Showing posts from January, 2011

Classic card of the week

Juan Castillo, 1995 Upper Deck

Juan Castillo: Hello?

Upper Deck: Juan, hey. Brad, Upper Deck. Listen, come down to the studio tomorrow afternoon. We’re doing a hot, new shoot. “Rookie Class.” You’re the star, along with a bunch of other guys. Cool stuff, new fonts, lots of colors and crap. You like pink?

Juan Castillo: Ummm …

Upper Deck: Cool. We’re doing a pink background, like you’re playing on Mars as the sun sets. It’s hot, trust me. Call Michelle and set up an exact time. Oh, and wear your best Mets turtleneck. It’s cold on Mars.

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Castillo signed with the Mets as a free agent at the tender age of 17, and the Mets’ investment began to pay off in 1994.

Free agent? 17? I guess, technically, we’re all free agents out of the womb. I think that is how God intended on us being defined. Also, it seems that the Mets investment strategy in this case was: Sign 17-year old Venezuelan “free agent,” wait seven years for him to become 24, and then finally call hi…

Because registering a complaint is cheaper

Note: This column appears in the 1/27 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/28 issue of the Peoria Times

I am not a cheap person. I don’t mind spending money. When I was younger I had almost every pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Granted, that was usually my mom’s money I was spending. But still.

What does bother me, however, is when I am forced to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a mandatory service, which is not so much a service as it is a small sticker.

Indeed, I reluctantly renewed my vehicle registration last week. It’s bad enough to have to pay fees associated with motor vehicles. I know many people enjoy cars and what not, but for me, my vehicle is simply a means of getting to a job that enables me to pay for that vehicle. Anything that exceeds the standard fees—monthly payments with interest, gas, insurance, and having the dried stucco removed that splashed onto the vehicle after driving through one of this area’s five zillion construction zones—causes me much angst.

Actually, …

Classic card of the week

Tom Browning, 1989 Fleer, Superstar Specials

Here is a little-known fact about perfect games—they are perfect. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look:


Instead of “picture perfect.” Because Tom Browning pitched a perfect game. Tom Browning is a pitcher.


That would be my lede if I were in second grade and writing a current event about Tom Browning’s perfect game. It would have read in full:

Tom Browning pitched a perfect baseball game on Sept. 16, 1988! It was nice. I saw the highlights on TV with Daddy. I want to play baseball when I am older and pitch like Tom Browning and pitch a perfect game every day! Or a scientist. The end.

Ed. note: each “s” should be backwards, but there is no key for that. Also, the title would have been "Perfect!" Anyway, back to the perfectness:

That was Tom Browning in 1988 when he defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0, before his Cincinnati Reds fans, with a perfect game … no hits, no walks, no Dodgers base runners … nothing.

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Letting go of what might-have-been, pondering what is

Note: This column appears in the 1/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/21 issue of the Peoria Times

Note II: SAPPY ALERT! Proceed with caution

Exactly two years ago they came to pick up our first foster placement.
We don’t know where he is now, or how he’s doing. His caseworkers never responded—our inquiries as to his well-being were ignored, then forgotten amidst system turnover, budget cuts, and issues more pressing than keeping his foster parents of 10 days in the loop.

I’ll never forget that day when my wife called to say, through her tears, that CPS had called her, and that he was going back to some distant relative, his only kin, apparently, with a clean record. A song that played from a CD on my drive home that day is now etched in my brain as a reminder of that day and those feelings. It was only later I realized the name of the song is “Innocent Son.”

I wish I could say that I think about him everyday, but the circumstances life has brought on since then have kept me, thankfu…

Classic card of the week

Ernest Riles, 1991 Score

Here is Ernest Riles, displaying the cat-like quickness he was famous for. And by “famous for” I mean “not that famous for.” Still, I wonder if these feline reflexes translated to any other aspect of his game:

Ernest, who was a pussycat at bat as a starter in ’90,

Cool! Playing baseball like a pussycat is awesome! Wait—is it? I’m not exactly sure. Are kitty-cats good at hitting?

turned into a tiger when he went to the plate as a pinch-hitter.

I guess not. I learned in school how to infer things using context, and because everybody knows that tigers are good at sex and baseball, it must mean that pussycats are not very good at either. Oh well.

Weird how Ernest Riles could not sustain his tiger-esque abilities as an everyday player, but only in small sample-sized situations. One would think that all bench players would be great everyday players, but it appears that is not the case, which is probably why they are bench players. Again, weird. What say you, San Francisco…

No cause for alarm—son-in-law is on the scene

Note: This column appears in the 1/13 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/14 issue of the Peoria Times

Last week the alarm went off at my in-law’s house here in AZ. The alarm company called my father-in-law, who was back east, to inform him. Being that their house is in our development, he then called us, first to make sure we hadn’t set it off, then to ask if I wouldn’t mind going to check it out. The alarm had been deactivated and the police were on the way.

Assuming it was nothing, I drove over there. It was a sunny Saturday in the middle of the afternoon, and that is when criminals sleep, I figured (I didn’t study Criminology in college, but I know someone who did).

When I arrived at the house the police were not there yet, and I suddenly realized I had forgotten the keys. This was somewhat of a relief because during the three-minute drive my mind began to race with possibilities. What if someone really is robbing the house? What will I do? The only weapons I had available were my c…

Lede of the ... month? We'll see

I am mildly obsessed with ledes, mostly curious ones. A lede is the intro to a written piece—something that’s supposed to grab the reader’s attention and urge them to read on.

In working at a community newspaper, I have come across my fair share of great ledes, even more so considering my responsibility in uploading material to our websites. So, I figured, when I come across one of particular interest, I should share it. Here is one from a few weeks ago that sparked my fancy. Please enjoy.

Shelley Petersen knows a thing or two about naming chickens.

Classic card of the week

Michael Finley, 1998 Skybox

Back . By. Popular. Demand.

Michael…don’t you ever take a break?

Allow me to first share my great affection for the fact that these cards often choose to personally address the player featured on them, rather than provide the card-holder with any useful information. We, the card-buying public, are simply innocent bystanders of these one-sided conversations. In this instance, the card itself wonders why professional basketball player Michael Finley plays basketball so much.

You led your team in scoring and the league in minutes played.

Take a vacation, Michael Finley! It’s difficult to score lots of points for a horrible basketball team and to play a game—virtually the whole game—82 times a year for millions of dollars. The offseason is not a sufficient break, sayeth this card. So please tell the Mavericks you are taking some “me time,” Michael Finely. They will understand. May I suggest an Alaskan cruise?

Comparisons to another Michael?

Michael Rappaport? Famous l…

East coast ‘snowpocalypse’ delays flights, column

Note: This column appears in the 1/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/7 issue of the Peoria Times

Just hours before our plane was supposed to take off, while I was sleeping, my phone buzzed. It was a text stating that our flight was canceled. That was it. “Flight 1535 is canceled.” No word of a rescheduling, or what to do next, or how we’d get home. Just … canceled. As far as Continental Airlines was concerned, I would be living in New Jersey again.

We had a wonderful time with family and friends during Christmas and were glad we decided to travel back east. My niece and my in-law’s dog had thrown up on the carpet on separate occasions, but those were the only barf-related moments of the week, and that’s all you can really ask for. Really, it was great, but we were ready to go home. Despite the blizzard that wreaked most of its havoc directly on our little slice of New Jersey, our flight from Newark was still scheduled to take off on time. It ended up being the very last one cancele…