Saturday, November 17, 2012
The man makes the clothes
I'm pretty sure that when I first started collecting baseball cards as a kid, one of the first "don't's" of collecting was related to what the players were wearing on cards.
I vividly remember being thoroughly disgusted any time I came across a player who was not wearing a baseball cap on his card. It was as if, suddenly, he became a non-player. There is a non-player on my baseball card! A guy who is pretending to be a baseball player! But I know he's not one! He's probably an electrician or a piano mover or a garbage man! He might as well be my dad on there! Goodness, I am collecting my DAD on a baseball card!
Rule #1: You do not appear on a baseball card unless you are wearing the uniform of a baseball player.
This was pretty much law all through the '70s and '80s. But I'd come across a few cards every year in which a player was not wearing a cap -- the joker -- roll my eyes, and then everything would be cool.
Then Bowman blew that to hell by featuring upcoming ballplayers in dress slacks and horrifying sweaters and collecting was suddenly a crapshoot in which you might pull a ballplayer from your pack or you might get some male model who claims he is a ballplayer.
God, the '90s were weird.
We have now regressed to the point where Topps is now making short-prints of cards -- cards often coveted by collectors because of their rarity -- but picturing the players in dress suits.
And I'm supposed to want those cards.
Of course, I do want them ... if they are Dodgers.
I received my first one today. It came from unclemoe at My 2008 Topps Set Blog. It's a short-print parallel of this card:
Still not wearing a cap.
But I'm making an exception, because it's a Dodger, and especially because it's Matt Kemp.
Kemp is not only a tremendously talented baseball player, one of the greatest in the majors right now and the real N.L. MVP from 2011, but he seems to be a good guy with a decent head on his shoulders. Not the messed-up head-case, money-grubbing team-jumper, cheater pants that often appears to be the rule in professional sports currently.
I like Kemp because he doesn't make me feel guilty about collecting current players -- and believe me, there are times when I wonder why the hell I'm collecting cards of these idiots. As long as there are people like Kemp and Kershaw and R.A. Dickey and few others, I'll feel comfortable seeking cards out of modern players.
Under one condition.
Unless you're Kemp or Kershaw, absolutely no dress suits.
And, please, act like your mother raised you.
Wear a cap.