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Showing posts from September, 2007

Classic card of the week

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Tommy Vardell, A1 Masters of the Grill series

When “Touchdown Tommy” Vardell was not not scoring touchdowns, he loved to grab several different varieties of A1 steak sauce, and cook himself up some savory stuffed turkey burgers. One time, while grilling up some savory stuffed turkey burgers, Vardell became so intoxicated by the emanating aroma of A1 Steak Sauce, that he went in close for a sniff, and the flames singed the middle of his unibrow, causing him to miss eight games. On his off-days, Tommy Vardell played fullback for the A1 Steak Sauce Team, which consisted of him and Howie Long. Vardell and Long would travel the globe, challenging the teams representing other brands of steak sauce to do-or-die, two-on-two football games without pads. During a particularly heated game in 1992 against the CEO of ShopRite -- whose generic steak sauce had outsold A1 that November -- and his son-in-law, Tommy Vardell “accidentally” decapitated the CEO with a fierce stiff-arm. That improved the A1…

Classic card of the week

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Ruben Rivera, 1997 Fleer

Back of the card, start things off:

Ruben has been called the next Mickey Mantle, and while that may be a stretch, he is still quite the talent.

A stretch? What the hell are you talking about, back of the card? The similarities between Mickey Mantle and Ruben Rivera were endless -- eerie, even -- and thus, impossible to ignore. For example, Mantle was a switch-hitter and Rivera was a right-handed hitter, so they both were familiar with batting right-handed. And that’s not all! Mickey Mantle hit 536 career home runs, while Rivera, at the time of this card, had two home runs through his first 89 at-bats, putting him exactly on pace to reach Mantle’s mark by the year 3011, which was Mantle’s favorite number. Furthermore, both were born on earth – Mantle from Oklahoma, U.S.A., Rivera from Panama. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Oh, and both played outfield for the New York Yankees, with comparable degrees of success. But back of the card, tell us more:

Rivera combines …

Whisenhunt denies QB controversy, winks repeatedly

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Note: This column appears in the 9/27 issue of the Glendale Star, and the 9/28 issue of the Peoria Times

During the halftime show of the Cardinals game this past Sunday, Terry Bradshaw -- always the beacon of intelligence -- said he disagreed with Ken Whisenhunt’s decision to bench Matt Leinart for a drive during the second quarter of the game in favor of Brenda Warner’s husband. Now, it’s not often that I disagree with Bradshaw -- except, of course, for when’s he’s talking -- but in this case, I couldn’t have sided more strongly with Wisenhunt.

Of course, at the time, I had assumed that Whisenhunt had replaced Leinart for the purpose of lighting a fire under the young QB, who had, up until that point, looked skittish, unsure of himself, generally awful, and, in baseball terms, Farnsworth-y. Granted, Leinart was on the road, facing arguably the NFL’s toughest defense in the Ravens. But hey, these are the games where a young QB has to step up, and I was impressed that Whisenhunt showed …

Classic card of the week

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Oscar Gamble, 1976 Topps

In 1975, the New York Yankees took a gamble by acquiring Oscar Gamble. This move was a gamble not because Oscar Gamble was a) coming off a serious ACL injury, b) had once threatened to murder the Three Stooges, c) was not good at baseball, or even because he d) once lost $18,000 betting on the 1974 National Skeet Tournament. The move was largely described as a gamble because Oscar Gamble’s last name really was gamble, and thus, seemed to fit the criteria for local tabloid headlines. In reality however, the acquisition of Oscar Gamble posed virtually no inherent risk to the organization, and was actually made with the intention of improving the franchise’s overall image to more accurately reflect the times. During said “times,” many of the players took bong hits before batting practice, and opted to wear those little helmets that ice cream come in on top of their heads for laughs. Conflicted with his teams’ updated persona, new Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner…

Cardinals don’t blow it, world spins off axis

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Note: This column appears in the 9/20 issue of the Glendale Star, and the 9/21 issue of the Peoria Times

Color me impressed.

On what was shaping up to be a fairly standard weekend -- Giants are a mess, can’t get stupid “This is our country” song out of my head, the Cardinals are about to blow a game, O.J. arrested -- the Cards went and flipped the whole thing around on me. In fact, I was literally in the process of writing my “Cards are 0-2; Now what?” column while Josh Brown was putting the Seahawks ahead by three in the fourth quarter. Now you can look for that column on EBay right next to the surplus of “Patriots, 2006 AFC Champs” t-shirts.

So yet again, I’m an idiot. However, I will say this: One of the major themes of this prematurely written column was the fact that the Arizona Cardinals were not going to make any strides until they won a game that nobody expected them to win. Guess what? I didn’t expect the Cards to win. And if I’m not nobody, then nobody is.

In fact, just for t…

Classic card of the week

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Scott Karl, 1999 Upper Deck

Me: Hey Scott Karl, can you sign my Scott Karl card featuring Scott Karl signing a Scott Karl card?
Scott Karl: What? You trying to be funny or something buddy? Cause I’ll kick your f*&^%$ ass.
Me: Whoa, slow down Scott Karl! Nobody’s trying to be funny here. I’m just looking for an autograph from one of my all-time favorite players.
Scott Karl: Oh yeah? Well, what do you know about Scott Karl? Let’s see how big of a fan you really are…
Me: Okay, well…I know you like pointy Oakley sunglasses.
Scott Karl: True, true. Go on.
Me: Okay, I know that you pitched -- and won! -- the first game the Brewers played as a National League team since 1965, a 6-4 victory over the powerhouse Expos on Opening Day in 1998.
Scott Karl: Ya’ heard! Tell me more.
Me: I know that on that day, you “scattered seven hits over 6.1 innings,” which is a lot of scattering.
Scott Karl: I like to scatter, yes. How did you know?
Me: I know that if having an ERA in the 4’s is wrong, then you don’t…

On finding Bigfoot, and losing my hearing

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Note: This column appears in the 9/13 issue of the Glendale Star, and 9/14 issue of the Peoria Times

By the time you read this, the Arizona Cardinals will have won or lost their season-opening game against the 49ers. Because my deadline is Monday, I cannot expound upon that result. Instead I’ve decided to stick to my lifelong journalistic rule: If your deadline prevents you from writing about the team you halfheartedly cover, do the next best thing -- write about Monster Trucks.

This past Saturday night, the University of Phoenix Stadium hosted the Monster Truck Thunder Drags event. My wife -- Monster Truck enthusiast that she is -- decided to come with me. Also, I am joking about her being a Monster Truck enthusiast. Neither of us had ever attended such an affair. I’m not saying that New Jersey didn’t have Monster Trucks, but if they did, nobody ever told us.

I feel like I should begin the recap of our experience appropriately. Ahem…Saturday, Saturday, SATURDAY night we attended our fir…

Classic card of the week

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Brad Fullmer, 1998 Upper Deck

Many people were skeptical when the brain trust over at Upper Deck said, “Hey, ya’ know what? We should combine our ‘Retro’ series with our ‘Futurama’ series! It’ll be fantastic, and make perfect sense!” On the surface, it seemed as though the combination of these two time periods would cause chaos, and possibly death. But when the public was treated to this breathtaking photo of a black-and-white Brad Fullmer taking a hack inside of some kind of linear time capsule, well, score one for Upper Deck! I mean, they nailed it. By combining the allure of the past with the potential of the future, Upper Deck created a card that looked exactly like one from the 1940’s, and also forewarned the national public of the impending dominance of both Brad Fullmer and the Montreal Expos in general. In essence, this card screams, “Hey, remember the old days? Weren’t they awesome?! And how about Brad Fullmer and those Montreal Expos? I say both are World Series champions by …