Thursday, June 30, 2011

Classic card of the week

Wade Boggs, 1989 Score “1988 Highlight” series

I always thought this Todd Worrell was my most “that’s what she said” card. And it still may be. But the back-of-the-card-tidbit title alone on this Wade Boggs beauty gives Worrell a run for its suggestive money.


Yes. That is one way of putting it. Elaborate, please.

Wade, who has been called a hitting metronome,

By whom? Who has called Wade Boggs a “hitting metronome?” If I ever heard anyone describe Wade Boggs as a hitting metronome, my first immediate thought would be, “‘Metronome?’" Not because I don’t know what the word means, or what that statement implies, but because a) why? and b) I’m not certain anybody ever said that, and so I think you, Score, are lying. Wikipedia defines a metronome as “any device that produces regular, metrical ticks (beats, clicks) — settable in beats per minute.” They add, “Boggsian. Like Wade Boggs, the baseball player, in the way it produces metrical ticks.”

did something with his bat

Because we are in TWSS territory, I am hoping that this will be about the great and consistent manner by which Wade Boggs hit baseballs with his bat, as opposed to something else that I do not care to discover.

in 1988 that no other player in the 20th Century has ever done.

“Metronome sets 20th century bat-related mark,” was the headline of the Boston Herald one day in the fall of ’88.

He banged out 200 hits

Bill, Score editor: Dick, you bang out that Boggs card yet?

Dick, Score writer: Almost, Bill. Actually, had a question for you: Would you say that Boggs whacks balls, or bangs ‘em?

Bill: Hmmm, good question. I’ve seen him do both. Why don’t you use “whacks” as a lede and “bangs” in the middle …

Dick: Good call.

for the sixth consecutive season, an unprecedented feat, and only topped by Wee Willie

That’s what she said.

Keeler’s eight in a row way back in the 1890s.

Listen, we can talk all day about 19th and 20th century metronomes, but the long and short of it is this, as the title suggests—Wade whacks ‘em. “’Em” being balls. Hard.

Did you know?
I am not proud of all this. Nevertheless.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Four years later, potential unrealized, but happiness sustained

Note: This column appears in the 6/30 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/1 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife and I moved here to Arizona four years ago this very week. Since then, the following things have happened:

We were forced to refinance. We purchased our home, unbeknownst to us at the time, at the height of the real estate market. It is not classy, apparently, to talk about how much one spent on his home, so let’s just say we paid enough, at like a 26.3 percent interest rate. When the bottom fell out of the national real estate market and Arizona fell further down than most, our payments remained the same but our home dropped in value exponentially and suddenly we had no neighbors, construction halted, and we were surrounded by empty homes and vacant lots until renters began to move in and their dogs would relieve themselves on our property, which continues to this day.

Many things we liked, including people, are gone. Four years ago, a great part of our excitement in moving was the chance to live near several good friends who had already settled in the Valley. Many of those friends, for reasons both economic and personal, have moved back from whence they came. So glad you guys are here! Peace, I’m out! Even dining establishments have abandoned us. Though difficult to find food that approaches our east coast standards, we did manage to locate a few gems … which are now, with almost zero exceptions, gone. There used to be a really good Greek pita place near our house. One day I went there to pick up some falafels, and when I walked in I found myself inside a T-Mobile store. I walked out with no falafels, but a new phone, which I did not need, but used to order a terrible pizza. The T-Mobile store is now gone.

Arizona became more famous for its questionable politics than its weather. When we first moved here, our friends and family back east would eagerly ask us how hot it was during the summer, and then avoid asking us how awesome it was during the winter. Now we get emails asking if we’ve ever seen John McCain shaking his fist angrily at a car going 30 mph in a 25, or if we saw the hilarious expose of some recent-passed Arizona legislation on The Daily Show. We were able to return fire during Weinergate, but still.

Sports and entertainment are flailing. Whenever guests visit during the winter months, the one thing we always try to do—and this is totally true; not just for the purposes of this column—is take them to Westgate and a Coyotes game. As it stands now, the Coyotes have one skate out the Valley door and Westgate is bankrupt. It’s hard to believe that a desert ice hockey team couldn’t withstand its own annual economic losses, despite a city’s best efforts, and immediately after I openly declared myself a fan, yet it may in fact happen. And while Westgate may not see a change, it may want to alter its approach—Scottsdale 2.0 was a good idea, but I’m not so sure many people in this area, in lieu of a hockey game, will go to “Men's Ultimate Grooming.” Anyway, I’m not sure where we’ll take our guests this winter. Maybe Kohls and then Chili’s?

All of this begs the question: Do we regret our decision? Not in the least. Arizona—the West Valley in particular—has been an amazing blessing for us for so many reasons, despite the aforementioned misfortunes. With regards to those misfortunes, I still believe things will turn around. Who knows—maybe our ice hockey team will survive, and we’ll get a bobsled team, too. Maybe we’ll make new friends, who own an awesome restaurant. Maybe Jan Brewer will post progressive ideas on Twitter. Either way, we’re in it for the long haul, and happy to be here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Classic card of the week

Bo Jackson

Crack, the horrible and deadly addictive drug, was introduced to the streets in the 1980s by—according to noted historian Kanye West—Ronald Reagan, who “cooked up” the drug and planted it in the streets because … I’m not sure what his motive was there, actually.

Anyway, in the 80s there were two sides to the crack issue: those who liked and enjoyed crack, and those who opposed crack. As a means of adding brevity and friendly competitiveness to an otherwise extremely violent and heart-wrenching situation, MTV, in what would ultimately become the first of its popular Rock n’ Jock Series, in which people like Dan Cortese could hit a 10-point basketball shot, decided to host a baseball game.

Through which spectrum the nation as a whole viewed the crack issue would be decided by this baseball game. On one side was the “Turn Your Back on Crack” team, led by actual baseball AND football player Bo Jackson, who once single-handedly defeated a bumblebee. They had blue hats and uniforms. Their motto was, “No Caine,” in which the “0” in “No” was struck-through, which kinda made it seem like were against not having cocaine, but most people, I think, got the intended message. There were no other team members.

On the other side was “Team Crack,” a team of crack addicts. They were led by Jimmy, a.k.a. “Jim-Jam,” who event organizers found asleep in the stadium parking lot the morning of the game. Their uniforms were jeans and their motto was, “Gimmie Some Crack!” No one from Team Crack showed up for the game, including Jim-Jam, who never returned to the field after excusing himself to go use a payphone.

In an effort to be sensitive to the issue at hand, there were no first and third base lines, so all balls were in play. That's what she said. As a safety precaution, all fans were asked to sit in the upper decks, as games with a “crack” theme did not traditionally end well.

Fortunately for America, Turn Your Back on Crack won the game 26-4, thanks in large part to Bo Jackson’s “blonk-a-donk” hit in the fifth inning, which was a ball that bounced off of three seats in the stands and which, by Rock n’ Jock rules, earned his team 20 “blonker points.”

And with that, it was decided: Crack was bad, and people, especially kids, if offered crack, should turn their back on the drug. Said Jackson after the game, into a microphone held by Michael Rappaport while “YMCA” played in the background, “Remember, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish by literally looking the other way!”

Then he broke his bat over his thigh to thunderous applause. It was then that Jim-Jam returned, looking for his left sneaker and asking if anyone had a few bucks for the bus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Unworn hat a fashionable reminder of insecurities

Note: This column appears in the 6/23 issue of The Glendale Star and 6/24 issue of the Peoria Times

Months ago, while shopping at Ross, my wife convinced me to buy a hat.

I have mentioned before that I have always wanted to be a person who wears cool and hip headgear. I have always desired to wear a cowboy hat in some ironic fashion, but have yet to find one that fits well and doesn’t make me look like an idiot, nor have I found a reasonable occasion on which to potentially wear one. (I think I’ve seen too many beer commercials, as I frequently imagine myself in such a social situation, when in reality my wife and I go out approximately three times a year, and by “go out” I mean go to someone’s house and leave by 10pm.)

Anyway, this particular hat was pretty cool, especially for summer. It was the type of hat Jason Mraz would wear. Or Frank Sinatra, if he were still alive, and 20-years old, and at the beach. Plus, when I tried it on, it fit perfectly. Still, I was hesitant to buy it because I knew I would never actually wear it.

I tried to explain to my wife that I’m not a cool hat guy, and that it’s too late in life for me to become one. My buddy Rashad is a cool hat guy. He wears the type of hats that Irish gangters wear—he’s not even Irish; I’m Irish!—and it looks totally normal and stylish. Last year we all went to a festival near the beach in California and he got to stop by the cool hat stand and peruse hats. I cannot say that I was not jealous.

Well, this hat was on sale, making it impossible for my wife to leave it behind, and I was thus forced to buy it. I have not worn it.

I contemplated it, however, last weekend. We were going to a pool party at a friend’s house, and it really would have been the perfect situation to try it out. I stood in the closet and stared at the hat for a long time, ultimately deciding not to wear it. I figured that the potential coolness factor of the hat going over well did not surpass my anxiety at how the hat would be accepted, and the questions I’d have to answer. Where’d you get that hat? I didn’t know you wore hats! Do you have any other hats? Is something wrong with your head? Besides, even if people were nice to my face, I worried what would be said when we left by 10pm. I can’t believe he wore that hat! Who does he think he is, Jason Mraz?! What a dork!

I never imagined the internal crisis this hat would cause, and the insecurities it would expose. As I have said time and time again, I should have started wearing cool hats years ago. If I were a cool hat guy, all of my problems would disappear, and we’d be invited to many parties where people park their jeeps on the beach in the late evening and bring their guitars and what not.

Soon we will be visiting Rashad and his wife in L.A., which may be an even better time for me to try out the hat. Nobody knows me over there, plus you can wear a toilet seat on your head in L.A. and no one will think twice. I don't know ... I’ll think about it. I mean, I don’t want to upstage Rashad.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Classic card of the week

Kurt Miller, 1991 Upper Deck

I’m not a superstitious person. At least I try not to be. But I married into an Italian family, and there are many, shall we say, quirks involved, of which I must abide lest I be blamed for an unfortunate occurrence. Among these not-quite-superstitious-based obligations: no shoes on the table, walk through the same door you came in, and, of course, when forced to mingle with an untrustworthy person—wear red underwear.

These are all important, obviously, but the most important obligation of all is this: never get ahead of yourself when speaking. In other words, the future is uncertain, no matter what things may seem, and never assume that this is not so. My wife and in-laws tend to take things a small step further with the notion that if you do happen to speak positively about something that is actually happening right here and now, your very words have just prevented this positive thing from moving forward. “Jinx” is an ugly, superstitious word, so let’s just say, in this case, you’ve (other word for “jinx”)ed it. Thus, if something good is happening, never acknowledge it until it is so over that you are safely removed from the risk of being personally held responsible for ending it.

A prime example, and one in which I am perpetually the victim-slash-perpetrator: If our daughter is behaving well for a sustained amount of time—rare, but it happens—I will often say something like, “Wow, she’s being so go—“ and at this point, my wife and mother-in-law will simultaneously shush me, dramatically roll their eyes in each other’s direction, and haphazardly prepare for an onslaught of bad behavior. Should our daughter, immediately after this, so much as faintly verbalize any sort of frustration or confusion, most likely as a result of the spontaneous and inexplicable reaction she has just witnessed, I will be outcasted to a different room and no one will speak to me for at least the next three hours.

So, I try not to get ahead of myself, so much so, that when I witness other people do it, it bothers me. As an example … Let’s say, hypothetically of course, that a person is speaking about a young pitcher, and this person, who is speaking about this pitcher, and ignoring the immense physical strain of pitching in general and also the random circumstances that can frequently cause unfortunate injuries, virtually guarantees, based only on the pitcher’s smooth delivery, that this pitcher will never get injured, and in making this point as emphatically as possible, uses a horrific example of something that, though seemingly improbable, could happen and which, if it did happen, would not only injure this pitcher but also kill him instantly.

Yes, something like that would bother me.

“He has a perfect delivery,” one scout said. “The only way he’s going to hurt his arm is if he’s run over by a semi.”

I spent way, way, WAY too much time on the Internet searching for “Kurt Miller injury,” and there is just so little information about him minus straight baseball statistics. So, I’m not sure if he ever got injured—if anybody knows, holla—but I will say that from ’97 through ’99, one season removed from throwing 46.1 innings, he threw a combined 14.1 innings.

More importantly, according to Wikipedia, unless they simply forgot to mention it, he was never—as of this date, as I would like to express my sincerest hope that this never, ever happens to him or anyone, ever—run over by a tractor trailer.

Did you know?
The anonymous scout quoted here once said of Tiger Woods, “Only way that guy doesn’t win 30 majors is if his personal life spirals out of control via an exposed extramarital history involving porn stars, initiated by a pre-Thanksgiving car accident.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To scare a monster with a monster

Note: This column appears in the 6/16 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/17 issue of the Peoria Times

It has recently been revealed that our daughter is scared of Cookie Monster.
I can’t say that I blame her, with his aggressiveness and broken English—I’m not so sure that “Me want cookie!” is the best educational resource for young children—not to mention his wandering eyes and the fact that he is a self-described monster. Nevertheless, this evolved fear has been wonderful news for us.

You see, virtually nothing scares our daughter. In fact, she is greatly amused by the rare occasions when she is scared, like when I jump out from nowhere during a game of hide-and-seek. More, more! As parents of a child who, not yet two, is still too young to grasp the consequences of discipline—we still valiantly try though, which typically worsens the behavior we were attempting to correct—we are more than ready to employ scare tactics.

Is this wrong? Probably. But I think that, as parents, we are often asked to set down the moral compass in the interest of greater goals, like ending a hunger strike or being able to move about normally in a public setting. Plus, if we lose our sanity, nobody will be there to parent her.

Last weekend was one mini-disaster after the other. Constant mayhem, unnerving selfishness, and borderline malicious defiance, all of which had us both, but my wife especially, on the verge of a breakdown. (My in-laws, by the way, insist that my wife is raising an exact replica of herself, to their utter delight.) This terrible behavior resulted in my wife looking furiously online for a Cookie Monster mask.

For reasons that transcend corrective behavior, I was really looking forward to seeing my wife, amidst the chaos of the latest tantrum, jump out wearing a Cookie Monster mask and yell in a deep voice, “Cookie Monster say, ‘Eat your dinner or else!’” I would have definitely taken a Flip video of that to send out to the family, and to Parents Magazine. But alas—she either couldn’t find an adult-sized mask, or, more likely, abandoned her search on second thought.

One day after our exhausting and self-reflective weekend, my wife was working late and so I put our daughter to bed. After she had fallen asleep, a landscaper working next door, but right by her bedroom window, turned on his extremely loud blower. It scared our daughter out of her sleep. Like, really scared her.

“Dad-DEEE, Dad-DEEE!” she desperately and repeatedly screamed from her crib, and while we normally make it a point to not go back into her room if she cries, this was a special exception. Plus her “Dad-deee” scream is my kryptonite.

I rushed in there to comfort her back to sleep. It’s a strange feeling to see your child genuinely scared—you feel sad for them, but there’s an overwhelming feeling of happiness at being there to comfort them, and joy that they called you to do so.

I told my wife what happened when she got home, and she put her hands over her heart and made extra certain I went in there. I’m pretty sure she abandoned her search knowing that whoever wasn’t playing Cookie Monster would cave and immediately console our daughter, rendering the whole operation useless. I guess we’ll continue parenting the old-fashioned way—persistent love, discipline, and constantly questioning whether or not we’re doing the right thing.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad-dees out there doing the same. Enjoy your kryptonite.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Classic card of the week

Doug Drabek, 1991 Fleer Ultra

The trinity of attaining pitching excellence is as follows, in order of importance: 1) smile, 2) pitch, and 3) hit without looking like a total doofus. And as Meatloaf once said, specifically with regards to Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek—many people don’t know that—two out of three ain’t bad.

Let us begin:

The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates had a pitcher lead the league in victories, Doug Drabek wasn’t even born.

Because a specific date doesn’t always tickle my fancy, I enjoy relating the length of time by which something happened to the age/nonexistence of a different person. For example, if you were to say, “On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor,” I would be like, “???” But if you were to say, “When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bill Cosby was four years-old,” I’d be like, “Okay—I get that.”

Also, taking note that this is a 1991 baseball card, a more accurate way for this sentence to read would be: "The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates had a pitcher lead the league in victories, Doug Drabek was that pitcher." Now that, my friends, is a lede. But I digress.

Bob Friend led the NL in victories in 1958 with 22.

If you retain no other baseball statistic in your entire life, remember this one. It is on the test to get into heaven.

Also, the last Pittsburgh 20 game winner was John Candelaria (20-5) in 1977, when Drabek was all of 15-years-old.

I mean, 15 isn’t all that young, really. Wasn’t Freddy Adu 15 when he won the World Cup? I would have said something like, “John Candelaria was the last Pirates 20-game winner in 1977,” or, better yet, I wouldn’t have mentioned John Candelaria at all. In fact, if I were in charge, the entire back of this card would be two sentences which would read, “Doug Drabek won 22 games in 1990, which is cool, if you like wins, which mean close to nothing for a pitcher. Infinitely more important was his 1.06 WHIP, although he struck out one hundred fewer batters than innings pitched, so basically, he pitched like he does every year, only his teammates hit better, and speaking of hitting …” Then I would cover the rest of the empty space with these:

Did you know?
Doug’s son, Kyle Drabek, currently pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was part of the trade that brought Kyle Drabek to the Blue Jays, as the Drabeks recall it.

Trapped in the Closet of No Self-Awareness

Note: This post originally appeared on this blog in July of 2005.

This post was going to be part of the music chapter of the book, but I ultimately decided against it. It's one thing to have a large chunk of your life's work involve Vanilla Ice -- quite another to include R. Kelly. Silly versus profane. Anyhoo, because I did put a modicum of effort into reediting it, I figured I'd just repost here for all to enjoy, or -- as it pertains to many people who have read said Vanilla Ice pieces in the book -- to be utterly confused by.

For what it's worth, it's been six years since Trapped in the Closet (anniversary special???), and I still don't know what to make of it.

The immortal R. Kelly has put out yet another album, this time a kind of R&B opera entitled Trapped in the Closet, which is accompanied by a string of approximately 800 music videos in which he “acts” out the song chapters. By “acts” I mean he lip syncs and occasionally pretends to drive a car in front of very fake backgrounds that are probably being held up by two girls in bikinis. In fact, “opera” is a poor word choice, as it signifies some semblance of cultural ingenuity when, in the case of Trapped in the Closet, there is a scene where a little person defecates himself.

Trapped in the Closet
is so awful and so bizarre that it has become the object of ridicule among many, myself included. It’s difficult, however, to decipher whether or not the joke is lost on R. Kelly. It seems impossible that any human being would be able to process this series of songs and videos as anything other than parody. It seems even less likely that the creator of such a…thing, would be able to do so from a genuine place. Alright, I want the little person over here on the counter, and put the cherry pie over there. I’m gonna hold the gun like this, and those two girls are gonna make out. Okay? Alright, ‘action’ on three…”

But R. Kelly is not your everyday R&B crooner. He is currently immersed in a legal battle—one that surpasses the tragic and bizarre nature of any Trapped in the Closet scene, if only because it involves real life. Plus, the passion with which R. Kelly speaks about his latest work, and the obvious admiration he has for it, does little to dissuade me from believing that he and I have differing opinions with regards to its intended impact.

The best case against Trapped being intentionally hilarious is the fact that R. Kelly has other albums from which to base judgment. It’s fairly obvious to me that R. Kelly fashions himself to be the titan of modern R&B singing and songwriting. This self-perception is based on an extensive catalog of what can only be described as greatness. Like the time he recruited Ronald Isley to play a character called “Mr. Big” in a series of songs and videos that included dialogue such as this:

Hello Mr. Big / How ya’ doin’ Mr. Big / What the hell is goin’ on? / What you mean what’s goin’ on?

Yes, what is going on? It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we delve deeper into some of R. Kelly’s past lyrics in order to decipher whether or not Trapped in the Closet is a genuine or ironic form of classic. But please, be forewarned. Besides believing he can fly, R. Kelly really, really, really likes sex. Really. For example:

You remind me of my jeep, I wanna ride it

Comparing women to automobiles is a popular American pastime, mainly for the obvious sexual innuendoes, i.e., placing the “key” into the “ignition,” and putting “gas” into the “gas tank,” and so on and so forth. Women like nothing more than to be compared with cars—trust me—especially when you are suggesting that you would like to ride them like a car, as in you would like to sit on top of them and have them transport you to Seven-Eleven to pick up some milk, or, in R. Kelly’s case, “rubbers.”

(You remind me of) my bank account, I wanna spend it

Now I’ve heard of spending money on women, but R. Kelly has taken that concept to a whole new level in that he actually uses women as currency, mainly in order to purchase other, better women. Or socks. Also, a lot of everyday things seem to remind R. Kelly of sex. Stop being so suggestive, everyday things!

Let’s go half on a baby

Hey, why not? I mean, we’re just sitting here. We might as well procreate. And I promise—when the baby comes out, I’ll take care of the head and arms, you worry about the legs and torso. Or we could fight for full body rights and then have Solomon decide. Whatever. By the way, when we’re done, can we go half on a pizza? I’m hungry. And horny. But mostly horny.

(I would also like to mention that this particular lyric is not a throwaway, plucked at random from the ocean of other great R. Kelly lyrics. This is the name of a song. Speaking of great song titles…)

I like the crotch on you

Let us not beat around the bush. (Or, as R. Kelly might suggest in a fabulously appropriate jingle, let’s.) I’m just going to throw this out there, because I have no time for complimenting hair, or jewelry, or any other facet of your person that does not exist within the circumference of your reproductive area: I like the crotch on you. There. Sue me. Or, better yet, have sex with me.

Girl, run to your Internet and download me / Get my computer love right off your screen

R. Kelly’s love has gone digital. There is no telling what the implications of this may be.

It's the pied piper, your music weatherman / It's love-o'clock and we're broadcasting live / right here from the Chocolate Factory

Wait—it’s love-o’clock already? I was supposed to be at the Chocolate Factory an hour ago! Time flies when you’re downloading R. Kelly’s love off the Internet.

Okay you, you're saying you came in and / And these two women they, they poured / Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, it wasn't nothing like that / All I know is uh, I was asleep, they came in / Woke me up pourin' hot grits / And all kinds of (bleep) on me man, okay beatin' me and (bleep) / Hittin' me with all sorts of type (bleep)

I’m not exactly sure what happened here, or if R. Kelly’s okay, but this reads like a scene from Trapped in the Closet. This is why I am convinced, sadly, that Trapped in the Closet is, in fact, R. Kelly’s genuine and ill-fated attempt at Sergeant Pepper or Purple Rain.

Odd that the same man who sang, so eloquently, “Sex in the Kitchen” and “Feelin’ on Yo’ Booty” would miss the mark on a classic rock opera so badly. The good news, however, is that R. Kelly thinks otherwise. When asked about Trapped in the Closet in an interview before its premiere, R. Kelly described his latest work as “groundbreaking.”

The ground is breaking all right. But it’s Marvin Gaye, rolling over in his grave.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Food shopping together proceeds smoothly, for once

Note: This column appears in the 6/9 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/10 issue of the Peoria Times

I do most of the grocery shopping. It is just one of the domestic roles I fell into, probably because a) I do most of the eating and b) I despise grocery shopping slightly less than my wife does.

I have a pretty good routine though. We make a list of the things we need, and then I will go to the store, forgetting to bring the list, and the coupons I acquired on the previous shopping trip, and our reusable shopping bags. My wife will call me as I’m on my way to the store to inform me that I forgot all those things, and to remind me to pick up an obscure item like scallions. She will say, “You know what scallions are, right?” and I will say, “Yes,” although I really don’t, but plan on figuring it out.

I will spend about 20 minutes in the produce section wandering around aimlessly before I call my wife and ask, “What do scallions look like?” Then I will breeze through the store, picking up items we enjoy eating and that are on sale. “Do I like that?” and “Is it on sale?” are the only two questions involved in my thought process when selecting items.

If the checkout lines are too long, I will attempt to use the self-checkout line, and will get halfway through the process before realizing I have vegetables to weigh. I will spend about 10 minutes trying to find the code for and accurately weigh bell peppers before cancelling the entire order in frustration, placing all of the items back into the cart as the machine yells repeatedly for all to hear, “ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO CANCEL? PRESS ‘I AM STUPID’ TO CANCEL,” and going to wait on the now longer line at regular checkout. I nonchalantly peruse the gossip mags as I wait.

When I reach the cashier, I will inform him or her that I forgot my reusable bags, so as to make it known that my intentions are pure. Also I forgot my club card. Can you look it up with my phone number? On the slim chance that I actually remembered coupons, I will forget to present them at checkout, and will only remember I have them after the transaction is complete and additional coupons are printed. I must then immediately walk over to the customer service counter, where no one is at the moment, so that I can get refunded the difference. If I deem the worker to be friendly, I will attempt to squeeze in several of the coupons I just received.

When I get home, we will empty the bags together as my wife periodically asks, “Did you remember to get (item)?” I will say, “Shoot. No. Sorry. Hey, did you hear Kate Gosselin had liposuction?”

This is not a perfect routine, but it works. In fact, its usefulness is best highlighted on the rare occasions we go food shopping as a family. I wait in frustration as my wife stands in front of yogurt for an eternity, inspecting each label and trying to determine which is the best deal per ounce, as I follow our daughter around picking up the things she has knocked over. My wife will ask me questions about items that aren’t so much questions that seek my opinion, but more her telling herself out loud she should buy something.

“Should I get this apple jelly? I can use it for lunch … ”

“That thing weighs 30 lbs. Last year you bought ‘pumpkin butter’ that’s still unopened in the pantry.”

This is why I don’t go shopping with you. Just get what YOU want, and let’s go!”

Anyway, I bring this up only because last weekend we went food shopping as a family—at a megastore, no less—and nailed it. I agreed to everything, we split up to save time and generally knew the whereabouts of things, and our daughter waited until checkout to flip out (because, since you asked, I took away from her the plastic container of strawberries she was sticking her fingers through). It was surreal—the greatest, most productive shopping trip ever. It may never happen like that again, so I wanted to write it down to remember that it did.

I have been known to forget things.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Classic card of the week

Bill Spiers, 1994 Upper Deck

You know what I like about Bill Spiers besides EVERYTHING???!!!! The way he will sign a baseball or a baseball card while looking awesome wearing a helmet on top of his baseball hat and while not really paying attention because he is too busy trying to get the attention of an attractive female in the distance with the hope that she will notice how awesome he looks with all the protective hats protruding from his head.

Female groupies in distance: Look at Bill Speirs! Gossip, gossip, blah, blah, giggle, giggle! SO cute! You know what they say about a guy with three skulls! Giggle, giggle, hit with foul ball.

That helmet is so high atop Bill Spiers’ dome that there is ample room for a fast-moving baseball to still nail him in the head, rendering the helmet pointless, unless you count the fashion aspect of it, which is, from a monetary standpoint: priceless. It’s possible, however, that Spiers was simply basking in the glory of a facemask-less helmet that could let his brim breath a little, ya’ know? You’re just not afforded the luxury of keeping your hat on when you’re punting footballs:

He was also a punter for Clemson University.

I am assuming Wikipedia is referring to the football team, and is not implying that Clemson University employs a more general punter who is responsible for punting stuff around campus every now and then to the delight of students and faculty. Of course, with the most famous baseball player-slash-college football punter ever, Darin Erstad, as our prime example, I am also left to assume that there existed an overwhelming amount of articles, columns, and features about Bill Spiers’ scrappiness, hustle, Caucasian-ness, grit, football-mentality (wherein you tackle the opposing player, or, in this case, punt the baseball), peskiness, heart, and how his baseball statistics shouldn’t necessarily speak to his actual baseball ability because there is no statistic for grass stains on a uniform.

That football mentality and extra layer of helmet protection could have come in handy had Bill Spiers not been so blindsided one unfortunate day:

On September 24, 1999, while playing with the Houston Astros, Spiers was attacked by a 23 year old man while standing in the outfield before the bottom of the 6th inning. Teammate Mike Hampton was first on the scene and delivered several kicks to the attacker.

Mike Hampton is a pitcher. Pitchers pitch from the pitching mound. How was he the first one on the scene? The combined grit quotient of the other Astros was minus-1,095.98.

He was later quoted saying "The good thing was he didn't have a weapon... I always check right field before I deliver the first pitch.

"To, ya' know, make sure the right fielder is not getting randomly attacked," added Hampton. "Also to check the Jumbotron to make sure I am pitching that day."

It's just a habit. I looked out there and saw the guy on Billy's back... It was a scary thing. My instincts just took over. My rage took over. I was pretty furious. I wanted to get him off my teammate."

Honestly? This is the best Bill Spiers-by-way-of-Mike Hampton story I have ever read in my whole life.

After being arrested the attacker faced two counts of battery and one count of disorderly conduct. Spiers wound up with a welt under his left eye, a bloody nose and whiplash.

As a means of adding brevity to a tense and uptight clubhouse, Mike Hampton walked up to Bill Spiers the next day wearing a t-shirt that read, “NOW who’s the punter?” Everybody laughed, except Bill Spiers, who had whiplash.

Did you know?
The rumor around baseball was that Bill Spiers wore his helmet high atop his baseball cap to signify, as a nod to his football-playing days and also his off-season job as an event organizer, that he wore many hats.