Featured Cards: 2013 Topps #71, Kyle Kendrick; 1986 Topps P.R.E. Pete Rose #95
The big gimmick for this year’s Topps flagship issue is the “career chase” line on the back of each card. Personally, I think it’s a rather silly one. I’m old enough to remember back in 1985 when David Letterman started counting how many hits Buddy Biancalana needed to catch Pete Rose, and it’s easy for me to recall that when I see, for instance, the back of Kyle Kendrick’s card: “With 54 wins, Kyle Kendrick is 457 away from Cy Young’s all-time record of 511.” Every card contains what appears to be a Letterman joke on the back! (Derek Jeter’s card is a notable exception, but since this is a Phillies collector’s blog, I have already said too much about it). For me, that’s more than reason enough to mock Topps for this gimmick and hope that Topps decides to make it go away on both the second series and the update series when they come out later this year.
Now, MLB license restrictions bans Topps from using Pete Rose’s image or name on any of its cards. Faced with this impediment, Topps does not include Rose’s name on the cards where they document how far behind a particular player is from his all-time hits record. Anyone who takes a few minutes to understand how the MLB card licensing works would understand that Topps did the best they could, given their inane idea for incorporating stock information in the first place. However, one blogger — in an essay written in partnership with the Chicago Sun Times (let that sink in, and consider this a wonderful example of how the mainstream media continues on a path of lazier reporting/writing) — took it upon himself to berate Topps for not including his name on those cards.
Worse still, the comments section to his post abundantly illustrate the abject ignorance so much of the Americans proudly wear like badge. Yes, I am engaging in a form of intellectual elitism here, but this is a case where it is warranted. In the comments, individuals who understand the licensing issues attempt to illustrate why Topps couldn’t use his name, and the great unwashed essentially state they don’t care and that Topps deserves to go out of business — losing sight of the fact that Topps could very well lose its MLB license for doing what they suggest Topps should’ve done. Should Topps, instead, have not given a career chase number for anyone in regards to the all-time hit record? I would bet that course of action would have just upset these people even more. In addition to highlighting a uniquely American brand of stupidity, it’s a wonderful example of how so many people refuse to let facts and logic get in the way of a purely emotional response.
Please don’t misunderstand me — I think that there are plenty of reasons to be annoyed with Topps (forgive me for not listing them all at this time). However, their decision to not use his name anywhere on their product is a completely understandable one. If their action on this matter angers you, then direct it to where it truly belongs — not on the business that could lose its right to make a particular product if it doesn’t follow the rules.