I am excited about the upcoming National Convention in Baltimore for a number of reasons, none of which include the almost manic rumor mongering that took place during the two weeks or so leading up to the show.
Sure, it’s a tradition within the hobby to ramp up all the typical speculation that swirls about, but we ought to consider that a good deal of it may be nothing more than people stirring the pot who have an agenda or merely a long-standing animus. Let’s face it, the National provides a perfect opportunity to air hobby linen – in whatever stage of being soiled – on a stage much wider than would typically be the case almost any other time of the years.
Writing in an immediate blog – and then later transferring much of it to our print publication Sports Collectors Digest – creates odd timing dilemmas. For example, by the time this reaches a subscriber’s mailbox, the National will have folded up its big tent and much of the speculation will have been resolved in some fashion.
The widespread speculation is that vague unspecified big things are coming down during the show, and an almost laughably vague New York Daily News story on the Monday before the show was either the result of all that allegedly impending mayhem from federal law enforcement or perhaps the principal impetus for the speculation itself. Obviously, I risk looking like a knucklehead if some major developments occur. Fine.
Whatever the FBI, the postal authorities, the CIA or Blackwater or whoever has been up to over the last two years in terms of investigating our beloved little hobby/industry, they’ve done a damn fine job of keeping it under their hats. Regardless of what happens, I’ll still be major-league surprised if it turns out that the Justice Department has been devoting significant resources and expense to something as exotic – and difficult to prove without exhaustive research – as shill bidding and card doctoring.
That said, I’m hoping this first-ever visit to Baltimore proves to be a bit hit for all the conventional reasons, perhaps the most important being that if this succeeds it should potentially open up the door to the National having a somewhat broader rotation than the seemingly endless back-and-forth between Chicago and Cleveland.
But mostly I just hope it does well because it’s such an important part of the fabric of the hobby/industry.