Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Classic card of the week
Michael Jordan, 1986 Faux Topps
Though the move flew somewhat under the radar, in 1993 Michael Jordan suddenly retired from basketball at the height of his career to pursue his first love, gambling. (I think I’ve made that joke before, and it sucked the first time. Sorry.) Then he decided to try his hand at baseball. The bizarre nature of this career decision -- softened by Jordan’s reentry into the NBA and reestablishment of his dominance -- has, for me, only increased with time. The rationale of, “Hey, I’m 6’6” and on the verge of becoming, unequivocally, the greatest basketball player of all time. I think I’ll try baseball,” is quite astounding, especially when one considers that Michael Jordan was not good at baseball. That a generation’s greatest athlete spent significant time floundering around on bus trips with a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox is truly remarkable, and not in a good way.
Of course, the big question surrounding this decision at the time was: How are we going to capture this in baseball card form? Enter whoever created this masterpiece. This card amazes me on so many levels. For starters, I think it adequately captures the overall experience of Michael Jordan playing baseball, with his hat about to fall off as he struggles to hit a ground ball to short…during batting practice. (If Jordan had the humility to wear a helmet, I imagine it would be turned around completely on his head, blinding him after another ferocious swing.) Secondly, Jordan also apparently broke the barrier of minor league baseball players getting their own cards, which would eventually lead to cards featuring “Draft picks” and “Future Stars.” (Ironically, this particular card might as well have read “Past star.”) Also, why the 1986 Topps knockoff? I don’t get it. Jordan’s rookie year was 1984, and he started his baseball “career” in 1994. I’m not sure where 1986 falls into that scenario. But of course, the single most amazing aspect of this card is the back:
If Michael’s Statistics were converted into Baseball Stats they would read as follows
Incredible. I don’t even know where to start here. But I will say that I love the definitiveness of this statement. This is exactly what Michael Jordan's baseball stats are, regardless of the fact he has yet to play a baseball game. There will be no argument as it relates to this data. I just don’t understand how one begins to convert stats from one sport to another. How is this accomplished? I mean, if you’re going with the rationale that Jordan will dominate baseball like he did basketball -- a ridiculous premise in its own right, but probably the most logical in this case -- then wouldn’t these stats be a little better? (Jordan’s ability to play 185 games in a 162-game season notwithstanding.) And if you’re not giving Jordan the benefit of Ruthian numbers sight unseen, which this card obviously is not, then what is the criteria here? Nine triples? Where did that come from? Regardless, whoever it was that had the foresight and wherewithal to convert Michael Jordan's basketball stats into baseball stats obviously viewed him as a taller, quicker, slightly blacker David Wright. Makes sense.
I should also include my personal opinion that Jordan’s strikeout total of 32 seems remarkably low, considering he can barely keep his hat on in batting practice.
Did you know?
Michael Jordan was awarded a 1250 on his SATs based on his ability to do a pop-a-wheely on his bicycle.