Count me in for a box of … Razor?

July 10, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Blogs, Rays, Razor | 2 Comments

Several of my favorite blogs (Wax Heaven, Stale Gum, Sports Cards Uncensored) reported today that Tim Beckham signed an exclusive contract with some company called Razor Entertainment Group to produce all of his cards of any type (base, insert, game-used, autographed) for three years or until he reaches the major leagues. Beckham, as you may know, was the #1 overall pick in this year’s MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, which automatically qualifies him as one of my favorite players. According to Razor’s web site, they have also signed two other first round picks (Kyle Skipworth and Reese Havens) to exclusive contracts, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear announcements about others in the near future.

As usual, Gellman from Sports Cards Uncensored didn’t hold back in his criticism of these contracts, and I recommend checking out his post about it. Since I am someone with a strong desire to own many cards of Tim Beckham, you might expect that I’d be furious about this too. But not so fast, my friend…

This actually might not be such a bad thing. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how nice it would be for a third company to get a license to produce major league baseball cards. Competition would make Topps and Upper Deck produce better products. Upper Deck’s releases this year (besides their flagship Series 1 and 2) have been terrible. Topps has been better, but they have plenty of faults (e.g. gimmick cards) too. I actually called Donruss-Playoff’s customer service number the other day to ask if they were trying to get their license back and how I could help them out as a blogger. The customer service rep transferred me to some guy’s voicemail and I left a message. He hasn’t called me back.

Now obviously, Razor is a new company and we don’t know if they even aspire to get a license from MLB someday. All we know is that they have made cards of poker players and that their web site apparently consists of one static HTML page. On the other hand, they obviously have ambition and a lot of cash. They must have given Beckham a lot of money to outbid Topps (and maybe Upper Deck) for his rights. And while we don’t know if Razor’s cards will be high quality or not, remember that any new card company has to start somewhere. What would you have said if I told you in 1988 that some company that you’d never heard of (Upper Deck) would put out the most memorable card of the decade in 1989?

Let’s consider the immediate consequences. First, there will be no Tim Beckham (or Skipworth and Havens) cards in any Bowman products this year, which I suppose will result in decreased demand. But this should have even more impact on Donruss-Playoff. I don’t know if they’re planning a follow-up to last year’s Elite Extra Edition, but if they are, Razor is totally stealing their thunder. I know that I’d much rather buy a box from an unknown company like Razor that has Beckham autographs in it than a box of Elite Extra Edition without Beckham. If they can sign some more first-round picks and put out a well-designed set, Razor can really make an impact with collectors. If they generate enough buzz, it’s possible that collectors will demand that MLB grant them a major league license.

As a number one pick, Tim Beckham’s cards will be in high demand. With only one company producing his cards, there will be fewer Beckham cards available. This means that if he becomes a superstar, the value of his 2008 Razor cards will skyrocket. That is a good thing for collectors that have his cards and a very good thing for the company that produces them. When you think about it, this deal with Beckham is a very smart way for Razor to jump into the baseball card market.

Another effect of this is that when Beckham reaches the major leagues, and Topps and Upper Deck are finally able to produce his cards, the value of his Topps and Upper Deck rookie cards will be higher than they otherwise would be. It’s true that any collector would want 2008 Jay Bruce or Evan Longoria rookie cards, but let’s face it, the value of those cards is diminished by the fact that Jay Bruce had his first Bowman cards in 2005 and Evan Longoria had his first Bowman cards in 2006. How cool will it be to get a rookie card of a great prospect that really is his first card from one of the major card companies?

So I’m looking forward to hearing about what type of product Razor will be putting out. I’ll definitely be buying some to try to get my hands on some Tim Beckham cards. I will also hope that their first release is a lot more reminiscent of 1989 Upper Deck than anything that TriStar or Just Minors have put out in recent years. And finally, I don’t think it’s a horrible thing that I’ll have to wait until Beckham reaches the majors in order to get Topps and Upper Deck cards of him.

Tim Beckham with the Rookie League Princeton Devil Rays

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2 Comments »

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  1. That’s a really interesting take on it…

    I think I agree…

  2. I would agree, except that competition has never made Topps and UD better, especially in this type of prospect market. Despite not having those three guys, Razor will still be bubble gum on the shoe of Topps. The people who lose out? Us. Bowman DP&P will still sell like mad, and it wont matter that the top guy isnt theirs because its not really like there isnt anyone else. When they get Smoak and a few other guys, then its time to worry.

    Regardless of who they get, the set will be small, not produced well, and ugly. It wont make it into many stores, and if you are dumb enough to buy it, the value wont hold because the cards will be so awful.

    For the first time ever, the RC card logo may mean something for these guys.


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