November 02, 2007

Damaged Love

I'm not a twenty-eight-year-old version of Andy Rooney. I don't use a typewriter, nor was I particularly unhappy to see it go. I enjoy email and cellphones and wi-fi (that's wireless finternet, right?) and ATMs and mostly everything else the advancement of modern society has afforded us. But I'll admit it. I'm a purist. And being a purist, it makes me more angry than sad to see certain things change right in front of my eyes.

A couple of examples? Interleague play, for starters. The World Series just hasn't been the same since they adopted this pointless endeavor. And it also affects in-division rivalries, as there are less games against each now because of it. I'm also not a fan of chrome and excessive foil on cards and really anything else that's driving up the costs of packs.

Another example came up just this morning: The SCD Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards is now available on CD. As a fan of the mammoth paperback volume that is the Standard Catalog, I honestly don't see the appeal of using an electronic version. I guess it's for those dealers and collectors who carry around a laptop to shows? I'm not sure if the user is able to print out checklists and interact with each (highlight those cards you have), so it's one thing to supply a compendium of text and pictures of every card ever made on a single CD or DVD disc, but it's another thing to simply transcribe the book as it is now to digital format.

As a child, I was a big fan of using the card catalogue at the public library: you found the book you intended to find, but you also found loads of other shit you didn't know you wanted. The same basic idea is behind the SCD ... and is it all right if I just call it 'The SCD,' like a learned scholar or amateur proofreader calls the Oxford English Dictionary 'The OED'? Is that okay? Good. ... You may be looking for the variations of Diamond King in 1984 Donruss, but because everything's all thrown in there together, you also notice that the first ten or so cards after the DKs and Rated Rookies in the 1985 Donruss set are numbered the exact same way as 1984. You don't have that opportunity when things are digital: If you're looking for one thing, you'll find answers on only that one thing. It's the death of browsing, of learning about the hobby by osmosis, as so many of us did.

But this is not what I meant to write about today. About a month ago I won an auction on a lot of 1966 Venezuelan Topps cards. Whoever the young Venezuelan children were who owned these originally really got their money's worth. This card of Jim Bouton is my favorite. In fact, I would say that it's more fun to own a damaged card than it is to own the same in decent condition. It's like having a scar. I mean, who knows how this card of Bauer, Brooksie and Frank got these cool wavy cuts in it. Maybe the card got in a knife fight with a fired-up group of Hell''s Angels, or strung itself out on heroin and couldn't find any more veins.

And how about this one of Luis Aparicio? Maybe he lost a bet and got himself pasted up on a wall of the ladies room of a Sinclair in Amarillo, Texas, or lived out his days in the notebook of a hardened criminal in lockdown in Cooke County Correctional Facility, hopelessly obsessed with the glory year of the Hitless Wonders. Whatever his fate, he fared better than John Goryl (someone left a Cub out in the rain/and I ... don't think that I can take it/because it took so long to bake it/and I'll never find that recipe uhhh-gain).

One last thing about the cards that have been chewed up and spit out of the hobby machine, the ones that hope to be scooped up and given the five star treatment in my Three Ring Binder of Cardboard Pensioners: Damaged cards are more fun, certainly more than anything the hobby can throw out there today. Card companies should put out a product that includes a damaged insert set. I think I may have proposed this a while back, but it's an interesting idea. Companies essentially produce one kind of card: a gem-mint card. But if some cards are pre-damaged, then getting one in great condition, straight outta the pack, will be that much more exciting. Right?


Matt said...

My cousin's bar-mitzvah, in 1983, had a baseball theme. The centerpiece at each table contained 1983 Topps cards, glued to sticks. I snagged a Boggs ... I remember the anguish I went through when determining that for the sake of the corners, I neeeded to extract the stick from my "boggs-sicle" and that I did. To this day I am disappointed in that decision because really, who else could say they have a boggs-sicle? Now I have a card with corners that really aren't so hot and a rip in the back. That and a funny story.

--David said...

I find it so weird that on at least two occasions now, by some weird coincidence, we both post about mangled cards... Strange things are afoot at the Circle K....