Dear Upper Deck,

4 02 2010

I’ve been trying to write about you and your newly released 2010 Upper Deck set for the last two days.  Every time I start to write something, it ends up sounding pompous and preachy, and I tell myself to get down off that horse and start all over again.  The nest thing I know, I’m right back on it.

Look, here’s the thing.  I’ve wanted to like you for a long time.  Ever since your début in fact.  When you started out you were a high-class (or so I thought) release that I just couldn’t afford to hang out with.  Subsequent issues came down to my level, or I adjusted mine so we could spend some time together.  I did the best I could and thought you were doing the same.

But there’s always been something there.  Something that never felt right.  Something that made me think you weren’t really in this for me, but for my money and my money alone.  Then finally a few years ago I read Card Sharks, and I realized I was right.

I think we all are familiar with those ’89 Dale Murphy reverse negatives by now.  And the ’91 french hockey ordeal, too.  And it’s not hard to find people who say you still owe them money from past contracts.  MLB says you still owe them millions.  This guy says he knows some people, too.

Truly the final straw was reading about your lawsuit with Konami.  Then after the judge finds you guilty of counterfeiting, your press release has no mea culpa, no apology, just a feeble attempt to diminish what you had done.

Then your 2010 cards are released, and, surprise, they are a big middle finger to the MLB.  And it didn’t have to be this way.  So you lost the license.  So what?  Just make a better card without those logos and team names.  Other companies have soldiered on and put out decent products without MLB’s  blessing.  There’s no reason you couldn’t have, too.

You would’ve been an underdog in the hobby world.  Most people I’ve read hint that competition is good and they hate the Topps exclusive deal.  In that case, you’d be the freedom fighter trying to put down the monopoly by producing quality cards that don’t break the law.  You could’ve been a victim.  Instead, you knew the law and chose to ignore it anyway.  And you chose to do so in a way that seems to suggest you just didn’t care.

Think about it.  You were an industry leader, not just a company that wanted its day in the sun but never fully got out of the shade.  People would have given you some benefit of the doubt when it came to your releases.  That Profiles set, for example.  It looks nice, and since it’s all profiles, there’s no way that set impedes on any agreement.  But you just had to try and get away with it, didn’t you?   It wouldn’t have been an Upper Deck release without that bold yet now misplaced swagger, I guess.

You’ve enjoyed that NHL exclusive deal for five years now.  You know the rules and you know if Topps or anyone else came anywhere near damaging that deal that you’d go after them.  So you can’t be surprised that MLB is doing the same.  And I can’t see this ending well for you, I’m sorry to say.

But I could be wrong.  You say there’s no law stopping you, and you’ll get your days in court to make your case.  And if the judge rules in your favor, the next letter I write won’t be some braggadocios piece claiming I was right all along.  I’ll accept that I was wrong and we’ll try to move on.

Because I know as long as I have money in my pocket, you’ll be happy to take me back.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s