Crimes Against Commerce Wednesday: Autographs Are Stupid

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crimes Against Commerce Wednesday: Autographs Are Stupid

. Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Welcome to my new Wednesday feature, where we examine the dark side of merchandising.

Item Description

Mounted Memories Chicago Cubs Mark Prior Framed Autographed(Cubs)(MLB) 16x20 Photo
The Sports Authority

Analysis after the jump. Also, hilarious laughter.

Even though I've loved sports since I was a kid, I never understood the whole autograph marketplace. Don't get me wrong, I think it's cool to meet a player and get a ball or hat or something signed. I'm currently looking at my Lou Piniella signed baseball from when I met him in January 08. It's a nice keepsake, and provides my beige cube with the illusion of personality.

Wherein the Author proves his neutrality on the subject. Also: Hellboy!

What I'm critical of is the commodification of soulless, stamped out autographs between individuals who have never gotten within 100 miles of the player in question. I understand I'm in the minority here, as it's a multimillion dollar industry. And certainly a lot of autographs are given as thoughtful gifts. But there are far too many man-children lurking with silver sharpies and treating the entire concept as some sort of fucked up futures market. "Hope Ryan Leaf dies - my signed Chargers helmet will skyrocket in value." Of course this is just an example - no one pays money for Ryan Leaf stuff.

Poor Shawon Dunston. Spells his name S, h, apostrophe, 7, heiroglyph.

My point is that where kids used to be able to wait for Ryno or the Hawk or Mr. Cub near the player's lot, a bunch of sharp-elbowed assholes with eBay accounts have ruined the ability of kids to casually meet their favorite player and take something from the experience. When I was a kid, you could walk down to the bullpen (through rows of empty seats, mind you) and thrust your program and a Bic at the nearest tomato can reliever. Tell your kids to try that shit these days and watch them get speared by a surprisingly spry elderly usher. Why? Because people stopped seeing autographs as a memento of a meeting with someone they looked up to, and started seeing them as ink-scribbled dollar signs. A damnable shame.

Yes, the signed photo is a bad idea, but there are worse ones.

So now we come face to face with the ugly truth - when the dust has cleared, you've got a stupid 8x10, devoid of personality, for almost four hundred bucks. Why does the Sports Authority keep this in stock, while failing to provide for purchase any Blackhawks hats that fit my XL-sized head? Truly a (deep, echo-y announcer voice) Crime Against Commerce ...