I’m just finishing up listening to a preview of the FCB podcast that your friends – Wes, phillyfan0417 and cgilmo created. When Chris sent me the preview link he prefaced it with something like “talking is hard.” Indeed, if you try to create a podcast, write a blog, write articles, or frankly do anything related to publication, on a regular basis and in a semi-professional manner, you’ll find, it’s probably harder than you think. Doing something routinely and coming up with unique ideas, are not two things that go hand in hand and without a common theme (like….what’s hot in the hobby any given week) it can become a bit of a bear to do anything with consistency. This is why message boards and community type interaction flourishes like it does here on FCB. Members can come in, spout off about something, make a point, or attempt to make a point, pimp something, show something off and then disappear for a time without anyone really noticing. This is only because the next member is there ready to do the same thing.
To be honest with you, this is a conversation that I’ve often had with Chris, the need for regular and routine content. But think about that just for a moment, particularly as it relates to how this hobby used to be. The idea that you would have had this kind of information via this community, eBay, other hobby websites, scouting websites, general sports websites and other means at your fingertips would have been absurd just 15 years ago. I mean, you don’t even have to sit down at a computer to do it, some of you are probably reading this through your phones or other means. I used to wait on pins and needles each month for my Beckett to come in the mail, it wasn’t because I believed that Dr. Beckett was a genius, or the people that worked at Beckett were geniuses, it was because it was one of my only sources of information. Same with the local card shop, as much as I wanted to buy cards, I wanted to know what was going on in the hobby. So now this information has revolutionized the hobby to a point that we now worry about having enough content and ideas to fill pages on the front of a website absolutely packed with ideas and information, information that you couldn’t have accumulated in a years worth of work just 20 short years ago. So how does this all lead into the Hot List? Well, fortunately, some time back Chris and I were talking and the idea of a Hot List came up and voila, an easy way to create regular content each week that still stays unique each week. Not that it doesn’t take time and effort but recurring themes are beautiful and on that note, away we go.
1. Barry Larkin 1987 Topps Tiffany Rookies
Comments: A few years ago, I ate some chili at a contest that was named “creepsuponya.” This of course referred to the level of heat within the chili but it might refer to my realization that Barry Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame. Of course if you are a Baseball Tonight person, Barry’s face is not unfamiliar but all of a sudden, the guy became eligible and was elected. .295 BA, 2340 hits, less than 200 HRs, less than 1000 RBIs, a couple of Gold Gloves, some Silver Sluggers, an MVP, a World Series. I don’t know, you tell me? The career is certainly a really really good one but what is a HOF’er anymore? Do you benefit from being in a class with a bunch of ‘roid boys? I’ll step off the soap box for now – Barry’s rookie cards were in that era where I was going to card shops trying to get information – that also means the printing presses from 1987 Topps are still glowing red hot, due to how hard they were ran. None the less, collectors will find the rare rookie and chase they will. In this case the Tiffany set provides that opportunity and Barry’s 1987 Tiffany PSA 9s went from $15 to $40ish overnight.
2. Kahwi Leonard 2011-12 SP Authentic Autos
Comments: I don’t think anyone knows what is happening with Panini’s exclusive NBA license as it relates to making rookie cards this year. It’s very easy to throw stones but you have to realize, once Panini puts out a few sets with rookies in it, the break the bubble so to speak and lose the opportunity to do a full product run and get the usual value they would out of a rookie class. Isn’t this just one more reason to love the lockout? Maybe that could be a movie title “how I learned to stop caring about anyone outside of myself and love the lockout.” Starring the players union, the owners and some downright ridiculous negotiators. Oh, yeah, Kahwi Leonard, right, the guy who has a first name that could be in one of those old Batman movies “Bam” “Pow” “Kahwi!” In the midst of no Panini products the sole 2011-12 NBA basketball product on the market is SP Authentic and it doesn’t have most of the big names in it (for the guy who keeps nominating Kyrie Iriving for this list!). However, in a somewhat strange year, lesser picks are making big impacts – Kahwi certainly is with the Spurs who just seem to do nothing but win every year. His Autos went from $15 to $30 this week.
3. Darren Sproles 2005 Bowmans Best Auto RC
Comments: I really don’t have any horses in the NFL playoff race but I have to admit, that I absolutely love watching the efficiency of the Saints and Packers offenses, I wish they were not both in the NFC so Brees and Rodgers could square off in the Super Bowl in the year of the quarterback. I say all this and one of them will lose this weekend but that’s not here nor there. The slightly bittersweet taste in my mouth as a Chargers fan watching the Saints is that the two players making that team go are ex-Chargers both of whom the Chargers let walk away. Someone mentioned Darren Sproles as the free agent signing of the year and it is hard to disagree, they use him perfectly, that is, in space. Norv Turner often thought it a wise idea to run Darren up the middle and use his incredible bulk to overpower linebackers (a hint of sarcasm), the Saints get it and he’s flourishing. He scored a couple TDs and immediately his rookie autos, even Bowmans Best doubled.
4. Demaryius Thomas 2010 Playoff Contenders Auto
Comments: If you started “Tebowing” immediately after the touchdown pass last weekend, you missed Demaryius Thomas running into the end zone (and due to the new rules not realizing he’d won the game) and you missed an emerging wide receiver star. I guess fast, strong, big, athletic wide receivers come from Georgia Tech right? Demaryius has had trouble shaking the injury bug in his first two years but in his last 6 games he has 652 yards of receiving and timely catches at that. Demaryius’ Contenders Autos could have been had all season long in the $5 range but if you want one now you would have had to pay $8 last week and $16 this week.
5. Tim Tebow 2010 Playoff Contenders Auto RC
Comments: Matthew Berry writes a weekly fantasy column called Love/Hate. It’s pretty much my relationship with Tim Tebow – as a sports fan what he’s done has been tremendous by anyone’s standards, particularly with the expectations and thoughts about him prior to him ascending to the starters role. The Hate side of it is I can’t seem to get away from hearing about him from the sports media and I can only hear a story rehashed so many times by whatever ex-players and coaches are sitting on the panel before we run out of unique angles to take. However, on the Hot List you make it on merit and Tebow’s Contenders Autos going from $95 to $140-$150 certainly merit it. As a point of interest these sold for $200 upon release last year.
6. Mario Chalmers 2008-09 Exquisite Auto Patches
Comments: We’ve often observed on the Hot List that being on a really good team can be really good for your card values. That’s the exact spot Mario is in – however, he’s done some things himself to merit his Exquisites moving from the mid-$20s to around $50 as well. Mario is probably still most well known for his stunning shot to tie the National Championship game while he was playing for Kansas, against Derrick Rose and Memphis. However, if he keeps it up he’ll be known as the point guard on the team with Lebron, Wade and Bosh who in the midst of grabbing a couple steals a game shot a very efficient 40+% from 3 point land and doubled his PPG average in the 2011-12 season.
7. Anthony Rizzo 2010 Bowman Chrome Autos
Comments: What Theo wants, Theo gets. Mr. Epstein probably had a significant hand in picking Anthony in a draft and now after a stop in San Diego, Anthony’s back with Theo in Chicago in exchange for Andrew Cashner. San Diego is a lovely place in pretty much every way except for hobby exposure, it just doesn’t happen too much. Chicago, also a lovely place in many ways (weather and traffic not among them) gets a lot more hobby exposure even though the Cubs and the Padres are on the same wavelength when it comes to winning baseball – that is, it doesn’t happen. So that being said, Cubs fans greeted Anthony’s arrival in Chicago by hitting a bunch of buy it nows and pushing up Bowman Chrome Refractor Autos in 9.5 form over $100 again.
8. Iman Shumpert 2008 McDonalds All American Autographs
Comments: Panini needs to make some NBA stuff with rookie cards in it, guys like Iman are precisely why. Knicks collectors desire to buy cards of this young player who displays lots of potential. In the absence of typical rookie cards collectors have went for his McDonalds All-American cards produced by Topps (just like they did when Kemba blew up in the tourney last year) and the autographs associated with those cards are now pushing $150.
9. Josh Bell 2011 Elite Autographs
Comments: Since I’ve mentioned Panini twice in a less than positive fashion, relating to their production, or lack thereof of rookie cards this year, I mention them again. The on card autos in 2011 Elite look downright fantastic and this product continues to evolve, I believe for the better. One of the beauties of Elite is that due to its enormous autograph checklist it features guys who lack autographs in the Bowman products and in many cases, their Elite autograph becomes the chase card. So it is with Josh Bell who previously only had Leaf Metal Draft autos and now has an Elite on-card auto that sells for $40 and diecuts that get into the triple digits.
10. 2011 UD Goodwin Animal Kingdom Shortprints
Comments: If you’ve been a reader of this list for some time, you know that a while back UD Goodwin Etymology cards made this list when collectors paid big bucks for rare, encased bugs. I have to admit, it would be pretty sweet if they actually had part of a hippo tooth in this card but in fact, its just a rare short print that set collectors are apparently obsessed with and paying near $300 for, much like many other cards in this set. Isn’t a pygmy (or any other word associated with small) paired with a hippo somewhat oxymoronic?
11. Special Space – NOT SO HOT LIST – ETOPPS
No picture needed, the words EPIC FAIL will do
Comments: To the point I made in the introduction to the Hot List, the interwebs and these boards are just full of information. I was going to say good information but if you are holding any etopps cards, then you know that good isn’t a word you’ve been feeling much of this week. eTopps isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time that some company tries to develop a stock market like commodity with baseball cards. Just like stocks, these are not just fictitious virtual shares of ownership, they are backed by something real, something limited and you can buy and sell them, or so you thought. thepit.com does this with actual cards previously released as opposed to the specialized etopps cards. eTopps truly was a different world, points, shipping, the availability of actual cards, cardtarget.com, selling them on eBay and other things made it as such, however, much like most other niches, it had its big fans but I’m guessing no longer. Topps announced this week that it no longer would be producing cards (read: probably paying attention or generally giving a thought to eTopps) to be marketed as eTopps. This is the equivalent of a major stock market index saying, oh we’ll still trade current stocks but not allow IPOs, make you cash out when you make your next trade and generally pay less attention, if any to this as time goes on. Stocks would tank nearly immediately and so have eTopps. Lets not kid ourselves, eTopps wasn’t a huge market but that doesn’t matter – many collectors are and will be left with a very sour taste in their mouth relating to Topps due to this matter and that can’t be good for business.