Looking around at various message boards and autograph websites, it appears that there has been a serious outage in regard to TTM (through the mail) autograph returns. While long wait times are not unusual, I haven't seen much that shows that successes have been anything but on the decline. There are guys/gals with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of requests out to players and these same TTM hall of famers are not getting back the returns they should with that many out.
So, why has the formerly Elysian Fields TTM arena dried up like the Sahara Desert? The short answer is: I have no clue.
Maybe the players of today didn't grow up writing letters to their favorite players and asking for their autographs. Since they never did it, they would be less likely to respond and know the feeling that a fan gets from something from their heroes. Maybe today's players don't really remember what it was like to be a fan. Or...maybe players want to get paid.
Modern players often have many different streams of income. One of those streams happens to be the lucrative memorabilia market. So, why would...let's say Jarrod Parker...want to give his autograph for free just because some schmuck in Iowa took the time to send a letter to him and a card to sign? Mr. Parker could just as easily get paid for his signature. It's heartless but it kind of makes sense.
Major League Baseball should encourage the players and coaches to participate (at least somewhat) in TTM autograph requests. On the management side, these interactions with fans, albeit over space and time, helps in growing the game by bringing fans and players together. More fans means more money for everyone...players included. Maybe there should be a push (or nudge) by MLB for their teams and players to participate. Not mandate, mind you. Just a little encouragement.
So, TTM'ers are getting a little antsy. It's the nature of the hobby and always has been. I love through the mail requests. But, I like writing. And I like getting mail. I'll wait with the rest of the hobbyists in quiet and not so quiet anticipation. I also will wait and hope that TTM is not a dying part of the hobby.
After all, ballplayers are busy folks.