Lots of stuff goes on in the world about which most of us are unaware. Stuff like this:
Nearly a decade ago, embarrassed about reports of widespread fraud in the $1-billion-per-year sports memorabilia industry — dominated by baseball and filled mostly with fakes and forgeries, according to an F.B.I. investigation — Major League Baseball did something about it.
Now every game has at least one authenticator, watching from a dugout or near one. The authenticators are part of a team of 120 active and retired law-enforcement officials sharing the duties for the 30 franchises. Several worked the home openers for the Yankees and the Mets, helping track firsts at the new stadiums. They verified balls, bases, jerseys, the pitchers’ rosin bag, even the pitching rubber and the home plate that were removed after the first game at Yankee Stadium.
Nothing is too mundane to be authenticated, if deemed potentially valuable. Cans of insect repellent used to combat the midges that swarmed the 2007 playoffs in Cleveland were authenticated. So were urinals pulled from the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis and office equipment from since-razed Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Phillies are cutting the clubhouse carpet from last season into authenticated 18-by-24-inch mats.
Yes, the reason given for this is to combat forgery, but the reason there are forgeries is because people have come to develop a fetish for totems and relics which I simply fail to understand. Famous home run ball: sure, that’s pretty cool. Player autographs? I’m on record not understanding the purpose of those things, but yeah, I get why there’s a market.
By the time we get down to midge spray and carpet squares, however, society has totally lost me.