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 (Toll Free)

Guest column: Scott Schwartz

schwartzYou may remember Scott Schwartz from “The Toy” or from “A Christmas Story.” What you might not know is that he’s a long-time collector and had a guest editor stint here at Beckett Media last year. He’s decided to share some of his views on the sports world with us …

I am sitting here the day the clean baseball player died. Props to Don McLean, but here we go…

Alex Rodriguez tested positive in 2003 for steroids. Is anyone really surprised? Anyone who is familiar with MLB players knows that in the words of “Jose” that 70 to 85 percent of players did some form of steroids. So, now here we go. Barry Bonds will go on trial for perjury, A-Rod tests positive. (Funny, wasn’t he playing for Texas just like Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco?) What is the world coming to? Realize this: The tests from 2003 were supposed to be anonymous. So, how in the world can this be possible?

Really, who cares! I heard from a former Rangers player who said “This was MLB’s dirty little secret.” I have a problem with this. It’s not the positive test results, it’s the fact that being anonymous means nothing and people are leaking who tested positive!

Many players, 104 tested positive that we know of. So it wasn’t just one or two guys here. BEFORE 2004, it wasn’t against the rules of baseball, folks. I’ll repeat myself, before 2004 it wasn’t against the rules of MLB to take steroids. Against the law and against the rules of MLB are two different things! I have written about this before, but here we go again. Now, do we terrorize A-Rod for something he “may or may not have done” six years ago? Or do we chalk it up to the era? Any sports writer with any sense would say “hey, tons of guys were doing this, so let’s just try to get past this.” Instead they come up with Hall of Fame bologna, the “integrity” of the game. (Aren’t there drug addicts, alcoholics, and other wonderful people in the Hall already?) Let’s just laugh at that garbage talk, OK?

It’s time to start sharing blame with the owners, managers and commish, you think? Folks, everyone knew. Everyone! Let’s start putting the commish on the stand, owners and managers questioned and stop putting all this stuff on the players. EVERYONE is to blame! Players used what they used, but the owners and MLB reaped the benefits! Billions were made by owners. Where is their blame in all of this? Wake up and stop blaming ONLY the players. Everyone is geedy in this, but everyone is to blame if you need to blame someone.

Alex Rodriguez has apologized. Apology accepted.

I was fortunate to meet Alex back in 1995 in Seattle. He was a calm soul. Not arrogant, no ego. Just a regular guy.

Alex smiled a lot back then. Now, he’s with Peter Gammons apologizing to the world. Really, it’s not right. He did what he felt (at that time) he needed to do to stay above the others. $252 million worth of pressure will do that to you. Why is he apologizing to the fans of the Rangers? He gave them what they paid for, the best young player in baseball hitting home runs, knocking in RBIs and trying to help his team win. He did that ! I believe Alex will educate kids not to do them, he’ll spend some time and lots of money educating against steroids. Good for him! You try playing in Texas’ 120-degree heat for 81 games a year. Not going to happen unless you are Superman. Alex isn’t abnormal. He isn’t a “bad person” for wanting to play everyday, give the people their money’s worth.

Now, six years later, we are going to lambaste this guy? WRONG! Forgive  all those players who did take performance enhancing drugs. Let it go! Do you really think that the 104 names on the list are the only players who took something? Now we are plucking names out of a barrel to see who comes up next. Is finding out some “B” player coming up positive in 2003 going to have any affect in 2009? Most if not all of those guys are long gone and that’s where they will stay.

I have said this before, but apparently no one on the planet seems to grasp something. Before 2004 performance enhancing drugs were not against the rules of baseball! Steroids, HGH, testosterone etc. NOT against the rules! So, if something is NOT against the rules, how can you be cheating?

I’m not talking “legal or not”, I’m talking about the RULES OF BASEBALL!

People can argue one way or another but the facts are the facts. Before 2004, baseball was OK with PED. I don’t care what owners, managers, trainers say NOW. It’s back then that matters, and not one of them said “Oh no, don’t do that. You’d be cheating.” Say what you will, but in my mind 10 years from now we’ll all realize that more than 75 to 80 percent of players did some form of steroid to improve their play, and keep them off the DL. It will be long forgiven.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will induct Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, maybe Rafael Palmiero and Sammy Sosa. Mark my words, 10-20 years from now, they will all be Hall of Famers!

2009 and beyond … where do we go from here ??
With the new White House and President Obama taking over where do we go with the sports marketplace?

The 2008 crop of Football rookies was amazing! From Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Jake Long, Johnathan Stewart, Desean Jackson to the future stars, Colt Brennan, Glenn Dorsey, Felix Jones (He got hurt, so I’ll put him on next year’s early star list.) and lastly Ray Rice (This guy will be amazing once he plays more) … who didn’t want to pull these rookie cards?

Donruss Threads was an early hit, then Premier came with some incredible four-piece autographed memorabilia Rookie Cards. And Playoff National Treasures? WOW! Just awesome stuff !!

On to more talked about topics … redemption cards!
Everybody the past few years seems to be up in arms over redemption cards. Well, let’s get the record straight, the consumer (meaning you) want the cards as fast as possible, signed (on the card, no stickers), and no redemptions.

OK, it’s not possible people! Joe Montana hasn’t signed cards that he has sitting at Upper Deck for 14 months. (I know, one of them is MINE!) The players can/will only sign so many at a time and so fast. When the NBA/NFL Draft happens, the card companies don’t have enough time to know the order of the draft and print the cards with the players in their professional uniforms. SO, they get the stickers signed! A sticker is as good as on-card as long as the player keeps the signature inside the border of the sticker. Most players don’t care! They just scribble whatever they feel like is their signature.

The players make so much money, the last thing they want to do is sign autographs. Really, every player I have ever met is not big into signing their name. So, when it comes to signing for the card companies, it’s like them going to the dentist. Every company wants every cards signed on cards without stickers, however when you send a player their cards months in advance and they don’t come back on time, guess what? You get a redemption! Players such as Jordan, LeBron, Kobe, Montana, Favre — what’s more important to them then their TIME! Their off-time they want to spend with their families, not sitting at their kitchen table or in a hotel signing 800 auto’s for the card company who pays them six-figures each year? Since money means nothing to them, they stay at home with their families. Redemptions are here to stay, can’t get around them.

Time for spring training
People flock to Arizona and Florida each year for MLB at a huge discount on tickets (compared to the regular season) and it’s 50/50 on whether it’s really a discount. The star players only play a few innings of most of the games,  then you get to see a group of minor leaguers. Is that enjoyable? The real enjoyment is being closer to the stars, the fences are closer, the stadiums are smaller but the chances for fans to touch the stars and get an auto is much better than during the season. Go to practice early, like 7 a.m. each day hang out, be polite, don’t rush any players and you might just get that auto you so desire. Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, those few I have seen several times sign for fans. And I heard Josh Hamilton was really amazing last year signing literally hundreds of autographs every day!

Now the ones that don’t sign too much? Jeff kent (OH, he’s retired, thank goodness), Alex Rodgriguez (at $200 per sig from Steiner, would you ever sign for free?), Ichiro (that’s more the language barrier, right? Nine years later, nope), and several others I won’t mention.

Really, the special thing about spring training is seeing the OLDER retired players. IF you go to Florida and get a chance to run into Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Todd Zeile, Lenny Dykstra, Mark Grace … those guys are awesome and sign. All are friendly to fans and you will walk away smiling from ear to ear. Also, of course, the legends of the game, Willie Mays, Nolan Ryan, Paul Molitor, Sandy Koufax (doesn’t sign too much, but he does), Yogi Berra, you get those auto’s and you have gold.

Till next time when busting those incredible boxes … keep a 180-pt holder ready.

– Scott Schwartz

6 Comments

That’s one of the biggest piles of horseS**t I have ever read. It’s Cheating period.

Posted March 26, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
Used to be someone

S. Schwartz: “Everybody the past few years seems to be up in arms over redemption cards. Well, let’s get the record straight, the consumer (meaning you) want the cards as fast as possible, signed (on the card, no stickers), and no redemptions.

OK, it’s not possible people! Joe Montana hasn’t signed cards that he has sitting at Upper Deck for 14 months. (I know, one of them is MINE!) The players can/will only sign so many at a time and so fast.”

- Scottie, I love you man, you are an interesting and entertaining person that honestly speaks from your heart, and know you speak straight … or, at worst, you got me fooled, man! :) — OK, I am ribbing you on that.

However … (and isn’t that how it always starts?) … however, I think the blame should not simply be shifted to “lazy” or “uncaring” athletes in the mind, and heart, of the consumer/collector.

The average consumer/collector puts their faith in the manufacturer to produce what they state will be produced … period. Small print is only for those who have something to lie about. It’s “legal,” but it darn sure ain’t moral.

If we must reflect on the past, and personally I think that is the only way to learn, then we — collectors AND even those “hobby-killing” investor-types — know that there have been more than just a few shady incidents in the history of the hobby-turned-business that we all live for or love life for.

The manufacturers KNOW about the problems, the collector angst, the difficulties, the “occasional” problems, the (forgive my French) complete BS that often goes along with the AU redemption process. For goodness sake, we are in the middle of a generation that literally HATES the industry, our beloved hobby, because *ahem* certain card manufacturers got quite greedy and overproduced a generation of trading cards.
More to the point, the folks having kids right now have a terrible taste in their mouths when it comes to cards.

The people ticked off that their Griffey, Garnett, Chelios and most NFL cards are RELATIVELY worthless compared, on a fair scale, to past generations of cards. The biggest dreamers from the late-‘80s to late-’90s (conservatively), hoped like heck that their lawn-mowing and babysitting efforts that they “invested” in cards would, AT VERY LEAST, buy their children a math book or two as they grew up … much like their (our) parents did with the ’59 Mantles and ’61 Jim Browns.

These are OUR people, OUR generation … and we are the ones producing the only thing that can save our hobby … the next POTENTIAL generation of collectors. Most of us never wanted to get rich, we just wanted a reward, even a small one – a bit of satisfaction – for the hard work … and most importantly, the LOYALTY.

Taking every single thing you said into account — and I am 110% honest when I say that I really understand both sides AND I really do know that you are speaking straight from your heart and saying things that nobody else will say — from an “industry” point of view, shouldn’t there be a bit more transparency from the people who are profiting from the dang (but, I agree, 100% necessary) redemption cards?

There is nothing like complete honesty when you want to “purchase” generational loyalty. There is nothing else manufacturers can do but be COMPLETELY open and honest about the process, and what ‘hoops need to be jumped through’ for a collector/investor to actually receive what they are hoping (for profit) or praying (for collecting) to receive.

There is no reason for YOU to be the only person who is at least TRYING to make people believe. Again, I say that with absolutely no malice and no doubt as to your sincerity. The manufacturers are as guilty, if not more guilty, than the lazy and petulant athlete … AND the leagues who demand incredible (disgusting, considering the ‘health’ of the hobby) fees from those same manufacturers, in screwing US … all of us. It does not matter if every year you buy 10 cases of Exquisite, or 10 retail packs of Topps base — the point is simply that you are one of the very few (% wise) who still believe in this hobby after the Internet exposed how common a 1989 UD Griffey actually was and slaughtered the dreams/efforts of the “dumb kids” who are currently breeding.

Yes, if the professional leagues weren’t so gutless and money-grubbing, and actually had someone in their organizations with enough GUTS to shout ‘fire,’ instead of worrying about losing their jobs for not being a “good” comrade (a fast-profit first, Harvard educated, capitalist-killing, cheap-foreign-labor-pseudo-American fraud), , then maybe they could/would crack the whip and make these things happen in a timely manner.

How great would it be if Joe Montana was never allowed to profit from being an EX-superstar … to the point of not even being allowed to say “NFL” until he fulfilled ALL of his NFL-based contractual obligations? ALL OF THEM.

Regardless, you can wish in one hand … and relieve yourself in the other. We all know which hand will fill up first.

Keep on fighting it Scottie, at very least you have the guts to be different.

Posted March 27, 2009 at 3:08 am | Permalink
President Obama

Michael Vick called, he wants his dogs back

Posted March 27, 2009 at 6:04 am | Permalink
President Obama 2?

Michael Vick called, he wants his dogs back
Should say great post. Looking forward to reading the next post!

Posted March 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
meh

go back to licking poles. A-Rod is A-Jerk

Posted March 28, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink
The Truth Hurts

Great response by “used to be someone” – pretty much spot on.

As to A-Rod and cheating, I’m with Scotty on this one – if a majority of players in that era were taking one form or roids or another and everyone from the players to managers to writers to the commish all knew – you have to make a decision to either punish everyone or to accept that a problem occured and come up with a constructive way to handle it when it comes to stats and personal records that were set. You don’t just randomly pick guys and go after them either do the fact they were stars.
The irony is that average player in the 80′s was making what $1-$1.5M, so of the list of 104 even average guy was making 4x more money than Obama believes is the threshold for super wealthy. Why is no one going after them? Why is the federal govt wasting millions (read: millions of dollars that could go to schools, roads, tax breaks, etc) trying to pin Bonds down for juicing – who friggin cares. Spend the money and the energy on making it a better sport now.

And I’ve got to hand it to Scotty, he tells it like it is and I respect that. There’s some stuff in the article that I’m not sure I agree with, but I respect his experience in the business (read somewhere he has been involved in collectibles since the early 80′s) and he’s had access to and conversations with many players and celebs that we never will, so the man has more context to some of these situations…keep on sharing Scott. Looking forward to the next one.

Posted March 30, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink

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