FCB and basketball aren’t exactly synonymous, it is no secret that in terms of our sports forums, the baseball flavor is by far the best, football a distant second and everything else, basketball included, is a very distant third – it would be like getting lapped in the 400 (yeah, think about it). The interesting thing about this is that we have plenty of people who pay attention to basketball but posting in the forum doesn’t just seem to be on the priority list.
But anyway, forum traffic is not the point. The lack of basketball forum traffic didn’t stop me from adding some commentary to the Hot List last week around the NBA playoff conference finals. At that time the Spurs and the Heat looked like near shoo-ins to get to the Finals. The Celtics were too old and that car was out of gas, the Thunder still just a bit too young and were going to get beat by a better “team.” The term 180 degree turn understates what happened between then and now. The Celtics legs rejuvenated, the Thunder started playing like a veteran and made some fantastic adjustments, the Heat became mortal and the Spurs seemingly hit the end of the road. Oh and in other news, I’m fairly certain that Stuart Scott proposed to Kevin Durant, or, at the very least he has a ring purchased.
What all this did is remind me of the power of basketball cards. There were more NBA player nominations for the Hot List this week then there had been in some time. Here’s the thing about basketball cards, they seemingly have no ceiling. Not only does a ceiling not seem to exist but the prices get crazy faster than almost any other sport. Several years ago when Durant was really coming into his own, his Topps Chrome 9.5s hit near $75. Often times, it is very hard to replicate an initial spike, for instance Derrick Rose no matter how good his play will have trouble replicating prices from his MVP year. However, Durant is back and so are Chrome 9.5s at $75 each. Topps, in their typical crank the presses fashion decided that refractors from Durants rookie year should be numbered /1499. You might be sitting there saying, /1499, .that sounds like a print run from the mid 90s and you would be right.
It was at this time, the writer of the Hot List took the opportunity to make some strategic investments in Topps Chrome Refractors, not only was I pulled in by the limited print run but the opportunity to prospect Mike Conley and Sean Williams (yes the guy who sits on the Celtics bench) was just too much for me. What about Durant you say? Eh, his scouting combine numbers weren’t the best and I wasn’t sure a guy as skinny as him could thrive in the NBA…I know at this point my knowledge is shining through….crystal ball, I do not have.
In spite of all my knowledge and the horrendous print run these Refractors, they now sell in 9.5 form (that is, with a Durant picture on the front) for near $230, yes, a Refractor /1499…this is the no ceiling aspect of it. If you don’t believe me, eBay 199* Michael Jordan and sort from highest to lowest…that is some real money.
All this is to say that although basketball cards don’t get much play on FCB at times the dollars that roll out on eBay for the best cards are simply insane. And here you thought I was going to talk about the baseball draft.
1. Jarrod Parker 2008 Bowman Chrome Autos
Comments: With all that said, lets start with a baseball player. You can insert my rant here about Bowman cutting the legs out from it’s base sets with autographs in subsequent sets right now. Parker is the epitome of that and 2008 Bowman Chrome, the card featured above was really the first time that the concept was introduced en masse. Parker had a bit of a long road to the majors but ever since he’s made it he seems to be adapting rather nicely and took a no hitter late into the game earlier this week. This caused his 2008 Chrome Autos to move from the $7 range up to near $20.
2. Carlos Correa 2011 Perfect Game Topps Cards
Comments: Quack Quack! Oh, right, these are no longer AFLAC cards and I’m not in the Mighty Ducks either. Correa was a bit of a surprise as a number one pick and that kind of thing makes for a nice pops in card values. Here’s another unique thing about Correa, contrary to many of the other draft picks he doesn’t already have a million autos thanks to Topps USA (former…) contract. His Perfect Game cards moved from the $30 range up to near $80 before settling back down at $60ish.
3. Mike Olt 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Autos
Comments: If there were VH1 shows titled “I love June 2012″ just like “I love the ’80s”, Mike Olt would be the guy being interviewed talking about everything he liked. The guy had 3 2 HR games in a row earlier this week and this clearly got the prospecting world’s attention. That means 18 HRs for the year for Olt and an OPS of 1.056. Olt’s cards were pretty cheap, up until this week when Refractors bounced from $20 up to $35.
4. Trevor Story 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Autos
Comments: This is the Story of a girl, who hit home runs and wowed the whole world. I’m going to spare you at that because my parodies get no better. Like Tim Wheeler before him, Trevor is a Rockies prospect who is exceeding expectations by hitting for lots of power, this has of course translated to increased interest in his Chrome Autos which moved from $7-$10 to near $15 this week.
5. Sean Doolittle USA Autos
Comments: The second 2007 Bowman Draft subject on this list (Parker being the first) – Sean’s cards initially sold well a few years back because he hit over 20 home runs as a first basemen. However, his ML debut came as a pitcher and it happened less than a year after he had converted to the position. Pitcher to shortstop, OF or third basemen isn’t all that unusual but it is pretty rare you hear about first basemen making the move. Sean did just that and in fact, struck out the side in his first big league inning. His USA autos started having BINs hit after MONTHS of no activity.
6. Albert Almora 2010 Chrome Autos
Comments: Like it, love it or hate it (wouldn’t that be hilarious if those were the sizes available at Coldstone Creamery?) Chrome Autos are the standard for rookies. Up until a few years ago (and starting again soon) it was unthinkable for a draftee to have a Chrome Auto. However, many of this year’s draftees did and Albert is representative of this phenomenon. What this results in is a lot of movement (Albert included) in Chrome USA autos around draft time.
7. Carlos Gonzalez 2008 SPx Auto Rookies
Comments: These days, it seems like nearly every notable prospect has a Chrome/Sterling, or some other autograph in their rookie year. That hasn’t always been the case and Carlos Gonzalez is representative of such a time. Carlos has a 2005 Draft and 2005 Topps Chrome card as a D-Back but 2008 SPx was one of his first autos because of his big league debut in an A’s uniform. The A’s traded Carlos to the Rockies where he has flourished and is doing so again this year, Carlos is near the top of the NL leaderboard in BA, HR and RBI and his 2008 SPx Autos have moved up about 30% this week as a result.
8. James Harden 2009-10 Exquisite Auto RC
Comments: All basketball collectors are currently shedding a little tear as the James Harden picture brings to mind the fact that this was the last year that Exquisite was produced in the NBA world, for shame. Harden was another guy I was high on out of college (along with Sean Williams and Mike Conley) and I evened owned a few of these Exquisite rookies one time…but perhaps I sold them a little too early. With the Thunders success and Harden being a big part of that these moved back towards the $200 mark this week.
9. Gerrit Cole 2012 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor Autos
Comments: One of the phenomenons that happens in the prospect sector of the baseball card hobby, is that irregardless of the overall rankings of any particular draft, a few autographs will sell for over $50, a few for $30-$50, more for $20-$30 and a good deal for under $20. 2011 was considered to be a fantastic draft year and 2012, yeah, not so much. It’s conceivable that 2011′s weak draft caused some to step back and decide that Gerrit Cole was a good value at current prices and that’s why the prices rose from $100 to $130. It’s also conceivable that prospectors loved the fact that he has a 2.53 ERA currently and that’s why values rose, take your pick but rise they did.
10. Kevin Durant 2007-08 Topps Chrome Refractors
Comments: Go ahead and re-read the intro for more on this one. The lesson is that if you have someone who think is going to be a huge NBA star be it Rose, Westbrook, Griffin or Durant buy their Topps Chrome and parallels en masse. Oh, wait, that can’t happen cause Topps Chrome doesn’t exist anymore for the NBA, sigh.
Still Making That??!!??: It seems that I have the conversation about once a month, “Oh, I have a ton of baseball cards sitting in my garage.” Great! That’s awesome, they are worth nothing. But they still make Topps Series I and II? Yes, they do and there’s more value than ever, a Bryce Harper SSP sold for over $300 earlier this week.
Still the King: There is Michael Jordan and there’s everybody else. His sales continue to be insane.
A pictures is worth??: Sean Williams got a couple mentions in the commentary of the Hot List today, that will be the first and last time that happens. A picture is worth a thousand words? Give me a convincing reason why anyone in their right mind would prospect a guy with that mug shot. Yes, that’s self-indicting.
Uncle Drew: If you haven’t watched the Kyrie Irving video of him playing “Uncle Drew” yet, then you are missing out.
Speaking of Kyrie Irving: Still, the only rookie card