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.

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