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2012: A Sports Card Odyssey

2012: A Sports Card Odyssey

On December 23rd, 2012 the world “could" come to an end. Scientifically, the planets are actually supposed to align, just not for collectors. If the world ended a month later, we could get one last round of SP Authentic and Contenders in! The following is a list of things I want to see happen in the hobby before 11:59 PM (Central time?) of December 22nd, 2012:

The Future of Sports Cards

If a Hallmark Greeting Card can have sound, why can't sports cards? If you've ever been unfortunate enough to open a Birthday Card that sings “happy birthday", you know what I'm talking about. The idea for “SPfx" is to insert the same microchip into a sports card. By simply pressing a small button on the card, you could hear some of the following classics:

  • “And We'll See You Tomorrow Night" (Jack Buck's call of Kirby Puckett's Walk-Off Homerun in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series)
  • “The Super Bowl Shuffle" (1985 Bears)
  • “Anything is Possible!" (Kevin Garnett after winning the 2007-08 NBA Finals)
  • “To me, there are three things we should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions bring you to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." (Jimmy Valvano's legendary ESPY Speech)
  • “When my time on Earth is done, and my activities on earth have passed, I want them to bury me upside down, so my critics can kiss my ass!" (Bobby Knight)

SPrc is another offshoot of Upper Deck's SP franchise. SPrc would be the most ambitious and comprehensive rookie product ever conceived. Every drafted rookie, every rookie free agent, and every rookie that appeared in an NFL game would be represented. No veterans would be included in this extremely limited and short printed product. It ideally would release at the conclusion of the NFL Season.

Fantasy Football Contenders:
The recipe for “Fantasy Football Contenders" is simple: ½ Draft Edition, ½ Fantasy Football Preview Magazine. Put the scouting reports and projections on the back of each card and have the card's number correspond to their projected ranking. There could also be “Boom", “Bust", and “Sleeper" inserts! This way, Panini could open and close the NFL Season with Contenders!

The Return of Star and Sky Box:
Now that Panini owns the exclusive rights to the NBA, they can basically make anything they want. The one thing Panini lacks is a “vintage" product. Buying the rights to either “Star" or “Sky Box" could solve that. How cool would it be to revive “Star"? They could lay claim to its brief, but intriguing past. Star's fifteen minutes of stardom lasted from 1983 to 1985-86 (In Basketball Years). A lot of people like to write off Star because they were a small off-brand who's cards came in sealed “team bags" (those people also own an 86-87 Fleer Jordan Rookie!), but that doesn't change the fact that their cards were interesting, intriguing, and extremely valuable.

The $400 "Buyback" Pack:
Imagine opening a pack of cards that is nothing but cards from the past. I'm not talking about buying a “cube" from Wal-Mart filled with 1990 Fleer Baseball, I'm talking about buying a pack and getting nothing but great rookie cards! Imagine opening a pack and getting an 84' Topps John Elway Buyback Auto hand-numbered to 84, a 1991 Stadium Club Brett Favre, and a slew of other great rookie cards!

Bowman Abstract:
Take Bill James' “sabermetrics" and splice it with Bowman's name. This would be a great way to make sense of having players from all eras represented. The back of the card has been ignored for far too long. “Bowman Abstract" would be for the “stat junky" in search of answers. Who is the greatest pitcher of all-time? Who would be the starting Short Stop on the All-Time Team? Is Bert Blyleven a Hall of Famer?

Strat-O-Matic Baseball Cards:
Over the last decade, America's Youth has been collecting cards, just not sports cards. Magic, Pokemon, DandD, Yu-GI-Oh, and other strategy based card games have captured the imaginations of both the young and old. Topps has tried to penetrate this market with products like “Topps Attax" to no avail. This begs the question, where are the “Strat-o-matic" sports cards? Strat-O-Matic Baseball was actually one of the primary influences in creating games like “Magic"! In Strat-O-Matic baseball, you match players up against each other and roll the dice. The players attributes listed on each card determine the outcome. Strat-O-Matic allows you step into the shoes of a manager by allowing you to set line-ups, choose starters, pinch run and hit, and play pitching matchups. It's shocking how authentic and realistic the game is.

The Future of Collecting Accessibility and Preservation

The “E-PACK":
With the E-Pack, you will be able to buy a pack of cards whenever and wherever. All you need Internet access and a credit card! You simply go to the Topps, Upper Deck, or Panini website and purchase a pack and open it online. The cards you get will appear as “virtual copies" that are backed by the actual cards. Unlike the current “E-Cards", these packs will contain the same cards you can get in retail and hobby offerings. To get your cards, you simply “cash out" your virtual collection and within days you receive the real cards.

The “Temporary Slab":
Tops loaders, magnet cases, screw cases, and sleeves have all run their course. In collecting, there is nothing more important than preservation and presentation. You want to above all else preserve the condition of your cards, but what's the point of collecting if you can't show off your collection! That is where the “Temporary Slab" comes into play. A “Slab" is the case a graded card is permanently put into. Wouldn't it be great to get a box of BGS Slabs that open and close with a small plastic latch? This would offer the ultimate protection and presentation!

Pack Wrapper Protector:
How many times have you opened a pack, gotten a good card, and freaked out trying to figure out how to get the card home without dinging a corner? The idea behind the “Pack Wrapper Protector" is to use the left over pack wrapper for temporary “Mint" protection. I'm not sure how they could pull this off, but it seems like mixing a “team bag" with a “pack wrapper" could lead somewhere.

Or perhaps the answer can be found in the 90's, specifically mid 90's FLAIR. Packs of Flair came in little boxes that resembled a pack of fancy cigarettes.

The Death of the “Sherzee Card":
For those not familiar with the “Sherzee", it is basically a “T-Shirt" that pretends to be a Jersey. The sports card version of this is the “Event Worn Jersey" card. Was Allen Iverson's infamous “practice" speech possibly referring to these cards? Cause they certainly weren't worn in a game!

Bowman Prospect Tracker:
As a prospect junky, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to find minor league stats. The idea behind the Bowman Prospect Tracker is simple: Create a username on the Topps Website, enter the listing number of all your Bowman Prospect cards, receive daily stat updates via e-mail or by logging onto your account.

Checklists - There's an App for That:
Apparently there's an “App(lication)" for everything on an I-Phone, so maybe this already exists. If it doesn't, it should. The days of stuffing a checklist in your wallet should soon be coming to an end.

The Beckett Store:
The most annoying part about getting cards graded is the mailing process and waiting time. The Beckett store would offer Beckett Products as well as “In House" Grading. If Lens Crafters can offer prescription glasses in under an hour, why can't Beckett grade a card in the same amount of time?

1st Come, 1st Serve Redemptions:
The inspiration behind this one stems from a recent Rhett Bomar redemption I pulled out of Gridiron Gear. How many times has this happened to you? What the “first come, first serve" redemption offers you is a choice. Instead of being assigned a player and card, you will be assigned a group (Group A,B,C,D,E,F,G,etc.). So, if you pulled a Group D redemption, you would get pick your card from a pool of available Group D players.

Un-Searchable Packs:
One of the biggest problems with the hobby is pack searching. If every pack felt the same and weighed the same, pack searching would be virtually impossible. The simplest way of doing this would be to make the “fake hits" weigh the same amount as the real hits and to package the cards in a manor that hides both the texture and flexibility.

Brett is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

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