Examining How Companies are Starting to Replace Jersey Cards

Over the last five years, single color jersey cards have gone from the cards you are excited to get, to the cards that end up in your common bin. Its rare that a jersey swatch is worth anything these days, and I already know that some of companies are trying to find solutions to the lack of value they provide. Some of the other companies, like Panini are still including them ad nauseum in their products, and many collectors are getting fed up with paying 100 dollars for a box that has three crap jersey cards and a crap auto.

In 2007, Upper Deck took the first step by re-introducing Manufactured patches to put in their products. These cards, like the originals from earlier versions of Sweet Spot baseball, were non-autographed, non game used patches that depicted any number of things about the subject on the card. The problem was that they introduced them in higher end products that left collectors feeling slighted upon receiving them instead of another hit. Upper Deck had already introduced the signed manufactured letter in 2006 with SP Authentic, cards that were a huge hit due to originality and availablity, and the Manupatches in products like Premier baseball and football were just an extension of that.
In the years after, Topps and Panini both bought into the craze, offering their own versions, and thus making the manupatch a hobby inevitability. However, like with many hobby innovations, you either love them or HATE them. Personally, I think that when done well they can easily be a cool card to have. However, that isnt the issue anymore, as there are some companies like Topps and Upper Deck that are using non-autographed manupatches as a replacement solution for the downfall of jersey cards. This includes the manuletters from Upper Deck Icons and Sweet spot classic, and the influx used by Topps in recent products. In most cases, because the unsigned manuletters sell well due to player collectors trying to spell names, I can see why the companies use them as replacements for the single color jersey cards.
Topps has taken it to a cool level this year in 2010 Topps Baseball and its follow up sets. Topps has been using manupatches designed from the player’s sleeve and hat logo to add a cool element to their base set. Because they are case hits, collectors spend more money than normal to get them, something that cannot be said for the season highlight bat and jersey cards that usually infest the product. I actually just bought the Joe Mauer off eBay, because they used the sleeve patch that the Twins are using for the inagural Target Field campaign. I dont buy Mauer jersey cards, especially single color ones, but I wanted this one. I think that says something about what these cards bring to a product. In addition, they are cheap to make, and there is no limited supply of designs to use. If they made a commemorative one for him being MVP, I would buy that too. Here’s hoping they do similar things in football this year too.
So, this begs the question of whether or not there even is a solution to the shrinking value of jersey cards in general. I mean, even Patch cards have become invaluable due to the huge amount of them available. It used to be that they sold at a huge premium no matter the player, now they can sell for as little as a dollar for even semistars.
Id be interested to hear what all of you think.

Worst of the Worst 2004-2009 #2 – 2008 Topps Lettermen Football

Over the last five years, there have been quite a few products that havent lived up to billing. Whether its shorted hits, bad design, or lack of content in a box, there were more than I can count. Here is my countdown of the worst of the worst, and I will go into a little of what makes them so bad. Of course, for some, the shittiness extends beyond mere words, but ill at least try to capture it with each post.

The number two worst of the worst, 2008 Topps Lettermen, was so bad that it actually crossed the barrier between sports blogs. Blogs that usually commented only on Baseball or other sports picked this up because no one could fathom why Topps would ever put out a product like it. Back when this came out last year, letter hype was at an all time high, with many products trying to capitalize on the signed manufactured letters and how popular they had become. First being released in Basketball, Topps took letters to a whole new crappy extreme by creating a product that was exclusively focused on signed letters. The price was astronomical, the cards were horrible looking, and the concept reeked of Topps rushing to capitalize on a fleeting fad.

Then they decided to bring it to football, and I am still shocked to this day what ended up happening. Unlike Basketball’s autographs signed directly on the letters, Football incorporated the worst looking cop out of autograph technology in the history of this hobby: sticker autos on manufactured letters. Let me repeat that so you don’t have blood shoot out of your eyeballs. STICKER AUTOS ON MANUFACTURED LETTERS. This means that instead of doing letters in a way that at least made this product stomachable for many collectors, they decided it wasn’t worth their time to even get the prime focus taken care of correctly. This horrible idea took cards that already looked like boring and unimaginative shit and made them 1000 times worse.

Oh, but wait, it gets better. They also created manufactured number patches and manufactured logo patches where the sticker wasn’t even put on the card in a normal place. Instead of going across the manupatch like the stupid letters, they were put off to the side and affixed vertically. The results were visual abortions. I have to say though, my favorite part of this whole thing was when they took all the different craptastic designs and X-fractored them to create hundreds of needless parallels. As if having stickers on your letters werent bad enough, now you had more parallels than Triple Threads, all numbered for each individual letter. Fucking gross.

Lastly, as with all Topps high end products, the price was just as much of a drawback as the product design itself. This pile of two week old camel shit cost about as much per box as a Matt Ryan SP Authentic Rookie Patch Auto. Yes, instead of buying one of the best cards of the year, you can have a 200 dollar box of turds. I have never said this in my life, but I would actually support you buying a box of Triple Threads over this. I cant tell you how much I laugh at the people who bought cases of Lettermen and thought they were getting “OMG SIKX MOJOZ!!!”

When it comes down to it, I just cant imagine who decided this was a good idea. Im guessing it was the same people who created Triple Threads, Sterling, and all of the rest of the products that triggered the golden rule of Topps. Now that Topps football is gone, we can all rest easy, but I have a feeling that Baseball is going to feel the brunt of this blow. My condolences to those fans.