Sunday, March 4, 2007

Jeter is a Republican

I've been slacking this week, and I felt obliged to respond to El Guapo's post in regards to collecting Baseball Cards, but I haven't gotten around to it until this evening.

I feel I must make a confession to you all.

My name is Mets2Moon, and I am a Baseball Card Collector.

There. I said it, and I admit it. I'm probably one of about 100-200 left.

In my youth, it just started innocently enough, going to the candy store after lunch while I was at Saturday Sports club (anyone who grew up in New York City in the 1980s knows what I'm talking about). Pretty soon, it escalated into me spending my entire allowance on Baseball cards. Sure, the Mets were my favorite. But I didn't discriminate. I bought entire sets, and kept the most expensive cards tucked away in hard plastic cases (collecting dust, and devaluing over time, such as my Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark McGwire rookie cards)

I guess when most kids went away to college, their mothers chucked most of their baseball cards. Not mine. Most of mine continued to collect dust, until, a few years ago, I asked myself what, exactly, I was doing?

What was I doing? I had a huge collection of random baseball cards. There needed to be order and focus. I stopped buying baseball cards randomly, and the advent of E-Bay made it much easier to focus on getting specific cards, and not just buying pack after pack. I kept most of my complete sets, but instead of buying everything, I focused on simply collecting the cards of my favorite team, the New York Mets.

Currently, my tidy collection features mostly complete Topps Mets Team Sets going back to 1962 (missing only a few odd cards here and there, mainly rookie cards of Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, too rich for my blood at this point), plus several large boxes of Mets cards assembled over the past 20 years. Didn't matter if it were Tsuyoshi Shinjo or Jose Reyes. If it was a Met, it had a place in my collection.

But, as a collector, it was always the oddity card that would stick out. Last year, the furor over a wrongfully-released card featuring Royals prospect Alex Gordon piqued my interest. I knew I would probably never possess this card (and I don't at this time), but the phenomenon kept me paying a bit of attention. Especially when copies of the card shot to well over $3000, thanks mainly to the frenetic bidding war created by Ex-SportsCenter anchor and current MSNBC newsman Keith Olbermann. $3000 is an awful lot for a card. Especially one featuring a guy who has yet to play a Major League game yet. Talk about creating unnecessary pressure for the kid.

But then again, if he flops, maybe I can buy one of the cards from Olbermann for a few bucks and finally complete my set...

The error cards stuck out too. As a kid, the infamous 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken "Fuck Face" card was legendary. Still is, really. I don't have that one either. And that one could have been had for $50 when it came out. Or it can now be had for $5 on E-Bay.

So, seeing this year's Jeter card with Mantle and Dubya shamelessly photoshopped into the card is most disturbing, because it's an inorganic error card. The Ripken card happened because someone screwed around with his bat and nobody picked it up. Copy on cards can be misspelled, stats can be mixed up, and cards can be wrongly released. Screwups happen. But in my over 20 years of collecting, I've never seen something quite like the Jeter card. And, because the baseball card market is so screwy, even the Jeter card was selling in the rarified territory of $50-$100 before calming down to a much logical price of $3-$5...Hey, it's still Derek Jeter...but it's enough to make me wonder about the sort of ilk I am associated with when I admit to being a baseball card collector.

The bottom line is that it's pretty sad that this happened, although if Topps was trying to create some sort of buzz for their 2007 offering, they succeeded, but you would think that cramming packs with randomly assorted inserts like autographs and cut-up jersey pieces would be enough to sell the product, and associating the Great Jeter with the President wouldn't be necessary. Then again, I'm not working for Topps, and perhaps I also feel that the Yankees and Dubya have some odd similarities. I'm just saying, that's all...

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