Wednesday, June 20, 2012
You can't help but smile
Baseball can be an intense game sometimes.
Just look at the Joel Peralta situation from last night. Davey Johnson asks the umps to check his glove, they find pine tar, Peralta ejected.
End of story? Not quite.
Now we have Joe Maddon firing some shots back at the Nationals. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if we see some fireworks during tonight's Rays-Nats game.
I always like a little intensity during the baseball season. While I might not like to admit it, I like a good brawl every once in a while.
But all in all, baseball is supposed to be fun. And with that, baseball cards should make you smile. If I pull a card that makes me laugh (like Reed Johnson and the birds), then I'm satisfied. I don't need the big high-dollar insert or a "super SP" Bryce Harper to make me happy.
On that note, there are a few players who consistently rank high in the "smiles" department. (Sure, "Reed and the birds" is a fantastic card, but how many other great Reed Johnson cards can you name off the top of your head?)
I'm not exactly talking about guys I collect. Sure, my Ty Cobb collection is easily one of my favorites of my hundreds of player collections. For my money, he's the most interesting guy to ever play the game.
But his cards aren't very funny. (I don't know how to describe this one.)
I'm talking about guys like Torii Hunter. I look forward to each and every upcoming base card of his. (His Opening Day/Series 2 issues certainly didn't disappoint.)
I'd rank Hunter's 2007 A&G card as one of the greatest of the last decade or so. It certainly is unique.
In terms of the "laugh factor", Torii Hunter is the top of the pops in today's game, as far as I'm concerned.
However, most of my favorites in this category aren't current players.
I doubt a baseball game could ever get boring when Rollie Fingers was on the mound.
His famous handlebar mustache is, and always will be, awesome. He still sports it, judging from some recent interviews I've seen.
The famous 'stache made its first clear appearance on Fingers' 1975 Topps card. (It might be on his '74 issue as well, but I can't tell for certain.)
It was "handlebar fever" from there on out, which instantly made every single Rollie Fingers card a work of art.
I don't know that I've ever seen someone who loves the game of baseball more than Tommy Lasorda.
I'll go on record saying that his '92 Topps issue is one of the greatest baseball cards...ever. It perfectly captures the type of manager he was. Enthusiastic and intense at times, but basically a fun-loving guy who was always there for his players.
There's not many managers that I collect, but Lasorda is and always has been one of the few.
And speaking of managers...
This card says pretty much everything about the type of manager Casey Stengel was.
He's pretty much the definition of the word "character", yet he quite possibly might have possessed the greatest baseball mind that the game has ever seen.
While he was the man that led the Yankees to five straight world championships, I can't help but think of the man who once told his players to "line up alphabetically by height" whenever I acquire a new card of his.
The game of baseball has seen few greater men than Mr. Stengel.
Kent Tekulve is the one who inspired this post.
I was "working on" the Pirates binder as a result of my aforementioned summer project when I came across my couple Tekulve pages.
Then I thought to myself, "There are no bad Kent Tekulve cards."
It's just something about those wide-rimmed glasses and those goofy (yet great) Pirate hats. Plus, he's sporting the famous "Stargell stars" on this particular card.
Thanks to his sidewinding delivery, he's also got some of the greatest action shots as well.
But no one, not even Kent Tekulve, could ever be funnier than this guy...
I've probably mentioned Mark Fidrych more than any other player so far on this blog.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
When you step back and look purely at his stats, he really only had one spectacular season. Yet he's one of the most iconic players in the history of the game.
That should tell you something.
Everything from the "groundskeeping" on the mound to the exuberant celebrations after a great play by his shortstop. And talking to the ball, of course. (Which makes this one of my favorite cards.)
It takes me a good fifteen to twenty minutes to look through my thirty or so Mark Fidrych cards. There's just something about him that makes me have to take each card out of the page and really examine it.
I get a huge kick out of each and every card of his.
I'd have to imagine that "The Bird" would be on a lot of other people's "smiles" lists. There's probably some other great choices that I left out of this post as well. But you have to admit one thing.
The game is a whole lot better when these types of players are around.