Tuesday, February 8, 2011

blog bat around: fixing topps baseball

Chris over at Stale Gum posted about fixing Topps Baseball. In a segment he calls the 'Blog Bat Around', he is asking us, the bloggers what we would do to fix Topps' flagship product. Here is how he has presented the question:

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

If you were in charge of Topps, and based upon what you've seen of 2011 Topps Baseball Series One, what (if anything) would you have done differently?

Personally, I may not have been in the hobby long enough to really have that big of an opinion on this topic but in the almost year or so that I have been back, I have read numerous articles and blogs about what has been up since I left so long ago. I have learned a lot about the events that have happened that have shaped our beloved hobby as we know it today. Lets see what I can come up with:

Topps Series 1 and 2 (and 3): The basic set being broken up into three sets of 330 is acceptable. Don't however, call the third set anything other than "Series 3". Calling it anything else is just silly. A total of 990 cards is close to the 792 plus 132 for Traded we had in the 80's so its a good number to stick to.

Base set parallels and inserts: TOO DAMN MANY! Personally I don't mind the short print legends cards, they are a nice surprise, like when pulling an Ernie Banks from a 2011 pack. Gimmicky? Yes. Fun? I think so. This year's 'diamond sparkle' cards would only be tolerable for this year only. Any usage beyond this 60th anniversary would be totally absurd. What they should also have done for this year is drop the gold, black and platinum parallels, and replace them with the platinum and canary diamond parallels. Now as it stands there are five parallel sets (and that's not including plates, Target or Wal-Mart parallels). Too many. Way too many.

Inserts are a whole new argument because collectors seem to be pretty divided over what they like. Take this year for example: I like the Kimball Champions the most out of anything and the 60 year reprints are alright too. So are the vintage reprints. The Topps 60 and Diamond Duos are just rehashes of Peak Performance and Legendary Lineage from the 2010 line. The exclusive Target and Wal-Mart diamond inserts are terrible too. Boring. The History of Topps is understandable for this year only. Other than that there isn't really a whole lot they can do with inserts that hasn't been done before. For next year, pick 5 or so insert sets and leave it at that. I know the more there is to collect, the more people buy but where is the limit? Our breaking point?

Autos and Game used inserts: I know we like getting autos and relics in packs but do they really need to be of guys not even in the base set? I got two, TWO different Jose Mijares autos out of series 1 and 2, and he isn't even in the basic set Or Update. WTF is up with that? I know every auto can't be Ichiro or Pujols but come on, I don't even know who Jose is because he has no representation! Same goes for relics too.

Essentially none of this really fixes Topps baseball but to do so, you'd have to fix Topps' entire year of releases to even begin thinking about fixing the flagship set. Maybe this would be a possible solution:

-Put out three basic flagship sets, series 1, 2 and 3. Like they do now. No calling it Update, its series 3.
-Limit the number of 'retro' sets issued. Heritage is excused from this. Maybe take Allen & Ginter, Gypsy Queen or whatever retro design you have and rotate them on a 2 or 3 year schedule. Making us wait for them would only make us want them more. Let the anticipation build.
-Bowman. Make ONE Bowman set, or maybe two, but all the same issue (ie; series 1 ends at card 200 and series 2 picks up at 201). Have you ever tried to put your Bowman cards in numerical order? Its maddening! BDPP BDP BP BPPPDPDPDPD??? Come on, cut this crap out. Make one set early season, and one at the end.
-Higher end stuff is too costly really, how are collectors going to get into two Sterling sets, tribute and Triple Threads? Make two and cut the others.
-Get rid of Opening Day. Its not easy to collect, nor is it any different from the base set. Cut it
-Chrome is ok but fix the damn curl, keep it small (220 works well) and use different pictures. No need for the same card 15 times a year.
-Release a set each month and no more than that. Clogging the market doesn't fix things, it just gets us exhausted and broke from over-buying.

Well, thats about all I can think of for now. Topps won't listen but we all can still have a voice and an opinion, and control over what we buy. Buy and collect wisely!


  1. Right on with the inserts (I would rather have variation photos). I do like the reprints inserts thats about it.

    I like Bowman, Bowman Chrome and Bowman Draft. It does seem to make sense the way they layout the format.