In the interest of full disclosure, I've never paid more than $10 for a pack of new cards. (I ripped a few packs of '96 Leaf Signature when they came out for the novelty of it. Pulled autographs of Frank Rodriguez and Dean Palmer, and promised I'd never be that foolish again.) Not to sound sanctimonious, but these kinds of products never appealed to me as a collector. I understand that there's a market for sets like this, but they're not for me.
With that said, the country faces economic uncertainty and with such uncertainty, often the first thing to go are luxury goods. Luxury goods, such as $100/pack card sets like UD Black and Topps Sterling.
And therein lies the problem. The Hobby has become too dependent on Whales and it's not good for any business to be dependent on one class of customer.
What The Hobby needs now are more down-market products. Now, by "down-market" I'm not saying more crap like Opening Day. Collector's will still crave quality products. But a quality products that are both affordable AND collectible.
What The Hobby doesn't need now are more gimmicks. We don't need autograph cards of forgotten hair-metal bands. We don't need fake cards of of fake "prospects." We don't need more cards of dead presidents and we don't need presidential candidates airbrushed onto cards of current players.
What The Hobby needs now, more than ever, is Stadium Club. Ryan of Trader Crack's has started a letter writing campaign bring back Stadium Club Baseball and I share many of his sentiments. But I believe it's important to distinguish what Stadium Club set to bring back.
Topps issued a product called "Stadium Club" in basketball this year; however, the product bore little resemblance to the Stadium Club we all knew and loved. It was just another indistinguishable one-hit-per-$15-pack.
What The Hobby needs is the REAL Stadium Club. A product like the 1996-99 era SC. A $3-$5/pack, 300-400 card, single series set with quality photography, a clean design, and NO gimmicks. (i.e. short-printed "rookies," three-per-box game jerseys, et al)
While it may be too late for 2008, I'd love to see The Mighty Stadium Club Baseball make its triumphant return in '09. Would you rather have another year of swill like Moments & Milestones, Co-Signers, or Topps 52; or would you rather have Stadium Club back?
Yeah, I thought so. Get off your ass and write Topps a letter demanding they bring back Stadium Club!