The Big Evils – Are We Looking At These Things The Right Way?

I want to write about something here that I have spent a lot of time covering on this blog, mainly the aspects of the industry that I cant stand. Rather than going into long winded rants about why these things suck, I think its about time to discuss why they exist in the first place. If you have further insight, please let me know, I am in the business of learning here, and you can help.

Event Used Jersey Cards

Man, if there is one thing I hate, its these cards. Basically paying the players to come by and do a try on session with about 1000 jerseys, some of them not even they’re own. Most of the time, collectors don’t seem to mind and still pay through the nose for the logos and everything like it, but have any of us really thought about why they exist?

When it comes down to it, I want jersey cards of my favorite players, and so does most of the hobby. The problem is, with most companies wanting to produce the jersey cards AD NAUSEAM, there just isnt enough material to go around. If you conceive a plan for the jersey cards produced in a year, there are in upwards of 200 per player. Many of those cards are numbered as high as 1500, meaning that there is a shitload of material needed. With each rookie only playing in 16 games if they are lucky, we can expect that few jerseys will be available, if any. Add in that there are 3 companies competing for them, as well as collectors with deep pockets, and you see where I am going. In reality, without event used cards, we may get 5 cards per player, and Exquisite and NT would not be possible. That is not acceptable to me, so my anger about them is a little misplaced, maybe. Does this mean I will go and mortgage the house to buy the lot of them? No, but as long as the event used footballs disappear, maybe I will be less focused on it.

Sticker Autos

We all hate sticker autos, we just do. Its been around since the earlier part of the decade, and it has become a staple of getting a product out. Its become so bad that Topps hasn’t produced an on card high end set for 2 years (material signed cards don’t count).

Why do they exist? Well, planning and means tend to be the answer, and here is why. In order to get cards signed, you need to have the cards, period. Most sets arent produced early enough to be signed by the players, and that means that they need a backup plan. Think about it this way, do you think a player has time to sign his cards during the season? Probably not as much. For baseball this leaves a minimal time to get things signed, and football a little more. You also need to have a rep at each signing, or at least someone to witness all the sigs. Yes, this is what it has come to. If you combine both of these things, you can understand how hectic it may get. Add in the economy, and all of a sudden SPA and Exquisite become much more impressive, and NT becomes less of an issue.


Another of the big evils of the industry. Most of the time these cards are filled, but more often then not, it takes a ridiculously long time to do so.

We all pretty much understand why redemptions happen, but maybe our hatred should be focused towards the athletes AND the manufacturer rather than just the manufacturer. Now, UD has taken a lot of flack for their redemption process, but at least they have done a ten fold better job then topps when things get fucked up. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that most people don’t really understand how far in advance the cards have to go out. It’s a long ass time, and if you consider the time frame that the season runs through, it becomes ridiculous. Really, as with stickers, planning usually takes things to the next level, which I applaud UD for taking control and really getting their shit done.

Maybe one of the things we need is a more updated way of getting the info. Instead of “Athlete committed to signing soon,” give us a time frame for the signing – if there is one. If the player hasn’t scheduled one, let us know. Transparency is the gift of the gods, lets use it.

Patch Databases

Oh my god, what I would give to have an online patch database. Company A could scan each patch to be available for all collectors to avoid fakes. DLP has taken a step to institute marking the cards, but you cant see that before you buy on eBay.

In reality, even getting this done for Exquisite is next to impossible due to the way the product is manufactured and packed out. The people who would scan the cards are in a different state than the people who make the cards, which makes it very hard to get it sorted out. Add in that with some sets, scanning 400,000 different cards can be crippling to any workforce. It should just be a practice of those in the know to educate as much as possible about fakes, and pass along this mantra: “IF ITS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.” Plus with eBay having multiple versions of each card usually available, you are pretty much guaranteed that an acceptable one will come along eventually.

Customer Service

One of the biggest complaints of most collectors is a lack of customer service. Things don’t get fixed when they should be, and when they do it takes a long time.

Customer Service for any company is usually a focus, but most of the companies who succeed are gigantic. People like Disney, Google, and Apple, the leaders in customer service, have hundreds of thousands of employees. Companies like UD and DLP do not have enough manpower or money to invest tons of time and resources into customer service from what I imagine. My company has probably a quarter of the base that UD has for their customers, and yet our customer service takes up a whole building. Add in the growing number of problems from the secondary market, and you can imagine how a lack of people and resources will take its toll. Im guessing there is 25 people who work in customer service pre-drop, and now much less. We will just have to understand that it’s a tough time for everyone, and to give them a chance.

You guys all must be wondering why I decided to take the sides of the people who have shown continually that money is the only interest they have, but in reality I am starting to realize that my rage may have been pointed in the wrong direction on some of these issues, not all, but some. Besides, I wouldn’t say I am not any less angry about any of these things, just a little m
ore open minded. Maybe having the ability to take on the question in your mind is a good enough start.

Designing A Winner

I have said on many occasions that the design of the card can make or break a product, more-so to me than any other element of the card. To me, it could be a 1/1 NFL logo Adrian Peterson autograph, and I would pass if it looked like a piece of shit. Personally, I think card design has become a lost art, and that companies, especially Topps, have focused more on how they will pack more autos into a set than more well designed cards.

Look at Triple Threads, my all time most hated product. It is packed with cards literally packed with jerseys and autos, and I think it is the worst possible thing you can invest in. I have not bought a single Triple Threads single in the last few years, and most of it stems from the ridiculous designs and color schemes. To me, the sole purpose of the set is to give us as many low numbered cards with as many pieces of jerseys and autos as humanly possible. This means that things like design and photos of the players take a back seat to make the douchebags who don’t know any better jizz in their pants. Because of the jam packed set up of the cards, the product HAS to be considered high end, despite the fact that none of these cards are appealing to 90% of privileged portion of collectors who take pride in the way they look at the hobby. Those other 10% are die hard player collectors who live by a different creedo.

If it was up to me, I would always want better designs over more content. I love awesome looking cards, regardless of what company makes them. There are certain criteria I need to be true, like how I hate college jersey in the picture cards, but most of the time I base my want on how the card is put together. If a company uses sticker autos, but they are well done and well placed, it doesn’t matter to me. Look at SP Rookie Threads from this year, another set designed to pack as much into a product as possible. The difference between Triple Threads 2008 and SP Rookie Threads 2008 is that one set is well put together, nicely done with a cool theme, while the other focuses on all the wrong things, including printing plates with no player names and tiny player pictures.

SP Rookie Threads was designed around the look of a jersey. All the cards look like they have been sewn together like the numbers and tackle twill on a normal jersey, and I really appreciate the cool theme and idea for the set. Hell, they even made a set based on the NFL logo part of the jersey, which I thought was awesome. I bought the Peterson.

Look at Exquisite for this year, its done in an ornate and almost regal design, and the whole set follows suit in its picturesque glory. Exquisite also features more Jersey than Triple Threads in their RC Autos, and they still managed to fit in a large picture and a signature. Hell, the duals and triples were even done in a way that makes the Triple Threads ones look shameful. Large player picures and no die cut swatches to confusingly spell shit out. I love it.

If you want less high end examples, look at the way DLP did Classics the last few years, or even better, the way UD does SP Authentic EVERY year. For 100 dollars a box, UD has made Triple Threads and other poorly designed sets irrelevant. One other thing about sets like Classics and SP Rookie Threads is that they use sticker autos, but use them in a way that makes them not as noticible. Topps thinks they need to destroy the look of every card with GIANT foil stickers, or even the transparent, but not transparent foil stickers. Yes, they still stick out even when they are supposed to be clear.

Recently, Topps has put out a product that was solely designed to dump their entire store room of basketball stickers into a set before Panini takes over. This means that the set was actually somewhat necessary to utilize thousands of ugly foil stickers in the stockroom, but it is no excuse for the result. Now, we all know how much I fucking despise Topps’ design moves over the last few years, and this set is no exception. Because it was so quickly put together, you can expect that the design would suffer, but jesus, the set is fugly as hell. Add in the fact that each card is numbered to 9000, and you have a donkey turd on your hands.

The one thing that the nostalgic focused modern haters have right is that design used to be better. I agree 100%. However, I do think you can have the content that each product MUST have to survive and also the design to appease the people like me. I have seen the custom card designs out there, so I know it isnt impossible to design a nice set. Hopefully the manufacturers wont save the good stuff for the expensive sets exclusively, and will let it trickle down to the low end stuff too. When cards are designed with care, everyone wins. Take notice quickly, Topps.

Donruss Becomes The Official Card Of The NFL Draft

Whatever the hell that means. Either way, here is the official statement:

Officials at Panini America have reached an agreement with the NFL to become the “Official Trading Card of the 2009 NFL Draft.” This year’s event will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 25th and 26th. Through the sponsorship agreement, Panini America will have access to photography from the event, as well as officially licensed NFL Draft memorabilia worn by the players.

“Rookie cards are key to the success of our trading card programs,” said Panini America Vice President of Sales & Marketing Mike Anderson. “The relationship allows us to be the first trading card company to have access to the top picks. The growing popularity of NFL Draft day is incredible exposure for trading cards and our company.”

The agreement will give Panini America the NFL jerseys and hats the players wear after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calls their name. These unique items will be incorporated into future trading card programs.

“We felt the memorabilia from this events would be a great way to enhance our programs throughout 2009,” adds Anderson. “These jerseys and hats are special, they are the first time the rookies get to wear their new colors – so its going to create some some very unique collectibles.”

Officials from Panini America will also be on-hand producing and distributing cards of the top picks (with their new teams) as their names are called.

Umm, so they want draft worn hat cards? Huh? So you give them a hat, they put it on, and take it off? This is totally lame. I already do my best to avoid event used jersey cards without autos, I will avoid these like the plague.
h/t Groat

I Hate Nostalgia In The Hobby, But This Is Too Good To Resist

Back when DLP was still in the baseball market, things were going well for the collectors that focus on the sport that started it all. There were good sets, there were nice cards, and the stuff that was put out every year was built on the foundation put in place from the year before. I loved a lot of what DLP put out, but I forgot what was possible until I saw a card on a message board.

See, normally, we just get a message on the back of each card that certifies the jersey was used in a game. That’s all we have to go on most of the time, and McWilliam has even removed some of the language on the back of the cards to prevent further liability. It’s a reality that millions have come to accept, that their jersey cards are wholly authentic because some president of a company leaves a message on the back of a card. Hell, even DLP has taken a step back along with Topps and the rest, because liability and transparency are thought of as the enemy. The less we know, the more we will buy. I have gotten countless emails from UD employees, Topps employees, and DLP employees, indicating to me that the stuff I have written about is a tame representation of what actually happens behind closed doors.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, the card I saw actually had a picture of the jersey it came from on the back of the card. Amazing that these type of things never caught on. Of course, there is never a guarantee, as we have found out, that the jersey IS authentic, or that the swatch is from the pictured jersey, but it’s a step up from a stupid message on the back of the card.


It used to be that game used jerseys were the exception to the rule instead of the rule itself, and things have definitely changed in this hobby since 1996 when they first appeared. I really do like the way most of the cards are done today, but I cant help but feel like sometimes, the wool is pulled over our eyes, wrapped around our head, and painted black. One day, someone will have the balls to come out and tell me what I have always wanted to know, or in more simpler terms, what have we been missing?