An interesting story flew under the radar this week, as the once-mighty Topps came to a multi-year agreement with Major League Baseball that makes them the sport’s exclusive trading card maker. The move effectively squashes Upper Deck, Topps’ main competitor. According to the card company’s new top-dog Michael Eisner -- yes, that Disney guy -- it’s all part of a strategy to turn the focus of the industry back towards children:
“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids. Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”
No question about it, baseball cards were a heckuva lot more fun before a bunch of middle-aged creeps hijacked it. It’s kind of sad, really. The whole industry has been reduced to a mere snapshot in time. I’m not gonna lie, I have purchased a couple packs of Topps recently after a long hiatus. I grabbed one last week upon seeing Pablo Sandoval -- one of my new favorite players -- peaking his head out of the packaging. Yes, they still have the gum inside. And yes, it’s still awful, but at least it’s now individually wrapped as opposed to leaving a distinct stain on the back of the card it is wedged up against.
And as for the question of competition, it’s hard to get all worked up about a product that nobody even buys anymore. If it’s okay for Nascar to have an official cheese-filled snack (Combos -- don’t ask me why I know this) then it’s okay for baseball to have an official trading card company. I’m rooting for this comeback story.