I know it ain’t exactly new, but for some reason I got to wondering about the fate of the hobby in, say, 20 years or so, and I couldn’t quite drum up as much optimism as I would like.
I think we are already feeling the effects of the idiocy of how the new-card market was handled over the last two decades, and the prospects don’t get any better when you try to look ahead another 20.
It’s hard to envision what will happen to the mountain of cards produced since 1989, but certainly easy enough to conclude that nobody will much care. The incredible emotional attachment that gave baseball cards their considerable clout over the years simply can’t be present for that tsunami of cardboard unleashed over that span, if for no other reason than the manufacturers ordained that the only serious attachment that anybody might have to their products would be a financial one.
There’s little reason to think that will be enough to truly sustain the vast majority of the cards that aren’t actual important rookies, autographed cards or other cards touted on the basis of a contrived scarcity that would make you giggle if the long-term hobby ramifications weren’t so dire.
So I imagine that in 20 years the hobby as we now perceive it will be whittled down to the genuine hard-core guys, and that’s got to be a dicey number, too, since a baby boomer born smack dab in the middle of that giddy demographic (1955) will be all of 75 years old in 2030.
I’m not such a Gloomy Gus that I think it will ever disappear; the hobby has too many passionate people involved in it for that ever to happen, and one only hopes – and suspects – that some of the most passionate among that number will be able to pass some of that enthusiasm along to an occasional member of a younger generation from time to time.
But it’s really a shame that we – I used that pronoun only because it happened on our watch – stood by while the card manufacturers and licensors colluded to make a giant mess out of something that was really pretty cool. Our complicity is not all that pronounced despite my choice of pronouns; a huge number of hobby old-timers lamented the production lunacy virtually from its first rumblings off the presses.
For those actually in positions of authority to have been able to have an impact on the decision making, the absolution is not quite as sweeping.