Sunday, November 25, 2012

Football Week 12: Another Road Trip.

       Last January, the Saints were feeling very altruistic in the first quarter of their playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers and decided to spot them 17 points right off the bat by fumbling and generally not playing any defense.  Then remembering that this was not only a league game but a playoff game, the Saints ripped off 32 points in three quarters but it was not enough.  They fell to the Niners 36-32 in a wild, borderline insane game.  Needless to say, this game left a very bad taste in my mouth, so when the schedule came out this spring, I immediately circled the game as the one I wanted to get to in person. Now, I did have a serendipitous trip to New Orleans in October, when I saw the first win of the year.  But this is the one I have wanted from the beginning.  This is payback. 

I have a bunch of 49ers cards from the heyday of the team in the 80's and 90's.  I kinda want to burn them right now.
Here is a bunch of random Joe Montana cards.  I hope the Saints send whomever starts at QB for the Niners to a place where he can see John Candy too.

Montana was the first player honored as an Upper Deck Football Hero:
Now he shills for Sketchers on the most awkward commercials possible. 

Jerry Rice is one of, if not the greatest, wide receiver of all time:
He also lost on Dancing With The Stars and is one of the most unwatchable faces during all the ESPN football shows.
Rice never played a regular season game for the Broncos.  That is a marvelous zero year card.  That is a genuine Rice rookie card in the center there.  It also has a big ass crease across it.

Watching Steve Young on TV makes me sad:
Here is a man with a law degree, a 150 IQ, and one of the rarest commodities in sports commentating, common sense.  Watching him as the other talking heads bandy about banal nonsense is like watching Albert Einstein referee a cockfight.

I will be in my usual seat up in the Superdome, section 610 row 35 seat 24.  As you can probably tell from the high row number and section, they are not the best seats in the world, but trust me: they really are. Who Dat!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks.

       We all have a lot to be grateful for here on this Thanksgiving.  Personally, I give great thanks to the fact that I am relatively healthy and happy while living comfortably in a first world country.  I have lots of great friends that enrich my life and a loving and supportive family. Most of all, I am very thankful for the fact that a couple of weeks ago, the Mets bought out Jason Bay's contract so I never have to look at him on my team again.
Of course, I guarantee that he will go to another team and put up a .300/30/100 slash line.  But hey, I give thanks that that is many months in the future.
And to all of you, my faithful and loyal readers - for whom, of course, I am tremendously thankful for - enjoy your turkey and stuffing and try to avoid any horrifying family dysfunction.  As for my plans, I am currently in the airport about to fly off to New Orleans to drink away my holiday and enjoy the Saints game on Sunday. Gobble Gobble!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Football Week 11: The Autumn Wind. a Raider, pillaging just for fun. At least that's how the poem goes. As far back as the 1970's, the Raiders represented rebellion and they were "the bad guys."  They were the repository for every castoff, thug, and ne'er-do-well in the NFL.  And worse, they won.  A lot.  Like most males of my generation, I went through a brief fascination with the LA/Oakland Raiders in the late 80's and early 90's.  By the time I was a teenager, gangster rappers had adopted the silver and black and made them cool all over again by being everything conventional society and parents hated.  They used the Raider colors as their own uniform and really, look how simple and badass those uniforms are:
Now I am very white and from a very very white town, but I lived briefly in a non lily-white area so I know first hand how ridiculous it is when upper middle class kids adopt the urban attitude.  For the white kids in the 'burbs, it is a poseur persona; for kids in the ghetto, it is just the way life is.  So I never really liked the Raiders because it was "cool," I liked the Raiders for a different, better reason: Bo Jackson.
Bo Jackson was unbelievable. There will never be someone like Bo Jackson ever again.  He was an athletic savant.  He made everything look easy.  I watched Bo play baseball with awe, but then he started playing football too, you know, as a hobby (seriously).  And whatever the equivalent of 500 foot homers are in baseball, he did that in football.  Every time he came to bat, you dropped what you were doing and watched.  When he was in the back field, every single time he touched the ball, a touchdown was likely.  He made moves that defy logic.  They needed a higher league for his talents.  If you never saw him play, go to youtube and watch some of his highlights.  It's OK, I'll wait...
Unfortunately, he was a shooting star that streamed across the sky briefly and faded away.  Because he chose that rather dangerous hobby, he got hurt.  And by hurt, I mean he got brutally tackled and it ground his hip into dust and hamburger.  After that, he never played football again.  But defying all logic once again, he got a hip replacement and came back to play baseball for a few more years.  That's right, he played baseball with a frigging artificial joint in his leg. 
I say that we will never see another person like Bo Jackson again because, sure, while maybe there will be another athlete like him, no one will ever play baseball and running back at the same time again nor to the level that he achieved at each (All Star and Pro Bowl, respectively).  We might get another Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan, but another Bo? No way.  He is unique amongst athletes in history.  And in a way, we kind of got cheated.  If he had focused on baseball, who knows what we could have seen.  What was the celing - Ken Griffey Jr., maybe?  Sammy Sosa may have been the floor.  If he had focused on football and not gotten hurt?  We would probably talk about him over Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith, since he was pretty much a combination of those two, with some Earl Campbell thrown in for good measure.  Bo Jackson is one of the all time What Might Have Beens in sports.  Oh, but what we got was pretty damn good.
I am using the Raiders today because my Saints are playing them in Oakland (and I even get to watch them on the television because of the Giants bye week...woohoo!). My infatuation with the Raiders is long over, so watching New Orleans stomp them today will bring me great joy.  I used Bo Jackson today to introduce one of my absolute favorite player collections.  I have a whole cube of Bo which means about 150 different cards.  Very few of my player collections are in binders - Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Todd Hundley are about it.  The rest are in a big box trapped in plastic cases and cubes waiting to get the call to the big time.  I think of all my player collections, Bo might be the next to get the nine page treatment. 


UPDATE:  I posted this 12 days before Bo's 50th birthday.  Bo Jackson is 50?  Wow.  I am old.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

C.Y. Dickey.

Congratulations to 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

He said it best during the interview following the announcement, this is a nice little consolation after a very disappointing Mets season.  But as a fellow 37-year old oddball who has been counted out many times over, I like to think this is a win for all of us...Huzzah, R.A.!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Football Week 10: Veteran's Day.

       My grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonial in the army during WWII.  My uncle served in the navy during Korea and Vietnam.  My father was an airborne ranger in Vietnam.  My brother was a specialist in the army.  My sister was in the air force intelligence division.  My very close family friend was in the Marines and served in Afghanistan.  I would like to thank each and every one of them on this Veteran's Day for their service to our country.  I cannot express how proud of the members of my family that have been in the armed forces. 

       We just got over a rather nasty election where a lot of rhetoric got thrown around about what is important and what isn't, but without the men and women down in the trenches, all of that stuff is moot.  No matter what your opinion may be of our most recent wars, if you see a veteran of any of them today, thank them, salute them.  I told you this week I didn't care if you went out to vote, but I most certainly do care about our veterans and how you treat them.  They chose to serve and protect us to the best of their ability and they deserve our utmost respect.  I get to sit in my living room in my pajamas on a Sunday with two televisions playing at the same time watching football and talking about football cards on the internet because of them.

These are by far the most patriotic football cards I could find.  I always thought these were Upper Deck cards, but it turns out they are UD clones from 1992 by a company called AW.  I never heard of that company before and I have never seen anything else by them (lemme know if you have) but they seemed very appropriate for the day.  I believe they are a relic of the surge of patriotism from the first Iraq war.  It seems like a slight bit of overkill, but hey, the American flag is actually a pretty nifty piece of design, so I like it.  It helps that the pictures in this set are crisp and are cropped well to fit the smaller open area. 

In case I didn't bang it home enough in the opening paragraphs, I'd just like to say one more time, thank you vets!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Check This Box.

       I subscribe to the same theory about politics as some do religion, and it goes something like this:

Religion is like a penis.
It's fine to have one.
It's fine to be proud of it.
But please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around.
And please don't try to shove it down my children's throats.

This time of year we all get sick of the politics, sick of the partisan fighting, sick of the attack ads, sick of the canned pandering, even sick of people being sick of politics.  It is just one of those things; it's why you don't talk about it in polite society.  And I completely understand those who hate the political process.  But it is quite easy to avoid it.  You don't have to watch the debate.  You can change the channel if commercials come on.  You can change the subject if someone starts a conversation about it.  Most of us know how we feel without the constant bombardment.  And I respect all that.  But there is one thing you must do and that is be part of the process one way or another.  That means you should get out and vote - or even don't vote - and do so for a reason.  A lot of folks with say "you have to vote!" but I disagree.  If your reason not to vote is grounded in logic (ie, I hate these candidates) and not ignorance, I am with you.  We all wish the election cycle would shorten and the rhetoric would improve.  We all would like the candidates to not start at the extremes and work towards the middle. In the end, we all get the candidates we deserve.  This is part of the process.  And a messy process it is.  I vote in every election I can - primaries, school board, dog catcher, whatever.  But to each their own. 

OK, that rambling rant is now over - for now.  What I am gonna do here is pull out my presidential themed cards.  First is not only my favorite page of political cards, but one of my favorite pages in my entire collection:
pr5 photo pr5.jpg
This is from the 1956 Topps Presidents set.  Since these cards are well loved, I picked them up for a song a long time ago. These cards are fantastic.  Those beards are fantastic.  Why don't more candidates wear awesome hipster style facial hair?  I would totally vote for the first one who has a handlebar mustache and a sweet set of mutton chops.  My hat is now in the political ring.

We now jump ahead five decades to some more recent offerings:
Much like most people seemed to warm up to Jimmy Carter years after he left office, I have grown fond of George Bush senior in recent years.  He was a pretty interesting dude, I just don't think he ever should have been president (and the less said about his kid, the better).  The ones on the bottom there are from the last presidential cycle. 

Here is more of a mishmash of political cards:
These also have more of a sports theme.  Those cards of the presidents throwing out the first pitch are from the 1994 Baseball set from the Ken Burns Baseball documentary.  I have this whole set in piecemeal form, it was just broken up and I have been too lazy to put it back together again (cue Humpty Dumpty reference).  On this page you also will see more than a few JFK cards.  This will at least begin to tell you where my political leanings go. 

In 2007 and 2008, Topps was obsessed with these political cards, I assembled a little frankenpage of them here:
You have presidents and signers of both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution on this page.  You also have Bill Clinton yet again throwing out the first pitch in a Cleveland Indians jacket.  Is that the only team he threw out the first pitch for? Here is a good piece of trivia, William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the first pitch at a major league game.  And John Hancock is on here twice, because he should be.  Most people know about his huge signature, and those people usually even know why.  But if you don't know how badass John Hancock was overall, go look him up, don't worry, I'll wait. 

OK, so I have kept things pretty straight and narrow, but here, I am gonna get back up on my soapbox and shove it down your throats a little:
I am unabashedly and unapologetically liberal.  Socially, economically, and morally, all of my leanings go very left.  I got up and out of the house this morning at 8:30 to vote and I voted for Barack Obama.  Has he been perfect?  No.  Does he deserve four more years?  Yes.  He has stuck by his guns and stayed true to most of his promises.  I would like to see him finish the job.  I lived in Massachusetts for 12 years.  I saw Mitt Romney at the embryonic stage of his political career when he ran against Ted Kennedy.  Back then he ran as a pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-health care candidate.  He did the same when he ran for governor years later (and won).  Now, on the national stage, he has switched (or as the GOP loves to say, flip flopped) to reflect the more radical edges of his party.  No one really knows who Mitt Romney is.  Well, except for all that pro-business corporate pirating he does...on that, he has never wavered.  The republicans have nominated the very kind of candidate they used to eviscerate.  For this reason alone, I could never vote for them or him.  Back in the 1960's, the democrats were highjacked by the very liberal factions of the anti-war hippie types.  Now, the GOP has been taken over by the far right tea party lunatics and I believe until they get their house in order and refocus on what has been their very conservative yet very populist platform (see: Ronald Reagan), they will be doomed to lose as the democrats were in the 1960's (I mean, they lost to Richard Nixon twice).  Anyway, that is my two cents about this election.  I promise not to have any more political content until next November.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Football Week 9: Monday Night Edition.

       Tonight is pretty much it for my Saints.  If they win, they can at least dream of making the playoffs, if they lose, well, they may as well tank the rest of the season and get themselves a decent draft pick.  This will probably be my statement/lament for the rest of the season.  I would like to see them rally after pretty much every roadblock has been put in their way this year.

       Tonight they play the Eagles, probably my second least favorite team.  Actually, I hate the Cowboys fans the most and the Eagles actual players the most, so we can quibble over where that would place them on my overall hate-o-meter.  A few years ago, there was this fan in the Superdome stands.  For me, it was love at first sight (they even put her in Maxim magazine after her fame swept through the interwebs).  Anyway, if you are out there, Heather, my offer of marriage still stands. 

        Needless to say, with all going on the last week or so here after Sandy, I have not had time to scan new pages and I do not have any more Saints cards scanned.  So I will have to pick a page and find some vague tangential connection.  Ahhhh, here we go:

Like I said, I hate any player who suits up for the Eagles.  Well, here are four players who are pretty damn despicable no matter what uniform they wear (and most of them now wear the uniform of their state's DOC).  Lawrence Phillips took a boatload of talent and threw it all away in a series of domestic disputes and then got a long stretch in the pokie after an assault with a deadly weapon.  Somehow, Pacman Jones is still in the league and not in prison, proof that if you are a viable player, the NFL will always look the other way.  Not only has Jones shot up more than one(!) strip club, he ruined a fantastic nickname like 'Pac-Man' forever.  Maurice Clarett was both impetuous and well armed - to the tune of getting kicked off a national title team in college and then going to jail for armed robbery.  In there he also flamed out in the NFL without ever playing a regular season snap; hell, he never even suited up for a preseason game.  I also read that he has been trying to clean up his act.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Last but certainly not least is the immortal Rae Carruth.  Rae showed flashes of talent for the Panthers for a couple of years, but then he ran into a problem, he got a girl pregnant.  His solution to this problem was certainly creative and unique: he decided to have her killed in what looked like a carjacking.  Classy guy.  He'll be in prison until at least 2018, and really, how he escaped the gas chamber for that one, I will never quite understand.

Not shown: Mark Chmura, OJ Simpson, Lawrence Taylor (though he soon will be), Jim Brown, Donte Stallworth, Leonard Little, and Ray Lewis.  Also not shown, tonight's starting quarterback for the Eagles, the worst of the lot, Michael Vick. Since I love dogs more than any person on this planet, I cannot reiterate my hatred for him enough and I will not even try.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Refugee Report: Boston.

       We are now in day five of my electric exile from my home.  The first couple of days found me in Pennsylvania taking care of my brother's adorable doggie.  The last couple have found me visiting friends in Boston.  To be honest, a good friend of mine is in town and I am really slumming it staying with her.  This trip was planned well in advance, so it has turned into quite the serendipitous refuge.  I will be spending the rest of the weekend with some good friends in the Boston suburbs.  It turns out I made a very wise decision in fleeing the northern Jersey area, since things there have gotten worse since Tuesday.  I don't own a generator and I have no stomach for panic, so I would just like to thank my friends and family for putting me up (and putting up with me).

       Lemme tell you, being stuck in a luxury hotel for three days is no picnic.  I mean, I am right by the waterfront and downtown, how on earth am I supposed to cope and keep myself occupied?  I mean, I had to have lunch with a couple of good friends at a wonderful (tastefully named) deli.  And then I could easily walk to one of my old and all time favorite baseball card haunts, the venerable Bay State Coin.  I have known the proprietor Andy for almost 20 years and I even have worked there and done some online work for him over the years.  He is a prickly yet loveable character; they don't make them like him anymore.  He is a huge Cardinals and Stan Musial fan (and erstwhile Albert Pujols supporter as well, though bring his name up now and all you will get is a loudly shouted "traitor!!!").  He is also one of the biggest Celtics fans I know.  He goes to just about every home game and in fact I found out today that he has been to every Celtics home playoff game since 1966 but two - and one of those he missed to meet Stan Musial.  Anyway, Andy was happy to see me as I don't get in much to see him anymore.  We gabbed and jabbed for an hour or so and then, just so I wouldn't appear to be a freeloader, looked at some of this years Topps inserts.  Seeing how I have some time to kill, I will now show them. You will have to forgive me as I do not have access to a scanner and my photography skills are not exactly on par with Ansel Adams, but being a refugee, I am making do with what I have.

First, I saw that he had multiple copies of my favorite insert set from the first series of 2012 Topps, the Classic Walk Offs: 
While not the best designed cards in the world, I do like the subject matter (they would be far better if they enlarged the main picture and better highlighted the background secondary picture, but who am I, a graphic designer?).  They got a nice mix of modern and vintage players and with the inclusion of such memorable homers like Bill Mazeroski, David Ortiz, and of course, Carlton Fisk, it is a very comprehensive set as well.  I don't always like to mix current and retired players on a page, but this set kind of calls for it.  I also kind of like how they got Jay Bruce and Jim Thome in the exact same pose.  I am glad I didn't have to go online to find these and pick them off one by one.  There is something to be said for a well stocked Local Card Shop.

I also picked up a few Mets and player odds and ends from this years inserts that I didn't have yet:
There is an awesome Dwight Gooden card that I had been hungering for.  As memory fades from the 1980's, we have all forgotten how awesome Doc really was. Also, with the same old school players in the same Topps sets over and over again, it is nice to see someone as underutilized as the Doctor used and I'd like to see them use him more - to the point where I get sick of him.  Just like, say, Tom Seaver (this is, of course, preposterous, as I could never get tired of Tom Seaver). I grabbed the Golden Moments, which I wasn't sure if I had or not, and a rare non-Mets card of him.  I really dig those horrifyingly ugly 80's White Sox unis.  There is also the David Wright Golden Memories, which I thought $30 a Week Habit had sent me - turns out he sent me something much better.  Lastly, I grabbed a bunch of the 1987 mini type cards, just because, well, minis!!!  The Roberto Clemente is a wonderful photo that I hadn't seen before, too bad my picture on the hotel bed does it no justice.  Oh wait! I forgot Yaz! How could I forget about Yaz?  I am not entirely sure if I have expounded on my love of Carl Yastrzemski on this blog yet.  I am not going to now, but trust me, he is one of my all time favs.  I am puzzled about the logo on that card.  Is that a Red Sox B?  Is that current? Period?  Is that just a mistake and it is a Brooklyn Dodgers B?  I am stumped and to be honest, I just don't have the energy right now to go looking it up...not with all the great bars in Boston just waiting for me to go and drown my sorrows in.