Topps, MLB & The MLBPA: NOT Giving Their Consumers What They Want

I know that so many people wanted it.  However, you had to know in the back of your head that this trio was going to let you down.

When Topps announced today’s “Topps Now” cards, much to nobody’s surprise, there was no card of Rougned Odor clocking Jose Bautista.


The banner on the Topps  page uses the line “CELEBRATING BASEBALL’S GREATEST MOMENTS…AS THEY HAPPEN.”  Let me ask you this, if people are talking baseball today, what are they talking about?  More are talking about this than the other three events combined.  By a large margin.  Much has been made over the last week about how many Bartolo Colon cards sold.  This would easily surpass that.  I don’t even care about baseball, but I have despised Bautista since the bat flip and would have actually purchased a Topps Now card.

You are naive if you thought this would make Topps Now.  MLB and/or MLBPA wasn’t going to allow it.  They have any number of scripted reasons they could use.  “We don’t condone this behavior” and it’s “not a good example for children” would be the ones most likely used.  Then, even IF they approved it, Topps wouldn’t do it.  Between the three offices, there’s way too much of a “corporate image” that must be maintained.  To hell with what the consumers want!

A large portion of sports is the rivalries within the game.  MLB and ESPN can’t get enough of shoving Yankees/Red Sox down our collective throats.  It makes them money.  So would this, but they want to maintain an image.  I don’t know about you, but one of the things most memorable to me from when I watched baseball was Robin Ventura charging the mound and Nolan Ryan’s impressive headlock.

No hitters happen every year.  So do grand slams.  What we tend to remember are the things we don’t see happen often.  Willie Mays’ over the shoulder grab in center field.  Kirk Gibson’s World Series home run.  A ball bouncing off Jose Canseco’s head and over the fence in the outfield.  I don’t remember some three home run game or someone hitting their 400th home run from 15 years ago.  But I remember thing like that.

I get it.  Topps, MLB and the MLBPA don’t really need the small amount of money that this card would generate.  Actually Topps probably does but that’s another story for another day.  Someone is going to make money off this, though.

It took just a couple of minutes before I saw “custom” cards on Twitter.  Some were impressive, some weren’t as impressive.  They were all much better than I could do, though.  I’m not going to post any of the pics or links here, though.  Social media, photoshop, better printers and many other factors have made producing custom cards pretty easy.  I’m sure some collectors will make a few bucks off this and good for them.  I live less than 10 miles from the Rangers’ stadium, so I will be shocked if I don’t see some sort of custom cards or photos for sale as upcoming card shows.  If I do, I will probably pick one up.

What do I know, though?  I’m just some idiot that has collected cards for 30 years and happens to have a computer.  What I think means nothing.

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  1. Well written article on this topic, identifying a demand in the marketplace and supplying a solution is a basic business concept which these groups have clearly overlooked. Knowing what I know about Topps especially, bad business strategies and ignoring simple consumer friendly concepts are not surprising whatsoever. I hope this post helps continue the conversation about the need for competition in the officially licensed MLB trading card business.

    1. I agree with most everything you said. The only thing I’m not sure about is that is will make any of the suits think about competition. They knew (or you would think they did) Topps’ shortcomings and were okay with it. Also, it’s “easier” for them to just deal with one and since they don’t need the money, I don’t know that things will change. In the 1980s when the additional card companies came aboard, the leagues weren’t “printing money” like they do these days. It’s likely that what the companies paid was a larger amount of the leagues’ revenue.

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