Card Grading In It’s Current Form Is A @#!%$ Joke – Human Graders Must Go

Years and years ago I gave card grading a shot.  This took place well before Sports Card Info existed.  Because I didn’t do it very often I either went with BGS or SGC.  I had some modest success, but most of the time my cards came back 8’s or 8.5’s.  Those types of grades on the cards I was sending in actually diminished their value.  Two cards came back 9.5’s – 1991 Topps Stadium Club Brett Favre #94, and a Ryan Howard 2003 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Status Die-Cut #’ed/57.

To put it simply, card grading is a scam.  It always has been.  The first card PSA graded is the infamous Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206 which came back a NM-MT 8.  That card was altered and trimmed from day one.  PSA looked the other way because they knew the publicity they would receive.  Looking the other way for publicity and/or giving high grades based on a customer’s grading volume for more profit has been ingrained into grader’s skulls since the beginning.  Its a sickness that needs to be eradicated.

In 2019 we have seen card altering and trimming scandals exposed one after another.  Everywhere you look another one pops-up.  They’re like roaches.  Just check out some of the most recent articles from Sports Card Radio, and what the investigators on the Blowout Cards forums have dug up.  I think its safe to say that every card encapsulated in a grading holder should be questioned.  That’s if you get your cards back at all.  Wait times are atrocious, and PSA has been known to openly admit to throwing cards out.

Grading has a place in the hobby.  Just not in it’s current form.  Right now card grading is way too corruptible.  How do we eliminate this corruption?  Well, I don’t believe we can get rid of it completely.  Removing the human component would certainly help.  An A.I. and/or highly advanced computer system would most likely be the best way to go.  It would need to have a vast database filled with perfect examples of every card ever printed.  Scanning the card down to the very molecules its comprised of would result in an overall detailed grade unheard of today.  I want a grading system so unbiased/advanced when that Mickey Mantle rookie card is placed inside the machine it’ll tell you which part of the country it was pulled and what else the customer purchased that day.

But not even the most futuristic grading system will stop the skeptics.  Who’s to say the system’s designers won’t program it to be biased towards cards in their own collection?  What if someone hacks the system to improve their grades?  Nothing is full proof.  But as we sit today, the human graders need to go.  Humans are too tempted by greed.  Graders, trimmers, and cosigners are all in bed together.  The FBI is coming folks!  Until some drastic changes happen, I wouldn’t take card grading seriously.

We all had a feeling shady stuff was going on behind closed doors, but most simply looked away hoping the talking would stop.  With all of the garbage that’s been uncovered this year nobody is going to forget about it.  This topic and the players in it need to be dealt with.  More and more collectors should be on major alert.  If these graders did what they’re suppose to do, not a single altered/trimmed card should have made it passed them.  Money is more important to them than their integrity.  As long as people continue to turn a blind eye, pay top dollar for high-grade cards, this cycle will continue.  Lets break that cycle and inform as many people as possible about what’s going on.  With each scandal that breaks, more consumer confidence is lost.

With the National Sports Collectors Convention right around the corner, I’m sure companies like PSA, BGS, PWCC, Probstein123, and many more will have some explaining to do.  Some of these people shouldn’t even be allowed in the building.  Lots of great cards will be on display.  Just keep in mind that they might not have always looked so nice.  Promotional subpoenas for everyone!!!

It all started with this one.

Key Rookie Cards of Apollo 11’s Crew

Within 66 years we went from the Wright brothers first flight to landing on the moon.  That’s some incredible innovation right there.  Did you know a couple of relics from the Wright brothers flyer were aboard Apollo 11 and made it to the surface of the moon?  Relics like that would make an excellent addition to Allen & Ginter or Goodwin Champions cards.  It probably won’t happen though as those relics are safely kept on display at the Smithsonian.  I wonder what cards containing pieces of the Wright brothers plane would sell for on the secondary market?  Its safe to say quite a bit considering how big of an event in history that is.  The relics aren’t very big either, so very few cards could be made.

On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  2019 marks the 50th anniversary of this historic event.  Many men and women played important parts in order for that mission to be a success.  Three key individuals from the Apollo 11 mission are Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.  When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin traveled down to the lunar surface, Michael Collins remained in the Command Module “Columbia”.

Thousands, if not millions of years from now the Apollo 11 mission will continued to be talked about.  Its the first time mankind stepped onto a surface not of this Earth.  Truly an astonishing achievement.

Thanks to Topps, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins each have rookie cards.  These cards can be found in the 1969 Topps Man on the Moon set.  Its important to note that this set was reissued in 1970.  The 1969 set consists of (55) cards.  The 1970 reissue has the same (55) cards plus an additional (45) cards bringing the total to (99) cards.  Telling the difference between the 1969 and 1970 set is fairly easy.  All of the cards from the 1970 reissue set are numbered “1 of 99”, “2 of 99”, “3 of 99”, etc…  Whereas the original 1969 set has them numbered “1A”, “2A”, “3A”, etc…

Complete sets in exceptional condition will require some deep pockets.  In general though singles can be obtained for a relatively low price.

Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces Babe Ruth Ball Unveiled

During the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, collectors were introduced to Piece of the Game’s Baseball Authenticated Masterpieces.  Scheduled to be released to the world on July 9, 2019, this is truly a unique product.

Inside every case you will find (10) game-used, autographed, and hand-painted baseballs.  The baseballs were actually used by the player depicted on the ball.  Those baseballs were used for singles, doubles, triples, home runs, strike outs, you name it.  (15) cases have been produced.  That’s a total of (150) baseballs.

Sports artist Monty Sheldon is responsible for the artwork.  He’s been painting on baseballs for over 20 years, and his stuff looks amazing.

At a cost of $36,000 per case, this product is for the ultimate high-end breaker.  With an awesome checklist of players, there really isn’t a bad case.  If I had to pick the luckiest case to open, it would be the one housing the Babe Ruth ball.  Its considered the chase ball to find.

A lot of time and effort went into making this product happen.  It certainly isn’t something that could be quickly pumped out over night.  Good luck.  I hope its a success.

The Shadow (1994 film) Celebrates It’s 25th Anniversary

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

What’s the problem?  Isn’t this movie jogging any memories?  That’s alright.  Many people have forgotten about this one.

The Shadow is a superhero created by Walter B. Gibson in 1931.  He’s actually older than both Batman and Superman.  When placed side-by-side you can clearly tell that The Shadow was used as a heavy influence on the creation of Batman.

In 1994, Universal Pictures gave The Shadow his very own feature film simply titled – The Shadow.  It starred Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston a.k.a The Shadow.  Other supporting characters in the film were played by John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Peter Boyle, Ian McKellen, Jonathan Winters, and Tim Curry.

The film follows wealthy playboy Lamont Cranston over in Tibet shortly after World War I.  He decides to stay in Tibet, change his name to Yin-Ko, and sets himself up as a drug warlord.  While running his empire, he is kidnapped by servants who work for Tulku.  Tulku knows Cranston’s true identity, and shows off his otherworldly powers.  Cranston is offered a chance to change his life and be an agent of good.  The offer is refused, and he stays under Tulku’s watch for the next seven years.  In that time, Cranston undergoes massive amounts of physical training, learns how to hypnotize others, read minds, and warp the perception of others so he cannot be seen, besides his shadow.  Once the seven years were up, Cranston moved back to New York and resumed his old life.  At night though, he fights the criminal underworld as the vigilante called The Shadow.

Every superhero needs a villain.  That’s where Shiwan Khan comes in.  He’s a former student of Tulku, and a descendant of Genghis Khan.  Of course Khan wants to fulfill the destiny of his ancestor, and dominate the world.  I won’t spoil how it ends.

Released on July 1, The Shadow was planned to be a big summer blockbuster.  Unfortunately it faced tough competition among other movies like The Lion King and The Mask.  It never made it passed #2 at the box office.  It started off strongly, but quickly lost momentum.  Since it’s release on VHS and DVD, The Shadow has gained quite the cult following among fans.

Universal Pictures had plans for The Shadow to be the start of a new franchise.  Once it didn’t make enough money, that went out the window.  Despite that, merchandise for The Shadow was all over the place.  I distinctly remember owning four action figures.

Guess what else The Shadow had?  You got it.  Trading cards.  Topps created a 90-card set for this movie.  A majority of the set consists of photos from the film.  These cards have a very Stadium Club-like look to them.  Other than The Shadow logo in the corner and two green lines going across the bottom, the main focus is on the photographs.

In addition to the movie photo cards, there are (10) Shadow Legend art inserts.  (4) Topps Finest inserts are by far the most difficult cards to pull.

Not a whole lot of value can be found here.  It was mass produced, and even the “rare” cards aren’t in demand.  Alec Baldwin autographs should’ve been included.

I was eight when The Shadow came out.  At the time I wasn’t old enough to see it in the theater.  I had to wait for it on VHS.  The toys stick in my memory more than the actual movie itself.  The hype for it was unbelievable.  I think I watched it a few times, and moved on.

The Shadow drew me in because he reminded me so much of my favorite superhero Batman.  It wasn’t until years later that I discovered Batman was actually inspired by him.

PSA “Loses” Customer’s Connor McDavid 2017 Upper Deck Buyback Autograph

The hobby media has been beating up grading companies recently, and for good reasons.  Whether its guaranteed grades based on your volume submission, to looking the other way when it comes to altered cards.  It hasn’t been a good year for graders.  Just check out all the garbage that’s been going on.  And the hole just keeps getting deeper.

I woke up this morning to see a tweet on Twitter from a Dave Guido.  In it, he talks about how a friend of his recently submitted a Connor McDavid 2017 Upper Deck Buyback Autograph to PSA for grading.  On June 19, 2019 this e-mail began to fly around:

That’s correct.  PSA openly admits to losing the card.  They offered a $499 credit on the account or a check for the same amount.  If you’re wondering why the declared value was only $499, its so his friend could take advantage of a specific grading pricing structure.  There is no excuse for losing that card.  Did they even lose it at all?  That card is worth well over $499.  For all we know PSA saw an opening to basically buy a card for $499 while fully aware that they could sell it for a lot more.  I’d like to see this footage they’re talking about.  Unfortunately, that footage will probably never see the light of day.  It’ll get locked up with the Bigfoot, UFO, Elvis, and JFK tapes.

FYI – I wouldn’t deal with any grading companies today.  If you have to, I’d suggest declaring the card’s actual value just in case they decide to pull something like this.

Is Topps Returning To Basketball? – Sure Looks Like It

Athletes and celebrities showing off cards on social media that they recently signed for upcoming products isn’t anything new.  But one image has been floating around the internet this week which has a lot of collectors talking.

Former Kentucky Wildcats guard Tyler Herro posted a video which shows three stacks of cards he signed.  What has people all in a buzz is that they seem to be Topps cards.  Topps Chrome to be exact.

Topps hasn’t produced a basketball product since 2009-10.  Panini currently has an exclusive NBA and CLC license.  These cards obviously don’t have any licensed team names and/or logos.

By the looks of it, Topps is working on an unlicensed basketball draft picks Topps Chrome set that features autographs.  With all of the hype around Zion Williamson, Topps seems to have decided to get back into the basketball card business.

Its very possible that a company like Topps could sign Zion Williamson to an exclusive autograph agreement even though they currently don’t have an NBA and/or CLC license.  Upper Deck has done this with Ben Simmons and Michael Jordan in the past.

When the Topps Industry Conference was held earlier this year, rumors were flying around that Panini is deathly afraid that something like this might happen with Zion Williamson.  It doesn’t look good when the exclusive NBA licensed card manufacturer (Panini) can’t strike a deal with the #1 draft pick.

We don’t have any specific details yet.  These cards could be distributed in a number of ways.

COME TO TOPPS ZION!!!

Onyx & Futera Team-Up For New High-End Baseball Set

What’s this?  Two card companies coming together to bring collectors a single product?  What year is it?  How long have I been asleep?  Is left now right?  Is up now down?  Is McDonald’s now serving Whoppers?  What parallel dimension have we stepped into?

Its unheard of to see two manufacturers collaborating on one product.  In an age where exclusive licenses are a regular thing, team-ups like this just don’t happen.

Onyx Authenticated and Futera plan to break that mold this summer with Onyx/Futera Unique 2019 Baseball Prospects & Legends.  While the details are still scarce, here’s what we know about it so far.

Judging by the picture, its going to be a very limited release and quite high-end.  Unlike most other manufacturers, Onyx Authenticated and Futera don’t issue one product after another all year long.  That especially goes for Futera.  I’ve talked about Futera on here a number of times, and have compared them to the Lamborghini or Ferrari manufacturer of the sports card industry.  On numerous occasions, I’ve mentioned their Code For Collectors and Memorabilia Colour Grading services are something U.S. collectors would enjoy taking advantage of.  It looks like that might be coming true.

While the checklist has yet to be announced, both prospects and veterans seem to be in the mix.  I reached out to my contact at Futera to see if I could squeeze out some more info.  I was told “What I can share at this stage is that the collection under discussion would have a format of similarity to our Futera UNIQUE 2018 release including on-card Autographs, Game-used Memorabilia, ‘1 of 1’s, and some sets featuring 24ct gold-plated elements.”  Futera UNIQUE 2018 came with (4) packs per box, with each pack containing a hit.  A box cost $300.

I’m really excited to see how these cards turn out.  Futera and Onyx Authenticated each have created some insanely cool looking cards.  I was lucky enough to open a pack of 2016 Futera Liverpool Unique Collection and pulled a Gerry Byrne Mythicals Matchday Program #’ed/7 – contains a piece of program from the 1965 FA Cup Final between Liverpool FC and Leeds United at Wembley Stadium; 24ct gold-plated frame relic.  Recently, I opened a box of 2019 Onyx Authenticated Vintage Collection Baseball which yielded some fun stuff.

Between the two, I think we should get ready for an awesome baseball product.  No.  There won’t be any team names or logos.  But given what each company has created in the past, I’ve got a good feeling we’re in for something special.

Right now they’re shooting for a late July release.  Just in time for the National Sports Collectors Convention.