I stayed out of the most recent Blog Bat Around, mainly because I am a coward. I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my mind about what the card manufacturers should do in '09 and beyond, but I just couldn't force them out of my head and onto the screen via my stubby fingers. Partly I wanted to get it perfect before I posted it to the world, partly I'm unsure of myself since I've been utterly wrong on many occasions (Ok, 2008 Opening Day was a decent set for kids. It still makes my eyes bleed) and I'm also paranoid that I'll make a good suggestion and someone from one of the manufacturers will stumble across it and decide to do the exact opposite thing just to spite the loudmouth assclown who banned their company over a Hillary Clinton card or dumped their base set like a hot rock over a no hitter card.
The recent Panini monopoly/Donruss lawsuit bombslhells have me spooked however, and I'm starting to feel that impending dread I felt a year and a half ago when Upper Deck was trying to gobble up Topps. NBA cards are way down on the packing order in my world, but the MLB license is up at the end of the year and now I'm feeling queasy. There's been a metric ton of posts about these issues already in the past day and I've commented on most of them. This one from Hand Collated looks at the lawsuit and theorizes that Donruss won't be getting their license back anytime soon. Stale Gum said the exact same thing last night (and my comment on that post has gotten a LOT of traction in the interwebs, but that's a subject for part 2) That's probably correct, and Donruss is fooked, although I don't think it's the right decision.
Hand Collated's post did do one thing - it crystallized what is probably the closest thing to my ideal baseball card business model theory. It has also forced me to face my greatest fear for the hobby in 2010. I don't think I can really write it better than I already have in that comment, so here it is:
Three licensees, 12 sets each. That's the exact same number of products that are out now. There are three manufacturers so innovation will increase as they try to out do each other. 12 sets is enough so there can be a wide range of products from low end to high end while weeding out some of the unnecessary ones like X and Moments & Milestones. Each release is much more important to the health of the company so more care is put into each. Better product, happier customers, better sales.
However, MLB has shown in the Bud Selig era that they either do things absolutely right or completely wrong. Thus, I give it a 50-50 chance that they yank both Topps and Upper Deck's licenses next year and create their own in-house trading card company. Their first premiere product will feature Cut signatures of the Commish and all 30 owners. AND NOTHING ELSE.
Now you know the next time I post about nonsense at 3:30 am, it is because I just woke up screaming from a dream where I just pulled a Jeffrey Loria taxpayer leeched money card from a pack of 2010 SeligCards. The horror.