By Nick Caples aka Capes

I think this deal is a great thing for the hobby. We should all be cheering about this situation. Let’s look at some hobby facts that the Topps MLB deal cures:
Fact one- The hobby in general is dwindling and has been since the mid ‘90s.
Fact two- A large reason for this downward spiral is due to overproduction and too many products which confused and complicated the process.
Fact three- The dust has begun to settle the past couple of years and glaringly shows that the hobby is stale.
Fact four- Kids do not like things that are stale.

The exclusive contract means that baseball card makers should contract. We all know that other companies will continue to produce baseball cards but there is now a clear choice of MLB brands. This should simplify the buying process, which is half the battle, especially for kids.

Let’s talk about the kids. Without the kids where is the future of this hobby? Please try to explain it will be fine without the next generation of collectors. Please tell me who is going to buy your Albert Pujols rookie card auto in 30 years. Please tell me who is going to buy your Peyton Manning rookie card in 20 years. Please tell me who’s going to buy your Michael Jordan rookie card in 10 years. Now let’s broaden our tunnel vision for a second. Let’s try to remember that someday these kids are going to be all grown up. Someday they will want more than the .99 cent pack and someday they will want the MJ, Pujols and Peyton rookies. If we lose them now then we all lose our current investments.

I’m sure that we’re all at least somewhat familiar with Pokemon cards. We may have never played or collected them ourselves but I’m willing to bet every time you walked into a card shop you saw a box of them, right? Now, please tell me how many boxes you saw? Were there five boxes? 15 boxes? 40 boxes for kids to choose from? Nope. There was probably just one or two. It is simple for these kids so lets try to embrace what they already know and build on it. Topps can do this with baseball cards. Lets not freak out and think that Topps is only going to make one base set for the rest of existence. Looking at the exclusive deal between Panini and the NBA that goes into effect for 2009-2010, Panini looks to have a line of 15-25 trading card products. How much clearer and simpler will the baseball card landscape look if we have 15-25 products to choose from? I say very nice. There should be something for everyone, from the kiddies to the high (end) rollers.

Now naturally some of us will be mad, angry or upset because we love some MLB Upper Deck products. Some collectors are angry that your Sweet Spot set just got kicked in the sweet spot, and naturally so. This is where I need to point out that we need to quit being selfish. Just like everything else it comes down to supply and demand. I’m not talking about how many cards or products are out there but rather I’m talking about supply and demand at the most fundamental of levels. If we don’t increase our supply of collectors then there will be no demand for the cards.

Topps and Panini, if nothing else, are going to stir up a stale hobby. We don’t know if it will work but what we do know is that if nothing was done to the hobby then the hobby would be done. The path we are currently on is a dead end and we should applaud Topps and Panini for stepping up and at least trying to take us on a detour.