Thursday, February 28, 2013

Watching the Combine on TV.... really?!?

I got an email the other day extolling me to watch the last day of the NFL combine on the NFL Network. Now I'm as big an NFL fan as the next guy, but I simply can't find a single reason why that would be a fun way to spend a day or evening.

Watching guys in spandex shorts and tank tops get weighed, run 40s and take elevation tests is my idea of a slow death. Do they show dudes taking the Wunderlich test? That might be interesting.

Then again I don't understand how some people can spend days or weeks analyzing the upcoming draft in the first place. Now watching the draft, at least the first round, I can see that I guess. I took my boys to a Texans Draft Party once and it was sort of interesting. But I'm not a draft-nic.

For one thing there is a lot more to what makes up a player than those 'measurables'. Take Case Keenam up there at the top. He's one of those guys who probably will never be an NFL star. Likely he'll never be a starter. But he has a ton of heart and desire and a boatload of 'smarts'. He is currently the #3 QB for the Texans (as an an undrafted free agent last spring) after a record setting college career at the University of Houston.

He had to overcome 'too small', 'weak arm' and 'system QB' labels and did well in NFL scouting days on campus. And he's an A-1 totally great kid. Texans' coach Gary Kubiak loves the guy. I think Kubiak sees a lot of himself in Keenam. Case can be seen, home and away, just steps from Coach Kubiak with a clipboard and headset. I know he has designs on being a coach himself one day.

I have a bunch of cards showing Keenam in a UH uni. This is my only one in Texans' gear. It's a sticker auto job but I think the card is terrific. Maybe one day Keenam will defy the odds and get a starters job in the NFL. I hope it's for my Texans and that I'm there so see it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Templetons

A couple of cards in the Chico Outlaw set that contained the young knuckleballing female stuck out at me. It's the coaching pairing of Garry Templeton and his son, Garry II.

Googling the pair I found a blog dedicated entirely to Garry Sr. And I had completely forgotten about the time he flipped off the St. Louis faithful. But I did remember the way Senior and Whitey Herzog feuded. Ironic that just a couple of years ago Templeton was managing Herzog's grandson!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Throwing the Green Flag

My first live NASCAR race was the inaugural Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997. I'd been a fan for awhile but never had there been a track close enough to make a trip feasible until TMS opened in the Ft. Worth area. It was a lot of fun. I'll never forget the sound of those cars even as we heard them from the parking lot on our way to watch practice and qualifying on Friday afternoon. 

I enjoyed the Busch race on Saturday but Sunday was the big day. I was finally, FINALLY going to get to see my favorite driver, Darrell Waltrip race live and in person. He was well past his championship contending days and he was running his own team on a shoestring budget but I didn't care. We had pretty good seats, fairly high about halfway between the start/finish line and Turn One.

After fighting monumental traffic tie-ups we still managed to arrive early and as green flag time approached we were ready. Waltrip tee shirt, radio, headphones, cold refreshments, the works. Then after driver intros... "Allright, DW!!!"... and a few warm up laps they threw the green flag and the sound exploded as the cars roared in front of us and into the first turn..... where Darrell Waltrip got wrecked. Are you kidding me? All this and he goes 250 yards and gets shoved into a wall on THE FIRST TURN OF THE RACE?!?!

Next thing we saw was the hauler carrying his trashed car out the tunnel and off to North Carolina. LOL The race was fun. Jeff Burton won it but I'll never forget how disappointed I was on that first lap.

Up top are a couple of cards from my Waltrip collection. They are from the 1991 Maxx set. I bought a box of them but I have no idea how close I am to having a full set.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I Like Music

It's not all about sports for me. I enjoy music just as much. Nowadays, maybe more. I have no talent personally although I did try (with mixed results) teaching myself to play the drums on my son's set after he moved to college. 

And I like all kinds of music. Classic rock, country, electronic, Ranchera, R & B, opera, pop standards, whatever. I listen regularly to Andrea Bocelli, Waylon Jennings, Frank Sinatra, Pink Floyd, Vicente Fernandez, Ray Charles, Daft Punk, Merle Haggard, the Beatles, David Gray (my favorite), Whitney Houston, Gary Allen, the Leningrad Cowboys, Moby and Marvin Gaye to name a few. 

And my wife and I love live music.  We recently found ourselves in Austin and made our way to Stubb's where we listened to a ska band. I didn't know much about that sort of music but we had a great time! At 60 I was easily twice the age of anyone else in the place but I didn't care. It was fun.

Today is rodeo parade day in Houston. I don't care much for the rodeo and I hate venue like Reliant Stadium for concerts because the stage is out in the middle of nowhere. But there is usually a fair roster of acts coming through town and this year we'll see Gary Allen. This time of year brings me back around to country music. Contemporary country sucks but the classic stuff never gets old.

My favorite artist is country legend George Jones. He's the only singer I know that can make the word 'you' come out as three heartbreaking syllables. I've seen him live countless times, from small seedy clubs to Gilly's famous (though now defunct) venue to concert halls. When he's sober (and he has been for all but one or two shows I've seen) he's just a marvelous performer. 

These two autographed cards are my only actual pieces of music memorabilia other than some concert programs, pictures, ticket stubs and my old vinyl collection. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1993 Ted Williams Card Company #BR2 Brooks Robinson

I don't know much about this card came from other that it came from the Ted Williams Card Company 1993 Brooks Robinson 9 card set. The company was founded by Ted's son and issued two 162 card (plus inserts?) sets in '93 and 1994. Plus assorted 'stuff' like the Brooksie set.

I have a handful of football cards with the Ted Williams logo as well. The picture is of Brooks, of course, giving his speech at his Cooperstown induction ceremony. The back is a block of info over a wall of text. Not very interesting. But it's always kind of neat to see Brooks' entire run of seasons in the orange and black lined up in a row.

I rescued this card from a $1 bin at a card show some years back. I bought it because it was autographed and I thought I was sparing it from the indignity of sitting among the rest of the crap in that box: battered 1957's,  player themed phone cards (raise your hands... or eyebrows, if you remember that junk), and Die-cut Pacific Royal Renata Galasso Chrome Refractor Insert Limited High Number Blank Backed Drew Bledsoes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's A Girl!!!!

Eri Yoshida is a 5' 1" Japanese born knuckleball pitcher who made her United States pro debut with the Chico Outlaws in 2010. That's her card from the teams' set from that year. She has moved on to a couple of different clubs in the subsequent seasons but she's still going at it. She is one of only a handful of females to play pro ball here in the States.

She has put up some decent numbers (as seen on her Baseball Reference page) at times and has a 5-10 career record. Her ERA is high but she has a fair hits per inning ratio. She walks far too many though.

A reader sent me the set and I found a couple of other familiar names in it. I'll post those cards soon.

At the risk of coming off as a perv of some sort I won't comment on Eri anymore other than to say she has a nice pitching form. But you don't see me posting six pics of Elrod Hendricks, do you?

And you know, that's not a terribly designed card. Kind of cool actually.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guy V. Lewis

Friday night in Houston the 12 finalists for the basketball Hall of Fame were announced and one of my favorite people in the world was chosen. Hopefully, after all these years of being snubbed, the University of Houston's Coach Guy Lewis will be elected in the balloting which will be announced during the Final Four weekend.. The fact that he's not yet been enshrined is borderline criminal.

Consider that the fact that  Lou Carnesecca, John Chaney, Pete Carrill, Ralph Miller, Stanley Watts, and Marv Harshman are all in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and have combined to reach 1 Final Four in their collective coaching careers. Guy V., who reached 5 Final Fours and 2 National Title game, is not.

Also consider: Guy Lewis...
....had more career wins than 67 percent of the college coaches already in the Hall of Fame.
....took more teams to the NCAA Tournament than 91 percent of the college coaches already in the Hall of Fame.
....won more NCAA Tournament games than 89 percent of the college coaches already in the Hall of Fame.
....took more teams to the Final Four than 92 percent of the coaches already in the Hall of Fame.
.... had 27 consecutive seasons without a losing record during his UH career. Only Adolph Rupp of Kentucky and John Wooden of UCLA ever posted as many consecutive seasons without a losing record.
....took 14 of his teams to the NCAA Tournament, a mark exceeded by only 11 other coaches in the history of college basketball and only six of those 11 had more NCAA Tournament wins than Lewis.

Those numbers are a few years old and may have changed some but you get the idea.

There is a lot of speculation about why Guy has not reached the Hall. Some said all he did was 'roll out the ball' at practice and let the kids do their thing. Those who say that never witnessed a UH practice as I did back in the day. They never saw a raw Nigerian freshman named Akeem Olajuwon stumble around the court and then blossom under Guy Lewis. The famed 'Dream Shake'? Came from Guy's hard work.

Guy and his polka dot towel.

Some say the loss to NC State in the Finals cost him. One game? OK, if you want to talk one game how about the 'Game of the Century' held in the Astrodome in January, 1968. the game changed college basketball forever. Some say it put the sport on the map. It was the product of the mind of Guy Lewis. The pic at the top is a replica cover from the G-o-t-C program that I had Guy and Elvin sign a few years back. In typical fashion he insisted on signing one for my sons who were dressed in Cougar red.

With The Big 'E' and Don Chaney.

And only the legendary Dean Smith also had three players chosen for the 50 Greatest Players of All Time list. Lewis coached Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes. I was lucky enough to see all three in person and I attended the Game of the Century as a high school sophomore. I decided that night that the UH was where I wanted to go to college. And that's where I met my wife. So you could say the Guy Lewis vision put me where I am, with a great family and comfortable life.

I don't follow the NBA. Haven't seen a TV game in about 20 years. But I'll try to find when the halftime show is on tonight, just to watch when the 12 are to be presented (or so I understand). Guy is in pretty fragile health these days. It would be a great tonic for him to hear his name. He's gotten this far and is now just one step away.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Close Encounters of the Basketball Kind (Part 2)

Neal Walk played collegiately for the University of Florida and when he finished he held about every hoops  record they had. He has the most 30+ point games in the schools history and has the two highest season rebound totals. In 1967-68 he averaged nearly 20 boards a game. His uniform number is still the only one the Gators have retired.  He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1969. The Suns lost a coin flip with the Bucks who then picked first and chose Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yikes. THAT was certainly a history shaping flip!

Anyway, Walk played seven full and a partial season for three different NBA clubs and them continued his career in Europe. And, as the cardback says, he worked out with weights!! That wasn't as common as it is today apparently.

Later Walk suffered a tumor on his spine which eventually led to his being wheelchair bound but it didn't cool his competitive fires as he played wheelchair basketball in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. He was honored by President Bush (the first one) as 1991's Wheelchair Athlete of the Year.

Which brings me to my story. As I talked about in my last post my college friends and I enjoyed Rockets' games in Hofheinz Pavilion in the early 70s. One night with Phoenix in town we noted with some humor that Suns' center Neal Walk had a particularly heavy dose of body hair. Being the knucklehead that I was I waited until a quiet moment in the game, a timeout as I recall, and I stood up and yelled "Hey Walk, take off your sweater!!" 

Now I may have actually heard or read about a similar comment hurled his way in other arenas but I can't recall. I may have just made it up on the spot. But either way it certainly brought great amusement to everybody in the place and to many of the Sun's bench players as well. I don't recall Walk's reaction but I was told by my friends later and down through the years that he was grinning. 

I'm sure my Mom would have been proud of me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Close Encounters of the Basketball Kind

I haven't followed the NBA in about thirty five years. My friends and I took in Rockets games pretty regularly in the short time they played at Hofheinz Pavillion on the University of Houston campus. Tickets were a buck for UH students so it was a very cheap night of entertainment. But generally the Rockets sucked and we had to get our jollies by riding them, or even better, the opposing team. 

There was never any doubt that the players heard us. We'd sit behind the visitors' bench or in the front row across the floor. Hell, the place was so laid back and empty we could have probably sat at the end of either teams' bench without much fuss. And since I worked in the building at times I'd sometimes come down the ramp and watch from behind the goal standards.

It was about 1972 when Dale Schlueter played in Hofheinz as a member of the 76ers. He was a big center with zero 'hops'. I mean zero. I doubt his shoes ever got more that two inches off the floor. And we flat wore him out over it. Add to our drunken voices the fact that there were maybe 1000 people in the place and you had a case of six or so college fools pretty much acting as the life of the party.

And so at one point Schlueter comes behind the empty press row right in front of us to retrieve a loose ball, looks straight at poor innocent me and says 'Up Yours!!' I kid you not. And shockingly he's giving me the finger while hiding it from the court with the ball. Sweet Mother of God. I've been flipped of by an NBA player during a game!!

That moment has been a recurring source of hilarity among my buddies at get-togethers and golf rounds ever since. I found this card (and a couple of others) for about a buck on eBay. Brought me a laugh for sure. 

Here's to you, Dale Schlueter. Long may you wave!!

Next time: Furry Players and another Close Encounter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1992 Coca Cola Nolan Ryan

I think I got this card through Nacho Grande's group break, but I wouldn't swear to it. I was never a fan of the various versions of the Astros' rainbow duds, but that's a pretty sweet jacket that Nolan is rockin'.

The back of the card is dedicated to Ryan's 1987 season. He went 8-16 for a rather mediocre club. But, as the write-up states, he was the the first (only) pitcher to lead his league in Ks and ERA and not win the Cy Young.

I've probably mentioned previously that my wife and I attended Ryan's Houston Astro debut in 1980. Heck of a lot of hype. And Nolan responded with, not a win although he pitched well, but a home run! It was his first ever homer and one of only two in his career. And he hit it off Don Sutton! I remember watching in disbelief as it went over the left field wall.

The game lasted 17 innings with the Dodgers winning, 5-4. My wife and I were not there at the end. We had plans to go to Gilley's Club that evening to see a John Conlee show. He was (and still is) a favorite of ours.

We were sitting at one of those 'picnic-style' tables near the front waiting for the show to start. Then a guy came up and asked us if we'd mind sharing our table with Kenny Stabler (he was the Oilers qb back then) and his group. Hell, why not?!?! And so he sat down with a couple of other people and introduced himself and said thanks for letting them sit there.

He bought a couple of rounds of beer as I recall and had a guy fending off autograph requests while the live show was going on. He signed during the break and he signed an Astros cap my wife was wearing and a Gilley's bumper sticker I dug up. We felt like big shots. LOL

All in all, a very cool day. One I won't forget, that's for sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Succumbing to the Pressure

OK, I didn't actually bow to the pressure of being the only one in the blogosphere that hadn't posted new cards. I usually pick up a handful at some point. And since I was skipping work and found myself at Target on Friday (shhhhh) I used my two $5 gift cards to get a box that they had for 9.99. I don't guess it's a 'blaster' since the official price for those is $20, yes? Call it a hanging half blaster.

I like getting new crds. And these are fine, but as usual I don't know many of the guys in the set. Mostly I'm familiar with any Orioles, guys on my 2012 Fantasy team and guys I looked at as possible pickups for that team. And that means I know about a short list of good players and a bunch of scrubs.

First things first. My scanner hated the regular cards. Hated them! It cut off the borders, parts of the names and team logos as well. So the regular cards all look like crap in my scans. Like this:

That's really weird  Anyway those were the best cards of the regular issue. Fielder, Kershaw (who looked like Sandy Koufax to me for just a split second as I pulled him) and Bundy. I hope Bundy has many more cards in the future during a nice long career.

But the box had so many non-regular cards I can look at them and comment.

The best one in the box was the Tony Gwynn up at the top of this post. Then there is a green sparkly card of Eury Perez who I don't know. I DO know I hate jerseys on major leaguers that look like those I've worn to play slo-pitch city softball.

There were several of these reddish border cards. Meh. I like how the regular cards are more coordinated color-wise. Brewers have really nice jerseys, though. Very underrated.

Somebody tried to trade me this guy for A. J. Pierzynski before the season started last year. Pierzynski was my back-up at the time and I almost made the deal. Good thing I didn't because...

.. Carlos Santana, who I was so happy to draft, had a lousy year. So I benched him eventually  Too late I think. I kept thinking he'd turn it around.

 I had forgotten he was a Phillie. And I don't get the 'Calling Card' business. Doesn't every pitcher do this?

I had Matt Moore on my fantasy team, the 'Elrods'. I thought he'd get me more than 11 wins. But he helped in the strike out category. Another softball top. Why put his name on the front twice?

I like Leaders. And I had Ryan Braun! So this is a good card, even with two crappy tops alongside a classic one. And why didn't my scanner cut off the border on this one? A mystery.

Cards my scanner threw out. There are some really big dudes in the majors these days. And that ALDS card was the only one I got. Shows the Yanks clinching game. Figures.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Another Mike Curtis Appearance

Mike Curtis once broke his thumb in a game so badly that he was scheduled for surgery but played the next week instead. He was a bad dude. But now he is fighting the same sort of issue that many players of his era face. A slowly encroaching loss of mental function. His chances of making the Hall of Fame grow shorter every year as deserving players are added to the backlog of guys who must wait their turn.

That's one great picture. BALTIMORE Colt football. It'll close out the football season around here on 5 Tool.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

1966 Orioles World Series Charm

This charm is a companion piece to the press pins given to media and VIP's at the World Series every year. I had my eye on the 'pin' version but I decided that my budget would be just as happy with the charm. It doesn't scan as well as the '69 version. Nor was I able to get a good picture with my camera. Trust me, it's pretty sweet.

The 1966 Series, of course, was my introduction to the joys of rooting for a baseball team in the post-season. I was an 8th grader in the fall of 1966, my last year at St. Mary's School. Luckily the Sisters of Charity that ran the place were baseball fans because every year they would roll out the big ass black-and-white TV's on carts and we'd get to watch until it was time to go home.

I remember very well running home from the bus stop in 1960 and getting there in time to see Bill Mazeroski's homer to beat the Yanks. I have vivid memories of watching the '62 and '63 Series on those tv's as well.

Outside of the World Series and the very lame 'educational' shows we viewed from time to time, the only other tv watching I recall  at St. Mary's was the afternoon that JFK was assassinated.

But back to '66. It was pretty darn glorious to be an O's fan. The Robinsons, a young Jim Palmer, Hank Bauer and the rest. My aunt in Baltimore saved all the sport sections from the Sun and sent them to me. Although the Dodgers were my 'second' team and Sandy Koufax was my favorite non-Oriole at the time, I don't recall any reservations about praying for an Oriole win.

Good times!!