I spent a couple of hours on Sunday attempting to get a handle on some unorganized cards stacked on the desk, stuck in boxes, stacked on boxes... you get the idea. I sort my cards by brand. I'm not sure if this what naybody else does, but it seems to work for me. I still have about 1,000 Topps cards to get sorted but all the other brands got put either into their respective sets, or into one of my many "doubles" boxes. Well, except for a stack of oddballs. I think that's where my system fails me.
In going through my cards I kinda noticed something...well.... I think something became clearer to me. Let's take a trip back in time.
Yeah, there. Let's go back to the late 70's. What do these cards all have in common? They're all made by Topps. And they're rather unimaginative. Maybe even boring depending on your point of view. Don't get me wrong, I like these sets, but still.
Fast forward a few years.
To be clear, there are definitely some misses here too. But there are some hits, and more importantly, there's a little competition. Topps couldn't rest on its laurels. Had to work a little bit. Had to compete. Had to deliver a better product.
Let's fast forward a couple more years.
More competition. If I'm not mistaken Score was the first company to use those hermetically sealed packages for their "wax" packs. I remember being frustrated by those things. And they put a full color picture on the back. And they used whiter card stock. Score may not have the huge footprint in the hobby of some other brands, but they actually came up with a couple innovations that would become standard practice.
Upper Deck took the next step from Score and introduced "premium" cards. Their hermetically sealed packages were foil. Their cardstock was even better. Photos were probably better too.
But of course, they had to go and beat the dead horse. And the dead donkey next to it. The few brands started putting out more and more sets, and under more names too.
In the span of less than 20 years, we went from 1 company putting out 1 set, to 15 companies putting out 15 sets each (or so it seems).
Fast forward to 2013.
Here's my rant, you can skip ahead if you want.
Hey MLB, you've got it wrong. Again. Since the day the National Association was formed in 1871, you baseball owners have been trying your darnedest to screw up the game. Cross ownership of teams, Artificial supression of salaries, refusing to employ a large chunk of the population, failing to realize that revenue sharing is the only way to save the game, stubbornly sticking to the reserve clause, ignoring the impending age of Free Agency, allowing the NL and AL to have a major rule difference for 40 years, electing wimpy commissioners, failing to have a commissioner at all, etc. etc. blah, blah. I know baseball cards aren't necessarily on the same plane of importance as the governance of the game, but you're screwing this up too. I don't know what you think Topps is holding over your head, but I guarantee you that they need you more than you need them. Issue another license to a company like Panini! And another if there's a qualified company out there. Sooner rather than later. And follow that up by limiting every company with a license to a reasonable amount of product every year. Let's see some competition in the marketplace! Why should Topps showcase your business in a way that is best for you, when there's no competition for that dollar?? They showcase it in a way that is best for them, because there's no competition to stop them.
end of rant.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Topps. I was always a Topps guy back in the day (despite my devotion to 1982 Fleer). I just think Topps has run amuck. Anyway, I think if we look over our history as a hobby, there's a couple lessons back there.
Baseball cards are supposed to be fun, right?