For those that haven't heard, Topps exclusive contract has been renewed through 2020. And this card seems to about sum up how I feel about that...
I'm sure this means something different to everyone, and I'm some enjoy the umm...simplicity Topps exclusivity creates. But realistically, for me, this means I have a hard time seeing myself still being as active in baseball cards come by the time next decade rolls around.
For a team collector, Topps' exclusive contract has meant an end to variety - not just in card designs or companies - but in player selection. Over the last few years, Topps certified autos have consisted of Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Jason Grilli, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker (Pedro Alvarez had redemptions, but to my knowledge those cards will not be fulfilled). Bowman/Chrome rookie autos have added Matt Hague and Jeff Locke. On paper, it's a nice selection, and a good proportion of the ML roster.
The problem is that is has been those same players in EVERY. SINGLE. PRODUCT. When there was competition in the marketplace, there was inevitable overlap (Donruss in fact released a few Locke and McCutchen autos in their own MLPA approved products last year). Since 2010, some combination of those players are all there has been to add to my collection. No Chase D'Arnaud, Josh Harrison, or Chris Resop.
Now sure, those types of players aren't the cards case breakers or investors want to see come out of their box. But in the late 90's/early 00's, that type of variety made collecting more exciting as a team collector. Right now I have around a dozen Neil Walker certified autos. Including in person autos from Piratefest and his time in the minors, I may have another 25-30. And when Topps releases another 5 sets including Walker autos next season, I'll probably pick them up. Because what else is there for me to pick up from that year? And...undoubtedly because of some type of team collector completist neurosis, but that's a different blog post (or shrink visit).
But to double back to rationality, note my wording earlier in this post. Baseball cards. I'm a card collector. It's just who I am. And if the mundane monopoly in baseball causes me to tire of Topps' offerings, I can assure you (and you, MLB), that those hobby dollars are not going to go to crochet or building model airplanes. I will simply take those hobby dollars and shift them to sports who do offer interesting, fun, and exciting products for me to collect.
This post is undoubtedly hasty. Hyperbolic. Over-reactive. Angry. And perhaps most of all, disappointed. Because this hobby is something I sincerely enjoy. And limiting the variety, breadth, and creativity of that hobby invariably has a direct impact on my enjoyment of that hobby, in the most arbitrary and unnecessary of ways.
So in the mean time, enjoy pretty pictures of cards we won't be seeing any time soon.