With the rapid expansion of our business and presence on social media comes criticism. While I know we can’t please everyone and won’t be able to respond to everyone who criticizes us, I thought now would be a good time to rehash how we continue to carry out the SlabStox mission and a lesson I’ve learned from an earlier call I made about the first base market. Our mission still stands as this: Build the most sophisticated data-driven platform for sports card prospectors, helping them make the most intelligent buying and selling decisions to fuel their passion for a lifetime. We will continue doing all we can each day to bring this to life.
Growing up, I always loved baseball. I loved playing it. I loved collecting the cards. I loved the video games. I loved reading about it. All those years of spending my free time reading and watching baseball has given me a great baseline knowledge about the game. I always believed it was useless knowledge. I was always asked: “Why don’t you put that knowledge to use by trying to work for a team.” My response was always the same; you pretty much need a degree from a premier school, or you needed to have played professionally to get into a front office. Well, I didn’t cross off either of those boxes, so I was out of luck.
But not quite. It was useless knowledge until a couple years ago when Aaron wanted to get back into the hobby. I know you guys know this story, but allow me to share it one more time.
We were hanging out, and Aaron was asking about who to invest in if he was to get back into cards. I gave him a couple names (one of which being Ronald Acuña), but the name I was most interested in was Forrest Whitley. Aaron, trusting the word of his friend, jumped all in on Forrest Whitley, and he made a killing. We continued investing the last couple years, and with my knowledge of players (along with various random tidbits about baseball that are helpful when investing) along with his knowledge of the cards and the market, we have yet to lose money on any of our combined investments because as a team we work well together.
Now let’s fast forward to the beginning of January 2019. Aaron had already been running his SlabStox Instagram page and getting great feedback when he asked me to help him write for this website. His idea was simple. Since we’d been successful with our investing methods, what if we share this with everyone. After all, there were so many guys like us just trying to earn a few bucks during the summer to feed their hobby.
We didnt want to do it to earn money off of anyone. We didn’t want to do it to prop up our own card prices. We just wanted to do it because we enjoyed writing and talking about baseball, and we understand the difficulties of high school/college students or adults working low paying jobs just trying to make a few extra bucks. We figured if we could help a few guys earn some money and expand the hobby, it was well worth our time.
In a very short period of time, SlabStox got more popular than either of us expected (huge shoutout to you guys for that). With it growing bigger, we noticed a worrisome trend. We would write articles (or talk in live-streams) about a player we liked at that time for around $15 a base, and then people would go buy them up. It was great for us. We love seeing people support our research, put our work to use, and hopefully make money in the future off of it. But then we’d see people tagging us with buys of cards well past the range we called for. While we love the shout outs, we didn’t want people confusing our buy Joe Blow for $15, for buy Joe Blow for anything because we liked him. We like a lot of guys, but price ranges definitely matter.
To combat this problem, Aaron decided it was time to start a paid subscription. The idea was this: with a paid subscription, it limits the amount of people looking into the guys we are advising for buys, thus limiting the effect on the market. If a lot of people end up getting the subscription, then they’ll all understand the risks of all going after the same guys (plus if we’re being honest, I think it’s nice for Aaron to make a little money doing this as he pours a ton of time into this and will be doing this as a full-time job during the summer). Ever since the paid subscription started, we have removed ourselves from investing in prospects in total.
While our paid subscribers get the prospect write-ups, the SlabScore lists, and the podcasts, we were still going to be providing free analysis, graphs, DMs and live-streams to our followers on Instagram. I understand some of you may not like the paid subscription, but I hope at least now you can understand why we did it. Our goal is to always give you guys as much help as we possibly can when making your investments, and that hasn’t changed because of a subscription service. The only change is we won’t be recommending players to people if you ask. You need to bring a player to us and ask for our opinion on them, otherwise you’d be getting the paid membership for free.
This brings me to something that has bothered me for a while. Sometimes when analyzing cards, we will make the wrong call. Whether it’s because of performance, injury or an unexpected market trend, we can’t get them right all the time. I really wish we could, but after all, Aaron and I are only human. Our hope is that we get many more right than we get wrong and as a collective unit, our followers will earn money or save money on cards for their personal collection.
With that said, allow me to say sorry if any of you lost money on Pete Alonso. When I was looking at him, I loved the bat, but I though he was overpriced when compered to the top first baseman in the MLB. What I failed to realize then, that I realize now, is that sometimes word of mouth is just as important as stats. If you went into our Instagram live-streams when we were starting out, you would have noticed the same guys names coming up constantly: Alonso, Grant Lavigne, Joe Gray, etc. All of those guys prices have gone up since we covered them week after week in the live videos. They went up because they were being talked about. More interest equals more demand, which equals higher prices. It was something I should have realized, but the historic value of first baseman told me bad deal.
If you’ve read this entire thing up to this point, thank you. Here is a piece of advise for you. Go read Fangraphs chats by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel. Go read Baseball America chats. Watch our live-streams on Sundays. Do this and keep track of the names people keep bringing up. If you see the name multiple times in a chat or multiple weeks in a row, start looking to invest into that guy. Word of mouth is your biggest ally when trying to make money on cards.
One last thing is this. We appreciate all of you that follow us and interact with us. We really appreciated the guys who DM’d us support recently (or even took it upon themselves to respond to the criticism). Your support and kind messages make this enjoyable and fun to be part of. We hope to meet many of you at the 2019 National in Chicago. Hopefully one day, since I know many of you own card shops, we can go around the US and visit your shops personally and break some Bowman boxes with you guys. The cards are the hobby for all of us, but it’s the support of our peers that keep us in it, as I’m sure many of you would agree. So from the bottom of my heart, and I’m sure Aaron’s, thank you for your continued support and happy collecting.