Friday, March 12, 2010

Merlin Olsen and Cliff Lee Both Have Affect on the Card Market

I heard 2 very interesting questions yesterday.  One was about the Cliff Lee short print from 2010 Topps Opening Day and the other was on the death of a great player and person Merlin Olsen. 

When it came to Cliff Lee there were people who were upset that the short print was all over ebay and proceeded to go from $50 to $5 in a day because people were flooding the market trying to sell the card. 

In the case of Merlin Olsen it was the increase in his trading cards on ebay hours after he died.

In both cases the issue really is the same one.   People who sell sports cards want to make money and are going along with a system that is available to them.  This is capitalism at its best and its worst. 

Is it morally wrong to sell Merlin Olsen cards shortly after his death?  For me personally I would say yes but I would not hold it against anyone who did it because they are trying to make money and it may be necessary for them to do so.  When it comes to business you really need to take emotion out of the equation as much as possible and deal with what the customer wants and needs.   If people are feeling bad about Merlin Olsen and want something to remember him by then the seller is filling that need.  When a family member dies don't we usually want something to remember him/her by?  This is not much different because Merlin Olsen was like family to people who had him come into their homes while watching him in shows like Little House of the Prairie and Father Murphy. 

In the case of the Cliff Lee card it is about making money and capitalism but who decides when enough is enough? Why should even one seller lose a chance to make some money?  Yes, over selling hurts the market but when do you know when to stop?  The Cliff Lee card will eventually go for a $1 most likely.  Just like the Topps Jeter/Mantle/Bush card it will have no value when it was going for unreasonable numbers.  No one will want the Cliff Lee card in a week but in a media driven society when everything is yesterday's news and forgotten about you have to strike quick to make some money which gets harder every day. 

Don't fault the sellers for bad behavior in either case and realize that society and a market gone crazy is to fault.  Just remember that Cliff Lee is a great pitcher and that Merlin Olsen was a great human being. The cards keep both of them in our minds when we go looking through them in our notebooks, shoeboxes or top loaders years from now.  Isn't that all that matters in the long run?

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