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Showing posts from 2009

Classic card of the week

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Hakeem Olajuwon, 1991 Skybox

When I was a kid, yeah –- basketball was cool and all. But what I was really interested in was how well or not-so-well the basketball players that I liked dressed when they weren’t playing basketball. Fortunately for me and other kids of my ilk, GQ Magazine –- a must-read for every 10-year old boy –- aligned forces with the Skybox brand of basketball cards in order to reveal to us which basketball players dressed especially well.

For example, I bet you thought that Hakeem Olajuwon just played basketball. Well, wrong! He wore clothes, too. And he wore them well. For further evidence of how appropriately Hakeem Olajuwon dresses, let’s find out what impartial New York Knicks’ announcer John Andariese has to say:



“Knicks announcer John Andariese kids that Hakeem ‘is a good dresser, but everything is lizard.’

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Lizard. John Andariese kills me. Also, I don’t get it. His clothes are made of lizards? As opposed to Andariese himself, who only wore al…

The Fiesta Bowl: a fiesta indeed for those in charge

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Note: This column appears in the 12/30 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 12/31 issue of the Peoria Times

Finding out about corruption within the seedy world of college football is like –- hmmm, what’s a good analogy here? Oh! –- finding out about corruption within the seedy world of college basketball. Yes, that will do.

So hearing about alleged political “contributions” from Fiesta Bowl employees was less than shocking. But because the Fiesta Bowl is local, right here in Glendale, and because it plays a major role within the local economic structure, my interest was slightly piqued. And I don’t know if I was naïve or indifferent, but delving a little further into this mess was an eye-opening experience for me, and should be more than that for the city that hosts this annual charade.

To quote from the Arizona Republic, which broke the story: Over the past decade as the Fiesta Bowl worked to maintain its elite position as one of the top postseason college-football games, employees made …

Classic card of the week

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Placido Polanco, 2001 Stadium Club

I realize that the baseball season is either long gone or very far away, depending on how you look at it. But all of this hot stove talk has me excited enough to dip back into my stash of pointless baseball cards a few months earlier than usual. Plus, as mentioned ad nauseam over the past few months, my treasure trove of worthless non-baseball cards is dwindling.

(That is, btw, yet another hint to all four of my loyal readers out there. Send me something. Please.)

I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat while flipping through this deck of cards, for I had thought –- for one split second –- that I had found an Albert Pujols rookie card lost in my shoebox-shaped island of misfit players. But alas, it was only a picture of Placido Polanco doing what Placido Polanco is wont to do, which is: hitting the ball the other way so as to move a runner over or some other thing that will produce either one, or more likely zero runs, but surely at least one out -…

Mall Santa an initiation for every parent

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Note: This column appears in the 12/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/24 issue of the Peoria Times

Last weekend we took our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter (this is how she will be referred to for the time being) to see Santa Claus.

We had heard that Santa would be making an appearance at Walmart, and so that was our initial plan, for no other reason than it was the closest stop on Santa’s world tour. But when I called ahead to make sure, I was told that he was there last weekend, and had since returned to the North Pole Walmart. In the end this was probably good news, as I wouldn’t have to resist the temptation to ask Walmart Santa if he was receiving proper health benefits. More importantly, it saved us a trip to Walmart. A little piece of me dies every time I have to go there.


Whatchu mean you ain't got no Santee Clauses?

Unfortunately, this forced us to acknowledge the inevitable: we were going to the mall. On a Saturday. Just before Christmas. To see Santa. I wasn’t exactly …

Classic card of the week

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James Worthy, 1992 Topps All-Star

Is that the look of an All-Star, or is that the look of an All-Star? I doubt we even need the “All-Star” designation on this card to deduce that the man in question is, indeed, a star among others in his chosen profession of basketballing. Besides, the All-Star uniform is a dead giveaway. As are the oversized goggles, shin-high and scrunched-up tube socks, short shorts, and the knee braces placed ever so slightly below the knees, so as to protect the knees from something that might land just below them.

Of course, we kid with James Worthy because we love him. In fact, this is his record third appearance on Classic Card of the Week. Amazingly, none of the aforementioned appearances have been solo, including this one, which is unnecessarily shared with the uber-intense Kevin Willis -– no stranger to Classic card himself -– who is only not uber-intense when he’s pretending to play defense during a meaningless All-Star Game. But alas, such is the plight of …

Christmas spirit comes better late than ever

Note: This column appears in the 12/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/18 issue of the Peoria Times

It hadn’t really felt like Christmas.

For one thing, my wife and I decided weeks ago that we wouldn’t be going back east for the holidays this year. Knowing we wouldn’t be with family subconsciously and adversely affected our Christmas spirit.

Having to return our two foster kiddos just before Thanksgiving didn’t help either. And all of the chores, purchases and appointments that we’d avoided in the past months as a result of being too busy had kept us too busy to notice the holidays were, in fact, here.

(It should also be mentioned that, in my annual attempt to force myself into the Christmas mood, I started listening to the “Christmas music only” radio station way too early yet again. If I hear another version of “Jingle Bell Rock” I am going to bash my car radio with a baseball bat.)

But all that changed last Monday. We had a storm come through here that brought overcast skies, rain…

Classic card of the week

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Issiac Holt, 1992 Collector’s Edge

You probably have noticed that I have many, many cards from this set – the ‘92 Collector’s Edge.

The reason that I have so many cards from this set is unbeknownst to even me. That I continued to buy packs of this set after seeing just one card from it is proof of not only my youthful naïveté, but also of my suspect investment practices. The reason that I continue to post so many of these cards is because of their aforementioned awfulness. An actual good sports card cannot attain the sarcastic label of “classic.” I am also running out of football cards.

I had always thought that the 1989 Topps set of baseball cards (or the Bowman 1990 set) was the worst and most boring set of sports cards ever produced. But the more cards I find from this Collector’s Edge edition, the more I am convinced of its unparalleled pointlessness.

Take this card. Please! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!! Whew. That was awesome. But seriously. What is going on here? And more importantly,…

Please truck, come home for Christmas

Note: This column appears in the 12/10 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/11 issue of the Peoria Times

When I lived back east I drove a pick-up truck and appeared, on the surface –- with my facial hair and, ya’ know, pick-up truck -– like a man who knew a thing or two about motor vehicles. But that was a front that was easily exposed when anyone asked me how many cylinders the truck had, to which I would reply: “many.”

So when I moved here to Arizona I wanted something simple and cheap and fuel-efficient that would get me to work and occasionally to Old Navy. I settled on a Subaru Impreza, and so for the last few years, on the road, I have appeared as what I truly am: a vegetarian man who drives a small car and listens to soft British rock. The good news? Nobody asks me about cylinders anymore.

(It should also be mentioned that the irony of me being the only person in Arizona that doesn't drive a truck is not lost on me.)

Things were moving along fine until I recently noticed what…

Nitpicky item of the week

Jerome Bettis has a column featured on the homepage of Sports Illustrated today, with the tagline:

What's wrong with the Steelers?
Tough to pinpoint their problems.

I'm sorry. But why -- other than the fact that it is authored by literary marvel and former running back Jerome Bettis -- would I click on that link? I mean, it might as well read:

What's wrong with the Steelers?
I don't know.
- Jerome Bettis

I mean, this is the kind of stuff that often forces me to remove myself from the presence of all sports-related media, which has exceedingly become an unstoppable avalanche of nothingness.

Now granted, I didn't actually click on the link, so it may very well contain an in-depth and accurate assessment of what is ailing the Pittsburgh Steelers and a viable solution, the toughness in pinpointing this information notwithstanding.

Wait. I clicked on it. It doesn't. But it does include the line:

I wish I knew the answers, Steelers fans.

No worries, Jerome. We can&…

Classic card of the week

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Larry Bird, 1993 Upper Deck FaniMation series

Perhaps you are familiar with “FaniMation,” a process by which a particular athlete who boasts many fans -– in this case, Larry Bird –- is transformed into an animated superhero and then placed onto a confusing basketball (?) card for the purposes of alienating both sports fans and comic book fans alike.

Today’s FaniMation installment -– there will be no others -– features a person who looks nothing like Larry Bird shooting over a team of undersized robots during what appears to be the apocalypse. All I know is, I hope the green team wins, because it looks like there’s a lot at stake here.

Back of the card?



Name: Larry Bird
A K A: Birdman

Clever. Again though, it appears as though they took some liberties in making Birdman appear like a genuine superhero and not like an awkward white dude from French Lick, Indiana. I’m just saying.

Special Gear:

Tube socks, mullet.

Sorry.

Series XX Argotec Ball-Tracking Device with guidance capabilities;

Oh snap! One…

Good news mixed with bad news means no news at all

Note: This column appears in the 12/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/4 issue of the Peoria Times

Whenever I hear a statistic regarding some thing that seems impossible to measure -– i.e.: 43% of Americans believe that Lady Gaga is an alien -– I am skeptical. Whenever I hear a statistic released by some branch of federal or state government that attempts to accurately reflect some aspect of this state or nation, I am skeptical. Whenever I hear a statistic released by some branch of federal or state government that is seemingly in direct contrast with a different statistic they have released, I am skeptical.

So you cannot blame my skepticism at the news released a couple of weeks ago that Arizona is steadily gaining jobs…while the unemployment rate continues to rise.

Arizona is watching its employment and unemployment rate rise simultaneously. I mean, what’s the confusion? You’re hired! But you’re also fired.

According to the Arizona Department of Commerce, the unemployment rate has…

Classic card of the week

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Jacque Vaughn, 1998 NBA Hoops

If you have not already figured it out, I will never stop posting these NBA Hoops cards with the amazing write-ups on the back. Never.

That said, here is a picture of Jacque Vaughn –- the encapsulated “V” is for “Vaughn!!!” –- making a mundane basketball motion look super intense. But it’s not what’s on the front of this card that I’m concerned with. Slam-poet commissioned to write these cards, hit us off with the realness:



Auntie M, Auntie M.

Jacque Vaughn played his college ball at Kansas. But we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in Utah. Which is totally different than Kansas, with its big-city lifestyle and diverse populace. So anyway, they went with the "Wizard of Oz" reference. Kind of presumptuous if you ask me. I would have started it off: Carry on my wayward Vaughn. But what do I know.

The only thing JV here is your initials.

Indeed, Jacque Vaughn plays for the Varsity Jazz. He also dates the head cheerleader who oftentimes can be seen donning …

On giving thanks for not giving up

Note: This column appears in the 11/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/27 issue of the Peoria Times

We’ve had a few “I can’t do this anymore” moments as foster parents.

The first of these moments occurred when CPS came and rather suddenly picked up our first foster child just ten days after we met him. The next moment occurred when two children –- a two-year old and a three-month old –- arrived at our doorstep. There were a few moments after that as well, but one in particular sticks out very vividly in my mind.

We were about a month into our placement and had yet to really settle in. My parents were visiting from back east, and the quality time we were used to spending with them on their visits was lost amidst the chaos of having two foster kids. I got back from work that Monday feeling very sick, only to discover that our foster daughter most likely had pink eye. I felt terrible for my parents, but my wife and I were going to have to bring her to urgent care. We also needed to de…

Classic card of the week

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Yancey Thigpen, 1998 Upper Deck

Sometimes when I am doing research before posting a classic card, I stumble upon some amazing factoids that I would never have discovered were it not for my extreme dedication to reintroducing worthless and ugly sports cards to the insatiable American public. For me, it just kind of reaffirms the fact that: This is my calling.

Case in point. Here is an Upper Deck, Black Diamond Series Yancey Thigpen card. Not much to see here. In fact, my stable of post-worthy football cards is growing very thin. So many times I will Google a player from an otherwise unexciting card to see if there are any worthwhile goodies. This often -– and by often I mean always -– leads me to Wikipedia, which is pretty much my favorite site. As the great Michael Scott once said: “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you’re getting the best possible information.”

The very first thing that I discovered while na…

One three-year old’s tactics prove difficult to overcome

Note: This column appears in the 11/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/20 issue of the Peoria Times

Our foster daughter has recently begun employing the strategy of reminding us that she loves us when she’s in trouble.

For example, last week, after being reprimanded for the third and final time for sitting way too close to the television, she sullenly walked over to me, hugged my leg and said, “I love you, Michael.” (Fyi: She calls me Michael. I tried in vain for months to get her to call me Mike, but she prefers Michael. She’s very formal.)

This is a very shrewd tactic, especially for a three-year old girl who, when asked what she wants to be when she grows up, consistently replies: “a Care Bear.” It’s so obvious and transparent in its efforts, yet still so disarming. For one thing, it’s funny. I also feel obliged -– no matter what other disciplinary schpiel I delve into –- to remind her that yes, I love her too. Both of these factors take the edge off of any anger or frustration …

Classic card of the week

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Brad Lohaus, 1992 Fleer

Brad Lohaus, a.k.a. Toby Flenderson, was a prisoner in his own body:



A small shooting forward trapped in a seven-footer’s body

“Ahhhhhhh! Get me out of this seven-footer’s body!” is what the 5’11” shooting forward version of Brad Lohaus would scream from inside the robotic walls of his gargantuan master. These screams often came at night, waking the children.

And –- nitpicking alert! -– why is it a small shooting forward that’s trapped in Brad Lohaus’ body? Just to provide more contrast to that silly statement? I mean, why couldn’t it be an average NBA-sized shooting forward trapped inside? Also: what is a shooting forward? That’s not really even a thing. Why didn’t they just say: “A shooting guard trapped in a seven-footer’s body?” That way I could humorously picture Hubert Davis trying to awkwardly operate the arms and legs of Brad Lohaus. I smell sitcom!

I would be remiss not to mention that I myself am a 6-foot, 195-lb Hawaiian fullback trapped inside of a 6’ 3”…

Search for trash receptacle proves difficult, ends happily

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Note: This column appears in the 11/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/13 issue of the Peoria Times

After months of deliberation and weeks of searching, my wife and I finally made the important life decision to buy a new garbage can.

Now, this wasn’t a decision made easily or without much heartache and gnashing of teeth. What happened was this: The springs on our original garbage can, which we had always kept under the sink, broke. This meant that I could no longer simply pull down the handle and experience the grand convenience of having the lid pop open, thus allowing me to easily dispose of waste. No, instead I had to drag the can out from underneath the sink, open the lid manually and, in the process, get hit with a brick wall of funk made possible when dirty diapers meet onions.

So we were in the market for a new garbage can. As a result, I was unusually excited about the normally loathsome trip to Bed Bath & Beyond. Their entire back wall was full of garbage cans as far …

Classic card of the week

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Doug West, 1996 Skybox

Quite possibly you recall a mysterious yet magical time when Kings’ forward Michael Smith was catching hot flaming balls. Now, you can believe this or not -– your call –- but other NBA players at the time enjoyed a similar experience. In order to sway your belief in what I have just mentioned, I will now post several cards as proof of my honor:



Here is the patented Charles Barkley: “Ouch! This flaming hot basketball is hot!” face.



And here is Dale Davis with the “I realize that this basketball is, literally, on fire. But I am going to rebound it anyway. Here goes…mother f-!” maneuver.



And of course, what would a flaming hot basketball feature be without Gheorghe Muresan’s famous “I am 10 feet tall, but this comet ball still alludes me!” low post move.

Which brings us back to Doug West. Now, let’s say you are the Skybox Company of basketball cards. Your ace young executive has just wowed the boardroom with her -– yes, her –- idea to feature NBA players catching flam…

When pretending not to be home doesn’t work

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Note: This column appears in the 11/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/6 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife and I are utterly annoyed by –- and sometimes scared of –- people coming to our house and trying to sell us stuff.

This wasn’t much of an issue back east, for the most part. With the exception of Jehovah’s Witnesses –- who, long ago stopped coming to my parent’s house lest they be dragged into a dialogue with my Catholic deacon father -– people stopped ringing doorbells years ago. I think it was 1985 when the chances of getting injured or killed began to outweigh the chances of making of a sale.

And the fear was mutual. One year back in NJ, a few days after she had watched a special on Oprah about home invasions, my wife called me on my cell phone in a panic. She was at home, and pretty much hiding under her bed, and yelling for me to come home because “somebody keeps ringing the doorbell!” Luckily, I was just around the block at my sister’s house. When I pulled up to our place…

The Underground

This is the first line of Peter King's Friday column:

Brett Favre's pretty much gone underground this week, except for his regular Wednesday press conference, Thursday's NFL Network interview with Steve Mariucci and a one-on-one with Terry Bradshaw, which will air on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show.

That guy is like a hermit!

Classic card of the week

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Oliver Miller, 1992-93 Topps

Here is a “Time-Life Magazine”-worthy floor shot of Oliver Miller throwing it down with lukewarm authority. How he got down the floor before everybody else on this play is anyone’s guess. Though my hypothesis would be that he was not an active participant in the previous defensive series.

But let’s see how long it takes the back of the card to mention Oliver Miller’s weight:



They called Oscar Robertson “The Big O,” but the massive Oliver Miller gives new “dimension” to that nickname.

That dimension is fatness. I also appreciate how “dimension” is in quotes, as to imply that Oliver Miller is so fat -– How fat is he? -– that he can only fit in an alternate dimension. That is not nice. But what else?

On offense, Miller was nearly “automatic” –- the Razorbacks’ most accurate shooter ever.

I am at a loss as to why “automatic” is in quotes. As far as being Arkansas’ most accurate shooter -– that is what happens when you do not/cannot move from the five-square-foot pa…

Smashmouth: "All Star," explained

Today we continue our randomly strung-together series breaking down "classic" songs that I am reminded of when I hear them somewhere and suddenly come to the realization that, "Wow, that song is stupid." Featured here is Smashmouth's "All Star," which you may have heard during every movie you've ever seen within the past decade. Please enjoy.

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Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me

Allow me to begin my endeavor by acknowledging the popular adage: The world is gonna roll you. This is a clever way of saying that the world –- which is like a ball -– will eventually roll you over. With hardships. As far as the “somebody” who told me? None other than William Franklin Shakespeare. Yeah. I drew the line from the wonderful yet largely ignored Shakespearean play entitled “All-Star,” in which the antagonist, “Smashmouthikus,” utters the dramatic line, “Thy world shall roll thee.”

I ain’t the sharpest tool in the…

Classic card of the week

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Jeff Hostetler, 1992 Collector’s Edge

If I’m Jeff Hostetler, I am pissed. In fact, let’s for a second just pretend that I’m Jeff Hostetler, okay? Okay.

Hi. I’m Jeff Hostetler. And I am pissed. Seriously. I mean, I am the starting quarterback of the New York Football Giants. I led my team to a freakin’ Super Bowl title like, a few months ago. I have a ‘stache to die for. Don’t believe me?



So yeah, I’m pretty awesome. As a result, I think that my own football card should reflect at least a modicum of my awesomeness. So how does the Collector’s Edge brand of football cards honor my Super Bowl-winning awesomeness? By showing a picture of me with my eyes closed, getting sacked by some dude on the Rams, and almost certainly about to turn the ball over. I mean really. You could have snapped a picture of me with my jersey on taking a dump in the locker room stall and it would have been more flattering than this.

Oh hey, one other thing. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank O.J. An…

Kids, Saturdays make Halloween worth the trouble

Note: This column appears in the 10/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/23 issue of the Peoria Times

I was in seventh grade the last year I went trick-or-treating for Halloween. It was that awkward time where I was too cool and definitely too old to go trick-or-treating, but I still liked candy. So I went after school and told various homeowners I was dressed as a “Catholic school kid.” After several dirty looks and fewer Reese’s than I expected, I decided to retire.

Since then, Halloween has just been ehhh. There was brief resurgence in college, when I got to dress inappropriately and act like an idiot for a day, which made the holiday really no different than any other day, I suppose. But Halloween hasn’t been something I’ve really looked forward to in quite some time.

Until this year, that is. The main reason being we actually have kids to celebrate it with. The joy and anticipation of Halloween gets renewed when kids are involved, as you get to live vicariously through them. And…

Classic card of the week

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Ray Durham, 1996 Topps Laser series

This card is part of the Topps’ “Laser series,” in which Topps printed a set of baseball cards and then had a laser come through and destroy about 35% of each card. Pretty cool, huh? Said Topps executive Bart Swingleman in 1995: “We wanted to draw attention away from the player featured on the card, so that kids could focus on the awesomeness of our lasers. And I think we accomplished that.”

Indeed they did. I am having trouble focusing on Ray Durham boringly crossing home plate, as I am distracted by the nondescript, yet very red and very lasery ballplayer to the right, who is jogging out of the card! Amazing. But I need to refocus here. What about Ray Durham? Let’s check some “spotlight stats” on the back:



.640: Winning pct. by 1995 White Sox when Durham scored

Now, the naysayer might say: “Nay. I am unimpressed by the fact that the White Sox won 64% of the time when Ray Durham scored, as runs scored invariably increases a teams’ chances of winning, a…

Please recycle after reading

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Note: This column appears in the 10/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/16 issue of the Peoria Times



I have always been interested in recycling.

Not interested in the sense that I’d like to make a career out of it, but interested in the sense that when I throw something in the recycling bin, I wonder for a split second what will happen to it. That is the extent of my interest. As a result, I have written a column.

My family has always recycled, for as long as I can remember. I recall my dad tying up old newspapers and leaving them on the curb to be picked up, at which point it would rain, rendering everything non-recyclable. Those were great times.

I also recall being appalled when we first moved here upon discovering that Peoria did not recycle. I knew things were slower out west, but it nevertheless surprised me that the simple concept of using stuff over again as a means to save money and the environment had yet to “catch on,” as if it were some kind of fad, like the Internet. Luc…

Classic card of the week

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Danny Heep, 1991 Score

This is Danny Heep. Let us begin:



Danny’s 1990 season was not a heap of fun for him

I thought maybe they were going to wait for it; wait to cash in on the gold mine of comedy and literary device that is Danny Heep’s surname. But they did not wait. If I may, in my own feeble attempt to combine baseball terminology and Danny Heep wordplay, I would say that they hit us off with a heap of it, right off the bat.

for he missed a large portion of it because of a herniated disc suffered in late June.

That is a heap of herniation right there. When Danny Heep felt the disc in his hernia area burst, he knew immediately that he was in a heap of trouble. Shall I continue? I am going to continue.

But he did cause a few laughs

A heap of laughs? No? Just a few? Okay.

When he became the first Red Sox position player in 38 years to pitch in a game. The Sox were losing 15-0

That is a heap of runs.

to the Twins and Danny finished the game by giving up four hits and one more run. His ERA: 9.…