Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MLB, MLBPA, Card Manufacturers- Who blinks first?

Giving credit where it is do, I'd like to reference an excellent article written by TJ Schwartz in the March issue of Sports Collectors Monthly, formerly Tuff Stuff. Unlike Beckett (Sucks), it was refreshing to see a Hobby publication call out all the entities directly responsible for insuring that the new product segment of the Hobby remains viable.

If you haven't read the article, the next time you see one, read it. It doesn't deliver anything ground-breaking but the editorial content of the article seemed so contrary to the obvious collusion that occurs between the manufacturers and Beckett (Sucks).

Schwartz makes the point that this will be a turning point year for the Hobby as it will be up to, not only, the manufacturers, but MLB, the MLBPA and the players themselves to change the economic model currently in place.

First, MLB needs to realize that they will eventually stop seeing licensing revenue altogether if manufacturers are forced to cease trading card production or if further contraction takes place. The current licensing fee puts the manufacturers in the red before the first case of cards hits the market.

Second, the MLBPA and athletes need to be less greedy in their asking price for autograph signings. Being part of the MLBPA entitles you to revenue sharing from the sale of trading cards. Players shouldn't be allowed, to in essence, double charge the manufacturers for the use of their autographs. This should be a concession made by the MLBPA in the next collective bargaining agreement prohibiting players from cutting seperate deals for autographs provided to the manufacturers. Now, if an athlete wants to sign a deal with Mounted Memories, Steiner, or the like for memorabilia autographs, I don't have a problem with that.

Finally, manufacturers need to provide more value in EVERY product. To paraphrase Schwart, "Gone are the days where 2 relics and an autograph card per box are the acceptable return on a $100-$150 purchase."

Amen Brother!

So really, who will blink first? It would seem to me that in order for the MLBPA to follow suit, MLB needs to take a leadership role and lower their licensing fee or manufacturers might not ever have the chance to blink on their own.

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