Bud Selig's army has signed an exclusive deal with Topps, making them the official baseball card of Major League Baseball. No, this does not make your 16 Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards valuable again.
What it does mean, is that Topps is the only company that has the right to use MLB and team trademarks on their cards. Upper Deck, the only other company that matters (for now), still has a deal with the players' union, which give them likeness rights, but nothing else. I hope you like extreme close-up headshots!
Who is responsible for all this? Michael Eisner. The man who turned Disney into a worldwide entertainment behemoth bought Topps in 2007 and has now worked his synergistic Monopoly-playing skills on the baseball card market. He's says it's all about the kids.
"This is redirecting the entire category toward kids," said Eisner, who acquired the company in 2007. "Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It's also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original."
In other words, baseball cards were fun—and more lucrative—when only one company controlled the entire market. So shouldn't Michael Eisner's company control that market again? Why not? He gave us The Emperor's New Groove, the National Treasure franchise, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. I wouldn't want to live in an America that couldn't do that.
Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal [NY Times]
Morning Reaction: Pondering the Topps' Exclusive [Beckett Blog]
Hold On A Second: People Still Collect Baseball Cards?Sportress of Blogitude]
Baseball Card Reseller Cries Foul As Major Leagues Try To Call it Out [Courthouse News Service]