Showing posts from September, 2008

Cardinals continue to leave everyone guessing

Note: This column appears in the 10/2 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 10/3 issue of the Peoria Times

Like most people at this point, I don’t know what to think of the Arizona Cardinals anymore.

Just as I was prepared to blast the team for its lackluster showing on Sunday -- down 34-0 at halftime -- they go and make a somewhat valiant comeback. At least offensively. (For many Cardinals’ fans, I’m sure that effort typified what this franchise has come to represent: too little, too late. If at all.)

Just when I thought the Cardinals had a stranglehold on the division -- all alone in 1st place with the Seahawks reeling -- the team loses two straight while Seattle gains a much needed win and gets healthy on their bye week.

Just when I thought their defense was turning a corner after stymieing the 49ers in the second half of the season opener and shutting down the Dolphins a week later, the Cardinals go out and throw up two clunkers, allowing the Redskins and Jets to run roughshod. And pass…

Classic card of the week

John Moses, 1989 Score

Perhaps you do not know the inspirational story of John Moses. Allow me:

John, who has good speed and plays excellent defense, was a capable replacement in all three outfield positions for the Twins in 1988.

John Moses: Capable replacement. It’s pretty much the highest compliment a professional baseball player can attain. To wit:

Random Twins employee: Skip, all of our starting outfielders are missing at sea. Something about the Vikings having a boat party…

Former Twins manager Tom Kelly: Well I’ll be gosh darn con farn it hootin tootin’!

Employee: Hold on, skip! Don’t blow a gasket just yet! What about John Moses?

Tom Kelly: Who in the what now?

Employee: John Moses, skip. He’s got good speed.

Tom Kelly: What does that mean?

Employee: He’s not very fast.

Tom Kelly: Grrrr…

Employee: But he’s got a great glove, and can play all three outfield positions!

Tom Kelly: At once?

Employee: I don’t know. But he says he’s capable.

Tom Kelly: Capable, huh? That’s a mighty strong word to …

On avoiding physical contact will well-intentioned strangers

I’m not sure what percentage of people who read this blog also attend church on a regular basis. If I had to guess…4%? It doesn’t really matter. As I’ve maintained from the beginning -- this blog is about two things and two things only: stupid sports cards, and religion.

Anyhoo, so I have to discuss with you an aspect of Arizona -- one that is actually among the few things about living here that makes me very uncomfortable.

For starters, it’s almost impossible to find a Catholic Church around here. Back home in New Jersey, traditional Catholic Churches are like Seven Elevens -- you can’t walk three blocks without seeing one. Here? My wife and I have to drive about 35 minutes to get to church every week, which means that our travel time is longer than the actual Mass. The next closest Catholic Church is in Texas.

Stranger still, on our way to church we pass about seventeen other churches. They’re just not Catholic churches. Arizona -- at least where we live -- is a very Christian commun…

A diary of the Cardinals’ smooth transition to three and…oh

Note: An edited version of this column appears in the 9/25 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 9/26 issue of the Peoria Times

I wasn’t sure when I was going to get another opportunity to watch the Arizona Cardinals possibly move to 3-0. Kurt Warner is 37 years old, Anquan Boldin wants out, and, well...the team doesn't exactly have a history of strong starts. Or middles, or ends. With that in mind, I decided to do a running log of Sunday's game in Washington. Because if 3-0 actually happened, I wanted evidence.

9:58 AM: Before I even start this -- and I don't care if this makes me look like an idiot 500 words from now -- I am convinced the Cardinals are going to win this game. Really, I am.

9:59: I should also mention that the Giants are on CBS right now, yet I’m voluntarily watching the Cardinals. And by “voluntarily” I mean that my editor has me chained to the couch, with my eyes pulled open "A Clockwork Orange" style, and has hidden my remote control somewhere in …

Classic card of the week

Elvis Grbac, 1998 Upper Deck

This is probably the most visually exciting and stimulating football card that I own. Many people believe that “high definition” was “invented” in like 2005, or something. But this card is proof that high definition dates back as far as 1998. Of course, the kinks weren’t all worked out, as far as background graphics are concerned. (That’s actually Ted Danson standing on the sidelines, though it’s hard to tell.) Regardless, it feels like Elvis Grbac is going to run right out of the front of this card! When he reaches the front of the card. In twenty minutes.

Really though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a still shot that gave away how excruciatingly slow somebody was. And it’s not like I’m surprised that a 6’5” white man named Elvis wasn’t exactly a speed demon. But it looks like Elvis Grbac is running in quicksand, and that there’s an invisible belt around his waist that’s strapped to the goal post. If those feet in the background are attached to somebody, th…

Cards have opportunity to make even bigger statement

Note: This column appears in the 9/18 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 9/19 issue of the Peoria Times

The “but…” in explaining how the Arizona Cardinals’ are atop the standings is that they are a product of their division. The NFC West is widely recognized as one of, if not the, worst divisions in the league, a perception made even more viable after the early-season injuries and underperformance of perennial division favorite Seattle.

Not that we should be looking ahead (coughASUcough) in crowning the Cardinals division champions just yet, but I don’t think it’s fair to diminish their early accomplishments based on the inadequacies of others. The Cardinals are 2-0 because they are a darn good football team, not because they are some indirect beneficiaries of the St. Louis Rams’ secondary. If anything, their inspired play has improved the NFC West’s reputation. And wow, yeah…that felt weird to write.

Speaking of divisions, when the NFL undertook its divisional realignment a few years …

Classic card of the week

Rufus Porter, 1989 NFL Pro Set

There are two things you can do when Rufus Porter is pointing directly at you, and looking as though he is going to kill you with his bare hands. You can a) take your chances and hope the offensive play in question is called for somebody else or will be run in the opposite direction of Rufus Porter (i.e., backwards and out of bounds), or b) immediately feign an injury and/or quit the sport of football altogether on the spot. Of course, these scenarios are intended for the hypothetical situation in which an anonymous blogger finds himself on a professional football field across from Rufus Porter circa 1989, and not for your average NFL player, who would most likely not be so intimidated by one of his peers pointing at him in a threatening manner.

But enough hypotheticalness. Let’s find out more about Rufus:

Began season as unknown free agent, ended it in 1989 Pro Bowl

I don’t mean to nitpick here, but somebody must have known who Rufus Porter was, right? Or:

Cardinals impress, now must do it again

Note: This column appears in the 9/11 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 9/12 issue of the Peoria Times

There are almost too many positives to take from the Cardinals 23-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. Yes, too many. This is kind of scary.

Offensively, Edgerrin James looked fantastic and Tim Hightower served as the absolute ideal compliment. Kurt Warner played game manager and Anquan Boldin proved that any personal issues he has with the organization will be more motivation than distraction.

Defensively, the Cardinals forced turnovers and kept the 49ers at bay during the second half. From a coaching standpoint, the team exited the locker room at halftime and dominated the third quarter, a testament to Ken Whisenhunt’s motivational and tactical agenda. He also displayed his unique ability to mix things up by lining up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at wideout, which, ummm, didn’t exactly work out too well, but still. Steve Breaston and the special teams unit looked solid an…

Classic card of the week

Aaron Brooks, 2005 Topps Heritage Series

The Topps Heritage series is modeled after famous sets of Topps cards. On earth we call this concept “recycling old ideas.” For example, this particular card is made to look like the popular Topps baseball card series of that year when all the cards looked like this. I’m sorry -- I just didn’t feel like looking up the year. Mostly because I don’t care. Welcome to my blog!

Anyway, this card features Saints’ quarterback Aaron Brooks standing on the sidelines after being pulled from a game for throwing the football backwards for a 23-yard loss. The bright yellow background is the sun.

But maybe you would like to know more about Aaron Brooks. Well then, I’m glad you are here! Let’s use the back of this card as our guide, and feel free to ask as many Aaron Brooks-related questions as you’d like, and I will answer all of them to the best of my ability:

You: I love this card! I was wondering though, how tall is Aaron Brooks?

Me: Oh, that’s easy! Aaron Broo…

Once again, Cards look to not stumble out of the gate

Note: This column appears in the 9/5 issue of the Peoria Times

One year ago in this very space, before the Arizona Cardinals opened up the season against the San Francisco 49ers -- which they apparently do every year -- I stressed that that game would be a hint of things to come for the season. I was wrong in that the Cardinals lost the game, but rebounded to finish a solid 8-8. I was right in that the loss, along with yet another brutal defeat at the hands of the same 49ers, prevented them from going to the playoffs.

So here we are again. The same two teams opening up their 2008 seasons against each other. And I feel the same way. This game just means so, so much for the Arizona Cardinals. These are the games that the Cards are going to have to win if they have any hopes of building upon the foundation they laid down last season.

There are plenty of “previews” for this game that can be found elsewhere, and even though these two teams aren’t necessarily NFL heavyweights, I’ve decided to…