“Wait a minute! So, you can collect them, but then also, you can play with them too? Oh man, I’ve gotta get these. All of these.”
The whole gotta get them all syndrome came in way before Pokemon. Pokemon was just the first organization that wasn’t shy to admit it and just put their balls right out there. But the sports cards? Boring! Likely they were only invented to create consumer adults who have the need to collect useless shit, and buy useless storage for their useless shit. Sadly, my favorite part was opening the packs and then organizing all of my cards into a nice neat book, giving in to the collector habits. I guess I was a bit obsessive compulsive even at an early age. But once they were in those binders, what the hell do I do with them now? Look at them and read the backs? That’s not very entertaining. Usually I liked to go and find the worst player ever. You know that one guy who's so terrible, that even his action shot on the card is of him striking out? Hit percentage .00002? Most people would accidentally hit more than that. It always gave me a bit of hope. Surely if this guy made it, then I could succeed in whatever I want to succeed in, in life, eventually.
Sometime after finding the worst player though, I would put the binders of cards away in my bookshelf, and they would stay there, pretty much forever. They would still be there now if my parents hadn’t moved. As a result, they are actually in a big box in my parents’ current garage. You know someday they might be worth something. That’s what you tell yourself as a kid. You even go out and get one of those shitty cataloguey books that tells you which ones are rare, which ones are medium rare, and which ones come in every single pack. I armed myself with all of this valuable information and even tried to sell some cards at one of those hobby shops once. I was convinced I was walking out of there rich. And then I could buy more cards.
“I’d like to sell these cards, sir.”
“But the book says they’re rare.”
“Then how come I already got them?”
"Would you like to see the book?"
Those books were total crap. Maybe it is their vintage that is the problem. Maybe I just haven’t waited long enough, and someday when they are very old, then, and only then, they’ll be worth something. I need to keep them and pass them down to my children’s children’s children, so that someday, long after the apocalypse comes, the collection will be valuable, and can keep them warm for just a few more days.
“Papa, the fire looks very colorful and warm today, how did you make it so?”
“You can thank your great great great grandfather for that, my son. He bestowed these binders full of flammable paper upon us many ages ago. Throw another Wade Boggs on the fire.”
“Oh no! Careful Papa! The Wizards are coming!”
“EVERYONE HIDE! Save the ‘91 Upper Deck Binder!”
And so, in the end, they’re not rare at all, they’re well done.
Like I said, as a kid, you eventually realize that the whole trading card thing is a sham. And that is why recently, when I saw a grown man opening up packs of hockey cards on the subway, I was completely baffled. He was a hefty man, probably in his forties, with a big fuckin’ moustache, and dressed in his work uniform, that of a paramedic. Oh yeah, that’s just who we want saving our lives, isn’t it?
“Quick, get the oxygen!”
“Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet, a Lagrosselaide hologram card! I don’t have this one yet. This one’s really rare!”
“Hey, yeah, well, this guy’s really dead.”
Maybe it's just the moustache, but to me, any grown person who collects anything completely devoid of use, is really weird. Think Fabergé eggs, stamps or coins... Weird. Alarm bells are ringing, sirens are going off, and sadly, this guy is showing up. The collector of cards was actually separating the cards into piles, signifying that he already knew which ones were doubles. He had that memorized. Then I saw him checking out the stats on the backs, possibly committing them to memory as well. Is there any information in the world less useful than sports statistics? As a kid, I can understand buying into the whole magic of sports, being amazed by how many homers and ribbies a guy has. As a kid, playing games is pretty much all you do, and all you want to do, so why not idolize grownups that get to play games all the time? But as an adult, honestly who gives a shit?
“Who was the M.V.P. in the nineteen swibble-dee-swoo Stanley Cup finals?”
“Pfff... That’s easy, it was Art Farnswilly.”
“Oh no, I’m sorry, but the correct response was ‘who gives a shit’.”
Unfortunately, you will find, that a lot of people give a shit. Lots of shit. At least five or six shits. And you can’t always avoid these people, and can’t always ask them who gives a shit. After all, you don’t want to look rude, and sometimes you might even want to feel like you’re part of the gang. So, at times, you may find yourself needing to humor these types, and sometimes even, join in and fake some sports knowledge. I’ll try and offer a couple of pointers from my years of experience being a non-sport-watching-guy living in hockey country.
Sometimes sports fans will refer to the home team using ‘we’. These people are delusional enough to think that sitting at home in your underwear drinking beer and yelling at the television counts as being part of the team. And they’re doing their part. Unless you want trouble, you’ll have to resist the urge to correct them, and point out their stupidity, when they talk like this (Seinfeld has pointed this out before, of course).
“We played really hard yesterday, we won.”
“We did nothing. They won. You just watched. I still don’t care.”
Also, you’ll realize that in every game where the home team loses, it would appear that some referee type made a bullshit call against the home team. So if ever you’re put on the spot, and you know the home team lost, you can casually refer to the existence of a bullshit call. It will make it look like, not only, that you saw the game, but that you are so well versed in the rules of play, that you know when a call is bullshit. Be careful though, as you won’t know any details of the bullshit call, and if someone asks you to elaborate, in the end, they may call bullshit on you and your bullshit call. And who would ever want to be a referee anyways, while we’re on the subject? Nobody likes you, referee. You’re really just a lame person that wants to make sure everyone else follows the rules, and then you whine when people don't. Whiny little crybabies. And honestly, nobody likes anyone who uses a whistle for a living. Traffic cops, lifeguards, referees and gym teachers… no one likes any of you.
Contrary to the home team loss, it would seem that every home team win is a great game. If you deduced that they won, mention the sweet play / goal / hit / tackle / kick / pass / shot / whatever that transpired during the game. Even if you don’t know what it is you’re talking about, they’ll assume that they know, and start commenting on it. Always make sure to quit while you’re ahead.
“What a game last night, such a sweet goal.”
“Which? Tchetchnevievo’s in the third period? You must mean that. Man that was sweet, eh? God what a game, we played so well.”
“They sure did. You stay here, I gotta go this way.”
Some people get into sports enough to gamble on the outcomes. Some big ol’ Nostradamus type thinks he can predict sports, because of his excellent stat knowledge. If he talks to you about it, and you don’t want to sound like a total wienie, ask him what the spread was. Ask him if he covered the spread. Sports’ gambling seems to involve some kind of spread. I think it's made from hazelnuts.
If you want to avoid all of this confusion and trouble, just be open and honest from the get go like me, and explain to this crew around you that you simply don’t follow sports, at all. This will be hard for them to understand, but eventually they’ll accept you for who you are. Or they’ll call you a pussy. Either way, you’re better off not hanging out with them anyways. Oh, and also, don't collect anything that you can't use. Throw that shit out. And don't sell it to anyone else at a garage sale, because, as I've previously said about cutlery (see: Knife, Spoon, Fork, Garbage), that would just be spreading the disease of useless collecting.
That’s it. The game’s on.