I understand the salary cap. I fathom the physics of the screwball. But I don't get the autograph. What do you get out of an autograph? Proof that you met an athlete? What kind of friends do you have that they don't believe you met somebody? O.K., you got Mo Vaughn's autograph, but did you speak with him? Did you tell Mo how you felt about him? Did you even make eye contact?
Nolan Ryan has a strict policy of one autograph per person, but since he has to look down in order to sign his name, there's only one way he has of telling if somebody is getting in line twice. He memorizes shoes. Is that something you're proud of? Your shoes were seen by Nolan Ryan?
Go to the Masters next week. Autographs are allowed only in a small restricted area near the clubhouse. You can't ask for them anywhere else at Augusta. So fans, unable to stop golfers and ask them to scrawl their names mindlessly on visors they'll lose by May, have to resort to new and bizarre methods of interaction, like shaking hands, taking pictures, talking to them about their rounds or their swings or their kids. And the golfers call it the best week of the year partly for that reason.
Unfortunately, the pros eventually have to leave the grounds, and it's back to the same old crap. One time Lee Trevino was in a bar when a woman came up and shrieked, "You're my favorite golfer of all time! Please give me your autograph!" Problem was, she had nothing to write on. Trembling, she dug a five-dollar bill out of her purse and handed it to him. Trevino signed it, "Best wishes, Lee Trevino." The women yowled, "Thank you soooo much! I'll frame this! I'll treasure it forever!" and rushed off to show her friends.
An hour later Trevino was buying a beer at the same bar and got a five-dollar bill back in change. It read, "Best wishes, Lee Trevino."