Friday, October 7, 2011

Back with a Splash! Blogger debates #1!

I'm back!!!  A while back I put out a call for bloggers that wanted to debate something card related, and have the debate hosted right here on The Diamond King.  As a result, I have this beautiful post all ready for your consumption without any real effort on my part.  Now that's blogging!  Plus, these two will give you more eloquence and style than my usual drivel.  These are tough topics to argue, I would have a tough time with either side.  So without further ado...

The Topic

Would you take any RC from the 60's & 70's over any current "prospect" RC

The Debaters

Robert from the GREAT new blog $30 a Week Habit is recently back to the hobby and in his own words, is a Newbie blogger..Devoted Leafs and Jays fan..constant babbler..   Robert will take the Vintage RC side of this debate.

Ryan from This Card is Cool and Cardboard Zoo is a monster collector (check out the Zoo) and he and I have completed a couple of great trades as well.  His self description is 'Collector and overall renaissance man. But I love the simple things.'  Ryan will take the Current Prospect side of this debate.

The Format

Each debater will put their argument out there for your reading pleasure.  Then, each gets a chance to rebut the other's argument.  At the end, you the fan get to vote on who won the debate!!!  Vote how you will!

Robert's argument - I would take any RC from the 60's & 70's over any current "prospect" RC

How can you not like this card?  1968 Topps # 177.  The Ryan Express featured with Jerry Koosman, both fine young pitchers for the New York Mets.  Forget the perceived “book value” of the card, think history.  Arguably the greatest pitcher of all time is on this card.  Nolan pitched seven no hitters and had 5,714 strikeouts.  324 career wins.  This is only one example you say?  How about some of the other greats of the game in the 60’s & 70’s that had Rookie Cards?  Brett, Jackson, Bench, Dawson, Carew, Yaz, Carlton, I could go on and on.   
Is it expensive to own one of these cards?  You betcha.  But, if you are lucky enough to own one of these cards, you become blessed with a piece of history.  Still concerned about value?  Vintage cardboard holds its value, is not overproduced, and more often than not is tough to find in higher grades.  The designs are a lot nicer as well, not a lot of the cookie cutter, glossy “premium” cards we get in today’s market.   Honestly, Bowman cards are OK, but with a ton of rookies in each set, it’s a crapshoot really.  For me as a set builder, do I want to own a bunch of cards from players that are never going to make it to the big leagues?  Sorry, but that’s not for me.  At least with cards from the 60’s & 70’s, the players depicted on the card actually played in the majors. 

The main reason I can connect with RC’s from the 60’s & 70’s, is that I’m old.  Well, not ancient old, but when you grow up watching baseball in the 70’s, you see a lot of these players, and can identify with the cards that were produced then.   Plus the talent pool wasn’t as diluted, because back then you only had 24 teams up until 1977, so there was more quality talent in the majors.  There are going to be kids in 20 years making the same arguments about players that are stars today such as Pujols, Halladay and Cabrera.  But for me, I’ll take a 1965 Topps #236 Denny McLain RC.  At least I’ll be able to tell you a little piece of history about Denny. 

Ryan's argument - I would take any current "prospect" RC over any  RC from the 60's & 70's

We don’t open packs for a sure thing. We open packs for the chance to pull a card that holds value. For some, it’s a card of our favorite team or player, for others that can be an autograph, game-used card, or limited parallel. Even collectors who have no interest in Bryce Harper are excited by pulling one of his cards. The hype around stars like Harper and Stephen Strasburg can make opening packs fun.

As for actually collecting the prospects, it provides us with a way of putting a small amount of money into our collection at the beginning and hoping for a better return in the future. We don’t have to keep the cards as an investment, but team collectors can put together their team sets containing rookie cards, and five or six years down the road look back in that collection and find current stars. How many Giants fans found Tim Lincecum rookies in their collection after he became a star? How about Justin Verlander, Derek Jeter, and Brian McCann? I love going to minor league games. If set lines like Bowman, Just, and TriStar didn’t exist, it would be very difficult for me to find and collect cards of these prospects.

For a small investment now, I can collect cards of my favorite team, and hope in the future some of those cards I took a chance on for a quarter each are now worth several bucks. If nothing else, I can look back at what could have been. Five years from now, Brandon Belt could be an all-star, or he could be playing his last game in the minors. Jose Altuve could be the next Ryne Sandberg, or he could be the next guy to be a former second baseman.

Sure, I could put down several hundred dollars on a Pete Rose rookie and know that five, ten, or fifteen years from now I can get a full return on my investment, but who wants a stagnant sure thing? Today’s stars are conversation pieces. A story about pulling a $1000 autographed rookie card from a $3 pack is much more intriguing, relatable, and inspiring to the average collector on a budget than the story of someone buying a BGS 7 Pete Rose rookie at a card show. Buying prospects relates to the American dream of buying small, selling big, and realizing your hard work paid off.

Robert's Rebuttal 

All good points here from Ryan, because there are many collectors who collect this way.  Collecting has to be fun, or it’s not worth doing, and people have fun in many different ways.  I could go into another whole rant about the great Dr. and how his magazine has changed the way people look at cards and card collecting, but that’s for another time.  I grew up collecting before the days of the magazine, when a card was a card, not a common or a semistar.  That’s what makes collecting great; as we are all individuals and unique in our personalities, so too are our collections and what we enjoy collecting.  As for me, I enjoy the chase of an older card that I held in my youth, and subsequently lost in the great purge we know as “the cards your mother threw out”. 

I know full well what collecting on a budget is (it’s in my blog title, lol).  But, you can obtain great cards from the 60’s & 70’s and still stay within your budget.  Yes, the budget may have to be a little larger, but you can still have fun with the chase, which for me is also part of the fun of collecting.  For me, prospects are just that, prospects.  The romance for me is seeing a player, and I’ll use my Blue Jays as an example, such as Brett Lawrie coming up to the majors and setting the world on fire (or so to speak) in the final 2 months.  Now, in the old days, I would know for sure that his RC would be in 2012 Topps.  But in our modern age, I have to hunt for a card that is probably 4 or 5 years old, because our friends at Bowman took a shot a few years back that Brett would be a future player in the bigs.  That to me makes no sense. 

Finally, collecting for me is not about making money (although to do that is nice).  It’s obtaining cards/sets/players that  I really want, enjoying looking at them whenever I want, and not worrying in 20 years whether the cards can help me pay for my retirement.  It is a hobby for me, after all.

Ryan's Rebuttal

It’s funny that your reference card is my holy grail of baseball cards. Nolan Ryan was my first baseball idol, and his rookie card has been on my want list since I discovered it. There’s no doubting that putting a few hundred into the purchase of a decent copy will hold its value, and the nostalgia value of owning Nolan’s rookie, or the rookie cards of players like Brett and Rose, is undebatable.

However, you mention that you are a product of your times. If you remember your baseball card history, the 1950s sets were very popular in the 1980s, when that generation reached middle age. Then, your generations caught on in the 90s and past decade. I see my generation returning to collecting now, with an interest in the sets of the 1980s and 1990s, and even that junk wax era will be looked upon with respect. You realize that, of course.

Are the sets of the 60s and 70s more attractive than today’s Bowman? That’s debatable. There are great designs, like the 1975 issue, and there are monotonous, uninspired designs, like most of the rest of the 1970s. Modern Bowman rookie cards are sharp colors with a recognizable design, created with brand recognition in mind.

If we went back to the 1960s and looked at the rookies of Topps sets, we’d see there are plenty of players who never panned out. But with only one set issued every year, there wasn’t much room to toss in players who might not make it to the bigs. With the current RC rules, there are no prospects in the flagship Topps set today who haven’t made the major league team. With more releases, and thus more room to include different players, Bowman provides the opportunity to bring the latest, greatest prospects to cardboard. The design is recognizable, but modern - just like the 1960s issues when they were released. As for the checklist, you’re right. Many of the prospects in the Bowman set won’t be successful major league players, and some won’t make it past AA. But Bowman isn’t a set builder’s set, it’s a player collector’s set, and it is the definitive card to have as a player’s rookie card.And thirty to fifty years later, I can hold up my RC of Buster Posey and tell the story of his career, because I was alive to witness it from the beginning.

So who wins the debate???  Vote on the sidebar and THANKS to Robert and Ryan!  Great job by both!  Anyone willing to do a debate in this series, or that has a good idea for a debate, please e-mail me!

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