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Showing posts from May, 2012

Classic card of the week

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During some unspecified year of my childhood, I was given or purchased a set/pack of cards called “Baseball’s All-Time Greats.” As if part of some baseball-themed cliché of Americana, I distinctly remember flipping through these cards in the back seat of my dad’s Chevy on the way home from a Little League game. The cards were actually very informative, educating me about players of yore during a time sans the Internet, and bringing to life the names I had heard my dad, grandfather, and various baseball announcers utter in reverential tones. As a collector of baseball cards, however, they were somewhat infuriating. They were made to resemble old-timey cards that, if original, would be worth some serious moolah. In actuality, they were modern reprints produced by some unknown entity and sold at Quick Check. Still, I hoped that if I held onto these cards, the confused future would just split the difference, and I’d at least have something to show for it. I do not.
I’m not sure why no on…

Fasting as fast as I can

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Note: This column appears in the 5/31 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/1 issue of the Peoria Times.

My wife works as a therapist in other people’s homes. She oftentimes becomes close with the families she works with, and it is not uncommon for her to discover new and exciting non-therapy-related things during her conversations with these families. She then relays this information to me over dinner, like, “So and so saw a rattlesnake in their backyard, so I don’t think we should go outside for a few weeks,” and “One of my kids is singing ‘Yankee-Doodle Dandy’ at the library Saturday morning and we’re going.” Months ago, one of her families told her about a religious fast they were undertaking where they only consume fruit, nuts, vegetables and water for three weeks. My wife told me about this with a spark of curiosity and intrigue, so like an excellent husband I responded, “Good luck.”
She did the fast on her own and did an amazing job. She said it was the best she had f…

Classic card of the week

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Greg Minton, 1989 Donruss Greg Minton’s career path to the big leagues was like many in that he liked to surf, but then was like, “Guess I’ll play baseball.” It’s that kind of inspirational story that reminds us lesser athletes to pay attention in school. According to BR Bullpen:
Greg Minton grew up in San Diego, CA, where his main hobby was surfing. When his father told him that he wasn't going to pay for Greg's college, Greg decided to take up baseball to try to get an athletic scholarship ("I knew brains weren't going to get me there," he said).
Greg Minton: Arrives home soaking wet after morning of surfing.
Mr. Minton: Darn it, Greg! Dry yourself off first! And why aren’t you at school? How long are you going to indulge in this useless hobby, huh? I told you I ain’t paying for college unless you grow up and start learnin’ about stuff! But if you can find a “surfboard scholarship,” more power to ya’!
Greg: There’s no such thing as a “surfboard scholarship,” dork. …

The unofficial start of something great

Note: This column appears in the 5/24 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/25 issue of the Peoria Times.
One of my favorite things that ever happened at my old job at a weekly newspaper in New Jersey was when we printed the blaring front-page headline, “Summer is here!” I realize it’s not necessarily the job of a weekly, community newspaper to break news, but it still amused me to imagine a local resident preparing to read the paper from his living room recliner and screaming, “Honey, get in here! You’re not going to believe this!” More important for my amusement was the date of that paper—July 6. Summer had unofficially begun almost two months prior, and had officially begun weeks earlier. Accompanying the headline was a picture of a boy swimming, who was, as it turned out, our reporter’s younger brother. We all worked really hard on that issue.
I am reminded of that little anecdote whenever something tells me that summer really is here, “here” now meaning the Valley. Back east, the s…

Classic card of the week

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Ricky Jordan, 1989 Score “Young Superstar”
Two quick comments regarding this card: 1) I don’t understand why the Phillies don’t continue to wear these uniforms. And for every game, home or away. They might be the greatest unis MLB ever produced. 2) This card is ridiculously glossy. I assure you that Score did not spare any gloss during the production of this card. So please, rest easy regarding your previous concerns about: is there enough gloss on this card?
You’ll never convince me that expectations for Ricky Jordan were not at least partially raised because of his last name. And when I say that I am referring to my own expectations for him, specifically as it relates to the acquisition of his baseball cards, which has proven to be a lukewarm investment, gloss surplus aside. If the Phillies organization spent a first round pick on him because they subconsciously thought he was going to mirror Michael Jordan’s accomplishments, but in baseball, or because they thought he was literally…

Searching for a spot under the sun

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Note: This column appears in the 5/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/18 issue of the Peoria Times.

One of the few things on which my wife and I have failed to find common ground is parking.
I’m pretty sure this is a normal disagreement, not necessarily indicative of the male/female relationship. It is, rather, a fence that separates us all, regardless of gender. 
She needs to find the best spot; I don’t care.
I will take any open spot in the general area, and I will never loop around to another aisle of parking. I repeat: I will not loop. There is no hope on the other side. I have been fooled by too many motorcycles and Smart Cars to believe otherwise.
My take is: what’s the big deal? So we have to walk a little farther. Walking is good exercise, and I’d much rather be walking towards the entrance than driving around like a doofus looking for a spot 20 feet closer. I loathe looking for parking. It’s a necessary evil in life in which I will invest as little time as possible. I also th…

Classic card of the week

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Tracy Jones, 1988 Topps
It’s not always silliness on the front and/or back of a baseball card that will inspire a post. Oftentimes a normal-looking card such as this will lead me to Google, which will lead me to discovering extremely unimportant things that I never knew before. It’s all very exciting! In the case of Tracy Jones, I first examined his Wikipedia page, which does not appear to have been penned by someone especially fond of Tracy Jones:
Tracy Donald Jones … is a former professional baseball player who played in the Major Leagues primarily as a bench-warmer from 1986 to 1991.
Benchwarmer is kind of a derogatory term, in that major league teams do not employ players for the specific task of keeping the bench warm with their butts. Science has even failed to prove that a warm bench in and of itself poses any competitive advantage. A more objective term in this case would have been, “bench player,” “dugout caretaker,” or “pleasantly warm butt-haver.”
Jones also hosts a couple o…

The Mother’s Day column

Note: This column appears in the 5/10 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/11 issue of the Peoria Times.

Although she is the most strong-willed person I have ever met, there are a few things that scare my wife. Birds, for example. Also, scary movies. Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds—although it strangely played no role in developing her fear of either medium—is, for her, the world’s single worst manmade creation. Another thing that scared her for a while, and sort of still does: motherhood.
One of the many things I’ve always admired about my wife is that she has high standards. (Here I could insert a self-deprecating joke about how she relented on those standards regarding her husband, but that would be boring and predictable. Besides, I think I’m a decent guy. There, I said it.) She expects the best from everyone, and I would venture to say that 99 percent of her disappointments occur when the thoughtfulness she has for others is not reciprocated.
She holds herself to those same standards. She…

Classic card of the week

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This is how a baseball card gets made:

Step 1: Go to a baseball game or something and take a picture of a baseball player playing baseball OR not playing baseball
Step 2: If you don’t have a camera, just draw a picture. You don’t need to go to an actual baseball game to do this; you can rely on your memory of a previous game OR just make up what you think the player should look like. NOTE: We will not be addressing portraits today.
Step 3: Take the picture back to your studio or lab. NOTE: This requires a studio or lab, or studiolab, which is the awesomest one. Examine them carefully with an absurdly giant magnifying glass or just use your eyes.
Step 4: Ask yourself questions like, “Is this picture awesome?” “Does this do justice to the player featured?” “Will he be happy and satisfied and proud to show his grandchildren this baseball card?” (NOTE: Although it is not your job to cater to the whims and egos of the featured players, they ARE your proverbial bread and butter, so buttering t…

Things spice up with family in town

Note: This column appears in the 5/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/4 issue of the Peoria Times.

We’ve had many family members come out and visit over the past month, but none spent more time here than my in-laws and my wife’s aunt and uncle. And as valuable as the time was spent talking over home-cooked meals, the most entertaining part was venturing with them out in public.
It’s possible you saw us, a large crew of people with New York accents aggressively and loudly entering an establishment and causing much confusion. This typically occurred at restaurants, where we’d request a table for “how many people do we have here?” At one particular restaurant, we moved our entire party from inside to the outdoor patio because that is where my father-in-law decided he wanted to sit instead. Then everyone took turns walking our daughter around the restaurant and introducing her to people who were trying to eat. Then my wife’s cousin, who had been mistakenly told by my father-in-law to…