Full disclosure: Last week I was contacted by Topps Company’s Communication Manager regarding the possibility of me reviewing their baseball products. I pleaded my case and explained to them why it is important that there be someone out there with honest and real reviews. If you follow me on Twitter or read this post, you know that any chance I had to partner with Topps just went out the window. That’s okay.
This afternoon, Gary V. and Topps Company shared news of their latest venture, a product called ‘Bowman Chrome X’. To say Twitter was up in arms about this new release would be like saying only some people booed Donald Trump at the World Series. Between Gary and Topps’ back to back tweets, reception was about 95% negative and in most cases, absolutely brutal. After a barrage of tweets aimed at his perceived status among collectors, Gary took time to respond in a way only Gary Vaynerchuk can.
For the record, Gary V. has now made at least three appearances in Topps products this year starting with Topps Series 2 and followed by Allen & Ginter. I wasn’t a fan of the S2 cards but the Allen & Ginter relics were a nice touch. Next up came the absolutely awful Topps 360 set and now Bowman X, which it appears he had a hand in creating. Gary clearly has an important role in Topps Company and their 2019 release schedule. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him pop up again in 2020.
After the response above, which was your typical, empathetic “Sorry, Bro” message, I went out and tweeted up a storm about how his presence actually has a chance to do a lot of good in our hobby. Since my tweets, Gary has admitted to accepting $25,000 from Topps for his work. He also claims those numbers are small compared to his usual business dealings. Unfortunately, Gary chose to ignore my tweets so let me explain them here for those not on social media or those who are not caught up on the latest #TheHobby drama.
Gary Vaynerchuk is obviously immensely popular and a wildly successful businessman. None of the things I am going to type out here means I am jealous in any way. If that’s your immediate response, just leave. I believe in freedom of speech, something many collectors and hobby outlets like Beckett Media and GO GTS Live do not have the privilege of partaking in. This industry is completely codependent. If you are considered “negative” AKA you don’t kiss ass 24/7, you are not worth the time of a card company. If you are “too honest”, those boxes of unopened product stop arriving at your door. Imagine Go GTS Live’s viewership without free giveaways every ten minutes.
Companies who should have our back, us as in collectors, cater only to the card companies. Beckett Media has remained completely silent on the card trimming scandal. That to me was the death knell in their coffin. GO GTS Live, a show that has a platform to do more than just give cards away in exchange for viewership, instead chooses to read sell sheets and toss softball questions at card company employees. It is 100% a paid infomercial by the trading card industry catered exclusively to short attention span “Prize Hounds”. That’s really a shame to waste the talents of Ivan Lovegren, who has a great personality and a great mind for all things business and cards.
Gary V., a self-proclaimed collector since he was wee lad says he loves #TheHobby but accepts money from a company who successfully pushed out all its competitors and created yet another baseball card monopoly. His latest venture, Bowman X, works directly with PSA Grading, one of the main culprits in the card trimming scandal. Has Gary ever used his huge platform to speak out against any of these injustices against collectors? No, he ignores it because he is on the payroll.
Will Gary V. speak out about the price gouging that seems to get worse every year? I love high-end products, have loved them since the early-90s. I definitely do not think every product should cater to kids with small budgets but when you are pushing 40 baseball products in a single calendar year and all you have is Big League and Opening Day as an alternative, something is seriously unbalanced. Topps claims that kids are the future of this hobby but what kid would spend $200+ on a box of colorful cardboard cutouts with players on them when they can save up for an iPhone 11 or Fortnite skins?
Gary has the ability to take a stand and has the follower count that could make Topps Company take notice. Unfortunately, much like his online persona, it’s clear that he has sold out for that easy money. Collectors idolize this man yet look down on those speaking out on the scandals. Furthermore, those who speak out are labeled “negative”, which is a pretty derogatory word on Twitter, shockingly enough. With that label, nothing you say is ever taken seriously again.
Gary has the respected reputation as a businessman and collector to push Major League Baseball to open the doors to Upper Deck or Panini America. If you think I’m crazy to suggest such a thing, keep in mind that Kim Kardashian has been responsible for helping 17 inmates be freed from prison. Yes, that Kim Kardashian. If a woman who solely became a household name thanks to a leaked sex tape with a 3rd rate R & B singer can be the face of freedom in America, what could Gary V. do for us collectors?
Not a god damned thing, apparently.