Archives for December 13, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – Kyrie Irving is expected to return to the lineup, but Al Horford will be sitting out when the Boston Celtics host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Boston suffered its worst loss of the season when Irving was sidelined with a quadriceps injury on Monday, while Horford is being rested against the Nuggets.
Horford’s knee has been ailing since he banged it during Sunday’s victory over Detroit, but the Celtics’ real pain occurred the next night as they were routed 108-85 by lowly Chicago without the services of Irving. “Sometimes you get your butts kicked. It’s as simple as that,” Boston coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “Chicago dictated the whole game. They played harder than we did, they played with more presence than we did, they played more competitive than we did, they played with more authority than we did. We’re not going to win many games if we play like that.” Denver is looking for a split of its six-game road trip after posting an impressive 103-84 win over Detroit on Tuesday. The Nuggets also expect center Nikola Jokic (ankle) to return after a six-game absence.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), NBCSN Boston
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (15-12): Denver has been surprisingly good over the first third of the season, particularly with the expected three-month loss of four-time All-Star power forward Paul Millsap (wrist). Getting Jokic back is key for a team that doesn’t have a go-to scorer but has evolved into a well-balanced squad as any of six or seven different players might emerge on a given night. In fact, backup forward Trey Lyles is averaging 22.5 points on 16-of-22 shooting over his last two games, tallying 20 on 7-of-7 shooting against the Pistons after scoring a career-high 25 versus Indiana on Sunday.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (23-6): Boston has lost two of three games following a 22-4 start, and the beating suffered at the hands of the Bulls was baffling – even with Irving sidelined. “We usually find the time to find some energy, but (on Monday), we didn’t,” second-year forward Jaylen Brown told reporters. “It didn’t feel any different. We’re not making any excuses. We’ve just got to come out and play better, and play harder, regardless of the circumstance. And, I think we will.” Rookie small forward Jayson Tatum recorded just four points against Chicago on 1-of-7 shooting after scoring in double digits in each of his previous 16 games.
1. The Nuggets are just 8-33 all-time in Boston but did post a 123-107 victory in last season’s visit.
2. Denver SG Jamal Murray scored 28 points against Detroit for his eighth 20-point performance of the campaign.
3. Boston F Marcus Morris (knee) will miss his third straight game.
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Tom Brady (12)
ORLANDO – (Staff Report) – As the Baseball Winter Meetings begin in Orlando, Hot Stove trade talks are plentiful. The New York Yankees opened the meetings with the blockbuster acquisition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim became the new home for Japanese ace Shohei Ohtani who is destined to become a two-way player rarely seen in modern day baseball. There will be plenty of trade rumors and off-season maneuvering throughout the next few days while both baseball operations and business barracudas meet in sunny Florida, but today, we’re looking into an off-the-field business story that blends old-and-new.
In today’s sports marketing and business world that screams for engagement and innovation, many of the most admired brands still need to recognize and have the ability to pivot and thrive. Marrying that concept in the tradition-laden world of baseball is a daunting task, but one iconic sports company has found a way to reinvent itself while keeping its brand relevant – not just to a passionate core – but also to a new level of young, enthusiastic and engaged fans.
That company is Topps.
Do people still collect baseball cards?
Yes, millions do, but it’s not the same business model as it was in days of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
Topps and MLB went out in early 2016 and launched TOPPS NOW, which created a new “on-demand” mechanism to collect cards from the latest “big moment” in baseball. The new model called for ordering in real time, and prompt delivery right to your door, with as many copies as you wanted. No more waiting for the next set six months down the line or ordering a virtual card (which by the way Topps does have with Topps BUNT).
If your favorite pitcher throws a no hitter? Card is here. Amazing catch by Mookie Betts in the outfield? We have it. Local hero gets his first hit? Order away. The ability to print hard cards on demand meant that there was no surplus of wasted paper, so it became a fast-growing, cost efficient and wildly popular endeavor.
How popular? In just two seasons, Topps sold over one million cards, making it the company’s most successful launch product ever. So popular that they have extended the brand to their partners like the UFC, MLS and even The Premier League, with more ideas beyond sport coming.
“In 2018, we are looking to increase our fan engagement through new product enhancements that we’re finalizing,” said Jeff Heckman, the Director of New Product Development and eCommerce Marketplace for Topps. “We would like to formalize a way for fans to help us develop TOPPS NOW cards. Additionally, we’re planning to build a mobile shopping app to create a richer and more seamless vehicle for fans to interact and engage with TOPPS NOW.”
Heckman and his colleagues at Topps have a lot to look forward to in 2018, considering the full season of 2017 saw production of 886 cards with such highlights as Aaron Judge’s record-breaking season, Adrian Beltre’s 3,000th career hit, and Derek Jeter’s number retirement ceremony. The card where Judge broke the rookie record with his 50th home run of the season set a TOPPS NOW record with 16,138 cards sold alone.
The Top 5 best-selling TOPPS NOW cards of all time all rolled off the presses this past summer:
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating his rookie home run record (2017) – Sold 16,138 cards
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating his Home Run Derby (2017) win – Sold 8,997 cards
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating a 495-foot home run (2017) – Sold 8,623 cards
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating his breaking of Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees rookie team record – Sold 8,538 cards
Former New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter – Commemorating his number retirement ceremony – 7,791
So why has the platform taken off when many think the baseball card collecting business has stagnated?
“They have mastered the on-demand mentality that millennials, and for that matter, sports fans of any age crave,” said Chris Lencheski, of MP & Silva, a longtime sports marketer and professor at Columbia University.
“We want what we want – now – and we want as many as we can get, but companies have no way to really anticipate demand. Topps provides a window, limited, to catch that moment and deliver a real product – not virtually – but place it in my hands in just a few days. I don’t have to do anything but point and click, and I get it. Best part is, there is no leftover inventory so all the love goes to the bottom line. It’s a perfect system for today’s fan, and one that baseball has benefitted from tremendously.”
In total, more than 617,000 base cards were sold, and revenue is up 50 percent for the TOPPS NOW program year over year (at roughly $7.50 per card at retail that’s an estimated yet unofficial take of almost $4.5 million). Topps created more team sets, such as “The Road to Opening Day” collection for all 30 teams that examined each MLB team’s roster as the season got underway last spring.
So with all that success, what’s next for Topps?
“We currently offer TOPPS NOW cards for the Premier League (futbol) and we are hoping to add the UEFA Champions League in 2018,” said Heckman.