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Fallout of the Houston Astros cheating scandal on the hobby

Booing. Lots of booing. We all know the Houston Astros can expect a barrage of booing wherever they go this season in light of the cheating scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

In fact, a Los Angeles Dodgers fan group called Pantone 294 has purchased more than 2,700 tickets to the Los Angeles Angels home opener against the Astros in order to boo, since the Dodgers and Astros don’t play this season, the L.A. Times reported.

The Dodgers, you might recall, lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series, the season in which the Astros were discovered to have been stealing signs using cameras and video monitors.

Other fallout includes Little League Baseball teams banning the use of Astros as a nickname and, according to NBC Sports, lawsuits by Houston season-ticket holders, daily fantasy league players and former MLB pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose poor outing against the Astros in August 2017 resulted in his being sent down, essentially ending his MLB career.

Nolan Ryan. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Nolan Ryan. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

But what about the fallout among Astros memorabilia and prices, and the impact on the hobby in general?
“I don’t think it’s going to affect the guys who have their legacy established,” Tony Giese of Heritage Auctions told SCD, referring to the likes of former Astro greats Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. “It is going to affect the current players.”

For instance, a 2014 Jose Altuve game-worn Astros “Turn Back the Clock” uniform sold at auction for $3,360 in October 2018.

“Now that’s two-grand,” Giese surmised. “The numbers are going to be down…

“Put it this way, if somebody called me and asks, ‘Should I sell now?’ I would tell them no. You can wait it out. Altuve, in my opinion, was a Hall of Famer. Is it going to carry on with him? I just think that it might…The cheating—that’s the big question, can they come back from that? I don’t know.”

Jose Altuve uniform sold for $3,360 in October 2018. Photo: Heritage Auctions

Jose Altuve uniform sold for $3,360 in October 2018. Photo: Heritage Auctions

Howard Lau of Houston Sports Connection, one of only three card shops in Houston, told SCD that business remains strong and he sees little impact locally, saying Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez of the Astros signed autographs at a recent Houston show and “people came out.”

As for prices of Astros memorabilia of current players, Lau said, “I just think that the interest is less, that’s all. If you have bad publicity, there’s no interest. If you have positive publicity, ‘Hey, it’s a new year, they’re going to spring training,’ new collectors, new fans may come into the hobby. That may slow down a bit because of the negative publicity. It’s more the interest and not necessarily the price per se.”

Reed Kasaoka of Dave and Adam’s Card World in New York put it this way:

“We may lose some collectors who are disgusted by the actions of the Astros players and organization, but the hobby itself has always been one that continuously gains and loses collectors for a number of reasons.

“This may not blow over as far as the general baseball fan is concerned, but I feel from a hobby standpoint, as the season is just on the horizon, collecting cards—baseball in particular—will be back in full swing shortly with no lasting effects of the Astros cheating scandal.”

Obviously, time will tell.

“It’s going to have a negative impact on collectability,” Giese said. “It’s going to have a negative impact on prices for their items. I just can’t image it not…If they win, winning usually solves a lot of that, but I don’t think it’s going to go away, and especially the first time on the road through these cities, it’s not going to be pretty.”

Dave Strege is Editor of SCD. Contact him at dstrege@aimmedia.com