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Showing posts from March, 2007

Classic card of the week

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Joe Johnson, 1988 Topps
*Special Friday edition

Here is a picture of Joe Johnson making his famous “Who farted?” face. Johnson, not to be confused with the Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson, was the first known player in Major League history to have four eyebrows – two above his eyes, and two above his mouth. Teammates affectionately called them “mouthbrows.” That, combined with no sideburns and an adequate mullet, made Joe Johnson a fashion icon regular guy in Canada. When he wasn’t openly wondering who beefed, Joe Johnson was busy beefing up himself. A legend in the weight room, Johnson could bench press 350 lbs, like, a million times. Instead of weight gloves however, Johnson wore baseball mitts on both hands whenever he lifted weights. His rationale for this was that it made a baseball in his glove feel much lighter. Joe Johnson also invented the Zubaz pants. One can only imagine the intimidating image of Johnson walking into the weight room wearing Zubaz pants, a Gotcha tank top, a Blue J…

One-on-one with “Best Commissioner Ever,” Bud Selig

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The 2007 Major League Baseball season official starts this Sunday, and I’m positively giddy! Here to curtail my excitement is none other than MLB Commissioner, and former Bugle Boy Jeans model, Bud Selig. Mr. Selig has agreed to sit down with us under the conditions that a) I specify that none of the following is remotely true, and b) I do not use the words “human,” “growth,” and “hormone” consecutively. So, there. Done and done. Now let’s get on with The Show. (Get it? The Show? Whatever…)

Me: Mr. Selig, welcome!

Bud Selig: Thanks for having me.

Me: Ya’ know, Bud, I gotta tell you, you’ve always reminded me of one of the Three Stooges, except much older, and ganglier. Not the fat one, but one of the other ones. Did anyone else ever tell you that?

Selig: No, but that’s a nice way to start an interview.

Me: I think it has a lot to do with your bowl haircut. I’m just saying.

Selig: …

Me: Bud, let’s start with the bad news. During your Reign of Terror as commissioner, you oversaw the strike and…

Classic card of the week

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Prospects, 1999 Topps

Hey, look up in the sky! Is it me, or are three baseball prospects shining down from the heavens, exposing their vast potential for all to see? It’s me, isn’t it? What? It’s not?! Awesome! But we should probably watch out, ‘cause those diamonds are pretty sharp, and I don’t trust their flight pattern! A true master in the art of foreshadowing, Topps knew all too well that by the year 2007, Micah Bowie, Phil Norton, and Randy Wolf would all be well on their way to the Hall of Fame, riding seamlessly through the clouded skies on top of 3-D diamonds, only coming down to earth every fifth day to toss eight shutout innings. Of course, Topps hedged their bets by labeling these three only as “prospects” and not “future stars,” although their god-like aura would seem to imply that greatness was on the horizon. (Even God had to toil down in Single A for a few months, am I right?) Astonishingly, only Randy Wolf would sniff the intoxicating scent of mild success, as his care…

Classic card of the Week

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Stojko Vrankovic, 1999 Upper Deck

One of my favorite things about this card is not the ballet-like athleticism of a Croatian guy named “Stojko” jamming it home with, pretty much, one foot on the ground. No, my favorite part of this card is its nod to “The Natural,” as you may notice an out-of-focus fat man in white standing up in the background, a la Glen Close in one of the more famous scenes from the Robert Redford-flick. Of course, contrary to what the rest of the Clippers’ home crowd may be indicating, it’s extremely difficult to sit down when Stojko Vrankovic is on the floor, as evidenced by the fact that, even the other players on the court seem content to stand and watch Stojko thrown down yet another emphatic dunk. But the fat man in white is on to something, for he knows Stojko all too well. Not from a romantic standpoint, we would hope, but from a basketball standpoint. You see, the fat man in white is Hedjuec Steponapolis, Stojko’s Croatian AAU coach since the youngster was …

Classic card of the week

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Barry Bonds, 1993 Upper Deck

Always ahead of his time, Barry Bonds starred in his very own Charles Schwab commercial waaaaaaay back in 1993. The ad was very similar to one that you may see today, although back in the early 90’s, the concept of life-like animation – where the fine line between Tom & Jerry and Law & Order is straddled like a trapeze artist – was unfamiliar, and thus ill received. The original commercial takes place in Bonds’ backyard, where he is casually cooking up some turkey burgers, fully decked out in his Giants uniform. Says Barry, “Ya’ know, in the position that I’m in, I have the opportunity to talk to a lot of investors. I can talk for days about mutual funds, annuities, human growth hor-…funds, and all types of ill funds. But one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that, too many investors are in it for one thing – your money. (BEEP) that. So someone told me to talk to Chuck. I was like, ‘Who the hell is Chuck? Does he have the goods? Cause I’m like, 1…

Classic card of the week

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Paul Householder, 1986 Topps
*Special Friday edition

Paul Householder was the perfect fusion of robotic charm and stoic manliness, mixed with a dash of Old Spice, just for good measure. You could cut glass on Paul Householder’s jutting chin structure. His bulging calves forced 13 women in the Milwaukee area to pass out on non-related occasions during the 1985 season. His flowing locks were the stuff of legend. In fact, MLB forbade Paul Householder from wearing a helmet before the 1986 season, so as not to deprive fans of what they really came to see. (And, as it turned out, what fans really came to see was Paul Householder sitting on the bench, although, thankfully, none his 78 total at-bats ended in serious head trauma.) And maybe more manly than any other attribute of Paul Householder was the fact that he was a ballplayer. Albeit, not a very good one. Paul’s best statistical season arrived in 1983, when his six home runs and stellar .255 batting average helped the Cincinnati Reds fini…

Classic card of the week

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Mike Gallego, 1988 Topps

This card always amazed me, because you can absolutely, positively tell how short Mike Gallego is, yet there is no supporting perceptive evidence to draw such a conclusion. There are no other players pictured in this card that would alternately expose Gallego’s lack of height, even though you can bet your ass that the catcher behind him is a good three feet taller than Gallego…from his knees. In other Gallego cards, where he is pictured from a defensive position, you can tell how diminutive he is because his glove takes up half of his torso, and the bouncing baseball coming his way looks like a white beach ball with seams about to roll over him on its way to the outfield. And in cards where he is running the bases, his height is revealed when you realize that those tall columns he is running through are the legs of the opposition. But in this particular card, there is nothing to give him away, yet it remains obvious how short he really is. It’s truly one of the…

Classic card of the week

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Tim Fortugno, 1995 Fleer
*Special Friday edition

Hey, what was it again that you wanted to know about Tim Fortugno? Was it his height? Weight? Did you want to know what town he was born in? Did you want to know from what side of the plate this American League pitcher takes his hacks? Actually, maybe I got ahead of myself there – did you need to know what team Tim Fortugno plays for, what position he plays, and with which hand he throws the ball? Maybe the picture wasn’t clear enough? Speaking of the picture, did you want to know what Tim Fortugno looks like outlined in yellow? Did you always wonder what the name “Fortugno” would look like slightly cut-off, but in big, block letters? Because if you wanted to know the answers to any, or possibly ALL of these questions, have I got the card for you! It’s a Tim Fortugno card (dummy!), and you don’t even have to turn it over. Because all of the vital statistics that you need to know about Tim Fortugno are right there – on the front! – and the…

Classic card of the week

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Desi Relaford, 1998 Fleer/Skybox

There seems to be a blatant contradiction here. Desi Relaford is rocking the Phillies uni, but he plays for the Little Dawgs? I don’t understand. And more importantly, what are the Little Dawgs? A minor league affiliate? An expansion team? A giant typo? Let’s turn the card over and find out: What is a “LITTLE DAWG?” Major league teams invite as many as 70 players to Spring Training each year. With so many players, it’s sometimes difficult to learn everybody’s name, so Barry Larkin simply refers to the players he doesn’t recognize as “Little Dawgs.” Well, I mean…obviously. I should have known that Barry Larkin was somehow involved in all of this! As a matter of fact, the open dialogue among Skybox executives prior to the release of this set went as follows:
Executive No. 1: Alright, we’ve got this set of cards coming out, featuring a bunch of young guys on the cusp of greatness. What should we call it?
Executive No. 2: Maybe we could call it, “Future stars…

Classic card of the week

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*Special Friday edition
Chuck Knoblauch, 1999 Upper Deck

Here is a fun game to play that involves a Chuck Knoblauch baseball card, as you sit at work on a rainy Friday morning: “Where the hell did this ball end up going?” I have some suggestions…

- It went into the dugout on the fly, narrowly missing Don Zimmer, who was thankfully wearing his army helmet

- It landed on the head of Keith Olberman’sfather

- The ball never left Knoblauch’s hand, because he forgot where he was for a split second, so he tucked the ball into his chest and eventually ended up on the field in the fetal position doing 360s in the dirt

- He immediately threw the ball up in the air to himself, as an attempt to fool the umpire into thinking that it was a pop fly, but in trying to do that, he accidentally threw the ball to first base, recording the out anyway

- He threw the ball over the outfield fence, recording the first assisted home run in Spring Training history

- He farted and dropped it

- He threw the ball into the …