Classic card of the week
Tommy Lasorda, 1996 Upper Deck checklist
Of all the things I enjoy about this card—there are many—I most enjoy the contrast between the intended modernity of the card itself and the oldness of the man featured on it. This is like putting a GPS on a horse and buggy.
I don’t think any card better exemplifies why I so enjoy the managerial baseball card. I mean, just for fun—remove all context here. There is no such thing as baseball cards. Our society has not acknowledged the magnificence of the heroes of our national pastime being featured annually on tiny pieces of cardboard. But then, this emerges, and what we have is a crystal-clear card inexplicably featuring a 70-year old man in uniform. If we were to put this card in a time capsule that wasn’t opened until the year 4017, when baseball has morphed into “blorkball” and is played with lasers by robots—my concept of the future is quite juvenile—we would be totally embarrassed from heaven. What we were we thinking?! (Everything else in the time capsule would represent our era honorably.)
Of course, even within the context of baseball cards, this particular card makes no sense. We are still left with the nagging question, “What am I supposed to do with this?” For me, 15 years later, I have discovered that the purpose of this card is for me to post it on the Internet and question its purpose. But others haven’t been so fortunate, I imagine.
This card is part of Upper Deck’s "Managerial Salute." And I say it’s about darn time we salute the often elderly men who make hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars for socializing around star athletes and sitting on a bench for three hours a night and making gut-based decisions like, “Bring in the lefty,” and “That’s a strike, you nincompoop!” These men deserve more praise, especially the ones who are unceremoniously dismissed from their position, and forced to take the same position with a different team a few years later, or a slightly lesser position for slightly less money until they become manager again, or appear in the broadcast booth or on television and realize the dream job of every red-blooded male in America. I don’t want to take things too far, but I think every time a former or current manager of a baseball team at any level steps into a public arena, everyone should stop what they’re doing and salute. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Lasorda especially deserves a salute. In fact, I just don’t think he ever received the attention here that he did abroad. Sayeth Wikipedia:
Lasorda became a local celebrity in the Dominican Republic due to his many visits in search of young baseball talents in this land of many famous players in the major leagues, especially after becoming a devoted fan of the "chicharrones" (deep fried pork skins) commonly sold on the streets of the Villa Mella neighborhood of Santo Domingo.
“Here comes the old, fat white man who takes all of our athletes and eats all of our deep fried pork skins!” is what many of the locals would excitedly scream, in Spanish (if someone can translate that sentence for me into Spanish, I will post it on the blog immediately as its own post with no explanation; also, I studied Spanish for a total of eight educational years), as Lasorda stepped off of his golden helicopter and into the small villages of the Dominican Republic. Then, of course, they would salute.
Did you know?
When Word was executing its spell-check, one of its suggestions for “blorkball” was “blackballs.”