Friday, May 18, 2007

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Kevin Brown, 1999 Topps

Hey, buddy, ya’ gonna take this friggin’ picture or what? You think I have all day here? I’m Kevin freakin’ Brown! Do you have any idea what that means? Ugh. Look at you. You’re like, thirty pounds overweight. No wonder you became a photographer. Hey, you look familiar…did I strike you out in high school? I did, didn’t I? I definitely struck you out. Now I remember. What’s your name? Is it Fatty McTripod? No? Too bad. That’s your name. For crying out loud, why is this taking so long?! It’s a beautiful day outside! Do you know how many things I could be doing right now instead of sitting here like a total jackass? I could be throwing a no-hitter right now. In my mind, I’m throwing a no-hitter right now, right in your freakin’ face! I could be signing a ridiculous multi-year contract right now. You are literally taking money out of my pocket this very second. You owe me a bazillion dollars. I could be punching a wall in a fit of rage right now, because I have failed to live up to my own lofty expectations! Fatty, do you know that I am so good, that I have made it impossible to outdo myself? Seriously, do you have any idea what a burden it is trying to figure out a way to give up negative runs? It’s almost impossible. In fact, you should be proud of yourself today Fatty, because you’re taking a picture of perfection. Don’t even put my name at the bottom of this stupid card – just write “perfection.” Everybody’ll see that, and they’ll nod their head in agreement. Geez, my baseball cards should come in the hard plastic covering right out of the pack! That’s how good I am. No, no, no, wait – my baseball cards shouldn’t even come in packs, because I should never be touching other players. My cards should be made out of delicate rose pedals, and you should only be able to buy them in like, India or something. That’s far, right? India? Wow, all this talk is hurting my back. Fatty, my back hurts. Do something! Get me a freakin’ pillow, will ya’! Sheesh, what do they teach you guys in picture-taking school? No, no, this pillow is too hard. It’s hurting my back even more! My back just went out. Fatty, for crying out loud, my back just went out! This is all your fault! When I feel better, I am going to punch you in the face. Wait, what time is it? Is it three o’clock yet? I always drink my herbal tea at three o’clock. It keeps me regular. Fatty, listen, go get me some herbal tea, and while you’re there, tell whoever my manager is that I’m not pitching again for six weeks. Do you think you can handle that? Hmmm?

Did you know?
Ironically, Kevin Brown owes the Yankees a bazillion dollars.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Classic card of the week

Cory Snyder, 1991 Score

Who can forget Cory Snyder? I mean, besides everybody? More importantly, who can forget Cory Snyder’s laser, rocket arm? Cory Snyder was indeed a rifleman, if you cannot already tell by the gusto in which he is rifling the ball in the above photo. Where’s the ball, you say? Probably like, a million miles away by now. Maybe light years even. In fact, Cory Snyder threw a baseball so hard, that it often caused him to transport into other dimensions, as evidenced, once again, by the above photo. In this particular dimension, the 6’3” 185 lb Snyder was transformed into a 7’4” 97 lb baseball player, who coincidentally, also played for the Cleveland Indians. And his name was also Cory Snyder, and he was a rifleman. That dimension was easy. In other dimensions, however, Cory Snyder would turn into a priest, or even a fireman, and he would have to solve various crimes. Sometimes he would even fall in love, which kind of sucked, because he would eventually be transported back to Cleveland circa 1991. Thus was the burden of throwing a baseball extremely hard. But seriously, how hard did Cory Snyder throw? Let’s find out: It’s just about unanimous that Cory has the strongest arm in the AL. For the past three years, he was voted the AL outfielder with the best arm. Although it often goes unheralded, the “Best Outfield Arm in the AL Award” falls somewhere in between the Cy Young Award and the Nobel Prize within the hierarchy of pop-culture individual achievements. For years however, it was a mystery as to why, year after year, Cory Snyder kept missing out on the unanimous vote for the prestigious award of best arm. I mean, the guy was being friggin’ transported into other dimensions for crying out loud! In 1994 however, Ken Burn’s in-depth documentary about baseball revealed that Cory Snyder never once voted for himself. This could have been due to the fact that, on several occasions when the votes were being cast, Cory Snyder was a fireman trying to solve a murder. But in 1993, it was revealed that Snyder actually did cast a vote, for Roger Clemens, who was not technically an outfielder. And that is the story of Cory Snyder, Rifleman.

Did you know?
“Jesse Barfield’s arm might be as strong, but I think Cory has a quicker release.” That’s what she said.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Classic card of the week

Luis Sanchez, 1986 Topps
*Special Friday edition

Luis Sanchez was brought up under the ideology, “Trust no one.” In fact, Sanchez did not even trust the very person who introduced him to this important life lesson – his father – but that may have been due to his father’s ill-conceived wording when doling out advice: “Trust no one. Trust me.” And Luis Sanchez did not trust his own mother either. One day, a young Sanchez arrived home from school to find his mother rummaging through his clothes drawer. It was later discovered that Mrs. Sanchez was simply putting away the clothes she had washed and ironed for her son, but that was no matter to Luis. He never spoke to his mother again, and he immediately initiated his custom of writing his name on every piece of clothing that he owned. “Trust no one,” Luis would mutter to himself as he spent sleepless nights, sharpie in hand, writing his first and last name on opposite butt cheeks of some newly acquired cargo shorts. So when Luis Sanchez made it to the major leagues in the early ‘80s, news of his possessive and untrusting nature with regards to his attire traveled quickly through the clubhouse. Although Luis was the only Sanchez on the Angels’ roster, he requested that his full name be stitched onto the back of his uniform – “Luis Mercedes Sanchez” - causing his name to form a full circle around his uniform number, which actually wasn’t a number at all, but instead the initials LS. “Numbers can be manipulated,” Sanchez would argue. When the Angels handed out their brand spankin’ new warmup jackets in ’85, Sanchez immediately pulled out his trusty (you can trust writing utensils, not people) white marker, and got down to business. It wasn’t two seconds after Luis Sanchez was done staking his claim to the new jacket that a local photographer requested to take a picture of Sanchez for the upcoming Topps baseball card set. A skeptical Sanchez tentatively agreed, but warned the photographer that he would never be able to steal his new jacket. “You can stare at it all you want, buddy, but it’s got my name it,” Sanchez would say. “I mean, what are you gonna do with it? You’re not Luis Sanchez! I’M Luis Sanchez! Do you really want to be walking around town, having people thinking that you’re Luis Sanchez when you’re really not? That doesn’t make any sense. Hey, you’re name’s not Luis Sanchez, is it? Seriously, what’s your name?” Turns out, the photographer was actually Luis Sanchez Sr., the father with whom young Luis hadn’t spoken to in over a decade. Confident that his only son had absorbed the lessons he had taught him all those years ago, the elder Sanchez walked away slowly, and proudly. “Trust no one,” the young Sanchez said under his breath as he watched his father walk away for the last time, wiping away a tear. “Trust no one.”

Did you know?
Luis Sanchez had a nervous breakdown in 2002 when, after his house was robbed, a personally autographed Luis Sanchez clothing line arrived on Ebay.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

One-on-one with: Roger Clemens

Me: Roger, welcome back!

Roger Clemens: Thank you…Where am I again?

Me: New York.

Clemens: Oh yeah. Awesome. You know, I always loved playing in New York, and my family-

Me: Roger, Roger, whoa. Stop it. You don’t need to go through that spiel with me. We all know why you’re back here.

Clemens: I came back for one reason -- to help the Yankees win a World Series title. I’m very committed to-

Me: Holy crap, Roger! Will you stop it already! Is there an off button on your back?

Clemens: System error!

Me: What?

Clemens: What?

Me: I have no idea what’s going here. Let’s cut the crap though, Rog. For serious. You came back to the Yankees for the money, and we all know it. That’s the reality. But a lot of Major League Baseball teams have money. What reasons besides money made you decide to come back to the Yankees?

Clemens: That’s a great question. I don’t know…probably the money.

Me: Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. What influence did Andy Pettitte have on your decision?

Clemens: Andy’s like, my soul mate. And it’s perfect too, cause he has the kind of soul that does whatever I say.

Me: What does your soul do?

Clemens: Hunts deer, mostly.

Me: Anyway, you still didn’t answer the question. How did Pettitte affect your decision?

Clemens: Well, Andy called me up last week and was like, “Hey buddy, why don’t you come join me back in New York,” I was all like, “What? What are you doing in New York?” I didn’t even know he was there. I thought he like, retired or something, ya’ know, since that’s what I did. He likes to do what I do.

Me: Steroids?

Clemens: What?

Me: Nothing. So wait -- you didn’t even know Pettitte was back with the Yankees until last week?

Clemens: I don’t really follow baseball when I’m not playing. I don’t know if you know this, but I got like (starts counting on his fingers)…a bunch of kids, and I’m always going all around to watch ‘em do stuff. People love when I watch my kids do stuff, cause then they know that I wasn’t kidding about wanting to be close to my family. But I was. Obviously.

Me: Is it true that you introduced the band Aerosmith to human growth hormones?

Clemens: That is the most ridiculous question I have ever heard. It doesn't even make any sense. I don't even know Aerosmith.

Aerosmith looks noticeably buffer since their rookie season

Me: Roger, do you plan on being as utterly dominant as you were before and after you originally arrived in New York, or do you plan on pitching for the Yankees like you did when you pitched for the Yankees? Cause that would suck.

Clemens: Hey man, I won two World Series titles and a Cy Young Award here! How’s that for dominant?

Me: Let me play devil’s advocate here. You’ll be the devil, and I’ll be the advocate. “Yo, devil, what’s up? Seriously though devil, I can’t really advocate for you anymore. I mean, yeah, you won two titles here, but that was really you latching onto an already great and successful team just so you could satisfy your resume with a ring. And you never really dominated here like you did with other teams. In Houston, you would get one run of support and shut the other team out. When you were a Yankee, you’d give up a few runs in the first inning, and then get bailed out by a great offense. What’s up with that, devil?”

Clemens: I am not the devil.

Me: Roger, when you agreed to come back to the Yankees on Sunday -- via your usual brand of understated, attention-deflecting gestures -- you immediately inserted yourself into an already dominant starting pitching staff. Are you prepared to go head-to-head with Kei Igawa* for the third spot in the rotation?

Clemens: Who?

Me: Kei Igawa. He’s like the left-handed version of Jeff Karstens, except he’s Asian and wears sunglasses on the mound. That’s kind of his “thing,” so don’t you go trying it!

Clemens: Being Asian? Wait -- Who’s Jeff Carson? I told you, I don’t really follow baseball.

Me: Roger, I heard that when you announced your return to the Yankees on Sunday during the game, you inadvertently caused a post-menopausal Suzyn Waldman to become pregnant with your child. Is that true?

Clemens: I sure hope not. I'm running out of names that begin with "K." All I got left is "Kid." So I'd be like, "Hey Kid, get over here," and then I'd have a bunch of kids running over to me, which would be a problem, cause I don't like kids.

Me: Do you think the Daily News has already printed the headline “Rusty Rocket” in preparation for your first start?

Clemens: I was thinking more along the lines of “Rocket Launch,” or even “Rocket Boost.” I swear, that paper always amazes me, with the way it takes a simple nickname and spins it around to coincide with current events. Hey, I just thought of one: “Rocket Launch!”

Me: That’s a good one. I always had the headline “Rocket Fuel” waiting in line for the day you got caught using steroids. Then you kind of did get caught, but nobody covered it for some reason, so I couldn’t submit my headline. Weird.

Clemens: That’s funny, cause I always had a headline in my back pocket in response to that headline. Ready for it? “Rocket Cleared.” But wait - then there’d be like, a dot, dot, dot, and in smaller print below it, it would say, “for takeoff,” but then “for takeoff” would be crossed-out, and in its place it would say, “of all charges.” Pretty awesome, huh? I almost wish I had gotten caught using steroids, just so I could have used that one.

Me: You sort of did, though.

Clemens: “Rocket EXPLODES!”

Me: Alright, alright! Calm down, calm down…I won’t mention that again. Really, I won’t.

Clemens: Grrrr…

Me: Roger, let’s bring this talk back to baseball. When will you actually start pitching for the Yankees this season?

Clemens: I don’t know…whenever.

Me: Is that more of a “next month” whenever, or a “Carl Pavano” whenever?

Clemens: Probably closer to next month. The sooner I start pitching, the sooner I start making money.

Me: Well then-

Clemens: Wait, wait – can you cross out “making money,” and instead put “being with my family?”

Me: I could…but that wouldn’t make much sense.

Clemens: Why not? Read it back to me.

Me: Ahem…”The sooner I start pitching, the sooner I start being with my family.”

Clemens: Yeah, so? That’s like poetry right there. People love that family crap. They eat it up.

Me: Yeah but…well, for one thing, your family lives in Houston.

Clemens: Wait -- where am I?

Me: New York.

Clemens: Oh. Well shoot, man, I got like twenty-some houses across the country. One of ‘ems gotta be in New York, right? Somebody call the family and get ‘em over here quick. What’s their number? Where’s my Rolodex? Hey Andy -- get over here!

Hey, seriously man, how much you making over here? Cause I got family in Japan...

*Update: Kei Igawa was sent to SINGLE(!)A on Monday, so Clemens can breathe a sigh of relief. In doing so, the Yankees hope that Igawa will only become a "minor" bust. Bu, dum, ching!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Classic card of the week

Jeff Montgomery, 1991 Topps

If it weren’t for the Royals uniform and the stadium background, this could easily be a picture of Jeff Montgomery on vacation in the Bahamas, as taken by his lovely (I assume) wife. But for Jeff Montgomery, everyday was a day at the beach, even if that beach was technically the barren wasteland also known as the Kansas City Royals organization. No matter to Montgomery, who began each day by putting on his practice uni, grabbing his Royals sun visor, popping the cassette single of Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” into his iPod walkman, and fast-walking three laps around the stadium. And hey, if somebody stopped him and wanted to take his picture, for say, a baseball card, or even a “Kansas City Royals’ 1991 Studs of the Bullpen Calendar,” that was cool with Jeff Montgomery. Snap away. Actually though…is that a visor? I’m not exactly sure. I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life. It almost looks as if Montgomery is wearing a fitted Royals hat backwards, with a small girl’s sunhat on top of it, except the sun hat has holes in it. Either way, it goes perfect with the mullet, unibrow, and old skool hard yellow headphones. My guess is that Jeff Montgomery had his headphones adjusted to the biggest size possible in order to get them over the contraption he had on his head.

But what about Jeff Montgomery as a player, you ask? Well, try this on for size: Jeff was named to the Pioneer League All-Star Team at Billings during the 1983 season. He set loop record with 11 consecutive Strikeouts in one game. I have a few questions about that statement. First, how much better is the Pioneer League All-Star Team at Billings than the Pioneer League All-Star Team at Springfield, and obviously, the Pioneer League All-Star Team at Shrewsbury? Also, since this card is from 1991, do you have any impressive statistical data on Jeff Montgomery from the last, say, six years or so? I mean, don’t get me wrong – we’re all proud of Jeff Montgomery for making the All-Star Team in eighth grade, but c’mon…who didn’t? Also, what is a “loop record?” More importantly, what is “loop?” Is Jeff Montgomery wearing a loop on his head? If loop is a misprint for “league,” allow me to be the first to say, that is one hell of a misprint. Finally, why is “Strikeouts” capitalized? Who edited this tidbit? I am more confused now about Jeff Montgomery than I ever was before, and "before" I didn't even know who Jeff Montgomery loop.

Did you know?
Because of an injury to Dan Schatzeder, Jeff Montgomery was both Mr. June and Mr. December.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Classic card of the week

Alex Cole, 1991 Topps

Few players struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers quite like Alex Cole. Some say it was the thick, oversized glasses, which not only protected his face from errant fastballs, but also gave him 7-7 vision, which led the league. (“Vision” was a statistical category in 1990, before it was replaced by “OPS.”) Others say it was the condescending smile. Said Roger Clemens in 1991: “Of all the players I hate facing, Alex Cole has to be at the top of the list. He has this smile, like he knows something that I don’t know. Like he slept with my sister or something. I tried to beam him in the eyes one time and the ball bounced of his glasses and over the wall for a three-run home run. I hate that guy.” Still, others claim that it was Cole’s penchant for trash talk that made it hard to focus on the mound. Among Alex Cole’s hit list of hurled insults are the following:
To Frank Viola: “Yo! You got nicer jheri curls than my mom!”
To Nolan Ryan: “Eat this, hick!”
To Dave Stewart: “We cool, we cool.”
To Dwight Gooden: After a steal of second base, “I run faster than your nose after a trip to the bathroom!”
Cole’s smack talk was made only a modicum less intimidating when you consider that it was done in a Steve Urkel voice. However, in the rare cases that Cole’s trash talk did not immediately elicit an intentional walk, he was rarely able to actually back up his verbal taunts. Alex Cole spent a record eight zillion years in the minor leagues before finally cracking the bigs in 1990 with the Indians, where his only role with the team was to act as Kenny Lofton’s stunt double. (Sample scenario: Lofton gets arrested for DUI; Alex Cole goes to jail.) Cole’s lack of a successful major league career may have been a result of the fact that his allergies prevented from taking the field during the months of May through August. In addition to that, before every at-bat, Cole’s mother had to run out onto the field and hand the home plate umpire her son’s inhaler, just in case.

Did you know?
As a sophomore in high school, Alex Cole won second place for his diorama of the Treaty of Versailles.