Sunday, April 25, 2010

They do NOT put their pants on the same way....

Have you ever heard someone try to knock a celebrity or athlete down a few notches from their pedestal and try to "normalize" them by saying, "He (or she) puts his (or her) pants on the same way I do?" These days the internet seems to exist solely for the purpose of proving them wrong. There's TMZ, thousands of celebrity gossip blogs, a site dedicated to the best and worst celebrity restaurant tippers, and my personal favorite, the "Backstage Pass" page from Seriously, 80's hair metal band Poison, A CASE of condoms? For ONE stop on the tour?

Turns out Major League Baseball players have as many strange contractual demands as other celebrities. Just substitute condoms and brown M&M's backstage for a bulldozer and an apartment complex in Memphis.

Further proof that celebrities do not put their pants on the same as you and I. They have it written into their contracts and riders to have someone do it for 'em.

Weird baseball contract clauses

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Uh oh

The news continues to get worse for Upper Deck. Their problems have been well-documented, from lawsuits to settlements to losing both the Major League Baseball AND NFL licenses.

Now, according to the New York Times, they're also running out of money and haven't paid Major League Baseball players for autograph deals. It's becoming more and more impossible every day to envision a scenario under which the company will be able to survive. A merger or buyout might be possible, but short of that, the beginning of the end is underway.

It's sad for me as a collector and fan of their work from their initial 1989 baseball set to see this happen to a company that set the gold standard for the hobby. It's even more disappointing to see this play out the same way that killed many other companies in the past decade beginning with Enron.......shady leadership at the top, lots of great employees loyal to the company seeing their lives disrupted by layoffs in an ailing economy, and a CEO who was playing the fiddle while Rome was burning and will walk away with millions nonetheless.

As a radio guy by trade, Upper Deck reminds me of a station that launches in a market to try and take down the #1 station. If they succeed, which is rare, it's a testament to their people and their expertise. If they fail, at worst you hope they've at least made the #1 station earn it by shoring up their weaknesses and becoming a better station. Hopefully Upper Deck has raised the stakes and made Topps, Panini, and the others bring their "A" game, which makes the customers the winner.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Everything I ever really needed to know......

I learned from baseball. Life lessons here for entrepreneurs courtesy of our national pastime and Rhonda Abrams of USA Today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

If a celebrity said it, it MUST be true!

The past few days have pretty much gone exactly as I suspected following the premiere of Nike's new Tiger Woods commercial. SHOCK! OUTRAGE! DISGUST! AND NIKE MONOPOLIZING THE TALK AROUND THE WATER COOLER JUST AS THEY HOPED!!

If you're looking for that kind of discussion on here, you'll have to find another blog, message board, talk radio station, etc. I'd like to approach this from an entirely different angle. Specifically, how many pairs of Nikes did you feel compelled to go out and buy just because you saw Tiger Woods endorse them for the first time since the scandal? And more specifically, how many pairs of Nikes (or bottles of Gatorade, or Buicks, etc.) did you buy BEFORE the scandal just because Tiger appeared on TV to tell you you should?

I dare say not too many who read this will ever admit to having bought a product based on the words or appearance of a "celebrity", and at least one online column within the past week argues that celebrity endorsements are worthless but concedes that there is a mountain of evidence that suggests otherwise. I think we're all smart enough to know that major corporations wouldn't bother continuing to do megabuck deals with major celebrities and athletes if they didn't.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have spent almost 20 years in radio, and I have done dozens of live commercials over the years. And yes, I got paid for most of them. In EVERY instance, however, I never endorsed any product or business I did not truly believe in. I also never believed in the fact that any listener would sample or use a product regularly just because I told them to. If anything, I was making the listener aware of a particular product. For those who were already aware but had yet to try the product or visit the business, I was letting them know I found it to be worth their time and effort to give it a shot. Hopefully my honesty in endorsing a product is what convinced people to try it, but there may also have been a few people who tried it simply because I told them to do so. Along those lines, Paul Harvey's longevity in the business was, in large part, because of his gift for selling a product. The man convinced you that he believed in a product to the point he'd refund your money himself if you didn't like it.

I'm not convinced that celebrities can convince us to vote for certain politicians, but we are all lying to ourselves if we are bold enough to declare that Tiger's latest commercial didn't shock us.......and then remind us the soles of our old Nikes were starting to wear out and we really needed to run to the sporting goods store and get those new ones NOW! Tiger might not have had a direct effect, but as long as the cash register is ringing, he definitely has an indirect effect. The latest commercial, crass as it might be in its message, would have never made it on the air if Tiger's endorsement was "worthless".

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Down, and now very possibly out......

Recently, I talked about Upper Deck's recent woes involving the loss of their license with Major League Baseball and the subsequent lawsuits filed when they brazenly released several 2010 sets complete with team logos and uniforms. At the time, I truly felt like the company would be OK as long as they were somehow able to keep a license with the NFL and the NFLPA. Things seemed to headed in that direction when the NFLPA marketing arm announced a 2-year renewal of Upper Deck's license through 2011.

Today, however, brings a much different story. While Upper Deck's PR shill tried to his best to make it sound like there could be some sort of NFL-related release for 2010, I can't believe the company would touch any sort of pro football product with a 10 foot pole given the baseball legal mess and the millions it cost them.

So now it's down to the NHL and NCAA collegiate cards for Upper Deck in the Sports category. Time will tell if that is enough to sustain the company, but in the short term, things definitely don't look good. Upper Deck and Topps are the two card companies whose name transcends the product they sell and has penetrated the mainstream. At the moment, they seem headed in opposite directions. Topps, under the leadership of former CEO Michael Eisner, has a hot product with Topps Attax, which seems to be having some inital success at luring kids back from collecting mostly non-sports related cards since the boom of the early 90's. Upper Deck might find themselves on a far more dubious list if their losing streak continues.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What a difference a day makes......

....AND a 446 foot moon shot in your first major league at-bat after an entire spring as the most hyped rookie in baseball! How quickly did you rummage through your card collection looking for anything with the name Jason Heyward around 3:30 p.m. Central time yesterday? And how quickly were you able to put what you found on eBay?

Heyward cards were already hot items on eBay, but after the 21st century version "Shot Heard 'Round The World", it will temporarily cost you a premium to grab a high end treasure with his name on it.

On April 4th, the day before the mammoth shot, a 2007 Bowman Sterling autographed Heyward "rookie" card went for just under $100 on eBay. At the moment, 2 more are approaching $150 with about 17 1/2 hours left in the bidding as this blog is being written and could approach $200 or more by the end. And J-Hey Kid Mania didn't stop there. Looks like a jersey or t-shirt could set you back just as much in the short term.

If you have anything Heyward-related and looking for some extra cash, it's definitely time to strike while the iron is hot, and be thankful he didn't strike out while the iron was hot.

The home run didn't only make Heyward cards an eBay sensation, the moment itself is also a YouTube sensation. Who knew? So far the best fan-captured version of it came with the clip below. Enjoy before you head out to empty out the bank account to grab an autographed card or an authentic Heyward jersey.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Today is the day.....

when two of the greatest words in the English language are spoken.........