On the one hand, I give Upper Deck credit for making some nice looking cards. On the other, I'm really getting tired of them wanting to make up their own rules. Yes, they're a business that's out to make a profit, but they're not the rebel start-up that they once were.
Back in 1989 Upper Deck was something fresh and new. They really did revolutionize the hobby. It was easy to get behind them because they were forcing everyone to do a better job at producing cards. But more than two decades later, they're the establishment. They've got a massive market share in North America. These moves in baseball equate to me like a big, old flipping of the bird at Topps, Major League Baseball and anyone else who's bothering to pay attention. This is just the latest move of many that haven't been so much about competition as they've been about appearing petty to at least this collector. Other instances include the Sweet Spot Michael Buysner and the blatant ripoff of Topps designs masqueraded under the guise of O-Pee-Chee.
It seems obvious that Upper Deck is ready to fight with these baseball cards. Otherwise, why would they hold back releasing images? Just remember Upper Deck, you do hold an exclusive with hockey, which is going to make your argument seem a little superficial. But then again, maybe a small chunk of baseball is worth more than all of hockey.
In the long run, I find it difficult to see how Upper Deck will be successful in landing future licenses. By sticking their thumb up to baseball (not to mention the whole counterfeiting CCG thing), they're showing disrespect to the hobby that has made them what they are today. I know if I were a licensor with a brand name and image to protect, I'd be very leery when dealing with such attitudes. I may be way off base here, and if I am I'd love to hear different perspectives.
This card from the Signed, Sealed and Delivered insert set shows Upper Deck is still willing to mention the team names as well, not just the cities: