Monday, April 2, 2018

A license to make lousy cards

As we all know, Topps is the only card company granted an MLB license. But that hasn't stopped Panini from making baseball cards.

I give them credit for trying, even though it's clear they don't know what they're doing. (Although turning Kershaw and Seager into Dumb and Dumber is kind of a feat).

It's like this guy I know who used to work with me. He really likes sports. He's really into media. He's been a sportswriter and a TV news reporter and radio show host and self-published his own book. He tries really hard and he's enthusiastic. And he's a pleasant guy. Likeable. But he's just not that good. The talent isn't there. Yet he keeps plugging along.

That's Panini. They just keep trying. They don't have it. I don't know if they ever will. But they own a license from the MLB Players Association, so, dammit, they're going to keep making lousy cards.

I never thought this Donruss thing would last. Just about every year of it has been a botch-job in terms of appearance, but Panini keeps churning out the brand.

I just received two separate packages from Kerry of Cards On Cards that were filled with Panini baseball stuff. The first package featured a majority of Panini. The second envelope, which arrived today, was all Panini. I guess Kerry can't help himself, too. We just have to get cards of our team's players, even if those cards can't feature our players' teams.

Let's start with the one-and-done Panini Pinnacle attempt.

These weren't the greatest cards back in 2013, but because it was an homage to Pinnacle, they looked OK. Pinnacle's early stuff (think '92, '93) was always awesome-looking.

I don't know why Panini didn't keep Pinnacle going. It's all relative because -- reminder: there are no logos -- but it was better than what it's doing with Donruss.

This is my first Panini Chronicles card. I've stayed far away from this stuff when I've seen it on store shelves.

The "continued on the back" stunt is pointless, just a regurgitation of stats that Panini conveniently couldn't fit on the front.

I see the vague newspaper theme to these cards, which means I should love them, but there's nothing appealing about these.

More Panini baseball, this time it's Diamond Kings, the best-looking of all the Panini baseball sets. I still can't help think of how great this card would look if Kershaw was coming at us instead of throwing away from us.

The rest of the Panini cards in the packages were from this year's Donruss set. As several people have pointed out, there are variations all over the place in 2018 Donruss. This is a nickname variation. I've never heard of Kershaw being called "The Humanitarian."

Ready for some Cody Bellinger?

I expected a deluge of Cody Bellinger cards from Topps this year. They've been relatively restrained so far. But Panini has got my back.

One of the first two '84 cards is a variation. I'm not sure which one.

This is how you're supposed to tell. The variation features a black baseball on the back. Or maybe it's a white baseball. I don't know. I think it's mentioned in the comments in one of my recent posts. But I'm too lazy to look for it. That's how enthusiastic I am about Panini.

I actually don't mind this year's Panini Donruss set as much as some others do. I think some of the photos aren't too bad. The Bellinger photo on his base card for example, doesn't bother me.

Obviously, that's not enough for me to buy any more packs myself, because, lordy, so many other issues with this set, but it's nice to know that not every Panini baseball card looks lousy.

I did get a few licensed cards in those envelopes, too.

Opening that "Astros Celebrate" card was like a punch in the face. But, good news, I pulled the variation!

Finally, one last non-licensed card that I can dig so much more than whatever Panini is offering up.

Are we taking notes, Panini?


  1. When you already have to airbrush out the team names, not using the players' names on the front is way stupid. And doing that yet still leaving lots of empty space specifically designed to put names? As my friend used to say, that's stupid on purpose.

  2. Yeah Donruss product this year stinks a bit, the retro 84 is bad though. Way too many variations even if they are NOT SP's like most aren't.

  3. Dude, everything on the internet is real.

  4. Not for me. Are we to assume Panini is making a profit on this stuff? Guess so.

  5. I am always shocked how many people love Panini baseball. It's horrid. They pump out one product after another.

    1. I personally love the design of the Donruss Panini baseball cards this year. It is easy to make custom multiple player cards and custom base/nickname cards. I also love that you get more hits in Panini baseball cards than you do in Topps baseball cards

  6. That first Donruss card with Kershaw and Seager is horrible, that is one card that should have been left out.

  7. TBH except for the names and logos, I don't see much difference between Topps and Panini.

  8. This year's set is really terrible, though the 1984 throwbacks look decent to me. I liked when they made their Extra Elite Edition stuff because even those were not the greatest looking cards at least I had something to get signed by players. Then they went all high end and expensive with that so it's pretty much useless to me now, as are most modern cards.

  9. "[I]t's clear they don't know what they're doing."

    Are we sure about that? I sometimes think they know exactly what they are doing. I sometimes think putting out "lousy cards" is Panini's way of mocking MLB into granting them a license. Like: "If you don't give us a license, we're just going to flood the market with crap...which, btw, sells very well for us but also devalues both the sport and the hobby. Want us to focus on a couple of quality products? Give us a license." I'm told they do a fantastic job with basketball cards (I haven't collected basketball cards since the 80s), so (if that's true) I have to believe they know how to make a decent card when they want to. There's just not much reason for them to want to make a decent baseball card right now.

    1. Maybe they let the interns handle baseball. Either way it's not a good look for Panini.

  10. I probably would have burned the "Astros Celebrate" card if I was in your position. But I remember reading somewhere that you were trying for the whole Heritage World Series subset. I guess I could have put black bars over it or something.

  11. I spent so many hours ranting on Topps and the abundance of products they release, I barely touched Panini. The sad thing is Topps is my all-time favorite brand. Can't imagine how long it'd take to write a Panini rant post. Whatever it is... i don't have enough negative energy to do it. With that being said... I'll leave this comment on a positive note. I did enjoy their Hometown Heroes and Golden Age products.