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Card companies begin jousting with giveaways ...

I’ve got a feeling that a year from now when we look back at the year 2010 in the world of modern baseball card collecting, things are going to look a lot different than they do right now. If I had much of a clue of what the landscape would look like, I guess I’d probably be in a different line of work. Like handicapping the ponies maybe.

The paradigm (I’ve always wanted to use that word) is going to be something far different than what we’ve been used to. The jockeying between Topps and Upper Deck for 2010 has begun in earnest already, with a couple of neat contests planned that figure to raise the collecting profile beyond the traditional outlets.

Upper Deck and MLBPA have teamed up for a revival of the National Packtime promotion that was popular several years ago, with a broad sampling promotion for March 6, 2010, being done through Upper Deck’s network of baseball card specialty shops.

Details are a bit sketchier from archrival Topps about plans to give away 1 million cards from 1952 to present, with a top prize of a complete 1952 Topps set. In this one collectors will find a code card in packs of Series 1 and Series 2 Topps Baseball next year and will be directed to a Topps website that will reveal what card they have won.

That kind of arrangement handily addresses the problem of inserting oversized 1952-56 Topps cards into standard-size modern packs, but more importantly provides Topps with an imposing way of rounding up a vast armada of e-mail addresses.

This latter promotion is reminiscent of the famous sweepstakes Topps did nearly 20 years ago to celebrate its 40th anniversary by inserting all of their cards into packs and then offering a sweepstakes where one collector – Jack Glenn of New York City – one the top prize of every Topps set produced up to that point.

With the jury still out on precisely how Upper Deck is going to respond to the new ground rules of Topps’ exclusive with MLB, it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a lot of activity from both coasts in adjusting to our brave new world.

With apologies to Bette Davis, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”


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