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Showing posts from March, 2009

Classic card of the week

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Alex Rodriguez, 2004 Upper Deck World Series Heros edition

Webster’s defines “hero” as: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.

(Side note: Woman cannot be heroes. Sorry, Joan of Arc!)

Dwight Schrute defines “hero” as: The guys who wake up every morning, and go into their normal jobs, and get a distress call from the commissioner, and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime.

Webster’s defines “World Series” as: [the] annual championship of Major League Baseball.

Upper Deck defines “World Series Hero” as: a) a man who has never been to the World Series and who, in fact, has forged a reputation –- whether deserved or not -- as being unable to reach the World Series based on his very own inability to be a hero during specific situations in which a heroic deed would likely ensure himself and his team a berth in the World Series. b) a man with the innate ability to indirectly ruin a World Series he is not even playing in because his agent dist…

A trip to Trader Joe’s changes everything

Note: This column appears in the 4/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/3 issue of the Peoria Times

Last week, for the first time ever, my wife and I went to Trader Joe’s.

For those unaware, Trader Joe’s is a grocery store that prides itself on selling independently grown and manufactured foods with natural ingredients, as well as other environmentally friendly products. It is essentially a grocery store for hippies.

Are we hippies? It’s difficult to say. I often feel that my wife and I are this strange hybrid –- pun intended –- of old-world conservatism and postmodern realism. (Side note: I have no idea what “postmodern realism” means. So please don’t email me.) Our lives are either one big contradiction of ideals or the perfect balance of extremes. For example, we’re vegetarians, but we live in Arizona. We’re Yankees fans, but we love the underdog. We’re indignant at Republican corruption, but not that confident about Democrats. We’re Catholic, but we watch “The Hills.”

I think it’s a…

Classic card of the week

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John Henry Lloyd, 1993 Ted Williams Collection

Here is another installment of The Negro Leagues series. Previously we discovered that players of this era had awesome nicknames and every team was named the Giants. In this instance we discover that John Henry Lloyd was called “Pop” and that he played for seven different teams called the Giants. But where is our anecdotal evidence of how Pop Lloyd was perceived during his day?



A St. Louis sportswriter was once asked who the greatest player in baseball was.

Here is how I envisioned this little tidbit playing out: He said, “John Henry Lloyd. No question.” That sportswriter’s name? Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That is not how it played out.

“If you mean organized baseball, the answer would be Babe Ruth.”

But if you mean silly-slap-boodlekins-fart-ball –- in which the players run around aimlessly wearing helicopter beanies and the bases are pepperoni pizzas -– then the answer would be John Henry Lloyd. Also: Babe Ruth? Thanks for your input, anonym…

The pews aren’t always softer on the other side

Note: This column appears in the 3/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/27 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife and I are Catholic. We’ve been attending St. Thomas More in Glendale since we moved here, but never officially signed on to be parishioners.

Why? Well, to be honest, we were holding out. For one thing, St. Thomas More is about 35 minutes from our house in Peoria. Plus, the Masses themselves are long, making what’s supposed to be (in our minds) a 50-minute mass an over two-hour-long event. The distance also makes it nearly impossible to attend Mass during the week for any other Holy Days, which we’re rarely aware of anyway. (There are few things more guilt-inducing than when either of us call our saintly mothers back home only to find that they just returned back from Mass because today is, after all, the Feast of Saint Agnes of Bohemia, yet we are home watching American Idol.)

So while we attended Mass each week, we were all the while waiting for a new Catholic Church to pop …

Classic card of the week

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Alfredo Griffin, 1990 Bowman

Bowman remains to this day the worst brand of baseball cards ever made. A 1991 scientific study performed by Dr. Claude Frazzelberry at the University of Wyoming confirmed that the average human being’s enjoyment of the game of baseball dropped 89% after looking at a Bowman baseball card.

The Topps Company, threatened by the sheer awesomeness of Upper Deck, responded in 1990 with Bowman, thus appealing to that untapped market of baseball fans without eyes. I would say that this is the most boring baseball card ever, but then somebody could easily show me any other Bowman card from this set, and I would change my mind in two seconds.

I mean, hey –- what’s not to like? It’s a picture of a Dodgers player posing! Or maybe it’s a coach. This guy looks like he’s 45, so I am not sure. Where is his name? Oh, at the bottom of the rainbow border? Let me see…(squinting)…okay, Alfredo Griffin. Glad we figured that out. Anyway, it’s an overcast day at a spring training …

Good things can bud from a disappointing situation

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Note: This column appears in the 3/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/20 issue of the Peoria Times

Shortly after we moved to Arizona and got settled into our house, it came time to have our backyard done. Because this was really our first house, and because we were largely unfamiliar with the local landscape, we admittedly were pretty clueless. We received a landscaping reference, met with him, and decided to go with him. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and he promised my wife a lemon tree, the one thing we knew we wanted.

Maybe a month or two after our backyard was complete, we noticed that many of the plants the guy had installed had died. He also neglected to inform us how to properly care for a lemon tree, and now we have a lemon tree that produces thorns and lemon-scented leaves. I called him about this situation, left a zillion messages, but he would never answer or return my calls. This went on for weeks. One day I called from a different line and finally got a …

Classic card of the week

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Vince Coleman, 1990 Topps

If you were a kid in 1990 and you were opening up a fresh pack of new baseball cards and you saw this very card, you would initially think it was a regular ol' card. Until, that is, your eyes led you down to the aesthetically marvelous “Record Breaker 89” insignia. Then you would know you had a “Record Breaker” card on your hands. Your heart would skip a beat and your palms would become sweaty. Your friends would ask, “What’d you get?” and you’d nervously stutter, “Nothing!” as you carefully placed your “Record Breaker” card to the back of the pack, knowing that when you got home you would immediately place it in the finest hard plastic case that you had. You would be well on your way to becoming a record breaker in the realm of having “Record Breaker” baseball cards. The only thing that would possibly make this scenario better is if you turned the card over and it read like an “Extra, extra!” newspaper clipping with regards to said record:



Vincent Van Go C…

Those in need hit hardest by economic times

Note: This column appears in the 3/12 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/13 issue of the Peoria Times

It’s not breaking news that we’re all living through some tough economic times. It’s one thing however to acknowledge this fact and quite another to experience its effects firsthand.

Over a month ago I wrote about our first experience as foster parents, and I mentioned our anticipation of receiving another placement. Well, we’re still waiting. Last week we found out why.

Governor Jan Brewer recently signed legislation with regards to revised budget cuts for the state. In short, due to the current economic circumstances, the state is cutting back on social service funding. Drastically.

You may not have heard about this, with all of the economic attention focused on foreclosures, struggling investment firms, and the fact that Manny Ramirez is finally (whew!) signed. But what does this mean, exactly?

What it means is this: Children in need are a drain on the local economy. The state has c…

Classic card of the week

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Charles Smith, 1998 NBA Hoops

Here is yet another installment of our “NBA Hoops cards that are awesome and have fascinating yet largely nonsensical tidbits on the back that sound like they were written by a drunken beat-poet from the East Village.” Today’s feature: Charles Smith.



O.K.,

Let the awesomeness immediately begin with an abbreviated form of the lengthy and popular term “okay,” which often goes by the alias “OK.” In this case, NBA Hoops has chosen to abbreviate the original Latin form of the word, which is Okalay Kadokalay, always capitalized as it was an ancient term of acknowledgment towards royalty.

your name’s been in the NBA a few times,

Certainly, it has. Including the Charles Smith in question right here, the name Charles Smith has been in the NBA, quite literally, a few times. Of course, that is assuming we are talking about NBA players specifically, and not executives, team personnel, and other human beings that could be described as being “in the NBA.” (Editor’s note: I …

Camelback Ranch opening worth the wait

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Note: This column appears in the 3/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/6 issue of the Peoria Times



Those who had arrived at the ballpark early Sunday morning thought the gates were supposed to open at 10am. Others thought it was 11am. Crowds gathered near the entrance gates and the lines extended back into the parking lot as eleven o’clock turned into 11:30. Nobody wanted to wait any longer to experience the opening of the new Camelback Ranch ballpark in Glendale, and people were getting antsy.

When the gates finally opened just before noon, and those who had waited were immediately greeted by beer vendors, program-pushers, and the smells of spring baseball, all was forgiven.

Minus a few minor hiccups to be expected from a ballpark opening for the first time, the new spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox opened without a hitch, and to much fanfare.

What the fans –- 11,000 of them, give or take –- got to see was the brand new state-of-the-art facility th…