Thursday, May 29, 2008

the tools of innocence

Player: Darren Daulton
Card: 1993 Triple Play #229
Errors: Player may feel uncomfortable showering in the locker room with full-grown adult teammates. Sweet tie - clip on? Um, that’s not a baseball player; it’s a little boy.
Comments: "Thank you for calling the TRIPLE PLAY! baseball card company customer satisfaction remedy line. Here at TRIPLE PLAY! baseball card company, we value each customer and hope that they have a fun, safe and pleasant experience collecting TRIPLE PLAY! baseball cards.
If at any time during this message you would like to reach a TRIPLE PLAY! operator press or say 'Villanueva.' A TRIPLE PLAY! operator may be with you shortly.
If you are calling about a problem with one of your TRIPLE PLAY! baseball cards being printed upside down, press or say 'Varsho'.
If you are calling with a complaint about the enormous glut of companies that produced baseball cards between 1988 and 1996, forcing executives to raid elementary school class pictures for their product, press or say 'Berryhill'.
If you believe that the number on the back of your TRIPLE PLAY! card provides a code that helps you understand the player's vibrational energy, make it rain inside our office.
If you are calling because you are disturbed by the very idea of TRIPLE PLAY! putting out cards with children’s pictures on them so they can be collected and traded by grown men, press or say 'Assenmacher'.
If you are a young man who’s father has died, then you fall while trying to catch a baseball, and the tendons in your arm heal in such a way that you can unexpectedly throw 103-mile-per-hour fastballs, press or say 'Dascenzo'.
If you are calling with an idea for a future TRIPLE PLAY! sports card set, including ultrasound pictures of Major League Stars, jock strap inserts from minor league managers or edible cards, press or say 'Schiraldi'.
For all other concerns, please hold and a TRIPLE PLAY! operator will be with you shortly, unless the company has gone out of business during this message."
Scoring: 7-2

Thursday, May 22, 2008

man's best friend

Player: Bob Keegan
Card: 1957 Topps #99
Errors: The players has finished his pitching motion, but is still clutching the baseball for some reason. Player appears to be standing in fair territory, but he's pitching from the outfield.
We have gathered here in the presence of God and American League president William Harridge to witness the joining of Bob Keegan and his baseball. If anyone knows of any reason that Bob and his baseball should be parted, speak now, or at least give the bunt sign to the ushers.
Seeing none, I will proceed.
Do you, Bob Keegan, take this baseball to be your constant companion; to have and hold from this windup forward; for pictures and for game situations; for blowouts, for no hitters; in first place and in last; to love and to cherish on the tips of your fingers; from this day forward until your right arms falls off?
"I do."
And do you, Rawlings Official Major League Baseball, take Bob to have and be held by; from this windup forward; for fastball grips and split fingers; for curves, for knucklers; in foul territory and fair; to love and to cherish; even when he holds you long after the pitch should have already been thrown?
"I do."
Then, by the power vested in me by the false leg of Bill Veeck, I now pronounce you man and ball. You may now kiss the ball, although it will be ruled a balk and the groomsmen can advance.
Scoring: 4-5-6-5-6-2

Thursday, May 15, 2008

the stuff righties are made of

Player: Daniel Cabrera
Card: 2007 Topps #54
Errors: Statuesque. Player may be hiding secret government information in glove clutched to his chest. Player allowed 5-year-old son to sign Major League Baseball card.
Comments: The dame walked into my office like a gumball machine spilling on an ice rink, chewy bits dashing all over the room. Of course, I knew she was trouble. What I didn’t know was how much trouble was paying today.
“Are you a detective, mister….”
Pignatano,” I answered, coolly chewing a piece of licorice so red it would have made the Pope whistle. “Detective Joe Pignatano is what it says on the door - right below 'fire escape'. Can I help you?"
The dame wore a hat so high it nearly scratched the ceiling and blouse cut so low, it nearly touched the Devil. She leaned in like a cat toying with a wounded frog. Or so I imagined.
“Well, you see detective,” she said, lighting a pipe. “It’s my boyfriend, Danny. He’s a baseball player. But he’s got a little trouble.”
There was only two reasons a dame with a high hat and low standards comes in talking about her boyfriend. To kill him or to kill me. And that’s one more option than I can handle on a Tuesday.
“Boyfriend, huh? Well, what’s the trouble with the big lug?” I asked, trying not to look directly at the booger that was dangling from her nostril like a mountain climber clinging to Matterhorn. “Can’t find his way around the bases anymore?”
She started to cry and I almost felt bad about the wisecrack. Almost.
“It’s just that, well, he took some pills because we were having some problems, you see?”
I saw.
“And the pills,” she said, pausing to dab her face with a quilt so big it could have covered the third Hawaiian island. “Well, they didn’t work quite right. And now his arm has been erect for more than four weeks. He's just standing there, staring off into space, immobile. He can't drive. He can't go to the movies. He can’t even sign his name - he had to use his toes to cash his check. We couldn't consult a physician. So we came to you.”
She paused and looked me over like a parrot stalks a cheese doodle. I didn’t budge.
“So, can you help?” she asked.
Sure, I could. But what was in it for me? A few laughs? A quick thrill? A trip to a non-descript spring training field where only the light posts grow higher than the palm trees?
Then, she reached into her purse and pulled out $2,500 cash, like a druggist unwrapping cyanide pills.
Suddenly, it became clear. If this guy was gonna be slipped a Mickey, I was the bloodhound for the job.
“Okay, dame, I’ll take your case. Under one condition: I drive.”
Dames. They drive like a chocolate syrup on a pack of cigarettes. If you catch my drift.
Scoring: E9

Thursday, May 8, 2008

to infinity and beyond

Player: Skeeter Barnes
Card: 1993 Topps #26
Errors: Extremely orange uniform. Carrying batting gloves to the field - not cool. Where’s that throw going?
From: Bouchee, Ed
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 1992 12:36 PM
To: Anderson, George; Ilitch, Michael
Subject: Fwd: Re: William Henry Barnes evaluation

The following is my scouting report on player William H. Barnes, 3/7/57, 5-11, 180, br, tr.
Hitting ability: Good pop in bat. Hits to all fields. Struggles with curve from lefties. Will work count.
Base running: Good instincts. Smart. Can take the extra base on ball in alley. Above average speed.
Arm strength: Extremely strong arm from any field. Could play infield or outfield.
Arm accuracy: Biggest weakness. At least once a game, player has unusual habit of throwing ball straight into the air, as high as he can. Tom Emanski brought in to work with Barnes, but game is still occasionally delayed while teammates wait for ball to come back down.
Medical update: Injured left wrist when he was punched by one of his teammates after throwing ball out of Memorial Stadium, allowing Joe Orsulak to score game-tying run. Barnes stayed in game.
Personal: Strong family background. No apparent personal issues. Teammates report some tension, as Barnes demands to be called “Scooter” or “Skeet” - not sure which. Perhaps something to do with that kid on Saved by the Bell? Unsure.
Overall rating: 62.4 Possible role player. Not suitable for domed games (high throws could ricochet, hurt fans)
Recommendation: Trade for Max Venable or Lary Sorensen, if possible.
- Ed
Scoring: 5-4

Thursday, May 1, 2008

a ballpark tragedy

Player: Freddie Patek
Card: 1980 O-Pee-Chee #356 (A Canadian May Day salute)
Errors: Player using oversized Dairy Queen helmet. One armed batter. Stadium appears to be leaning slightly left.

"Now with Angels" A play, in three acts
(A typical Quebec Province home. A fire is lit in the corner, where an old woman sits knitting a red and white scarf. A young man, JOHNNIE PATEK rushes into the house. He is holding up a package for the audience to see.)
JOHNNIE PATEK: Mother come quick, the new cards are here! The new cards are here! Finally, we will see Freddie in his American baseball uniform!
SARA PATEK: Oh my, what a day! Ever since we moved to this typical Quebec Province home, it is so hard to find U.S. baseball cards. What a joy it will be to see my beloved son in his powerful light blue American baseball uniform. Let me put down my maple syrup to get a better look.
(JOHNNIE PATEK rips open the package. Mother and son eagerly flip through the cards, tossing bits of cardboard on the floor as they go. When they reach the 356th card, both SARA PATEK and JOHNNIE PATEK gasp. Lights flash.)
SARA PATEK: What’s this? It can’t be! Now with Angels? My diminutive, but beloved, Freddie is….dead!

(A long, angular preacher stands in front of a packed church. An oversized portrait of Freddie Patek is propped up against a black, empty coffin. Mourners can be heard weeping in the first few rows. The audience joins the sermon in progress.)
FATHER MATTHEW KRANEPOOL: …and Freddie told me: “Father, in the big leagues, stealing isn’t a sin. It gets you a raise!”
That was the Freddie we knew. Funny. Dedicated. A family man. He may not have been the biggest player on the field, but he had guts. And that made him - at least in Bill James's estimation - the 14th best parishioner this church has ever known.
And so, it is with anguished hearts, we start Freddie on his final voyage, to be with Angels. As the pallbearers carry this symbolic coffin out, I invite the congregation to…
(Suddenly, a door swings open. The crowd turns and FATHER MATTHEW KRANEPOOL stops, mid-sentence. A man in white pants, stirrups and a navy blue baseball cap walks in.)
FREDDIE PATEK: Mom? Johnnie? They told me down at the General Canadian Store that everyone was at the church for a funeral. Who died?
SARA PATEK: But how can it be? I thought you were….with the Angels!
(A corporate office in London, Ontario. Several men in dark gray suits are sitting around a wide, oblong cedar table. FREDDIE PATEK sits at the end, holding a cherry red baseball bat.)
CORPORATE EXECUTIVE: Mr. Patek, the O-Pee-Chee Company sincerely regrets the zany antics caused by this unfortunate circumstance. As you can see on this legally binding document, we are prepared to offer a $20,000,000 US settlement for the pain and suffering your family endured. Normally, this sort of payment might be impossible, but we recently won the Irish Lotto so it should be no problem.
Of course, you understand that as Canadians we feel terrible about the entire incident. We hope you continue to do business with the O-Pee-Chee brand.
FREDDIE PATEK: No hard feelings, boys. Besides, it could have been worse.
CORPORATE EXECUTIVE: Excuse me? How’s that?
FREDDIE PATEK: I could have been the Yankees!
Everyone at table laughs awkwardly as lights fade.

Scoring: 2-4-3-4