Should Donruss get an MLB license?

There’s two factions when it comes to Donruss/Panini with regards to the baseball card market. There is the side that is dying for Donruss to return to their glory years as they have grown tired of Topps and Upper Deck.

Then there is the other side who dies a little each time they think of Donruss returning and releasing hundreds of cards of one player each year like there were doing shortly before their banishment into non-licensed territory.

I am torn on the issue at the moment. For one, I absolutely loved Donruss releases from the late-80’s into 2000 but judging by their latest efforts, those guys are long gone. If you think Topps uses a lot of sticker autographs just wait till Panini releases 15 products all with stickers, similar designs, and one hundred different parallels.

As for the idea that Donruss “floods the market”, this is nothing new. Just take a look at the scan below. They have been doing this for ages now, just not as prominent as before. At least back then they used different photographs.

Seriously, how many  1989 Donruss Jose Canseco cards do I really need?

UPDATE: While putting my cards away I found yet ANOTHER 1989 Donruss.

26 thoughts on “Should Donruss get an MLB license?

  1. I think -every- card company should be allowed every sports license with the understanding that they can only have a limited amount of releases each year. Say… 5 (1 low end, 2 mid end, 1 high end, 1 super high end). That way we have 15 or so releases from every ‘major’ company for each sport. That breeds competition and variety… In that way the collector wins.

  2. Regarding waxwombat’s comment, wouldn’t limited releases by the companies mean less innovation and variety. Since you only could release 5 sets you would only put out sure things/ money makers like allen & ginter every year. Rather than taking the risk and trying something new.

  3. No MLB license for Donruss until I catch up on all the Pettitte parallels they have already released. At this rate, they can start making MLB-licensed cards about a decade after Andy retires.

  4. Limiting the number of sets each company can release, while very desirable, is impractical given the way licenses are currently negotiated (with huge upfront payments).

    The reason that there have been so many sets released by UD and Topps the last few years is that when licesnes were last negotiated (in 2006, I think), they agreed to huge upfront payments both to get Donruss out of the hobby and because they thought that the hobby was much stronger than it actually is.

    Now they are desperately releaseing set after set in the hopes that some will become hits and generate enough revenue for them to make their guaranteed payments to the MLPBA without ruining themselves financially.

  5. At least those cards aren’t parallels try collections the 2000 era Diamond Kings. But i do believe you are also missing the extremely rare 89 Donruss Blue Chips card.

  6. Topps and Upper Deck aren’t much better when you consider sets such as Moments and Milestones and Documentary. I always liked Donruss’ designs and they were always innovative. I’d love to see them return to the hobby and even though I’m sick of Upper Deck, I don’t know if I’d want them to lose their license.

  7. Topps created even more “extra” variations of cards in the late 1980s – there were the mini league leaders, the All Star inserts from the rack packs, the cards with the colored borders that you could mail away for, several types of stickers, Tiffany, all the cards that they made for various stores, and then O-Pee-Chee, with the same design.

    You’ve mentioned Donruss producing “one hundred different parallels” a few times. Can you be specific? Maybe it’s because I wasn’t collecting in the early part of this decade, but I really don’t know of any Donruss releases that had that many parallels. Are Donruss parallels really any more egregious than the huge amount of parallels that Upper Deck (Heroes, Masterpieces, etc) and Topps (Moments & Milestones, Bowman, etc) are producing?

    Seriously, if you can back up your argument about how horrible Donruss is because of parallels that they’ve produced in the past with specific details, it would go a long way towards educating me and other collectors, and it would help us to understand your point of view a lot better.

  8. I used to have a scan from a Donruss set in 2000+ featuring a sick amount of Donruss parallels of just one player. It was like nothing I have ever seen before.

    Yes, Heroes was bad but not even close. I will see if the collector will scan it for me again.

    As for Topps, yes they had TONS of oddball-type releases per year but only one or two shared the same design.

  9. They should have one. They are the best value in football, don’t see why they couldn’t do it in baseball. Also from what I hear Donruss has the best business practices (caring for collector, distributor) for everyone involved in the hobby.

  10. Dave,

    Here is just part of Donruss’ flood. Same picture over and over again. This is just one small incident. I haven’t found the other one.

  11. I know this is a bit off topic but to me this is just a side issue. Baseball cards biggest issue isn’t Donruss/Panini licensing or flooding the market, it is the flood of no-name never will make it prospects…. Its Todd Van Poppel, Brien Taylor, Kevin Maas and all these other scrubs that were top 5 hottest cards on the market before they ever hit the majors. If I were to get back into baseball cards and collect say, dustin pedroia, its just ridiculous to me to have to go to 2004 to find cards of the 2007 ROY and 2008 MVP. This means that I would have to buy and hold tons of crap this year to hopefully have a couple cards of 2012’s Pedroia.

  12. I don’t see what the big deal is with sticker autos or parallels. The people who whine about parallels are player collectors, and the whole idea of player collectors whining about having cards to collect is asinine. If you don’t want to chase the parallels, then don’t. But don’t complain about them. If you don’t like chasing down the parallels, then maybe player-collecting isn’t for you.

    Parallels are a good, cheap way to add value to a box break. Plus, when you get a whole rainbow, it looks really cool. Topps Tek is one of the most popular sets of the early 00’s and every card in those sets is a parallel.

    Donruss definitely deserves a license. We need Elite Extra to come back full force. Punani has already said that if they don’t get a license, they aren’t making baseball. Losing Elite Extra would really suck.

  13. Donruss was boring before they lost their license, and they were boring after it. The Hobby is not missing an independent Fleer, and it won’t miss Donruss, at least for a few years.

    Donruss from the mid-80s was strong, and the mid-90s were good as well. Early 90s stank up the joint, as did anything since 2000 with a few exceptions. Early 80s Donruss have a nostalgic glow for me, but objectively the photo, design, and card stock all were laughably bad.

    Now that certain NBA and NHL franchises are not sure they’re going to survive a prolonged economic toilet, and the only other leagues that matter (NFL, MLB) are suffering declining revenue, now is not the time to attempt to falsely and foolishly re-inflate a Hobby market that has more leaks than can be patched, including scorched-earth policy prospect sets from unlicensed card makers.

    The card companies should press to re-negotiate licensing contracts, because if the card companies fail, so does the revenue stream for the PAs.

    I would support Donruss’ re-entry with MLB sets if all companies received a cap on the number of sets based on re-negoitated licensing contracts. Competition would be enhanced by allowing more creative time and effort on fewer releases, rather than poor quality control, poor design, and uninteresting sets on breakneck timetables.

  14. Aren’t parallels what player collectors want? I don’t collect any player extensively to the point of even caring about base cards at all, but I could see where parallels add a lot of depth into collecting a player.

    Yea, you might not or won’t ever get them all, but you have to understand from a business point of view that is what they want. As soon as you get every parallel of a player, you aren’t buying cards/boxes/packs anymore. That is not good business. The more they have you chasing the more they are selling. I know if I buy a box, and can sell the parallels/inserts for 1-2$ to recover a fair amount of the box price I feel much more comfortable buying that box. In turn it creates a market for player collectors.

    And to not be completely off topic, I hope they get a license. Especially after Prime Cuts was such a big hit.

  15. I wouldn’t mind if Donruss got a license. I do think that MLB should limit the number of sets every year. If the fundamentals won’t allow this to happen because of the licensing fees, than the fundamentals need to change. The current order of things is choking the hobby.

    Parallels are ok I suppose, but only on smaller sets. It shouldn’t take more than 2-3 cases to complete one.

    The other issue is that the parallels are indistinguishable in Donruss products. At least in Masterpieces the borders are easy to tell the difference. There are far too many however. Heroes was ok, but not great.

  16. The thing you have to remember is that if Major League Baseball wants to continue spreading its brand beyond our shores, they’re going to need Panini. There is no other brand with anywhere near the market penetration that Panini has. I’ve been all over Europe the past couple years, and one thing that all of Europe has in common is news kiosks, and one thing that almost every news kiosk has is Panini soccer sticker cards (they are stickers, but they are the same standard size as cards and you would assume they were just soccer cards unless you knew beforehand that they were stickers).

    I don’t know about South America, but I would imagine that if Panini isn’t already there, it wouldn’t take much for them to expand there.

    I’d love to see the World Baseball Classic get to where it’s a big deal. Then maybe a Donrini Baseball set heavy on “Italian” players (Piazza, Rizzuto, Catalanotto, etc) in Italy, Dominicans in the DR, Japanese in Japan, etc. Different versions for the different markets, but with the same base set. Then, instead of different colored parallels, you’re looking for the Andrew Miller with the foil Italian flag, Dominican flag, Japanese flag, etc. I don’t know, just a thought.

  17. 03 and 05 Donruss are some of my preferred cards to get baseball autographs on.

    They are great looking big photo cards with a good batch of rookies and without lame pre-printed autos. I enjoy doing the legwork myself thanks.

    Not every collector cares about “shiny” cards and authentic autographs.

    C’mon back Donruss.

  18. I see Rich’s point, and I agree with him there. I too am done with facsimile autographs. It does stink to have a nice overall design, a sharp looking photo, and then there’s the replica scribble, being very uninteresting and entirely lacking in novelty.

    I understand if it is a retro design that originally incorporated facsimile autos (like 1959 / 2008 Topps Heritage). However, in 1959, it may have been more novel to see what players’ autographs looked like, as there may have been fewer opportunities to acquire them, since a freakish collectibles market for autographs didn’t quite exist yet.

    As a part of contemporary and original designs, facsimile autographs generally just clutter the composition. They don’t add much, except the occasional bit of unintentional humor with either third-grade printing or Unabomber psycho chicken scribbles.

    Which of these two would you prefer to have signed by George Foster? (thanks dayf for the image post)

  19. 8 Canseco’s is an awful lot for just one company in one year…But, at the same time, if you’re a die hard collector of any individual player that appeared in that set, each regular card has possibly 4 variations(I’m not sure if they all do, it’s hard to find any difinitive information, but all cards for sure have at least 2. Each card has “Leaf Inc.” or Leaf Inc” variation. And then there is the “*denotes led league” or “*denotes led league*” variations in the basic card stat boxes. I know for sure the Griffey has all four possible combinations(I only have 3, but have seen the 4th), but since no one talks about the variations I can’t confirm that all cards have 4 variations. The “led league” variations of the Biggio, Sheffield, Schilling or other key rookies in the set are all I’ve been able to find, and am having trouble finding anything about the “leaf inc” variations….Any confirmation would be great.

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