Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Wishing Well Of HOFers and Legends

Now that Topps has seemingly taken over the baseball market for legendary players through hobby crushing exclusive contracts, Im beginning to wonder if Upper Deck will shift their focus elsewhere. First, before I move any further, let me again express the disgust I have over exclusive contracts in general. I think it would be much better if the companies had exclusive advertising contracts, meaning that you couldn’t feature their exclusives on your packaging, but you could still produce relics and autos. It would save us collectors a lot of time and money, and would still allow us to choose based on preference rather than the auto checklist. That being said, I would really hope that with the lot of players that Topps has secured, maybe we will see some new products pop up that we have been waiting for from Upper Deck. I say this because their legends and HOFer based baseball products were such a focus for them, made them so much money, and floated so many of their thin products, that maybe they will need to find a new boat to carry them to profit. For once, I will help UD out with some ideas. Not because I want to make nice, but because I think the collectors need a little pick-me-up. Here is what I suggest:

1. Legendary Cuts Football and Basketball

As it stands right now, pretty much every single football and basketball product that is released centers around the rookie class for the year. One of the reasons LC is so popular for baseball is because there was never a focus on current stars in the set. Until 2008, it was all retired stars and HOFers. With Legendary Cuts Football, I could see it being the same thing, sadly because so many football players die so young. Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, Jim Thorpe, and Sammy Baugh are all players that could headline this set, with auto subsets for players like Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. I cant tell you how awesome this could be. Of course UD would find some way to fuck it up, but its worth a shot.

Now, for Basketball, this would be a little bit harder to pull off because the modern age of Basketball is so strong when it comes to the stars in the league right now and the living HOFers and Legends. I could still see Cuts from Mikan, Maravich, and Chamberlain being pretty big, and I think the set could do well. I would still do stuff with Jordan, as he draws no matter what. Its an idea, but I think the football one is stronger.

2. More Work on Football and Basketball Legends Than Before

Look at UD Premier Baseball vs UD Premier Football - they are completely different structures! Baseball focuses on a balance between the Vets, RCs, and HOFers to make the set buyable, where as Football focuses primarily on the RC stuff. There was so few items on the checklist that focused on the players of yesteryear that it was kind of stupid. Not to mention that the set dropped like a fucking rock after release in terms of price per box. Hopefully now, we can get some cards and products focusing on the living legend players and more cuts from the non-living ones. Old jerseys from FB are tougher to get than the baseball ones, solely because of the nature of how people viewed primitve baseball vs primitive football back then. That is still no excuse to not focus on the players.

3. Make Exquisite Better Than It Has Ever Been

First, there is one thing that FB and BKB have that BB never will have - super high end products. Most baseball collectors are like the ones you read about on most of the existing blogs out there, and they don’t like spending a lot on their products. There is nothing wrong with that, but it opens up a big hole for UD to exploit Topps' new focus on their baseball legends. Because Exquisite exists for the other sports, take the opportunity to redesign and refocus. No more crappy dual autos that make no sense, no more cards that look exactly the same as the year before. STEP IT UP. Make your best products into ones that will take the focus off your baseball loss. If Exquisite rocks, who cares that Legendary Cuts and Premier baseball have become crap, I know I wont!

4. Work On Improving Areas Of Your Baseball Division That Need Work

UD is quickly becoming as irrelevant in baseball as Topps is in Basketball. Although Jeter and Grif are still exclusives, they should work on building up the rookie based products. Topps is wiping the floor constantly thanks to Bowman, but you could easily cash in on guys like Jay Bruce, Josh Hamilton, and the latest Japanese sensation like Fuck-you-doo-mee. These guys all come in late season, so wait until things get going before starting work on these guys. I guarantee none of them have relics yet, so I would tout that as the focus of the set. As a collector, I would want that type of thing for my favorite guys.

5. Let It Go, For Fuck's Sake, LET IT GO.

I know that UD basically got caught with their pants down over the loss of ALL these guys, but they need to let it go. DO NOT TRY TO RELAUNCH THE PRODUCTS WITHOUT THE LOST HOFERS. No more Sweet Spot Classic, no more Legendary Cuts, and no more trying to fix your loss. Let it go. I cant tell you how much I would laugh if I saw UD try to put out more sets now that they cant produce stuff from the top legends in the history of baseball. Instead of Sweet Spot Classic Baseball, do football and basketball. That would be much more inviting to me.

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