Sunday, January 20, 2013

Football Week 20: Championships.

       I find three of the teams in this Championship final four despicable, each one more than the next.  I hate the Ravens because of the Colts betrayal and Ray Lewis.  I hate the 49ers generally because of their dominance of the 1980's and specifically because they knocked my Saints out of the playoffs last year in ridiculous fashion (it is sad that the Saints will go down as the only team to ever lose to Alex Smith in the playoffs).  The Falcons are, well, the Falcons...sworn enemy of the Saints; watching them win the Super Bowl in our home stadium would be like watching Hitler take the oath of office on the Wailing Wall. So with that bit of overwrought hyperbole out of the way, all that means is that I am halfheartedly rooting for the Patriots and to be honest, I am not too keen on watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick lift another Lombardi Trophy either. So most of the joy has gone out of my football watching.  In fact, if there were any good movies to go see, I would probably ditch these games all together and go out.

I am going to take this opportunity to tell the tale of my fanhood of a certain Brett Favre.
I was on the Brett Favre bandwagon early.  Before he became a retiring dick-texting attention whore, he was a Vicodin addict.  This was way back in the early 90's when he just got the job as starting quarterback for the Packers.  Favre was not on my radar until he came out and admitted he had a problem with painkillers and checked himself into rehab.  He may not have been the first, but he was the first sports star I could remember who went to rehab on his own, rather than only after being caught and/or being arrested.  I respected that highly, having had a little issue with drugs and alcohol myself. 
So I became a Favre collector.  He was a great quarterback and sympathetic figure until... and that is the kicker.  There was a point where if Brett Favre had either retired or just switched teams honestly, we all wouldn't hate Brett Favre.  But, alas he didn't follow this path.  In 2007, he forced a trade to the Jets (a team I hate) after he had retired after years of threatening to retire.  Then he went to the Vikings and every year became a retirement deathwatch.  He became an insufferable ass.  Plus, on ESPN, before there was Tim Tebow, there was Brett Favre.  I think we have all forgotten that.

By the time the 2009 season had rolled around, I had long disavowed any rooting interest in Brett Favre.  My Favre jersey was way way in the back of my closet, waiting to be used as a painting coverall, and my Favre player collection had been pared way way down.  Then came the most joyous moment in my football watching life...
The New Orleans Saints had made it to the NFC Championship game and, being season ticket holders to the team, I drove down in one 21 hour shot to watch the game.  Not only did the Saints win in glorious fashion, they put a final "fuck you" on to the career of Brett Favre, as he threw the crushing interception that led to the tying points that sent the game into overtime.  Plus, the Saints beat the ever living hell out of him all game.  It was a very satisfying victory indeed.  I wish today's games could be as good, but I do hope there are some moments that lead to a feeling of satisfaction as thrilling for some team. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Man.

Stan Musial.

November 21, 1920 – January 19, 2013.

"Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."

My favorite useless statistic in all of baseball history?  Stan Musial had 3,630 hits - 1,815 of them at home and 1,815 on the road.


Let me ', there is too much, let me sum up...

       It has been a long couple of weeks here at Starting Nine HQ.  I have a long backlog of posts that have been piling up and issues to discuss.  Alas, work, the flu, winter, and depression have kept me from writing as much as I'd like.  I am still not 100% but I am off the DL and available to pinch hit.  I am gonna cover a couple topics that I will expand on in the next week or two.

First and foremost, hockey!

Did I mention hockey?  I am very excited and still pretty stunned that the season is being played.  I will be sitting home this evening watching.  If the very small sample size of truncated 48-game seasons is any indicator, my New Jersey Devils will once again be raising Lord Stanley's cup.


I actually got out of bed early this morning and made my way the 25 miles north across the Tappan Zee bridge to White Plains for their baseball card show.  I got a ton of great cards:
The stuff on the left is some vintage and game used.  The stuff on the right is an epic score at a 6 for a dollar table.  I figured I'd grab 100 cards or so; I ended up with 486 or so.  I will be posting much more about this pile next week. Promise.


Sad news out of Baltimore as Earl Weaver passed away last night.  He was 82.
I have mad respect for Weaver.  He is one of my all time favorite managers and probably my favorite that didn't have anything to do with the Mets.  He was a genius and an asshole.  He knew what buttons to push and whose buttons to push (ask poor Jim Palmer).  He invented the Oriole way and I am shocked more baseball teams haven't focused on that kind of organizational style.  Go over to Orioles Card "O" the Day and I am sure Kevin will have a wonderful tribute up for him by the end of the day. 


These three topics do not cover the trade backlog I have nor the fantastic breakdown of something that Night Owl said in an off hand way a week or two ago that I have half written.  Those posts are coming soon as well.  Thanks for bearing with me...winter is very very long and hard.  When do pitchers and catchers report again?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Football Week 19: Division.

       The divisional playoff weekend is usually your best in terms of quality and quantity of postseason football, or so goes the old cliche.  I usually don't buy into conventional wisdom, but damn, those games on Saturday were pretty spectacular.  I have been getting over the death flu that has been going around, plus I have been very busy actually working like a grown up, so I was riveted to my couch all Saturday.  No one saw the Ravens going into Denver and winning and the 49ers rode their rookie quarterback, literally, to victory.  After watching in person what Colin Kaepernick was capable of doing to a team, I was not too shocked to see what he did to the Packers.

Today we have a couple of games that will go a long way to determining a few legacies.

I lived in Boston for 12+ years and while I fell in love with the Red Sox, I never did get around to falling for the New England Patriots.  Oh sure, I paid attention to the team while I was there, but I never jumped on the bandwagon.  I had many friends who were Tom Brady lunatics and I rooted for them in all three of their Super Bowl wins.  I did not, however, root for them in their two loses to the Giants.  I think for Tom Brady to cement his legacy as one of the top 5 all time great quarterbacks, he has to win the big one one more time, and I think this year might be his last shot.

The other team with something to prove today is the Atlanta Falcons.  They have been a no show in the playoffs in their last 4 trips, and if they don't win today as the #1 seed, they might never.

Oh, one more thing, I scanned this page a while ago:

What the hell was I thinking?  No, really.  I cannot for the life of me figure out what the connection is that any of these players has with anyone else.  This is not a contest or anything, I would just really like to know.  If anyone can figure out what I was thinking, please tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


       Attention baseball writers: eat a bag of dicks. You are not the story, you are not the arbiters of morality, and - let's be honest here - you are tilting the rules only so it suits you. If Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford, and Pud Galvin are all in the Hall of Fame, than all of this eras players can be too. (except for Rafael Palmerio, fuck that guy.)

I mean, hey, if Tom Yawkey and Kenesaw Mountain Landis are your moral pillars, I am shocked Hank Aaron and Willie Mays ever got in the Hall.

Basically, with members like Bill Conlin, the baseball writers have said that it is just fine to have sex with children but even the suspicion of steroids?  No way, Jose.

My real issue is the baseball writers applying arbitrary morality to the whole thing.   Racists and wife beaters and amphetamine users and on-the-field cheaters are fine, but if you used STEROIDS - oh noes! lordy lordy! What about the sanctity of the game? What about the children?  Give me a fucking break. 

/mini rant

Why is Mike Schmidt here?  Because he said in an interview that if they were around when he was a young player, he absolutely would have used steroids.  I think it is time for us all to be honest with ourselves about the steroid era. It was just that, an era.  Just like the dead ball era, the expansion era, or the pre integration era.  The baseball writers need to learn some of the history of baseball before they start applying their misguided criteria to the whole thing.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Football Week 18: Mildcard Weekend.

       I have been working 12 hour overnights this week (yay work!) so my enthusiasm for most things is at a minimum.  I shouldn't complain too much, since it's not like I have to break rocks in the hot sun for 30 cents an hour or anything.  So when I sat down yesterday to watch the first wildcard playoff game, the Texans and the Bengals just weren't doing it for me.  I ended up switching over to Raiders of the Lost Ark and dozing off. 

In the end, without my Saints...
or the Giants in the playoffs...
I really just don't care much about these playoff games. I am currently in my pajamas watching the Colts and Ravens battle it out.  I am much more stoked for the snacks and beer on the TV tray to my right.

Wanna know what does have me excited today?


I got home this morning and my brother texted me that there was a tentative agreement and that they were gonna play the season.  To be honest, I was so bleary and weary after working all night that I thought it was a dream (or worse, that he was fucking with me).  Turns out, it's true!!!  There is gonna be hockey!  I can finally post about hockey.  I can finally watch hockey.  I can finally stop bitching that there is no hockey.  Let me tell you, this is something to get excited about.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Card Draft Results: Shoebox Legends.

       The Whaler Worshiping Wonder over at Shoebox Legends recently held a card draft.  One thing you folks may not know about me is my minor obsession with the Hartford Whalers, problem is the NHL has conspired to keep me infuriated about hockey, thus unable to post about it...but I digress.  I saw the nice mix of cards he was offering and bought in.  I do enjoy these as a way of putting unwanted cards in the hands of those that want them, skipping the messy middle man of commerce or the convoluted nonsense of contests.  In these, everyone wins: the draft holder gets some cash and rid of some excess cards, the drafters get some cards they want at a fraction of the price one might normally pay. As it is, I paid about a dollar a piece for these cards and there is not a single one you wouldn't grab if you saw it in a dollar box at a show or in a store.  The system works!

Let's take a look at the haul I brought up with my net: 
Nine nifty cards here.  The Maine game used there was my first pick - not exactly a glamorous choice, but one I was happy with after the first two cards I wanted went off the board one-two.  That shiny Jeter card was nabbed in one of the four bonus rounds that were offered, a very nice wrinkle in the draft game.  Jeter may not be my favorite, but hey, shiny!

Seven more:
I really like the Turkey Red Chrome cards, and he had a bunch of the Mickey Mantles in the draft.  I think I got three of the four.  That first one is a refractor, once again shiny trumps Yankee.  That hockey card on the far right is numbered 02/10 and I got it in a late round, which I considered a major upset.  Like any sports draft, you always look for value in later rounds.  There was a bunch of game used Hockey cards in the draft and I got a couple of nice ones - dual ones to be specific.  I would be lying if I said I was planning to keep the Rangers one, but I have a friend who will appreciate it a lot more than me and I am sure he has some unwanted Devils card he will swap me for it. 

There was also some great vintage stuff in the draft and I am sorry I didn't snag more of it:
In some kind of grand oversight, I do not own a 1970-71 Topps basketball tallboy. Well, I should say didn't, because now I have that one - and it's a Happy one at that.  The most popular cards of the draft seemed to be the 1953 Bowman color cards and I was a round behind in grabbing the best ones, but I did procure the two you see there.  In one of the bonus rounds, I added that 1962-63 Topps Bill Hay to my small collection of vintage hockey.  If they ever clear up the lockout mess, I might even show you some of them.

One other wonderful thing SL did was properly pack the cards for shipping: top loaders for the better cards, soft sleeves for all the cards, team bags to hold them together and...
Blue Packing tape!  It is my continuing crusade to get all people to never ever use scotch tape on top loaders and this is yet another opportunity for me to mention it and even to show the pleasing results.  Plus, he used enough tape to hold these cards together so tight that even the US Postal Service couldn't move the pile.  Well done.

Oh, I forgot two cards!  Two awesome 2007 Goudey mini short prints - one for my Reggie player collection and one just because.  Magnificent. 
No, Shoebox Legends, thank you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


       I am not a man who makes New Year's resolutions.  I am the type who is reflective and then active.  Those "resolutions" people throw around - lose 10 pounds, call their mother more, hike the Appalachian trail, etc. etc. - are just a set up for failure.  I say, if you look at your life and see some thing wrong, fix it; if you see something right, keep doing it.  It's not brain surgery.  I have been blogging now for 10 months and I like my blog.  I think I am doing it right and I hope you enjoy it.  I am resolute in this matter.

Oh, and because I should probably post something, here is a scan from the "unused file":

This is a page of Starting Line Up cards featuring Kirby Puckett and Don Mattingly.  I have no idea where the little plastic statues are.  I have no idea why I scanned this page.  But dammit if it isn't pretty cool: two of the best hitters from the 80's on some righteously ugly cards.

Happy 2013 Everyone.