Showing posts from February, 2009

Classic card of the week

Al Pedrique, 1989 Score

Al, a slick-fielding shortstop who can hit the ball in the gap…

I love scouting reports. Al Pedrique can hit a baseball into the gap, which is to say that Al Pedrique can occasionally hit a baseball in the area of the outfield where the outfielders are not standing. This is a skill that is unique to Al Pedrique, and should be mentioned.

…spent time at both Triple-A Buffalo and the Pirates in 1988. At both, he provided a sure glove. In his Buffalo stay, he also gave the Bisons an active bat as he hit .307 in 61 games.

The Pirates, unfortunately, were not equal beneficiaries of that same hot, active, Bisonesque Pedrique bat. Although, it should be reiterated that his glove remained sure, and for that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is forever grateful.

In ’87 he was a non-roster invitee to the Mets spring training camp. He made the team but was sent to the minors in May and then traded to the Pirates.

The timeline of this biographical tidbit is all over the place. …

Classic card of the week

Scott Haskin, 1993-94 Upper Deck

Here is a picture of Indiana Pacers’ forward Scott Haskin about to throw down, or better yet, it's a picture of Scott Haskin grabbing a rebound. In warmups, I presume, as no other player is in sight. Can you feel the excitement of the aerial view? I cannot tell if he’s on the ground or two inches in the air! Man, I am bored. Let’s turn this baby over.

Photographer: Okay Scott. We nailed the picture for the front of your card yesterday. Remember that? Yesterday? When I sat on top of the backboard like Bell Biv Devoe and took that ridonkulous shot of you jumping with the ball or whatever you were doing?

Scott Haskin: Yes.

Photographer: Well Scottie my man, all I’m saying is…just wait. Just wait. Today we’re doing the back picture. So put your uniform on, grab your comb and a basketball, and meet me outside near the bike rack. We’re going down to the business district.

Scott Haskin: Okay, cool. Why, are there basketball courts there or something?


Living in the center of the spring training universe

Note: This column appears in the 2/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/27 issue of the Peoria Times

For all intents and purposes, where I live in northwest Peoria is on the outskirts of civilization. When we first moved here, we had to drive to Bell Road in order to do anything, from get a bite to eat to find a decent nose hair trimmer (two hypothetical examples). From an accessibility standpoint, things have improved over the past year or so, but it’s a slow process, and we still often find ourselves having to travel a relatively great distance to do regular everyday things like fill up our cars with gas. In fact, if your car runs out of gas while in our development, your only hope is to release flares into the sky and hope that one of the jets from Luke will see it and inform authorities of your whereabouts.

Which is why it astounds me that within a 20-mile radius of our house, for the next month, I can easily go to three different spring training facilities and watch baseball whi…

Classic card of the week

John Dopson, 1991 Score

John Dopson: If Roger Clemens had eyebrows.

Big things were expected from John in 1990

Considering it’s now -- in baseball card years -- 1991, and I am unfamiliar with John Dopson, I am going to assume that big things did not happen.

He had been the Red Sox third biggest winner in 1989, his first year with the team…

Have the third most wins on a mediocre team one year, go out and win the Cy Young the next. This is called: proper progression.

…and had started using a puzzling knuckleball as his changeup.

You know what’s even more puzzling? Calling a knuckleball a changeup. Because a knuckleball can also be called: a knuckleball. Also: all knuckleballs are puzzling. Such is their nature.

But after only 17.2 innings into the season, he went down with elbow problems and was lost for the rest of the year.

I’m sorry -- 17.2 innings into the season, or his season? Yes, this is nitpicking, but I like to imagine that it’s the ninth inning of the second game of the 1990 Red Sox …

Decision leads to a year’s worth of joy…and counting

Note: An edited version of this column appears in the 2/19 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I never wanted a dog.

We lived in a pet-free development in New Jersey before we moved here, and that was fine by me. I never had anything against dogs -- my parents and my wife’s parents each had one, and they were great. Loved ‘em. But personally I never wanted that added responsibility. Or hair. Or poop. I just never wanted a dog.

My wife was another story. For four years she was in my ear about getting one, and for most of that time I could easily fend her off by explaining that we were not allowed to have one where we lived. (We were also not allowed -- according to the document we signed -- to house livestock, which was an equally difficult temptation to resist.) By the time we moved to AZ in the summer of ’07, we were so busy getting our lives in order that getting a dog was, thankfully, not on our to-do list.

By this time last year we were largely settled i…

Classic card of the week

Pride of the Reds, 1982 Donruss

The Pride of the Reds are two white men. They stand solemnly but proudly amidst the hilly countryside of the French Alps. If you find them, they will let you take a picture. In that respect, they are not like the elusive Sasquatch. Where they are going, they do not know, but they have their uniforms on, so just in case a game breaks out they will be prepared. Except one-half of the Pride of the Reds forgot his hat. But that is okay -- hats are just for show. The Pride of the Reds are interchangeable. They are the same in physical stature and in whiteness. Ask them for an autograph and each will sign it, “To Billy: Believe in the stars. Sincerely, Pride of the Reds.” They remain nameless. Yet prideful. And Redly. But what will the historians say?

When the historians look back at baseball years from now and try to decide who were the dominant players in the game during the 1970s, they need not go much further than Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver.

The year is 302…

Traffic cameras cause safety, complain safety hazards

Note: This column appears in the 2/12 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/13 issue of the Peoria Times

I don’t consider myself as someone who has his finger on the pulse of local interest -- a somewhat alarming biographical tidbit for someone who writes a column for a local weekly newspaper -- but I have noticed that this area is abuzz with a supposed controversy revolving around the cameras used to catch dangerous drivers.

For those unaware, cameras have been placed at specific spots throughout the Valley, including Glendale and Peoria, for the sole purpose of catching speeding drivers as well as those who take a liberal stance on the meaning behind a red light. The way it works is, the camera snaps a picture of your license plate, and you are then mailed a traffic ticket, which, according to various email forwards and other unreliable data, you may or may not have to actually pay. (My humble guess? You should probably pay it.)

There is, somehow, controversy surrounding this process. …

Classic card of the week

Bruce Benedict, 1987 Topps

Bunting is a very underrated part of baseball. Not underrated as in players should do it more often. Because bunting is, nine times out of ten, completely pointless and counterproductive. (Shout out to FJM!) What I mean is that the physical act of bunting is underrated. It’s like, not an easy thing to do, to square up an 89 mph breaking ball and lay down a bunt in fair territory.

Bunting is made considerably more difficult when you are bunting old skool style, a.k.a. the Benedictian method, with hands exposed. Bunting old skool style is the athletic equivalent of placing the goal post at the front of the endzone, as your chances of hurting yourself badly increase by 8,000%.

So we know that Bruce Benedict bunted with reckless abandon. But what else?

Bruce’s off-season schedule includes speaking engagements and serving as a H.S. basketball referee.

Though not specified due to minimal space on the back of this card, among the wide array of topics discussed by Bruce…

The challenges of being a foster parent

Note: This column appears in the 2/5 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Last year my wife and I decided to become foster parents. It was a long and somewhat arduous process, but we officially received our license right before the holidays.

As a foster parent, your role is to care for whatever child comes into your home while being actively involved in returning that child to their biological family, regardless of any attachments you may establish. We knew this was going to be a challenge. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had no idea.


It was not shaping up to be a good day. I had just found out we had a leak coming from our outdoor faucet. That morning, someone inexplicably put his car in reverse and backed into my car at a red light. When I finally got to work one of the machines we use to tie up the papers wasn’t working. I was having a terrible day. Then I got a call from our ag…