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By Jared Serre aka jaredthe79
Baseball is a great game. From powerhouses like the entire lifespan New York Yankees with twenty-seven championships to turn around teams such as the 2013 Boston Red Sox after a sixty-nine win campaign in 2012. The sport is a great getaway from the stresses of daily life. But the problem is that the sport has some major issues that need to be worked out. One of these problems is the whole instant replay ordeal. It was recently okayed by the owners, but why wasn’t this in effect before? Instant replay was available in most major sports like football and basketball, but baseball wouldn’t get it until now. Where was instant replay back in early 2012 when Jerry Hairston, Jr., playing with the Dodgers, was called out by umpire Tim Welke and Todd Helton was more than a foot off of the first base bag?
What about back in June 2010 at Armando Galarraga’s “I’m-Perfect Game”(I’m an Indians fan and still say Jason Donald was out.)? Galarraga got to the bag waaaay before the hustling Donald did. But Jim Joyce called him safe…
If we had had instant replay earlier, calls like these wouldn’t have happened.
Another thing I think that Major League Baseball should do is add two expansion teams. Much like how the National Football League is considering adding expansion teams in new countries, I think that the MLB should do the same.
Although the league has teams located in San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix, I think the league can create a much larger fan base in the country by adding at least one expansion team there. I believe one team should be added in Tijuana, which is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula. Although when last checked in 2010, the city of Tijuana has a growing population of currently 1.3 million. Although there is a team of the Golden Baseball League currently in Tijuana, they are inactive due to finances. The MLB could easily buy out the GBL and have more places around the continent to place expansion teams. Additionally, the city is located very close to the headquarters of the National League team, the San Diego Padres, and could create a good rivalry with each other.
Another place the MLB could expand to is the city of Calgary, located in Alberta, Canada. The city hasn’t had a baseball team since the Pacific Coast League’s Calgary Cannons left for Albuquerque in 2002. Calgary is the largest city in Alberta, with a population of around 1.1 million people. I believe that the MLB needs to add another Canadian team, ever since the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington D.C. and became the Washington Nationals in 2004. Calgary isn’t as close to the other Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, as the Expos were. Toronto is more towards the east coast of the United States while Calgary is closer to the west coast. If a team was implemented in Calgary, baseball fans in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba would not have to go so far to catch a game and could just go to Calgary which is closer.
And I bet many Canadian baseball fans who would pay a good amount of money to see Canadian players, such as Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie and Joey Votto, come play in the land up North.
The last thing that the MLB needs to do is something that fans around the country have been talking about for years: reinstate Pete Rose. I think the MLB should reinstate “Charlie Hustle”. Why? He never did anything wrong in my opinion. Yes, he bet on the game, but he didn’t take anabolic steroids and cheat like Ryan Braun. He didn’t shred records and other players’ stats with muscle growth enhancers, he trained and worked hard. Rose leads the MLB in career hits, games played and at bats. He went to seven-teen all star games, won an MVP award, and three batting titles. Also in his trophy case is a rookie of the year award, two gold gloves, three batting titles and three World Series rings. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids not once, but TWICE. He even admitted to taking them. Has he been kicked out of baseball yet? No. But Pete Rose gets kicked out for supposedly betting on baseball? What? There was no evidence that Rose did bet on the game, and it is idiotic that he was ruled permanently ineligible.
The MLB has many great things about it but also many major flaws. If the league can fix these issues, it will will not only be better for the game, but the fans as well.
By Matt Lambe aka bradyfanatic1224
Pulling a redemption can be a time to celebrate, especially when you look at the checklist and realize that your redemption is for a shield, one of one autograph. At the same time, it can be a time of anger, rage and disappointment. Looking at your shield, one of one autograph from 2008 Exquisite and realizing that most companies will do nothing to help your expired code. I’ve had my own personal positive and negative experiences with redemptions. I’ve noticed most people on Sports Card Forum absolutely despise redemptions. I thought we should explore the reasons why we have so many redemptions in today’s hobby.
Like many collectors who’ve dealt with redemptions, the one that sticks out in my mind is the negative experience. In 2005, my local card shop had some packs left of 2002 Upper Deck Authentics. I hadn’t ever tried opening these before, but I liked the design because it was similar to the 1989 Upper Deck (Ken Griffey Jr. RC pictured below) baseball set.
A few packs in, I was ecstatic that I had pulled a Troy Aikman autograph redemption. After looking it over, I realized that it was 6 months past its expiration date. Thinking that a simple phone call to customer service would help, I called the next day. I realize that their job is to follow the rules and read the policy to make sure it’s clear, but you’d think they’d at least act like they felt bad. Sure the customer service representative might not know much about sports cards or sports players, but they have to realize that missing out on a card is tough for collectors. After a couple minutes on the phone with them, I knew that the redemption was nothing more than another decoy. My positive experiences have far outweighed my negative ones. From dealing with replacements to the Russell Wilson Contenders redemptions, companies can be quick and professional. I’ve always treaded lightly with older products going forward because of this.
A lot of collectors will look at the companies to blame for having an abundance of redemptions. I think an equal part of the blame should be placed on the collectors/consumers. The demand for more new product continues to be strong, even with redemptions popping up everywhere. Demand is ultimately what drives more brands being created and released. Even with the uncertainty of redemptions being fulfilled, they still do very well on the secondary markets. That reason alone shows me that redemptions won’t go away in favor of reducing the amount of product on a yearly basis. So far this year, Geno Smith has 288 different autographed cards and no redemptions (not counting Exquisite). Jordan Poyer has only 56 different autographed cards and has several redemptions. Sure you see people every now and again threatening to boycott a brand because of redemptions. Will this work to affect how companies use redemptions? I can’t see it working. Am I saying that I love redemptions? Of course not, I don’t like the idea of waiting for a card that is owed to me. I know that I have to accept them though to keep the hobby going and the new brands hitting shelves. I’d rather have the products come out on time, and have a few redemptions sprinkled in. Let’s face it, we all can’t afford the 10 card pack Flawless Basketball (MSRP: $2,035/dacardworld.com) and a chance to avoid redemptions.
Is there a reason that you’d stop buying packs/boxes? I’ve asked myself that question multiple times over the last couple years. I’ve had periods of time where I haven’t purchased many packs/boxes, but I’ve purchased singles. If you think about it, purchasing singles is still supporting the breaking of boxes, cases and packs. Sure you didn’t directly open a pack, buy a box or bust a case. That card came from someone ripping it though. More than likely by you buying the card, you’re reloading the money train to head to the card station for another visit. Obviously buying singles takes the risk out of opening wax and that satisfies some. The rush and the fun you get from opening packs is what inspires others.
That little voice inside each of our heads still gives us the thought that we’ll pull that huge hit. I won’t lie, that’s what keeps me going back for another box. In conclusion, the bottom line for me is that I can’t blame the card companies because I’m encouraging them through buying. Redemptions are just a product of the beast. Sometimes it’s a love to hate them and sometimes it’s a hate to love them situation.
Glimpse of my redemptions over the last 3 years, yet I’m still buying
By Chas Brailey aka LegendaryVintage
I suppose that a contest entry should be something catchy, savvy, and appealing to all readers. My entry is probably none of these things, at least to many readers but to someone, somewhere, this story will ring a bell in their own mind and will also make them remember.
I was born in 1981 in Covington, GA which is just a hop and a skip from Atlanta. In 1991 at the ripe age of 10, I attended my first baseball game. I went to see the Atlanta Braves play the Houston Astros. It was immediately apparent to my uncle ( who took me to the game ) that my love for the game was going to be something deep. I was glued to every play, I could smell the different foods, I could hear the fans shouting, and I could see them smiling. I was only 10, but I can’t forget the enjoyment that day brought to my life. At that time, I couldn’t really explain why I loved baseball so much and even today it would have been hard for me to explain if not for a special occasion I had with my daughter.
My daughter is sort of a tom cat. She likes climbing trees, throwing rocks, making mud pies, and she really loves sports ( baseball most of all ). I consider her my collecting buddy as she knows more about sports than most men in their 30s. We attend card shows, conventions, and many things of the sort whenever it is driving distance from us and it was just a few months back that I learned a lesson from my daughter ( and I’ve learned plenty from her ). We were at a show in which a few old legends were attending ( the only one that matters is Steve Carlton ). We had purchased a ticket to get him to sign a baseball and I was thrilled to be able to meet the pitching legend. There were signs everywhere ” No ticket, No autograph ” and other signs that said ” Do not ask players to sign an item unless you have a ticket “. Well we were at nearly the end of the line for Steve Carlton and when I made it up to the table he signed my ball and I moved on, but before I could get my daughters hand and continue my journey through the convention, she said to Steve Carlton, ” Hey, can I ask you a question? ” He smiled and said sure.
She looked at him square in the eyes and said ” Why do you charge people for your autograph?” and Carlton sorta grinned and said ” Well, it is kind of hard to explain and I don’t think you would understand “. As I tried to tug my daughter away, she said to him ” I bet I already know the answer, I bet you charge people for autographs because you know most of them are just going to turn around and sell them.” At this point, I let go of her hand and decided to back off and let her take on Steve Carlton. After all, I knew Carlton had met his match. He said ” Well……, yes It has become to much a business but it wasn’t always like this and to be honest I wish it weren’t like this”. At this moment I saw Steve Carlton sorta gaze up as if he was thinking, and he looked at my daughter and said, “I remember back when I was a player, I loved baseball, I loved the smell of the grass, I loved to hear the cheers, and I loved the fans” and do you know what else I loved to do?” My daughter said ” what did you love to do “? he replied ” I loved to sign autographs ” He reached down on the table and picked up a Phillies post card and wrote my daughter a note on the back which reads ” To Brooke, Thanks so much for helping me remember how much I really love this game” Love, Steve Carlton Romans 10:9
She reminded Carlton of how he felt back in the 60s and 70s but she also reminded me of how I felt in the 90s. I too had remembered why I love baseball so much. I love it because it is about so many things.
IT IS ABOUT TEAMWORK! IT IS ABOUT COMPETITION! IT IS ABOUT SPORTSMANSHIP! IT IS ABOUT FAMILY! IT IS ABOUT HARD WORK! IT IS ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT AMERICA WAS FOUNDED ON!
By Pat Murphy aka yankeesfan1324
What do Mike Leake and Xavier Nady have in common?
Mike Leake and Xavier Nady are the only 2 players who have had their MLB debut in the past 15 years to go straight to the MLB without playing in the MiLB or international professional teams. Mike Leake also played in the Arizona Fall League, which is usually around a AA or AAA level, and Xavier Nady only played in 1 game in the MLB before being sent down to AAA.
Why is this important? Sure, if you ever are asked this on a game show you can thank me, but that isn’t the point. The main reason I bring this up is because it means that with very few exceptions, nearly every single player you see playing in the MLB once played in the minors.
Many of the stars in the MLB don’t sign autographs often. Miguel Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, all are considered bad signers. They just don’t have the time to sign autographs for everyone who wants them. Every single one of them played in the minor leagues at one point, and every one of them signed in the minors.
Let’s apply this to the minor leagues now. There are thousands of minor league players now, and eventually, many of them will play in the MLB. Looking back to just earlier this year, there was a young man who began the season in the minors by the name of Yasial Puig, often overlooked and unwanted. He probably didn’t sign every day, but if you wanted an autograph of him it wouldn’t have been hard to get. In only a few months, he became one of the most talked about players in baseball. If you are a baseball fan, it is almost impossible not to know of him. There are millions of people who would love an autograph of him and would be willing to pay a decent price for one.
For an idea of popularity, let’s look to Twitter. I’m from Ohio, so I’ll use the Indians as an example. Justin Toole, @Tooleyj24, is a player on the Columbus Clippers (AAA). I would say he is about an average AAA player and has a good shot at making the majors in 1-3 years. At the time I am writing this, he has 2,383 followers. If you want to, it would be easy to connect with him and talk. Once the baseball season starts up, I’m sure he would be more than willing to sign through the mail or at games.
Now, let’s go look at the MLB. Jason Kipnis, @TheJK_Kid, is probably about an average MLB player. He has played 337 games over 3 years in the MLB. At the time I am writing this, he has 75,398 followers, more than 25 times as many as Justin Toole. While it wouldn’t be impossible to talk to him on twitter, it wouldn’t be as easy. He sometimes signs through the mail and is decent at games, but not nearly as much as a minor leaguer signs.
What can we take from looking at Twitter followers? There is only 1 logical conclusion – most baseball fans completely ignore the minor leagues unless they are specifically told players are top prospects, and only pay attention to the MLB. This gives us hardcore fans more chances. Go out and find a few MiLB prospects (or more) that don’t get a lot of attention. Follow them on twitter and interact with them. Buy some of their cards if they have them, and if possible, try to trade the nicer ones (numbered parallels) for game used bats, gloves, hats, batting gloves, shoes, or anything you want. Send a through the mail request to them, or if you live close, go to a game. Really start a connection with them. If they make it to the MLB, you will not only already have their autograph/cards, but also a connection with the player. Players absolutely know which of their fans jumped on board when they got popular and which ones made a connection earlier on. You never know the opportunities that may come with making that connection. If you know them personally and they make it to the MLB, there is a decent chance that they will be able to get that tough signer to sign for you. If they are in the minors, especially single-A, there is a good chance that they will get the entire team to sign for you. Even if they don’t become anything special, at least you have some autographs and had a fun experience.
A note to fans of other sports – this works to some extent with other sports. The NHL and NBA have “minor leagues” (NHL has the AHL and ECHL, plus a few teams have other affiliates in smaller leagues such as the FHL and the NBA has the NBA D-League), but it is more common for players to skip them, especially if they are higher prospects. The NFL doesn’t have anything that compares, but many college athletes are good signers, especially if they do not go to top colleges.
by Drew Pelto aka *censored*
Back in January I was incredibly frustrated. I was the play by play broadcaster for a junior hockey team. While I figured it was the first step in landing my dream job, I felt like I was going nowhere. The team I was working for was on its way to missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, I was having problems with some fans who made it no secret that they wanted me out of my job, and I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore.
In February, I applied for a photo editor job with Panini. They were looking for a baseball and hockey expert, and I was called in for an interview; I was so confident it went well that I drove around looking at apartments for the rest of the day. A week later, I was offered the position and accepted it, starting in April.
I was asked to write a little about my job for SCF, but I had some trouble– how do I keep it from being pedantic while also not cutting it super-short? And so, I opened the floor to the readers, letting you ask what you wanted to know about my job. And so, here are a baker’s dozen questions on what I do as a photo editor for Panini.
Q. Briefly describe what you do on your job.
A. My job primarily revolves around two areas: identifying photos and selecting them for use on cards. We get a ton of football and basketball photos and once they’re put into our computer system, we have to identify who is in the picture, what team they’re with, and what jersey they’re wearing. I’ll get into more about image selection later in this article.
Q. In the process of making a set, how many pictures of any one player are taken? Do you guys just work with what the photograph brings back or you actually have a choice?
A. It varies, really. For baseball, basketball, and football, the vast majority of our images come in bulk from photographers around the country who will shoot games and send them to us on a CD or through a FTP upload. Hockey images are most often purchased from an online company, though we have started having game photos sent directly to us. Also, one of our other photo editors is a photographer so he can occasionally shoot games for us. So it’s not like it’s a case of us saying “Okay, get us a photo of each of these 100 players,” but rather we’ll get them from an entire game several times during the season, giving us a large pool from which to choose. We do have to work with what the photographers give us, but we often end up with many that we can use.
Q. How long is the process to create a set from start to finish (i.e. selecting a checklist, photos and everything that goes with it)?
A. This is another piece that varies a lot. Lower-end sets with few-to-no autograph and memorabilia cards can be put out relatively quickly. The higher-end sets take a while longer. It involves a lot of communication between departments to figure out what we have in stock for memorabilia, who can quickly sign cards, and how quickly we can find a photo if a specific one is requested. Sometimes we have to do some major digging to find exactly what we’re asked to pick out. Some products can be done from development to hitting the shelves in 4 months. Others may take upwards of 8.
Q. Does your job involves focusing on one product at the time or do you work on multiple sets in the course of a day?
A. Most of the time I’ll be focusing on one set at a time, though often products will overlap. When I first started, I was working on 2012-13 Prime, followed quickly by 2013-14 Select, Prizm, and Dominion all overlapping to some degree. Most of the time I’ll be handed an insert to work on for a day, finish it off, then do some ID’ing for a day or two. If two inserts are similar in player content, I may get asked to do two or three at a time. Working on those all at once helps to ensure a good variety of photos. There are two hockey programs I’m bouncing back and forth on right now. They haven’t been formally announced yet, so I probably shouldn’t say much more than that.
Q. Given the sheer volume of photos taken by fans, has Panini ever considered using player photos from non-professional photographers? For that matter, does a photographer have to have some sort of license to be able to sell their own photos of professional athletes?
A. We have had to occasionally. In hockey for example, if we can’t get a photo of a player from Getty or the Hall of Fame, we may put a call out to other professional photographers to buy an image from them. If that fails, we’ll try to find if someone else has what we’re looking for. The problem is that our images need to be of the highest quality possible. There are even some professionals out there who just aren’t up to snuff for what we can use. The best quality shots come from professional photographers with cameras that sometimes cost close to $7,000. So the chances of a random fan having a high enough quality image for us is practically zero. As far as I know, there’s no license required as long as the photo is one that the owner of the photo took themselves, or at least owns the rights to its reproduction. Don’t quote me on that though.
Q. How does it really go card to card? I know there is a basic format, but other than that, is each individual card done separately? Can some things be brought over, like the logo (as in the Panini logo) and the background, or is each card a lot of work?
A. This is something I’m not heavily involved in, as we have separate departments for Photo, Color, and Assembly, all falling under the heading of Prepress. This is something Assembly does. Of what I’ve seen in passing by the desks for people in Assembly, a lot can be carried over. If there’s a certain element that repeats on every card (such as company/product/set logo, space for a player’s name, team name, area for a position to be listed, or common backgrounds), it can carry over easily. It’s rare that a card has to be created totally from scratch every time.
Q. Which is better, in your opinion – A college/USA uniform or a pro uniform airbrushed out?
A. It really depends on the set. Much of it comes down to licensing. As you may know, Panini only has half of the required baseball licensing due to Major League Baseball’s exclusive deal with Topps. We have the MLB Players’ Association though, so we can show the players, just no logos. We often take it a step further and have the Color department remove piping from jerseys, multi-coloring from numbers, and won’t even use team names in print. Instead of the Cleveland Indians, they just get called the Cleveland Baseball Club, or just Cleveland. Much of that is hoping that Major League Baseball might see that we’re playing by their rules and grant us full licensing once the Topps deal runs out in 2020. If we’re doing a set with recent draft picks, usually we’ll stick with college uniforms– though even those often get cloned out in Photoshop so that we don’t have to secure that extra NCAA licensing. Having a full deal with USA Baseball, we can stick with the USA logo as long as it is a Team USA themed set. I like the full uniform use of Team USA items; unfortunately we don’t have too much of a choice in the matter.
Q. Did you start as a photo editor with sports as a hobby or a sports fan who then got into photo editing?
A. I started out as a sports fan who just happens to be decent with photos. I’ve been following the big four leagues since I was in elementary school, worked as a yearbook photographer in middle school, and did some photo editing, layout, and even card making work in my previous career as a broadcaster at the junior hockey level. When I read the job description to my wife, she said: “So basically they’re looking to hire YOU?” With a degree in journalism, I feel I have an excellent attention to detail and that can really help out in selecting photos.
Q. How much input do you have? If you had a great idea for a set, would there be a good way of passing it on?
A. I don’t have much input. However, I have a good relationship with the people in Product Development. I actually have lunch with one of the main hockey guys almost every day and I play fantasy hockey with him and a couple others in that area. So if I had some revolutionary idea, I could certainly pitch it to them. I’m not the super-creative type, so I’ll probably leave the earth-shattering, ground-breaking ideas up to those guys.
Q. Are baseball and hockey products harder to edit because of how thin bats/sticks are?
A. The cropping work is done by the Color department, so I don’t get into that at all. However, having done some of this in my amateur work and in my previous job, it’s not too tough if you know what you’re doing, and the Photoshop mavens over in Color know what they’re doing quite well. The magnetic lasso tool is one of your best friends in cutting through even the thinnest parts.
Q. Have/do you ever get to meet players while doing your job?
A. I have! Once in a while players will come through to do some signings for products and get a tour of the facilities. I’ve seen Derek Roy, Reilly Smith, Quincy Acy, C.J. Miles, Rex Burkhead, and a few others. I had a long chat with former goalie and Dallas Stars color commentator, Daryl “Razor” Reaugh a few months ago, swapping war stories of our junior and minor league broadcasting careers. Panini actually had organized meet-and-greet signings with Rangers’ pitcher Nick Tepesch and Mavericks’ guard and recent draft pick Ricky Ledo for all our employees. My boss goes to the basketball, football, and hockey Rookie Photo Shoots every year, so he’s met all the prospects who come in for those. I also am going to have a brief appearance on NHL Network soon, showing off my job as part of a story on the entire card-making process.
Q. Is there a procedure for getting the photo approved by the players or allowing the player to see it early (to prevent issues like the Billy Ripken)?
A. Every card we make must be approved by the league (or the MLBPA in the case of baseball). They can reject photos for various reasons, mostly related to jersey or number changes, or if a player is on a different team or even a different league. With Ilya Kovalchuk’s sudden “retirement,” we pulled him from every product that we could. If we hadn’t, the NHL likely would have requested he be removed. The leagues want to keep the products as fresh as possible, making sure the players shown are all current, or at least well-known retired players. Some players have it in their contracts that they have the right to approve every image. I won’t name them specifically, but there is at least one member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and at least one well-known current basketball player who have the right to request changes to any and all images of them. Additionally, due to sponsorship deals with a razor company, two of hockey’s biggest names can’t be shown with facial hair, unless it’s for a playoff beard themed insert or something of that sort. We also can’t show advertisements for alcohol, tobacco, or gambling, so scoreboard or dasher board ads showing beer companies, casinos, or state lotteries have to be removed. We also can’t show blood or fighting.
Q. What is the toughest thing about the job?
A. Player who chew on their mouthguards or have their tongue dangling out. The best standard we use in picking photos is to ask ourselves “Would you appreciate this card if it was a photo of you?” We try to keep the players looking at least dignified, and it’s hard to look good if your tongue is hanging out, your mouthguard is halfway outside where it’s supposed to be, or if you make some of the crazy faces Jay Bouwmeester makes. It’s true you can’t always control your faces when you’re focused on your sport, but what good does a mouthguard do if you’re chewing on it instead of wearing it?
So, there you have it. You now have an industry insider posting and writing here. Use it wisely. Just don’t ask for any of our secrets.
And no, I can’t get you any free stuff.
About the author: Drew Pelto has been a photo editor with Panini for a little over six months. He resides in Arlington, TX in an apartment that occasionally leaks when it rains. Fortunately that is rare because it’s Texas.