It’s been a few days since Panini America showed off some of the cards from Playoff Contenders 2011. Since then, I have had a little time to cool off. My first instinct was to go on a Gellman-like rant about how ugly these cards are but it’s not 2008 anymore. The truth is, these cards just do not work for me and many other collectors that have discussed it on card blogs and forums all over the Internet.
This is not a personal attack on Panini because quite frankly I do like a lot of their current and past products. Simply put, no company in this day and age could put out a non-licensed baseball card set and survive the critic’s wrath. As outspoken as some have been about Topps’ use (or misuse) of the MLB license, no one can deny that they still make great baseball cards with some amazing gimmicks that cannot be ripped off (Refractor technology).
The problem is that without Felix Hernandez’s logo on that huge hat, it looks like any other high school kid in mid wind-up. Reaching the Major Leagues is a huge accomplishment which in itself creates a mystique that young collectors can get sucked into. I still remember looking at Jose Canseco’s 1986 Topps Traded card with the ugly A’s uniform and day dreaming of some day reaching “The Show”.
The problem with the card below, which features “King Felix”, a 25-year old Venezuelan pitching phenom, is that it could be just about anyone. I could buy some gear from Sports Authority and being that I am 31 and also Venezuelan, could easily fit into that card or any other made by someone with a little Photoshop talent. It’s bad when custom cards look better than “official” products.
Who knows? Maybe this is Panini’s chance to get on MLB’s good side (unlike Upper Deck) by playing by the rules. You never know, Panini America could one day be granted an MLB license and with their proven track record and history of the Donruss brand, they could very easily provide some serious competition to Topps Company someday. You have to crawl before you walk, right?
As for now, I have to take a pass on Playoff Contenders 2011.