Monday, June 26, 2006

Classic card of the week

John Canderlaria, 1991 Topps

John Candelaria was so stoned during this picture, that he showed up to the park on this particular day ready to pitch, except it was Christmas Eve, a traditional “off day” for Major League Baseball. And he wasn’t even on the Blue Jays. Luckily, a cameraman happened to be there to catch the moment. After the picture was shot, Candelaria asked the cameraman if he had any Skittles, and when the cameraman said no, Candelaria responded by saying, “I’m just gonna crash here.” Two weeks later, a Blue Jays executive spotted “the Candy Man” taking bong hits in the visitor’s bullpen. It was then the executive told Candelaria that he had been traded “back to his house,” at which point an excited Candelaria finally left the Skydome. Before his baseball career blossomed, Candelaria was a child actor, starring most famously as “the friend who got that girl pregnant” in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.” He would later go on to star in “That 70’s Show,” and MTV’s “Yo’ Momma.” In fact, while with the Yankees, Candelaria once told Mel Hall that his momma was so fat, that when she came home from work at five o’clock, her ass didn’t get home until 5:30. Then Mel Hall beat the living crap out of him.

Did you know?
As a member of the baseball player’s association, John Candelaria once suggested “casual Fridays” for mascots.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Classic Card of the Week

1989 Jim Deshaies, Donruss – Diamond Kings series

Here is a watercolor photo of Jim Deshaies. Why, you ask? Why the hell not!? Thanks Donruss! Obviously, the “Diamond Kings” series was very liberal in who it decided to name a “diamond king,” as one would be hard-pressed to imagine that the image of one Jim Deshaies would ever be hand painted onto a tiny piece of cardboard memorabilia for everyone’s pure enjoyment. After all, if Jim Deshaies was a king in 1989, then what did that make perennial all-star Ozzie Smith? The emperor of a small country, perhaps? Also, please take notice of the “good Jim Deshaies” on his right shoulder, who tells him things during games like, “throw strikes, damn it!” and “grab the rosin bag – you’re hands are wet!” However, noticeably absent on this watercolor reenactment is the “bad Jim Deshaies,” who always tells him to throw over to first base to check the runner. That guy was so annoying. And he always had Jim’s ear, as the back of the card elaborates: “Jim likes to keep the runners close to the bag; he led the majors in total pickoff throws with 355.” When he wasn’t mercilessly slowing games down by throwing to first base, Deshaies enjoyed going to the Seaside boardwalk, where he would have cartoon drawings done of him in which he had a huge head and was driving the bullpen car.

Did you know?
The making of this card did not go off without a hitch. Deshaies had originally shown up to the artist’s studio wearing his road Astros uniform, at which point the artist – Pablo Perez – made him go home and change. Furthermore, Perez would later state that Deshaies would not sit still, and also refused to wear pants, which made the whole situation, as Perez put it, “hugely uncomfortable.”

Friday, June 16, 2006

Classic Card of the Week

**Friday Bonus Edition!**
Ron Kittle, 1988 Fleer

Ron Kittle never bothered to use what his contemporaries described as a “bat.” In a “Rolling Stone” interview in 1986, Kittle was quoted as saying, “Bats are overrated. If you can visualize where you want the ball to go, you don’t necessarily need a tangible wooden object to get it there.” And Kittle could visualize a lot, because he wore extraordinarily huge glasses that allowed him to see into other dimensions. Ron Kittle had seven batless hits for the Yankees in 1987, which was second only to Mike Pagliarulo (11). Kittle did not believe in baseball gloves either, which is how he became the DH. When asked why he still chose to wear batting gloves, Kittle replied, “They give infielders the illusion that I mean business. Plus, they match my pants.” After his retirement in 1990, Ron Kittle went on to win the Indiana Air Guitar Championship a record three consecutive years. His rendition of “Layla” during the 1992 semifinals literally caused Eric Clapton to poop his pants.

Did you know?
Ron Kittle could kick your ass. With his mind. In fact, Ron Kittle already kicked your ass. You just don’t know it yet. You will probably get a headache soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Classic card of the week

Rudy May, Fleer 1983

Rudy May taught Moses how to throw a curveball. There is no bigger surprise when first viewing this card than the word “pitcher” underneath Rudy May’s name. Based on appearance, one would expect to see the word “manager,” or “first base coach,” or, “Fantasy Camp for Seniors” instead. But Rudy May proved that you can’t judge a book by its cover, as evidenced by how many fans came to the ballpark to see him pitch on this particular day. May famously referred to Jackie Robinson as a “whippersnapper,” and also once started a bench-clearing brawl against the Tigers when a comebacker to the mound cracked his blue-blockers. In the offseason, Rudy May sang backup for Sam Cooke, and eventually released a solo holiday record in 1974 entitled “Rudy May Is Gonna Stuff Your Stocking.” It sold 13 copies. The back of this card states that May was born on “7-18-44,” which made him 39 years of age at the time of this picture. This, of course, means one of two things: a) Rudy May smoked four packs a day since he was twelve, or b) the “44” was actually 1844. Also, I’m pretty sure those are gold teeth.

Did you know?
Rudy May hates you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Joe Torre on love, life, and how to pick a winner

Well, I landed the big one. After playing imaginary phone tag for the past few months, I was finally able to reach Yankee’s manager Joe Torre, and convince him to sit down for the most exclusive of exclusive interviews. How did I do it? Let’s just say that my in-laws, like Torre, are from Brooklyn, and once that connection was made, any kind of refusal on Joe’s part would have been the equivalent of him wearing Red Sox underwear. People from Brooklyn stick together, whether they like it or not. Plus, I told him this was to benefit charity, which was a lie on my part. But whatever works. Anyway, here it is.

Me: Hi, Mr. Torre! It’s a pleasure to sit down with the most renowned Yankee manager since Stump Merrill. Can I call you ‘Papa Joe?’ That’s what my wife likes to call you whenever she sees you on TV.

Torre: Ummm, sure, I guess so. Why not.

Me: Great! Papa Joe, let me get this out of the way now, so there’s no confusion. This isn’t going to be like one of those “Center Stage” interviews, where I’m lobbing you softballs, and then patting you on the butt after you hit it out of the park, laughing hysterically all the while at whatever you say. I have more credibility than that. Are you cool with this?

Torre: Sure, I think I can handle the hardball questions. But just as a curiosity, where did you get your journalism degree?

Me: HEY! I’ll be asking the questions here! Okay Papa Joe, I’m going to be honest here. You haven’t seemed like yourself lately. You seem perpetually upset, or even agitated. You’ve been snapping at reporters. You’re not the Joe Torre I knew back in college – you’ve changed, man. You’ve always come across as one of the most approachable men in the game of baseball, but when you walked in here today, I was scared to approach you. Be honest with me here – is it A-Rod? C’mon, you can tell me.

Torre: Ya’ know, I don’t feel any different than I’ve felt in years past. But I think that things are getting to me a little more than they used to. Believe me – you can only hear so many questions about the Red Sox, and about your starting pitching, and about George Steinbrenner, before you start to snap. I probably do need to cool off a bit. And no – my change in demeanor has nothing to do with A-Rod.

Me: So, how many more game-ending double-plays will A-Rod have to ground into before he DOES start to affect your mood?

Torre: One more. Then you might actually see me run out of the dugout throwing haymakers.

Me: Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! Seriously though, we all know you looooooove to defend your players. You’d rather use words like “pressing” and “struggling,” instead of the more appropriate, “blowing chunks,” and “sent down to Columbus.” Other managers in the league have taken their players to task through the media. Why have you always refused to do this?

Torre: Because, what good would it do? With this team, and with pretty much any team I’ve had here in New York, it’s never been a question of effort with the guys. But players go in slumps. If Alex is struggling at the end of “big games,” then what good does it do for me to tell some reporter that he should be doing better in those situations? Alex knows that. It would only add more pressure, and that pressure is exactly why Alex is pressing.

Me: Do you know that you used the words “struggling” AND “pressing” in that response? Why don’t you try – just try – to say those last couple of sentences over again, using my advice. I think it might make you feel better.

Torre: All right. I’ll give a try. Ahem…If Alex is blowing chunks at the end of “big games,” then what good does it do for me to tell some reporter that he should be doing better in those situations? Alex knows that. It would only add more pressure, and that pressure is exactly why Alex is sent down to Columbus.

Me: SEE! See what I mean! How good did that feel?

Torre: Actually, I can’t lie - that felt pretty good.

Me: Okay, since you’re on the subject of “not lying,” tell me how much you hate Randy Johnson.

Torre: All right, let’s not go too far here. I certainly don’t hate Randy Johnson. He’s just strug…er,…trying to locate his pitches better.

Me: Wait, you mean his pitches aren’t supposed to go over the center field wall?

Torre: No, not exactly.

Me: He stinks. Papa Joe, here’s an interesting rhetorical question: If Carl Pavano and Kevin Brown pitched against each other, who would get injured first?

Torre: Wow…that’s a tough one. I don’t think I can answer that.

Me: Do you give up? Ha! It’s a trick question. They can’t pitch against each other, cause they’re both on the DL.

Torre: Wait, you said that was a rhetorical question, not a trick one.

Me: Whatever. Same thing. Speaking of injuries, the Yankees have had a lot of them this year. Please rank, in order, the reasons for this: a) age, b) steroids, c) most of these guys are million-dollar pansies.

Torre: Listen, I can’t rank the reasons behind these injuries. They’re part of the game, and they happen to every team. It just so happens that, this year, it seems like every other day somebody’s going down. But we still have to go out there and win. And the young guys, like Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and Andy Phillips have helped us immensely. That said, a, c, and b.

Me: Interesting. Because of those injuries, your team has suddenly gone from "overpaid bunch of underachieving jerks who everyone hates" to "rag-tag group of overachievers who have taken the country by storm, and who have restored a national love affair with the game of baseball." Would you say that the current Yankees are similar to the movie "Rudy?"

Torre: Well, not really. I mean, the young guys have helped us out. A lot. But we still have a bunch of all-stars playing everyday, like Jeter, A-Rod, and Giambi. Plus, "Rudy" kind of sucked.

Me: Wow...didn't expect that. Okay, Papa Joe – you are famous for being completely stoic in the face of adversity. Yankee Stadium could be burning down around you, and there you’d be, calm as all heck, telling stupid Kelly Stinnett where the nearest exit is. But you’re also a notorious dugout nose-picker. Please explain.

Torre: I don’t know what it is, but it seems like every time the camera pans to me in the dugout, I’m digging for gold. Especially during the playoffs. All I can say is, baseball is a long, sometimes monotonous game, and oftentimes you mistake the dugout for your living room. Maybe I’m too calm out there.

Me: Yeah, that’s nasty. But also funny. Here’s one for ya’. Can you pinpoint the exact moment when your love affair with Tanyon Sturtze ended? Personally, I thought that was a love that would never die.

Torre: Very funny. And yes, I can. It was the ninth inning of a 14-3 loss at Boston on May 9th. That’s when I’d had enough.

Me: Was it a tough breakup?

Torre: Not really. I think we both knew it wouldn’t last.

Me: Is it awkward now when Tanyon walks by your office and sees you with Scott Proctor?

Torre: Okay, that’s enough.

Me: I have to ask you this Papa Joe, because it’s something I’ve always wondered. Does John Sterling turn into a giggling schoolgirl whenever he sees you? Do you roll your eyes when you see him prancing around the field during batting practice while he’s wearing glasses and an ascot? Do you hate having conversations with him, because you know that whatever you say will turn into one of those on-air, “So I was talking to Joe the other day…” stories? Be honest.

Torre: Ummm, no comment.

Me: Hey - I thought we were playing hardball here.

Torre: Well then, I guess you just struck me out.

Me: Sweet. Listen, I had so much more to ask you about, but we’re running out of time. Please give “Jorgie,” “Jete,” “Mo,” and the rest of the guys my best. Tell them I said they have to come over for pancakes. They’ll know what I’m talking about.

Torre: Sure thing.

Me: I’d shake your hand, but I don’t know where that finger’s been.

Torre: Understandable. But thanks for having me anyway. By the way, what charity does this benefit again?

Me: Oh, ummm…the children’s one. Ya’ know, the one for all the kids, who have like, problems or something. I’ll send you the pamphlet, if I can find it.

Torre: Sounds good. Do you know my address though?

Me: You’re from Brooklyn, right? One of my in-laws will find you.

Note: This was not a real interview. If you thought it was, consider yourself “Punk’d.” Or something similar.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Classic card of the week

1996 Upper Deck, Robert Eenhoorn

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this special report – sucky George Brett look-a-like from Netherlands signs with the Yankees! Story at 11:00. Seriously though, every time I look at this card, I imagine foghorns blasting, and somebody screaming, “Special report, GLOBAL IMPACT! I repeat – GLOBAL IMPACT AHEAD!” What a ridiculous concept this is. For starters, unless Robert Eenhoorn signed some kind of treaty I’m unaware of, he had very little global impact. In fact, he had very little local impact, hitting, as the card points out, “.222 in a couple of Major League stints in ’94 and ’95.” But this card is special because it is the first of its kind in many respects. For starters, it is the first card I am aware of in which a player is posing in front a super-imposed flag of the Netherlands, with a huge baseball light fixture thrown in for good measure. Secondly, it is the first card where the mini-bio on the back is actually continued on a different card. Seriously. They couldn’t fit Robert Eenhoorn’s bio on the back of one card. They needed a “continued on card 191.” And what does that card look like? I’m thinking it starts off: “Special report, special report! We have breaking news on the GLOBAL IMPACT special report we brought you on card 190. We’re going live down to Upper Deck headquarters for the story. Guys…” “…and had a career-best two RBI during a game with Columbus in 1993. Also, loves horses.”

Did you know?
If you removed all the vowels from Robert Eenhoorn’s name, his new name would be Rbrt Nhrn.