Classic card of the week

Howard Johnson, 1989 Donruss Diamond Kings

I’ve been on a Diamond Kings kick lately, and well, I will not apologize. I mean, LOOK AT THOSE SQUIGGLIES!

That is art. There are so many dots and squigglies and stripes of contrasting colors it’s making me dizzy. Dizzy with AWESOMENESS. This card look like a boardwalk caricaturist collaborated with the 3rd place finisher of a firefighters-sponsored youth art contest.

But in this homage to art, let us not forget about words.

Had it not been for Kevin Mitchell and Will Clark, Howard Johnson would have had an easy path to the Most Valuable Player Award.

That is great. Had it not been for other baseball players who were better at playing baseball than Howard Johnson, Howard Johnson would have totally been the best baseball player. Get out of the way, Kevin Mitchell and Will Clark—Howard Johnson is trying to win the MVP over here! Showoffs.

Also, what the hell is this card talking about? In 1989, Johnson finished fifth in the NL MVP vote. A more accurate and hilarious lede for this card would therefore have been, “Had it not been for Kevin Mitchell and Will Clark and Pedro Guerrero and Ryne Sandberg, Howard Johnson would have had an easy path to the Most Valuable Player Award.” Unless:

MVP voter Joe Morgan: Big news everyone. Mitchell and Clark are ineligible! Turns out there’s a rather outdated MLB rule that states (puts on old person spectacles), “Teammates who play west of the Mississippi are ineligible to receive postseason awards if one of them is kinda fat and the other one is pretty much bald.”

MVP voter Woody Paige
: Makes sense.

Morgan: In parentheses it says, “This rule is totally just to see if anyone is paying attention.”

MVP voter Mike Lupica: Well, this is unfortunate, but we have to play by the rules. We simply cannot be rogue voters who use subjective means and misguided principles to properly distribute trophies to baseball players!

MVP voter George King: Hear, hear!

Morgan: So I guess this one goes to Guerrero. I didn’t see him play much this year, but—

MVP voter Verducci: Didn’t you play in St. Louis, Joe?

Paige: Guerrero?! Pfft. Don’t get me wrong, solid player, good guy. I once ate steak at a table near him, so we’re pretty much brothers. Not in the ethnic sense. But still. Anyway, it’s one thing when Pedro Guererro is finishing third. But MVP? I can’t live in that world. Not feeling it. I say we start over.

Verducci: Start over? If we start over and achieve different results, that HAS to imply bias, does it not?

King: Let’s take Sandberg out, too. The Cubs had an MVP two years ago. It’s only fair.

Morgan: Then it’s settled. Herman Johnson is the NL MVP!

Verducci: Howard.

Morgan: Herman Howard is the MVP! Sorry, I haven’t seen him play much this year.

Over the last three years, “HoJo”

And so and so forth. I want to interject here to say that, when I was playing Little League ball, the higher-ups one year nabbed Howard Johnson to speak and sign autographs at the year-end party. After his speech—self-deprecating joke, baseball, you can do it, blah, blah, believe in yourself or something, blah, fundamentals, blah, the Ten Commandments, blah, blah, thank you—the floor was opened up to questions. And some idiot kid from another table got up, awkwardly held the microphone too close to his face and asked, “Why do they call you ‘HoJo?’” Really? You’ve been nervously waiting around the whole time to ask that stupid question. I was embarrassed for our whole Little League organization, and I distinctly remember nodding my head in shame and thinking, “You’ve embarrassed us in front of Howard Johnson!” I so wanted HoJo to fire back, “Well, funny story—it’s the first two letters of my first and last name. Sit down. NEXT QUESTION. LET’S RAISE THE LEVEL OF DISCOURSE HERE, M’KAY?” But he didn’t.

I got his autograph though. Then I lost it.

Did you know?
I once finished third in the East Brunswick Firefighters Fourth Grade Art Contest. I think I drew a dog sliding down a fire pole.