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Showing posts from August, 2010

Conversations without a filter

Note: This column appears in the 9/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/3 issue of the Peoria Times

At a job I had a very long time ago, there was a woman who possessed no internal mechanism that informed her which pieces of information were relevant to which people. As a result, she would have phone conversations, with customers, where she would say things like, “I’m sorry sir, I have to go in a few minutes. We’re having cake in the conference room for Julie.”

This is an extreme example –- this woman lacked many more internal mechanisms –- but I have always, personally, enjoyed gathering information from others that does not pertain to the given situation. Especially if it is revealed to me in the form of an excuse as to why my needs cannot be met.

Case in point. My wife and I have both called, on our own, on separate occasions, a person who is supposed to be assisting us in closing an important matter. When I initially spoke with her, she eased my concerns about the delays in this ma…

Classic card of the week

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Mike Marshall, 1992 Score

Off we go!



Like some visitors to the Big Apple, Mike did not enjoy his brief stay in ’90.

Hmmm. “Like some visitors?” Looks like somebody spent a wedding anniversary weekend in NYC, spent $315 to park his car in one of those lots where they stack three cars on top of yours, stepped in barf on the subway platform, and couldn’t get a table at Carmine’s after seeing “Cats,” which he thought would have less cats. Still…why you gotta drag Mike Marshall into this? Let’s see how bad Mike Marshall’s time in New York really was.

After being traded in the off-season to the Mets,

Okay, that kinda sucks.

he smashed the seventh grand slam homer of his career and drove in six runs in an 8-3 win over his old team, the Dodgers.

This sounds terrible. I would hate New York too if all I had to base my experience there on was the fact that I once hit a grand slam there for the local team that helped enact revenge against my former team. “This city is the worst!” I would say.

But Mike…

Birthday party number one: No jacket required

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Note: This column appears in the 8/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/27 issue of the Peoria Times

Last weekend we happily hosted a first birthday party. The theme was butterflies.

Even though I had attended several first birthday parties in the past year or so, and acquired some knowledge as to their culture and thus gained some confidence, there were still many facets of first birthday party etiquette that I was unaware of.

For example, I learned that one cake is not enough cakes. I thought that one cake would be enough, but that was before I discovered that one cake is set aside for the sole purpose of allowing the birthday girl to smush her hands and face in it so that you can take funny birthday pictures. Then that cake is removed and a different cake is brought in for guests, so as to reduce the likelihood of your guests finding boogers in their cake. Luckily for us our friend Donna took care of the “real cake” personally by making a full batch of her Sassy Pops, which are li…

Classic card of the week

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Pat Kelly, 1991 Fleer Ultra, Prospects series

Here is a picture of Pat Kelly pretending to catch a ground ball for the camera. One would think it was during an actual game were it not for the fact that second base is not traditionally played in foul territory. Also there is a tractor on the field. Another option would have involved the camera taking a snapshot of Pat Kelly actually catching a ground ball in real life, but then he probably wouldn’t have been able to simultaneously stare into the camera with the same raw emotion you see here. So, you take the good with the bad.

Fortunately, in the case of Pat Kelly, it’s all good:



Pat Kelly has everything a manager could want from a second baseman.

Let’s say I’m a major league manager, which I am. I want my second baseman to hit 50 home runs, score 125 runs, OPS like 1.340, make approximately zero errors while also making behind-the-back throws to the shortstop during double-plays for no apparent reason, steal zero bases because he’s alw…

On being the victim of circumstance and the after-hours HVAC market

Note: This column appears in the 8/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I am a reasonable fellow. I am neither, I don’t think, cheap or lavish, falling somewhere in between Costanza and Trump. Like most people I prefer to know the price of something before I purchase it. Occasionally however, there are those transactions in life where the urgency of the matter dissuades price from becoming an issue and, as a result, price becomes an issue. I do not like these occasions.

First let me say that there are others more well versed than I in making any transaction a casual one, and these people I have come to know, mostly, as Italian. An example I have used before is going to a fine Italian restaurant with my father-in-law –- one where you won’t see a price on the menu –- and watching the dynamic work between him and the waiter. Without words, my father-in-law says, “I am willing to pay for a good meal, but you better not screw me over,” and the waiter acknowled…

Classic card of the week

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Mo Vaughn, 1996 Topps Road Warriors

Mo Vaughn is a Road Warrior, as evidenced here by this graphic in which Mo Vaughn displays his awkward follow-through -– a result of not being able to move his arms as well as a non-overweight baseball player -- while literally on the road. In this instance the road is a one-lane highway going nowhere. It is reserved exclusively for Road Warriors, and the purple sky is ominous only for those homebodies who lack the Road Warrior attitude displayed by players such as Mo Vaughn.

But what makes Mo Vaughn a Road Warrior?




Vaughn’s Five Favorite Out of Town Parks

This card makes it seem as though as Mo Vaughn personally selected these road venues as his favorite, however I fear that Topps simply selected these on his behalf, highlighting those locations where Vaughn hits particularly well. The reason I say this is because, apparently unbeknownst to Topps, Mo Vaughn was asked to name his five favorite out of town parks in a 1994 interview with Highlights Maga…

From He-Man to just man – a cartoonish yearning for youth

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Note: This column appears in the 8/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/13 issue of the Peoria Times

I loved –- loved -– watching cartoons as a kid. In fact, I think I watched them just slightly past the time when I should have stopped watching them. Like, when girls started calling the house I was still watching Looney Tunes, which made it quite a surprise that girls were calling in the first place.

Nevertheless, cartoons hold a special place in my heart, as they harken back to the fond days of my youth, when I had zero responsibilities and I could sit in front of the TV at three o’clock in the afternoon with a bowl of cereal and watch He-Man before going to play outside, and when the Smurfs were the first people -- or, more technically, blue things -- to greet me on Saturday morning.

And so part of the reason I was so excited to become a father was to get reacquainted with cartoons through my daughter. I have already begun the process -- which isn’t very smart considering she is …

Classic card of the week

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Jose Valentin, 1996 Topps

In a Bill Simmon’s mailbag from many years ago, one of his readers suggested -– I can’t recall the context, though I’m sure it was Hoosiers-related -- that Gene Hackman was born a 46-year old man. That is how I’ve always felt about Jose Valentin. I mean, not that I’ve always felt anything really about Jose Valentin. I remember him being old in 2006 with the Mets, and he looks the same in this card from 1996, so in all honestly, the thought just occurred to me. Nevertheless, that is my intro. Let’s find out more:



Jose has a brother –- also named Jose -– who is a top catching prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization.

Oh, that’s cool. Wait, what? I just…how does that happen? I don’t understand. There are so many names in the world to choose from. This seems like such an unnecessary -– albeit humorous, for me -– means of complicating things. Could it be that Jose Valentin’s real life was the Puerto Rican version of “Newhart?” Does anybody even get that reference…

When you just can’t give something away

Note: This column appears in the 8/5 issue of The Glendale Star & the 8/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Because my wife prefers to throw away nothing, we opt to donate things when we can.

This is not to say that the act of donating things has been, in any way, easier for me than convincing my wife to throw something out. Donating old clothes is especially difficult. There is no item of clothing I can attempt to give away without her getting upset. She will literally gasp at seeing something I have placed in the bag and say to me, pleadingly, “But you wore that on Christmas Eve that year!” as if I am denouncing the fun time I had that day through my desire to donate the pants I was wearing. And God forbid I try to get rid of something she actually bought for me. It has gotten to the point where I have to donate clothes in secret. Last time I slipped up though, and she noticed one of my shirts peaking through the plastic donations bag. The next day she walked past me in the kitchen and sa…