Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Does A MLB License Still Matter?

 I was wondering has the loss of a major league license really hurt the competition or has it caused the competition to become more creative with their products?  Upper Deck tried to test the waters in 2010 after losing their MLB License, and ended up getting an "upper" cut from the MLB lawsuit.  So card makers had to go about things differently, focus had to be less on making an active player base set, to making a prospect base set with star players posing (such as in the newest Panini product below and without using airbrushing.)

So no more can an active player be photographed and have an airbrushed out logo, ONLY Topps will be able to airbrush (and we know they are the best at airbrushing!) .  So hold your breath baseball fans, this means again, ONLY Topps is aloud to airbrush Major League Baseball cards...such as below from the 2011 Alex White example where they airbrushed the front but left the orginal photo and team on the back.


How about in 2012 Topps airbrushing a Pujols in Angels uniform before he ever wore one.  Not hating on Topps, but airbrushing has been a common place since the start of Topps.  After Topps buying out Bowman in 1955, between 1956 thru 1981 only a few non main stream card makers were around, Fleer for a few years, POST, and Kellogs were just a few.  Other than Fleer in 1963 no real challenge came until Fleer filed suit against Topps in 1975 and finally won.  

Last month Panini released a product for the common collector at retail level, that was the Triple Play baseball card to compare in price with Topps Opening Day.  Triple Play retails at 99 cents, where as Topps Opening Day has raised 10 cents to $1.09 retail.

Players like Albert Pujols still sign for non-MLB authorized sets, and even Ichico who has only signed on three sets of cards since 2004.  Now he has an exclusive contract to sign for a non-MLB product.  This proves that the days of having an MLB license doesn't really matter anymore.  Topps may have the stamp that states it has an "exclusive MLB license" but even if the MLB or Topps likes it or not, there will always be other products for us collectors to collect! 

Topps may have Bowman Draft Picks (which carries an MLB logo), Panini (Donruss) also has their own draft pick sets each year.  Donruss right now still uses sticker autographs, Leaf Metal uses on card signatures, and Topps has been trying to use more on card autographs, but largely still uses sticker autographs for most products.  If Topps was allowed to once again be the one and ONLY card maker, we would have every product look exactly the same...hint...hint...

In conclusion, I think having an exclusive product does hurt collecting, but I am glad to see there are still card makers that try to still put out a quality product.  After a few years of showing the MLB that a card company can still survive making non-MLB baseball cards, they may actually find out that they are losing money by not giving other companies licenses.  It is known that Upper Deck took a pretty hefty hit after the MLB hit them with a copyright infringement, but Upper Deck still puts out quality sport related products like Goodwin Champions that have cards from all major/minor sports.  Competition is great for the sport, it gives us collectors something else to buy at a hobby store, and when you have over a dozen products a year come out, you pose the risk of using the photo multiple times.  As someone who enjoys cards, a logo or a team name on a card doesn't make a card, it is the quaility or design.  Again, this is no hate to Topps, I think they do quite good work, but some not so great work.  In my educated opinion I think having more choice is still good for the hobby.  I would rather have many companies, but limit the sets, or subsets they create.  Don't do what Donruss did in the mid 2000s and make one set, but have one hundred sub sets 1/1 and parallels.  Instead say Donruss can have two sets, each set can only have four subsets.  One subset could be a parallel version, one relic, one auto, and one auto relic.  Taking the quote from my movie Tommy Boy and reworking it into baseball terms:

"I can take a dump in a box, stick an MLB logo on it, and sell it to a collector, it may stink, but they'll still buy it"

Thanks for reading, comments always welcome!


1 comment:

  1. Having two MLB licensed companies (Topps & ud; Topps and Panini) would be a happy medium between glutting, and having a too shallow, market.


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