Thursday, August 30, 2007

Classic card of the week

Dotty Kamenshek, 1993 Ted Williams Collection

My Dotty Kamenshek card is probably my best 1940’s style female baseball card. Again, probably. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Dotty Kamenshek? Who the hell is that? I mean, I’ve heard of Kammie Kamenshek…are they related?” Excellent question. Turns out, Dotty Kamenshek actually is Kammie Kamenshek. Allow me to explain. Just because she had ovaries did not make Dorothy Kamenshek immune to the innovative brand of professional baseball nicknames, which simply involved adding an “eee” sound to the end of someone’s first name, or as some kind of variance of their last name. For example, Jorge Posada is often referred to as “Jorgie” (“Georgie” for Caucasians), Tim Hudson is “Huddy,” Jeff Francoeur is “Frenchy,” Curt Schilling is “Douchey,” and – to bring it back around to where I started – Dotty Kamenshek, obviously, is Kammie. In another lifetime – one in which professional female baseball had taken over the sports landscape as it has in 2007 – Dotty Kamenshek may have earned the nickname “Kam-Rod,” or even “Big Mami.”

But what do we really know about Kammie Kamenshek? Back of the card – take over: “Kammie” Kamenshek was probably the best all-around player in the All-American Girls’ Professional League’s brief history. Well, obviously, back of the card! I mean, they don’t make baseball cards for nobodies! Tell me more. Kamenshek, who came from Cincinnati, starred for the Rockford Peaches most of her career and formed the league’s best double-play combination with second baseman Snooky Harrell. You’re probably not going to believe this, but in my 1946 Yahoo! Women’s Baseball Fantasy League, I had Kammie Kamenshek and Snooky Harrell! I don’t think I have to tell you who won the league that year. Anyway, Kamenshek was actually a first baseman, making it even more amazing that her and Snooky were able to establish themselves as "the league's best double-play combination." They perfected the now ordinary 3-4-3 double play, where the second baseman takes the ground ball, throws to first, and then runs to second base, tagging out the 350-lb woman who was running the bases.

Of course, the big question still remains: Who the heck played Kammie Kamenshek in “A League of Their Own?” Was it Geena Davis? Madonna? Tom Hanks? More importantly, who played Snooky? (It was Rosie O’Donnell.) We may never know the answers to these quest-…wait, wait, I’m looking it up right now…ummm, turns out, nobody played Kammie Kamenshek in “A League of Their Own.” Well then. Guess she wasn’t that good after all.

Did you know?

Kammie Kamenshek could still rake in 1993, as evidenced in the below photo. She was also, apparently, very holy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Classic card of the week

Jose Canseco, 1991 Score

Jose Canseco was a Master Blaster. This may seem obvious from the above card, but not many people are aware of just how masterful Jose Canseco was at blasting. Allow the comic book-hero description on the back of this card to elaborate: Perhaps the most devastating and feared offensive force in baseball, Jose can destroy timid pitchers. Ummm, “perhaps?” Jose Canseco feasted on the endless carousel of timid Major League pitchers placed before him. You know the type - trembling as Jose approached the plate, pooping their pants, and curling up in the fetal position immediately after tossing Jose a 68mph meatball, only occasionally working up the courage to strike out Jose Canseco a mere 158 times in 1991. Yeah, that kind of timid. And just so you know, the use of the term “destroy” is quite literal in this case. In 1988, Jose Canseco hit a 700-foot home run off of Baltimore’s Doug Sisk, causing Sisk to spontaneously combust. But wait, there’s more: Tremendously strong, with a remarkably quick bat, he hits monmouth home runs that leave other players in awe. This, of course, means only one of two things: a) Jose Canseco was so tremendously strong that he often hit home runs all the way to Monmouth County, NJ, or b) Jose Canseco wrote this. I’m going with the latter. Anyway, let’s find out more: Jose is an intimidating player, a pure power hitter, with great all-around skills. He is the only major leaguer to ever hit over 40 home runs and steal more than 40 bases in one season. In 1990, Jose master-blasted 400 cc’s of rhinoceros DNA into his left ass check in preparation for a day-night doubleheader. He also once let a fly ball bounce off of his head for a home run.

Did you know?
Although the Stevie Wonder song “Master Blaster” is not technically about Jose Canseco, it was Canseco himself who brought peace to Zimbabwe. With a monmouth home run.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Update part III

Beginning this week, my new column will start appearing in both of our papers…hooray beer!

Here’s the gist: We publish two weekly papers here, The Glendale Star and The Peoria Times. My new column will be called – get ready for pure genius – “Big Time Sports, A-to-Z.” The “A-to-Z” part is a subtle nod to the state of Arizona! Sometimes I really don’t know where I come up with this stuff. It’s a gift, I guess.

Anyhoo, for those who don’t know, the Arizona Cardinals play IN Glendale, and their new stadium is like, right down the street from where I work. They’re a huge part of the community here, and I’ll be “covering” them throughout the season. Besides Cardinals’ losses, I’ll also be covering other things that happen at the stadium, like Monster Truck Rallies and college admission exams! Well, not so much the latter, but the former is a strong possibility. I may even be covering the Phoenix Coyotes (that’s hockey, I think) and Spring Training when it rolls around again.

I’ll be posting my weekly columns on the blog, so everyone who was wondering where they could turn for their questionably accurate Arizona sports news can breath a sigh of relief. I only get 600 words though, so you’ll notice that the columns will be considerably shorter, yet much more action-packed!

I’ll post my first column on Wednesday, and it’ll be the extended version (i.e., the version I had written before I found out that I only get 600 words). I’ll try to keep Wednesday consistent as the posting date. I’ll also keep the classic cards coming, as well as other crap.

If anyone is, for whatever reason, unsatisfied with the column in merely blog form, let me know if you’d like a subscription to either paper. In the meantime, here’s to hoping that the new column becomes even more popular than the old one, which would be slightly above “not very.” I’ll take it!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Classic card of the week

Roberto Alomar, 1991 Score

This card holds a special place in the heart of all Mets’ fans, because it provides the foreshadowing that represents Roberto Alomar’s precipitous fall from grace. Here is Alomar in 1991, about to make a fabulous diving catch during one of those pitch-black games that made the San Diego Padres’ old ballpark – “the TerrorDome” – so famous. He already has three hits in this particular game, and is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the elite young players in the game (baseball). Unbeknownst to Alomar however, is the fact that a very steep cliff lies ahead. So like an idiot, he falls, and by the time he hits the bottom, he’s wearing a Mets uniform, is hitting .183, and has managed to disgrace his last name by spitting in an umpire’s face. Coincidentally, the look on Alomar’s face in this picture is the exact same expression I had when I first watched the highlight of him hocking a loogie in another grown man’s face. In fact, when Robert Alomar first watched Pumpkin spit on New York during the final episode of the first season of “Flava of Love,” he was like, “Whatever.” “But is Roberto Alomar a hard worker?” is a question you may be asking yourself. Let’s find out what the back of the card says: A hard worker, he also has a powerful arm for a second baseman, good enough for the Padres to think of moving him to shortstop someday. And by “shortstop,” they meant “the Blue Jays.” Oh, I may have forgotten to mention, but before Alomar actually hit the bottom, he did manage to string together a Hall-of-Fame career that included two World Series rings. Counterpoint: He spit in an umpire’s face. And the Mets thing. Let’s not forget about that.

Did you know?
Roberto’s father, Sandy, now coaches third base for the Mets pro bono in order to make up for what his son did to the franchise.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Classic card of the week

Rusty Kuntz, 1984 Topps

I think I was about eleven years old when one of my friends told me about a player named Rusty Kuntz. I laughed, and laughed, and laughed…all the while not really knowing what was so funny. (I was a late bloomer.) Amazingly, Rusty Kuntz never crossed my mind since then. (Yikes…remind to re-word that last sentence later.) Fast forward almost 20 years to the other day, when my friend Bruce sends me an email with a Rusty Kuntz card attached, imploring me to get it on the blog. Since this is a family blog, I was obviously hesitant to do so. But then I said to myself, “Hey, who am I to judge Rusty Kuntz? Doesn’t he deserve a place on this blog alongside other immortals, like Garth Iorg and Glenallen Hill?” Yes. Yes he does. Besides, it’s not my fault that the combination of “Rusty” and anything even remotely resembling a human body part is so darn hilarious! I’m just the messenger! Anyhoo, I decided to do a little research before posting, and it turns out that a) Rusty Kuntz has a Wikipedia page, and b) his name is actually pronounced “Koontz,” which was a shock, a disappointment, and a relief, all at the same time. In fact, that little tidbit is pretty much the only relevant piece of info on the page. It’s as if Wikipedia was fielding thousands of hits from immature idiots such as myself, and decided to cut it off at the pass by saying, “Alright, alright, calm down there Slappy. The name is pronounced ‘Koonzt,’ with an ‘oo’ sound. Now get back to recess.” Nevertheless, I’d like to take this time to commend Rusty Kuntz, whose real name was Russell, but who had the wherewithal to say, “Ya’ know what? Call me ‘Rusty.’ Now watch me drive in the winning run of the 1984 World Series.” Seriously…he really said that.

Did you know?

The name’s “Kunzt,” “Mr. Rusty” if you’re nasty.

Did you know part II?

I’d like to apologize in advance for this entire post.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Arizona: still hot

This morning I woke up and had the realization, “Holy crap…I live in Arizona!”

It’s strange how it works out. I mean, it was such a process getting here, and since we’ve arrived, we’ve been on a never-ending quest to replenish all of the things we threw away before we left. It’s been go-go-go for the past three months, and I’ve barely had the time to look up and notice where I’m at. The thoughts that normally occupy my mind – Yankees, me eat, Who farted? – have been replaced by questions like, “Should we return those pillows?” and “How much should 15 tons of granite cost?”

There’s been little time for self-reflection these days, and even if there was time, I think I’d rather watch “Rock of Love.” But maybe because we’re sort of settling in – yesterday began my fourth full week of work – what we’ve actually done is starting to sink in. And the initial verdict is a positive one…so far, we really like it here.

As with anything, there are positives and negatives. Besides the obvious negative of missing our family and friends, it turns out that no one in Arizona has heard of my blog. I know, I know, weird.

One of the tough things to deal with so far is the distance. Although we moved into a new development, everything is very far away. The development itself is very set apart as it is, but it’s also only halfway completed. By the time it’s done, it’ll be like its own little city, and we’ll be able to buy eggs or a new bicycle just by walking out of our front door (I imagine). In the meantime, we have to drive 20 miles to get gas, meaning we have to fill up again by the time we get back home. The 10 miles or so in between our development and the rest of civilization means that we’re often one blown tire away from being featured on the latest episode of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” The other day we saw a dead cow in the middle of the road on our way back home. A cow! I didn’t even know cows lived around here! Then again, maybe they don’t.

Of course, it’s hot. But we’re already getting used to it. You just deal with it, and you deal with it by not dealing with it. You stay inside. It’s just too freakin’ hot to venture outside. It’s the middle of August in Arizona and I’m as pale as I was in January back in Jersey. Except the other day I opened the door for the UPS guy and I got sunburned. It’s like Mercury up in this piece!

But the positives so far vastly outweigh the negatives. One of the best things about Arizona is that nobody here is from Arizona. It’s crazy. Half the people we’ve met here are from either L.A. or back east. From a “cultural” standpoint, not much has changed. Everybody still drives like a-holes, and everybody is a Yankees fan.

(Speaking of the Yankees, I haven’t been able to watch one game since I’ve been here, which serves to explain why they’re tearing it up right now. I’ve been following everything online, and have been forced to watch ESPNews on a constant loop. It’s driving me crazy too, since all the true locals have Diamondbacks’ fever, but if you moved the D-Backs to the AL East, they’d be the Arizona Orioles. But I digress…)

The place is also coming together very nicely. Very, very often I find myself looking around the house wondering how the heck we went from a two-bedroom condo to this. (Then I remember the dead cow in the road and the fact we can’t go outside for the next 30 days and it starts to make sense.) But the best part about the house is that it feels like home. Maybe it’s the fact that I have to drive so far to get to it, but when I do get home, it’s one of the most satisfying feelings I can imagine. In a way, that feeling is exactly why we moved here, and it serves as confirmation that, yeah, we made the right decision. Of course, it won’t truly feel like home until at least two family members are passed out on the couch, but that’ll happen soon enough…

We’re also finally getting some time to experience our development, and the area in general. I joke about going outside, but we’ve been to the pool a few times. (It’s okay to go outside in August in 45-minute intervals but only if you’re surrounded by large bodies of water.) It’s actually two pools, and a small waterpark…it feels like you’re on vacation when you go there. Everybody says hi when they walk by, and nobody ruins the general atmosphere by blasting techno music, or letting their kids eat Twinkies in the pool…it’s just like New Jersey! Except the opposite!

The important stuff is going well too. We both like our jobs a lot. We drive cars. We get the NFL Network. That’s all you can really ask for in life.

And the best part is that we haven’t even experienced one of the major reasons we moved here in the first place – the weather. Everybody we run into here keeps telling is, “Just wait. Just wait until the fall.” So that’s what we’re doing. In the meantime, we’ve decided to return those pillows, and are of the general consensus that Bret Michaels should not choose Lacey, because she’s an evil bitch.

See? We haven’t changed!

Miss you all…

Arizona: Where cows go to die...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Classic card of the week

Jose Offerman, 1991 Fleer

Nothing puts a hop in my step like seeing a professional athlete pose to pretend like he’s playing the sport that he can be found playing for real any day of the week. And it seems like the ridiculousness of this scenario is not lost on Jose Offerman, who seems less than thrilled to be pretending to play shortstop, just minutes before he will be doing shortstoppy things for three consecutive hours. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jose Offerman is giving it much less than the required 110% in this pose. For starters, he is matching the photographer’s overall laziness by refusing to bend down completely to snag that fake ground ball. I mean, that fake ground ball is going to go right under his glove, and straight into the outfield! E6! And speaking of the outfield, that is apparently where the shortstop position is located. That, or the Dodgers have their famous “shift” on, where the shortstop moves into left field, and the other three outfielders form a single file line in center field. (Worked every time against Jack Clark. It’s called “scouting.” I’m just saying.) And to make matters worse, Jose Offerman doesn’t even have his eyes on the fake ground ball, instead opting to throw daggers at the photographer who had the audacity to take him away from warm-ups. “If looks could kill, Jose Offerman would be an oozy or a shot-gun, bang!” When he wasn’t busy pretending to play baseball, Jose Offerman could be found fielding back-handed compliments. States the back of this card: Sleek shortstop who has shown flashes of excellence among rookie mistakes. Jose’s hit-list of rookie mistakes included a) the time he tried to lay down a bunt with two strikes, b) the time he accidentally used Tommy Lasorda’s toothbrush, and c) the time he threw out his back half-heartedly posing for a baseball card.

Did you know?
Jose Offerman is in the pretend Hall of Fame.


Yeah, ummm...THIS? I didn't make up. So weird...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Classic card of the week

Mike Perez, 1991 Topps

Mike Perez made Jim Abbott look like Harvey “Three Arms” Johnson. Abbott- the one-time Yankee who was born without a right hand – was content using his left hand to pitch, making him no different than, say, Lefty Grove, or even Lefty Gomez, if Abbott was Spanish. Perez, on the other hand contrary – who, by the way, lost his right hand while trying to retrieve his golf ball from the windmill hole on a miniature golf course – said, “Screw it. I’m pitching with the stump.” And did he ever. Perez had a standard fastball and changeup, but his “out pitch” was his renowned “Mr. Stumpy,” in which he rested the ball on his shoulder, and then performed a windmill motion with his partial arm, thus catapulting the ball to home plate, or backwards into the outfield. The irony of the windmill motion was not lost on Perez, who decided to embrace his misfortune rather than complain about it, like Abbott. But how did Mike Perez make it to the big leagues? The back of the card explains: Mike was signed for Cardinals by Scout Marty Maier. (A less confusing way of stating this would be, “Mike was signed by the Cardinals,” or “Mike was scouted by Marty Maier,” since scouts rarely double as GMs. But whatever.) Maier’s official scouting report looked like this:
Great work ethic, consistent, nice
Only has one hand, pitches with the stump, erratic

Did you know?
The Cardinals’ Willie McGee once charged the mound on Perez after being nailed by Mr. Stumpy in center field.