Showing posts from December, 2009

Classic card of the week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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…