Picking Up Where I Left Off

12 04 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

It’s been a really long time since I’ve had any desire to collect. I’ve sat back waiting for the first Jose Canseco/Upper Deck card to show up, and every once in a while checked eBay for Andrew Miller cards to see what the 2010 issues were like but really felt nothing every time.

It wasn’t until this afternoon that I decided to start again, at least with my fallen Florida Marlin, Andrew Miller. Unfortunately, for the third year in a row, Andrew has found himself in the Minors. While I hate to use a word like “bust” for a guy who was nice enough to sign for me several times and even took the time to remember my name, it’s not looking good for Mr. Miller right now.

As for cards, it appears that he’s only been in a couple of releases thus far. The Heritage card below, a sweet-looking, no license Upper Deck release, and a Topps Team release which looks pretty nice as well. As for which of the three I think looks best? It’s easily the Heritage brand pictured below.

You can expect a full report and review on the cards once they start showing up. As for Wax Heaven, I am working on bringing one final exclusive to the site. Although I’m not looking to step on Beckett’s toes (Tracy and I are buds again), this one would be a very special exclusive that would mean a lot to me.

Stay tuned …


Upper Deck: Where Do We Go From Here?

4 02 2010

Author: Mario Alejandro

It looks like I picked a perfect time to walk away from blogging about the sports cards industry. In my short time away, Upper Deck was sued by Konami for an unforgivable act, released the final 2009 products with logos in full view, and were sued by Major League Properties just days after 2010 Upper Deck Baseball Series One began to hit stores.

I haven’t had an opportunity to view any 2010 products in person but judging by scans, this year’s non-licensed U.D release looks sharper than Topps’ flagship, even without a license. On the other hand, Topps’ flagship is no slouch and although there is officially no apparent competition, they seemed to have put in quite an effort to please collectors.

I have long been a supporter of Upper Deck products because they came out of nowhere and crushed the competition in 1989. Not only that, they introduced to the hobby game-used relics and pack-inserted autographs. Although both these gimmicks are now extremely overused and dull in my eyes, their entrance into the card market forced Topps, Fleer, and Donruss to step up their game.

With that said, this counterfeiting lawsuit made me lose all respect for the current version of Upper Deck. I’ve read ‘Card Sharks’ and even had a chance to interview the author of the highly controversial and eye-opening book and something inside of me wanted to believe those acts by the Carlsbad, California company were long gone, never to appear again.

I have nothing against creative use of logos in non-licensed products. These recent Upper Deck releases (Ultimate, Stars, 2010) look better than anything produced by a non-licensed company. To me, Topps vs. Upper Deck is a war and clearly U.D wants to do everything in their power to win — even if it does bring in even more lawsuits.

However, when the word “counterfeit” enters the equation, there is just no excuse and in my eyes and thousands of collectors’ eyes, Upper Deck will not get a free pass this time around. What they have done (and were forced to settle) is despicable and sadly makes me question the authenticity of all Upper Deck products from this point on.

I’ve always wondered about how easy it would be for a company to lie to collectors. In a time of an economic downturn and with a seemingly endless supply of lawsuits being hurled their way, what’s to stop Upper Deck from using leftover memorabilia and labeling it a “Babe Ruth Game-Used Bat”, for example?

Come to think of it, what’s to stop Topps or Panini from doing the same thing? It’s this kind of negative publicity that will make collectors stop trusting the card companies and help them decide to take their money and business someplace else. If Upper Deck does survive the latest rounds of lawsuits, they owe every collector an apology.

I will admire the beauty that is 2010 Upper Deck but it comes with a bittersweet taste.

Upper Deck’s Silence Is Deafening

2 12 2009

We’re now into December, just a couple of months away from the first baseball releases of 2010 and something is just not right. While Topps Company has already showcased their designs for the flagship brand and Heritage, Upper Deck has been surprisingly tight-lipped.

Sure, they’ve released information, but without images it’s hard for collectors to decide just how much of their money will go into purchasing Upper Deck baseball products. By early November last year, we already had images of their flagship brand, posted exclusively at Wax Heaven.

Here’s what we know: Although U.D. won’t be able to use any Major League logos, they are filling their product with tons of goodies for collectors who chase that “big hit”. So far they have signed popular retired players like Greg Maddux & Jose Canseco, plus legends like Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris, and most recently, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

So while it’s apparent that Upper Deck is going to load their products now that they don’t have to pay M.L.B.’s extortion fees, we still need something, anything to go on in the design department. Will they follow in the footsteps of Tristar, who produced their best-looking release ever only after losing their MiLB license?

My biggest fear is that they will continue to phone it in like they did with their uninspired 2009 releases like ‘A Piece of History’ and the once great ‘SPx’. Upper Deck made a giant splash in 1989 by introducing “high-end” to the baseball market but entering 2010 without logos, all it will take is one or two mediocre efforts for collectors to turn their back for good.

Here’s hoping the Carlsbad, California company can find a way to create more historic cards and technology in 2010 because coming into next season, they will be up against an almost unstoppable, rejuvenated Goliath who has just about everyone on their side.

Upper Deck has slayed Goliath more than once. Will they be able to do it again?

Upper Deck Signs Jose Canseco!

5 11 2009

I was just informed by Upper Deck that Jose Canseco has signed a non-exclusive autograph deal with former Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and the first man to accomplish the “40-40”, Jose Canseco.

Upper Deck surprised many collectors (including me) by adding Jose Canseco to their 2009 Sweet Spot checklist. The card, a game-used bat barrel numbered to five copies, recently sold for over $300 dollars.

The deal will be for the upcoming 2010 baseball release calendar and since the ink has barely dried on the Upper Deck contract, no additional information is available at this time.

Happy days are here again …

Jose is coming back!

Upper Deck Offers Sneak Peek At 2010

30 09 2009

Without a doubt, the biggest story in The Hobby today was the first look at Topps’ flagship design. Not one to be outdone, Upper Deck released a teaser image of one of what is going to be many surprises for the 2010 season.

Every 2010 Upper Deck release will feature Exquisite inserts. So for you die-hard set builders who purchase Upper Deck’s flagship every year looking to build a set and nothing more, you may find quite a surprise in your box.

No further details are available at this time but don’t be surprised if you see a first-look into Upper Deck’s flagship design any day now. Last year, Wax Heaven was the first place anywhere to have images of 2009 Upper Deck… that was in early November.

You won’t have to wait that long for a look this time around. I promise.

2010 Upper Deck

Should U.D Embrace the Steroid Era?

6 09 2009

When Upper Deck lost the right to produce licensed Major League baseball cards, some thought it would be the end of the 20-year old California-based card company. Since the time of that announcement, Upper Deck has gone on record stating that they will continue to produce baseball cards and a recent announcement hinted at the very least six different products slated for 2010.

Most recently, Upper Deck announced the exclusive signing of the Roberto Clemente estate meaning that you will see Clemente in Upper Deck trading cards as early as 2009. While a signing like that is monumental for the future of Upper Deck, one has to wonder what other potential exclusives are on the way. Perhaps now without Major League Baseball breathing down their neck, we might see new cards of disgraced former players  such as Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire to name a few.

Before you start foaming at the mouth remember that despite trading cards being a hobby, it’s also a multi-million dollar industry that has fallen on very hard times. Over the last two years I have seen some of the most insane eBay completed items of players like Canseco and Sosa because despite all the negative publicity and self-destructive behavior, collectors still love them and that’s all that really matters.

It’s time for collectors and fans alike to understand the mindset that went on during the Steroid Era. Either you cheated and broke records or you ended up losing money. Everyone (almost) cheated at one point or another and in the end baseball can judge them when their time for the Hall of Fame arrives. Collectors shouldn’t have to suffer because Topps or Upper Deck wants to produce a card of a known cheater and MLB won’t allow it.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one card company executive informed me of his fight to get Jose Canseco in a 2009 product but when he took his idea to the powers that be was flat out denied because “MLB would cause trouble”. What that means for the Canseco collector spending thousands of dollars to support The Hobby is that there is no chance you will see Jose in any 2010 Topps product. That sounds like the perfect opportunity for Upper Deck and any other company producing non-licensed cards in 2010 to seize the day and give collectors exactly what they want.

Which player would you like to see make a return to trading cards in 2010?