Classic card of the week

Andy Van Slyke, 1994 Upper Deck

Here is a baseball card in which someone has taken a picture of Andy Van Slyke taking a picture of Andy Van Slyke while other people are taking different pictures of Andy Van Slyke taking pictures. If someone were to take a picture of me taking a picture of this Andy Van Slyke card in which he is taking pictures, the flash from the camera would open an alternate realty where every person is a camera with legs and social status is based solely on your camera’s quality, i.e. the rich and powerful are professional Canon XLG-3000s or whatever, and the disenfranchised are literally disposable. Anyway, baseball!

Speaking of baseball, something tells me that baseball player Andy Van Slyke has interests other than playing baseball. Taking pictures, perhaps? It doesn’t say so anywhere on this card, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that, yes, one of Andy Van Slyke’s favorite hobbies is taking pictures. Here is another question though, having to do with baseball: Does baseball player Andy Van Slyke love America?

Awesome. There is no wordy tidbit on this card, but if I were handed this card and then commissioned to write a tidbit for it, and thus get paid $1 million—hypothetical freelancing pays extraordinarily well—here is what it would read:

"When he’s not taking pictures of stuff with his picture camera, baseball player Andy Van Slyke, who weighed in at 195 lbs at the time of this card, can often be found standing reverently for our country’s National Anthem. Also, he hit seven triples in 1991."

One of my favorite things in the world is when baseball cards teach me about baseball, and I think we’ve all learned a lot today. Nevertheless, let’s find out more:

During the 1991 Gulf War, when the MLB decreed all players would wear both the Canadian and U.S. flags on their batting helmets as a patriotic gesture, Van Slyke scraped the Maple Leaf off his helmet because, in his words "Canada is a pacifist, socialist country."

Earlier in this post I had joked about how much Andy Van Slyke loves America, but as it turns out, he also really does not like Canada, based on Canada’s inability to inflict war on other nations and its penchant for assisting the less fortunate (which runs in direct conflict to the aforementioned idealistic camera-based society). I don’t want to get into politics here, but regarding the 1991 Gulf War: thanks for nothing, Canada! It’s about time somebody said it, besides Andy Van Slyke, of course. I’m not sure a more grandiose and brave political statement was ever made than that time a baseball player scratched off a picture of a leaf on his baseball helmet.

Once Van Slyke became a full-time outfielder, he showed off one of the most accurate and powerful throwing arms in the majors. So much so that the "Slyke Zone" was established at Three Rivers.

I like how the Slyke Zone was inevitably established due to Van Slyke’s arm, ipso facto, as if the fans had no other choice.

Andy Van Slyke guns runner down at second base.

Pirates fan: Well, I never thought I’d see the day. But we have an obligation here. Gonna have to establish the Slyke Zone.

Other Pirates fan: I’ll get my markers. And some sausage. You want some sausage?

Pirates fan: Yes.

Having retired from baseball, Van Slyke has begun pursuing a career as an author … In July 2010, he published "The Curse: Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Or Do They?"

I haven’t read the book, but—no, no they do not.

Did you know?

When he's not playing baseball, Andy Van Slyke enjoys taking pictures of stuff.