Tim’s Take: Four Hobby Phrases That Should Be Retired Now!

You know the feeling you get when you hear the same phrases repeated over and over and over again?

Whether it was your parents yelling things like “Don’t make me come back there,” or “Because I said so,” or that catchphrase your once favorite sports personality now uses as a noun, verb, adjective, and every other part of speech you can think of, certain phrases just get beaten into the ground.

The same can be said for the card-collecting hobby. While those not on social media may not hear these things often, those that are and interact with others in the hobby daily, get bombarded by these words and phrases regularly.

The solution? I think it’s about time that some of these phrases get retired now. 

This One’s Baaaad

Ah, yes. The GOAT. I’m old enough to remember when being called a goat meant you were most likely bad luck or had the Midas touch in reverse. If you were given this moniker, it generally meant that you were being blamed solely for a loss. One of the biggest that comes to mind was Chris Webber in the 1993 National Title game, calling a timeout when Michigan didn’t have one. Or who could forget the curse of the goat (The Billy Goat Curse) that plagued the Chicago Cubs for 71 years. But somewhere along the line, goat as a bad thing became GOAT as a good thing and besides the actual sports themselves, the hobby has taken a liking to the term.


The phrase has been used for many, many years and was generally accepted as the abbreviated version of the Greatest Of All Time. However, it’s evolved well past that point now. The proverbial GOAT tag has been placed on everything these days.

If a player has a good game…GOAT.

If a guy breaks a record…GOAT.

If a product comes out that’s widely popular…it’s GOATED.

If a hobby personality says something great or profound…they’re the GOAT.

No more are Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Walter Payton, or Babe Ruth the GOATs of their sports. It’s now that rookie point guard that somehow plays a step or two over his pay-grade in one game during the regular season on a Tuesday. It’s the right winger that’s toiled as a 3rd liner for 10 years and for some reason (on a contract year) has a ten game scoring streak. It’s the wide receiver that goes out and makes not one, not two, but three highlight reel catches in the same game, as an injury replacement from the bench. It’s the rookie left fielder called up for one game and goes 3-4 with a HR, almost hitting for the cycle.

What are we doing other than completely dumbing down the meaning of this phrase? I don’t often say things are the greatest, or the worst, or the best without being mostly facetious. Why? Because that’s speaking in absolutes and shows that there can be none higher or lower.

Remember, only a Sith speaks in absolutes.

So, no matter how cool Darth Vader is, that doesn’t change the fact that there is almost, rarely ever a situation where something will be all or none of something. The Greatest Of All Time should be reserved for the elite of the elite, the creme of the crop, the top of the heap, the kings of the mountains. That’s it. Until then, if we have to label someone’s greatness, they can be the Very Good Of All Time (VGOAT) or the Good Right Now Of All Time (GRNOAT). Otherwise, how about we just give this one a rest?

I Know This Much Is True

Spandau Ballet might know it’s true but what in the world is the point of using the “TRUE” tag on anything you feel is better or more superior than something else? For one, it’s overkill. It’s a superfluous adjective that’s just not needed. You hear this quoted most often when referring to someone’s rookie card. They will call it their TRUE rookie card if they think for one reason or another that it’s somehow better or more deserving of that name. Mario Lemieux’s TRUE rookie card is his 1985-86 7-11 Collector’s card.

See? Just because I say it doesn’t make it TRUE. That’s asinine?

I blame the card manufacturers in a way for this because the argument of what is or isn’t a rookie card has been ongoing for decades. While in recent years, card collectors have doubled down efforts to solve the mystery once and for all, many manufacturers have muddied the waters further by putting the RC designation on anything produced during a player’s first year. So, the phrase “true rookie” has seemingly popped up to attempt to rectify the confusion, attempt being the operative word.

The problem is that it’s taken on a meaning that doesn’t fit it’s use. For instance, if I pulled an SP Authentic Future Watch card of Drew O’Connor, claiming it was his rookie card, would I be wrong? I don’t think a rational collector would argue.

However, the guy on the other side of things wanting more scratch for his rookie that he’s selling, touts his 2020-21 Upper Deck Young Guns card as his “true rookie” because, it’s a Young Gun. It has to be better than all the rest because someone told them Young Guns were THE rookie card a long time ago.

So autographed cards don’t count, jersey cards don’t count, autographed jersey cards don’t count, nor do “inferior” brand releases that aren’t the tried-and-true flagship Young Gun.

You see where I’m going with this? It’s silly.

It’s now evolved to extend beyond just the rookie card. The moniker has been attached to cards featuring a parallel color that matches a player’s uniform, the TRUE Color Match. It’s now used on serial numbered cards with the players number, a TRUE player match. It’s attached to 1/1’s that aren’t printing plates, the TRUE 1/1.

Even graded cards with subgrades have people touting them as TRUE 10s when there’s one with some 9.5 ratings and the other with all 10s.

But let’s not forget the favorite one that sparks raging debates and virtual street fights almost daily on social media, the TRUE collector. Do you collect to collect, make a profit, flip cards, a little of both? Doesn’t matter. As Ms. Benatar once pined, “Put up your dukes and let’s get down to it.”

We’ve Come to Seek the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail has been a relic that’s been sought by historians, collectors of antiquity, treasure hunters, and essentially every archeological expert that’s ever lived (just watch movies if you don’t believe me).

It’s safe to say that this is one item that is universally sought after by the bulk of the world because it’s an item with such cultural significance and mystery, that its discovery, if it even exists, has the ability to be life altering for the entire planet.

In trading card terms, this would be something that the majority of collectors would want to have if it was readily attainable, and they could but not every collector seeks to find.

The White Whale, as Melville eloquently explained, is something that becomes an obsession because it’s so elusive, you may never attain it no matter how hard you try.

You may have seen it once. Maybe twice. But you can’t find it no matter how much you look. It’s something that’s so rare it remains out of reach. Everyone has one or two in their collecting wheelhouse. Some collector’s may even share the same but it would be as rare as the white whale itself, if there were a large amount of collector’s that were chasing the same cards.

Both of the terms are obviously metaphors for something that you really want to add to your collection but at this point haven’t. But it’s a long and tiresome debate in the hobby as to which term should be used for what types of things.

While a grail is seemingly something you think exists, or maybe it does exist, or maybe you think it should exist, the metaphor for the white whale takes on a different angle because you know it exists, you just can’t find it. A grail would tend to be something then that a lot of collectors would be trying to obtain, while a white whale would be something that you and very few others are trying to track down.

While the gem-mint 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee Bob Probert Rookie Card that you are chasing is certainly a sweet card, it’s neither a holy grail nor a white whale. It’s a card that was printed in abundance and not very difficult to obtain because of price or scarcity. So in reality, there’s such a gray area to this thing and no clear understanding as to which term to use and when, let’s just retire them both. From now on, the card you are chasing is known as your impulse, your craving, or your obsession. You pick.

Let Us Depart This Place

Let’s Go.

No, I’m not talking about the second album from Rancid. 

Nor am I talking about the 1979 mega hit by The Cars. 

While I do like the night life, baby, I’m referring to the overused sports phrase “Let’s Go!”

You know, the one heard over and over shouted by every athlete at every sporting event, regardless of sport?

It’s also in every breaker’s vocabulary and is spouted dozens and dozens of times during live breaking videos. It’s shouted at every card show by kids and adults alike to emphasize their happiness in a certain outcome of a purchase, or trade.

It was the name of Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald’s podcast. It’s even bled over into the common vernacular of everyday folks, expressing their excitement over receiving their tenth coffee free at the local donut shop or the 10% off at the neighborhood quick lube.

Maybe you are confused because of how this is reading. Perhaps if I wrote it like people say it:


Now do you know what I’m referring to?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

There are too many other emotions and phrases we could use to express joy, elation, and excitement over various positive outcomes. Why this one and who started this?

First off, I don’t know you so no thank you. Have you not been taught about stranger danger? Plus, I don’t know what time we are going, and I have this thing later that I can’t be late for.

Also, where is it that we are going anyway? I’m not going to follow you if you don’t tell me where you are going. You may have got me the first time but I’m not doing that again.

Tim Parish is a writer-at-large for Puck Junk. Follow him on X/Twitter @therealdfg.

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Author: Tim Parish

Tim is a hockey nut and music aficionado who, despite a busy life, somehow still finds time for collecting. He's been a sports card collector for over three decades and his collecting habits have evolved many times over the years. Tim has collected all the major sports, but has always come back to hockey and hockey card collecting. It’s a lifelong hobby, so he’s in no hurry and not going anywhere anytime soon. Highly opinionated and never wrong, Tim’s world view of hockey is as keen as any talking head or insider on a major sports network; the only thing missing are the “unnamed sources.” Sarcasm is also his strong suit. You can find Tim and his warped ramblings on Twitter @TheRealDFG.

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