Friday, May 30, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Indigestion. Or, Rickin Frickin Frackin

I originally wrote a lengthy diatribe for today's post, but quickly decided to delete it and allow myself time to calm down before trying to put my thoughts on paper an electronic screen. It's two days later and I'm still pissed...

As readers of this blog know, I have an affection for food-issues, regional sets and garden-variety oddball cards. Even better are Braves regionals, and there are a few that I'm constantly looking for on eBay. One such set is the 1991 Dubuque Braves Standard set (as opposed to the perforated set, which I already own). Singles show up on the auction block from time to time, but my collection is suffering a severe shortage of the delicious delicacy.

A six-card lot of standard '91 Dubuque's (including the John Smoltz I've so desperately searched for) recently popped up on the 'Bay. On the final day of the auction, I outbid the lone competitor and ended up winning the lot for $6, with free shipping.

The 6 cards themselves showed up in a PWE and were in one plastic Card Saver. I would have preferred them to be shipped in a bubble pack, but wasn't surprised since it shipped on the seller's dime. The problem, however, was in how the Card Saver was sealed. The seller used a (free) Priority Mail label. If you've ever used such a thing on the outside of a package, you know they are extremely sticky on the backside. Well, the top card in the stack was the John Smoltz- and the top of card just so happened to have somehow find its way above the ridge of the Card Saver's front (as you know, the back extends higher) and underneath part of the label. Yes, the label was stuck to the top of the card.

Taking the cards out of the Card Saver proved to be difficult- nay, impossible- without the card tearing, which it did. As you can see, the tear runs down from the top of the card to the hat on Smoltz's head. The discoloration along the card top is actually the residue from the label; I was actually surprised that the card didn't tear worse than it did, considering how sticky the labels are.

The middle section is where the card was stuck under the label- and I was able to slice the label only so far without cutting the card and then was basically left to try to lift the label up off the card. SMDH

I contacted the seller and didn't even ask for a refund- I merely suggested he invest in painter's tape to avoid any such future mishaps. His response was insulting- informing me he has sent thousands of cards out (his eBay rating was like, 88) on Sportlots and insinuated that I need to learn how to pull the card out. He said if he had another one that he'd send it out but didn't even offer a partial (like 1/6th = $1). I have yet to leave feedback- but am thinking of leaving very poor feedback.

My question for you readers: how would you handle that?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cameo Appearance

Every so often card companies produce cardboard which feature players in their former team's uniform- even though they left the organization before the cards were released. A recent example of this is found in this year's 2014 Topps 1, where Brian McCann is listed as an Atlanta Brave even though he had left via free-agency well before the cards hit the secondary market. I refer to these as 'Cameos,' as in: 'making a cameo appearance.'

Stranger yet is today's featured card: an insert depicting Tommy Hanson as a Brave, even though his base Heritage (card #415) has him as an Angel. Hanson was acquired by Los Angeles in a December 3, 2012 trade that sent Jordan Walden to Atlanta. 

Topps obviously had time to include Hanson on a card with his new team's apparel so why didn't they have time to list the new team (along with a photoshop job with the new hat/uniform) on the Clubhouse Collection card? I'm guessing that it's because it is a relic card and they must get the ball rolling on those earlier than the normal base cards. 

What's your theory? Laziness? Oversite? And do you have any similar examples of players having multiple cards in the same set with each showing him with a different team?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #7: King for the Day

One of the more popular things to do for a child's birthday (or, so it seems) is to do the birthday crown (or tiara, for the girls). I guess the purpose behind the tradition is to make the child feel like a King/Queen/Princess for the day. Carrying on with that tradition, we're going to crown birthday boy and former Brave Darrell Evans as King for the Day.

1990 Topps Kay-Bee #10 Darrell Evans

Topps, in conjunction with Kay Bee Toys, released an oddball set in 1990 that looked more like a Fleer card from that time period than it did one of its own. While the front could pass as a Topps product, the card back most certainly did not. Lavender in color and featuring white diagonal lines, the backs are absolutely horrendous. Thankfully, it is saved by the player's name in a nice, large font and full career statistics. The set was the fifth and final one produced for the toy store chain.

Happy 67th birthday to the 1985 AL Home Run King!

And...I also want to thank all those who have served- or are serving- in our armed forces. The sacrifices you make, and the service to our country, help contribute to the freedoms we enjoy and often take for granted. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

He'll Leave the Light on For You

Turn Out the Lights

 Kansas City Royals outfielder Tom Poquette sustained a pretty serious injury during a game at Royals Stadium on June 22, 1976. In the third inning of the game, Chicago's 20 year-old rookie third baseman Kevin Bell hit a line drive deep to left. Poquette pursued the ball and was unable to stop when his spikes got caught in the turf, causing him to crash face-first into the outfield wall (which at that point had no padding). Not only did Tom suffer a fractured cheekbone in four different places, he was also knocked unconscious. On the play, Bell raced all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam.

"I remember certain things. Other things, I have no memory of at all. I remember seeing the pool of blood on the ground. I tried to get up, but I couldn't. I saw the blood and I went back down. Then I drifted in and out."- Tom Poquette, on the violent crash.


After retiring at age 30, the Royals offered Poquette a coaching job, but instead he returned home to open a fitness center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Six years later, he returned to the game and spent the next twenty seasons coaching for the team in various capacities (major league hitting coach, minor league instructor, etc.)

Tom was one of six players inducted into the Eau Claire Baseball Hall of Fame on January 28, 2009. Poquette had been drafted by the Royals out of Eau Claire Memorial High School in the fourth round of the 1970 draft. He also played for the Red Sox and Rangers during his playing career.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: When Your Future Ain't Lueken Too Good

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak out and remove all doubt." ~ adage attributed to Abraham Lincoln

"You know when that [bullpen] phone rings and I tell you to warm up? That's your role." ~ Bobby Cox, speaking to relief pitcher Rick Lueken

1990 Braves Dubuque (Perforated)

Maybe it's just me, but...

The last thing one should do when underperforming on the job is to complain. And if you feel like you must speak out, for goodness sake- choose your timing wisely.

The 1990 season was a disastrous one for the Atlanta Braves. Celebrating their 25th anniversary in the capital city, the team gave fans very little to cheer about. In fact, the team finished last in attendance and last in the NL West with a 65-97 record. Fifteen games below .500 on June 22nd, the team fired manager Russ Nixon and replaced him with GM Bobby Cox.

Returning home from a bad west coast road trip (remember, this was back in the days of them 'competing' in the NL West), Luecken began voicing his displeasure about how he was being used. A  few fellow pitchers urged Luecken to take his issues up with the manager, and so the pitcher did just that- in the clubhouse at 4am. Probably not the best advice he had ever received at that point in his career.

Eleven days later, after post a 1-4 record with a 1.943 WHIP,  Luecken was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. Rick appeared in one game for the Jays (givine up two hits, a walk and a run in one inning) toward the end of the 1990 season and would never throw another pitch in the majors.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


As part of the recent purging and re-organizing of my collection, I decided it was time to use one of those fancy apps that I download and never use (Evernote) to create team set and player checklists.

I've attempted (and failed) this once before, but after recently discovering that I was missing two cards from a team set I thought I had finished, I am now determined to finish the arduous task.

You see, when I got back into the hobby in '09 I started using the TeamSets4U website that lists team sets by year and product. It seemed like it was pretty thorough and so I would consult their site when putting together my want lists. All was fine and dandy until I saw a card on eBay that  I knew was not a part of my collection.  Since I began the inventory process I've discovered other cards that were missing (not to mention cards that I have that were not on the website's list) and so this has given me a chance to get a better idea of what needs to be cataloged. 

The importance of using multiple sources for gathering information during this process can't be emphasized enough, as another website I've been using during this process- Beckett- has also been found to be missing cards from team listings. Because of these oversites, I've decided to also run searches on eBay and Check Out My Cards to see if any other items receive hits. 

The Edgar Renteria card above is the one which I found while purusing eBay. After discovering that card, I then made the trip to Beckett's website to run a search for 2006 Heritage Braves. The LaRoche card was yet another one that I didn't know even existed. I picked up both, plus the Andruw Jones SP variation card, on a recent COMC purchase.

Like I said, it is an arduous task; but for a completist like myself, it is well worth the time invested.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What If?

Two recent pickups were originally going to be added to my 'Fourteen Fugitives' wantlist. The list, which is filled almost exclusively with cards that I don't expect to ever add to my collection, is in need of a revision. Not only were most of them unattainable- but I had already bought one of the cards ('53 Bowman color Warren Spahn) and only two others are possibilities of becoming mine. Nothing like setting lofty goals which will never be met. But as I'm so prone to do, I procrastinated and actually got the cards before they could be added to the list.

On to the cards...

I love the concept of the 2002 Donruss Originals "What If?..." insert set. The Originals set itself was cool enough- think Donruss' version of Topps Archives- but to throw in cards which didn't exist
and new designs for the few years preceeding their entry into the baseball card market? It would have been a very fun product to break.

I don't know the odds of pulling the What If? cards, but they seem to be difficult to find- at least the two Dale Murphy cards seem to be tough to find. Having been keeping an eye on eBay for some to go up for sale, my patience finally paid off- I found one on the auction site for seven bucks. 

What If?...
...TBS had not televised Atlanta Braves games- or, what if our local cable provider had not carried the Superstation? I think it's safe to say that I would not have become a Braves fan.

Nineteen-Eighty was the year that our family got cable television. Not only did it open a whole new world for us, as far as news, movies and television programming, but it also (and more importantly, to me) gave us far more sports than we could ever imagine. College hockey, the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Cubs and, of course, the Barves. Having the ability to follow a major league team so closely really gave me a love for the Braves, even though I lived on the other end of the country. 

What If?... could get cards for free- would you do it? Hells yeah, you might say. Well, my search for the '78 Donruss mock-up finally paid off. Having found none on either eBay or COMC, I decided to search Low and behold, there she was in all her glory.

The purchase was my first off of the Amazon site and best of all...I didn't pay a dime for it. Using the points off my amazon credit card, I was able to finish off the dynamic duo of my childhood hero.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Player's Ink: Jose Peraza

Signed in 2010 as a sixteen year-old shortstop out of Venezuela, Jose Peraza has recently made the move to second base- where I am convinced he will starting at in Atlanta sometime during the 2016 season. With Andrelton Simmons entrenched at shortstop for the next several seasons, moving Peraza to second makes complete sense and will quicken his ascent to the majors.

Jose Peraza 2013 Topps Pro Debut Auto

For $2.99 and free shipping, I couldn't pass this one up. For one, I am still collecting the Topps Pro Debut and Heritage Minor team sets (until they screw them up, of course), and this goes towards the completion of that checklist. Second- I truly believe Peraza will be an impact player at the major league level. I'm thinking a fair comp might be Rafael Furcal (w/out the power).

Signature Tools

Speed: Fastest player in the system. Uses it on the basepaths and in the field with a quick first step. Had 117 stolen bases in first three minor league seasons- including 64 last year at low-A Rome.

Bat: High contact hitter, who saw his walk rates climb and strikeout rates drop each of his first three seasons. The walk rate will probably never be very high (it's actually dropped this year: 5 walks in his first 162 plate appearances at high-A Lynchburg), but I'd rather have a guy who has a low strikeout rate and can put the ball in play- you just never know what will happen. And with his speed, putting the ball in play is a good thing.

As much as I like what Peraza has to offer, I'm still holding out from picking up any newer releases. I do have a few already from previous sets, so I'll hold on to them. Having just turned twenty 3 weeks ago, Jose is still awfully young- and while he's hitting very well at High-A Lynchburg, the true test will come at AA Mississippi. Perhaps his fast start will result in a promotion in the not-too distant future.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Base(ball) Oddity #6: Wax Bottom Cards

"Get on your bike and ride!"~ Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls
"Fat Bottomed Girls, they'll be riding today- so look out for those beauties!"~ Queen's Bicycle Race

Classic rock legends Queen released a double A-side single (as opposed to a B-side, where only one song is intended for airplay) for the songs Bicycle Race and Fat Bottomed Girls in October of 1978. If you're a fan of the band, or at least pretty familiar with the songs, you'll remember that each song cross-references the other in its lyrics.

For some stupid reason, Fat Bottomed Girls comes to mind whenever I see the wonderfully odd wax bottom cards that Topps used to put on the undersides of its wax boxes. I guess it's the alliteration of 'fat bottom' and 'wax bottom,' but who knows. I'm not really into chasing fat bottoms- but I do enjoy wax bottoms. What makes collecting the wax bottom cards fun for me is that the company used photos which varied from the player's base card. Two cards, linked together by a design- kind of like the Queen songs being linked through lyrics.

You Say Junk...

A recent COMC purchase added three more to my collection:

1989 Topps Wax Bottom Card #M Bruce Sutter

1990 Topps Wax Bottom Card #D Darrell Evans

1991 Topps Wax Bottom Card #J Dale Murphy

....I Say Wax!!

Base Cards-

Ring, ring!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Food-Issue Friday: Done Fasting

It seems like it's been quite a while since the last Food-Issue Friday; I guess you can say I've been fasting. No more, though. I'm hungry and am ready to chow down on some cardboard cuisine.

Today's special is this 1990 Braves Dubuque Tom Glavine card.

Tommy's vocabulary didn't include the word fast. Sure- his fastball could top out at 93-94 at times very early in his career, but for most of the time it sat in the mid-high 80's.

And while I may have been fasting of late, Mr. Glavine *never* missed a start. In fact, the man never went on the DL until his age 42 season (2008- his final season in the majors). You want dependable? You've got it. Glavine topped 200 innings 14 times in his 22-year career and 180 innings 19 times in the 20 full seasons he spent in the bigs. He also owns the MLB record for most starts without a relief appearance (682).

What's on the Plate
Tommy made his living on the outside of the plate, where he worked the corners- expanding the strike zone and preventing hitters from making good contact. He was even the subject (along with Mike Mussina) of a book called Living on the Black (a term taken from the edge of the plate), which chronicled the two New York teams' 2007 baseball season as two aging veterans pursue milestones in their distinguished careers. 

Thanks for dining with us- and don't forget to leave a tip!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Memorable Moments: Otis Nixon

I guess the third time really is the charm.

After failing to win two previous auctions on a 2013 Archives Otis Nixon auto, I finally succeeded in adding the card to my collection. For less than $6/delivered.

As I mentioned in a post last year, Otis was featured on not one, but five different cards in the '13 Archives set. It was an inclusion that still puzzles me. Besides the Fan Favorites auto, he was included in the Tall Boys, Fan Favorites SP, 4-in-1 Stickers and the Dual Fan Favorites (w/ B.J. Upton).

So in honor of picking up the fifth and final Otis Nixon card from last year's set, I'm going to post my five most memorable moments from Nixon's career with the Braves.

5-The 'Divorce' 

Otis was romantically involved with a woman who claimed that she was pregnant with his child and that the two had entered into a "common-law" marriage. The woman, Melissa Alfred, decided she was going to 'divorce' Nixon and seek his house, car, alimony and future child support. Apparently, the young woman was married at the time that the supposed 'common-law' marriage took place. The law suit was dropped.

4-Bunt to end the World Series

This one might have ranked higher (#3), had it not hurt so damned much. 

The final play of the 1992 season- the final play of the World Series- ended on a bunt. With the tying run on third. A bunt which the Toronto pitcher, Mike Timlin, easily fielded to get the speedy Nixon out at first.

 I remember sitting there- staring at the television- unable to speak. I was shocked. Only ten days earlier, I- and countless other Atlanta fans- had tasted victory in a way that was almost as shocking as this night. Only this time, there would be no joy in Mudville. Or Atlanta. Or Caldwell, Idaho.

It's easy to be the whipping boy when things go wrong like that. Heck, Atlanta would not have been in a position to tie the game had Nixon not drove in Jeff Blauser with the tying run in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out, two-strike single off of Toronto reliever Tom Henke. 

For a man who missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime only twelve months earlier, Otis was able to keep things in perspective: he might have been disappointed with the outcome, but he was just thankful for the opportunity to be in the position to have an impact on the game.

3-Major-League Record Six Steals in a Game

The Atlanta center fielder tied a Major League Baseball record for stolen bases in a game with six (tying Hall of Famer Eddie Collin's record), which came against his former team (Montreal) on June 16th, 1991.

Nixon would also go on to obliterate the Atlanta season record for stolen bases that year- swiping 72 bases- as well as the franchise record of 57 (set by Boston's Ralph Myers 1913 total).

2- Flying Drop Kick Against the Phillies' Wally Ritchie on Dale Murphy Night

 The story of the night was supposed to be former Brave and Philly great, Dale Murphy. Instead, it was remembered for a brawl.

 The Braves honored Murph earlier in the evening as the former star returned (for the first time since being traded) to the place where he won back-to-back MVP awards and was viewed as an icon. But all the love was forgotten in the eighth inning, when Philadelphia reliever Wally Ritchie brushed Nixon back on his first pitch of the night. Having to be calmed down by home plate umpire Gary Darling, Otis stepped back into the box- only to be hit in the knee on the very next pitch. This time, there was no stopping him. Quicker than you can say, "cocaine," Nixon landed a flying drop kick that tore into Ritchie's shirt with his cleats (leaving several welts in his side), as well as three punches to the back of the pitcher's head.

"All I know is, Otis Nixon beat the living shit out of him and that made me happy, " Braves manager Bobby Cox would say later.

A couple of weeks later, while facing the Phillies on the road, Nixon was once again hit by a pitch- this time by current Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell. In the bottom-half of the inning, Tom Glavine threw four halfhearted brushback pitches at Murphy (who led off the bottom of the ninth). The incident led to Glavine's ejection. No brawls broke out.

1- The Catch

With Atlanta holding a 1-0 lead against the Pirates in the top of the ninth on July 25, 1992- and needing only two more outs to secure a franchise-best 13 game winning streak- Pittsburgh center fielder Andy Van Slyke appeared to have given the Pirates the lead with a two-run homer to center. But at the crack of the bat, Nixon had turned and sprinted towards the fence, planted his spikes into the outfield wall, pushing himself high enough to grab the ball as it carried over the fence and pulling it back in with his glove. The media called it 'The Catch'- and so it has been know as ever since.

Here is the link to the video. I love Skip's call and David Justice's reaction to 'The Catch.'

Monday, May 12, 2014

Trade with Night Owl: I Must Be Cray Cray

I really have no excuse for waiting so long to post about a trade I initiated with the Night Owl towards the end of March. Oh, wait- maybe it's because I'm out of my mind. Why else would I be willing to trade, like, 50-something 1982 Topps cards for a single Simba?

Greg had tweeted a photo of this glorious, shiny-chromey Purple Andrelton Simmons card- causing me to have a momentary lapse of reason in which I threw out the trade offer. "A glazed look and I was on the road to ruin; and without a thought of the consequence, I gave into my decadence"- as the Pink Floyd song One Slip goes.

Actually, I broke up that set (along with a few others) a couple of years ago and have been using them as trade bait. So I was thrilled to help a brother out in finishing a set. Simba is my favorite current Brave and is a nice addition to my collection.

But wait...there's more!

Greg also added a few throw-ins to balance the scale:

Surely you know of Owl's love for '75 minis, so to receive one from him...Truly an honor.

Two more Heritage cards.

As you might remember, Greg had waited and waited and waited for Heritage to arrive in his local box stores. I'm glad they finally arrived. Thanks for the trade, Greg!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

In Stitches

"I have often said that a baseball clubhouse is not for the thin-skinned. If you take yourself too seriously among teammates, you'll find yourself swimming upstream. A clubhouse will break you if you don't have a sense of humor about yourself, if you're sensitive or can't take a joke. There is a line, though, the one that some players will occasionally cross with others, when they go too far and it becomes that moment that you have to decide how much you will tolerate."~ C.J. Nitkowski, in an article (11/14/2013), regarding ribbing in the clubhouse (context: Incognito/Martin and the culture of the clubhouse)

Warren Spahn is most well known for his play on the field, but the man was also known as quite the practical joker.

Spahn and close friend (and road roommate) Lou Burdette would often try to break the tension in the clubhouse with their jokes. Some found them simply annoying; others, such as Henry Aaron, viewed the lefty as the type who took pleasure in exploiting a sensitive area in others for a laugh. (Howard Bryant, 'The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron") "The two biggest pain in the asses were Spahn and Burdette when they weren't pitching," said Frank Torre. "They were always screwing around on the bench and a lot of guys used to get annoyed as hell." (John Klima, Bushville Wins!)


I just received this 2012 Topps Historical Stitches Warren Spahn card in the mail yesterday. Since its release, I've found the design compelling and have been waiting for one of the Braves to come up for sale at a cheap price. The eBay seller whom I got this from also had a Smoltz up for auction. Trying to take advantage of combined shipping, I put in a bid on the Smoltz, but unfortunately lost out.

If anyone has any of the other Braves for trade, let me know and perhaps we can work something out.

Braves Checklist: 2012 Topps Historical Stitches
Hank Aaron
Chipper Jones
John Smoltz
Warren Spahn

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Take It to the Limit

In honor of the recent release of Dan Epstein's "Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of 1976," I've decided to do a short series where I'm taking the title of each chapter from the book (which also happen to be song titles from that year) as well as cards from the '76 Topps baseball set, and trying to do a mashup. Wish me luck.


One of the most difficult things to do in baseball is hitting for the natural cycle (collecting a single, double, triple and homer in order). The feat has only occurred a total of fourteen times in MLB history, with Gary Mathews, Jr. being the last player to do so (September 13, 2006).

Perhaps the strangest natural cycle occurred during the bicentennial year of 1976- by a player from a Canadian team.

Montreal shortstop Tim Foli was never considered a home run threat. In fact, during his 16 year major-league career, the infielder hit a total of 25 round-trippers to go with a .309 slugging percentage. But on April 21st, Tim came to bat in the top of the 6th needing only a home run to finish off the difficult feat.

Top 2nd: Single to LF off of Cubs P Geoff Zahn
Top 3rd: Double to LF off of Cubs P Tom Dettore
Top 5th: Triple to LF off of Cubs P Paul Reuschel

Facing the Cubs' Paul Reuschel for the second time in as many innings, Foli's at-bat ended in a fielder's choice as Ellis Valentine was thrown at home. Still, with Montreal due three more at-bats, Foli figured to get at least one more plate appearance. However, darkness was settling in quickly (remember, this was before Wrigley had lights) and the chances of Foli finishing his feat looked rather dim. And in the top of the seventh, the game was suspended due to darkness.

The game resumed the next day with Foli getting his shot at the record books in the top of the 8th. This time he wouldn't be disappointed, as he homered off of the Cubs' Ken Crosby in his final at-bat of the game- finishing off his cycle in his final at-bat.

Monday, May 5, 2014


"It's not how fast you can go, the force goes into the flow... more than just survival, more than just a flash. More than just a dotted line, more than just a dash...  You can do a lot in a lifetime, if you don't burn out too fast. You can make the most of the distance, first you need endurance- first you've got to last..." ~Rush's Marathon

In a 1986 interview for Canadian Composer magazine, Rush lyricist and drummer Neil Peart describes the message behind the band's song Marathon, "It is about the triumph of time and a kind of message to myself (because I think life is too short for all the things that I want to do); there's a self-admonition saying that life is long enough. You can do a lot- just don't burn yourself out too fast trying to do everything at once. Marathon is about individual goals and trying to achieve them."

If my collecting journey in this hobby needs a theme song- or a metaphor- then Marathon should suffice.

That's because I often find myself running not a marathon, but a sprint. Better get it now because- hey, it might not be there for me tomorrow (or next month). As wonderful of a tool as the internet has become for, among other things, the collector, the ability to find most of what we want on eBay, COMC, Sportlots, etc. can also be a curse. Call it instant gratification. Our collecting community is often a microcosm of society at large.

The funny thing is...much of what I find myself sprinting towards will be there next month.

Two recent purchases were made towards the end of April, despite the fact that I had already spent my monthly budget. Blame my renewed interest in working towards the Braves Topps master team sets. Why else would I purchase a Trey Hodges Future Phenoms relic card.

Or a Rico Bragna game-worn piece?

The cards themselves were not much money- so that wasn't so much the issue as it was another underlying issue: I am not a patient man and I couldn't wait until May.

To put it another way, do I want longevity (like a Spahn, Murphy or Mathews), instability-moving from one thing to another (like a Fick or Betemit)- or a shortened time in the hobby, never reaching the fullness of my goals (like Hodges, or worse- Caminiti)?

What's that old saying? Slow and steady wins the race.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Let's Do it Again

In honor of the recent release of Dan Epstein's "Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of 1976," I've decided to do a short series where I'm taking the title of each chapter from the book (which also happen to be song titles from that year) as well as cards from the '76 Topps baseball set, and trying to do a mashup. Wish me luck.


My knowledge of movies from the 1970s is very limited, due partially to the fact that I didn't even hit my teen years until 1982 and sports and music trumped all other sectors of pop culture during my childhood. That, and let's face it, many of them just weren't that good. One movie that I had never heard of- and probably would not have heard of, had it not been for Epstein's Stars and Strikes- is the 1975 Sidney Poitier film, Let's Do It Again. 

The film, which featured a song title of the same name (and used as the title of the first chapter in Stars and Strikes) in the opening and closing moments, starred Poitier and Bill Cosby as two blue-collar workers who plot to fix a boxing match in order to raise funds for the Brothers and Sisters of Shaka lodge. In order to do so, the pair has to convince Jimmy "JJ" Walker (through hypnotism) that he is a professional fighter. Walker's character, Bootney Farnsworth, defeats the champion- 40th Street Black- and the two con-artists appear to have gotten away with a big pay day. Poitier and Cosby are later forced to set up a re-match after gangsters, who had lost money on the first fight, give them the ultimatum: do so, or die.  


One of the most notorious on-field brawls in MLB history took place on May 20, 1976 as the Red Sox visited the rival New York Yankees. The genesis of the fight actually dated back to 1973, when a scuffle took place between Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson. To worsen matters, Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee opened his yap- stating that the Yankees were "like a bunch of hookers, swinging their purses." 

Still in the back of the two team's minds, this night's dance started when Lou Pinella collided at home with Fisk. Fists began to fly. Lee, who just happened to be pitching that night, tried to stop a New York player from entering the fray- only to be sucker punched by Mickey Rivers. Shortly thereafter, Lee was picked up and tossed like a rag doll by Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles, who was only trying to 'keep Lee out of it.' 

Realizing how badly his shoulder was hurt, the Boston pitcher came charging back towards Nettles, shouting obscenities. Unable to throw the punch that he desperately wanted to land, Lee instead became the hunted- taking a right hook from Nettles that left him with a black eye and a bruised ego. Not to mention the torn ligaments in his left shoulder.