Linsanity. Those who caught it decided to "lindulge" themselves. They saw a way to increase their "lincome" with a "linvestment." Others were "lincensed" by it because "linflated" prices were being paid for Jeremy Lin's cards. "Linvestors" seemed "lincurable." But just as quickly, they became "linsure" of themselves. The "linvestments" quickly became "linadequate."
Now the fad is all but "linert."
The whole phenomenon is "linstructive," because most didn't consider "linjury" or "lincompatiblity."
(You can't imagine the time Da Babe spent with a dictionary to come up with this corny lead.)
Corn aside, there's plenty of meat for this discussion about Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks.
He burst onto the scene and averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game in 35 games. Then he got hurt and missed the rest of the season and the Knicks' first-round NBA playoff loss to the Miami Heat.
At the height of his popularity, when he was starting for the Knicks (with Carmelo Anthony out injured) in mid-February, a Lin 2010-11 Panini Rookies and Stars card (No.129) sold for $80, including shipping and handling on eBay.com. These days it looks like most sell in the $6-to-$15 range, including shipping.
That is still far more than most rookie cards of the past several years, including Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.
When the craze began, Mike D'Antoni was his coach -- a coach that believed in a point-guard-led offense. Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks superstar, was sidelined for much of the time Lin was wowing folks. In fact, Lin's numbers went right down when Anthony rejoined the starting lineup and D'Antoni was replaced.
"For right now, between the injury and the offseason, his values will most likely continue to tumble back down over the next three to four months; but those values will definitely still be significantly above where his values were before the 'Linsanity,"' said Rob Springs, senior market analyst for Beckett's collectibles data group.
"If they keep the current coach, system and roster, then he may be assigned to just coming off the bench or having a very limited role on the court. If that is the case, then his values will continue to tumble back down to reality, although there will always be a spark on his items due to the international appeal, the New York market and the scarcity of his rookie cards (as compared to other typical rookie years)."
Of course, Springs is referring to the fact that, with Anthony on the team, the Knicks are unlikely to keep a coach who does not favor a point-guard-led offense. That suits Anthony just fine.
Tom Bartsch, editor of Sports Collectors Digest, said: "It shouldn't surprise me anymore, but it still does when it comes to the high prices that these rookie phenoms achieve with some of their cards. I understand the idea of rookie cards and getting in on the ground floor, but the final prices for some of these cards is insane."
He was quick to note, "Not everyone is Albert Pujols, where he came in hot and stayed there for 10-plus years."
Even though he's seen it before, "Linsanity" got his attention.
"With how volatile a rookie card market can be, I'm surprised at the high values. Often, the prices achieved during a hot start (see Stephen Strasburg in 2010) will never be any higher than at that moment. That said, a collector could spend the same amount of money on a high-condition vintage card and know that value will only rise going forward. I think those who bid up prices like the Lin cards aren't the true collectors in the sports hobby, but those looking for a quick buck and see only dollar signs when it comes to cards," he said."
(Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)