I am old enough that I don't really get modern ball players.
It just happens. You get to a certain age and stuff doesn't make sense anymore. I didn't plan for it to happen. It just did.
I'm OK with baseball being different than when I grew up, it would be weird if it remained the same as it was in the '70s and '80s. Nothing else about life is the same as it was then. And although I miss the stolen base and pitchers going 9 innings and ... singles for crying out loud ... I understand. Things change.
The most difficult thing for me might be the emotional displays in the game today.
Obviously, the "histrionics" -- as I've called them in the past -- didn't happen much in the game when I was growing up. But as baseball has evolved culturally, so has players' behavior and I'm trying to keep up. I am not an outwardly emotional person. If I were to do something great on the field, I would have to force myself to do anything beyond raising my hands over my head.
So I'm still getting used to some of the outward expressions. I accepted bat flips a long time ago. Displays immediately after a great feat, are fine, too. It'll take me awhile to get used to all the gesturing to the dugout. The Dodgers do this constantly and it's always weird and seems completely unnecessary to me.
One player I like a lot who does a lot of celebrating is Mookie Betts.
Betts is the kind of modern player I enjoy. He brings something new to the game, he's amazing at it and he's also exceedingly likeable. He isn't confrontational or cocky, isn't a big self-pimper. He seems genuine in realizing the game is bigger than himself.
But modern cards seem to fit him. I've been picking up a few modern cards of Betts -- cards I wouldn't buy for anyone else -- because they just work. Betts is still a fairly young star, he led the Dodgers to a World Series title, there should be some cards from that time to recognize that in my collection.
There's some celebrating now. But if you aren't going to celebrate after hitting a home run in Game 6 of the World Series, when are you?
This is one of the Topps X Sports Illustrated online cards from this year. Topps is rolling out a 70-card set of past SI covers and I had to jump on this one. I love the late '90s Fleer Sports Illustrated covers set and cards of magazine covers in general rule. This was a no-brainer.
Topps has released two other Dodgers in this set so far, Duke Snider and Clayton Kershaw, but only Betts has appealed to me.
I grabbed one of the Panini Donruss Unleashed cards that everyone is raving about off of ebay. This is "the vector parallel."
This is as modern as it gets. I do like the snakes and lions and bears in the background but I seem to be the only one who is annoyed by the fact that the same damn background is on every one of these Unleashed cards. That doesn't exactly make them special and it is soooooo Panini (plus there's that generic Panini uniform that will always bug me).
But Mookie seems at home with the wild animals, calmly unleashing another big fly.
Yup. I've plunged into the Project 70 money grab pool.
I'm pretty over the artist-inspired card creations that Topps continues to offer up, it's the second year of this stuff and the prices are still $19.99 per!
It took me a long time to see anything from Project 70 that was worth my dollars. The Dodgers have been over-represented in this exercise and I still couldn't find anything I liked until a couple of recent Mookie cards.
I don't follow the artists involved with this, I know only a couple. But the deciding factor on whether I buy one of these is solely "do I like the look of the card?" and "can I afford one?" Mookie has appeared on at least two Project 70 cards in the Bo Jackson pose and I'm so tired of that pose (it only really works for Bo). So I've bypassed those.
But I like the night vibe and the graffiti letters on this card made by "CES," or Robert Provenzano. I like the graffiti lettering of Betts' name on the 1981 design. It's a cool card.
Not as cool as this one though:
All that stuff I said about magazines above? Same goes for comic books. Except even cooler.
I guess if you're going to get an old-school guy interested in a new-school card, you need to create an homage to old-style Spiderman comic covers on a 1988 Topps design.
This card was created by someone (or someones) called "The Shoe Surgeon" and it is the first of the Project 70 cards -- after four being released every day since April -- that made me say "gimme." I waited a little bit to get 5 bucks knocked off the price and now it's here and it's fantastic.
Unlike last year's Project 2020 cards that I own, I will not be displaying these encased or on a stand. I intend to break out both Project 70 cards and store them in my Dodgers binders with the rest of the 2021 cards.
Mookie's a special player who makes special cards, but I'm still the same guy who grew up with '70s and '80s baseball who believes Betts remains just one component of a team. I like my collection of cards to represent the team more than the player.
That's how I celebrate baseball. Quietly in my card room. With no more than a fist-clenched "yes!" or an uttered "weeee!" to my somewhat disinterested wife.
You do you. I'll do me.