August 14, 2015

Fuzzy for the Wrong Reasons

Notice that Panini used a piece of Scotch tape
to keep the card in the top loader. Not cool.
I'm new to this whole "redemption" game. Actually, that's not true. I've mailed away for cards in the past, it's just that the last time I did it was 1994 and I received the 1993-94 Upper Deck NBA Lottery Picks set in return. Never have I waited for an autographed card from a manufacturer. (Actually, that's not true, either. Back when I was doing TTM autographs, I sent a 1987 Topps checklist to Topps CEO Arthur Shorin to sign at Topps HQ. And he did. And I got it back and then promptly lost it in a stack of commons...) What I'm getting at here is that I had no idea what to expect from Panini after submitting a code on their website last fall for an autographed Chandler Parsons Past & Present draft pick card.

I went in with zero expectations. For one thing, I was surprised that Panini even accepted the code I inputted, if simply because the set came out in 2012 and I had missed the redemption deadline by at least a few months, if not a few years. I know how important the redemption game is to manufacturers: it's another way to differentiate from the competition. Saying that, I expected a "Sorry, you're too late" message. I guess though that if your redemptions are "always on," so to speak, your customers will take notice. And while I profess a certain level of innocence, I'm no slouch. I've read blogs and articles about waiting for redemption cards, and the trials and tribulations of receiving the wrong cards, or poorly signed cards, or whatever.

Which leads me to the card I received a few days ago. It's signed by someone whose first names starts with a "C," that much is for certain. I can even make our a "25," and Parsons is shown in his #25 Rockets uniform, so I would suppose that the signature is that of the card's subject, Chandler Parsons. But the signature looks like it went through the wash, or was signed in a sauna. It's blurred on the edges, which is too bad. I mean, I did send away for the card after the purported redemption period had ended, and it would stand to reason that most, if not all of the signed cards for this promotion had been redeemed already, so all that was left was the dregs, the sloppies, and the cards signed with a pen about to run out of ink.

So I can't really complain. Besides, it got me thinking: What if manufacturers paid MLB, or the NBA, or NFL, or whichever league, to have its players sign cards during a game? It could be during halftime, or while their team is at bat. Since every game is televised, showing players busily signing sports cards would be whimsical cutaways for broadcasters. "Well, Bob, there's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and their Thunder teammates signing cards for Panini's 2016-17 NBA Hoops," or "It looks like Clayton Kershaw has found a way to stay loose between starts, Joe: He's down in the dugout signing cards for 2016 Topps baseball cards!... That's right, Harold. Fans, look for autographed cards of your favorite stars randomly inserted into packs of 2016 Topps Baseball..." If teams can sell out their coaches and managers for telecast interviews during a game, there's no reason players' downtime should be off-limits.

Much like my plan for turning broken bats into game-used memorabilia cards, complete with game date–stamping, I expect this idea will also be ignored. But what makes these ideas unique is that they solve the problem of poor quality: there would already be so much documentation of the materials that went into making the cards that the quality of the bat shaving itself—or in this case, signature—would be of less importance than the act of its creation. As I understand it, the actual "game-used memorabilia" that go into relic cards are rarely, if ever, actually used in a live game. Similarly, autographed cards are signed in marathon sessions done in the off-season by players sitting at a conference table with bottles of water nearby. These things, which should be overflowing with the implied "love of the game," are in fact created in sterile environments with sterile materials by men who are late for their tee times.

What I'm saying is, it all could be so much more. That Chandler Parsons autograph should be fuzzy—not because the pen was running out of ink or the Panini intern set his bottle of water down on it, but because a sweaty Parsons should've signed it in the Rockets' locker room during halftime of a nationally televised game. You want us to be excited about your products? Make your cards mean something.

1 comment:

Fuji said...

Congratulations on getting something. Maybe you should send it back and as for a replacement to see how they'll respond.