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C.A.: 2022 Topps Batting Helmet Commemorative Relic Shohei Ohtani

(This is the 330th Cardboard Appreciation post. You longtime collectors probably know No. 330 as the halfway point of a 660-card Topps set. So is this the halfway point of C.A. posts? I can't conceive of 330 more of these so I'd say I'm past halfway, you know like I am with life. Ah, happy thoughts. Time for Cardboard Appreciation):

I think I am gradually getting out of the social media scene.

Ever since "the takeover" and rebranding of Twitter, it hasn't been the same. It's pretty pathetic these days, full of promotion and bots, and my tweets ... sorry, "posts" ... have dwindled from 20-30 a day to less than 5.

I moved over to one of Twitter/X's rivals, Blue Sky, but that site seems to be stagnating as card collector and MLB types are reluctant to move there, too. It's not much fun there, it's not much fun anywhere.

Twitter used to be a good time and although it was always fraught with horrible takes and the inherent drawbacks of not being able to express yourself fully, I took the good with the bad because there was more good.

Not so much now, as underlined by the news yesterday that Shohei Ohtani has signed a massive contract with the Dodgers. The haters popped up in droves with the simplest of takes. I'm done with that.

Fortunately, blogs still allow people to go in-depth, so that's what I'm going to do, because my favorite team signed the most coveted free agent of the season. You expect me to be silent about it?

Let's break it down.

1. The Money

One of the first things I saw on social media after the news broke was this gem: "Nobody is worth $700 million dollars."

*Sigh*. I have been hearing this since I was a young baseball fan. It sure is a lot of money. But it was a lot of money in 1979-80 when Nolan Ryan and Dave Winfield signed the first million-dollar deals in baseball and people blew gaskets and said "nobody is worth a million dollars." We have been doing this for awhile.
A player is "worth" whatever a team wants to pay for them and it's selective outrage for the Angels fan who uttered the above statement to not say a questioning word about Mike Trout's $430.5 million deal a few years ago.

It's also tiring to me -- who had to listen to my dad rail about baseball salaries year after year after year while I was trying to watch a baseball game -- to hear this all the time in a baseball context yet nobody is complaining repeatedly about the money movie stars, musicians or other entertainers make. Even among athletes, baseball players are brow-beaten about their salaries much more than in other sports.

Obviously baseball has an inequity problem and this is a reason why the carping in MLB is more. But in the meantime, I'm so glad I'm not a Royals or Reds fan. As long as players and owners don't want a salary cap or a floor, it's going to be this way. But even if the Dodgers/Yankees/Mets/Phillies/Padres (yes, Padres, they were third in payroll last year, above the Dodgers) sign everybody, it's no guarantee of a title. We go through this angst every off-season and then the Rangers and Diamondbacks are in the World Series.

2. The Player

Shohei Ohtani is the most unique player of my generation, of any generation who didn't see Babe Ruth pitch and hit. If anyone "deserves" that kind of money, it is him and everyone should have expected he would get that kind of money. $500 million, $700 million, what's the difference from down here?
I haven't gotten into the Ohtani hype much though. Every time Ohtani did something impressive I'd read "Shohei Ohtani!" from the most famous MLB accounts and that would be the entire tweet. This vapidness would happen over and over. That got annoying.
I've always been a team-first guy and am not into "The Face of Baseball" stuff. There are plenty of posts on this blog about the hero treatment of individual players and its increase over the years and how it's killed my appreciation of the game. There is a reason why I don't set out to collect individual players and there are lots of posts on here about that, too.

But it is thrilling to see what Ohtani can do in Dodger blue. He won't get to pitch the first year that he's in Dodger Stadium -- and the detractors have pointed that out, too -- but Ohtani's value is about more than playing on the field. He has a huge following and that contract will pay for itself probably in a couple of years.

Even if I wasn't a Dodger fan, it would be interesting to see what he could do on a winning team. I think that's some of the excitement -- "OK, now, let's see what he can do with an actual team."

I admit the hype and the money are easier to take when your team has the player (and you live so far away you don't have to pay newly inflated prices to go to a game). I sure won't apologize for it though.

3. The Cards
I was surprised when TCDB told me I had 37 Shohei Ohtani cards. I've never tried to collect his cards.
In fact, a few years ago, I sold a couple of his rookie cards -- the flagship base card, the Archives card. It was probably too early to do that, Ohtani was already a sensation at the time but not as much as he grew to be. I was a little disappointed with what they sold for.

This Update card and the above Archives future stars card are all that I have left from his rookie cards.

Ohtani has just been a regular player in terms of my collection, I haven't specifically sought out a single one of his cards.

Probably my favorite card of his that I own is the helmet relic thing at the top of the post. I pulled that out of a Series 2 blaster in 2022. I enjoyed it so much -- much more than I usually do for manurelics -- that I briefly thought about collecting the whole set. Then I pulled a pre-Braves Sean Murphy and that was the end of that thought.

Things will change now. I will be seeking Ohtani cards, just like cards of every other player in a Dodger uniform. I don't expect it to make things difficult though. I know there are lots of Ohtani collectors, but I don't chase fancy cards and I've even given up on landing every Dodgers insert or parallel. It'd be nice to have something a little nice of Ohtani as a Dodger but it's not necessary.

Something as simple as this would be cool in a Dodgers setting. I don't know if Topps will be as enamored with him as during his initial appearances in MLB to do this, but I'm a simple guy, Ohtani on a Dodger card will be cool enough.
So that's where I am on Ohtani and the Dodgers and all that cash and social media.
Expect to see less of me over there, but the same amount of me over here. I know this is a lot of words and too much words for a lot of people (they're still on X) but I've got something for all of them:

Sorry, not sorry.


CardBoredom said…
Well said! Glad Ohtani landed his contract and looking forward to what he does for the Dodgers. I'm also hoping the degradation of experiences on Twitter and other short form social media leads to a resurgence in more in depth hobby writing.
Brett Alan said…
Great point about entertainers and stuff making so much money and you don't hear about it. Even more so: how much money do the OWNERS make? MLB and other sports generate HUGE amounts of money. I'd rather see it go to the players than to the owners, that's the bottom line.
Glad to see your team won the Ohtani sweepstakes. Was hoping my Cubbies might be able to land him, so now hopefully they can land two or three stars in his place. Dodgers should be even more exciting to watch in 2024!
BaseSetCalling said…
My only disappointment in the Ohtani experience so far is that I wish he could have started his career in the National League. Maybe he could have been the most exciting Middle Reliever of all time with major impacts on mid/late game strategy. Perhaps that may have single handedly helped keep the DH rule from use in the NL, who knows, as well as inspiring more attempts at playing “two ways” and maybe seeing a couple Greinke/Bumgarner type Pitchers try middle relief + batting too. Maybe all that is happening in some parallel Universe.
Nachos Grande said…
TCDB says I have only 17 Ohtani cards, sounds about right to be honest. Only 2 rookies in that group. Pretty sure I traded a bunch of his Ginter rookies away back in the day, oh well. That's why I'm not a prospector (though I guess you could argue Ohtani wasn't a prospect at the time he moved over to MLB). Congrats to your Dodgers...and yes, for the record, it does kind of suck to be a Reds fan.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Yeah Twitter and Blue Sky aren't great for cards and the nature of the world is making it even harder. Would like to see more critical mass on Blue Sky but I don't think it'll ever replace what Twitter was. Good thing some of us are still blogging and writing comments.

Been using the Ohtani situation to explain a few things to my kids–including the idea that teams have to turn a profit as buying into the ownership point of view. I told them that the real question is if having Ohtani increases the value of the franchise long term and they agree that it probably does. Still a staggering amount of money though and the idea that Ohtani's yearly salary is larger than some teams is embarrassing for the league as a whole.

Personally I'm bummed that he's on the Dodgers because I've enjoyed watching him play and rooting for him and that's a whole lot tougher to do when he's not only on a division rival but on THE traditional rival. Does make me wonder if Dave Roberts being half-Japanese helped though (albeit at that price it can't have been a big part of the deal).
Chris said…
Congrats, Night Owl! I thought the Dodgers were the most logical landing spot for Ohtani - though I admit I was a little curious/excited about the Blue Jays rumors (It's not like the Red Sox will be contenders any time soon) Glad to see LA got their man.

Yes, $700 million is a TON of money, but if he's worth $35m/year as a hitter and $35m/year as a pitcher, well.. that match checks out. I saw a YouTube video that declared Othani was worth $700 million as a marketing entity alone, so assuming he doesn't fall apart physically (Trout, Stanton, Strasburg...) the Dodgers will get their money's worth one way or another. I just hope they don't sell naming rights to Dodger Stadium to cover a a sliver of his salary.

Also I've never been much of a social media user, but Twitter went downhill in a hurry from what I've heard. Hopefully Blue Sky catches on eventually.
Fuji said…
37 Ohtanis is impressive. I think I have something in the same ballpark. As for him signing in LA, that's pretty much where I figured he'd end up. At least he's staying in California. Hopefully I'll be able to watch him play at Dodger Stadium next summer.
madding said…
Bluesky feels like the right place for me these days. Even before Elon came along and trashed Twitter, it felt like more than 90% of the card related content was not for me. Too many people talking about investing and being super pleased with themselves for selling stuff for whatever they sold stuff for. There were a few decent follows there that I will miss, but hopefully someday I can find their content elsewhere.
Doc Samson said…
Is Ohtani worth $700 million as a player? Debatable. But as a personality? Absolutely! As an advertising copywriter, I can’t even begin to tell how much money Ohtani is going to bring in to ticket sales, merchandise, broadcast ratings, promotions, charities, etc. Granted, the biggest reason they signed him was because of his baseball skills. That is 1A. But we all saw the marketing effect Michael Jordan had on the Chicago Bulls.
Matt said…
I'm just glad he isn't a Yankee...
Derek said…
Twitter's loss is our gain!
Zippy Zappy said…
Gotta say it's been a ride seeing social media work itself up in a frenzy for basically three days in a row because of Ohtani's contract.

Glad he's going to a winner and glad he's turned his contract into a unique team-first contract (that seems like one meant to spite Arte Moreno as it is to give the Dodgers more spending power). Also very funny to see folks of other teams are mad online because they know in their heart of hearts their own teams and players aren't nearly as close to committed to winning and instead choosing to do nothing until the next cash-cow to replace local TV deal revenue comes along.
Jafronius said…
I couldn't figure out how the Jays were involved, and all the reports that Friday about him flying to Toronto was entertaining and silly at the same time. I had hoped the Cubs were close but figured LA was the destination. Congrats!