Thursday, November 27, 2008

give thanks

Player: Mark Carreon
Card: 1991 Fleer #142
Errors: Players is In Action! Don't forget, card owners, to watch SportsChannel! Do you know why he's running to fast? He's being chased by Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones!
Stuff I Am Thankful For
an essay by That Guy in the Circle
I am thankful for baseball, the grand old game. It inspires me and comforts me. It keeps my summers full of happiness and joy. It gives me something to look forward to in the long, cold winters.
I am thankful for the Arizona sun, which keeps my ripped, bodacious body tanned and smoking - something the ladies are very thankful for. Thank you, ladies.
I am thankful for white shorts, which not only show off my buns and my Satchel Paige, but keep me cool and relaxed. Thank you, white shorts.
I am thankful for late inning blowouts in spring training and lazy ushers, who allow me to slip up to the front row, into the $22 seats. Suh-weet. Thank you, ushers.
I am thankful that I was there. I was there to witness Mark Carreon scoring a meaningless spring training run when some not-ready-for-the-big-leagues outfielder momentarily bobbled the ball. Thank you, outfielder.
But, most of all, I am thankful that Fleer hired photographers with deep focus lenses who could perfectly capture This Place, This Event, This Moment. How would my many, many future children believe it happened without you, Fleer photographer? Thank you, future kids.
So, yes, I am thankful for a lot of stuff.
Scoring: 3U

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a word from our sponsors

Player: Robin Yount
Card: 1992 Fleer #708
Errors: The player appears in this painting to have the neck of the giraffe, the hair of the lion and the flat brim of the elderly grandfather. Beware, Mr. Yount there are a lot of balls coming your way.
Comments: Ladies and gentlemen, readers of all ages, we here at Uglee Card Industries (subsidiary of Uglee Card Inc., wholly distributed by Uglee LTD.) would like to take you behind the scenes of our operation, so you can know better some of the people who put our fine quality Uglee products, including Uglee mustache combs, Uglee painting kits and Uglee brand hot pants.
Pretty much every Thursday, Uglee readers are treated to some of the best in ugly baseball card analysis, insight and overreaching metaphors. But the finished product that appears magically through the American Internet is actually the end result of an intense, seven-day process of evaluating inventory, plotting scripts and screening for accuracy.
To help you understand the process, some of the Uglee upper management agreed to a behind-the-scenes look at this week's selection of the Robin Yount 1992 Fleer card.
We started at the Uglee World Headquarters, located on a street probably much like your street, in a building probably very much like your building or at least like one you've seen on TV. Just minutes after last week's difficult work on the Len Randle Project was completed, a company-wide meeting was called to scan the Uglee inventory.
From this stock, the 14 project managers each made his or her pitch for next week's feature, outlining the pros and cons.
Line editor Herb Moford was behind a 1980 Topps Gene Richards card - accenting Richards' unusual hair and batting stance. He was ultimately voted down.
"There's a lot of give and take here," Moford said. "Although I haven't gotten a card through since the February John Smiley Edition, my editors encourage me to keep trying. I won't let them down."
By Saturday, the team had narrowed the choices to two promising cards: the Fleer Yount and a 1991 Donruss Carlos Quintana.
Teams were then sent out to research the player's backgrounds, contact former lovers and root through legal records, trying to dig up anything that can be used in the final piece. Design specialist Bob Moorhead was on the Quintana team, which focused primarily on the player's unusual positioning and a chain that dangled out of his jersey.
"This is stressful work, but very rewarding," Moorhead said. "We can get into some pretty nasty fights. But it makes the final product stronger and not just a bunch of jokes about cup size."
Monday morning, managing editor Joe Ginsberg called both teams into the Uglee board room/cafetorium to hear arguments from both teams. Many times, the pitches made at these meetings become the focus for the final product. Other times, they are simply the launching point for more involved oeuvres or homages. Once, there was a pastiche.
This week, Ginsberg ultimately went with the Yount Team.
"They brought a lot more to the table," Ginsberg said from his desk, as he snacked on some Big League Chew provided for free in Uglee vending machines. "The Yount card gave us a lot more to work with. You can go (with the) hippie thing. You can make him part of the first outer space baseball league. We've got room to roam."
The next 48 hours were the most intense for the Uglee Editorial Dept. A round-the-clock team of 18 writers worked tirelessly on drafts of cards. Willard Hunter is the veteran of the group. Hunter, a former Marine and writer for the Caroline in the City, is known affectionately by the other writers as "Cow Butt." But despite the nickname, Hunter is not known to pull punches when it comes to quality. At a recent meeting, he attacked another writer's first draft.
"You call this work!" Hunter screamed. "I could write better Yount material on my death bed! Think, you moron!"
This week's inclusion of a Hall of Fame player left several writers intimidated by the scope and breadth of their project. Still, the best writers seemed to thrive under the adversity. At one point, the power went out in the building and two writers retreated to their cars, using cigarette lighters to power their lap tops.
By Wednesday, a draft was ready to be turned over to the Uglee Standards, Ethics and Quality Department. The copy editors gathered in a room that seems small, but is actually quite large. Here, former New York Times columnists and ex-novelists went over, line by line, each word of the Yount Project. At the same time, in a rather large but tiny room, Uglee ethicists debated the merits of certain aspects of the copy. While it may seem trivial, this can be one of the most crucial parts of the process. In the past, the ethicists were responsible for the controversial, though ultimately successful, no-big-ear-jokes push, which some experts believe may have saved Uglee industries somewhere in the vicinity of $10 billion in just three months.
This week, a heated debate broke out on the Yount Project, centered around the centerfielder's unusual hair. In the end, Chief Ethicist Sammy Taylor argued powerfully that Kant's theories on dependent beauty (which presupposes what beauty should be) validated the basic theory behind the criticism of the card, but not the critique of Yount's hair.
"If we allow ourselves to stick solely to examinations of locks, I feel that we will post nothing but 1970s Atlanta Braves epics and Jeff Reardon tomes," Taylor argued. "We're all better than that, I believe."
Finally, at 11:59 a.m. Thursday, the Yount Project is ready to go to print. A monkey trained by former major leaguer Danny Tartabull pushes the button, and the post is published to the waiting world.
We hope you enjoyed your glimpse behind the curtain at Uglee Card Industries (subsidiary of Uglee Card Inc., wholly distributed by Uglee LTD.). The future seems bright for the company, which hopes to open copyright infringement and proof reading departments in the next six months.
In the meantime, enjoy this week's Uglee card analysis. As they say at the world headquarters: "It may be Uglee, but it's still a home run to us!"
Scoring: PO 8-3

Thursday, November 13, 2008

one point twenty one gigawatts

Player: Len Randle
Card: 1978 Topps # 544
Errors: It appears the first baseman went out of his way to tag with the non-glove hand. Randle may have been a more effective defensive player if he had two hands.
And so it came down to this. The past. The future. The world.
Full count. Bases jammed. Tie game.
If Randle drives in this run, then the Mets win. Then Randle will not be released by the team. Then he will be there to stop the Commies from placing The Bomb in Lee Mazzilli's locker. Then Shea Stadium will not collapse. Then democracy will be saved.
And all that Randle had been through - the DeLorian repairs, kissing his mom, shooting Doc, punching Bump "Biff" Wells - will not be in vain.
Randle pushes his left cleat into the deep dirt of San Diego Stadium, like a farmer pulling up a soybean.
Above him, the stadium's P.A. cranks out Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode.
"Randle you can do this," he says to himself. "It is your density."
Butch Metzger, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound Indiana boy who isn't afraid of anybody, snarls and huffs on the mound. He rears back.
"It's the heat," Randle mutters. "Fastball. Fastball. Fastball. Fas..."
The pitch is inside. Randle pulls his hands in defensively.
The baseball hits off the knob of his bat.
A dribbler down the third base line.
Randle freezes. Would a gust of wind push the ball foul? No one has time to find out. Randle looks in the stands. Half of the fans already vanished.
Randle tears down the line. Each step eats a yard of real estate.
He notices his right hand.
It's fading.
Why had Randall listened to Christopher Lloyd? That guy was driving a taxi last week. Now he was supposed to be a scientist? He was a buffoon! They should have never believed they could mess with this stuff. Changing the past only changed the future. Unlike the basepaths, time is not a straight line.
Randle screams and dives toward salvation, even though it is legal to run through first base in Major League Baseball (as long as you turn toward foul territory after passing the bag) and sliding reduces a player's momentum, essentially slowing him down at the critical instant.
A cloud of dust.
The umpire throws up his arms.
Mets win.
Randle celebrates. His hand - it's back! The Mets will not release him and the bomb will never be placed. The world is back on track. Everything will be fine.
As his teammates rush the field, Randle tosses his batting helmet into the air. The Mets bench piles on to today's hero, unaware just how much he saved.
Meanwhile, the helmet careens toward the stands, catching a Hawaiian baseball fan on the side of his head. It's a violent collision.
Young Barry Obama would never hear again.
Scoring: 5-3

Thursday, November 6, 2008

concede nothing

Player: Roy Oswalt
Card: 2003 Donruss Studio #133
Errors: I hate to tell you this Roy, but there's a train driving through your head. Is that a baseball offering? Is the baseball too hot too handle? Furthermore, player appears to be a giant.
Thank you. Thank you.
I want to thank all of you for coming out here tonight and waiting in what appears to be some sort of train depot in the sky. Folks, I'm sad to tell you we have reached the end of our journey tonight. My teammates have spoken and they have spoken clearly - they would rather keep this Rawlings baseball on the team than me. I have been sent packing.
But let me assure you all tonight, that it was not me who failed. It was you, mainly. And the liberal media, a bit. But mostly you kept me down. Staying home to watch SportsCenter rather than knocking on a few more doors; creating your own campaign literature that said "Vote Roy, if you aren't busy with more important things." You just weren't good enough.
Please, please. Booing's not necessary. Unless you're saying "Rooooooy." Are you saying "Roooooy?" No? Oh, OK.
A few minutes ago, I called Rawlings baseball and offered my congratulations. Shortly after dialing, I was told by my aides that Rawlings had blocked my calls and text messages. But had I been able to speak to this inanimate object, I surely would have told it of my great admiration for all it's work and fine stitching.
Rawlings baseball ran an honorable campaign. Although Rawlings was unable to hold conversations, never brought beer to any of the team parties, never purchased Rolexes for the infielders and never gave up the good parking spot, it's clear my teammates have chosen to keep this baseball. What's not clear is why. At least I have opposable thumbs, as you can see.
There are so many people to thank - the train engineers, the coal shovelers, the necklace makers. But I want to be sure to thank this woman standing next to me. I just met her, but she seems like a fantastic lady and she's a soccer fan, so that's great.
I also want to make mention of all the young people who got involved. Johnny the bat boy, I thought your vote should have counted. Don't give up that spirit. You are the future, even if you're not worth a hoot right now.
Well, folks, I will continue the fight to have fewer Rawlings baseballs on the team. In our time ahead, I hope Rawlings and I can work together to decrease the number of foul balls in the stands. In the meantime, I have filed an injunction to challenge the vote totals.
Who's with me?
Scoring: 8-5-2