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Your Turn: Beckett Baseball – Can casual sell cardboard? (take our poll after the jump)

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor | Commentary

You may have seen the Your Turn page in nearly every issue of Beckett Baseball where we showcase stuff that is all about you. You can see your comments on hobby topics and get chances to win cool stuff in contests all on one page.

With Panini America recently gaining a group license from the MLB Players Association to start producing baseball cards this year, the company is in a unique position — its challenge is to produce cards of MLB players while not showing them in their MLB uniforms — or at least with logos (their use is authorized only by MLB Properties) while also using casual photography. Unlike other companies, who have found themselves in the position of having just one license likely due to financial limitations, Panini might be positioned to do these cards the “right way” with a mix of studio photo sessions and other alternative design approaches using a mix of casual and logoless uniform photos. Spokesman Josh Hamilton said he appreciated being able to show things such as his cross on his card, calling the approach “real.”

We’ll have more on this topic in the next magazine — and we want your two cents inside the issue as well: Here’s the fundamental question: Can casual sell cardboard? Tell us why … or why not.

Can casual sell cardboard?

View Results

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Please include your name and location with your comment below — we will only run items with that information. A selection of your answers will appear in the next issue along with our next batch of contests and giveaways found only in the magazine.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

27 Comments

Chad McFarland

It might work but they would have to show the ball players cars, homes, & other toys. They might even put some rare cards in so that the person could win a casual day out with that ball player. The only problem I could see is if the ball players would let them get into their personal lives. This would defiantly put a new spin on collecting.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink
danny

no, if you look at the eee prices vs bowman chrome auto prices chrome wins
if you buy baseball card in the street clothes and no mlb logo than its like buying 1990’s classic
if it tastefully done like goodwin then maybe it has a chance

Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink
Kaf adfafsf

Panini has their work cut out for them. They might get one nice design out there but collectors will get tired of these photos. They really don’t seem like baseball cards, especially since panini has done this so much in the past. I do hope that the same guy who designs their football products isn’t in charge of baseball!!

Good thing Panini got this license, because basketball is going to be non-existant this year.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink
Dave Wicker

In the past unlicensed cards have had a goofy airbrushed uniform and lack of crisp, clean photos. This product is different in that it has baseball meaning, and while not in uniform, the players are not cropped out to show just their face or swinging a bat in a blank uniform. This approach can work because as collecting has evolved many collectors are more worried about on card signatures and legitimate game used items. I personally like to see a player like Josh Hamilton get to show his cross in a picture, because as many collectors know his faith is very pivotal in his comeback from drug abuse. If they allow other players to add a personal touch to their cards as well, I believe that collectors will be even more interested. As far as the rookie signatures, I love that they have some of them with trophies and in a moment real joy. This type of product can and will succeed in the new marketplace.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

I wouldn’t spend money on cards that didn’t feature players in uniform. The very essence of collecting baseball cards for me is to collect by team. If you don’t put a team logo or a team name on the card, or show the players playing in a big league ballpark, it seems kind of pointless to call them “baseball” cards.

2010 Upper Deck baseball succeeded for me because even though UD didn’t put team names or logos in the design of their baseball cards, every picture was still a photo of a player in uniform. If they had airbrushed out those details, I would submit that their cards weren’t major league baseball cards anymore. These new Panini designs are no different. They’re not baseball cards any more than wallet-sized photos of me are “librarian cards.”

Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink
Jonathan W. Iwanski

Anything that gets rid of the current monopoly is a good thing. I see similar pictures in Topps all the time with serial numbers to /500, /250, /100, /50, /25, /10, and /5. Really, what is the point? Just because there are only ten copies of this card with the same picture and design as a nearly identical card with 250 copies, I am supposed to be impressed? It is diluting what we have and making some cards completely unattainable for collectors. I wholly welcome a new perspective.

Jonathan W. Iwanski
Appleton, WI

Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink
Caleb Wilson, Gilbert AZ

Baseball cards are meant to show the MLB teams no matter what. If the players are casually featured in their street clothes or suits or whatever Panini wants to show them in how does that make the players stand out. The MLB uniforms make the card special and seeing a guy in his regular clothes has no significance.

Caleb Wilson
Gilbert, AZ

Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink
Kevin

Sure it can work, just look at ’92 Bowman. Mariano Rivera, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez etc…
Iconic cards. It can work, but just every once and a while.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
Kevin

Sure it can work, just look at ’92 Bowman. Mariano Rivera, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez etc…
Iconic cards. It can work, but just every once and a while.

Kevin from Virginia

Posted October 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
Bryon Pratt

Casual can only sell cardboard if its done right and is not over produced. One thing Panini is good at is producing too many sets with too many inserts. If Panini wants to release one set loaded with only stars, it has a slight chance of surviving. For me, I would much rather have a player card shown in his uniform playing baseball than sitting in a pair of shorts sitting on a park bench.

Bryon
St Paul, MN

Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
chrisolds

Gotta ask, Byron… what does “done right” mean to you? Please explain more. I’m quite curious.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
Mike Fleagle

I think “done right” means Panini needs to go super casual and do a card of Lenny Dykstra writing out a .69 cent check at Ralphs.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
Terry Blevins

IT CAN AND WILL BE A DERSIRABLE PRODUCT. BOTH DEEE AND PLATOFF HAVE BEEN FAVORITES IN THE RAST DUE TO CARD DESIGN ,PLAYER MIX,AND THE HITS AT A REASONABLE PRICE.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

It seems that Panini can’t even use airbrushed photos, which means they have to use casual photographs. I think it will work if the design is solid and the photography is more than studio headshots. Goodwin Champions was casual and it generated a lot of buzz.

Ryan Gluesing, San Francisco, CA

Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink
nathan crandell

Hmph, I dont know thinking back to the studio days and how big of a failure that was, or at least i think so. They might even throw in some gimmick cards for those who love a professional ball player in some goofy outfit.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
steve santucci

old school uni’s with out MLB logos might be interesting…unis through time as variations for each player.

Posted October 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Permalink
max

Even if this had a MLB team license I don’t find the design that intriguing. The hobby has had successful casual cards in it’s past but always within the framework of the set having a full license.

The only case I can make for this being mildly successful is Topps without competition has been uninspired.

Posted October 4, 2011 at 1:49 am | Permalink
robert

I said no because the cards remind me of those awful 1980’s cereal or other unlicensed cards that I hated so much. I don’t think I’ll be able to get over my memories of those horrendous cards from nearly 30 years ago to be able to accept them now.

Robert – Albuquerque

Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:00 am | Permalink
Tom Bilkie

For me, the whole “no uniform” concept screams Americana rather than baseball. The Josh Hamilton sample above is boring. I think that “Action Photos” of layers in suits signing autographs on the way in to the ballpark might be interesting, or ordering from a hot dog vendor outside the stadium, or something to do with the city of the team they play for might be cool, with the Posed cards maybe a chase set, SP, whatever.

How about Fans of the Game with each card featuring the player in the gear of his favorite non-baseball team, or a team from the same city? Seeing Jeter in a, say, Jets or Giants jersey might be an interesting concept. Is that doable? I think it would be cool to see Travis Hafner in a Peyton Hillis jersey…Adsrubal Cabrera sporting a Coly McCoy jersey…

Just my two cents…

Posted October 4, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink
David Johnson

Yes casual can sell and it can be a hit too. I remember how big of a hit the 1991 Studio cards were when they came out and they were very casual. I hope they do at least one set similar to Studio, as that was always one of my favorite sets throughout the early to mid 90s.

David Johnson – Ocala, FL

Posted October 4, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink
chrisolds

Good stuff, peeps. Keep it coming!

Posted October 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
John Tayne

Ok well personaly I think that casual can sell. Although it may not be ideal for some collectors, i think the chance to collect some of their favorite players with photographs that showcase certain things like josh hamilton said about his cross necklace. Well I was also thinking that it was cool he got to show off his tattoo’s. And then I thought about how many Mlb players have tattoos, and how it might be cool to show those off in all the casual pictures. Well it may not be for some, I also belive that adding a little somthing to the product, like milestone cards will help. Imagine an autograph Mariano Rivera card comemerating his all time saves record. Just because they arent in their uniforms, doesnt mean that we can take away personal avheivements from players. It just means that you will have to focus on the player more so than the team. All in all though I think casual will work exspecially for a company like panini

Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

I think it can work but Contenders is going to have to have something to set it apart from EEE to give collectors a reason to buy it. The base design is decent enough, nothing spectacular. A focus on only star caliber players & prospects might be a step in the right direction. Lose the multitude of parallels and stick with some tough SP’s and on card autos and collectors will show interest.

Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink
sheetskout

For me, even as a prospector, I want to see players in their MLB uniform. Although I wish Panini nothing but the best I always viewed EEE as a risky investment because of this.

But then again, you can probably find a different perspective from any Matt Moore collector right about now.

— Jordan Mendelblatt, Milwaukee, Wisc.

Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink
Mike Fleagle

This is Panini’s big chance to get their foot in the door and show the MLB execs what they can do. If they can combine the EEE product styling with the relic options like they offer in the Luxury Suite/Dominion hockey products, they may have what they need to get their hands on a cut of that MLB license. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Hamilton mock up is going to cut it.

Panini has some really nice hockey products. If they can roll that expertise over to baseball, I’m in. A small base set, nice refractor like die-cuts, some short print rookie auto relics and they may be in business. But to truly succeed I think they are going to need an MLB license.

Posted October 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
Bryon Pratt

By done right I mean that they cannot overload the set with players in the same dress in different poses and cannot fill it with players that will never pass Single A level. It needs to be current and past stars with some top end prospects. If they put out a set of 700 cards with cards of players that will never even see Double A then whats the point of the set. I am all for prospecting, but I dont think casual is the way to do it.

I did like the idea earlier of pics of players signing autos outside the stadium or city specific line like Derek Jeter by the statue of liberty or Matt Kemp in front of the Hollywood sign sort or pics.

Posted October 7, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
tom waldron

Casual just might work but given what Topps has done lately it won’t take much for collectors to
buy into this. Donruss 08 Threads was done well and I can see that style and I can see casual baseball tie-ins maybe signing 1st contract or clubhouse shots. Minor league photos a lot of angles Panini can do just hope they take the time to do it well and not throw it out like they did Black box and Timeless football. The hobby needs options and Topps hasn’t helped itself this year or last hype prospect isn’t gonna work in the long run. Too much of the hobby relies on this Rc trend we need a little more vet auto’s inserted that would be better overall lets hope Panini can put a little Donruss in it’s Mlb debut.
Thanks Tom Waldron — Roanoke VA

Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

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