Travis Snider is now a Pirate. Coming this way from Pittsburgh is a pitcher who was supposed to be awesome but has never really found it at this level (which, in fairness, could also be said of Snider). On its face, I don’t particularly like this deal, but people who are paid to make good decisions decided that this was one of them and made it. So be it. It’s not as though I can change it.
I own the grand total of two patch cards – this Snider, which I still really like, and Anton Stralman, whose card is one of the bigger disappointments I’ve ever seen (seriously, event-used and a sticker auto in a supposedly high-end product like The Cup is really lame). In both cases, the player depicted ceased to be a member of the local side a mere matter of months after I got the card. I don’t think any of this is my fault, but I’m stating now just for the record that if there is a patch card out there of either Brett Lawrie or Jose Bautista, I don’t want it. I don’t care how cool it is.
I’m a set builder at heart, so while I may mourn the trading of Travis Snider from a fan standpoint, it really doesn’t impact what I do as a collector. If I were a Snider player collector, I’d be tearing my hair out right about now.
Maybe it’s just a function of my age (when I started, there were set builders and basically nothing else), but the one thing I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around is the player collector who collects a guy who is just a prospect. If it’s a person from your favourite junior or college team or maybe a friend or relative or someone for whom it’s completely irrelevant what pro team he actually winds up with, then I can see that making sense. If it’s a guy your team drafted, though, unless he’s a can’t miss top-three guy who’s guaranteed to be in your uniform for 15 years, it’s a recipe for disaster.
For every person who says, “oh, I just like the player and will collect him wherever he goes,” there are 15 who will make anguished posts about how their guy just got traded and now they don’t know what to do. Until a prospect is in your lineup (and often some time after that unless his name is Crosby or Stamkos), he’s trade bait. To me, it makes no sense to get that invested, either emotionally or monetarily (says the guy who is missing Snider).
I get that it’s easier to wrap your head around collecting a player when he doesn’t have 10 years of history and 3500 different cards and parallels out there. I’d rather at least have the sense that this person is indeed a player and has some degree. A few years ago, the Leafs had a prospect named Robbie Earl. I liked him. He had great wheels and what looked like a winner’s attitude. What he seemed to lack was a set of big-league hands. All the same, there was a set of letter patches made up for him that were hot commodities amongst all the Robbie Earl player collectors. Big bucks if you could get all four (good thing his name was short).
He spent last year in the KHL after collecting 7 points in 47 NHL games.
Obviously, the good part of the hobby is that it’s a case of “to each his own” and people can collect what they want. It just strikes me as an unnecessary source of anxiety to pin a collection on something as unstable as a prospect. I’d probably player collect Bobby Orr.