Showing posts from July, 2009

Classic card of the week

Alvin Dark, 1993 Ted Williams Card Company Collection

This week we return to the well that is “The Ted Williams Card Company” collection, in which Ted Williams himself –- or, more likely, someone other than Ted Williams –- selects a handful of old-timey baseball players and creates new baseball cards for them so that we, the baseball-card-buying public, can fantasize about what it would be like to have an actual card of one of these guys from their playing days, instead of something that is worth four cents.

Today we feature Alvin Dark. Back of the card, holla atcha boy:

While most managers come from the ranks of major-league players, not many have careers as successful as Alvin Dark’s.

I have major problems with this sentence. This card is from 1993. I’m certain that many of the young baseball fans who came across this card had no idea who Alvin Dark was, much less that he was also a manager who last managed a game in 1977. This sentence assumes that it is common knowledge that Alvin Da…

Riding a bike: It's like riding a bike

Note: This column appears in the 7/30 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/31 issue of the Peoria Times

I have started riding a bike again.

I had vowed to buy a bike from the moment we first moved here. Of course, I vowed to buy many things upon moving here and discovering the Arizona lifestyle, things that included a golf cart, a pool, an RV, a mister system, one of those Hummer / golf cart hybrids with the iron bars that families in our neighborhood use to go trick or treating, a barbeque built into a giant slap of concrete, and yes, a cowboy hat. To my surprise, many of the things on my wish list cost more money than I had anticipated, and I still cannot foresee a scenario in which it would be appropriate for me to wear a cowboy hat, nor can I find one that fits in a way that would prevent people from saying, “Look at that idiot in the cowboy hat.”

My most feasible desired item remained a bicycle. I saw myself riding my bike on a beautiful November morning next to my wife on her, more…

Classic card of the week

Matt Nokes, 1988 Topps

In 1988, Matt Nokes was awarded by Topps the “All-Star Rookie goblet.” And rightfully so, as Matt Nokes, drunk off of goblet juice, hit 32 home runs in 1987, his rookie season. Unfortunately for Matt Nokes, this proved to be the best season of his career, although he did play pretty good ball for the Tigers and Yankees thereafter.

I hope that opening paragraph whet your pallet. Because if you are like me, you want to know more about Matt Nokes. Like, right this freakin’ second. For example, did Matt Nokes –- professional baseball player -– enjoy playing baseball?

Matt played Little League, Babe Ruth League, and Palomino League Baseball.

That is noteworthy because, as many people know, most professional baseball players do not start playing baseball until college, if that. Albert Pujols, for example, was drafted directly out of an insurance company cubicle, and showed up wearing jorts for his first minor league game. So Matt Nokes obviously had a leg up on the compe…

Allstate report confirms the obvious

Note: This column appears in the 7/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/24 issue of the Peoria Times

There are two things that the newcomer instantaneously realizes about the Valley: 1) it is hot, and 2) the drivers are awful.

I have written about the driving here before. To no avail, apparently, as little has changed. Thankfully, my opinions have recently been echoed and backed up with lukewarm evidence.

Allstate released its “America’s Best Drivers Report” last week. (In the car insurance world, this is the equivalent of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue release. Except sexier.) If you haven’t read the report then I don’t want to ruin the ending, but let’s just say that we lost.

Not quite a surprise, considering that the most noise Valley residents make is in opposition to measures that make driving safer, like, oh I don’t know…traffic cameras. Still, for me personally, it feels good to know that Allstate has my back, and that I am not turning into an 80-year old man shaking my …

Classic card of the week

Jack Clark, 1991 Score

Jack Clark –- seen here leaving his bat magically suspended in thin air so that the hitter behind him will not have to drag his bat all the way from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box -- was awesome. Jack Clark’s awesomeness is even more awesome when one considers the various obstacles that he bravely endured throughout the course of his major league career. The year of nineteen-hundred-and-ninety was especially cruel for one Jackson Clarkson:

Jack managed to survive a herniated disc in his lower back,

You have to remember -– this is 1990 we’re talking about here. The fatality rate of herniated disc cases was over 97%.

a fractured cheek bone

How a person can play baseball with a fractured cheek bone is beyond me. Though, I imagine that it’s similar to the experience of playing baseball after you’ve been hit in the cheek bone with a baseball. Uncomfortable, though not impossible, since you don't need your cheek to swing.

and a number change (to 00) to smash ov…

The scorpion: Because then everyone would want to live here

Note: This column appears in the 7/16 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/17 issue of the Peoria Times

When we informed our family over two years ago that we were moving to Arizona, the reaction was predictably mixed. They were happy for us, but sad to see us go. It was my uncle however, that had some practical advice: Watch out for scorpions.

This advice has proven to be invaluable, especially considering that every single person we initially asked about scorpions upon moving here reacted indifferently. I have come to believe that this is a vast conspiracy, and that every person who lives in Arizona privately acknowledges not to make a big deal out of scorpions when newcomers ask. The state brochure should read, “Arizona: What scorpions?”

I cannot tell you how bonkers it drives me when people do not react with the proper indignation when it comes to this subject. Arizona is home to the bark scorpion, which Wikipedia -- my source for all social, spiritual and scorpion-related informati…

Classic card of the week

Steve Lake, 1991 Score

So many words come to mind when I think of Steve Lake. Intense. Gamer. Mullet. Steve. Sweaty. Chest protector. Rainbows. Omg, I just called a fastball down broadway that was hit 600 feet, but I’m going to pretend it was a pop up. Eye black.

It becomes difficult to gather all of these thoughts and words and emotions re: Steve Lake together to form one, all-encompassing statement. But difficult is not always impossible. Back of the card, take us home:

Steve is the best defensive backup catcher in the league.

Splam. Pop! Take it the biz-nank. Of all the catchers in the entire league (just National, not Major…I think) not good enough to start, Steve Lake is the best. At defense. And if you think this is an arbitrary statement just carelessly tossed out there to add some pizzazz to the otherwise pizzazzless resume of Steve Lake, here are some stats to back that up:


How did we get to “unhappily” already? We have barely scratched the surface of Steve Lake’s backu…

Tough economic times cause indefinite construction

Note: This column appears in the 7/9 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/10 issue of the Peoria Times

I have some bad news for anyone currently waiting at a Glendale light rail stop.

You might want to catch the bus.

It was revealed last week that the proposed Glendale light rail project will be delayed by “at least two years,” which, in government-controlled construction terms translates to: 30 years.

The current economic circumstances have made building a light rail less of a priority, apparently. Still, this is a surprise, especially considering the vast popularity of the Phoenix light rail, which has experienced no problems. Unless, of course, you count accidents, the reported mistreatment of its operators, and a general state of confusion as it relates to where it goes and why you would ride it.

In fact, the Glendale delay is Phoenix’s fault, as the city is forced to wait on the construction of Phoenix’s 19th Avenue extension, which itself has been pushed back from 2012 to 2014. So w…

Classic card of the week

Frank Viola, 1991 Score Dream Team

Here is a picture of Frank Viola wearing a black turtleneck and holding up an apple. For further explanation, let’s head to the back of the card:

Frank was “Sweet Music” to the Mets in ’90.

Frank Viola’s nickname was Sweet Music because his last name, Viola, is also the name of a bowed string musical instrument that is part of the violin family. Therefore, many considered the manner in which he pitched to be, metaphorically speaking, as sweet as the music generated from the instrument that bore his name. Hence, an apple.

Throwing what many consider to be the best changeup in the game, he won his first seven decisions and ended up a 20-game winner for the second time in three years.

Changeup is code for apple.

A happy man with a lot of little kid in him

Frank Viola was –- and hey, knowing Frank Viola, which I don’t, probably still is -– a happy fella, which is good to know. This, unfortunately, did not stop Chris Hansen from confronting Frank Viola after mis…