Thursday, August 24, 2017

On Graphing Etiquette: a list disguised as an essay

I'll have an update on Monday of everything from July and August. I'm making my second Oklahoma City run on Saturday!

I spent some time thinking about this and have said for a while I'd write on it. I actually wrote this in 2014 and never posted it until I came across it while cleaning out my inbox. So, here goes...

Sharing Info
Sharing information is a fine line. On one hand, you need to protect your locations in some cases. If a place gets oversaturated with people, the players will find a different way to go. But on the other hand, there's a good chance someone once had to tell you where to go. I know it happened with me early on. For me, I'll tell someone some basic info, but I'm not going to spoon-feed them and walk them through every step. If someone asks a specific question, I'll tell them what I know. For example, if someone asks me what hotel a team stays at, I'll tell them if I know. Or I might tell them how to find such things. But I don't just throw info out like free candy at a parade. Ask and you (probably) shall receive. But if you don't ask, don't expect to be told either.

Unfortunately a lot of the hobby involves a sort of "hurry up and wait" mentality. It can be easy to give up quickly, but some of my best autographs are because I waited patiently. In the average pre-game session for baseball, I'm in the ballpark waiting for 2 and a half hours. There is a LOT of downtime in there.

If there's a line, get in it. This is what annoyed me about Jose Bautista signing in 2014, and also was a cardinal sin a few people thought I was committing. I moved to stretch my legs a bit and I was accused of being a line jumper. 99 times out of 100 if there's a line and you wait in it, even if people get moved around a little, if you respect others and their spot, they'll respect you and your spot. Don't jump past the line, or lean over the top of it, or run through it. The signer will get to you. Wait your turn.

Helping Others
You were new once too. Help others out as long as it doesn't hurt yourself or others to do so. Got an extra pen? Let someone use it. Know who a player is that someone needs? Point him out. See someone using a Sharpie on an official ball? Let them know why they shouldn't. Obviously you don't want to be a know-it-all prick because frankly, we're all still learning. But help educate others. The hobby will be a better place for it.

Please and Thank You
For the love of rump roast, BE POLITE. Thank a player for signing. Request nicely that he sign. Obviously you don't need a "Good morrow dear sir, could I bother you for your signature upon my cardboard photograph?" but a please and thank you go a long way.

Know the Players
Admit it, you're guilty of this on occasion. I am too. Very few people know who every player is, except perhaps Boston legend Eddie O'Keefe. I swear, you could wake Eddie up at 3 am on a random Tuesday and ask him who that player is walking out from a Starbucks in rural Wyoming and he would ask why the hell you woke him up for former Vikings punter Bucky Scribner. But you aren't Eddie, nor am I. But it's good to have a reasonable idea of who you want, who you're getting, and at the very least who's on the team. To quote the late Ron "Puckhound" Saar, "If you don't know who he is, then you don't want his autograph too badly."

We're all in this together. It's not a competition: he who gets the most autographs does not win anything. So be polite. Wait your turn, don't shove your way in and hold your photo or card book right over someone else's (this portion dedicated in particular to one graphing family in the DFW area who is slowly helping to ruin the hobby one game at a time). When you get yours, get out of the way. If you have other items you want signed, go to the back of the line. If you can't get out of the way, at least be willing to help pass others' items to the front. And if you're in the back, don't push forward. It's no fun-- and quite a hazard actually-- being at the front, with the weight of 2-5 people pressing you into a brick wall.

While it's tempting to not want to give up your spot, movement is your best friend. Be in a location where you can get around easily. That way you have less chance of getting trapped in a crowd, less chance of blocking others, and less chance of missing someone signing in another spot because you couldn't get to it. I'm usually not a big mover. I'll pick a general area and stay in it whether over the dugout or down the line or by the photo pit. But if you feel like running around in 100-degree heat, more power to you. Also if a player signs and you don't need him, get out of the way so those who do want him can get him. And on the other hand, if someone moved out of the way for you, let them back into their spot.

The unwritten rule of autographing is put into writing: let the kids go first. Now I'm not saying to give up your spot in a line or crowd to let a throng of kids in, but don't shove them out of the way, and if a player says he'll sign for kids only, then let them in. Don't be all petty and block them just because the guy won't sign for a big gazorp like you. If there's a kid near you, make sure the player knows. The player usually will appreciate that you're making sure the kid gets his and might just be more likely to sign for you. Exception: kids who are obviously helping out dealers. In that case, all bets are off.

Get to Know Those Around You
George Carlin once said that if everyone in the world lined up and shook hands and introduced themselves, that could end war. Because once someone says we need to bomb a certain group, the people would answer "What?! Hell no we can't bomb the Chinese, I know them!" Like I said, we're all in this together. Get to know the people around you. Who knows, they might be more likely to let you in on a hot tip about where to get someone, or hook you up with extra stuff on players you don't have, or assist you in getting a player to sign. You might even find you have stuff in common outside of autographs, or find you know someone in common. There's actually a grapher down here who knows a guy I that know from my days in Boston.

Have Fun
Because really now, isn't that the point? If you aren't having fun, then why are you doing it?

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