June 14, 2011

That's the way the (C)rookie crumbles.

Yesterday I posted a hobby box break of 2011 Topps Pro Debut baseball cards and it got me thinking (read:made me want to go on a rant) more about the whole rookie card logo. This is the second product release containing minor league players, and it looks like it would be the second release of 4 or 5 total products with such players.

Later in the year we are scheduled to see a likely Pro Debut Series 2, as well as Topps Heritage Minor League and Bowman Platinum which are all slated to contain minor league autographs of top prospects. While I think it is great to include top prospects in products, I don't think it's great to have them sign 500 "First Year" cards, Pro Debut cards, Bowman Chrome, Topps Chrome, Bowman Drafts Picks & Prospects, Topps Heritage, Platinum, etc.

Doesn't that seem like a bit much? Now compound that with the fact that we will have 3 Bowman sets that look IDENTICAL, and Topps Series 1, 2, and Update look IDENTICAL to Pro Debut. They must really think we are suckers. I don't care to have 40 different color base prospect
Gary Sanchez
cards. Don't forget about the printing plates for each of those 40 different cards that look the same from every set. Oh and the autograph versions.

With all those autographs you then have those same cards as base cards, then parallel versions of each of those cards, 4 printing plates of each, and on and on. But as if that wasn't enough of an issue, now what happens when you have 50 cards from all these sets of a player in a given year such as 2011 and he then gets called up to the majors. Well, back in the day you would be holding his rookie cards. Now, you are holding what will inevitably be his least desirable cards simply because they are not the "RC" logo cards. There is one exception- Bowman Chrome.

The only card collectors seem to chase regardless of what year are the Bowman Chrome autographs. They have become the be all end all rookie/prospect cards. If you ask me, Topps should see this as an opportunity to right the ship now and eliminate some of these other minor league releases and make these prospects and prospect autos from Bowman and Bowman Chrome worth the price of the product.

Collectors know that most of these minor league guys don't make it so why push products of "could be's" when you can integrate new ideas into fresh sets of the veterans and include a subset of Top Prospects in each one?

There was a reason that Fleer, Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck lost the rights to producing major league baseball cards. It was because the market was flooded and the cards were worth nothing. Example being look at the Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr RC's, there are a bazillion of those floating around, and while no one wants a Sosa one now, Griffey Jr is still a desirable rookie card.

So now, we as collectors are left with a bazillion minor league sets or cards that pretty much look like everything else, they might be prospects or they might be rookies. But the bottom line is it's not a rookie without that logo, so pick what you buy wisely.

Topps needs to slow down these minor league cards because I have a feeling I am not the only one that is not interested and would rather see another major league set put out.


  1. I actually disagree with you on this. To me Pro Debut is an unassuming set that doesn't try to be anything more than it is: A Minor League Baseball Set.

    I feel like we went YEARS without a proper minor league set. When Pro Debut was introduced last year, I was thrilled. The most refreshing thing about it is that this is not the type of set that prospectors salivate over. The fact that it isn't Bowman Chrome--which somehow became the defacto prospect set--is what is so refreshing about it.

    I don't need a million cards of some top prospect. It's too expensive and too much of a gamble. I'd much rather see something with a solid base set of players in the Minors. How, is Heritage Minor League too much? Maybe. We'll have to see. But for me, Pro Debut is exactly what a Minor League set should be.

    Also, I like that it uses the same design as the base set--it allows me to create something along the lines of a full "organizational" master set if I want. I can easily justify adding it my collection because of the design continuity.

    Personally, I don't think we need another MLB set either. There are so many sets each year, but only so many players. Even though things have slowed down in the Topps-only era, I find that I'm amazing by how many cards of player X there are in a given year. I'd much rather see some fresh faces. If they don't become anyone, who cares? Some of them will be in the major leagues, and for some of them this will be their first baseball card. For others, it will be their only baseball card.

    All in all, Pro Debut is a good (great?) Minor League Baseball set. Nothing more, nothing less. But it's the only real MiLB set we've had in a long time. For that reason alone, I like it and want to see it stick around year after year.

  2. Pro Debut will be only one set this year but the Heritage is new. I agree with it being all too much but Topps always overdoes Bowman. Four Bowman sets (three that look exactly the same) with all the same players essentially, is much too much. I do think Pro Debut is a little different, in that it is strictly a minor league only product, which Bowman isn't. However, I do think we only need one set of only minor leaguers but Topps knows that anything with Harper in it will fly off shelves so they'll do a little flooding.

  3. I've been making my thoughts on this known the past couple of weeks, but I think there's a mix of ideas here that can be combined to better the hobby. I like minor league sets that exist just for being minor league sets, like Pro Debut. I see a lot of minor league games so it's nice to see these players on a card from that year. I wouldn't mind seeing an expanded minor league offering, as long as it's not just five sets featuring the same selection of 200 players. There are 240 MiLB teams, and while you don't really want to feature even a full 9-player starting roster from each team (which means a 2000+card set), it would be great to see a set that features at least a couple of the best players from each of these teams. I believe that's what Pro Debut tried to do last year, but I'm not familiar enough with the checklist to know. Pro Debut is great for being a minor league set that isn't just about hits. Though I could see Topps doing something like that in the near future.

    I would like to see Bowman just combined into one issue with multiple series and have all the Chrome, Platinum, and Sterling sets combined into it (perhaps releasing one of these sets in each of three series of Bowman). Plus, make it a minor league/prospect/rookie-only release. Doing both of these reduces the number of MLB sets being released allowing more room for sets catering to the hobby base while not taking anything away from the prospector group.

  4. I think there is room for a minor league set - at least it has a theme, which is more than you can say for most baseball card releases. Whether Topps can get it to succeed financially is another matter - two of the three series saw rapid price drops after release.

    I'm more tired of the multiple Bowman releases. Its time to make them Bowman Series 1 & 2 or consolidate them into one set.

    We've never had a clear-cut rookie card situation - even back during the original Topps monopoly, guys had "rookie cards" in more than one year. It's up to collectors to decide which cards will sell for a premium and which ones won't.

  5. I am a fan of the Pro Debut set. I go to quite a few minor league games and enjoy trying to get the guys to autograph their cards. It's nice to see that some of the young prospects are getting some card recognition. As for player collections, yes, the market is extremely flooded. I collected Derek Jeter cards for a while but gave up. It was too expensive and too time consuming. Now, I just try to collect whatever cards strike my fancy at the moment. I chased hard after Harper and finally broke down and bought his base Bowman on eBay. The very next day I bought some more Bowman packs and wound up with the Bowman Chrome version. The one card I wanted this year I now have. Now, I can focus on going after the smaller fish in the pond. There is one thing I miss from Topps, the 1987 format. They had a 792 card base set and covered just about every player on a teams 40 man roster. It was awesome. Where else are we going to find Al Pulido Yankee cards or Paul Zuvella donning pinstripes? I was a huge fan of that set just because it was easy to collect. I thought we were going to get something similar when O-Pee-Chee was launched a couple of years ago but that was stifled early after Topps bought the licensing for MLB. Does Topps really think they are going to attract new collectors if they make it almost impossible to collect? I have a vast collection of Yankees, thousands of cards strong. Do I really need or want purple, green, gold, black, red, blue, etc. variations of the SAME card? Can't they use another picture at least thereby making it a little more collectable? I don't want my collection muddled with 1,000 variations of the same damn card. It's stupid. Slap a different picture on there, put some new information on the back and give me a new card. Topps has a chance to truly revolutionize card collecting and, in my opinion, they are squandering it. They are still flooding the market, but with variations instead of base cards. I don't know, maybe I'm just old fashioned or getting too old for collecting.