Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drawing the line

I love it when another blogger's post really makes me think.

That was the case this afternoon, when I took a few minutes to read through a recent post over at "Coot Veal and the Vealtones".

After watching the fantastic Ken Burns Baseball PBS special (which I highly recommend to any baseball fan), Dustin, author of the blog, is at a crossroads in terms of if Cobb's off-field personality should play a role in whether or not to collect his baseball cards.

I'll just say it right off the bat. I do collect Ty Cobb, although I don't tend to think of them as strictly "player collections" since I collect most Hall of Famers, especially the "dead ball" era guys like Cobb.

I look at it as just one big Hall of Fame collection.

Anyways, no single player has captivated me more than Mr. Cobb. I've read Al Stump's book Cobb on two occasions, and almost every baseball book I own has a couple snippets about him.

Yes, he was a vile, racist, evil man. (Among other things which I can't say on this blog.)

But if we're talking about strictly baseball cards, I only look a player's on-field play. And no one did it better than "The Georgia Peach".

Besides, he has some of the greatest cards ever. Take the above "Tales of the Game" insert. Or the best "Cardboard Masterpiece" in my collection, without a doubt.

In regards to his personality, I have no respect for who Ty Cobb was. Never have, and definitely never will.

But on the baseball field, there's few who I hold in higher regard.

I gobble up anything and everything I can find of Billy Martin.

He wasn't exactly perfect, either. Not to the extent Cobb was, but still an extremely unpleasant human being.

He fought with everyone. From marshmallow salesman to his own players, Martin couldn't stay away from fistfights during his life, it seemed. He even once fought Jimmy Piersall.

Not to mention his extensive drinking habits.

Yet Martin is still one of the few managers I collect. (As well has his cards of him as a player.)

When it got down to it, he did have one of the best baseball minds in the history of the game. It's a shame that George Steinbrenner famously hired and fired him five different times during the course of his reign on the Yankees, which had to both physically and psychologically affect Martin as a manager.

Had that not happened, I think the Yankees would be up to about 30 World Series titles right now.

Even a guy nicknamed "Mr. Clean" isn't safe.

For a long time, it was thought that Steve Garvey lived up to his nickname. People soon found out that it hadn't been the case throughout the course of his life.

There's a few bloggers out there who collect Steve Garvey, and I'm right there with them. I still think he should be in the Hall of Fame.

While the details of it aren't pretty, his personal life never made me question whether or not to collect his cards.

That's only been the case with one player all these years...

I'm thankful for every opportunity I get to show a card of Pete Rose as a Montreal Expo.

It just doesn't look right. But that's why I love them.

Anyways, I refused to collect cards of Pete Rose for a long time. Again, knowing about his betting scandals and all, I'll never have any respect for the person he is. For a long time, it affected how my feelings towards cards of Rose as well.

But between the white lines, I don't know that any player has played the game how it was meant to be played more than Pete Rose. Always hustling, running out every ground ball, not to mention his famous head-first slides.

He got the nickname "Charlie Hustle" for a reason.

Because of this, I've recently decided to start picking up any Pete Rose cards I can find. I even made him the subject of one of my first posts on this blog.

While I do literally collect hundreds of different players, the "steroid" guys like Bonds and Sosa will never, ever be among them. Their off-field habits tainted the game of baseball in a huge way, defining an entire generation.

I'll never forgive them for that.

And yes, Roberto Clemente is my favorite ballplayer of all-time entails more than his on-field play. He opened the doors for Latinos in the majors. We might have never seen guys like Albert Pujols play had it not been for him. Not to mention that he passed away in the process of helping others who were in need.

While I know others might not agree, I don't necessarily feel the need to draw a line between a player's on-field play and his off-field personality, if we're talking about just baseball cards and nothing else.

So thank you, Dustin, for forcing me to really think about a topic. That doesn't often happen during a twenty year-old's summer vacation.

I think there's one thing we can all agree on, though.

Jose Canseco is an idiot.


Dhoff said...

I'm glad this inspired such a discussion. I got such great comments from my post, and it all has me really thinking about this topic. I have a space for Cobb in one of my binders, and I won't be turning down his cards in trades or at a bargain, but I'm still conflicted. As for the steroid-era players, Ken Burns and some of my friends who played ball semi-pro and professionally have me thinking about this differently. I have a lot more sympathy for Bonds, for example, for being such an amazing all-around player for years. For a few years in there, it was hard to tell what even counted as a PED.

Anyway, great post, man. Thanks for running with this.

Spiegel83 said...

Hey Nick! I have some cards for your set needs. Wanna make a trade? Some cards on your for trade list interest me. Please send me an email.

Play at the Plate said...

Be careful what you say about Jose...he'll challenge you to a fight and send his brother in his place.