the times they are a changin’

by

The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past

– Bob Dylan (1963)

I wonder why it is that calendar pages seem to flip significantly faster today than they did when I was a kid. While I am willing to entertain the notion that it is only MY perception, something in my gut tells me that I am not alone.

I set out to generate a fantasy baseball card, or whatever term you choose to assign to it, to help mark the passage of the old year into the new. It isn’t really a card that I wish would be created by a baseball card manufacturer inasmuch as it reveals my view of both the game of baseball and the trading card hobby “today” compared to the past.

2008-bill-lee-sez-youman-rockwell

Has baseball REALLY changed, or is the change we note actually due more to how we have changed, and how we perceive the game? My vote is the latter. To support my claim visually, I offer the difference between how Norman Rockwell captured the essence of the game with oil paints in 1958 and this photo I shot of Shane Youman capturing pretty much the same event from the dugout steps nearly 50 years later while participating in the Arizona Fall League. The game is unchanged, and remains as strong as you are willing to believe. We just have a better view, and access to replays.

What of recent scandals? Baseball wouldn’t be baseball without scandals. Show me an era without scandals, and I will suggest you do more research.

As for the trading card hobby… I appreciate that it exists and that I am fortunate enough to have more baseball cards than any one person NEEDS. I love the fact that I could fill the bathtub with baseball cards and dive in if that’s what I wanted to do. Yes, there are problems with the industry from top to bottom that include bad ideas, lack of creativity, greed and worse- but as long as someone creates a product that I deem worth collecting, I will do so without hesitation. When everyone fails to release new products that I feel belong in my collection, I simply step back, catch my breath, and then refocus my attention on the now “vintage” sets that first romanced me. I don’t blame the card companies for their gimmicks because I understand they are trying to make money. On the other hand, I don’t lose any sleep over the fact that I’m never going to own a dual memorabilia baseball card that features a Norman Rockwell paint splatter AND a game-used Sony video camera microchip.

Perspective.

Just like professional ball players in the late 50s, Youman scratched his way up through the minor leagues for his 79-inning cup of joe with the Pirates during the 06-07 seasons. Youman has been unemployed since being dropped this past summer by the team who had picked him up as a free agent over the winter only to decide that he wasn’t going to help them with their master plan of winning the World Series (which they did).

I have no idea if Youman is done with baseball or if he will return in 2009. The only reason I care is my fondness for the underdog. If it turns out that Shane has retired from the game, I have no doubt that another “unknown” will eagerly assume his place on the roster, in the dugout, and eventually on the great stage. I take comfort in the rich history of the game and hope above all else that nothing will happen to cause me to turn from it.

At any rate, best wishes for the New Year! Here’s hoping that 2009 brings with it all that you enjoy about baseball and trading cards (as long as it doesn’t interfere with my enjoyment)!

– Kris

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3 Responses to “the times they are a changin’”

  1. Paul Says:

    FYI: Shane Youman finished the season with the Lancaster Barnstormers in the Atlantic League. I don’t remember getting to see him pitch, but I did get his autograph on a card or two.

    I don’t know if he’ll be back in 2009 or if he decided to hang it up after the season.

  2. albuqwirke Says:

    Thanks Paul! I just read where Matt LeCroy was also part of that team.

    I have to get one of their team sets.

  3. Paul Says:

    The Barnstormers still list their 2008 card set on their website. I’m pretty sure Youman is not included, but LeCroy should be.

    (If you would like help acquiring any Atlantic League team sets in 2009, let me know.)

    LeCroy was a great guy this past season. He was one of a very few guys I’ve ever seen that actually came over to sign autographs without being called.

    He didn’t play much in the first half of the season, and thanks to a quirky schedule I didn’t see much of the Barnstormers in the second half.

    This year, he’s going to be managing the Hagerstown Suns. I hope he does well enough to get a shot at a Major League coaching job someday.

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