Sunday, January 29, 2012

The problem with "Game-Used"

(image from someone else's card listed on eBay)

A lot of press has resurfaced regarding the 2000 Pacific Invincible Manny Ramirez "corked" bat card.  I say resurfaced because there was a TON of press the first time the cards started showing up.  Was it corked? Was it Manny's? Was it a publicity stunt? What's the deal?

Well, according to recent happenings on "The Cardboard Connection" blog and radio program, it was something that should have never made it to production.  Frankly, that's not what I am interested in here.

My problem is one of, well, semantics, I suppose.  Now, I realize this was back in 2000.  That's BEFORE companies started using terms like "USED" versus "GAME USED" and "WORN" versus "GAME WORN" in their descriptors.  And, maybe it is because of this card, the industry changed some of its ways. I don't know.

According to Scott Mahlum of Mill Creek Sportscards, “That was the only Ramirez model in the bunch. It showed a ton of use, and a ton of handle wear. It’s definitely a bat that had been used, whether it was in a game, batting practice, winter league, whatever.”

"...whether it was in a game, batting practice, winter league, whatever!?"  Shouldn't this be a bigger concern that "whatever" would indicate?

I look at today's "memorabilia" cards and wonder why anyone even bothers to collect the stuff anymore.  Companies have resorted to manufacturing patches and sticking them on cards, using terms like "authentic clothing," and have avoided terms like "game-used" altogether.

As a collector, it DOES matter to me where and how the said swatch was obtained.  Well, sort of.  What matters to me is that the card discloses what kind of swatch - I don't want "authentic piece of clothing" on the card. Seriously. Are they pants, jersey, jock strap, or what?  Cause if it is the latter, I'd like to make sure I wear gloves before opening a pack.  If the bat was used in practice, then just say so.  Of course, the problem continues when you have equipment that is "used" in the sense that player once held it during a game. Or maybe they just touched it as they walked by.

As I said, though, I'm surprised folks are even bothering to collect the stuff any more anyway.  Well, yeah, I know why... Because we COLLECT. It's what we do. I'll keep collecting whatever junk is out there as long as it Indians-related. I can't help it. I'm a cardboard slut. What can I say? At least I have a limit - I'm not paying 5 grand for the card pictured above!


  1. People that really understood & cared about the difference between "game used" and "used in batting practice" wouldn't be all that likely to chop up a bat to put a sliver of it in a memorabilia card in the first place.

    Who knows if the bat was ever used by Ramirez in the first place?

    A few years ago, I bought a "used" Jose Valentin model bat from a last day of the season, players-cleaning-out-their-lockers charity sale at a Bridgeport Bluefish game. Valentin never played for the Bluefish, but one of their players had gotten some of his game model bats to use.

  2. Anything to sell a card.I'm like you, I don't care so much what it is or where it came from, just tell me the truth. Don't beat around the bush or use words or phrases that makes it sound like it's something it really isn't.

    Again, like you, if it's Tribal, I'll probably be looking for it ! No wonder they do it, they know we'll buy it !

  3. I seriously doubt anyone at the card companies keeps any kind of records of where they acquired ANY of their "memorabilia". They make a cursory check to see that the player's team ever wore that color fabric in their uniforms, and cut it from a random gray Alvaro Espinoza jersey or pants and, BAM, now you have 2000 "game-used cards". I try never to pay more than a few bucks for any GU cards because I start with the assumption that NONE of what they are inserting is in anyway connected to the player depicted. If the card looks cool enough (or if I just need it for completion's sake), I'll pick it up.

    As soon as they started saying "Congratulations, you have received a game used card", they're just saying you have a card, not that the scrap of whatsit embedded has anything to do with any sport or player, just that you've got a card.