Saturday, August 18, 2012

Living with an addiction

Although it might not seem like it sometimes, there's a good story behind most of my player collections.

The same goes for my miscellaneous "mini-collections", such as cards of pitchers at the plate, or my "error" collection.

However, a small percentage of what I collect leaves me asking myself one question.


I don't know that I've ever "hated" any ballplayers from my lifetime, although a few have drifted a little too close to that moniker.

Still, I find myself wanting various cards from some of the more distasteful players of my generation, and I'm not quite sure why.

Hopefully, I'm not the only one who struggles with this.

I've never exactly thought of this hobby as an "addiction". (Although it probably is, in a good way.)

Yet this seems like the one area where that label seems appropriate. I'm collecting cards of players I don't even like, but I'm still having fun doing it.

Case in point, one Melky Cabrera.

I've collected cards of "The Melk Man" since his early Yankee days. I attribute his awesome first name as the reason for starting a collection of his.

As we all probably know by now, Cabrera was suspended 50 games for using a banned substance earlier this week.

That makes him the third guy from my myriad of player collections to have faced a 50-game suspension in 2012. (What scares me is that the season isn't even over yet.)

Ryan Braun managed to have his suspension repealed after a well-publicized case in the offseason.

The one that hurt the most was the 50-game ban to one of my all-time favorites, Marlon Byrd. (Which might signal an abrupt end to his career, unfortunately.)

Still, I don't think I could ever shake the "habit" of collecting the trio of banned substance users. (Or alleged substance users, in the case of Braun.)

No matter where Melky Cabrera might end up next year, I'll still be there collecting his cards, although what he did to the game was completely unjustified.

In terms of my player collections, I can only come up with one actual rule.

Once I start, I can't stop, whether I like it or not. (That's especially true with Byrd, as my collection of his is probably nearing the six-year mark by now.)

Sounds like an addiction to me.

First off, let me just say that I absolutely do not collect Sammy Sosa.

All I wanted was a card of his during his early "toothpick" stages in Texas.

Looking back, the lengths I went through to get this card is a little crazy.

For about a year or two, I searched and searched for a card of Sosa during the first of his two tenures with the Rangers. No luck.

That changed when I saw that a member of my trading forum had one that he was willing to trade me, and it didn't even take much to get. There was only one problem.

The card was graded.

Yet I still agreed to trade for it, telling myself that I'd just crack it out of the case with ease once the card arrived.

Anyone who has tried cracking a graded case knows that it's no simple task.

In my first experience with it, I tried everything. Trying to pry it open with my hands, trying to smash the case with a hammer. Literally everything. (It almost looked like a Three Stooges routine after a while.)

Finally, I managed to pry it open a while later. (For one of my future graded acquisitions, I had my friend run the case over with his bike. It worked like a charm, and the card remained unscathed.)

All for a stupid Sammy Sosa card.

Jose Canseco is probably at the top of my "most disliked" list.

I think I'm with most of the crowd in that regard.

Still, I've found myself adding a few new cards of his to my collection as of late. Specifically his later issues.

At least I have a good reason for this one, anyways. (Well, "good" to me.)

They're members of my famous "zero-year club".

In between his final stint in the majors with the White Sox in '01, Canseco had a pair of zero-year issues to add to his "accomplishments".

Before he signed with the White Sox for the '01 season, he was acquired and cut by the Angels, although a few cards of him in an Anaheim uniform found their way onto the market. (Here's another one.)

Canseco also had a "zero-year" card in 2002 with the Expos, which was on my pre-blog "most wanted" list for a while.

Yes, I do actually still want a few cards of Jose Canseco.

Just don't tell anybody, okay?

Out of all my "mini-collections", this is the one that confuses me the most.

For some reason, I can't shake my habit of buying cards of Milton Bradley during his earlier days in the game.

When the Cubs gave Bradley a three-year deal back in '09, I knew it was yet another step in the wrong direction. (The Cubs have a habit of giving huge deals to guys who have one good year, for some reason.)

Never did I think it would turn out as badly as it did.

Bradley hustled less than any player I'd ever seen before him. Not to mention that time he threw the ball in the stands when there were only two outs in the inning.

With all that said, I have no clue why I still collect cards of Bradley during his minor league and Expos days.

Maybe it's because I want to believe that he wasn't a complete idiot on the ballfield then.

See, look! He's actually signing autographs on that card. Maybe he wasn't all that bad of a guy in the minors.

There's got to be one or two guys we all collect, although we're not quite sure why. (Please don't let me be the only one.)

I guess this hobby really can be an addiction sometimes. Just look at my cards of Milton Bradley and Jose Canseco for proof of that.

It sure is a whole lot of fun, though.


Mark Kaz said...

Awesome post! You've summed up this phenomenon perfectly. Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Canseco, etc. -- I don't like any of these players. But I collect them with absolute indifference to that fact. I've given up trying to explain it and just go with the flow!

Laurens said...

I've gotten Milton's autograph in-person and most of the time, he was pretty laid back and accomodating otherwise.

Hackenbush said...

Nope, I don't collect douchebags.

Zayden said...

As someone who has gone through a few addictions in my time here on earth, I must say that card collecting is the only positive one that I've had.

It's the only one that doesn't interfere with my family/social life and it's one that I will hopefully be able to share with my kids someday. It's the only one that I can actually say is healthy for the mind, body and soul.

I guess it could have it's downfalls, if you have loads of cash to spend, it might act as a sort of gambling addiction, but for lower end guys such as yourself and me included, we get to truly benefit in this hobby as we can be a lot more appreciative for pieces we have that others might just see as junk.

Great post as always! I too have many guys that I don't exactly like but do have an affliction for their cards.