I don’t know if it’s a big coincidence or what, today is Valentine’s Day, and yesterday there was quite the controversy in the card blog-o-sphere. Basically, this dealt with responses to a blog post – which I refuse to call an “article” – was written on a Chicago Blog (one affiliated with the Sun-Times). The blogger’s basic premise was to attack Topps and their exclusion of the name “Pete Rose” from the back of cards. Whereas the card back for Alex Rodriguez says he’s 115 homers away from passing Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter’s card back says he’s 952 hits away from “the all-time record”.
Jay Bee Anama, who so graciously runs the Sports Card Blogroll, has a good post summarizing the issue. I posted on his and a few other sites, and just figured throwing my thoughts out there was worth a blog post today. So here’s those said “thoughts” on this issue.
- To say the blog post isn’t researched well would be like saying it’s cold and windy in Chicago in February. I cringe saying the word researched, too. It’s not really research, it’s more that it’s clear this guy doesn’t understand business. At least not this business. Topps paid MLB for the right to produce cards. Not only that, they paid MLB for an exclusive right to produce cards with logos and in-game photos. MLB is the only entity that can grant that right. They have almost all the power in this relationship. To assert that Topps is the one making this decision just doesn’t make common sense. But it’s beyond that – both Topps and Major League Baseball have said it was MLB’s decision to keep Rose’s name. So, like it or not – it’s not something to blame Topps.
- So it’s clearly MLB’s decision (and if you want – “fault”) that Rose’s name isn’t on the back of the cards. That’s their right, but I wish they wouldn’t have made that decision. They are fine putting Rose’s name and statistics on their website, as I think they should be. He played the game and got 4,256 hits – they acknowledge the record. Associating his name to the record (that MLB acknowledges he holds) on the back of a card isn’t the same as printing cards of him. I wish they had just let Topps do this as part of their plan.
- All that said – I do think the way the chase thing is done on the back of the cards is kind of hokey. There are really just 2 players who I think it’s even relevant for – Jeter for the hits record, and A-Rod for the home run record (a third could be Jim Thome). Those are the only players who are close enough to the record holder for such a comparison to be meaningful. It would seem to make more sense to say “Albert Pujols is 25 homers away from 500” or “Roy Halladay is 1 win away from 200” as opposed to comparing them to records they are either still far a way from (Pujols) or will never break (Halladay).
- Topps could have avoided this negative publicity by just not putting hits on the back of the card as one of the records. That wouldn’t have caused near the sh*t storm where CBS, Fox Sports and other media outlets are erroneously reporting that Topps “stripped Rose of the hit record”.
- Finally, I find it very interesting that Topps inserted a buyback card of Pete Rose into Heritage last year. See the card pic above (this was on eBay last year for a BIN of $2 grand). Buybacks are different from printing a new card, but the MLB spokesman did say “Rose can’t be included in a licensed product” – yet he technically was in 2012 Heritage. I wonder if that’s an oversight on Topps, or just semantics and MLB was OK with the idea.
The CEO of Topps also stepped down today – so it certainly wasn’t all “Rose-y” for Topps on Valentine’s Day 2013…