Unless my cognitive abilities are even more impaired than I fear, I saw that those two amazing Stephen Strasburg cards were creating more market hysteria than we’ve seen in many a year.
As I write this, the Strasburg Superfractor (I giggle every time I type that word) Red Autograph card is above $100,000, and the guy who paid $16,000 for the unsigned 1/1 Superfractor has decided to sell his after owning it for about a week or so. I just get the vapors when our hobby reaches such dizzying heights.
And I can’t help but think back to the lawsuits that the card companies dodged maybe 10 years or so ago when it was alleged that what they were actually selling was more akin to lottery tickets than baseball cards.
If I remember that bit of legal wrangling correctly, the card companies escaped a nasty mess by asserting that consumers (collectors) were getting precisely what they bargained for: baseball cards, with whatever intrinsic value that suggested, whereas people who buy lottery tickets ended up with zilch if the particular lottery ticket they bought ended up without any winners.
That sounds like good lawyer talk, as they say, but it seems to me the picture of somebody buying a pack of baseball cards and finding something ostensibly worth $100,000 or more is a bit more compelling. See, I’m not protesting about what intuitively to me seems like insanity, since I understand to a degree about supply and demand and the effects of a kind of group hysteria. But I just can’t shake the similarly intuitive notion that spending that kind of money on something so recently manufactured is just an incredibly risky proposition.
And I also keep thinking back to one of the last comic books I ever read as a kid, probably about 50 years ago or thereabouts. Jughead comes up with this grand plan to create the sheerest pantyhose known in all of the civilized world, which in this case amounted to nothing more than a black string that ran up the back of the legs. As I recall, he did very well with it, at least initially.
For whatever reason, whenever I hear of new cards selling for the price of a Buick or even a small condominium in Little Rock, I think about Jughead.