Monday, January 19, 2009

BBA 3: An Open Letter To Card Companies

For my stab at the third blog bat around, I have chosen to write an open letter to the card companies on how they can improve their product for 2009 and beyond. I have tried to refrain from reading any of the other entries, so I could get a clear perspective on the subject without any third party influence.

These are my ideas and I'm sure many of them overlap with other bloggers ideas. These are certainly not all of the ideas out there, but ones that immediately come to my mind.

Let me state this first. Elimination is almost never a good thing. Topps and Upper Deck are both eliminating certain releases in 2009. This should make things easier to collect in 2009, but it will probably be tougher than ever.

I agree that there should be a lot of elimination between the card companies in 2009. This way, they will be better prepared for the road the lies ahead. Any company that releases product in 2009 and beyond should think about one main goal: QUALITY.

Quality over quantity will work every time. It just may take a little while to get the end result. That’s OK. Collectors have the time.

Let’s start with the flagship base sets. Each company should be allowed to do three series of their flagship brand. The first series in February, when Spring Training starts. One series around late June/early July, to catch the trading deadline fever. One series in November to update everything once again.

In these series, there should only be one insert set per series. It will be a standalone set on whatever subject the companies decide. If said set is a player worship set, the company is not allowed to revisit that player for a worship set for ten years, at minimum. The insert set should not be drawn out over several releases or several years. One insert set per release. See the Topps Mickey Mantle worship sets for everything done wrong with that.

No insert set should be a mirrored set. That’s just plain lazy. If a company is to bombard us with endless cards in an insert set, let them be all different pictures. Josh Gibson, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio have all been victims of this recently. Since they are all deceased, it is a little more excusable to use the same pictures over again. David Wright, Ryan Howard and many others have all been victims of this practice as well. There is absolutely no excuse for that.

One player, one card. I shouldn't have three cards of Jim Thome in the same series set. I should have at least one card of every person who played in a Major League game within a given year. The only exceptions to the one card rule would be if the player reached a milestone, made a play worthy of a highlight card, broke a record, or switched teams. There should be a card of each player with each team he has been on in a year’s span. If Nick Swisher played on four different teams in 2009, I would expect four different cards of him. One for each team.

The third series insert set should follow the playoffs and World Series for that year. This would be why the final series would be pushed back to November.

Limitless parallels should only exist in the premium products. They make the most sense there. Premium sets deal with game-used material and autographs mostly. It would make sense to have numbered cards and parallels in a set that would benefit from them.

Retro sets are fine, but less is more. Please don’t bombard us with designs “inspired” by vintage sets. If you are going to do that, make an entire set with that design and stop pillaging all the vintage designs every year.

If a company is going to make butt ugly cards, make those designs the low price cards. There should be no excuse for butt ugly cards, but we all know that they get released every year. Hire some out of work graphic artists to do new layouts. Even better, hold a design contest. The prize could involve personalized autographs from a contestant’s favorite team. The joy of having collectors swoon over a brand new design would be awesome. Plus, of course, the last card in the set would be a card of the set’s designer.

On that note, if the companies truly want a kids release, let the kids design it and vote on the players in it. The top 300 vote getters get in the release.

There were a lot of great ideas in 2008. They were just poorly executed. If a company comes up with an idea that is expansive and needs a lot of research, please do the research. When the research is done and verified, please do us all a favor and make each card truly unique. Use different pictures. Use a picture of a player that is mentioned in the highlight you are promoting. Know the history before making the card. Stop making careless mistakes.

These are all steps that could improve the product line for years to come, but the one last piece of advice is for all companies in the trading card business. Read the baseball card blogs. If you see a trend emerging, try to incorporate that into your product. If you see a general consensus of a product, good or bad, please listen and act on that unsolicited advice. These come from avid purchasers of your product. Wouldn't you want to please the people you are trying to court?


Chuck's Used Cards said...

well said. I concurred for the most part - see my blog.



Goose Joak said...

Since you do a lot of awesome tribute cards of your own, are you interested in these originals?

I was wondering if you'd be interested in partnering up on some of the cards and doing the White Sox and/or COULD be a joint blog thing, including others, which would be really cool

Dave said...

Awesome post, Steve. Definitely agree on QUALITY over quantity and that the companies should read the blogs to see what their customers want.

Steve Gierman said...

I'd definitely be interested in a joint card project for 2009. Maybe this will give the card companies an idea of what we want. E-mail me and let me know the details.

Hmmm. I seem to be bombarded by Daves. LOL

I've only been able to read a handful of post for the third bat around. I purposely avoided them so I wouldn't be influenced by others as much. I'm looking forward to see them all in one place. Thanks for hosting this one, Dave!

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