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Showing posts from March, 2008

Classic card of the week

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Danny Vranes, 1992 Wild Card

What makes Danny Wranes a Wild Card? Before we even get into that, we must check the back of the card:



One thing that makes Danny Wranes a Wild Card is that sometimes he is Danny Wranes, and sometimes he is Danny Vranes. Take your pick! He doesn’t give a shit -- he’s a Wild Card! Another thing that makes Danny Rranes a Wild Card is that it looks as though he is about to murder me in my sleep. NOT cool, Danny Qranes! (Eric, who sent this beauty in, notices a striking resemblance to MacGyver, which cannot be argued.)



You may also notice that Danny played collegiate ball at Utah, but at the time of this card, he was exhibiting his perfect shooting form for the Breeze, a popular team that was sponsored by a local New Jersey radio station, and that still to this day has a heated rivalry with the Nantucket Nectars.

As you probably know, this particular card was part of the 1st Edition (!!!) of the Wild Card Collegiate Basketball Premier Edition, or something. This …

Classic card of the week

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Dean Palmer, 2001 Topps

The career of Dean Palmer can be described in the following fake conversation that I had with myself over the course of fifteen years or so:

Me, 1991: Who the hell is Dean Palmer?
Me, 1996: Hey, Dean Palmer is pretty friggin’ good!
Me, 2005: I wonder what ever happened to Dean Palmer.

Oddly enough, this very train of thought could pretty much describe any famous person who ever existed, as evidenced by this:

Me, 1725: Who the hell is Benjamin Franklin?
Me, 1763: Hey, Benjamin Franklin is pretty friggin’ proficient!
Me, 2008: I wonder what ever happened to Benjamin Franklin.

The point is that, by the time it seemed as though Dean Palmer had arrived as a ballplayer, he was gone. Despite having four seasons of over 30 home runs, and four seasons of at least 100 RBI, he never quite made the leap to superstardom, and thus, was a failure as a human being. Of course, that was a joke -- Dean Palmer was a great person. He even started the “Dean Palmer Foundation” to raise awaren…

Despite impending conclusion, Coyotes’ season a success

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Note: This column appears in the 3/27 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/28 issue of the Peoria Times

The Phoenix Coyotes are currently, as of this Monday, 12th in the Western Conference standings. They are six points away from that 8th spot and the playoff berth that comes with it, but also six points away from finishing in second-to-last place. They only have five games left in the season. Barring some unforeseen circumstance in which Isiah Thomas takes over the top 11 teams in the Western Conference for the last week of the season, the Coyotes are not making the playoffs.

Based on the above information, the Coyotes have pretty much played to expectations this season. But leaving it at that would dismiss a few very important things. For example, at one point during the season -- January, to be specific -- Phoenix was arguably the hottest team in the NHL, when, in that span, they won 11 games and dropped only three. If they could have simply played at that pace for the entire season…

Classic card of the week

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Jose Mesa, 1996 Topps

Many people -- such as Phillies fans, or Indians fans, or baseball fans, or the rest of people on earth -- recognize Jose Mesa by his inability to properly execute a save. However, in 1995, Jose Mesa finished second in voting for the AL Cy Young Award, which included a then-record streak of 38 consecutive saves. Let’s, according to the back of this card, find out what Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove thought of this feat at the time:

I think it’s the most improbable thing anybody can imagine.

This really puts things in perspective. Not only does this statement include many amazing things that had already happened in reality -- like, for example, man walking on the moon, the emergence of Flava Flav, and the invention of the computer -- which were, according to Mike Hargrove, all trumped by Jose Mesa’s consecutive saves streak. This statement also includes anything that anybody can imagine. Let’s see…I just imagined that a rainbow-colored unicorn with candy canes for l…

Matthew, on the sanctity of marraige

We are currently in the midst of having guests. My in-laws are here, and will be until after Easter, and two of my brothers-in-law are scheduled to arrive tomorrow night. My friend Pete, his wife Yvette, and their 4-year old son (my Godson) Matthew came to visit as well, and just left us earlier this week.

It’s been great having a full house, and it was especially great having Matthew around. It’s funny – two months ago, we were in the routine of coming home to an empty house after work, but for the past week or so we’ve grown used to tripping over our new dog (Mac) and finding miniature dinosaurs in our houseplants. And Matthew is a funny, funny, little guy, with quite an imagination. On the nights he had to take a bath, we could hear him from downstairs, playing the hero in the epic underwater battle between a plastic lobster and a rubber pterodactyl.

Matthew said a lot of innocently hilarious things throughout the course of his stay. And I don’t want to come across like Bill Cosby he…

Adventure Boot Camp marches into stadium, I limp out

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Note: This column appears in the 3/20 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/21 issue of the Peoria Times

I received a press release last week for the Adventure Boot Camp Series that begins on March 24th at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The first thing that struck me about this press release was the following line: Attendees will have the opportunity to work on their buns of steel in the grid iron stadium that recently hosted one of the best Super Bowls ever. I was unsure how these two things were related, as if after the Super Bowl had concluded, people were saying to themselves, “Wow, what a game! Ya’ know, that stadium looks like a great place to work on my buns.” Also, if your buns are already steel, then you needn’t be concerned, correct?

I am rambling now. But luckily, I read on. Turns out, Peoria Adventure Boot Camp -- a fitness program for women -- is hosting a special four-week co-ed fitness camp that will utilize elements of the stadium to whip people into shape, which wil…

Classic card of the week

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Jose Guillen, 1998 Topps

Jose Guillen is everybody’s favorite teammate. He doesn’t even mind white people, as evidenced by this particular photo, in which he is about to engage in a “high five” with your everyday Caucasian, something that many Latin players, back in 1998, were hesitant to do, out of fear of overstepping the bounds of the “Latin explosion” sweeping the nation at the time. And as everybody knows: White guys celebrate like this (two white men attempt a high five, miss terribly), but Latin guys celebrate like THIS (two Latin guys execute a series of complicated hand gestures set to a hip-hop beat that lasts 12 minutes, and ends in a Salsa routine with two scantily clad females).

So yes, as previously stated, Jose Guillen is everybody’s favorite teammate. Unless of course, Jose Guillen disapproves of a managerial decision, in which case he can be a very difficult teammate, and you might as well plan on playing without him until he cools down, which might not be until 8 days …

Your spring training and fantasy baseball scouting report

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Note: This column appears in the 3/13 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/14 issue of the Peoria Times



Last Friday evening was my annual fantasy baseball draft. Going into this particular draft, I felt that I possessed a distinct advantage, as I have been furiously scouting various major league teams during spring training. Granted, by “various major teams” I am referring to, pretty much, the Padres, who, until last Friday, I had seen play a grand total of one time in 2008. And my distinct method of scouting involves watching several players (on the Padres) play baseball for two innings during a meaningless spring training game, and making general assumptions based on this small sample size of performance.

So with the draft fast approaching, I decided it would be a good idea to get in one more cram session, bringing my grand total of scouting cram sessions to two. On draft day, Friday, the Padres were facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, which would give me some great insight into yet ano…

Classic card of the week

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Mel Hall, 1990 Topps

Ignorance is indeed bliss, and as a young child, I enjoyed rooting for Mel Hall.

Like every Yankee fan, Don Mattingly was nothing short of an icon, and while he remained unquestionably my favorite athlete, Mel Hall served as a refreshing contrast to the business-like, non-sexually-assaulting, consistent approach of Donnie Baseball. Hall had a swagger to him, and he exhibited and inspired confidence at the plate. He was fun, and different, and I liked him.

Little did I know at the time that Mel Hall was a clubhouse cancer, trying his darndest to derail the young career of a future Yankee stalwart, Bernie Williams. From the blog bronxbanter, a snippet from Joel Sherman’s book, Birth of a Dynasty:

Hall taped "Mr. Zero" to the top of Williams's locker to signify that he meant nothing to the team. One day Hall nearly brought Williams to tears by saying, "Zero, shut up," every time Williams tried to speak. The more Williams tried, the louder Hall in…

Padres, Royals attempt to start anew at spring training, fall down

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Note: This column appears in the 3/6 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/7 issue of the Peoria Times



During the Cactus League Breakfast last Tuesday morning, Padres’ general manager Kevin Towers acknowledged the excruciating fashion in which the 2007 season ended for his team (see: above), saying it was the most difficult situation he could recall as GM. On that same dais, Kansas City Royals’ assistant general manager Dean Taylor talked about his team, although I wasn’t paying much attention, because I was distracted by the deliciousness of my corn muffin, and because he was talking about the Royals.

A few days later on Friday, the Padres and Royals officially kicked off spring training at the Peoria Sports Complex (the Padres and Mariners had played a charity game the previous day). While it may be a cliché to view spring training as a form of renewed hope for franchises and their fans, in this case, San Diego was embarking on its quest the shed the devastation of last season’s concl…

On naming your fantasy baseball team

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This Friday is our annual fantasy baseball draft. One of the most important things about a fantasy baseball team is choosing a team name, something I take very seriously. My usual custom is this: 1) get the email that the league is set up, register, 2) think about a name for approximately eight hours while staring at my team page, 3) eventually settle on something I don’t really love, 4) change it the next day to something worse, and then 5) finally change it to what I’m comfortable with.

This year was no different. My original team name was Mrs. Mattingly, a nod to the now ex-wife of my all-time favorite player and her recent legal troubles. (I even changed my avatar to her mug shot.) Then I couldn’t sleep at night, tossing and turning, haunted by the idea that I was disrespecting Don Mattingly himself. Coincidentally, the next day I read this article, and changed my team name to Provocative Doodles, because I thought that was funny. But that ended up being funny for like, three secon…

You're not going to beleive this, but...

So on Friday I went to a spring training game to watch the Padres and Royals. And to my surprise, who was coaching first base for the Royals?

That's right.

This guy.