A Grown Man

I have very few card collections given my limited resources and space, but I did decide some time ago to begin collecting on-card Royals autographs. It’s been a blast so far trying to track these things down and this is the latest addition to my collection. To view the cards currently in the collection, take a look at the Gallery or the other posts in this series. I’m working on getting a legit want list together on my trade page but, in the meantime, if you have any on-card Royals autos that it looks like I don’t have, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

If you're going to end up with a non-action shot, Kauffman is a great place to be!

I’ll always associate Kaufman Stadium with RBI Baseball ’93 (or was it ’94?) for Sega. That was the first year they had real stadiums and Kaufman was the coolest place to play because they had a waterfall. Kyle Snyder wouldn’t have been on that team. If they had made RBI Baseball 2002, 2004, or 2005, he would certainly have been in the game as he was a starting pitcher for the Royals during those years. His records were not stellar, despite being chosen 7th overall in his draft class of 1999. His high draft status garnered him a place in Topps’ very large 1999 Traded autograph set that gave birth to the Carlos Zambrano and Corey Patterson RC autos as well. Oh, and CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Josh Hamilton too. I almost looked up Hamilton’s middle name just so I could have three initial names there. I don’t regret not following through on that. I could have also included Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and Alfonso Soriano. The point is, it’s a huge set and a lot of guys who have had long careers are in it.

This card (and, to a lesser extent, RBI Baseball) has me thinking. My birthday is coming up very soon. I’ll be 31 on February 5th. Not a particularly special birthday, numerologically, but it’s starting to hit me that I’m “in my 30s.” Birth dates on the back of baseball cards are tipping away from my own birth year and, unless Old Shaq was right about the effects of All Sport, I’ll soon be older than most baseball players in the Majors. For some reason, this is tough for me to handle. I’ve seen mentions of this phenomenon on other cardblogs (madding at Cards On Cards had a similar experience recently). It’s just that I’ve gotten so used to thinking of baseball players as “adults” and, quite simply, people who are older than me that thinking of them as “kids” is a little too much for my aging brain to handle. But Eric Hosmer is, indeed, 22. He’s a kid. He’s younger than my little cousin who I held as a baby.

When I was 22, I had just graduated from film school with no plans and a pocketful of dreams. I’ve still got the the dreams (and pockets to spare) and I’m starting to develop a plan, but I’ll be damned if I’m not starting to feel old. Not old like my body aches. Or I can’t stay up all night anymore. Or that the kids’ music just sounds like noise to me (though I present the combination of the worst late ’90s emo and neo-hardcore as Exhibit A and this unlistenable Tron-wannabe mashup as Exhibit B just for fun). And it’s not even that I shouldn’t be doing things like collecting baseball cards because I’m a real life adult now.

It’s more that my own self-consciousness about my age and aging has made me obsessed with youth. I see a cashier at the store and think, “Wow, he’s young. Can’t be more than 24.” I look for it everywhere. “Is she older than me?” “What did this guy do with his 20s?” It’s a sickness and I can’t escape it. I recently watched MTV’s fantastic (and streaming on Netflix) The State and I was flabbergasted the entire time just looking at their youthful faces. When I watched it during its original run, I was 12 or 13. And all they were was adults- no different from my mom or my teachers. Looking at them now, they’re children. All 22 or 23, just out of college with their whole lives ahead of them. I’m about to be 31 and my whole life is supposed to be happening right now. About 1/8 of that life happened in my 20s and it’s like I don’t even know where it went. All that time when I could be described by people as “still young” is gone. Not wasted, necessarily, but gone just the same.

I’m aware that it’s all relative. That many fellow bloggers out there are older than me and will be tempted to say something like, “Hey man, you’re still young to me! My 30s were 15 years ago!” and that’s a totally valid point to make. And, just to be clear, the last thing I would do is call anyone older than me “old.” It sounds almost like an insult to me now. “No, man- you’re not old! You’re still cool and old people aren’t cool!” All I’m saying is that, in my self-centered wallow-pit of hyphenates, I’ve become hyper-aware of my own age. I’ve always said that I’m not afraid of death- and I stick by that. What I’m more afraid of than anything is being nothing. Being unhappy or, worse, unfulfilled.

Am I bumming anyone out yet? Don’t take me too seriously, of course. Ask Jon- I’ve been in a perpetual mid-life crisis since I was 19. It’s just that Kyle Snyder up there had a whole career by the time he was 31 (he retired in 2009) has another one now (as the pitching coach for Tampa Bay’s short A affiliate). That sounds pretty okay to me. I know that comparing myself to others (and especially those whose athletic ability that almost guarantees them a very short first career as a professional athlete) is a fruitless endeavor but it’s impossible not to. I compare myself to Kyle Snyder every time I see that smile on his face. To that cashier every time he glances at my receded hairline. To a group of youngsters who ignore me as I pass; “He’s just an adult. Don’t even bother thinking about him.”

If that sounds bitter or jaded, let me be clear- I am neither. In fact, that kind of thinking has inspired me. I’ve kind of silently marked 2012 as the year that I start to make exciting things happen for myself. That’s the point here- truly, it’s meant to be uplifting!: this is my public admission of needing to make my life what I want it to be. I’m learning from the first (and probably only) book possibly classified as “self-help” that I’ll ever read (the excellent The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick) that sometimes all you need to do is write something down. Put something out there. So here it is.

I’m excited. 2012 is the year I’ll be making stuff I care about. That’s the theme.

What’s yours?

All apologies to Kyle Snyder for making the post about his only autographed Topps card central to this exorcism of my aging demons. You deserved better. But I have a history of random grand gestures and my original title for this article (“Snydley Whiplash”) was just terrible enough that it caught my eye and was just begging to have some life injected into it. I’ll dust off my copy of MVP 2004 and throw a no-hitter as you at Kaufman in your honor.

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