Some people don't believe in God. An omniscient, all-powerful entity that sees all, knows all and loves all is beyond their abilities of comprehension.
I'm not one of those people. I'm not going to go into the reasons why or have a debate. This is not a theological blog. But I will give you the one-word reason for why I do believe.
Nothing different than the next believer.
Faith, or "trust," runs the world in many ways. It runs churches, hospitals and schools. It's the undercurrent in business, government and functioning society. It creates good neighbors, marriages, parents and children.
We owe a lot of what's good in the world to faith, the belief in the good of your fellow man, and the belief in the good of a divine god. Because, let's face it, if there were no believers -- no one who believed in the good of God and no one who believed in the good of their fellow man, anarchy would be everyone's No. 1 problem.
Belief is very important to me. It's not just about religion. It's about a lot of things. Believing your kid will return the car home at midnight because he said he would. Believing that when you send in four proofs of purchase that you're going to get that Mickey Mouse wristwatch. Believing that when the traffic light is red, every single person is going to stop.
Believing that the jersey relic embedded between two pieces of cardboard came from an actual jersey worn by the person pictured on the card.
Ah, you were wondering when it was going to get around to cards, right?
Everyone has probably read about the relic-card scandal in which a memorabilia dealer plead guilty to selling hundreds of game-used jerseys that ended up in the hands of Panini, Topps and Upper Deck. This was the result of a five-year federal investigation, and other dealers have been indicted and plead guilty. Now that the news is out, everyone is wondering if their relic cards are real. The "trust" element is gone. And when you don't have "trust," you don't have "faith," and when you don't have "faith," you can kiss your allegiance -- or, in this case, your customer-base goodbye. I would be very surprised if large numbers of collectors continue to get excited about pulling jersey relic cards.
I know I'm not excited anymore. A relic card is almost useless to me now. If you read about me reacting with excitement over a relic card or purchasing one in the future, I assure you it's either a knee-jerk reaction to the old days and I'm just in the habit of getting excited, or I've made some sort of exception for reasons that make sense to my future self.
I don't understand it when people say, "I always knew they were fake." I mean, I've joked about the validity of relic cards over the years, but there was always some part of me that trusted, that had faith, that they were real. Otherwise, why in the hell would I pay a premium price for them?
Really, counterfeiters are the worst.
PED users are the worst. Cheaters are the worst. Abusers of power are the worst.
They prey on faith and trust, turn it against us and make us cynical about every little thing because "I'm not going to be the fool," and because "you can't hurt me." And now that's one more thing, or person, in life we can't enjoy because we can't trust it/him/her anymore.
I'm now one of those people. I'm not going to be the fool.
This is very unusual for me because I'm usually the one remaining loyal while institutions lose face, while critics mock Major League Baseball. I'm always willing to give someone or something another chance.
But not this time.
Tonight, I bought a blaster of Allen & Ginter. Out of the last pack I pulled a relic card of David DeJesus. A lovely swatch of powder blue. (I won't even get into the fact that DeJesus hasn't been a Royal since 2010).
I immediately thought about the jersey scandal but became distracted by a ding in the bottom middle of the card. It's difficult to see on the scan, but it's there. The ding is on the bottom edge of the card, starting under the second "O" in Brooklyn and extending to the "E" in New York.
You can see it more clearly on the Jackie Joyner-Kersee relic I pulled earlier in the year.
That's right. Two jersey cards out of two different blasters with dings in the exact same spot. I also pulled a third A&G relic with the same ding. And there are other bloggers and collectors who have experienced the same thing.
This is really irksome as a collector -- not because I expect my cards to be the epitome of perfection -- but because it demonstrates a shocking lack of concern for the customer. Here is a card that Topps has set up to be something "special" to the collector, and it can't even make sure the manufacturing process is efficient enough that every "special" card makes it to the collector in respectable shape. (This may be an opportunity to bust the mini card out of its frame, as I've seen others do).
So if Topps can't even get that right, how can it possibly assure us that the produced jersey swatches in our cards -- something that's apparently more complex -- are the real thing? It hasn't been proven that what this dealer confessed is 100 percent true, but I've seen enough smoke.
And I've seen Topps break the bond of trust in enough other areas.
No longer am I going to just "shut up and enjoy the card." I can't suspend disbelief anymore or make excuses.
So, while people argue about how we can fix the relic card market and how this could pave the way for better, more trustworthy relic cards, it just doesn't matter to me anymore.
Others can oooooh and aaahhhh over Triple Threads and all the crazy "cards" that Topps was showing on Twitter all day today. I'll just stick with my common variety, non-relic cards from now on, thank you.
Some of you can expect to see some relic cards that I own in your trade packages (unless you now think the way I do). I'll be paring down the collection, only keeping ones with special meaning to me. I might try to sell some others.
I'm done with relic cards.
Card companies, you blew it.
I can't trust you anymore.
(God only knows what this means for my autograph collection).