be even be cool to have a "Mr. Irrelevant" reunion of sorts. How many people have a "Mr. Irrelevant" collection?

The Hall of Fame is so close to making this really cool and getting a larger turnout! Here's a link to the HOF flyer.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Shea Stadium Home Opener Experience

Today is Shea's last home opener. I'll miss "beautiful Shea Stadium" (as Steve Zabriskie used to say on WWOR).

My most memorable home opener experience came about 5 years ago. I took an early train to Shea so I could arrive at the park with plenty of time to experience everything that is opening day in New York. I walked around the stadium, took several pictures, and stopped at the souvenir store.

My last stop before heading to my seat was the Shea Stadium Snack Stand - one souvenir cup of cola and Shea Dog. I would soon be ready for the line-ups after a quick stop at the Shea condiment stand. I loaded my Shea Dog with mayo and mustard - and then noticed something odd with the Shea Sam's Club size condiment containers. They were only half-full. Not necessarily a big deal if this was the end of a long homestand... but this was the home opener?! Ugh, they were serving last season's mustard and mayonnaise!

I'll miss Shea and some of the great memories I have of it, but I'm also looking forward to the new Ebbets, err, Citi Field, and new packets of mayo and mustard!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Beckett Product Review - New Sports Cards Monthly

Beckett's Sports Cards Monthly magazine (BSCM) has been met with mixed reviews in the card collecting web world, but I think that should be expected.

Question: Why should have Beckett expected to get mixed results from their new product? Answer: Because it impacts 4 of their other magazines. Any time you launch a new product that causes changes to service or client expectations with other products, then there is going to be some resistance to the new product. Beckett should have (and probably did) expect some of the negative feedback on their blog.

BSCM is a monthly magazine that covers the four major sports (and more). It has monthly commentary, hot lists, and current card pricing. Since BSCM is monthly, the single sport magazines will be changed to only come out 6 times a year. For example, my subscription to Beckett Football will come out 1/2 as frequent as I originally signed up for.

So there are two reviews that collectors should consider when reviewing this new product. One - review the magazine independently of the other products. Two - review the magazine and how it affects their other magazines.

BSCM Pros:

  • One star player from each sport is highlighted with inventory with all of the sports cards that go to that player.
  • Great pricing guide if you collect very current cards.Big magazine with with a variety of content for the 4 major sports.
  • Small autograph collecting price guide.
BSCM Cons:
  • Current player card reviews only Current price guide info only. If you don't collect all 4 sports, then part of the magazine is worthless to you.
  • TuffStuff has been doing a very similar product for a long time. How can Beckett convince people that their monthly magazine is better?
  • It affects the publication time of 4 other Beckett magazines by changing their frequency to 6 times a year.
I'm not a current card collector and my limited card collection is geared more towards 'old school players,' so this magazine probably isn't for me. I'm also not has happy with it because of the collateral damage it causes. I signed up for a monthly football magazine with Beckett... this magazine is causing them to change the service that I signed up for. I do appreciate Beckett sending their new BSCM to single sport magazine subscribers for free. I think this was a nice gesture and great way to introduce their new product.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beckett - Upper Deck Scam - Dr. Wax Battle Show

Dr. Wax has Beckett's Tracy Hackler answer questions on the authenticity of the video box breaks. At the 47 minute mark, Dr. Wax asks Tracy about the box breaks. It's a great interview - Dr. Wax really asked him some good questions.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Beckett Graded Cards Received

I received my graded cards from Beckett this week. Getting them involved a Benny Hill-esque chase that involved the FedEx delivery truck, baseballs, and a tub of salsa (but lets not get into that).

My '76 card came back as an '8.' I was pretty happy about that. It's a duplicate one that I have graded a '7.' The '55 Bowman came back as a '5.' I was a little disappointed, but it's actually pretty high on the Beckett population report, so it's better than I thought.

I wish Beckett would tell us what the actual surface, corner, edges, and centering grades were that comprised the final grade. I think they used to do this, but discontinued this level of service for the vintage cards.

I'd like to see how they came up with the final grade. It doesn't have to be part of the label like they do for modern cards. Maybe there could be a final grade report that I could download from their site?

I love the cases and getting cards graded. Now I can actually share my collection with people without worrying about my friends dorito-stained fingers!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What is Beckett's Blog Doing?

I know blogging is new to Beckett, but I don't understand their recent attack on the readers of their blog who didn't like their new magazine?

Beckett's the leader in the industry and they're getting on board with the web 2.0 market place. Their blog connects them to their readers and buyers. So why attack them by inferring they aren't in the real world and only blog to snipe? I don't get it.

I like the hobby and always read their blog, so I look forward to seeing it improve and grow. It'll be interesting to see the other comments made about their recent entry. Maybe I'm the only one who thought it was offensive - I'll check tomorrow.

Here's my comment entry to Beckett:
PH - That was a pretty harsh and negative blog entry (use of caps, strikethroughs, etc.)

My advice to Beckett: if you don’t want constructive criticism and potentially negative product feedback, then go back to web 1.0.
Every corporate blog has it’s share of positive and negative feedback when soliciting customer opinions - especially about new products.

That’s the greatest thing about the web 2.0. You are closer to your customer than ever before. Sometimes you get a pat on the back… and sometimes you get a kick in the tail. But if you’re afraid to get negative information, then stop blogging and go back to press releases.

I’d recommend reading Seth Godin’s books and blogs and check out Steve Johnson’s pragmatic product marketing blog. I think you’ll find them informative and entertaining.
Good luck.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Helmet Hut Product Review

Zap! Pow! Fast! That describes the Helmet Hut shipping policy.
I've talked about Helmet Hut before and I blogged about their sale last week. I can't say enough good things about them.
I took advantage of their 15% off and free shipping sale last week. I probably saved $40 or so.
I ordered this 1963 Roger Staubach Navy helmet. Notice the face mask, the "Beat Army" and name stickers. This is awesome.
I ordered it Friday and received it Monday! I can't wait to get Roger's signature with a Heisman inscription.
Helmet Hut is great for customizing your collection. It makes a lot of sense to get your autograph on a helmet that reflects the player's era.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chicago Sun-Times Show Report

The GavelChat has a good recap on the Chicago Sun-Times show from last weekend. I've heard pretty good reviews from previous shows, so I hope to make it to one of these in the future. Check out his blog.