Thursday, June 28, 2012

My cardboard medication

It's weeks like this that really test my devotion to the game of baseball.

My beloved Cubs got absolutely walloped in a 17-1 loss to the Mets yesterday. Seventeen to one. The Mets hit for the "home run cycle", with Scott Hairston's sixth inning grand slam capping off the slaughter. (Even my friends, who don't even pay attention to baseball, heard about the horrible beating.)

The North Siders are the worst team in baseball right now. I didn't expect much from them this year, but I didn't think they'd be this bad.

Maybe I was just kidding myself.

"Vlad the Impaler", my favorite big-leaguer, is still without a team.

I was really looking forward to seeing him in a Blue Jays uniform this year. Toronto quashed those hopes pretty quickly, though.

It's a longshot, I'm sure, but I'd love to see Vlad get just one more shot in the bigs. Just one more shot. (Looks like Guerrero is pleading his case as well, judging by this card.)

I don't care where. It could be with the Yankees, for goodness sakes.

As much as I might not want to admit it, the Cubs sucking and a 37 year-old DH without a team were pretty much expected happenings this year.

The news I heard a few days ago was exactly the opposite.

"The Big Three" players I collect are Hoyt Wilhelm, Casey Kotchman, and Marlon Byrd.

Shockingly, Mr. Byrd received a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for a banned substance earlier this week. As if the fact that he was also without a team didn't pain me enough, this news puts a huge damper on the future of his career.

He was the last guy I'd expect to test positive for something like this.

I've always had a soft spot for Byrd because of the way he hustles. It's what first drew me to him and drove me to devote a large chunk of my collection to obtaining his cards.

Currently, my Marlon Byrd collection stands at 237 different cards. And yes, I'm still keeping them, and I'm still a fan of his.

Although I can't think of another news story that has disappointed me more than this one.

As you might be able to tell, it's been a tough week for a baseball fan such as myself.

I've spent a good amount of time outdoors so far this week, so that's helped take my mind off things. (Although the comfort of my own home sure feels great with this 110-degree heat index today.)

It's during times like these that I look to my baseball cards as a type of "medication". Sure, Saturday's card show will be a fantastic time, but the cards in one's existing collection can be a great source of happiness.

In taking a hint from another blogger, I went on the hunt to find some "stupid" or fun cards that would help cheer me up a bit.

Sorry, "Garfoose", but this didn't do anything for my baseball woes.

Your newest book, however, did.

The first book by pitcher-turned-author Dirk Hayhurst, The Bullpen Gospels, was one of the best baseball books I've ever read. Even though I'd never heard of Hayhurst before, I plucked it off a local store's bookshelf one day because I needed something to read.

I've always thought I had an uncanny ability to sniff out good books. That proved my suspicions.

Hayhurst has a new book out. Even though I'm only about a quarter of the way through, I can already tell that it's even better than the first.

His newest offering is called Out of My League, and I definitely recommend it for any baseball fans. (As I found out in the book, the "Garfoose" is the mascot for his wife's profession.)

It's already made me forget about the Cubs' 17-1 loss.

Quite possibly the nicest insert I have helped cheer me up as well.

The scan doesn't do it justice.

Any card of a submarine pitcher is cool in my book, much less one with such a fantastic design. Even though this is the only issue I own from the 2002 Leaf "League of Nations" set, I'd still rank it in the top 10 insert sets I've ever seen.

At least Anthony Rizzo is finally in the bigs. Now was as good a time as ever to call him up. It's not like anyone's expecting him to "carry the team" anywhere this year.

Plus, there's always next season for the Cubs, I guess.

I still have a hard time grasping that cell phones were once that humungous.

I wonder how much that thing cost Mike Cameron back in 1999.

Up until a couple years ago, I was a cell phone holdout. I still maintain that people my age spend way too much time toying around with texting and whatnot, but I finally broke down and got one before I left for college.

As a result, I was probably the last teenager on the face of the Earth to do so.

These "out of the ordinary" shots are part of the reason I love baseball cards so much. I just wish Topps wouldn't relegate them to impossible-to-get SPs nowadays.

Either way, I can always bask in the glory of my existing "odd" shots. Why spend a hundred bucks on a supposedly short-printed one when this one will only set you back a dime?

Yeah, Topps.

Vlad's a Hall of Famer. He'll get in quicker if he never plays another game, anyways.

Funny faces never seem to disappoint.

I'm sure I laughed at them when I was a month old, and I'm still laughing at them today, twenty years later.

Arthur Rhodes has had some notoriously bad cards over the years (look for that topic in a later post), but this one takes the cake.

It's his rookie card, no less. Not a great way to start your cardboard career. Pair that with those Halloween-orange Orioles uniforms, and you've got one legendary card.

Marlon Byrd always hustled on the field, something I wish every player would do.

I'll always be a fan of his for that, regardless of the suspension.

Ah, yes. The ultimate "medication".

The sweet smell of vintage.

This is easily one of the better cards in my collection. To think I acquired it (with a stack of other vintage goodies) for a bunch of five-dollar jersey cards makes me smile every time I see my copy of Johnny Bench's '71 Topps issue.

As they say, "Less is more." And I don't really have much to add to the jaw-dropping elegance of this one.

I'll just say it's one cool piece of cardboard.

Well, I think I've finally pushed past this incredibly awful week of baseball. So thank you, Mr. Hayhurst, Mr. Kim, Mr. Cameron, and Mr. Rhodes, and Mr. Bench.

No matter what happens, baseball will always be the greatest game on Earth.


hiflew said...

The Rockies are giving the Cubs a nice run for the money at the #1 pick next year. Of course if everything hold to form, we should go on a 12 game winning streak after being eliminated in September.

TTG said...

I thought I was a Dirk Hayhurst fan until recently. But knowing what I know about him now, if I ever happen to have the misfortune of running into that mess-talking homophobe I promise I will go to jail and he'll go to a dentist.

Weston DeShon said...

Best case thing to happen is if Vlad joined the Cubs. They could really use him. :)