For almost four years now, I have served as the Policy Director at MEARS. I have also offered opinions on items as well as researched and written for the organization. What many still do not appear to realize is that this not what I do full time and I don’t see this changing any time soon. When I first began my relationship with SCDA, it was in a limited capacity. Over time, Troy Kinunen saw value in having someone, who was not consumed in the day to day operations, serve in the capacity of observing and advising the organization. He also recognized and acknowledged that at times, I would be telling him things he might not like to hear. This has in fact been the case and I have never once been told be quiet or tow the company line. I have always been free to stay or leave on my own terms and this is something I appreciate and respect.

This set of circumstances is far different from other leadership roles I have performed in the past and continue to do today. This difference is based on the issue of proximity. I am not sure leadership is the right word to use here because true leaders are ever present in all facets of their organizations. I make this point because there still seems to be a number of collectors who don’t realize I live in the metropolitan Washington DC area and MEARS is based out of Milwaukee. While I talk to and e-mail Troy on a regular basis, this is not the same as being on hand.

Troy has been and remains extremely busy. I can say with all candor that he is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever met, especially over the past year. Troy has run the evaluations division, started up the and run the auction division, and has served as his own general contractor for the purchase and renovation of the 15,000 square foot MEARS Research and Conference Center. I have always likened what Troy has been doing this past year to trying to change the tires on a car while it is moving. The auction division is running well and the renovation is all but complete. The move in has already started in earnest and looks to be complete this month. Not that I expect things will slow down for Troy and MEARS anytime soon, but the end of June and first part of July presents a brief window for some reflection and somewhat of an operational pause. I say pause because I know Troy plans on some presence at the National and begin expanding the efforts and scope of the auction division in the fall.

With all this being said, this is where I would like MEARS to devote some time in the near future. These are not in any particular order, but issues that I feel should be put on the table for discussion and action.

1. Establish a clear definition and consistent performance metric for style matching with respect to offering opinions on items uniform items sent for evaluation. For example:

Style Match: Style match is both a descriptive term and a process. As a descriptive term, it means that the uniform offered for evaluation has been compared to dated period images and no disqualifies have been found. The process required to make such a declarative descriptive statement is a bit more involved.

In order to objectively state that a jersey has been style matched, images must be found for the same team, year, home/road and manufacturer if known to be discernable in images. Fundamental basics of construction must also be confirmed with respect to color schemes, manner of application and font styles as a function of type and placement. Fabric is also an issue when it can be a discernable characteristic in period images. Customizations need not be documented unless a survey of period images identifies them as something that could be referred to as a known player characteristic and something that should be expected to be found in all cases.

2. Re-look the concept and language surrounding the A5 Grade. This grade was developed to recognize the proliferation of professional quality product in the post 1987 time frame. The fact of the matter is that the market place and proliferation of this type of product has only increased with the ready availability of “Pro Cut” type items since this grade and concept were implemented. MEARS needs to acknowledge this and possibly consider doing one of two things:

a. Refine the definition to recognize this (I have already offered draft revised language).

b. Forgo offering evaluations on items in this general category except in rare exceptions when the item can be objectively shown to be a game used item.

3. Conduct a functional review of the worksheet concept to ensure the data fields accurately reflect the purpose and are filled out in a more consistent manner.

4. Look to expand the editorial content provided by MEARS with some additional information covering sports other than baseball. I don’t see me being the person to do this based on availability of time and general interest.

5. Finalize the date and agenda for the first seminar at the new facility.

6. Decide by August if MEARS is going to continue to provide support to the external auction house segment of the industry in 2010.

7. Finalize the date for the audit of MEARS Auction Division by an outside source.

I lay all of this out so that folks understand the nature of my relationship with MEARS and what I feel are issues that deserve a good look in the weeks ahead. I am hoping to get to Milwaukee in the next four to six weeks and would like nothing better than to come back to Dulles on a late Sunday night flight having these issues resolved.

As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.


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