(Greetings. Today is "Ditch New Years Resolutions Day." I'm not lying. Look it up. So remember all those collecting goals you made? DITCH 'EM! You're not going to do them anyway. And on that uplifting note, it's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 170th in a series):
I grew up during a time when the thing to do in baseball was play on a rug.
The 1970s and 1980s, my prime baseball awareness years, were glorious days for carpeting your baseball fields. I don't know what overcame us, but I think when they put together time capsules for this period, they should save some room for artificial turf. We were obviously fascinated with it.
During this time, the following teams played on fake grass: the Royals, Twins, Mariners, Blue Jays, Astros, Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, Pirates and Expos. Balls sailed over the heads of outfielders on a bounce. Players bounced throws to first. I once walked on the artificial turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium and wondered how anyone could possibly play on it. "You could get hurt on this stuff," I thought.
But back then, I didn't think much about it. I know I sort of didn't like it. And I was glad my team had real grass. But otherwise, it was just the way things were. I mean everyone had a basement rec room at the time and there was carpeting everywhere in those, even the walls. And those were cool. So who was I to say?
However, today I know better. The other day I was looking at some video from the 1976 World Series. The Yankees were playing the Reds at Riverfront Stadium. The fake grass -- in all of its neon glory -- overwhelmed everything else on the screen. It looked so foreign. I wanted to adjust the color tint. It didn't look like baseball at all. It looked like they were playing inside one of those indoor, all-purpose sports facilities that high school and college teams use for workouts.
And I thought, "what were we thinking? We played the World Series on THIS?"
It's kind of like baseball cards today. For the last two decades, the majority of base cards have been printed on some super, slick, compressed paper stock. It's sort of like the artificial turf of collecting. It's not real cardboard. We collect cards on THIS?
So in this area, Major League Baseball gives me hope. Back in the 1990s, teams began to build retro stadiums, featuring real grass. They came to their senses. They realized that fake -- that all-purpose, that cookie-cutter -- wasn't as efficient as they thought it was.
Perhaps someday, we'll go back to real cardboard in the base set. Perhaps one day a card company will realize printing pictures on index cards isn't as efficient as they thought it was.
Here's hoping for progress.
Real cardboard and real grass.
Think of the children.