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Strasburg lands endorsement deal with Topps

Stephen Strasburg has his first endorsement deal, as today the Topps trading card company announced a multi-year deal that will lead to a line of Strasburg-related promotion and memorabilia. According to a release, Topps now has exclusive rights to use Strasburg for autographed cards, game-used memorabilia cards and various autographed items. Strasburg's image will also be used in ads and on packaging.

It's pretty clear that Topps wanted to capitalize on the most hyped No. 1 draft pick in a generation. "When a phenom like him comes along, you do whatever you can to make them part of your team," said Topps exec Warren Friss, and if that quote isn't recycled verbatim from Mike Rizzo circa-August '09, then it certainly comes close.

If Strasburg wanted any connection to the baseball card industry, his choices were Topps, Topps or Topps. What used to be a variegated with dozens of players has shriveled down to the one company that's produced cards since 1938. In August, as you can read here, Topps became the exclusive trading card manufacturer for Major League Baseball.

By Chico Harlan  |  December 22, 2009; 12:03 PM ET
 
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Next: Marquis introduced at Nats Park

Comments

Anyone know if the Marquis presser will be carried live?

Posted by: joemktg1 | December 22, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

hey - keep us posted when the introduction will be held? Will it be on MASN?

N! A! T! S! - NATS...NATS...NATS!!!

Posted by: Nats1924 | December 22, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

So does this deal mean that Strasburg like Zimmerman will not sign autographs unless he's being paid? For instance, at the NatsFest, etc, will he like Zimmerman be available for photographs only, and not autographs?

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

MASN will carry presser live at 2:30, per the masn website

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 22, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Nice, thanks cokedispatch! - Btw, the W's finish 3rd ahead of the Mets and Fish in 2010.

Posted by: Nats1924 | December 22, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'll pass on the MASNsports.com webcast, thank you. It's a little tiring "chatting" with the pathetic, useless O's crowd and their obsessive need to harp on us Nats fans for even caring about such a sorry-@$$ team. As if the O's will EVER take the AL East in their lifetimes!

Enjoy the show. Those who choose to engage the Isle of Misfit Boys in such a battle of wits, remember to keep it a fair fight and only use half of yours.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | December 22, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering the same thing re. autograph signings, 309.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

My son got Zim's autograph (for free) on a ball, his glove and his hat back in Spring Training of '08. I noticed that Zim didn't include a "#11" next to his name on any of them, like most of the players do. I wonder if this is because of any exclusive deals he has to autographs.

Posted by: twinbrook | December 22, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The exclusive deals for autographs are frustrating for fans. Interestingly, my son had no difficulty getting Zimmerman to autograph a ball when the Nationals played in Baltimore this past summer.

Posted by: LandoverHillsBoysClub | December 22, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

section309/natsfan1a1 - Zimmerman must be signing for free because there are plenty of signatures on eBay. Most appear to be fakes but I have seen him sign at the stadium.

I for one, like the opportunity of doing a photo with a player as a nice change of pace to the typical autograph.

You do have to wonder how restrictive Strasburg will be with access.

On the MASN site, they had a Post about the NatsFest and they didn't know if Strasburg was going to be involved with that. I would think he would be.

Over at the Caps, Ovechkin signed some autographs at a season ticket event and you basically got a crappy autograph "Ov". Now if you pay Ovechkin at one of his many signings, you get the full signature.

If I have something of value like a jersey, I would rather pay to get a real nice signature.

Zimmerman just did a signing in Chantilly in November and the cost was around $60 plus you got to take a photo with him. Seems reasonable for the experience.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 22, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Throw in Pudge Rodriguez too as he has a memorabilia deal. Wonder if he will be signing?

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 22, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't hardly ever repost, but I actually put work into digging out Holliday's non-Coors numbers, so I'm reposting part of my rebuttal to the Holliday stuff:

" ... On the specific name you do cite - repeatedly - Holliday. I for one don't think he's the right guy for the Nats. His production is still largely a creation of the high altitude at Coors. Take Coors away from Holliday's stats and recompute his career totals and his rate line is .290/.362/.474.

That's a nice player, but hardly a world-beater. More to the point, that's almost EXACTLY Willingham's career line. Willingham over his career is .264/.362/.478. To get Holliday, you're going to have to pay some outrageous sum and he's likely to give you no more production than Willingham.

Don't get me wrong - he most certainly doesn't stink, but he's not a great fit, and he's not that big an upgrade in a year when what you really need is pitching. Besides that, Willingham is producing the same for cheaper, so if you sign Holliday and flip Willingham for a pitcher, all you really did is churn the roster, since Willingham wouldn't bring you back much more than a Harang-type, who is basically a Marquis/Garland-type.

I'm all for aggressive, but in this year, with these needs, Rizzo's been good and aggressive, in my view."

Other stuff - Garland and Marquis are pretty similar - I actually think Garland may be the preferable of the two - he misses more bats, and he's been pitching in the AL, so he'll probably get a little bump moving to the NL. But that's sort of personal preference. He's still better than any starter on the roster not named Lannan.

Kirk - I'm with you - let's hope we're looking hard at Chapman, but I'm not with you on setting that as a "sign or fail" test - Views of Chapman are all over the board, and while he might give you two years of dominance, he might be Ross Detwiler, he might be Luke Hochevar, he might be somebody who never gets past AA ball. I'd rather have Marquis than Chapman right now.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 22, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Same question, does this mean Strassburg won't give autographs directly to fans.

I have to say that deal that prevents Zimmerman from giving autographs is likely one of the most poorly concieved contract requirements around. I don't know whether to blame the player, the agent, or the business partner - but a sport that relies on its fans should not be withholding autographs from kids of any age.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 22, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts on the autograph contracts. I used to work for a magazine that covered sports collectibles and also sponsored autograph shows, so I know a little bit about how those things typically work (although, admittedly, this was 10+ years ago, and the hobby has changed a lot since I was actively involved in the business end).

That said, I've never seen a contract of this sort that prevented an athlete from signing for free at a ballpark or at other events. That's pretty much up to the individual athlete.

The exclusive part should only cover his ability to sign autographs for sale by memorabilia companies. Anyone who wanted SS to appear at an autograph show, for instance, would probably have to go through Topps to get him.

Someone mentioned getting an autograph from Zim that didn't include his uniform number. I doubt that has anything to do with any autograph contract. I've seen guys with deals like that, but mostly it only had to do with milestone numbers (some have contracts, for instance, that they will only sign an autograph and include "538 HRs" or whatever for an exclusive company, otherwise, they just sign their names). If I remember right, Pete Rose used to charge extra to put his hit total on a ball.

With uniform numbers, however, my experience has been that guys sometimes include their number, and sometimes don't. I have a sweet Tom Glavine ball that I got by waiting by the gate after a spring training game, and he included his number on that one. But I've seen him sign at shows when he only signed his name. A lot of it probably has to do with how many people are standing in line at the time.

All to say, I'd be shocked if any of these contracts prevented the players from hanging around and signing autographs after games or appearing at Fan Fests (I'm sure the team wouldn't allow a deal like that).

Posted by: js_edit | December 22, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I've heard about Zimmerman's signing deal. It's apparently okay if he wants to sign random autographs for free if he's approached and happens to be in the mood. But if he participates in any kind of organized signing event, like NatsFest or Signature Sundays at the ballpark, then he has to charge. Which is why he never signs at such events, but instead just poses for photos. Either he or the team (or maybe both) seems to think it wouldn't go over well if fans could get Austin Kearns's autograph for free but would have to pay for Zimm's.

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Over on mlb.com, they are reporting that Capps will sign with the Nationals or Cubs, with the decision to be made Wednesday night.

From the article: Capps is quoted as saying that it didn't matter what role he had if he joined the Nationals.

"If it's better suited for me to set up for the team in the seventh inning or eighth inning, that's what I'll do," Capps said. "If they sign me and tell me they want me to play shortstop, I'll play shortstop. I want to win. I want to be in an environment [where winning is important]"

It struck me how suddenly DC is the place that players want to play. It is being viewed as a place of winning baseball, despite the record of the last two years. I'm not trying to get too overly excited about the 2010 (for fear of them breaking my heart again) but one has to have some excitement that maybe 81+ wins are possible.

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | December 22, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The Nats certainly allow Zimmerman to refuse to sign at team events like the Fan Fest. natbiscuits--I wonder if there is any way for the Nats to insist on their players' full participation in such events. I know that there is a Baseball Promotion provision in the CBA that requires players to participate in reasonable promotional activities. What I'm not certain about--and what would be interesting to see Chico or someone else at The Post write about (yeah, right)--is whether, under the CBA, a player can sign an exclusive signing deal and refuse to sign through team activities.

Also, Chico, what did you mean by this sentence: "What used to be a variegated with dozens of players has shriveled down to the one company that's produced cards since 1938." Topps did not start printing baseball cards until 1951. Before that, it was basically just a chewing gum company. Topps acquired Bowman in 1956, which itself printed baseball cards sporadically (with a long hiatus during the War and afterwards) from 1939 through 1955. But it is not accurate to say that Topps has printed cards since 1938.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 22, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm worried about the guy.
***************
"Over on mlb.com, they are reporting that Capps will sign with the Nationals or Cubs... 'I want to win. I want to be in an environment [where winning is important].'"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Although, I guess, coming from Pittsburgh it makes more sense.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

@section309

That's interesting, and I can see why he'd have a contract like that. Random signings are great for fans who just want an autograph, but organized events carry the kind of provenance that make authenticity easier to determine on the secondary market.

It's a cynical business, and it sucks for fans, but any memorabilia dealer in the world can show up at a fan fest, get stuff signed for free, take a few pictures, and then sell the stuff on the secondary market for a ridiculous markup. And they do.

Posted by: js_edit | December 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Have hope Sec3,

That is what the suck-tax is for.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Will Strasburg sign autographs? I'm sure he'll limp right over.

Posted by: billm32 | December 22, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"What I'm not certain about--and what would be interesting to see Chico or someone else at The Post write about (yeah, right)--is whether, under the CBA, a player can sign an exclusive signing deal and refuse to sign through team activities."

Wouldn't it seem obvious that such a scenario is okay under the current CBA, since Zimmerman has been doing it for a couple of years now, and presumably other players on other teams are doing the same? Neither the players union nor the owners are lax at all about letting things slide under the radar of the CBA.

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

@CiL Good point. Topps has made chewing gum since 1938, not baseball cards...even if you count Bowman.

Posted by: js_edit | December 22, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"It's a cynical business, and it sucks for fans, but any memorabilia dealer in the world can show up at a fan fest, get stuff signed for free, take a few pictures, and then sell the stuff on the secondary market for a ridiculous markup. And they do."

Wow. Then maybe that ball I got signed by Matt Chico after standing in line for a half hour at the RFK season ticket holder event in 2007 might actually be worth something some day. Nah, I'm too cynical to ever believe that.

Posted by: section309 | December 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute--you're supposed to chew the GUM, and trade the CARDS? Awww, man...

No wonder I never liked the taste. Worse than the gum in the men's room machine, although that lasted longer.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Wouldn't it seem obvious that such a scenario is okay under the current CBA, since Zimmerman has been doing it for a couple of years now, and presumably other players on other teams are doing the same? Neither the players union nor the owners are lax at all about letting things slide under the radar of the CBA."

You may disagree, but I don't think it's obvious. Whether a team has the power to force its players to sign at official team events (which would be the question as to the CBA) is a different question than whether a team wants to get into a dispute with one of its star players over such an issue.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 22, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Then maybe that ball I got signed by Matt Chico after standing in line for a half hour at the RFK season ticket holder event in 2007 might actually be worth something some day. Nah, I'm too cynical to ever believe that.

Posted by: section309

--------------

Nah. That's why Chico doesn't have any kind of signing clauses in his contract. LOL

Posted by: js_edit | December 22, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I think the details would be worth an article. I'd read it.

***************
"Wouldn't it seem obvious that such a scenario is okay under the current CBA, since Zimmerman has been doing it for a couple of years now, and presumably other players on other teams are doing the same? Neither the players union nor the owners are lax at all about letting things slide under the radar of the CBA."

You may disagree, but I don't think it's obvious. Whether a team has the power to force its players to sign at official team events (which would be the question as to the CBA) is a different question than whether a team wants to get into a dispute with one of its star players over such an issue.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 22, 2009 3:09 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@js_edit
not unless it was the curveball he put over the dugout. That one might be worth something. There's video!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Capps said. "I want to win. I want to be in an environment [where winning is important]"

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | December 22, 2009 2:30 PM

Well then he'll definitely turn the Cubs down!!

Ha - yeah, I'm a Nats fan and I'm busting on the Cubs. Deal with it Cubbies - Washington's won the World Series more recently than you.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 22, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Kev, that was the Senators, an American League team, which means if you're counting AL teams, the White Sox have you there.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Kev, that was the Senators, an American League team, which means if you're counting AL teams, the White Sox have you there.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:40 PM

Washington's won the World Series more recently than the Chicago Cubs. That's my statement and I'm sticking to it!

Posted by: Kev29 | December 22, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Worse than the gum in the men's room machine, although that lasted longer.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:09 PM

***************

ewwwwww

Posted by: NatsNut | December 22, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute--you're supposed to chew the GUM and put the other on your...never mind...

---

Wait a minute--you're supposed to chew the GUM, and trade the CARDS? Awww, man...

No wonder I never liked the taste. Worse than the gum in the men's room machine, although that lasted longer.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 3:09 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Whew, saved by the new post. That was a close one. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 22, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

For me, Zimmerman is disqualified from ever becoming a favorite player because of the autograph arrangement. Full participation in events for fans, and especially events for season-ticket holders, should be a required part of his job. It's just part of the deal when you become a professional athlete.

Posted by: dcbatgirl | December 22, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, says who?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 22, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Zim signs at the stadium and at spring training. We have him on numerous balls - with the #11 - several pictures and a mini home plate.

He signs at lot A.

Posted by: alm1000 | December 22, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Nats to sign Eddie Guardado

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Nats-near-deal-with-Guardado-122209-LIVE

Posted by: SpashCity | December 22, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

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