Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grady’s Favorite Cards

In accordance with what my son’s opinions very well may be, I’ve decided to start a collection of some of his very favorite cards. You might be saying to yourself: “He’s only -6 weeks old. How in the world can you know what he likes? Heck, he might be a Yankees fan.” To which my reply would be: Sure he’s young, but he’s a reasonable kid, and any reasonable kid would love these cards. As far as that crack about the Yankees; I’ll let it slide this time. But, don’t push your luck Buster.

The card for today is none other than John Henry Johnson 1982 Fleer #321

JJ, as we like to call him around the clubhouse, had a pretty unspectacular career, mostly as a relief pitcher. His biggest accomplishment may be that, in spite of his name, he never evolved in to some sort of lone nut ball assassin. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I had ever heard of him prior to Grady pointing out this card.

So, I want you to look closely at the card to see if you can figure out what’s so great about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait………..give up yet?..........IT”S THE HAIR. Just look at it. It’s glorious. It’s so uniform, symmetric, and geometrical. If there’s a white Bake McBride out there, it’s probably JJ. On some levels I wish he had his hat on in this card, just to see what it would look like. But, I think that might obscure the full glory of this magnificent coiffeur. No, I think this card is perfect just the way it is.

You’d think that the hair would be enough. You’d be wrong. There’s something else wonderful about this card, and it’s a little more difficult to pick out. Rather than try to explain it, I’d like to try a little demonstration, you know, for the kids. C’mon, It’ll be fun.

OK, I want everyone to stand up…you too Gellman.
Dave, pick yourself up off the floor and quit your crying. There’s 4 more games.
Great, I see Patricia and Lucy are on their feet.
Dayf, you’re excused due to your wonderful package.

Everybody ready?

OK, now just hang your arms down at your sides. Pull your pants all the way up to your elbows, and walk around like that the rest of the day. Good times, right?

Maybe he would have pitched a little better if his pants were below his belly button. Who knows. What I do know is JJ didn’t supplement his income by working construction. The dude was a superhero! There are a lot worse ways to spend the off season than fighting crime. Hey, maybe that’s why Grady likes this card so much.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A package from Cardboard Junkie

About a month ago Dayf, over at Cardboard Junkie, sent me a package. He did this for no other reason than I commented that I was a fan of Dan Gable. Because Dayf (which I have recently learned is nihilist for “Dave”) is good dude, he sent me a few Gable cards and a bunch of Indians. Aren’t the Blog People great?

Well, it only took a month, but I’m finally getting a thank you up on my blog. Here are some scans of Dayf’s package and a few thoughts on it. (Go back and read that last sentence again!)

1. 1991 Impel US Olympic Hall Of Fame Dan Gable #32
I have no idea what set this is, but it is a sweet card. I was a wrestler for 6 years and was pretty average. I didn’t have the proper mindset. I’d get so nervous for matches that I would almost puke. I think it’s safe to say that Gable had no such problems. Here are a few stats on Gable:
· 64 – 0 in High School
· 118 – 1 at Iowa State. The only match he ever lost was his last one, in the NCAA final, to Larry Owings of Washington, who somehow managed to psyche out Gable.
· 1972 Olympic Gold Medalist, without surrendering a point
· Won 21 straight Big ten titles as head coach at Iowa
· Won 9 straight NCAA championships at Iowa
Yes, Dan Gable was a super bad ass extraordinaire. I remember hearing a story about a Russian wrestler quiting in the middle of a match against him. We’re not talking about some 7 year old kid who’s dad is forcing him to wrestle. We’re talking about a guy who’s good enough to wrestle on the international stage. And the guy freakin’ quit! Anyway, if you don’t know much about him, I would recommend setting your DVR to record ESPN’s “Beyond the Glory” on Gable. The guy is truly amazing.

Back to the card. I don’t know exactly what kind of hold Gable has that poor bastard in, I just know that he’s in a tight spot. Meanwhile, Gable seems to be kicking his ass without breaking much of a sweat, while his face is held together with tape. Total Bad Ass.

2. 1974 Topps Jack Brohamer #586 – I just love that name. And look at those chops! Yes, Jack Brohamer was one handsome man.

3. 2008 A+G Masa Kobayashi #83 – Cleveland’s Japanese reliever. Not the one who did the Japanese gay porn. The other one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

4. 2007 Topps Shin-Soo Choo #343 – One of my favorite current Indians and Grandmaster of the Council On The Double Ear Flap. Not to mention that he’s learning cursive.

5. 2008 Goudey Victor Martinez #61 – I like Goudey. Who doesn’t. Let’s see what Derek Jeter has to say about Victor. “As the Indians rolled to the 2007…” You know what? Fuck what Derek Jeter has to say. He didn’t say it anyway.

6. 1987 Topps Julio Franco #160 – As kids playing waffle ball, there wasn’t anyone’s batting stance more emulated than Julio’s. The back informs us that Julio was a standout baseball player in high school. No shit? Just once I want to read about the guy that really sucked it up in high school but came on strong once he reached Double A.

7. 1994 Sportflics Carlos Baerga #71 – I absolutely love Sportflics (or Sportflix, depending on the year I think). It was a sad day in Cleveland when Baerga got traded. And for Jeff Kent too. That guy sucks. He’ll never amount to anything. Not to mention the fact that I lost my blow connection.

8. 1972 Topps Bo Scott #187 – What strikes me about this card is that it’s only 8 years removed from Cleveland’s last NFL Championship (championship of any kind actually). 8 years isn’t too long. It would be years before we came to the realization that we are a city of losers. We still have no idea how the hell it happened.

9. 1980 Topps Wayne Cage #208 – Do you think he’s really fielding a grounder?

10. 2008 UD Heroes Rulon Gardner #258 - Russia had their own Dan Gable in Alexander Karelin. The only difference is the USA had a guy who eventually beat him. I remember watching that match. Then he was in a plane crash and lost in the wilderness and lost a few toes to frostbite or something. The man’s led a strange life.

11. 2004 Leaf Certified Materials Travis Hafner #191 – Look how shiny it is! I love Hafner and am really pulling for him to turn is around. For some reason I always had an idea that he got that big and strong the same way that Conan did; just pushing a big wheel around for years and years for no apparent reason.

12. 2008 M+M Jim Thome #85 083/150 – Come to think of it, maybe that’s how Thome got that big too. Naw, he just ate a lot of steak, eggs, cornbread, and milk. He hit a hell of a lot of HR’s too. In Cleveland he gets booed because after hitting like 300 hrs for us, someone else gave him many more million dollars to play for their team. HE OWES US! He should play for Cleveland for free forever. Otherwise he’s a jerk.

13. 1973 Topps Ray Fosse #226 – On the back it says: “Ray considers his most interesting baseball experience to be ‘the collision’ at home plate with Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game.” Yeah…I’m sure that’s what he called it…”interesting”

Some thoughts on the rest

I love 1975 Topps. I think everyone does.
I heard that Giles likes to walk around the clubhouse with “Charlie” hanging out.
Will there ever come a time when I get tired of Bert Blyleven’s beard?
Alex Johnson…I got nothin’. Sorry
Dan Gable looks like an accountant. A bad ass accountant who can kill you with his pinky, but an accountant none-the-less.

I like Dave Nelson’s sleeveless jersey, but they really do that best in Cinci Now-a-days
I like Peralta at 3rd base for the Tribe. Too bad he plays SS
I can’t believe the 86 Tribe finished 5th with Jerry Willard
Josh Barfield looks good. Why isn’t he?
Thank you Ben. We love Shin-Soo Choo.
Why doesn’t David Justice get more love? I’m just talking about baseball too. He was really good. That isn’t even mentioning the fact that he used to sleep with Halle Berry.

There you have it. I can’t thank Dayf enough for his package (I just love saying that). It really was great. I promise I will get something together soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Flyin’ Hawaiian

So I invent the Council On The Double Ear Flap, and I’m pretty pleased with myself that I’ve found something so exceedingly rare. I make a cute little post about Grandmaster Shoo and I head off to work. After work I stop by the hospital to see Grady and meet Katie. We decide to stop off at a little Irish pub, PJ McIntyres, for a burger and a beer so we can catch some of game one

Well, we sit down and order a drink; I look up at the TV: and who’s standing on second base staring at me? The Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, that’s who, in all of his double ear flap glory.

Well, I got so damn excited about it, it wasn’t until later that I realized what a jackass it makes me look at. But no matter, me being a jackass comes as no surprise to anyone reading this blog…or my wife. What matters here is that Shane Victorino just became the second member of the Council On The Double Ear Flap.

This is good. Shane’s a descent player who’s had a hell of a postseason. I just didn’t realize how smart he is, but hey, check out the big brain on Shane.

Good for you Shane. Welcome to the Council.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Council On The Double Ear Flap: GrandMaster Choo

Who here has played some sort of organized baseball? Everybody, right? OK, who had two ear flaps on their helmet?

So why in the world do major leaguers wear helmets with only one ear flap? In a league where teams most likely (Marge Schott’s Reds being the exception) are willing to get each player their own helmet, the double ear flap is seen as rarely as Barry Zito sees the ninth inning. I guess that switch hitters must somehow strong-arm their respective teams into buying them two different helmets. It must be in the contracts somewhere. (I wonder if the equipment managers on teams with a high percentage of switch hitters get paid more.)

I just can’t really see the point. As a little leaguer I remember thinking that it must be terribly uncomfortable having an ear flap on one side and none on the other. And aren’t they worried about getting hit in the exposed ear? I know that a ricochet off the backstop into your ear is unlikely, but is it any more unlikely than Tony Pena Jr getting intentionally walked? It just always seemed a little reckless too me.

Well, it seems reckless to Shin-Soo Choo as well. When the Tribe traded for Choo, the first thing I noticed about him was the double ear flap. That’s how rare it is. I was a fan immediately.

He was gotten because the Seattle’s (since fired) GM decided that he was less valuable than Ben Broussard. This was around the same time that he also decided that Eduardo Perez was worth Asdrubal Cabrera. So the Tribe got two very promising young players for their ineffectual, aging first base platoon. It doesn’t surprise me that Bavasi got fired; it surprises me that it took so long.

Back to Choo. He was actually a hell of a pitcher with a mid 90’s fastball. He was signed by Seattle in 2000. Traded to Cleveland in 2006 and on July 28, his first game with the Tribe, he hit his first major league home run against, you guessed it, the Mariners, who I’m sure were thrilled to have either Broussard or Perez at first. This past July, Choo came back from Tommy John surgery and for the rest of the season had on OPS+ of 143. He was the player of the month for September and is in the driver’s seat for a starting job next season.

And he’s doing it all with the double ear flap. Without doing any research, I’m going to make up a year when major leaguers went to the single ear flap. That year is 1933. It is possible that 1933 may be the year that the double earflap became dangerously obsolete, if it was ever used at all above the little league level. I have managed to locate some other cards where players used the DEF. It is my assumption that these players are exceedingly intelligent and use the DEF to protect their massive brains. Smart people are on councils, so these players are anointed members of the Council On The Double Ear Flap. And Choo is their GrandMaster…because I like him a lot.

More members to come.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Buckeye's Future

There was nothing about what the Buckeyes had accomplished this season that led me to believe that they would be able to beat Michigan State. Yesterday they made a believer out of me again. There's no real need for me to recap what happened as anyone who cares already knows. What I would like to do is just point out a few things about Terrelle Pryor.

1. Terrelle Pryor is an incredible athlete. He's very fluid. His throwing motion looks a little funny, but hopefully the coaches will work that out with time. A lot of people are comparing him to Vince Young, and I thing that's a fair comparison. But, when he runs, he reminds me of another runner. A guy who I had the privilege of watching in high school and is also one of the best RBs ever at Ohio State and in the NFL. Robert Smith.

I'm not trying to imply that Pryor is as good as Robert Smith was. I'm just saying that he's who I think of when Pryor is running. They both have those long strides that make it look like they aren't running very fast at all. It's really beautiful to watch. Let's hope that Pryor ends up being at least half the football player and person that Robert Smith turned out to be.
2. Terrelle Pryor desperately needs a nickname. Usually I'm against the arbitrary assigning of nicknames as I believe the best ones are not forced, but come about naturally. However, Pryor was referred to today in the Cleveland Plain Dealer as "T.P." I don't know about you, but when I hear T.P. I think of toilet paper. We obviously need something better before that one sticks.
I fear that if we leave it up to ESPN he will end up being something like "T. Prod". I've shown my significant ineptitude in this department already. I keep coming back to Skippy McGillicutty. Obviously, I don't have the answer. Let me know what you think reader, man, sir.
This is your new homework Larry.

Take Me Drunk, I'm Home

Bravo, Joba, Bravo. Those pinstripeas are supposed to be vertical, not horizontal.

I guess a cab is a little too much to ask on your salary.

I don't understand how these things happen. I don't think getting a DUI makes you a bad guy. I know a lot of people who either have one, or could have gotten one. I know I probably would have been in trouble a few times if I was pulled over in my younger days.

What I don't get is these athletes. I mean, they have to know that if they get pulled over it will make national headlines in a matter of hours. How these guys end up in these situations is beyond me.

I'll give Joba the benefit of the doubt on this one. It was probably just a dumb mistake that a lot of good people have made before.

Just don't let it happen again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Random Movie Quote: #2

"Eventually, I will burn you down and I will bag your ashes and I will bury your ashes in a yard where my big dog craps big crap"

- Detective Ray Carling (Michael Imperioli) - Life on Mars

OK, so it isn't a movie quote. I just wanted to be able to make a post before midnight so my quest for a post a day wouldn't end 2 days after it started. But, you have to admit, it is a friggin' awesome line. When he said it I just about doubled over laughing. I had to rewind it about 4 times to make sure I had it right.

I swore to myself I would use it the first chance I got. Well, I already passed up a great opportunity today, but I will get it in there eventually. And, when I do, I will feel every bit as cool as Imperioli looks in that picture.

One other thing. Life on Mars...great show. I highly recommend it. The 70's soundtrack, the hair, the butterfly collars, Harvey Keitel,'s a different kind of cop show. I love it so far.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Names and such

You may be wondering how the name Grady was picked. If you’re reading this blog you are probably a baseball fan and are likely aware that I am an Indians fan. This would lead you to consider that maybe he was named after Grady Sizemore, the incredible Cleveland center fielder and my favorite current Tribesman. Those of you who think this are absolutely 100% correct. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

For those of you who believe that there’s not a chance in hell that my wife Katie would let me name our son after a baseball player, here is another theory: My wife wanted a family name. Grady is an old family name on Katie’s side, her great grandmother’s surname.
Her whole family is Irish and there were a few names to pick from. I’m mostly German. Ultimately we kept coming back to Grady. We thought we had a few more months, but in the end, we had to pick something quick. I think it’s probably better that way.

The following is a list of names considered, but ultimately rejected for one reason or another.

From Katie’s side:

Franklin – not bad, but already taken.

Casey – same thing

John – Too common I guess

From my side: (this is a more exhaustive list as my mother is something of a fiend for genealogy)

Harry – Grandfather’s middle name. My wife was having none of it despite my pointing out that Letterman used it for his son. This failed to move her. In fact I suggested we then use her father’s name “Gerry” as well. Harry Gerry Kramer has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Maybe I’m the only one.

Cooper – Not bad. Rejected due to close affiliation with the Manning family.

Cushman – Awesome name but it’s already a close cousin’s middle name. I liked the idea of him having the same nickname as Jerry O’Connell’s character. Then I could teach him that song he played on the guitar.

Bartholomew – Pretty sweet. No chance in hell. My wife has no sense of humor.

Lemuel – My personal favorite. I have something like 4 ancestors named Lemuel. It’s ridiculous. Why it fell out of favor I’ll never know, but my wife wouldn’t allow the attempted comeback. She has no vision.

Others considered:

Bodhi and Dalton – Only for twins. For some reason I think it would be hilarious to name twins after Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break and Roadhouse.

Quint – I love Jaws

Lucas or Luke – I thought of Paul Newman. My wife thought of Corey Haim.

Dayf – That conversation happened in the hospital and went like this:

Me – “I just got an awesome package of cards from a guy in Atlanta”
Katie – “What for?”
Me – “I told him I’m a fan of Dan Gable”
Katie – “The wrestler?”
Me – “Yeah”
Katie – “He played baseball too?”
Me – “No, but they make all sorts of cards”
Katie – “So he sent you a Dan Gable card? That was nice. Why’d he do that?”
Me – “Just because. That’s what the blog people (that’s what I call us to my wife) do. It wasn’t just Gable either. He sent me a whole shitload of Indians. I’m trying to find some interesting stuff to send back to him. Maybe we could name the kid after him.”
Katie – “What’s his name”
Me – “Dayf”
Katie – “Dave? Your uncle’s named Dave.”
Me – “No, Dayf”
Katie – “Dave?”
Me – “Dayf”
Katie – “What are you saying? Dave?”
Me – “No, Dayf”
Katie – “Huh?”
And…….scene. I have no recollection of how that conversation ended. Most likely my wife started to ignore me or the nurse came in. Either way, sorry Dayf. I tried.

· Travis – Maybe 2 years ago.

· Manny – Maybe 10 years ago

· J’Grady , LeGrady, DaGrady – I liked them.

Possible nicknames: There really are no shortened or nicknames for Grady. This is probably a good thing. But, if he needs one, here are a few that may be considered, and I welcome your input:

· Larry – I just like that name. My friends are still texting me asking how “Little Larry” is doing. My wife is thrilled.
· Captain Cheeseburger – I think it’s taken, though.

· Skippy McGillicutty – What an awesome name

· LT – Why not? Apparently people have no qualms about giving this to others despite it already being the nickname of the greatest linebacker ever.

· Berserker – Someone already wrote a great song

· Pilot Inspector – Wait…It’s already taken
I guess none of those will probably stick, but I’m open to suggestions. This is your homework Larry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What, are you kidding me?

We got ourselves a family.

There are a few ways I could do this post. The first way is to make short frequent posts about my kid and what’s happened the last 3 weeks that no one would be interested in because this blog is supposed to be about baseball cards and my incredible lack of knowledge or interesting opinions on that subject. The second way is to try to get the whole thing out of the way right now in one post that no one would read because of the reasons previously stated. This would allow me to get back to the important topics I have recently explored, such as players with metal teeth and those who wear their hat under their helmet. This is the path I will attempt to take.

The most likely scenario, however, is that I will, right now, make a long rambling post about my kid and then fail to abstain from boring you with posts about him in the future. The reason for this is that being a dad, I’m realizing, is really a hell of a thing, and I’m not sure how my brain will work going forward and what I’ll be thinking about. And, what I’m thinking about is pretty much what ends up in my posts.

I figured I’d start with a brief timeline of events that led to the existence of Grady Michael Kramer, bad ass mofo and ass-kicker extraordinaire.

Sept. 97 – I meet my future wife in Columbus The Shoe

Jan 03 – OSU wins National Championship

June 03 – I marry my wife in Dayton

Feb or March 08 – My wife becomes pregnant. I am presumably involved.

Sept 19, 2008 – At a yearly checkup at her regular doctor, it is discovered that my wife’s BP is slightly elevated.

Sept 22 – My birthday. My wife’s (Katie) OB sends her to the hospital for a few hours to get hooked up to the monitor. My wife tells me not to bother leaving work. I leave anyway. They decide to keep her overnight “just to be safe”. It may be nothing. It may be a condition called pre-eclampsia that could ultimately end with seizures. This seems like the most likely scenario as the symptoms fit. For some reason none of the doctors will make this definitive diagnosis and there is talk that my wife may be able to go back to work “on a reduced schedule” as if such a thing exists for her.

Sept 23 – The high risk OB does an ultrasound. The kid looks good. My wife asks if it is pre-eclampsia. Doc looks at her like she has a banana sticking out of Banana her ear. “Of course it’s pre-eclampsia. Hasn’t anyone told you that yet?” It’s the basic “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” speech. IF she is allowed to leave the hospital she will be on bed rest until delivery, which is supposed to be in 11 short weeks. She will only be allowed to leave if they can get her BP under control. They give her a shot of steroids to help the baby’s lung development. No mention of the effect it will have on her average or power numbers.

Sept 25 – Things are becoming routine and boring at the hospital. BP is still high. It is decided that I will go home to get some stuff done (bills, clean, cut grass, etc) and return the next afternoon.

Sept 26 6:00 AM – I get this call from my wife: (heavy breathing, not the good kind) “I feel terrible. My BP is 185/115. OK, I’m going to go now.” I somehow make it to the hospital without being pulled over. They are probably going to deliver. But, at about 8:00 PM the docs decide to hold off. This same scenario repeats itself every few days.

Oct 1 – My wife calls me in the late morning requesting my presence again. I call work to tell them I can’t make it, again. I arrive at the hospital at about 1:00. I’m a father at 3:34. A mere 10 weeks early.

Grady arrives pissed off and screaming. I take this as a good sign. They hold him up for us to see. We were told to expect him to be about 3 lb. He’s 3 lb 2 oz. I had no idea what 3 lbs worth of baby would look like but there’s more of him than I expected. I even get to hold him for the shortest 5 seconds of my life. Then it’s off to the NICU, his home for the next 6 – 8 weeks.
What follows is a muddled mess of tubes, beeps, dings, nurses, doctors, biliruben lights, hiccups, flowers, visitors, phone calls, pumps, lactation consultants, trips back and forth to the hospital, pictures, fast food, and very little time to ourselves. I can’t believe that it’s already been 2 weeks.

As for my wife, she is doing great. She was released looking like a cabbage patch kid and promptly lost an astounding 24 lbs over a 3 day stretch last week. She looks awesome and, as far as I can tell, is the most natural mother in the world.

As for Grady, he’s doing well. Breathing on his own in room air. He still has a tube snaked down his throat to feed him, but that will take a little longer. He’s growing. I have my suspicions that he is the greatest kid ever born. Well, at least in the 90th percentile. He’s definitely cool. The chicks already dig him, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

That brings us up to date. That’s about as condensed as I can make it. I thank anyone who bothered to read the whole thing.

The end of this post brings me to the realization that there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to keep my promise made at the beginning of the post. I apologize in advance for the future posts about my new family, but I can already think of a bunch of stuff I left out and feel like I have to get down in writing.
Hopefully posts in the future will be more entertaining and eventually gravitate back into the realm of sports and sports cards. My goal is at least a post a day from now on. Sorry I’ve been away so long. Things have been kind of weird around here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cool Like I'll Never Be

I don't care if it rains or freezes long as I got my plastic Jesus
sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

Comes in colors pink and pleasant. Glows in the dark 'cause it's iridescent.
Take it with you when you travel far.

Get yourself a sweet Madonna dressed in rhinestone
settin' on a pedestal of abalone shell.

Goin' 90 I ain't scary 'cause I got the Virgin Mary
assurin' me that I won't go to hell.