Originally posted on The Platoon Advantage  |  Last updated 9/11/12

I'm not going to go horning in on the territory of people who actually care about baseball cards, don't worry, but I do want to note that I feel a certain attachment to the old guys still hanging around baseball (Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Omar Vizquel, mainly, though not exclusively) in large or perhaps even sole part ("sole part"? Is that a thing?) because I used to have their baseball cards. As you might guess from the preceding sentence, I stopped collecting baseball cards a long time ago. I couldn't tell you when I purchased my last pack, but I do recall deriving active pleasure from cards in an apartment that my family lived in from the second half of ninth grade on. I'd like to blame girls or schoolwork or a social life on the downfall of my card collecting, but I think I actually ended up spending more time playing Final Fantasy VII, reading Robert Jordan, and perusing actual live box scores via our brand new AOL connection than I did kissing ladies on the mouth.

(Note: by "think I actually" I really mean "know for 100% sure"—I kissed very very very few ladies on the mouth in these years, and I read a lot of pages of Robert Jordan.)

The point here, though, is just the ending of an era. When I was in college, I'd moved past collecting cards and into a different stage of my baseball life, but huge portions of major-league players were those whose faces and batting stances I knew from collectible photographs on cardboard. Now, not so much.

One of the weird side effects of this is that I think I know what players look like far less than I used to despite taking as full advantage of my MLB.tv subscription as any person with a job and three cats can and despite my family only intermittently having a cable subscription (or occasionally, cough, a cable "subscription"—knowing people who knew their way around a telephone pole was a useful thing) when I was young. I watch orders of magnitude more baseball now than I did as a child, but I can't tell you the first thing about Wade LeBlanc's face. "Well, sure, he's Wade LeBlanc." But that's what I'm saying, you know? One of Wade LeBlanc's similar players by the Bill James algorithm as implemented at Baseball-Reference.com is Curt Young and I very much knew what Curt Young looked like in 1991. I can't recall ever seeing Curt Young pitch, though, and I'm watching Wade LeBlanc right now as I write this.

(It should be noted, though, that Wade LeBlanc never signed a card for me. Curt Young did that and by mail no less. Sent me my own card back and everything, not like those players who'd keep your card and send back a "signed" sort of pseudo-card. Barry Bonds's was egregiously bad, as I recall, particularly when I think about how much the card I sent him must be worth today. (Probably like a buck or two. I'm telling you, Bonds robbed me.))

I'm not old enough to feel all that old, not by the standards of humanity in general here in the 21st century, but cliches don't become cliches for nothing, and baseball's everlasting youth has a way of making you feel your years weighing on you with outsize force. I think I had Mike Stanton cards, but Giancarlo? He was bashing homers in tee-ball when my local card shop closing proved the last nail in the coffin of my waning interest in the things.

So yeah, Omar Vizquel? Forty-five years old, can't hit, practices the most egregious DADHAT the world has ever seen? I don't care. He can sign with the A's next year and drag my favorite team down if it'll keep him in the league, keep this Donruss "beauty" in my mind for one more year before all thsoe players are gone for good.

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