So one of the reasons I have neglected to update the blog lately was the conclusion of finals…..and the fall out of recovering from the celebration of the conclusion of finals, which I think took about three days. But one of the few things I can recall about Tuesday evening’s festivities was an interesting conversation I had with a classmate I recently befriended whom we will refer to only as The Milkman (Aside: I will randomly be introducing real people from my life into the column but with pseudonyms to protect them. Not from anything I say about them, but from being known to be associated with me).
So the Milkman is from outside the city and he has just gotten into hockey and the Flyers recently, and he wanted to ask a local diehard like myself whose jersey I would recommend buying. Now this was a subject close to my heart as I consider myself to be something of an expert at identifying players, whose jersey you can safely buy without having to worry about them being shipped out in a trade, or disappearing in free agency immediately after you’ve made your investment. Because due to the rising price of sports apparel, that’s really what we’re talking about here: an investment that this player will be around sufficiently long enough to justify forking over $100 for his jersey.
The player should not be an upcoming threat to leave via free agency, or at least considered so valuable that there is no way the team will allow him to depart. He should also be young and on the upswing, and finally he should not be the most popular guy on the team at the moment. Yes, we know Mike Richards isn’t going anywhere, but who really wants to be the 15,000th guy in the stands wearing #18?? However, if the player eventually becomes one of the central figures of the team as he evolves over his career, then this is acceptable (see my Brian Dawkins purchase ten years ago, only the best $45 I ever spent).
So now that we know the rules, who are the 4 guys in the city whose jersey I would recommend buying? Well I told the Milkman to buy himself a Claude Giroux #28; he’s just 21, a potential future star and going nowhere anytime soon. For the Sixers, the obvious answer is Jrue Holliday, the latest young guy to be considered the face of the franchise and “untouchable”. Buyer beware: Thad Young was considered to be in this category just 18 months ago, but the Sixers have been so dreadful that, other than Holliday, they can’t afford to call any piece untouchable. As for the Eagles, DeSean Jackson seems to fit the mold, but I have a couple problems with this: 1) his agent is Drew Rosenhaus so who knows what awaits as he looks for a new contract 2) I think he prob already exceeded the “too popular” threshold if you haven’t gotten in on that jersey already 3) I don’t like buying offensive players’ jerseys. I can’t help it but I’m a defense guy; I like to hit people, not try to run away from them. So with all that in mind, I’m going with Trent Cole’s #58 which I bought for my brother last year. And I should have because I’m not ALWAYS right on this stuff (sorryabout Michael Lewis E, but he DID make the Pro Bowl that first year).
Lastly, we run into a dilemma: the Phillies. Quite frankly, the whole team has become so popular (and rightfully so) that there really is no right answer, according to my formula. They also have so many genuinely likeable players that you pretty much can’t go wrong (although you may want to hold off on the Ibanez jersey, who will NOT be here past next year at best, and that Werth jersey, because as his next contract heads to the $100 million range, it looks like a Dom Brown jersey might be a better bet. Sorry ladies). So with the Phils, we won’t hold you accountable to the popularity rule; buy away Utley, Howard and Halladay shoppers. You too, Ruiz and Victorino fans. Or be like me, who’s buying his own favorite player’s jersey today: Jimmy Rollins, the true face of this franchise over the last decade. Yes I know JRoll breaks damn near all my jersey buying rules (too old, maybe only 1 year left). But sometimes, just sometimes, I guess it’s okay to just love your favorite player and want his jersey. I mean that’s what sports SHOULD be about after all, right?