MLB, Topps & Pete Rose

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps #71, Kyle Kendrick; 1986 Topps P.R.E. Pete Rose #95

The big gimmick for this year’s Topps2013 Topps Kendrick Front 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, the1986 Topps Rose 95 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.

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7 responses to “MLB, Topps & Pete Rose

  1. Well written, and I agree – this was a poorly researched blog article that unfortunately got more credit than some bloggers rant because of the CST affiliation.

    I do think they could have just avoided this by not putting in the hits as a chase. This just doesn’t come up (or at least not nearly to the extent) if they only included Runs, HR, RBI, or SB for batters. Instead, they gave people out there who have been looking for a a reason to rail on Topps – a reason to rail on Topps.

  2. Dennis Orlandini

    It’s outrageous that Topps will not mention Rose by name and will only refer to him as the all-time hits leader. By the way, Derek Jeter, the active leader in hits with 3,304 still trails Pete Rose by 952 hits. (That’s five outstanding seasons of more than 190 hits per year or seven mediocre seasons of about 140 hits per year…..and that’s what they should have printed on the back of Jeter’s 2013 card and they should have mentioned Pete Rose by name.
    Topps is trying to curry favor with MLB to protect their exclusive licensing agreement or to put it in modern vernacular – They are suck-ups.

    • Jeter’s card is actually one of those that mentions how far he is behind Rose’s all-time hits record, without mentioning Rose by name. You’re making an emotional appeal — one that’s very understandable. However, Topps has no choice but to follow the MLB’s dictates regarding the license to print cards; if they didn’t, they stand to lose their license — and not just their officially-sanctioned monopoly, which is an egregious situation of a different nature — it’s that simple. It’s not sucking up; it’s the only way to actually be in the business, and Topps knows this. Focus the anger at MLB on this issue, not Topps.

    • I don’t know how often you check this blog, but I just posted a retraction of my previous argument on this matter. It was brought to my attention that Topps referenced Joe Jackson by name on one of their inserts this year, thus rendering their own argument moot.

  3. Given how completely Rose has been banned from BMLB, shouldn’t they just be listing how many hits Jeter is from overtaking Ty Cobb?

    • The funny thing is that MLB is more than happy to use Rose (they were happy to invite him to the All-Century Team celebrations) when it suits their purposes. However, they don’t want anyone else making that kind of judgment call. Hence, the reason for the ridiculous restriction on even mentioning his name on a baseball card.

  4. The Team Formerly Known as the Reading Phillies got in trouble some years back for having Rose participate in on-field ceremonies to retire Mike Schmidt’s number. It’s outrageous–what power exactly does Bud Selig have over the Reading Phillies? Anyway, I liked how they then went on to feature the ceremony, including Rose, on the cover of their yearbook the next year!

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