November 02, 2007

The Arms Race Continues

Boy, what a year Topps has put together, eh? They started 2007 with Jeter, Mantle and The Prez. From there it was on to what seemed like six long months of speculation, back-stabbing boardroom greed and the eventual buyout that polarized the hobby. So how have they followed it up? With a whoopsie on Michael Vick and now a slew of 'errors' in their brand-new baseball Series 3.

What can we take away from all of this? At its most base, it shows that it's a hobby for us but a cutthroat business for the manufacturers. One minute Topps is fighting off a hostile takeover from Upper Deck, the next they're figuring out ways to head UD off at the pass not only with Joba Chamberlain and Jacoby Ellsbury rookies, but with a Joba error and a super-rare Ellsbury not even on the set checklist.

And what's with that Ellsbury, anyway? Traditionally, Topps Series 3 (or Traded, or Updates & Milestones, or whatever) has been for late-season call-ups, trades and other stuff they couldn't fit in the set. But didn't this change with the designated rookie card? I thought the point of all the hoopla about using the standard 'rookie card' logo was to eliminate cards of guys like Jacoby from regular sets. First of all, he didn't have enough at-bats to qualify for rookie status. So that opens up a whole can of worms in trying to determine his true rookie card, because after his stellar play in September and just this past week on the national stage, you know he's going to be one of the major rookies for 2008 sets.

I don't know how I feel about all of this. Topps' strategy towards their baseball card products has been somewhat predictable this year, and these developments only cement their reputation. It begs the question: Do they employ the worst quality-control staffers in the business? Or do they have such a grim outlook towards their own product that they feel it won't sell without an error or two?

No comments: