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Tag Archives: Economics

As I’m sure you’ve read, the never-ending saga to relocate the Portland Beavers out of PGE Park now has city officials unable to decide how exactly they want to spend tax dollars. Whether it’s Lents Park, the site currently occupied by the Memorial Coliseum, or who knows where else, the pols can’t make up their mind. Which of course leaves would-be MLS owner Merritt Paulson still waiting for a new home.

It certainly appears clear that they’re going to go ahead with their plan to convert (at taxpayer expense) the recently-renovated (at taxpayer expense, and still not fully paid for) PGE Park to a soccer-only facility, especially now since they have the Oregon House’s blessing to proceed.

Let’s make a few things clear. I believe in the idea of urban renewal. I believe that investing taxpayer money into improving the city’s infrastructure is a good thing.

I enjoy watching the Beavers. I love watching baseball at all levels, and I appreciate there’s a team in Portland. And while I may not appreciate soccer as much, I certainly understand the desire of fans to bring a bigger franchise to the city — that’s a good thing.

But what I don’t believe in is using taxpayer money to fund such a private venture with such a narrow demographic. Let’s be serious. It’s not like we’re talking MLB, or the NFL, or even the NHL for that matter. We’re talking about a sport that lags far behind the big three — and we’re talking about a fairly sizable public investment in it.

What it comes down to is this. Sure, bring MLS to Portland. But Merritt Paulson needs to make sure he pays for all of it and doesn’t resort to corporate welfare in order to do it. If it’s such a sure-fire investment, then surely he, successful businessman that he is, can afford to do this on his own. If not, then find some private investors and sell them on the plan.

The fact of the matter is that publicly-funded sports stadia are almost overwhelmingly a lose-lose for a city’s taxpayers. Just ask the Phoenix Coyotes or the Indianapolis Colts, among many others. Given the tremendous risk of these investments, it’s absolutely ludicrous for Merritt Paulson to even think of tapping into the city’s funds for his pet projects.

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As I mentioned in earlier post, it’s puzzling to me that Upper Deck would eliminate two of its most popular products and stick with some its more widely-panned products. Then again, what do the critics know?

But that’s the thing — we may be more than just self-proclaimed “critics,” particularly since the sportscard media is really limited to just Beckett and Tuff Stuff. More importantly, we’re consumers, the ones who the card companies ought to be listening to.

Are they listening to us? In a way, I feel they are. Look at the 09 iteration of Upper Deck Goudey. Far less short print stupidity makes for a far more manageable checklist than the last two sets. Then again, rather than making the same change for Masterpieces, they’re canning it altogether.

As  a set-builder, I can attest that far less short-print stupidity would be a welcome change. In a time when the economy is ailing, the last thing I want to do is buy more product. I want to finish my sets, and enjoy my hobby. But when push comes to shove, I’d rather eat than search for SPs. If their scheme to get me to buy more boxes is to mismange the collation and inundate the sets with bloated checklists and SPs, it’s not going to work.

I look  back to say, 05-06, and think of the number of 100-card, non-short printed sets available during that time, and I wish UD and Topps hadn’t strayed from that formula. I also look at 08’s Donruss Threads and point that out as an example of exactly what I want to see in terms of collation — one 24 pack hobby box produced nearly an entire base set, and a bounty of inserts, autos, and gamers. Then I look at 08 UD Timeline, and see that a 24 pack hobby box isn’t even going to come remotely close to finishing the set, and I’ll still have work to do after even two boxes.

Contrary to what many others think, it’s not the gimmicks such as Kazuo Uzuki, or Hillary Clinton/Morganna that need to go. I actually LIKE those things. Cards like those make collecting not so monotonous. It breaks up the scenery, so to speak. It’s the lack of bang for the buck that really aggravates me. I’ll buy the cards, Topps and Upper Deck, that much we’ve established. I just need you to make it so it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to do it.

So in 2009, I want to see from UD and Topps the same thing I see from everyone else — a belt-tightening of sorts. No more overabundant sets. No more overzealous checklists. No more repetitive checklists. No more short print stupidity. No more ridiculous MSRPs! Seven dollars for a six-card pack of Masterpieces? Five dollars for a pack of base Upper Deck? No more using cheap, undesirable rookie autographs of Single-A washouts to justify price increases and “high-end” product. Make these inserts count and don’t waste them on the 42nd man of a 40-man roster!

For many of us, collecting is paid for with discretionary income. And with discretionary incomes growing smaller, UD and Topps need to make it so we get far more bang for the buck than we did in 07-08.

It was with great disappointment that I read Upper Deck plans on discontinuing the Masterpieces brand. It’s a shame as it was one of the few Upper Deck releases I actually looked forward to in 2008.

Really, it’s just another in a rash of bad decisions by Upper Deck — not that Topps was innocent of such things themselves — Moments and Milestones, anyone? That they’re bringing back the widely panned X, A Piece of  History/Artifacts, Opening Day, and adding updates to Documentary and Yankee Stadium Legacy. Add to that the decision to discontinue Masterpieces and Sweet Spot, arguably two of their most popular products, and you’ve some seriously senseless decisionmaking.

But as industry insider Steve Judd asks succintly, you have to wonder what this means for the card industry. Can Upper Deck and Topps afford to keep flooding the market with garbage releases and expect to be profitable during these economic times?

As a post-mortem to Masterpieces, here’s a few of the bonus cards that came with the last of my Christmas presents from DACW.

01092319

My hope is that these boxes will bring me that much closer to set completion on their respective fronts. However, I won’t be breaking these boxes until next week — busy weekend and all. Sadly, my last two weekends were far busier than my last week — work has slowed considerably, but predictably. Hopefully things’ll pick up again — I’d like to get in on the early 2009 releases, not to mention do things like pay the bills!

biggio

This card is exactly why I love Masterpieces so much. Awesome photo, and although it isn’t a painting necessarily, the expression on Biggio’s face, the gold border, really, everything comes together so well and makes this such an aesthetically pleasing card.

morneau

And it wouldn’ t be a modern set without all the pointless, stupid parallels, now would it? Here’s Morneau, framed in Green Linen (I think).

jackie

I have three copies of this card — one with my 07 Masterpieces set, another in my Dodger binder, and now this one. And what a beautiful moment to immortalize — Jackie signing on with Branch Rickey and the Dodgers. This was actually one of the first Masterpieces cards I owned, having found it while rummaging through the massively unorganized piles of cards at one of my favorite shops.

And of course, the “hit,” an on-card auto from Padres 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

gonzalez

I think it’s strange that I’ve managed to pull lots of Rockies, Padres, and especially Giants when it comes to autos and gamers.

I think it’s strange that in one pack, all the cards were vertically oriented, and in the other, they were all horizontally oriented.

I think it’s strange that both bonus gifts I received from DACW contained autos.

And I wish that I hadn’t haphazardly ordered from DACW, since combined, my orders would’ve qualified for something a lot nicer than Matt Cain and Adrian Gonzalez autographs!

citifieldBailout recipient Citibank purchased the naming rights to the Mets’ new yard for something along the lines of $400 milion, which I presume is the standard price for such a thing these days.

Then again, considering the citizens of New York are already putting in $260 million of their own money into the construction of this park, on top of bailing out Citibank to the tune of $25 billion or so, Field of Schemes suggests a more appropriate name would be CITY Field.

Considering Citibank is now getting that much more of my money — first the taxpayer-funded bailout, and now they’re doubling my credit card interest rates as part of an overall rate increase — perhaps I can stake my claim to the new park. While my contribution to keep Citibank afloat may not be enough to slap my name on a sign in front of the stadium, there has to be something I can claim! I’ll make my case for free Dodgers/Mets tickets next time I’m on the phone with a Citibank CSR.

Thank goodness Seattle’s taxpayers had the sense to send the Sonics packing when they came begging for public money. I only hope Portland will do the same, now that Merritt Paulson — yes, son of Hank Paulson — is begging its taxpayers to hand over $40 million to replace perfectly functional PGE Park.

Price I paid for gas today: 2.719, or 29.00 for a full tank.

Last time I paid 2.719 or less for a gallon of gas: 8/11/07

Last time I paid less than $30 for a full tank (9+ gallons) of gas: 3/21/08

Highest per gallon price I’ve paid for gas: 4.399 on 7/8/08

Lowest per gallon price I’ve paid for gas (for my current vehicle): 1.959 on 8/22/04