Friday, July 13, 2012

EGRAPHS? EGADS!

THE FUTURE OF AUTOGRAPHS? PLEASE STAB ME IN THE NECK WITH A BALL-POINT PEN.
First there was the ghostsigner. Then the autopen. And now, in the latest way to keep fan from player, there's Egraphs.

Think of it as a technological condom for the unprotected autograph experience. For $50 a pop, select a photo from Egraphs.com, send the autograph request and, presto, your favorite player sends the authenticated image back to your account. The site also offers personalized voice messages. I understand technology soon will exist to create a holographic image of your favorite player that can blow off your autograph request.

At least that would be more real. From the website:

Egraphs is your direct line.

An Egraph is a shared moment between you and your favorite star. It is immortalized forever with a beautiful high resolution photograph, handwritten note, signature and personalized voice message. It's his voice, his handwriting, his time -- every Egraph is one-of-a-kind. Share it, print it, play it ... whatever you want -- it's your Egraph.

Active players such as David Price, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are working with Egraphs. Recently retired Kerry Wood and Pedro Martinez are also on the e-team. Have to think dour signers like Willie Mays will follow. 

"Are you telling me I never have to not look at fans in the eye again at card shows?''

This is the greatest invention to ruin the autograph experience since the 8-foot chain-link fence. Caporegimes and buttonmen don't insulate their dons as securely as this.

To be fair, the fan benefits, too. Make that the shut-in germaphobe fan who last left the house when the supply of Kleenex and hand sanitizer ran low. For everyone else, I guess it beats jockeying for position near the outfield railings or standing in line at the mall card show.

With everything done electronically, we should've seen this one coming. I mean, you can date and bully over the Internet. I've even heard you can do some card collecting and trading. 

Call me old-fashioned, but I'll stick with getting autographs in person until it's outlawed. Even though I haven't gotten one in more than 15 years, I can't see logging onto a website to add the next one. To me, half the fun is the unknown, the excitement of the chase. I know a lot of you request autographs through the mail, something I've never done. I'd imagine you get the same thrill when checking the mailbox.

Well, forget all that. Egraphs are here. I'm sure current players still will sign at the ballpark. But I also know it just gave them another excuse not to.

"Can't sign now. Gotta work. Hey, log on to Egraphs and send a request.'' 

How about this request: Take more time to have real interaction with fans. 

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