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Stars Come Out For Derek Jeter —Cagle

April 2007

PEOPLE WHO work in prepress and creative have entirely too much time on their hands. At least that’s the case for the creative department at Topps, the sports card specialist, in its handling of the 2007 baseball card set that hit shelves in February.

Card No. 40 in the set features New York Yankees player Derek Jeter, engaged in the at-bat of a lifetime. His audience was considerable; in the card’s background, standing in the dugout, is a 1950s vintage image of Mickey Mantle. (Last time we checked, the Mick had been dead for more than 10 years.) And if you look in the stands, just above Jeter’s bat, is a smiling and waving President George W. Bush. (The last time we checked... Nah, fill in your own gag.) Looking at the card, the chief executive seems to have lost his left arm somewhere along the line. On the blown-up image Topps sent in, however, the arm was intended to be obscured by fans and seats.

Through the magic of digital enhancement, these two American icons found their way into the ’07 Topps set, much to the surprise of Topps (snicker, snicker; wink, wink). Without naming names, Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi said that the gag card had been spotted on the final proof, but the company thought it was hilarious and decided to go ahead and print it anyway. That, and a very minor detail—they didn’t want to delay the shipping date. Yet another example of why the final proofing stage can be a waste of time.

You would think that, given it is Jeter’s card, rumored one-time girlfriend Mariah Carey could’ve been deposited into the stands. Better yet, Jessica Alba. Now there’s value-added.

Could it be that this is just a stunt to bolster flagging card sales? Nah. But it was interesting to see copies being hawked on the eBay auction site for $200-plus. Even several days after the story broke, a couple of thousand auctions were generating between $20 and $40 each. Topps doesn’t release print run figures but, suffice to say, the Jeters won’t disappear any time soon. If you want speculative investment material, wait until the “corrected” versions come out in the 2007 Topps factory sets. More often than not, corrected versions always command higher bucks because they come out later in the year, when collectors have already finished their sets, and are in shorter supply.

As a noteworthy aside, the White House has to give permission whenever the president’s likeness is used for commercial purposes, the New York Daily News pointed out. Maybe the tradeoff was allowing Sammy Sosa to return to the Rangers, once owned by Dubya.

SKY-HIGH UTILITIES: I squealed like a teddy bear hamster caught in the exercise wheel upon seeing my $650 electric bill for February. But that’s chump change compared to what the good folks in Weatherford, TX, saw on their February statements. Suffice to say, they will now think twice before leaving the bathroom light on all night.

More than 1,300 utility customers in Weatherford found themselves in utter disbelief when the electric charges came calling: A mere $24 billion. That’s sure to throw the monthly budget out of whack.

The culprit was a printing snafu by DataProse of Irving, TX, which prints Weatherford Electric’s billing statements.

“Obviously, this is not something we’re pleased about,” Curtis Nelson, vice president and general manager of DataProse, told the Houston Chronicle.

Weatherford Electric sent out corrected bills later in February. But, as Wally Cleaver might say, Atlantic City Electric is still giving me the business.

PERVERT TECHNOLOGY: American Paper Optics recently supplied 6.5 million paper 3-D glasses to be inserted with the 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. SI decided to raise the stakes for America’s 30-something creep population by shooting its soft porn bonanza in “vivid, eye-popping 3-D,” notes American Paper Optics.

In order to meet SI’s manufacturing deadline, American Paper Optics kicked out glasses 16 hours a day for 40 days. That’s three and a half 40-foot truckloads of 3-D glasses.

Admittedly, I have thumbed through the swimsuit issue at the local 7-Eleven convenience store—why else would anyone want to read a magazine that is to journalism what pork rhines are to fine cuisine? You need to kill time while the guy in front of you asks for a $100 money order to pay off his traffic ticket. But someone who dons 3-D glasses to look at virtually naked women in a “sports” magazine is akin to guys who drink milk to coat their stomachs before drinking alcohol. In my opinion, you’re putting way too much thought and effort into these activities. . .time better spent getting a life.

But kudos to American Paper Optics on the big run.




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