Fixing Topps Baseball (Stale Gum Blog Bat Around)

Everyone’s favorite on-location box breaker, Stale Gum, has asked the cardblogosphere to pitch in their ideas for fixing Topps Baseball. Here’s my crack at the topic, using 2011 Topps as the basis. Looking forward to hearing other opinions as well!

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball — as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

First of all, a special thanks to Mr. Eisner for greenlighting Beverly Hills Cop. Without it, there would be no Beverly Hills Ninja and I don’t even want to think about what my world would be like without that film.

Now, on to my orders of business.

  1. Let’s Not Overdo Things.  What I mean by this is, let us not take the opportunity of Topps’ 60th anniversary to subject anyone to unnecessary insert sets. Every insert set we add, we have to print an appropriate additional number of base cards to supplement said inserts. This upsets our customers. It’s also difficult to hide when we serial number the gold inserts and the odds of receiving them in a pack get cut in half. The majority of our customers knows that means more base cards and decreased secondary market value for our products. I know we’re producing these items as collectibles and maintain no promise of current or future value, but let’s not blatantly punish our customers for buying our products.
  2. We Don’t Need Another Strasburg. By this I mean two things: A. One Strasburg base card in the set is enough. To include him on inserts would be irresponsible given his current record and uncertainty about his ability to pitch this season. B. Bryce Harper hasn’t played in a major league game. His cards do not belong in our flagship product.
  3. The Manu-Leather Cards Could Be Cool… But they’re not. We messed these up. They’re stitched, not burned. They’re in a lame, small font that bears no relationship to baseball, gloves or the players whose very tiny pictures appear on their fronts. And, in a repeat of #1 up there, when we don’t number the standard ones (like we did with the patches and barrels last season), it’s obvious that we’re overprinting these.
  4. The Diamond Sparkle Cards Are Awesome! Lots of people like these! But they’re unnumbered. And, as such, we’ve planted the seed of, “They could just keep printing these forever” in the minds of our customers. Just number them to however many we made. Or let them replace the Gold cards. Collectors don’t care about these. Replace the Black cards (#/60) with “Black Diamond” cards. The 1/1 Canary ones are cool, but can we just call them “Gold Sparkle” instead? That’s what people will want to call them.
  5. Extend the Topps Million Promotion Instead of Resetting Everything. There’s no reason to start from scratch. Just add the functionality of the new giveaway site to the current site and make only the new codes actually access that functionality. Also, $.50 per card for shipping? 99.99% of everything we’ve ever made isn’t worth $.50. Let’s give the customers a little break here and calculate based on weight, not per card.
  6. No One Cares About Relics and Autos In Topps Flagship. Why not make the autos and relics identical to the 2010 Topps Magic autographs? Make some SPs, dump some old stickers we have lying around and let’s try to spend only 50% of what we spent on new relics and autos in this set last year. This is an attainable goal. If we want to increase the number of autos and relics, how about a Fan Favorites auto/relic insert set (the base inserts could even replace one of the lamer ones I’m recommending we cut). This set could be buybacks or similar to the sets of this name we made a few years back (period designs with a different period photo). We could produce this set quickly and cheaply enough to get the autos on-card. 60 players whose stats may not gain them entry to the Hall of Fame but whose legacies live on in their team’s towns. Mark Grace, Andy van Slyke, Dale Murphy, Dave Stewart… we love these guys and no one with a sense of baseball history would be bummed to pull a Benito Santiago on-card auto (’91 Topps buyback? Yes please!).
  7. No More Reprints. I’m not even giving us a pass because it’s an anniversary year. No more reprints. It causes confusion on the secondary market and smacks of patting ourselves on the back. Why not expand Kimball Champions? Everyone seems to like those and we all know the ’52 Bowman insert set in football was 100X better than any of the inserts in last year’s baseball. And, on that note, no one cares about our history but us. Stick to actual baseball history and never EVER put your face on a card again.
  8. Throw a Bone To Local Card Shops. How about an incentive parallel of the base set for brick and mortar stores only? Not available to any online retailers PERIOD. Let’s try to get people back in the stores that made our survival for 60 years a possibility.
  9. Skip Opening Day. I haven’t looked at our financials yet, but there’s no way this product makes money. Instead, let’s invest that money into creating and marketing a baseball trading card game that appeals to both kids and maybe even a few adults (a la the early ’00s MLB card game). Price it at $.99 retail with hobby only fat packs and it’s basically Opening Day but it has more of a reason to exist.
  10. Tie In With Baseball Video Games. This seems a no-brainer to me. Partner with 2K or Sony to offer unique incentives (cards, coupons, online trading) through one of the platform baseball games and plaster Topps’ logo and images all over the game. This has been done before but let’s see if we can’t innovate a bit and leverage this great opportunity- maybe we can build a long-term relationship!

I hope I haven’t overstepped by bounds here. No wait, yes I do. This company needs some new blood and fresh ideas. Our customers are beginning to feel like we’re milking them and, despite what our numbers look like, that’s not good business. And, more importantly to me, that’s not a business of which I want to be a part. Good day, sir.

Andy @ Community Gum

P.S. Where is our customer service department? I saw a guy in that broom closet over there mumbling to himself about redemptions, but surely that’s not the entirety of our staff.

2 comments to Fixing Topps Baseball (Stale Gum Blog Bat Around)

  • Brian Clements

    Sent this message to Topps Customer Service and did not receive a response.


    I purchased 3, $7.99 (4 packs plus a topps Diamond Giveaway code card ) 2011 Topps Baseball packages. When I tried to unlock the codes, I received an error message stating that the code had already been unlocked. Prior to this experience I had successfully unlocked over 50 code cards with no problem. After opening the first two packages, with bad results, I looked under the clear plastic packaging and realized the codes could be seen without opening the package. It appears that someone has devised a way to steal the codes from this type of product. I purchased the 3, packs from a Target store in Northridge, California. (Los Angeles County). The store is located on Corbin Avenue.

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