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Showing posts from March, 2010

Becoming offended in defense of someone else

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Note: This column appears in the 4/1 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/2 issue of the Peoria Times

One of the clues that I am getting older is that I am becoming increasingly offended by things.

In my younger days, nothing fazed me. Even things that I recognized as being extremely offensive were not actually offensive to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have morals -– I was just indifferent to or amused by the lack thereof in others. Which, I guess, reflected poorly on my own morals, but whatever. I’m not the one on trial here!

Anyway, now in my early 30s, I am finding myself perturbed by even things that have gained national acceptance. Sometimes especially things that have gained national acceptance.

Exhibit A for me is “Dancing With the Stars.” Believe me that I do not voluntarily watch this show. (Don’t get me wrong -– I watch plenty of shows that would make you question my masculinity. This is just not one of them.) But my wife does. And I am appalled by it.

I mean, have you seen thi…

Classic card of the week

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Dave Winfield, 1988 Kay-Bee Superstars of Baseball

In the late 80s, the authority on who was, and who was not, a superstar of baseball was Kay-Bee Toy Stores. The good news for everyone playing baseball in the late 80s was that Kay-Bee Toy Stores was pretty liberal in who they named superstars. For example, this particular card is No. “33 of 33 cards.” For the year of 1988, it was deemed, by Kay-Bee Toy Stores, that there were 33 superstars in baseball. Thirty-three! That is a lot of superstars, especially considering that my complete and unopened set of 1989 Topps is worth $4. It remains curious as to what the criteria was to be a superstar in the mind of Kay-Bee Toy Stores, but you definitely needed at least some form of identification. If you happened to root for a team in 1988 that was mysteriously bereft of at least one superstar, that only meant that your favorite player was not forging an adequate relationship with Kay-Bee Toy Stores. And that was unfortunate.

But I digress. Let…

Gaining some perspective from being briefly sick

Note: This column appears in the 3/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/26 issue of the Peoria Times

Like many people I often wonder: If I ever struck it rich through either the lottery –- which I do not play –- or through fantasy sports –- where our annual payout for any league is around $200 –- would I continue to work?

I always liked to believe that I would continue to work regardless of whether I needed to or not, although that mindset is often second-guessed on those mornings when I’d just rather go back to sleep, which is, actually, every morning. But last week something happened that helped reconfirm my original position.

Last Monday morning my wife woke up feeling very ill. Stomach flu. Luckily for us, I have off from work on Mondays anyway, so although it was no fun to see her in so much pain, at least I was around to take care of things.

I was Mr. Mom for the day. I cooked, straightened up, made phone calls, and most importantly took care of our little one. Admittedly it’s m…

Classic card of the week

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Nolan Ryan, Baseball Heroes, 1990 Upper Deck

Here is our collective baseball hero, Nolan Ryan. In 1989 he struck out his 5,000th batter. But I bet you were wondering what he was like as a naïve, impressionable, hillbilly youngster, caught up in the big bright lights of New York City.



As a youngster with the Mets, Nolan once remarked to teammate Tom Seaver that Jim Bunning’s 2,500th strikeout, which they had just witnessed, was a remarkable accomplishment.

Nolan Ryan: You know what, Tom? I was thinking. To me, 2,500 strikeouts is a pretty remarkable accomplishment.

Tom Seaver: Oh, really? Ya’ think? You know Nolan, I thought your strong suit was throwing 100-mph fastballs. But let’s throw “perceptive analysis” into the category of “things you do really well.” In fact, I wanted your opinion on something. This baseball looks round to me. What do you think?

Nolan Ryan: I hate you.

Seaver told him about Walter Johnson’s 3,508 career K’s.

In the realm of silly and contrived and 99%-false baseba…

Why ‘The Marriage Ref’ could use a ref of its own

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Note: This column appears in the 3/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/19 issue of the Peoria Times



So my wife and I have been watching “The Marriage Ref.”

For those who have managed to miss this mercilessly promoted television program, it features married couples having arguments which are then discussed and arbitrated on by the host and a panel of celebrities, most of whom have an obvious and shameless connection to NBC, “The Marriage Ref’s” home network. I have many issues with the show, not the least of which is not finding it to be particularly funny, which is, I think, the point of the whole thing. But that’s not my only problem.

Besides the inherent disingenuousness of people arguing in front of cameras, the arguments themselves are made-for-TV in their outlandishness. In the interest of declaring “a winner,” this makes it near impossible to not immediately and obviously side with either the husband or wife. For example, the first few episodes featured a husband who wanted his…

Classic card of the week

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Bill Bene, 1989 Topps

Seen here is #1 Draft Pick Bill Bene, who is too sexy for this hat. There's no way he's disco dancing! It's difficult to say how this #1 Draft Pick worked out for the Dodgers, because my Internet is down and thus I cannot find the data to back up the obvious fact that it did not work out for the Dodgers. Not to say that Bene himself was not a success, as overall performance is vastly inferior to dashing good looks in a city like Los Angeles.

But where does Bill Bene's story begin? At birth? No. In high school:




Primarily a basketball player in high school, Bill was originally an outfielder.

Let's ignore the fact that this statement makes it sound as though an outfielder is a position on the basketball court. There are more pressing issues here, namely: what does it mean to be "primarily" a basketball player in high school? For Bene, was basketball business and baseball mere pleasure? Were his dreams of making it to the NBA and being an aw…

My failed attempts to properly pick a girl up

Note: This column appears in the 3/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/12 issue of the Peoria Times

What happened?

These are almost always the first words my wife utters when she comes home from work on those days when I am responsible for picking up our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter from daycare.

Typically, her inquisition is a result of our little one wearing different clothes than my wife had dressed her in that morning, a small detail I consistently miss when picking her up. If she is wearing “backup” clothes that means she had either a spitting-up or poop-related accident, and so my wife’s follow-up question is: Where are her clothes? My response to this -– as was my response to the initial question and any additional ones -– is a meek shrug of the shoulders.

This has been a constant source of frustration for my wife. I know she thinks that if our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter were wearing a potato sack when I went to pick her up, I still wouldn’t notice. And she may be right. Be…

Classic card of the week

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Orel Hershiser, 1989 Baseball Cards Magazine

Here is further proof of my mastery of a pair of scissors. Again, I don't remember cutting out this small slice of heaven -- apparently it's from Baseball Cards Magazine? Man, I am cool -- but Orel Hershiser himself seems pleased with my efforts. As do the fans. Let’s find out more about this fellow called Orel:



The hero of the 1988 World Series

Orel Hershiser was unreal in the 1988 World Series, pitching brilliantly during his two wins and earning MVP honors. That said: Kirk Gibson on line one.

(By the way, I’ve never used the “X is on line one” joke. How did it go? Did you laugh? No? Because your sense of humor is on line one. Ha! Take that.)

And the reigning king of the big contract and the multi-million dollar endorsement,

Yes, in his day Orel Hershiser was a lethal marketing hybrid of Peyton Manning mixed with Bob Villa mixed with a hilarious old woman inquiring as to the whereabouts of her beef. He could sell advertising space to a…

How to receive an incoming call from no one

Note: This column appears in the 3/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/5 issue of the Peoria Times

I’m not much of a phone person in that generally, I don’t prefer to talk on the phone. I would say that I am in the mood to talk on the phone approximately twenty minutes throughout the course of a given calendar year. What an actual phone can do however, as far as texting and letting me know who is calling so that I don’t have to answer, which allows me to better avoid actual conversations, has been great and has, ironically, made me more of a phone person.

As a result of that, or as result of me being considerably less popular than I think I am, not many people actually call me. In fact, save for my wife and parents, nobody calls me.

Under normal circumstances -– as in, if I were normal -- this would be fine. But for some odd and illogical reason, I still expect people to call me. I am equally annoyed by people calling and not calling. My own cell phone has an automatic keypad-locking …