Showing posts from December, 2010

Classic card of the week

Anfernee Hardaway, 1997 Upper Deck "Crunch Time" series

Is there anything crunchier than hitting two free throws with 7.4 seconds left on the clock during a regular season game against the Toronto Raptors? No, there is not. To wit:

“Penny” Hardaway has a panache for hitting game-winning baskets.

Is this true? I honestly don’t remember Penny Hardaway’s panache. I remember that he was really good at basketball, and then not so good at basketball. It’s possible that during the time he was really good at basketball he displayed a noticeable panache for game-winning baskets. If that is indeed true, I wonder why Upper Deck did not choose a more thrilling game-winning basket from his extensive catalog of game-winning baskets to highlight.

He can hit the open three, drive to the hole or, as he displayed at Toronto (1/12/97), nail clutch free throws under pressure.

The exact date is unnecessary. I trust we all remember where we were when Penny Hardaway hit two pressure-filled foul shots …

Classic card of the week

Pete Ladd, 1987 Donruss

Pete Ladd employed fear tactics, and he made no apologies about it. Possessing somewhat average stuff for a major leaguer and a middle name of “Linwood,” Pete Ladd succeeded by utilizing his most apparent quality: a general aura that implied he would kill you if you crossed him or batted against him.

Quoting one source:

A hard-throwing sinker-slider pitcher with a herky-jerky motion, he was an intimidating presence with his long hair, beard, and 6’3” 240-lb physique.

Obviously, Ladd had since shaved the beard. Legend has it that while with the Brewers, Ladd walked into the opposing clubhouse to shave his beard … with a butter knife for a blade and Ben Gay as shaving cream. The other team watched in horror as blood splattered everywhere. It was yet another infamous Pete Ladd intimidation tactic. Did it work? The Brewers won 7-5 that day. You tell me.

As if Ladd’s imposing presence wasn’t enough, the herky-jerkiness of his delivery only added to the fear exhibited by…

Christmas, with a peppermint twist

Note: This column appears in the 12/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/24 issue of the Peoria Times

We have a really good friend who is like a modern day saint. She is so insanely kind that it naturally exposes my own selfishness, yet being in her presence somehow makes me feel like a better person. She has adopted eight children out of foster care, and was the driving force behind our own decision to get involved as well. In that respect we have her to thank for our own family.

Her younger girls are all enrolled in dance school, and they had a big Christmas recital last weekend that ended with an all-important daddy-daughter dance. For this, the men of their family were employed for service, including our friend’s own dad and the girls’ oldest brother. Another brother was supposed to take part until it was discovered that this year’s dance included a lift. He was out, not yet big enough to lift up his sister. So …

I agreed to be the dance partner for our friend’s five-year old dau…

Classic card of the week

1992 Upper Deck, "Rookie Threats"

It’s a Brian Jordan sandwich, between two slices of plain white bread. (Sayeth Brian Jordan: “Haaaaay!”) Now, for the mustard:

After Ray Lankford and Omar Olivares made the jump to the Majors in 1991, you would think the Cardinals would have to wait a few years before their next crop of rookies.

Cardinals Manager Joe Torre: In a way, it’s a shame Lanky and Oli played well last year, cause I got a few young guys who I’d love to give a shot.

General Manager Dal Maxvill: Then, why don’t you?

Torre: Well, you know. What would people think? We just harvested a crop of two rookies, and then we’re gonna bring up more rookies? We have to wait until at least 1994 to bring up more rookies. It’s too many rookies, too soon. The fans will get restless. Because of the rookies.

Maxvill: Well are they better than the players we got?

Torre: I mean, our No. 2 starter is Rheal Cormier, and we got Ozzie Canseco in the outfield. So … yeah.

Maxvill: I say who cares what …

To my dismay, family is gift that keeps on giving

Note: This column appears in the 12/16 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/17 issue of the Peoria Times

Our entire family recently became involved in a long, drawn-out email discussion regarding Christmas gifts.

I started it. For the seventh consecutive year I attempted to, with the help of my courageous wife, steer the rest of the family away from an all-encompassing gift exchange and relegate things to a one-gift grab bag. For the seventh consecutive year, it did not work. Last year, before our own valiant attempts, my sister had taken the reins and suggested that donations be made in lieu of gifts, and she was excommunicated from the family for three days.

I realize that my attempts to shun gifts are sometimes viewed as self-righteous, but they are really not. If anything they’re a result of selfish laziness. You see, gifts are things, and things bother me. Especially now that we live far away from everyone else, and each gift is a package—a package that arrives at the front door w…

Classic card of the week

Dmitri Young, 1991 Upper Deck

Dmitri Young is a Top Prospect. Don’t believe me? Ask Dmitri, seen here menacingly brandishing a baseball bat in the direction of all those who do not believe he is a Top Prospect. I’m sold. More:

Young hit .564 in high school baseball in Alabama – and that was as a seventh grader.

I feel like that needs a little more explanation. At least more than "no explanation," which is what this card provides. I thought you had to be in high school to play high school sports? Are there no rules in Alabama? Man, I would hate to be the last kid cut on that team:

Manager: Jimmy, step over here for a sec.

Jimmy: Sure. What’s up, skip?

Manager: Jimmy, I realize you’re a senior now, and that you’ve been patiently riding the bench for the past three years in the hopes of one day getting into an actual game. But the thing is, you’re cut.

Jimmy: What? Why?

Manager: You see that kid over there, blasting home runs? He’s gonna be with us this season.

Jimmy: Who, Dmitri? But h…

Weather warnings in Valley a mere blanket statement

Note: This column appears in the 12/9 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/10 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife subscribes to the weather alert application on her phone. Because we live here in the Valley, and her Blackberry does not, apparently, recognize center-of-the-earth-type heat as a situation that bears warning—it would get redundant, I suppose—this feature is barely utilized.

That changed last week when temperatures became unseasonably cool around these parts. As a result, my wife received two weather alerts on her phone, and each time we reacted as if our lives were about to change dramatically.

You see, when we lived back east, the first winter weather warning was darn near the most exciting thing that happened during the year. After all, it could mean that you wouldn’t be leaving the house for the next six days, and that you’d be utilizing the canned goods your dad stored up in the basement during the fall, and that you’d probably be going to school now until July. Being wa…

Classic card of the week

I was flipping through a stack of sports cards as usual in my attempt to find one to post here. I came across this.

I really don’t know how this got in there. I did NOT collect Batman cards. Promise. However, it should be mentioned that I was very much into the original Batman movie. I remember that not long after it came out, I dragged my mom to the Brunswick Square Mall and convinced her to buy me a white t-shirt that had just the Joker’s face on it.

I wisely decided to wear my new shirt for the first time on a Saturday, so that I could wear it all day and not just for the allotted five hours after Catholic school and before bed. To boot, I got my haircut that morning. Could I have looked better, riding my red bike around the neighborhood with a fresh cut, rocking a new Joker t-shirt that draped beautifully over my lanky, 70-lb frame, while listening to the latest Jodeci song on my walkman? I don’t think so.

Anyway, as if I don’t already know, let’s see what’s going here:

Crazy Jack …