Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Should Managers Have Their Own Baseball Cards?

The shorter of the short people has started collecting baseball cards. It's been a real hoot for me, seeing some of the old cards I used to have back when I was a kid.

It's also provided ways to parent covertly because many cards give me a chance to start different conversations with him. Some about games I went to with his grandfather and his uncle years ago. Certain players give us a chance to discuss hard work, fair (or unfair) play, and how to treat and work with other people. Others, like Curt Flood, give us a chance to talk about fairness to workers. Some,like Frank Robinson or Roberto Clemente, lead to discussions about race and equality.

But then there are the manager cards. They have always struck me as a bit out of place. This is not to denigrate the manager. We have nice conversations around them because he has my love of strategy, of seeing the game as more than just a physical contest, but also a chess match and thinking about what could be done in various scenarios given the full context of the game. And in this way, the manager makes as much a difference as the players. But he isn't a player and baseball cards seem to be about the players, not really about the game in some sense. Yes, some are former players whose celebrity is worth still having a card -- Frank Robinson, Yogi Berra, and Ted Williams all managed. But it was as a player, not a manager that their real fame was made and celebrated.

For a while this incongruity was acknowledged by putting the manager's image and name on the front of the team card. He was at a different level, so he would be acknowledged in this higher place. But, then they went back.

So, do managers deserve their own baseball cards?