Thursday, June 28, 2012

Classic card of the week

Harold Reynolds, 1988 Donruss Diamond Kings

I want to say right off the bat that this is the grossest misrepresentation of a player the Diamond Kings series has ever produced. Harold Reynolds is, apparently, Billy Dee Williams. At the time of this card Reynolds was 27-years old. Twenty-seven. (Here is what Harold Reynolds looks like in real life, a year later.) This looks like the card of a third base coach whose youngest daughter is graduating college next month. If they had drawn an Orioles hat instead, this would totally be Eddie Murray. Also, what is this graphic?

This graphic looks like geometry got into a fight with a Cosby sweater. Or maybe it was pulled as a screenshot from the opening sequence of an Atari game. Regardless, like a fine wine paired with the perfect meal, it goes seamlessly alongside a terribly sketched picture of Harold Reynolds, second baseman.

Not many people know it because he plays in Seattle,

This is the worst premise ever and one of my biggest pet peeves. Granted, this was before the dawn of the Internet, but: raise your hand if you followed baseball in the 80s/90s and didn't know who Harold Reynolds was. I knew about Harold Reynolds because a) I like baseball, and b) I collected baseball cards like this very baseball card that is apparently lumping me into their generalized statement about how nobody knows about Harold Reynolds because he plays in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is a major American city, and as a baseball fan, I am aware that the local baseball team I root for often plays against other baseball teams, and as a result, I have familiarized myself with those players because I like baseball. "Oh, I am a big baseball fan, but who the heck is Harold Reynolds? He must play too far away from where I am standing RIGHT NOW," is something that no one has ever said. I grew up in New Jersey but I knew that Irene from Real World Seattle had freakin' Lymes Disease because THIS IS AMERICA.

but Harold Reynolds has developed into the best second baseman in the American League.

I like that. A definitive statement. Donruss was like, "Screw it. We're tired of beating around the bush here. We think Harold Reynolds is the best second baseman in the American League and we're going to explicitly state as much on a baseball card that features him looking like a 55-year-old man." If this were Joe Morgan he would have said, "Reynolds is playing well, but he needs to be more consistent before I can put him in that category, but he's on his way there, don't get me wrong, but he needs to hit with more consistency, but he's not not far off. Gary Sheffield." You have my respect, Donruss. Now, how so?

He may have led the position with the most errors in 1987,

SOLD! Say no more. Actually ... you know what? Say some more. Or, better yet, delete that part because it does not help your argument in any way. No? Gonna stick with it? Okay, cool.

but Reynolds handled the most chances of any AL second baseman.

SOLD! Nothing speaks to a player's ability more than randomly having the most baseballs hit to him.

As long as veterans such as Frank White, Lou Whitaker and Willie Randolph are around, Reynolds is often overlooked by the average fan. 

Frank White: You'll pry the title of "One of the Top Three Second Baseman in the American League as Deemed by the Average Fan" from my cold, dead hands, Reynolds!

But don't be surprised when you see Reynolds cropping up in All-Star games.

I will be shocked. I will be like, "Why are there new, young players in this All-Star game? Where is Red Schoendienst?"

He's become an equal to the Whitakers, Randolphs, et al.

Equal? Et al? Wait a second ...

Harold Reynolds has developed into the best second baseman in the American League ... He's become an equal to the Whitakers, Randolphs, et al.

Harold Reynolds has developed into the best second baseman in the American League ... He's become an equal to the Whitakers, Randolphs, et al.

Harold Reynolds has developed into the best second baseman in the American League ... He's become an equal to the Whitakers, Randolphs, et al. 

X > Y = X = Y?

Your backtracking disgusts me, Donruss.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saving the date

Last Thursday evening my wife went out with a few friends, so I took our daughter out to eat on “a date.” We call it a date to be cute, but it is very similar to an actual date in that I spend most of the time trying to figure out what she wants and am very stressed throughout.

I picked her up from daycare and reminded her that she should go potty, because we were going on a date. She said she didn’t have to go, but I told her she should try because I was not taking her to the potty when the food arrived. She went, reluctantly.

Literally thirty seconds after our food arrived she turned to me and said, “Daddy, I have to go potty.” I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” She gave me puppy dog eyes and I reneged on my promise to not take her.

Flashback: Months ago, we were on a date at a different restaurant and eating outside. Right after our food arrived, she squatted and wet herself, leaving a puddle on the chair. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I grabbed the diaper bag and rushed her to the bathroom. I cleaned her up as fast as I could so that I could warn management to disinfect and/or burn the chair she was using. By the time we were out of the bathroom, our food was gone and our table was occupied. I found a worker and told her, “Okay, a) you guys took our food, and b) that woman over there is sitting in urine, and you should probably tell her."

With that experience to draw on, I worried again about our food. Honestly, I would like to know—what is the protocol when one parent is out to eat with his/her kid(s) and a bathroom run is in order? Should I inform a worker I’ll be back but my daughter has to go potty? Seems like too much information. Should I ask a nearby patron to “watch our stuff?” I really don’t know. I tried to make it obvious we were coming back by leaving my keys and sunglasses sprawled out near the food, taking the risk of someone stealing my car. It was worth it, I figured, to protect the food, since our meal was not insured.

Of course, I had to take her to the men’s room, and of course, the lone stall was locked. She was now telling me she had to go badly, and I didn’t know what to do. Somewhere my wife was drinking a margarita and talking about celebrities, which made me upset. I considered standing in the hallway and asking the next woman who walked by to please take my daughter to the bathroom, but figured that would have been bad. Can I hold her over the urinal? After further examination, I realized no one was in the stall even though it was locked. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

I had to find a worker and request assistance in the men’s room. A teenage kid came in there and said, “Yeah, this happens sometimes,” as he slid on the bathroom floor underneath the stall, unlocked the stall door, and emerged as a hero. I said, “I guess I could have done that,” but later figured I would have injured myself, which would have been terrible.

Our food and my car keys were still there when we came back. She ate all of her dinner and did not pee on anything. By current estimations, that is a wildly successful date. I think she’s a keeper.

Note: This column appears in the 6/28 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/29 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spam email of the week

I get a ton of spam here at work. Much of it involves junk emails that are sent to place counterfeit classified ads using stolen credit card info, so ... America! We can examine those, I hope, soon. Today's spam feature, however, consists of that common and generic invitation to market gold in an unspecified side of the world.

Subject: Greeting's To You.

There is literally nothing correct about this subject header, which is a fantastic start. Greeting's is possessive, every word is CAP'd, and there is a period at the end, which is, honestly, sociopathic. If this isn't a spambot, it's from a serial killer.

Subject headers are always my favorite part of spam emails because they're supposed to draw the sucker in, but are always so terrible that any moderately intelligent person or cat can and will immediately delete them because they are so terrible. Here is how the spam robots envisioned this subject being received. (Note: they envision it being received by an 89-year-old AOL user who is legally blind and who is using a computer for the third time.)

I've got mail! (Squinting) "Greeting's To You." Hmmm, greetings to ... me, I guess! This is MY email account so ... this must be a person who knows me well. Greetings to you, too, good sir or ma'am! Now let me just double-click on this message to read further and see if this friend of mine needs some money ...

On to the content:

How are you doing hope you are fine?

Whoa! Can I answer the first part first? Yes, I am doing well, thanks. My niece had a recital the other day and she did great, and we all had cake afterwards. My favorite sports team has been victorious in three consecutive contests, so yes -- to repeat, I am doing quite well. Now, "hope you are doing fine?" Is that a question? I don't know how to read this. If you are questioning your own hope of my well-being, then ... I'm not sure I want to be friends anymore. By the way, what is your name?

my name is Larry,

Hi Larry! I enjoy your random use of capitalization and punctuation and line breaks and how you have zero grasp on the English language. How do we know each other? Doesn't matter. Possibly we can become engaged in a professional matter of sorts?

am looking for a distributor and partner who will assist in Buying
and marketing of Gold at that side of the world.

Since my email address is obviously newspaper-based, I am delightfully surprised that you are aware of my personal hobby of distributing and marketing gold on a side of the world. I love marketing gold! I don't want to give too much away now, Larry, before we meet over coffee to discuss this business venture, but I've been working on a marketing slogan for gold. Want to hear it? Okay, here it is. "Gold: A golden opportunity." Do you like it? I have others. "Got Gold?" Also, "Gold: It's awesome."

I am uncertain which side of the world you are speaking of. You mention "that side" as if you've referenced the side previously in this email, which -- and I've gone back to check -- you have not. Anyways, I live on the left side of the world (facing the ocean), so if you're looking for a left side gold distributor, that would be perfect.

if you are interested you can reply me on, (email address)

I can reply you "on?" I've never done that before, but I'll assume I should stand on my keyboard while sending you the email. If you don't get it, call me at my telephone.

*Note* according to the email address, Larry's last name is Huessein. The spambots did an excellent job of using a fake name people can trust.

Looking forward to hear from you.

Mr. Larry

Oh, so it's "Mr. Larry" now, huh? Looks like all of your success in gold distribution and marketing has gone to your head, LOL! I look forward to hear from you as well, and please pass along my sincerest and warmest regards to Mrs. Larry. You may need a partner in gold distribution, but she has been your partner in life. Cherish her. I am assuming you have a wife because it is fun and I don't know who you are.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

To care or not to care about hair care

My morning routine is pretty simple. The time between my alarm going off and me stepping out the door would be five minutes were it not for my daughter/dog/coffee-making obligations. I am very low-maintenance, and as a man this has become a source of pride. As noted many, many times, I do not often represent what society deems as a man—if someone got me tools for Father’s Day, for example, I would be confused and upset—so I’m happy to include low-maintenance on my man resume.

In fact, my co-worker asked me recently how I do my hair in the morning, to which I proudly responded, “I don’t. I just get up and go.” Later that day I actually looked at myself in the mirror and the back of my hair was completely sticking out to one side. I looked like a little kid who had woken up after wishing he could become an adult for the day. I retroactively interpreted my co-worker’s question as a definitive statement: “You should start doing something about your hair.”

My hair is normally kept pretty short, but I’ve been growing the top out to keep things fresh and exciting. After this incident, I realized that I should begin styling it before work. I searched my medicine cabinet and discovered some sort of hair care product my wife had purchased for me the last time I decided to grow my hair out six years ago. It was called something like “Surf style,” and I could barely get the top open because it had become caked over from lack of use. The stuff is like glue, and I had to wash my hands repeatedly afterwards to get back the feeling of having skin.

Although I had sacrificed a bit of manlihood to style my hair, I did not want to appear as though I had styled my hair, so I styled it to look messy. As a result, I ended up retaining my just-rolled-out-of-bed professional look, only it was obvious there was glue in my hair. Later that day, while taking her off the potty, my daughter put her hands on my head and said, “Eww, daddy, what’s that? That’s nasty.”

My wife agreed this was nasty and that weekend, as a family, we all went shopping to find me an adequate hair care product. This was definitely a Top 10 least manly moment in my life. Nevertheless.

At Walgreens, we located a section of Axe products. Axe is like the new generation of male grooming, and their commercials imply that use of their products will immediately lead to sex (with women). My wife, whose only criteria for my new hair care product was that it smelled good, told me to pick one from Axe. There were so many options though. Did I want “clean cut” or “natural?” Or should I stay with “messy” or “surfer?” (Note: Many people assume surfers are best at riding surfboards, but they are also great at having hair, apparently.) I found it somewhat ridiculous that these hair wax/gels were broken down by style. If I placed a dab of “clean cut” on my head, would my hair just part itself? My wife wanted me to get the “clean cut,” but to exercise my manly authority I instead chose “natural.”

The point of Axe, I think, is that it’s not supposed to look like there’s product in your hair. So I began using this stuff and yes—it doesn’t look like there’s anything in there. I can’t really tell if it is influencing my hair in any way, and it doesn’t have as nice a smell as we originally thought. It was $9.95. I think I may just cut my hair.

"Surf hair," according to the Internet.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Classic card of the week

Expos Leaders, 1987 Topps

What is “leadership?” Is it inspiring your team to win with a grandiose speech behind the closed doors of a closed-door meeting? Is it marching an oppressed people out of Egypt with Divine assistance? Is it boosting the morale of an army of men, fatigued from battle, by convincing your superiors to get them new boots? Or, is it standing on the pitcher’s mound, hands on your hips, waiting for your relief pitcher to arrive in an absurd bullpen car?

Leadership is all of these things, but mostly the last one. In 1987, the leaders of the Montreal Expos were an old man in a baseball uniform, some umpire, and Fitzgerald.

A picture is worth a thousand words of leadership, and although the matter is generally subjective, there has literally never been a picture as inspiring as this one. Obviously, an Expos pitcher was not performing adequately, or was tired after throwing a bunch of pitches. What to do? Let’s ask a leader.

Me: Buck, what do you do when a pitcher is not pitching well, or is tired from pitching?

Buck Rodgers, Manager, Montreal Expos: I get his ass outta there!

Amazing. But there are other, more understated styles of leadership. Let us ask another leader for his perspective on things.

Me: Ump, what do you do when there’s a pitching change, but everybody gathered on the mound is dilly-dallying?

Umpire: Welp, I hike my pants up, head out there and halfheartedly ask them to break it up. Then I’ll linger for a bit of small talk. Maybe I’ll make a joke about my ex-wife or something. Then I’ll turn around and go back.

I don’t want to get all dramatic, but I would run through a wall for that umpire.

It is indeed apropos that this picture is set in dream sequence mode, as I have often dreamt about leading others under similar circumstances. Here is the scene in my dream: Johnson is goofing up, shaking off signs, giving up runs. I am pissed. I walk out there slowly and say, “Johnson, what gives?” Johnson is like, whatevs. I say, “Gimmie the ball!” and I tap my left arm. The bullpen coach can’t really see that, but it’s all for show—I already called him on the bullpen phone, thinking ahead like a leader. Garcia the catcher arrives, spits some tobacco on the ground. I pat Johnson on the ass as he walks away, and we wait. Ump comes out there and I’m like, “I knew I shoulda retired, Billy!" He snickers. Walks away. Tannenbaum the lefty gets there, and I tell him to throw strikes. He does. We win the game, Johnson learns his lesson. I wake up. It’s time for work. Better not be late. Don’t want my boss to get upset.

Let’s check the back for leadership stats:

The three leaders featured on the front of the card are surprisingly absent from the back, but that just goes to show ya’ that leadership isn’t always about numbers, or helping your team win with the actual things that you do on the field. Sometimes it’s about making the tough decisions, and waiting for those decisions to arrive. Sometimes leadership is just standing there in uniform, with everything else implied. It's leadership like this that has made the Montreal Expos what they are today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Still crazy cool after all these years*

You may or may not recall that a few years back it was revealed that certain areas of my beard stubble were turning gray. This existential crisis resulted in a brief experiment with Just For Men. Eventually I got over it and allowed those grays to roam free and unaltered on the sporadic occasions of growing my beard out. Recently, however, I discovered that the gray culprits had crept up to my sideburns.

Beard grays are one thing, but sideburn grays are quite another, since I cannot shave them to stubble without appearing as a bowl-headed crazy person. I had been attempting to stifle their impact with the use of an extremely tiny pair of scissors, but recently my wife looked at me and commented gracefully, “Omg—your sideburns are turning gray!”

This ultimately resulted in me trying to pluck the hairs out with tweezers in front of the bathroom mirror. My wife walked in and said, “You’re not plucking those grays, are you? Oh no! For every gray you pluck, seven more grow back!” I asked her if this was an old wives' tale or a scientific fact, and she said I could accept it as the former at my own risk.

I put the tweezers down. Besides, my wife and I had plans to watch the MTV Movie Awards, because even though we are in our mid-thirties, we remain on the cutting edge of what is hip and cool (see above “Omg” comment). The show opened with a song that was literally about being young. I thought to myself, “I can totally relate to this,” as I sat there with a pair of recently plucked sideburns, calculating our monthly bills on the computer.

My wife and I barely knew or recognized anybody who appeared on screen, and we didn’t understand half of the references made in the opening monologue. We were mostly annoyed by everything that was happening. I am not sure there is a dumber thing on television than the MTV Movie Awards, which has award categories like, “Best Homeboy,” and “Bloodiest Murder.” I was reminded of why I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV as a kid, not because it was inappropriate—although it is very inappropriate—but because it makes you considerably dumber. (Obviously, I watched anyway.)

As further proof of how young and hip I am, I had to DVR the remainder of the show because it was waaaaay past our bedtime. (It was 9:15 p.m.) Before we headed upstairs, I put some recently air-dried Tupperware into our pantry—play on, playa—and noticed the box of Fiber One cereal. It wasn’t ours—that day we had cleared out my in-law’s house because they are back east and we didn’t want any food to go bad. I even made fun of the cereal when we brought it home. But as I stood there looking at it, I thought, “You know, I probably could use a little more fiber in my diet.”

And with that I retired to sleep, confident that the gap between my generation and the new generation was narrower than ever.

*Referencing Paul Simon lyrics is another way to remain hip, by the way. You’re welcome.

Note: This column appears in the 6/14 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/15 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Classic card of the week

Dick Schofield, 1991 Score

As a retroactive and thus pointless rule of thumb: if a player is named “Dick,” ‘tis better to speak of that player by last name—pretty much a rule of thumb regardless of first name re: journalism—than risk phallic-based innuendos. Or, better yet: don’t nickname a person “Dick.”

Listen. I am 34-years old. I have a wife, a daughter, a job. I write for a respected community-based newspaper. I am a moderately responsible adult. But I will not apologize for finding the name Dick to be hilariously silly when used out of context. I do not know how it came about that people decided it would be a good idea to develop the nickname “Dick” for Richard—it’s not even close; why not call people named Larry “Butt?”—but I am happy to reap the benefits in this generation. You can call it immature or what have you, but there are three things that will always remain hilarious to me due to my innate human nature: 1) farts, 2) people falling down, and 3) the name Dick. Maybe it’s not the sophisticated level of humor striven for by people other than myself, but … whatever. Lighten up.

Injuries have plagued Dick the past few years.

How many injuries can one Dick sustain?

This is already getting out of hand. I’m not proud of this; I’m just doing my duty as a baseball card blogger and Dick-name enthusiast. Hi mom!

When he is healthy, Dick anchors the Angel’s infield

A healthy Dick will inevitably become an anchor. Oh geez. Why didn’t they just use “Schofield” as they should have and saved me the trouble of having to go through all this?

he is nonetheless extremely agile and quick, and has soft hands, good range and a strong, accurate arm.

What good Dick doesn’t? By the way, this post will self-destruct after you read it, so you will never be able to prove it actually happened.

The son of “Ducky,”

According to Wikipedia, Ducky also went by Dick Schofield, although Richard was his father’s middle name.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Schofield Family Reunion

Dick Schofield: Dad!

Ducky Schofield: Dick!

Dick and Ducky Schofield: in unison Dicky!

Dicky Schofield (third cousin): Dicks!

Ducky Schofield: And who’s this fine young man?

Dicky Schofield: Ducky, this is Dicky, Jr. Dick, Dicky, Jr.

Dicky Schofield, Jr.: Shaking hands. Dick, Ducky … or should I call you Dick?

Ducky Schofield: We’re family … call me Dick or Ducky, doesn’t matter. Just don’t call me late for dinner!

Dicky Schofield, Jr.: Ha, I’ve heard about your famous "Dick jokes!"

Dick Schofield: Oh … hey, Jeremy.

Jeremy Plazinski: What’s up, WIENER HEADS! Ha, ha … how’s it hangin’ broskies?

Ducky Schofield: We’re fine, Jeremy. Everything’s hanging fine.

Jeremy Plazinski: Listen, brahs—a bunch of us are heading to a dive bar after this lame shindig is over … you wienershnitzels in, or are you pansies gonna bail like last year?

Dicky Schofield: Can I take my coat off before you start making plans for later? Why don’t you go have another drink?

Jeremy Plazinski: Why don’t YOU go have another Viagra? If your conversation lasts longer than four hours, consult someone else CAUSE I'LL BE AT THE BAR. High-fives passing waiter. Whatevs, I’m outsies 5000.

Dick Schofield: Ugh. I can’t believe she married him.

Dicky Schofield, Jr.: What’s his problem?

Dicky Schofield: Don’t worry, son. He’s a dick.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

One way to get rock solid insurance coverage

Last week a rock hit my windshield on the 101 as I was driving to work. That, or someone was trying to shoot me, because that is what my windshield ended up looking like afterwards. Contrary to my claim last week that warm weather is already forcing me to use the A/C in the morning, a pleasant dawn allowed me to drive with the window open. And let me just say, had that rock made its way through the open window and onto the side of my head, I would not be here today. Because I would be dead. (From the rock hitting my head. I trust I am being clear.)

It was nothing new that a rock hit my windshield because rocks hit my windshield all the time here. What is that? During my decade of driving back east, I cannot recall a rock ever hitting my windshield, and if one did, it definitely never caused any damage. But here in the Valley, every time I get on the freeway it feels like my car is getting pelted in a hailstorm of flying freeway debris. My only defense is the hope that none leave a mark. Is there a scientific explanation for this? The fact that people drive like lunatics here has to be at least partially responsible. The rock that hit my windshield probably came from a massive pickup truck carrying rocks that was supposed to be going 65 but was instead doing 90 so it could get to the gun show on time. I am not bitter.

I knew from the sound of it hitting my windshield that this rock wasn’t like the others. This was a keeper. The crack mark was instant, and witnessing this happen really added some good vibes to my Monday morning commute to work. Still, I thought, no biggie. I’ll just call the insurance company.

You see, I am a smart person. Probably as a result of getting pelted with highways rocks during my very first Valley drive, I was sure to get comprehensive coverage on our auto insurance plan upon moving here. The insurance rep affirmed this … and also that I had a $500 deductible, meaning that I might as well not have insurance because I will have to pay for this out of pocket. I am an idiot.

BUT WAIT! Insurance will waive the deductible if the mark is a chip no bigger than a dollar bill. (I don’t know why she used “dollar bill” as a point of reference. How is a dollar bill in any way a shape that corresponds to the mark a rock leaves on your windshield? Yes, ma’am, the mark is a perfect rectangle with what appears to be George Washington’s likeness. It’s possible I misheard—maybe she said silver dollar—but I don’t think so.) So I was like, yeah, it’s not that bi—and I stopped myself because when I went to double-check, the crack had spread all the way across to the middle of the windshield.

So I had to have my entire windshield replaced and pay almost $300, which was not inconvenient at all. I immediately called the insurance company to upgrade my comprehensive coverage to a $0 deductible, and I recommend you do the same, which you probably have already done, because you are not stupid. The end.