The point of it all…

October 12, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Blogs, Personal | 6 Comments

I’m in the mood for some retrospection today.  The controversy regarding Wax Heaven’s decision to accept a corporate sponsorship from Upper Deck and to accept free boxes of cards has got me thinking about what the whole purpose of blogging about baseball cards is anyway.

I started to think about my own motivation for starting a blog.  When I got back into collecting early this year, and starting reading all of the card blogs on the internet, I became hooked.  I found myself checking The Baseball Card Blog, Wax Heaven, Stale Gum, Cardboard Junkie, and others multiple times per day.  Soon I was leaving comments on the posts that I found most interesting.  I still thought that starting my own blog would be too time-consuming to be worth it.  When JV from Treasure Never Buried started his blog, I saw someone who was a lot like me starting out from scratch.  I began leaving a lot of comments on his posts, and he encouraged me to start my own blog, and so did Mario from Wax Heaven.

On the night of June 14, while I was on vacation at Virginia Beach, I wrote my first post after my wife fell asleep.  Since then, it’s been more fun and fulfilling than I ever imagined.  Through the sports card blogosphere, I’ve become friends and acquaintances with a countless number of collectors.  I’ve been able to make some great trades with many readers and other bloggers, whether it’s helping to fill sets or just trading each other cards from our favorite teams.  In many ways, my participation in the sports card blogosphere brings me back to my middle school days when I spent hours a day trading and talking about cards with my friends.  It’s been an awesome experience.

Along the way, I’ve started to believe that with all of the card blogs out there, we might actually be able to make an impact on the sports card industry and help to bring about positive changes.  I thought about the campaign that was started by Trader Crack’s Blog to bring back Topps Stadium Club, and the announcement that Stadium Club was coming back (though not quite in an ideal form) a couple of months later.  I’ve been influenced by the brilliant Sports Cards Uncensored where Gellman seems to be on a tireless crusade to bring about positive change to fix some of the problems in the card industry.

Lately, a huge focus of my blog has been on the Tampa Bay Rays’ amazing playoff run.  It’s not really pertinent to baseball cards, but it’s been on the forefront of my mind.  I’m a huge believer that any blogger should write about what they want to write about and not be limited to the constraints of what others might expect from their blog.  And besides, a lot of people have told me that they’ve enjoyed reading the perspective of a Rays fan; there’s not that many of us out there.  After the Rays’ season ends, my blog is going to focus a lot more on what the card companies can do to improve the card collecting hobby.  There will be a lot more posts like this one on how to make better cards.

Maybe I’m just idealistic, but I really think that the power of all of the card blogs together could make a huge influence on the card companies.  When there are a bunch of people blogging about what they like and don’t like about baseball cards, the card companies would be serving their own best interests to listen to what they have to say.  I think that we’re all in this together.  I think that the great thing about the card blogosphere is that there are so many of us out there expressing our opinions.

While I understand why Mario is excited to be getting free cards from Upper Deck, I am saddened that Upper Deck is now encroaching into the blogosphere.  Since I see so much potential in the power of all of the bloggers’ independent voices, I really hope that this isn’t the start of a trend.  From my own idealistic viewpoint, I like the idea of a bunch of independent collectors writing about their opinions about the hobby better than I like the idea of card companies sponsoring our blogs and trying to exert their influence over us.

I know that Mario took my disappointment over his announcement the wrong way.  I consider Mario to be a good friend and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all that he has done to help me get started and to promote my blog.  Mario is an immensely talented writer, and I’ll be a daily reader no matter what he’s blogging about.  I know that he is sensitive about anything that could even be remotely construed as criticism.  I hope that we can agree to disagree about the idea of corporate sponsorship of card blogs by card companies, and continue the friendship that we have had.

So what’s the purpose of Fielder’s Choice Baseball Card Blog?  It’s just an outlet for me to write about things that I like, with the main focus being the baseball card hobby.  It’s a fun way for me to express my thoughts.  As my wife could tell you, I have an opinion on pretty much everything that I have any knowledge about, and I love to share and debate my opinions with others.  I can honestly say that I’m never going to be interested in ads, corporate sponsorships, or favors from any card companies that I write about.  I make enough money with my job to afford all of the cards that I want.  This blog will always be my own place to write about whatever I want with no ads or sponsorships cluttering it up.

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6 Comments »

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  1. First off, there’s nothing wrong with being an idealist. I sort of am.

    I work at a newspaper and I know all about the angst that goes on over endorsement vs. advertisement, etc. But I don’t see anything wrong with what Mario is doing, especially with the way he’s handling what he does with his free cards. Newspapers get free stuff for review all the time. And they get stuff that the average person doesn’t get. They also accept advertising dollars from companies that might end up receiving a review from the newspaper (restaurants, etc.) In the majority of the cases, that doesn’t affect newspapers’ neutrality. They are bound by a journalism code that prevents them from acting on temptations. And newspapers have different ideas about what they do with that free stuff (free stuff over a certain price range gets returned, etc.).

    Now, in the newspaper business, like any business, there are good and bad people. And I’ve found out we do not live in an idealistic world. But, on the whole, the system works for newspapers.

    Perception of neutrality is another matter, and for those people who might perceive that Wax Heaven is in bed with Upper Deck because of the agreement, I’d say, “relax.” Like the best of newspapers, you have to consider the source. Wax Heaven is among the best of card blogs, if not the best. If something questionable happens (and I seriously, seriously doubt that), then people can weigh in. But I think we’re getting all hot and bothered much, much too early right now.

  2. Night Owl – that’s the thing – I never thought of card blogs as being like newspapers. I never thought of this as a way to make money or get free stuff. Clearly, a lot of people do see it that way, and that’s fine. It just shows that my perception of an ideal card blogosphere was different from yours.

    I’ll also say that the intrusion of Upper Deck into the blogosphere is a bad thing regardless of whether Mario praises or bashes them in his reviews. I’ve sung Mario’s praises as a great blogger louder than anyone, so I know what a good reputation he has.

  3. To be honest, I’m not sure many (or maybe even if ANY) of the card bloggers saw blogging as a way to make money when they first started writing. And then, Google made it easy to incorporate ‘related’ ads in their blogspot sites. I remember when Dave and Adam’s first started advertising on certain blogs. For some reason, there was very little controversy over that. Then, Mario gets an offer from Upper Deck and the card-blogging world goes bananas…

    As I’ve said, either way suits me just fine, as long as the writer stays true to him/herself and maintains integrity. If they lose that integrity, they won’t be around long enough to reap the benefits of their sponsorship anyway…

    And, as an ex-girlfriend of mine said often – never say ‘never,’ it’ll come back to bite you in the arse…

  4. I still don’t see the problem here. But that’s OK. Different viewpoints are a wonderful thing. I think the beauty of a blog is it can be a lot of things — it can be a diary, it can be a money-maker, it can be a world-changer. Whatever you want it to be. If you have quality content, then I’ve got no issues.

  5. Actually, I thought the point of baseball card blogs was to have no agenda other than to look at, discuss, and marvel at the history of cards and collecting! We don’t like even the hint of an ad on blogs. (Reviewing products is different than running ads.) Not much of a fan of politics, either, as we crabbily noted in a post today, and we’re rabidly for one candidate and not for another. But not in BC blogworld. Purists unite! Just kidding. Sort of.

  6. I find it most funny that everyone keeps saying things like…

    “Mario gets an offer from Upper Deck and the card-blogging world goes bananas…”

    Best I can tell is that TWO people seemed to have a problem with this whole deal. Me and Dave. Pros and cons be damned, we spoke out against the two problems we see arising from this.

    Funny thing is, we both posted comments to a post of Mario’s prior to the “announcement”. In our comments, we said basically the same thing. Before it was “official”, Dave and I both made our POVs known and no one had a problem with it.

    Now, it seems that the only “bananas” that anyone is going is in support of Mario’s decision.


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