Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tribute Thoughts

Yesterday was a first of kind type of day around the baseball card hobby.  I first saw rumblings of a recall of Topps Tribute sometime late Thursday night and into Friday morning.  I stopped to check my email sometime around noon yesterday and saw that rumor had come true along with a statement issued by Topps:  

Personally, I am not really a stakeholder in this matter because I never buy boxes of Tribute.  That seems like a great product for someone else to open and for me to buy and trade for the single cards that I like in the set.  Still I had a couple of thoughts on the matter I would like to share.

1.  I have said it many times on this blog space:  The greatest challenge Topps faces as the sole license holder for Major League cards is its quality control.  Do they have a quality control department?  I am not sure, but I do know that they do dry runs and samples of these products before they are released.  I know that there are people responsible for proofreading and editing the information on cards.  Still, it seems that every year the company faces some sort of quality control issues.  This is early in the calendar year, but how does this get out onto shelves?

I understand that there are always going to be some errors and some problems with products.  It's inevitable and no company can be perfect, but when I saw the images of the Tribute cards being posted by collectors who rushed out to break open the product I was not really all that shocked given how the Tribute cards looked last year.....

Some of the autographs in last year's product were also shaky, but I am not sure that Topps did anything for collectors last year.  No?   I like my former Durham Bulls players, so I am still happy that I went after this Zobrist autograph, but still it's not a great autograph.  Especially coming out of a high end product.  I guess my point is that there was a lesson in quality that Topps could have learned from the production of this product last year and improved Tribute for collectors this year.  Maybe I am being hypercritical.  Maybe not everyone is into reflective thinking with an eye on self-improvement at work. 

2.  Topps did the right thing.  I know the response was not perfect and there are case breakers and Ebay auction winners who have been screwed over, but I am not sure there was a perfect answer to the problems of the Tribute product.  For example, most people are aware of the fading autographs from the 2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot set.  It's pretty terrible and it's been a problem from almost the get-go for the product.  Here is one of mine:

There is still a little bit of Adam LaRoche's autograph on there, but not much.  I know collectors who have spent a lot of good money on this product and they have lost almost every dime of their investment due to poor production on the part of Upper Deck.  Does anybody remember that Upper Deck did to remedy this situation for collectors?  Nothing for the most part.  However, if you take a little bit of time to search out autographs from the Sweet Spot products that followed the disaster of 2006 you will find a lot of great looking baseball cards with nice signatures.

Where to from here?  The most important thing that Topps can do here is learn from their mistakes.  I often see collectors who sweat the future of the hobby that is currently controlled basically by a single licensed card producer for all sorts of reasons.  I am not sure I share all of their concerns, but I do know that I have been really worried about the quality of the product for some time.  The best thing that Topps can do for collectors at this point is to take their time with the rest of their 2015 baseball card products, make sure that the rest of the releases go smoothly, and come back next spring with a great looking Tribute product.  Anything less would should be taken by collectors as a sign that Topps will likely never learn their lesson about quality control.


  1. Are you graphing the Bulls any during the first couple of weeks of the season?

  2. Yeah... I hope they learn their lesson. Let's hope this post reaches a few people at Topps.