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Forge Ahead That waxen seal,
2003-02-19 12:05
by Mike Carminati

Forge Ahead

That waxen seal, that signature.
For things like these what decent man
Would keep his lover waiting?
Keep his lover waiting?

- William Butler "Billy Two Times" Yeats

The Diamondbacks have announced that their players, save the starting pitcher, will be required to sign autographs for ten minutes prior to batting practice for every home game in 2003.

Quoth owner Jerry Colangelo:

"You better reach out, you better extend yourself, because it's the right thing to do. At this time and place, it's a requirement."

Whether he would keep his lover waiting for an authentic Greg Swindell was not mentioned. But the players are reportedly supportive:

"I don't mind,'" said closer Matt Mantei. "I sign anyway. (Colangelo) made a good point. The fans are the reason we're here."

Oh, how magnanimous! For a $4M closer with no saves and a 4.73 ERA last year, who will make $6.75 M in 2003, Mantei should by happy to scrub the clubhouse john.

The D-backs are concerned that ten percent of last year's season ticket holders failed to renew for 2003. Is that surprising given that 2002 was the season after winning the Series? Besides this is the BOB, not the Bronx. We're talking about tradition dating back to Michael Jackson's penultimate nose job (allegedly, in case legal representation is present).

Here is another thing that has been poisoned by our star-crazy society today. When I was a kid, an autograph from a sports star was a nice memento. Now, they are seen as assets to be auctioned on eBay. I don't blame the players for becoming jaded about it when the same souvenir seekers follow them everywhere that they go. I'm sure most of them would still feel honored and would take the time to sign if they knew that each signature would end up a treasured memento in someone's den, but they know better. Players are criticized for demanding a fee for autographs at appearances, but why should they hand over valuable merchandise for free? That's what the autographs have become.

So now they are forced to sign autographs. But since most of the autograph hounds are going to turn the scribble over for profit, they don't care what the circumstances are. It's so mercenary. It helps to kill off what was once a nice thing.

It reminds me of a spring training trip I made to see an Orioles game a few years back. As I was leaving, I heard that players were signing autographs. I thought it would be cool to get a souvenir so I investigated. The "players" turned into Bill Ripken on his second Oriole tour, egomaniacally signing an autograph or two through a chain-link fence while regaling the gathering crowd with stories of his exploits and fending off requests to retrieve his more famous brother. Cal never came out. Nobody seemed to want Billy's autograph except to placate him enough to get him to bring out Cal. I stuck it out since, as they said in Stripes, I was already dirty. I waited 20 minutes to get a signature that I didn't even want and vowed never to go autograph-seeking again. I do have the autograph still since it was on my scorecard, which I always keep. I am listing it for $50 on eBay if anyone is interested.

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