Thursday, May 29, 2008

Classic card of the week

Orioles Leaders, 1986 Topps

When I go to sleep at night, I dream of Orioles’ leaders. This is strange, considering I’m a Yankees fan. Nevertheless, back in 1986, I was having a rather pleasant dream about the leaders of the Orioles, and the manner in which they lead, and their leaderiffic tendencies. When I awoke, this very card was under my pillow -- obviously left by the Baseball Card Fairy -- and it depicted the very dream I was just enjoying. It was the fourth best day of my life!

But which Orioles’ leader was I dreaming of? The Caucasian mustachioed fellow popping out to shallow right on the front of this card did not look familiar to me. So, I immediately checked the back of the card so that I could match this fine gentleman with the specific statistical categories that he so boldly led the Orioles in:

Well, I was pretty sure this man was not Cal Ripken, who led the O’s in hits, runs, and triples the previous season. I was a little more certain this man was not Eddie Murray. And I was positive this was not Alan Wiggins, who I distinctly remembered from my dream as the smooth-talking base stealer who led the Orioles in not looking like this guy. And since American League pitchers do not hit, I was at a loss. Who could it be, this leader of the Orioles who did not lead the Orioles in any significant statistical category? I looked further down, and saw this:

Depicted on Front: Rick Dempsey, Co-Dean of the Orioles Continuous Service Since: June 15, 1976

Now my dreams were starting to make sense. I was too scared to admit it at the time, but mixed amongst my strange dreams of Orioles’ leaders were images of a Caucasian mustachioed fellow passing out turkeys on Thanksgiving, and visiting the local retirement home and performing ventriloquist acts for senior citizens. Silly me, as I had forgotten that Rick Dempsey’s contributions to the 1985 Baltimore Orioles transcended mere statistics! He was the (co-)leader in continuous service! Duh. But maybe you are asking yourself questions like, “’Co-Dean?’ Were the Orioles a school?” and “Who was the other dean?” and of course, “Wtf?” Well, slow down there, champ -- that’s a lot of questions. Maybe this will help:

Note: Rick Dempsey shares seniority with Tippy Martinez

I hope that answers all of your questions about the 1985 Orioles’ leaders. If anybody needs me, I’ll be upstairs taking a nap, and dreaming of Caucasian mustachioed fellows.

Wait, that didn’t come out right…

Did you know?
Peter Angelos famously disbanded the Orioles Continuous Service program in order to pay for Albert Belle’s legal fees.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

T-Mobile bridges gap between technology, oxygen

Note: This column appears in the 5/29 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 5/30 issue of the Peoria Times

Everyday more and more people are moving here, which is good, but also pretty annoying. I can say that because I’ve been here a year now. I have tenure. Developments and strip malls are going up in the blink of an eye, especially in northern Glendale and Peoria, which has more room to build on. The reasons people want to live in this area in the first place -- its openness and serenity and the opportunity it presents to encounter a wild animal that could kill you in like, two seconds -- are being destroyed everyday.

And people are getting upset.

Residents of Vistancia in northwest Peoria are concerned about the APS initiative to place a series of power lines along the northern edge of the development instead of on the originally proposed Route 74. If you’ve never seen a series of power lines before -- and I don’t know why you wouldn’t have -- it’s pretty much like looking at the back of your entertainment center at home, except on a much larger scale, and with the increased risk that they could burst into flames at any second. But other than that, they’re great!


Longtime residents of the area around Pinnacle Peak Rd and 83rd Ave are battling a local developer with intentions to erect an office building on the open land there. This is especially traumatic, because for years local residents had only Campbell’s Mercantile for all of their consumer needs. It has served as their gas station, restaurant, bait supply, post office, concert hall, and local hospital since the days of Lewis and Clark, and now a stupid office building threatens its embraced monopoly.

Many of us feel trapped on that fine line between progression and maintaining the beauty of this area. Sure, being able to see the mountains is great, but being able to get a burrito without driving 18 miles would be cool too. Just when it seemed no compromise could be reached, somebody came up with the right idea.

That somebody was T-Mobile.

Plans have tentatively been accepted for T-Mobile to create a cell phone tower disguised as -- get this -- a palm tree at their new facility on Lake Pleasant Parkway. This is pure genius.

Monopalm = chameleon

Amazingly, these plans are in the works despite the pleas and unbelievably unimaginative alternatives proposed by the Peoria planning board, which suggested that T-Mobile disguise their cell tower as a flagpole instead. Their problem with the palm tree idea was that palm trees are not native to the desert, and that this “monopalm,” as it’s called, would stick out. Of course, this ignores the fact that every new development in the area is lined with beautiful palm trees, and that flagpoles, also, do not grow in the desert. Regardless, it looks like this is going to happen.

And you know what that means? Problem solved. With T-Mobile leading the way, I don’t know why other companies in the area can’t follow suit. Take APS, for example. Why not enclose those new power lines near Vistancia in a giant, plastic mountain? Seems pretty simple to me. Everyone gets their power, but you can still look out your window and enjoy the view. As far as the proposed office building on Pinnacle Peak and 83rd goes, there’s only one solution -- disguise it as Campbell’s Mercantile. A guy goes in for a quart of milk, and bam! -- he’s in a dentist’s office. Might as well get his teeth cleaned.

This is what happens when progress meets compromise. You get a fake palm tree that is actually a cell phone tower. Just how nature intended it. And by “nature” I mean T-Mobile.

So please join me in welcoming the monopalm to the area! Let’s also hope that the monopalm doesn’t look so real that local developers install a drip system near it. That would be bad.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Classic card of the week

Doug Jennings, 1988 Fleer

Here’s a trivia question: Name one of “Baseball’s Best” players in 1988. I’ll give you a hint -- the answer is not Doug Jennings.

Give up? The answer is Doug Jennings. (There are no other acceptable answers. Sorry!) That hint that I provided, admittedly, may have been a bit confusing, as Mr. Jennings was not, literally, one of baseball’s best players in 1988. However, he WAS one of “Baseball’s Best” players in 1988. So how did Fleer and their atrociously colorful series of cards come to this conclusion? Well, Doug Jennings had accumulated a four-year batting average of .303 in the minor leagues. ‘Nuff said. Move over Mike Greenwell and Orel Hershiser, with all of your major league “experience” and impressive “stats” -- Doug Jennings and his .303 minor league average are here. To use a phrase that was popular in 1988, “You betta ask somebody!”

Wait -- was that 1988 or like, 1994 when that phrase was popular? I forget. Nevertheless, I just did axe ask somebody, and they told me that Doug Jennings was a slugger. Also, the person that I asked was this card, which is not a person, but they can’t be wrong because Doug Jennings is listed here as dwelling among baseball’s “Sluggers.” Even in this picture Doug Jennings looks like he is about to slug something fierce, and many people believe that this photo was actually taken right before Jennings slugged his only home run in 101 at-bats in 1988. That is some serious slugging. Sluggity-slug-slug, is what I like to call that.

But maybe you thought Doug Jennings was finished slugging after 1988. You, sir, are an a-hole. For thinking that. To prove you wrong, let’s use a stat that can measure one’s ability to slug. We’ll call this stat “slugging percentage.” Now let’s look up Doug Jennings’ slugging percentage for the year of 1989. I will now provide the sound effects of me looking this information up on the Internet: beep, beep, boop, boop, bop, beep, BEEP! Ahem…Doug Jennings slugged .000 in 1989. Granted, this was only through four at-bats (you would think such a slugger would get more plate appearances!), but that is still not a lot of slugging. One could even argue that Doug Jennings was the exact opposite of a slugger, in which case this card would be inaccurate, which is impossible, so that argument is rendered moot. I have won the Doug Jennings debate. Can’t touch this!

Did you know?
Doug Jennings’ nickname in Triple-A Midland was Doug E Fresh, which was a nod to the famous beat-boxing rapper who actually provided the sound effects for this post today. Thanks Douglas!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

City making good on promise to solve cart epidemic

This column appears in the 5/22 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 5/23 issue of the Peoria Times...and, yet again, has nothing to do with sports

Peoria is great, for the most part. There are quiet, friendly neighborhoods, lots of fun stuff to do, and even an IHOP, which is great, because I love that strawberry syrup that they have there. But something has been plaguing the city for years now, and it’s pretty much the only thing holding Peoria back from becoming a respected part of the state.

Shopping carts.


I remember it was around a year ago when my wife and I traveled to Peoria to start looking for houses. The city was beautiful, of course, and we knew it was where we wanted to start the next chapter of our lives. But still -- everywhere we looked we saw shopping carts. Taking up parking spaces at the local grocery store. Hanging out on the corner smoking cigarettes. Sometimes we’d be driving and a shopping cart would pass us on the road, that one faulty wheel threatening to swerve the cart into our lane. It was crazy. We decided to move to Peoria regardless of the shopping cart epidemic, which was tough at first, especially after that time this one shopping cart kept ringing our doorbell and rolling away, forcing me to shake my fist in anger. But it now appears as though our fortitude has been rewarded.

For the city of Peoria has finally recognized the plague of shopping carts, and is doing something about it. In fact, as part of their ongoing plan to rid Peoria of stray shopping carts, the city has rounded up over 1,500 of them since October. Yes, over 1,500 stray carts have been recovered. And you thought I was making light of this issue by exaggerating it. Shame on you.

But where do these stray carts go -- jail or rehab? Amazingly, neither. They are sent to the Municipal Operations Complex, and while that may sound like the most fun place in the world to go, they mean business over there. In fact, while walking out of Safeway with my groceries last week, two secret service agent-looking guys with MOC patches on their chests tried to grab my cart away from me. I was like, “Whoa, dude. This one’s with me.” Then I packed my car up and rolled the cart into the street.

So how does this work, you ask? Well, when stray carts are apprehended and arrive at the MOC, their parents -- or in this case, the “retailers” -- are called. The retailer then has three days to pick up their carts, at no cost. And they should. Because do you know what the cost of a brand new shopping cart is these days? I’ll give you a hint: It’s at least $200 more than whatever price you were thinking. Give up? It’s $250. I’m sorry, but that is insane.

Nevertheless, some retailers do not take advantage of this special offer. After that three-day window, the retailer has 30 days to buy the cart back for $30. Even still, some places to refuse to pick up their prodigal carts. After those 30 days, the carts officially become property of the city of Peoria, where they are a) recycled, b) sold to different retailers, or c) taken to another town at night and rolled down a giant hill.

The shopping cart-bike hybrid is part of the recycling program...and it's environmentally friendly! And ridiculous!

This program is already reaping benefits. Not only have the streets of Peoria been cleansed by the removal of stray shopping carts, but the city itself has also made almost $5,000 through the resale of said carts, money that will go towards the 2009 budget for removing stray tumbleweeds from the desert.

It remains unclear what the city plans to do with the carts that have actually escaped from the Municipal Operations Complex, but something needs to be done. Because if we’ve learned nothing about shopping carts through this entire ordeal, we’ve learned this: those suckers have a knack for getting loose.

This is probably going to get me in trouble, but bring on whoever!

I know this is a little late, but I just couldn't let this one go...

So I'm watching Game Seven of the Cavs-Celtics series on Sunday afternoon, and it's halftime, which means it's time for ESPN's halftime studio show, which is always a whole lot of nothing. Anyway, heading into a commercial, Stuart Scott announces that when they return, they'll be interviewing Chauncey Billups -- whose Pistons had already made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Said Scott -- and this is not verbatim, but pretty darn close -- You're NOT going to want to miss what Chauncey Billups has to say about who he wants to face in the next round!

Aaaaaand we're back. After a few awkward minutes of Stuart Scott kissing Chauncey Billups' ass, the question is posed. Cavs or Celtics? This, mind you, is what I did NOT want to miss. Says Chauncey Billups:

Honestly? It doesn't matter either way.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Classic card of the week

Melido Perez, 1989 Score

Melido Perez did not invent the jheri curl -- Jheri Redding did, and yes, I Googled “jheri curl” to find that out -- but he did perfect it.

(Side bar: I was going to say that Melido Perez “redefined” the jheri curl, until I realized how much I hate that word. Redefined. What a stupid, stupid word. And you hear it all the time, especially in sports. “Cal Ripken redefined the shortstop position.” Why, because he was tall? That’s how he redefined it? If Cal Ripken started playing shortstop on the warning track, then he would have redefined the position. My mission in life is to redefine the word redefine so that the new definition of redefine is a frowny face :(

I'm going to close the parenthesis now because it's hard to do so after a frowny face. Aaaaaaand close.)

Anyhoo, now that THAT’S over, back to the jheri curl. Melido Perez, as previously mentioned, and as you can see from the above card, had one. Isn’t that funny? His brother Pascual had one too! Ha, ha, ha, dated hairstyles are funny! Am I right? Hello? Funny? Anyone? I am out of material. Let’s go to the back of the card:

Melido, who has a live, supple arm…

Something about using the word supple to describe another man’s arm makes me uncomfortable. So, since I am in a definition-type mood, I looked up the word supple, and the definition is: bending easily without breaking or becoming deformed. I am pretty sure I have been inappropriately using the word supple for 30 years now. In fact, there is a good chance that I may have told my wife at one point that her butt looked supple in a particular pair of jeans, which means I have attempted to compliment my wife by telling her that her butt bends easily and is not noticeably deformed. This is all Melido Perez’s fault.


“Nothing rattles Melido,” said Mark Salas. “If he gives up a home run, he asks for the ball right away and goes after the next hitter.”

In this respect, it could be argued that Melido Perez redefined what it meant to be a pitcher, as many of his contemporaries would simply curl up into the fetal position after surrendering a home run, and would have to be strapped to the roof of the bullpen car and brought immediately to the local hospital. That fact that Melido Perez would continue to pitch after giving up a home run is a testament to the suppleness of his personality. He also had an awesome jheri curl.

Did you know?

Eriq La Salle portrayed Melido Perez in the Lifetime original movie, "Brothers with Arms."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A couple of out-of-towners take in Arizona

Note: This column appears in the 5/15 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 5/16 issue of the Peoria Times...and has nothing to do with sports

My parents came to visit my wife and I last week from New Jersey. They were here for about nine days, and in that time, they managed to experience more of Arizona than we have in a year.

Much of Arizona they discovered while searching for the 10 East from the airport in their rental car. When I called my mom to find out where they were -- roughly three hours after they landed -- she said they had finally found the 10E, and were going straight to the nearest divorce court. Then they’d get something to eat.

Once everyone was settled in, it was time to experience the desert. After a weekend that included a D-Backs game, several stints at our development pool, and a few tastes of fine, local cuisine (the Peoria “Chili’s”) my parents were on their own once the workweek started. Luckily for them -- because our section of Arizona is largely bereft of street signs, though with a surplus of construction cones -- they had their trusty GPS.

Their first stop was the Cibola Vista Spa in Peoria. This was negative one point for the GPS, which directed them to drive straight into a cactus one mile away from the spa. Nevertheless, they found the spa, and they loved it. It was good for them to relax and unwind after a nine-hour flight, five hours of which were spent sitting on the Newark runway. And while they were lounging outside on the spa balcony, soaking in the sun, they noticed a horse farm across the street that offered horseback rides. When in Rome…

The next morning they had their horseback ride bright and early. Keep in mind that I, personally, have never been on a horse in my life. I actually just fed a horse for the first time two weeks ago. His name was Buckwheat. Anyhoo, their guide recommended that they wear helmets, although my dad, kindly, I’m sure, refused. My mom did wear her helmet, and looked like the exact opposite of John Wayne in the photos that their guide kindly took of them. (I find it intriguing that this state has no helmet law for people riding motorcycles at 75mph, yet they recommend wearing one while riding a horse.) They had an absolute blast though.

Hi, Judy? I found your horse. It was in the ocean. Good thing you were wearing a helmet.

What’s the next logical stop for two fun-seeking tourists who just experienced beautiful Arizona on horseback? The local chiropractor, of course! Yes, my parents -- a little sore now -- walked into Parkway Chiropractic for some quick treatment. Not only was this experience, in their words, quicker and cheaper than back home, but also Glenn, the chiropractor, was from New Jersey. Good times all around.

Feeling refreshed and less arthritic, the next day they traveled around Peoria with our fabulous real estate agent (plug alert!) Ryan Richter to get a read on the area. Not that they’re thinking of buying or anything (yet), though this did provide my dad -- a recently retired plumber-pipefitter -- a chance to ask many questions about vents, roofs, outlets, and other blue-collar stuff that his own son had been previously answering with a shrug of the shoulders.

Yes, Dad -- the supply air ducts in Arizona ARE different...I think

Later that night, with us, they discovered their favorite Arizona restaurant, North in Glendale. Then they traveled to Sedona. (The GPS was banging on all cylinders now.) Then we all went to the Shrine of St. Joseph in Yarnell, and finally to Westgate and the Yardhouse for our last meal before they left.

Last Saturday morning my parents, sadly, boarded the plane back to New Jersey -- no word on whether my mom was wearing her plane helmet -- acutely more aware of why we moved here. In fact, they talked about coming back as soon as possible. When they do, maybe they can show us around.

I wasn't kidding about Buckwheat

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Classic card of the week

Kevin McReynolds, 1989 Baseball Cards magazine

Here is yet another example of my extraordinary scissor skills. Once again, you would think that if I took the time to cut this Kevin McReynolds card out of whatever cereal box it was featured on, I would have at least taken my time. Apparently, my excitement at the thought of adding an exclusive Kevin McReynolds card to my collection was too much for me to handle, and it’s a miracle that my unsteady and impatient hand did not cut off any of the McFro.

To the back of the card!

McReynolds, a power-hitting outfielder with a right arm that commands respect, had an MVP-caliber year in 1988, and looks for more and better in 1989.

Pure poetry. At the time, many players were looking for more, but not necessarily better, but McReynolds was searching for both. He was looking for more and better stuff, more of the stuff he could be better at, while also becoming better at the stuff he liked to do more of, but in a better kind of way. But with more. And also better at it. Kevin McReynolds' favorite movie was “Mo Better Blues,” but he thought that a sequel would be more and better.

A minor-league legend and a former minor-league player of the year…

I was not aware that Kevin McReynolds was a minor-league legend. I had always assumed that the best minor league players were simply called up to the major leagues before they could achieve such status. Nevertheless, no minor leaguer since has been allowed to wear McReynolds’ minor-league jersey number of…I don’t know. And statues of Kevin McReynolds adorn every minor league stadium in the country, and many families choose to take pictures in front of the Kevin McReynolds statues and then post them on Kodak's online gallery so the rest of their family and friends can see that they stood in front of the statue of the legendary Kevin McReynolds. Inscripted on the bottom of each statue are the inspiring words, “Always search for more, better.”

We also find out that “Kevin received a six-figure bonus in 1982 to sign with the Padres,” which is accompanied by an illustration that features exactly how such transactions took place back in that day. Which was: A dump-truck full of sacks of cash (I’m assuming with $ signs) pulled in front of home plate, and then the owner of the team -- a short, stocky man wearing a top hat and smoking a cigar -- would hand the sacks of the cash to that player while an armed guard looked on intently. (Unfortunately in McReynolds' case, two adoring fans who tried to get his autograph during these proceedings were shot on site.) Then the player spends some of the cash on cocaine, and consults with Lenny Dykstra on what to do with the rest.

I’ll tell ya’ man – the 80’s were crazy!

Did you know?
In 1989, as compared with 1988, Kevin McReynolds accomplished less and worse.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Classic card of the week

Pedro Martinez, 1998 Fleer Ultra

Pregame stretches served as a time of contemplation for Pedro Martinez. During this particular instance, Martinez is undoubtedly thinking back to the days when he would sit under a mango tree without 50 cents for the bus. But now look at me, stretching for the Boston Red Sox. With my own purple stretch-a-ma-thingie! Ya’ know what? I’m gonna find myself a little person to hang around with. That’s the logical next step. And why the hell is Zimmer looking at me like that? What’s his problem?

Of course, I kid with Pedro Martinez because I hate him. Not as a person, but as an athlete. But also as a person. That was a joke. Sort of. But by hate I mean “respectfully loathe,” which is something he should be proud of, if he gave a flying Zimmer what a random Yankee fan blogger thought about him. Please though, take a look at Pedro Martinez. What we’re witnessing here is the smug confidence of a man who -- regardless of whether or not he adequately stretches beforehand -- is going to absolutely positively dominate and embarrass whatever lineup he happens to be facing that day.

This was Pedro Martinez before a time when Jimmy Fallon would bring Red Sox popularity to an unprecedented level, so it may be easy to forget just how good this man was at baseball. (Pedro Martinez, not Jimmy Fallon.) Please look at the back of this card. Take particular note of his 1997 stats, which was only the beginning of an otherworldly seven-year span of utter dominance:

How do you like the 1.90 ERA? (Not listed is the 0.93 WHIP, thank you very much.) Over 300 strikeouts. Thirteen complete games…13! If these numbers were adjusted to correspond to the Steroid Era that he pitched in the smack-dab middle of, Pedro Martinez, in 1997, had a –7.65 ERA, 1,300 strikeouts, a record of 96-0 with 103 complete games (adjusted for the games that went past nine innings), and a No. 1 smooth jazz album, just for the heck of it. They really should have stopped handing out the Cy Young Award after 1997. Or at least renamed it. For his career stats, please look here.

It’s hard to find the best part. I personally enjoy the 0.737 WHIP of 2000. But there’s also the consistent 250+ K’s after moving to the American League and pitching in the same division as the dynastic Yankees. Whatever. Take your pick. Maybe you’re Omar Minaya and you prefer the 28 innings pitched of 2007.

So yeah. Pedro Martinez. Hate him. But man do I love baseball. And holy crap is was he good at it.

Did you know?
The Mets have recently acquired a purple stretch-a-ma-thingie.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New license plates help save earth, increase vanity options

Note: This column appears in the 5/9 issue of the Peoria Times...and has nothing to do with sports

My wife purchased a new car a few weeks ago. A few days ago she received her Arizona license plate.

Let me first say that this is quite a big deal for someone relatively new to the area. In fact, my wife was rolling around with New Jersey plates (she had her car shipped) since we moved here. For us, much more so than our house or our jobs or our willingness to exist in 125-degree heat, an AZ license plate signified our commitment to living here. It said to the world, “For all you know, I am actually from Arizona. So BACK OFF!” Or something like that. This would officially make my wife a local. A townie, if you will. An Arizonan. A woman. You get the idea.

She opened the big envelope while we did drumrolls in our heads. And there it was.

“What the heck is this?” she asked.

It appeared as if someone had mistakenly sent my wife one of those fake license plates that you would find in a tourist shop. From afar, it looked as though the license plate contained the entire alphabet, and all of those letters were flat, not raised up like on traditional plates. Possibly we could hang this on the wall of our bedroom and wait for the real license plate to arrive.


But the plate came with what appeared to be official documentation -- “This is your license plate. Love, Arizona.” -- so we relented, and attached it to the back of her new vehicle. Still, I needed to find out what was going on.

I did some research. Turns out -- according to the Arizona Republic -- that the AZ Department of Transportation issued its final six-character plate back in January, plate No. 999-ZZZ. (Knowing the unprecedented penchant for vanity plates around here, I imagine this was a pure coincidence, and the driver was the president of a company that sells $9.99 sleeping pills.) Also, the letters are no longer raised up, but flat, in order to make the plates more environmentally safe by using less aluminum. Which is nice, although it does take away some of the pure joy of running your fingers along a brand spankin’ new license plate, ya’ know what I’m saying? No? Whatever.

It seemed appropriate to me that the state had basically run out of license plates because so many people are moving here. People like us. And sure, the new seven-character plates will make it harder to jot down the license plate of the pick-up truck that just cut you off without using a blinker and while going 40 mph over the speed limit only to slam on its brakes and narrowly miss causing a 10-car pileup, in which case you can ineffectively report it to the police. But hey -- the new plates are environmentally safer! And they’re still made by prisoners, which is the American way. (I think the “#1 Yankee fan NY” plate I have hanging above my desk at work was made in Taiwan. Pfffttt.)

So, mystery solved. Now my wife has her new Arizona license plate, and although she still feels like somewhat of an outsider being one of the 12 people on the road with what appears to be a fake plate, she’s happy to be helping the environment. Even better, now we’re both, on the surface (of our cars), locals. So with our next car purchase, we’ll feel comfortable telling our fellow drivers how we really feel. Which is to say: BACKOFF.

First AZ license plate -- not very environmentally safe; Vehicle, however, is a hybrid

Friday, May 02, 2008

Classic card of the week

Kevin Garnett, 1998 Skybox

Okay, now that we’re familiar with this series of cards, let’s skip the b.s. and head straight to the back of the card, which, coincidentally, contains a lot of b.s.:

Uh, we’ve got a mismatch here. Bringing serious thunder with speed and agility. Excuse me Mr. High School Player of the Year, got some shades? 45 double-doubles. Tastefully done. No fun police needed here.

I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy the random assortment of fragmented statements. Lesser cards would write something predictable, like: Bringing serious thunder with speed and agility, Garnett has already proven to be one of the most versatile players in the NBA. But this card will simply leave it at Bringing serious thunder with speed and agility, thus allowing the reader to use his or her imagination to infer what the rest of this statement would read, if it were, ya’ know, an actual sentence. In fact, most of these tidbits require a fair amount of imagination on the reader’s part. To wit:

Excuse me Mr. High School Player of the Year, got some shades?

I understand this to mean that Mr. Garnett would benefit from wearing a pair of sunglasses, as the future appears to be very bright. But I am at a distinct advantage, because while I was in college, I took a writing seminar called, “How to Write Uninformative Nonsense on the Back of Tiny Cards.” The subject of my final exam was Michael Jordan. Would you like to hear it? Awwww, no -- I’m embarrassed! Okay, okay, you win! Here it is:

Excuse me Mr. Everything, got milk? Baggy shorts, posterizing punks. More testicles than most. SNL hosted, but never on Mama’s Family, what gives? Just playin’. No. 45? Pfftttt. I’ll take 23. You’ll take six. Titles. Check please.

I got a B-, mostly because my roommate added the word “boner” at the end when I wasn’t looking, and I handed it in like that. Anyhoo, back to Garnett. As you can see, he had 45 double-doubles during the 1997-98 season, all of which were accomplished tastefully. As a matter of fact, Garnett led the league in tasteful rebounds that year, which included the 17 times he grabbed a rebound, thanked the opposing shooter for missing the shot, and then handed the ball to a kid in a wheelchair, thus delaying the game for several minutes.

Unfortunately, during Garnett’s later years in Minnesota, when his teammates included Latrell Sprewell and then Ricky Davis, the fun police were called on several occasions. And by “fun police” I mean real police.

Did you know?
Although Garnett could not wear shades during games, he once experimented with eye black.