Showing posts from April, 2010

Classic card of the week

Cal Ripken, Jr -- Champagne, 1993 Milkbone Superstars

Here we have the Milkbone “Superstars” series of trading cards, in which popular Major League Baseball players posed happily with their dogs. It’s uncertain here who is the actual superstar. Cal Ripen, Jr. –- shortstop –- has the inset going for him, while Champagne -– dog -– has the “don’t eff with me or I’ll bite your friggin’ head off” look of a true superstar. Both have amazing sweaters. Let us declare them both superstars!

Because I already know the vital statistics of Cal Ripken, Jr, let’s discover more about Champagne, shall we? Indeed:

Champagne was presented to Cal’s wife as a gift along with a bottle of champagne, hence her name.

That is a fabulous story, one that I am sure is recounted in detail at lavish mid-winter dinner parties at the Ripken’s lovely suburban Maryland home. Nevertheless, I don’t get it.

Cal Ripken: Hey babe. Happy birthday. I got you a bottle of champagne. And this dog. The dog’s name is Champagne. Get it…

Keeping family in the loop, and occasionally tossing them out

Note: This column appears in the 4/29 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/30 issue of the Peoria Times

There has been a running joke in our family for years involving videos from Idaho. My uncle –- then stationed in Idaho for the Air Force -– and my aunt had just given birth to their first kids, twin girls. Armed with a camcorder and the anxiety that everyone back east was missing everything, my uncle countered by recording everything. When my aunt and uncle eventually returned east for good, our entire family was subsequently treated to hours-long, sound-free, grainy footage of my cousins doing mundane things amidst the appealing aesthetic of the flat and empty Idaho landscape. Having to watch those videos again is now a threat at family functions aimed at anyone who gets out of hand, which usually ends up being, ironically, one of the co-stars of those famous movies. They drink wine now.

I was so young when those videos surfaced, but even I have a faint memory of their monotony. Now…

You know you can change that, right?

Trust me that this post is not in retrospect, considering Round 1 of the NFL Draft is finished. I just never got around to mentioning this yesterday.

Besides, I would never hold anyone to any sort of accuracy standards when it comes to mock drafting. They are silly, but apparently required if you are a sports writer. But I just cannot let this doozy from Peter King slide.

Keep in mind that a mock draft is, for those unaware, a made-up scenario regarding how a particular person thinks the draft will pan out. With that in mind, here is what Peter King has to say regarding the 29th pick in his mock draft:

29. New York Jets
Jahvid Best, RB, Cal

This pick makes no sense -- unless you think Leon Washington and LaDainian Tomlinson are short-timers.

This pick. Makes no sense. Indeed it does not, especially considering that it is your own pretend pick. I mean, who are you talking to, Peter King? Because it seems as though you are harshly criticizing the New York Jets for making a pick that they did …

Classic card of the week

Ken Griffey Jr., 2000 Upper Deck

Sometime around the year 2000, there was a top-secret Superstar Summit, which was held at an undisclosed location (Bennigans), was organized by Upper Deck and the baseball branch of the C.I.A., and included the superest superstars of Major League Baseball.

What you see here has never been disclosed to the general public before, and it seems to be the identification card for Ken Griffey Jr. to enter the Superstar Summit. How and why do I have it? I am not at liberty to disclose that information. Not now. Not ever. I will not be putting my family or this country at risk for a fleeting moment of self-glorification!

That said, here is what I know:

Name of All-Star
Ken Griffey Jr.

Fact No. 1: You had to be an All-Star to attend this Summit. Not too surprising that a summit of superstars would require at least some star experience. Think Joe Johnson is gaining entry into the Superstar Summit? Think again. Fact No. 2: The man pictured here is named “Ken Griffey Jr.…

Seeing scorpions? There are specialists for that

Note: This column appears in the 4/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/23 issue of the Peoria Times

The last time I discussed scorpions here I mentioned how my wife and I had resorted to hunting for them outside with a black light at night, collecting them in a jar, and then releasing them on the concrete at which point I would kill them in the most panicked and effeminate way you can imagine –- with my flip-flop, while screaming.

Believe me this was not the ideal way we wanted to go about ridding ourselves of scorpions. The dread of reinitiating that summer night routine had remained in the back of my mind, as was the reality of scorpions in general and the fact that we have, though not yet officially, a family now. But one day a few weeks ago while walking back from the mailbox, I noticed a truck parked in front of our neighbor’s house that read, “Scorpion Specialists.”

So I talked to the guy, Chris. He said the Scorpion Specialists seal your home, inside and out and completely, to…

Classic card of the week

Andres Galarraga, 1991 Score

Andres Galarraga. Good ballplayer. I want to know more:

Dubbed the “Cat” by his teammates because of his graceful moves around first,

Wrong. Galarraga’s nickname, as specified by Wikipedia and anyone who followed baseball in the 90’s was “The Big Cat.” And while that may sound like nitpicking, I mean, that was his nickname. Not “Cat.” That would be like saying that Frank Thomas’ nickname was “Hurt.” I would even venture to say that the fact that Andres Galarraga’s nickname was “The Big Cat” is probably the most commonly recognized thing about Andres Galarraga, as evidenced by this very card opting to mention it first and foremost. So the fact that this card, in doing so, got it wrong is very weird to me. But that’s not the weirdest thing about this little tidbit.

Not by a long shot:

In ’89 Andres was awarded his first Gold Glove. “He’s very classy around the bag,” said scout Joe Klein. “And he has tremendous hands.”

I would first like to mention that I never kne…

That red flashing stop sign on school buses means ‘stop,’ say police

Note: This column appears in the 4/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/16 issue of the Peoria Times

Last week I mentioned how writing about bad driving is a stale, clichéd, and predictable endeavor. As a result, this will be my second consecutive column about bad driving.

This is however, out of my control. My hand was forced as a result of the news that both Glendale and Peoria will begin –- like, now –- cracking down on motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.

One of the first things that I noticed upon moving here almost three years ago was how the local motorists react when an ambulance or fire truck is on the road with its siren blaring. Drivers in the Valley, rather than simply slow down and drive in a manner that will allow the ambulance or fire truck to pass –- which is what east coast drivers do –- instead come to a complete stop on the road, wherever they are. Even if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of a road that is separated by a median, drivers will …

Classic card of the week

Dan Gladden, 1989 Donruss Diamond Kings

There have been Diamond Kings before, but none as feisty and throwbacky and pesky and Diamond Kingy as Dan Gladden. To wit:

Dan Gladden is a throwback to the old timers who played on the Gas House Gang Cardinals of the 1930’s.

Let us, for a second, ignore the fact that the term “throwback player” is reserved exclusively for white players with a reputation for hustle, which is offensive to almost every current player not labeled a “throwback” in its insinuation that they do not hustle, and also inaccurate in its assumption that players from the good ol’ days hustled all the time and serve as the standard for how to play baseball properly. Yes, we shall ignore that.

What is rather amazing here is the specificity of this throwback statement. Because Dan Gladden wasn’t a throwback in a general sense –- he was a throwback to the Gas House Gang Cardinals. When people watched Dan Gladden play, they immediately thought of the Gas House Gang Cardinals, even …

Decent society and the turn signal, a love story

Note: This column appears in the 4/7 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/8 issue of the Peoria Times

I’m a patient man, I think. It takes a lot for something to really get to me. I don’t have many pet peeves. Even those things that I list as being “pet peeves” don’t really bother me all that much. Sometimes I have to manufacture indignation so as to feel like a normal, frustrated, angry human being. I am, after all, from the east coast. There are expectations.

But there is one thing that honestly and legitimately makes my skin crawl with the type of loathing normally reserved for unrepentant and violent criminals. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, those who neglect or straight refuse to use their turn signal are murderers. Of the decent driver’s soul.

Now, I do not prefer to write about bad driving. For one thing, I’ve done it before, many times. It’s also hacky and stale and predictable. Any person can make an argument that the driving where they live is the worst. And it’s been well d…

Classic card of the week

Todd Dunn, 1993 Classic Games, Inc.

Seen here is Classic Games, Inc’s (?) “Four Sport Collection” featuring Todd Dunn. I can only however, locate one sport on this card, and that sport appears to be high school baseball, as photographed by the coach’s wife with a Kodak disposable camera.

If you need evidence of Todd Dunn’s baseball ability that goes beyond blurry documentation of an odd batting stance and proof that his fans included middle-aged groupies wearing scrunchies and Gotcha tank tops, then may I direct you to the back of the card:

Unfortunately, the back of the card includes another blurry photo. But there is also a difficult-to-read chart, which is nice. Also:

A first round pick by the Brewers, Todd was rated as the best overall athlete in Baseball America in an article listing the College Players with the Best Tools.

In the category of “College Players with the Best Tools,” Todd Dunn was voted the best overall athlete. It is unclear whether being a great athlete is a specific …