By now you’ve probably read on every blog and message board that Topps has won exclusive rights to Major League Baseball. Upper Deck, currently celebrating its 20th year as a company, has been kicked to the curb. While many collectors are rejoicing, a smart collector should realize that with lack of competition, 2010 could be a really lousy year for baseball.
From a critic’s point of view, 2009 has belonged to Topps. Their baseball releases this year have surpassed most if not all of Upper Deck’s brands so far. With the exception of their flagship brand and possibly Goodwin Champions which is around the corner, U.D has been releasing mediocre, run of the mill products like UDx, A Piece of History, and Spectrum for far too long.
Furthermore, they turned a once legendary brand, SPx, into a joke. Long gone are the holograms and amazing designs from the 90′s. Masterpieces, arguably the best low-end releases of 2007 and 2008 was discontinued, while brands like Documentary Icons, and ‘X’ were introduced.
I truly hope that Upper Deck sees this blow as a wake-up call. Remember the time when Upper Deck ruled The Hobby and make a step in the right direction. First up, fix the dreaded customer services issues as I, along with every collector have run into those horror stories on an almost daily basis.
I know every Upper Deck apologist will say it’s not possible but start placing focus on design. Whoever came up with the idea of placing a giant X on every brand should be shown the door. There are so many forgettable releases hitting shelves that should never have seen the light of day. If that means only 3-5 releases in 2010, make them the best damn products of the year.
That being said, baseball cards without MLB logos is going to be a tough sell. As long as you can do something to stick out from the pack (great designs, on-card autographs), there will be a fan base. If we get treated to ‘A Piece of History’ without logos then you just might go the way of Fleer, Pinnacle, and Pacific.