Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Baseball Cards on Fire, Pt. 2

In the first installment of this article, I discussed how kids no longer collect baseball cards to see their heroes, but rather to make money. As a result, burning baseball cards today, in my opinion, is rather pointless. If baseball cards are assur, the geeks who collect rare stamps and coins should also be reprimanded! After all, they're all doing it for the same reason. But, we go on:

2) As the media has gotten sleazier over the years, we know more about the players' personal lives than ever before. Even such icons as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio have had books written about them potraying them in a very negative light. Times have certainly changed. Longtime Mets announcer Ralph Kiner writes in his new book how, as a kid, Babe Ruth was his hero, but that was before he found out about Ruth's nototrious nightlife. These days, a kid can barely get to the boxscores without reading about BALCO and Barry Bonds. It's hard to be a hero these days.

3) In a similar vein to #2, the escalation of salaries has tarnished players' images. A-Rod may hit many homers in his career, but the number forever to be associated with him is 252: as in, the $252 million deal he signed a few years ago. In my case, the '94 strike and cancellation of the world series made it impossible for me to ever idolize a player. When a kid's favorite player on a team signs elsewhere for more money, it's hard for him to remain a hero. Granted, this argument is rather weak in a place like New York,as the Yankees are one of the few teams that can afford to keep its stars for years, but in other places this argument is all too true.

If I can suggest an alternate route for rabbeim to discourage kids from worshipping athletes, I would say that replica jerseys of players should be banned. When I was in camp, there were always kids on the basketball court with the Ewing and Sprewell jerseys. And boy, did these kids ever feel like hot stuff!!! The kids aren't getting the jerseys because of their value (I don't think they'll ever make hundreds from selling their Reebok replica jerseys), but rather because they want to be like these stars! Today, it's clearly the jerseys, NOT the cards, that are making the kids want to be like these heroes. Even in my first year in camp, one of my buddies got a camp t-shirt with 18, because it was Darryl Strawberry's number. I call upon every summer camp to ban these replica jerseys for the same reason my rabbeim prohibited sports cards. Posters of athletes should also be discouraged. (After our cleaning lady ruined our Kirby Puckett poster, that was enough discouragement for me.)

My little brother quoted his rebbi as saying that jerseys are fine, as the kids are only respecting the athlete's playing, but not his personal lifestyle. The problem with this argument is that the same case can be made for baseball cards! Yet, such arguments never worked with any of my rabbeim or principals.

Besides, as a Yankee-hater, few things would give me more pleasure than seeing one of those stupid Derek Jeter t-shirts going up in flames!


Blogger Gary Student said...

I agree that a jersey is worse than baseball cards. That rebbe sounds like a weirdo to me. Let me guess - he teaches at Chofetz Chaim?

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