So you're a young ballplayer. Say you're like Pat Neshek, and you used to collect baseball cards yourself when you were a kid. Now, all that hard work is about to pay off. You've been invited to the big league camp for spring training, and every indication is that you'll make the club if you don't stuff it up. You've even already had a cup of coffee at the end of last season, but this is your first experience at spring training with the big boys.
One of the things you find out about early on is Photo Day. Man, does that take forever. It seems like everyone wants to take your photo - the team, the league, the newspapers, Associated Press, ESPN, everybody. Even the baseball card companies, Topps and Upper Deck, get into the act. But that's cool because, like I said, you used to collect baseball cards yourself. And now there's a very real chance you'll get to be on one.
Most of the photos are a pain in the ass. Literally - you're sitting on a wooden stool while they take headshots of you. But the baseball card company shoots are different. Sure, there's the standard "stand here with a bat on your shoulder if you're a batter, or pretend you've just thrown a pitch and show us your follow through if you're a pitcher" shots. Those seem to be in every set of cards. But there's also some staged action shots, and even some clowning around. Plus, the photo shoot takes place outside.
The card companies also tell you that they've got some footage from last year - mostly spring training, with some other stuff thrown in as well. Not to worry, though - they'll pick the best shot, and use that for the card. They're pros, you think. They know what they're doing. Man, I can't wait for the card to come out. My own baseball card! My very own baseball card!
Then Upper Deck releases Series One of its 2008 set. You look at the checklist, and...YES! Your name is on it! You're going to be on a baseball card! Kids will want you to sign your name on little pieces of cardboard with your face on it. Your mom - you'll have to get a bunch to send to your mom. She's going to love it. You call up Upper Deck, explain the situation, and ask if they could send you some copies of your card. "Sure," they say, "no problem. We're happy to do it - and by the way, congratulations. We hope you have a great year in the bigs."
Finally, after a few days, a package arrives in Mesa from North Las Vegas, Nev. It's the cards! You haven't seen them yet, you just know you're on the checklist. You open up the parcel, pull out a card, and see this:
This is Rich Thompson's rookie card from the 2008 Upper Deck set. It was taken at the 2007 All-Star Futures Game, where he was a member of the World team (he's an Aussie, so he probably didn't grow up collecting baseball cards. Footy cards, maybe). It's a great picture...of his back! Are you telling me, Upper Deck, that this is the best you can do? What if he had bombed, and this had been his only baseball card? Isn't he at least entitled to a card with his face on it? Something to show the grandkids in 50 years? C'mon Upper Deck...no wonder you lost your license.
New rule - rookie cards must show a player's face on them. No uniform numbering. Sorry, Rich.