Baseball Cards With Curious Stories to Tell

“No artist tolerates reality”–Nietzsche

My girlfriend told me that a man had tried to hang himself in the tree out in front of her house with his tie. Apparently, he had decided that his life was to be consummated right then and there in front of her 1940’s white bungalow (perhaps lacking an identity, a lover, money, or maybe even a neuron misfire) until someone called the proper authorities and he was taken away wearing what I’d imagine was a starched shirt and a face full of confusion. 

“Look, the tie is still on the branch,” she said. The culprit was gray with blue vertical stripes and dancing in the breeze as the sunlight glinted off the fabric. (eventually, the tie created a life and mystique of its own, ceasing to be an inanimate symbol of economic good faith and encouraging me to acknowledge it–as I did almost every time I walked by.) 

I pointed out that the branch (which was about 8 feet off the ground) was inadequate for such an undertaking as it would break instantly under the weight of even an average-sized man.  The scenario was like trying to hang a piano from a piece of string – it’s a fool’s errand and doomed to fail from the start.

“How would I know what he was thinking…just another weirdo.” 

We were headed to the Mexican swap meet where I was to find myself as the only gringo who had even bothered to show up that broiling day. The girlfriend was tickled by this. She bought an elote (corn) with chili powder, and I bought a random, mysterious, and seductive box of baseball cards and a Mexican League (Toros de Tijuana) baseball cap from a large, sweaty, ungainly man who clearly didn’t want to be there. He grunted in an undistinguishable language, too remote to be interpreted. I wasn’t sure if we were in accord with the price so I just held up a 20-dollar bill and he nodded in agreement. I took a cursory glance at the cards and then shoved them under my arm. 

Later that night we were at home watching a Charles Bronson movie when I decided to thumb through the dusty, frail cardboard. 

“Will you look at that…a Rickey Henderson rookie card!” I said, startled that dizzy with excitement is no mere phrase.

“Is that good?” 

She didn’t even look up as Bronson blasted another scumbag in the chest with his metaphorical cock, a .475 Magnum. I was elated to discover the all-time greatest thief as the other thief on the tube was getting his life snuffed out by a chain-smoking germophobe.

“Yeah, it’s good I’d say…real good.”


Hey guys…please give Disaffected Musings a look if you get the chance. it’s an interesting blog written by a “Moneyball” pioneer with a focus on baseball, cars, and opinions on other various topics.

More Baseball Stuff That Makes Me Lose My Mind

“I opened my eyes and saw the real world, and I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since.” — Kierkegaard

Statistical guru Bill James recently laid bare that Tony Phillips has a higher career WAR than Braves poster boy Dale Murphy in a shocking (to me at least) expose. To be fair, James has said that the WAR statistic has its problems (personally, I think OPS is a far superior stat) stating that “the REAL problem with WAR is that it is a Comparison Derivative—thus, highly sensitive to small errors. The problem is that when working with Comparison Derivatives, a 1% error can manifest itself as a 20% error, a 50% error, a 90% error, or a 200% error.” It’s like the old saying: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A single error in the statistic can have a huge effect on its overall accuracy. Nevertheless, I found it cool that Phillips was on James’ list of highly underrated players and I agree that he didn’t get the recognition he deserved. To whom it matters: Murphy had a higher career OPS– .815 to .763. and no, I don’t think he deserves to be in the HOF despite seemingly unending arguments to the contrary.


Oakland Pathetics Rookie Mason Miller tossed 7 no-hit innings against the Mariners a few nights ago before being pulled by numbskull manager Mark Kotsay for, and I kid you not, Dick Lovelady, (recently plucked from the Braves shit heap…but he’s CHEAP!) who tossed 5 pitches before giving up a game-tying homer to .113 hitting AJ Pollock–essentially blowing the game and all the positive free-flowing, rolling in the mud, hippie vibes. Talk about a buzzkill! And so it goes with the A’s bullpen aka “The Gas Can Squad” as Oakland fandom continues with this maudlin (thanks to carpetbagger John Fisher) baseball season. I guess the saying still holds true: You get what you pay for.


My insomnia and existential terror returned the other night (go figure) so I decided to watch some NPB and lo and behold, there was the recently disgraced Trevor Bauer on the hill pitching his first game in just over 22 months! The social media creep scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowed one run, struck out nine, and threw 98 pitches in the Yokohama Baystars‘ 4-1 victory against the Hiroshima Carp. I guess it’s safe to say that I didn’t get much sleep and was kicking myself as I wearily watched the post-game Bauer interview before a board of corporate sponsors and clutching a stuffed animal in the Japanese kawaii tradition. I’ve got to say, Bauer definitely had the “Bear” necessities to get the job done. (and there it is…I’ve been reduced to dad jokes. I’m not sure if this blog is uncharacteristically and abstractly cool or increasingly uncool and mentally ill) Sweet dreams everyone!

Mutts Sweep the Pathetics

I spent most of my weekend in a hoppy, sudsy, comatose state on the couch watching the Mutts of Queens take out their brooms and sweep away the proverbial trash. The comedy/capitulation of the situation hit an apex when a recent call-up, “Hulk” Hogan Harris (who had a sparkling 6.23 ERA in the minors) was inserted into the game and gave up 5 walks, 6 earned runs and was promptly put back on the bus to the desert with a benign pat on the ass and a denigrating 162.00 ERA. To make matters worse, Hogan Harris was heard grumbling under his breath, “I guess this means I’m not getting my signing bonus!” 

A friend called me to discuss the matter and the conversation turned to Terry Steinbach.

“Greatest A’s catcher of all time,” he said, noting that he was a three-time All-Star and won the 1988 All-Star Game MVP Award.

“Well, probably the Oakland era,” I interjected. We often contradict each other–mostly politically–but the details aren’t of importance, and I’ve forgotten most of the arguments. I’m just convinced my ideas are more fundamentally beneficial to the general public and to the historical truths of the game. Our conversations are often like a friendly game of chess; we move pieces around, discussing and debating our opinions, but at the end of the day, we still remain friends, no matter the outcome. (and the correct answer would be Mickey Cochrane)

Strangely, I had watched an A’s/Red Sox game from 1992 a few days prior and they were interviewing Steinbach concerning pitcher Dave Stewart’s slow start and he mentioned something about not having control of his forkball (who was taught the pitch by none other than Sandy Koufax) in that delightful, thick Minnesota drawl.  He explained that the forkball is a difficult pitch to control and that Dave was struggling to keep it in the strike zone. This was likely the cause of his slow start.

Back to the present….There was a moment where the ball broke a gnat’s ass off the plate, and the inept umpire (according to StatCast) called it a ball, infuriating the Coliseum crowd who chanted in unison “Bullshit!” Bullshit! Bullshit!” The crowd’s reaction was similar to an erupting volcano, with rage and frustration spewing out in various directions–mostly towards the perpetually unoccupied owner’s box in a moment of glorious ennui fraternization. Suddenly, a brave soul from the stands yelled out, “Hey ump, you suuuck!” and the crowd roared with laughter. They were, alas, still conscious of their own reality (whether real or imagined) and breathing oxygen on this beautiful, sunny day under a cornflower-blue sky, and that’s all that really mattered.

The Oakland Pathetics are now a mind-bending 3-13.

Let’s Face It, the Oakland A’s Are a Grift

“Let them eat cake”–Marie Antoinette

How it looks: the Oakland A’s are a pathetic franchise that plays in an archaic, crumbling, feces-strewn, possum-infested stadium, only draw about 3,000 fans per home game, and have a squad of no-talents and nobodies that expect to lose 100 games. 

The reality: According to Forbes, the A’s were the fifth most profitable franchise in MLB last year raking in 62.2 million dollars, which I’m assuming was garnered through revenue share (aka baseball welfare, which ironically was put in place to supplement teams, not morally bankrupt owners) and insane parking fees. This would make them more successful than the World Series-winning Houston Astros since the bottom line is a lion’s share of profit under the smoke and specter of poverty–only the naive fans are concerned about nonsensical things such as wins, losses, and (chuckle) winning a “worthless piece of metal.”

How it’s going: I will, like last season, watch this dung pile for about a month or two –with a measured detachment–until the losses pile up and I inevitably lose interest and decide that other summer activities are more pragmatic and worthwhile. (The Opening Day starter, Kyle What’s-His-Name, has THREE career wins, let that roll around in your noggin for a minute) God forbid I ask to be actually entertained by a ball club because that’s just not going to happen here. I would be wasting my time by essentially rooting for laundry as my emotional ties, affection, and nostalgia slowly die in a terminal collapse of the baseball spirit under this Machiavellian scheme.

Besides, if I didn’t make it perfectly clear above…this team doesn’t need my hard-earned dough. In theory, you are supposed to go to a sanguine ballgame to lose yourself and forget about your daily dramas and labors, but the fantasy isn’t even safe there as the ineptitude on the field will be a constant and harsh reminder that your time and money are being extracted from what the organization sees as a self-deprecating simpleton without dignity. Unrelenting exploitation. Then you must proceed to eat that pile of shit over and over with a bovine, blind allegiance–licking your lips fervently and saying, “Yessir, more please.”

Owner John Fisher and his chief enabler, team president Dave Kaval, deserve shame and scorn for as long as they infect the sport. Burn in hell Fisher, you deplorable, awful, unsightly trust-fund baby.

I Fought for Sleep and Law Won

“That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.” –Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been dealing with a minor case of insomnia and had finally fallen asleep (I’ve written about this affliction on this degenerate blog before) when I was awakened by a couple of alley cats knocking over some plants on my porch. I knew I was screwed. There was no chance of embracing slumber again, so I layed in my bed for a while staring at nothing and dancing in synapse limbo before deciding to watch a random baseball game–in this case a contest between Oakland and Cleveland in 1991.

Five hours earlier I was half-assed watching the Schwarzenegger flick Commando, falling asleep just as our protagonist was chopping off the limbs of South American mercenaries with garden tools, and now Vance Law was stepping into the box on an early 90’s casual and freewheeling July evening in a city known for polluted river fires, rock n’ roll baseball riots, and other naughty examples of human depravity. 

The announcers made a joke about the spectacled player looking like an Australian golfer, and how he had played in Japan a year earlier. Unable to find a job due to lack of power or anything else valuable to a ML squad, (scratch that–he could play multiple positions) Law went to Japan to play for the Chunichi Dragons, hitting well and being rewarded with a minor league contract. In a moment of desperation, the A’s recalled Law from Tacoma when regular third baseman Carney Lansford (a favorite) went on the IL–and he proceeded to play terribly hitting .209 in 134 AB’s before deciding to hang ‘em up. 

The successful Japanese season was fugazi so to speak. 

What does all this add up to? Well, two happy-as-hell gatos tearing up the neighborhood like a couple of coke-addled Hells Angels, and me witnessing the highlight of Vance Law’s Oakland A’s career–an RBI single down the right field line. So,….not much.

 (I feel the need to mention that Law made a mind-boggling and bonehead (genius?) play when the very next batter grounded to first and instead of trying to break up the double play at second–per usual–he pirouetted and returned to first, interfering with the relay throw. An attempted 3-4-3 penciled-in instead as a 3-4. Alas, there was some squawking and stomping from the Cleveland manager, but no interference was called. Law was released 3 months later.)

The Magic of Baseball

I am currently reading Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation, and I thought this was an interesting passage. I hope everyone enjoys it.

One bright afternoon in April 1978, I attended a baseball game at Jingu Stadium in downtown Tokyo. It was the Central League season opener, first pitch at one o’clock, the Yakult Swallows against the Hiroshima Carp. I was already a Yakult fan in those days, and the stadium was close to my apartment, so I sometimes popped in to catch a game when I was out for a stroll.

Back then, Yakult was a perennially weak team, with little money and no flashy big-name players. Naturally, they weren’t very popular. Season opener it may have been, but only a few fans were sitting beyond the outfield fence. I stretched out with a beer to watch the game. At the time there were no bleacher seats, just a grassy slope. It was a great feeling. The sky was a sparkling blue, the draft beer was cold as cold could be, and the ball strikingly white against the green field, the first green I had seen in a long time. To fully appreciate a baseball game, you really have to be there in person!

Yakult’s first hitter was Dave Hilton, a rangy newcomer from the United States and a complete unknown. He batted in the leadoff position. The cleanup hitter was Charlie Manuel, who later became famous as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Then, though, he was a real stud, a slugger Japanese fans had dubbed, “the Red Demon.”

I think Hirohima’s starting pitcher that day was Satoshi Takahashi. Yakult countered with Takeshi Yasuda. In the bottom of the first inning, Hilton slammed Takahashi’s first pitch into left field for a clean double. The satisfying crack when bat met ball resounded through Jingu Stadium. Scattered applause rose around me. In that instant, and based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.

I can still recall the exact sensation. It was as if something had come fluttering down from the sky and I had caught it cleanly in my hands. I had no idea why it had chanced to fall into my grasp. I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now. Whatever the reason, it had taken place. It was like a revelation. Or maybe “epiphany” is a better word. All I can say is that my life changed drastically and permanently altered in that instant when leadoff hitter Dave Hilton belted that beautiful ringing double at Jingu Stadium.

Spring Training!

“Could you pick up Thai noodles at the store?” she asked while absentmindedly fixing her hair, picking through accoutrements, and periodically snapping the panties out of her ass. 

She lives on the 3rd floor in an old building with elegantly crumbling plaster and no elevator. I would have to walk six flights and ten blocks. Then there would also be the obligatory chit-chat with the stock boy about semi-obscure bands that had mostly deceased members. Of course, I would have to stare at the cereal, in a daze, for about 5 minutes before making the “mature” decision and buying one with less sugar. 

“Is it dire now? Spring Training started today and I just wanted to catch a few innings.”

(I was interested in seeing how the new, extra large, clown-car bases affected the game)

“It’s just that I’m really craving Thai curry.”

She was listening to French Caribbean music which was making me feel euphoric with its bouncy, tropical vibe. En Fuego. The record was horribly scratched so I assumed she picked it up secondhand. 

“I understand completely, it’s just that I’m taking a sabbatical from your taste buds for about an hour…or a few innings.” 

I loved her because she was this and that and a million other euphemisms, but the current situation, as Elvis would say, “needs a little less conversation.” 

Oh yeah, A’s beat the Snakes 12-7.


Mark over at Retro Simba, ever the generous spirit, sent me some more cardboard gems in the mail. What a guy! There were some vintage cards mixed in with some modern-day players–some of which with the 1973 borders. I’m excited to send out the Dick Green (doesn’t that sound like the effects of an STD?) to be autographed. There were some Rickeys, Carney Lansfords, Dave Stewarts, Terry Steinbachs, and even a Reggie Jackson KMart card. (Man, I used to love those slushies from KMart.) The 1973 team card that was included is hanging on my wall at this very moment. I love that card.

These cards conjure up so much nostalgia and give me the butterfly feels in my stomach…so thank you, Mark. I will always cherish these little pieces of my past.

The Game

“Eighty percent of the people who hear your troubles don’t care and the other twenty percent are glad you’re having them.” –Tommy Lasorda

“The Game”

The power went out for about a 20-block radius in our neighborhood so a friend and I decided to get out before we withered away from boredom and our muscles atrophied. I was happy to read by candlelight but consented because she had anxiety and OCD and it was impossible to concentrate with all the pacing and agonizingly trivial jabbering in front of me when she became bored of the infinite scroll on her phone. I’d imagine her internal and external worlds were in perpetual battle with each other over perceived micro-humiliations and misplaced mojo.

“I know a really chi-chi wine bar that just opened where we can get free drinks,” she said, “and then we can hop on over to the museum.” Pacifying this incorrigible monster was an overture to trouble to say the least. “When you’re single after 30 it’s like you’re playing a game of hide and seek except no one’s looking for you.”

We wobbled into the museum two hours later when I took notice of this piece titled, “The Game” by David Middlebrook. The artist’s statement is as follows: In this work, the enormous baseball, a symbol of the American pastime, is a metaphor for corporate America. The funnel represents the tunnel vision of this greed, whereas the umbrella is meant to suggest a narrative that the system will protect the less fortunate but, being crafted from wood, will ultimately not keep them dry. 

 Of course, the artist could be using a metaphor about the angst-ridden life as an Oakland A’s fan or even the slow diminishing of the middle-class and social security–either interpretation fits well and I nodded my head slowly in a pontificating “art critic” pose with thumb and forefinger placed expertly on the chin as if I was laboring over unseen details.

“Let’s go…this place smells tragically of lavender Fabuloso and perfume,” said the girl. And we did, returning to the chi-chi wine bar where I spent more money than I wanted to before walking home with my brains feeling like mayonnaise. The power was still out and I lit a candle before quickly falling asleep in a room that had the ambiance of an icebox that hadn’t been cleaned for months.

P.S. Please give Horror Fashion Review a look and perhaps a follow. Grace does a wonderful job of reviewing the clothes worn by the dames in horror movies. Funny and forward-thinking stuff!

Small Portraits of Everyday Things

We passed through the iron gates for what seemed like the thousandth time. I hadn’t seen Cheech for over 2 years, and we agreed to meet at our lucky cemetery (we’re obviously individuals with an aversion to group activities) on a soggy, overcast day for some beers and conversation. I walked the 15 blocks there for some fresh air and to reminisce, and lo-and-behold my hometown of Sacramento was still trashy and rough around the edges. A homeless-enclave-hellscape with a Cheesecake Factory and a state capitol. 

“Man, we haven’t been here since you were dating Alice,” Cheech said as he took a long, sudsy swig from his expensive craft beer while leaning against the ornate headstone of some guy who had died of tuberculosis in the late 1800s. Oh, the brevity of existence.

It was true, and I remembered Alice very well even though she was galaxies away from my everyday thought process. She was Nordic pretty like the blonde in Abba: same nose, toothy smile, and almond-shaped bedroom eyes. On one particularly boring Sunday, she asked me if she could read my horoscope. Out of all the things to structure personal identity around, the random date you were born on seems the most boring, I said flippantly. We had good times together, but It’s funny how you only seem to remember moments that have the earmarks of being insignificant in the long run.

We stumbled out of the land of the dead before I mentioned that there was a baseball card shop a few blocks away where I impulsively spent 25 dollars on a Jose Canseco rookie complete with a pre-pubescent mustache encased in hard plastic. It’s really, really minty, I said over and over. And it was. It looked as if it had never been touched by greasy human meathooks–a pristine piece of Americana.

More cardboard treasures were purchased, and we proceeded to Cheech’s house where we decided on a lark to eat some “magic mushrooms.” Maybe it was the booze talking, or maybe it was because we were becoming less young and more old, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve been told that psilocybin cures emotional conditions and anxiety–and I refuse to argue with that analysis as we sat there for hours talking about hair metal videos (Stryper sucks and that is nonsubjective) and just laughing hysterically at nothing in particular.

A Few ‘Graph Stories

I’ve got some time to kill on this chilly Northern California morning, so why not dig into the ol’ cigar box and tell some ‘graph stories? As you may know, my brain is a repository for worthless baseball stats, history, and mythos. Also, please keep in mind that these cards have a very strong and luscious scent of cigar stank that has slowly permeated the cardboard and will now follow them everywhere in perpetuity.

Most people envision Astrogate and the 2017 trash can-banging WS “Champions” when they think of AJ Hinch. I, on the other hand, will always remember him as being the starting catcher for the 2000 Sacramento RiverCats. This was an amazing time in the Capitol City as we hadn’t had a professional team since the Rangers-affiliated Solons (AAA) went the way of the dodo in 1976. The unveiling was a dream come true in every facet because our cultureless little burg had baseball again and they were an Oakland affiliate! Heaven. I showed up on a soggy and gray opening day (the stadium hadn’t even finished being built) and watched the starting pitcher warm up in the bullpen with his battery-mate Hinch as I stood there, drenched and confused about my emotions. I should be having the time of my life, I thought, but I’m just cold, and even worse…wet. I’ve been to many, many games since then and am still an avid fan of the team even though they switched affiliations to the hated cross-bay Giants. There are just way too many debaucherous 2 dollar beer nights, and sneaking into VIP boxes to speak of. Precious moments. 


Canseco was close to divinity in my neighborhood as a kid, and his cards were hoarded like Scrooge McDuck hoarded gold. (The A’s were a powerhouse then, and if you were alive the last time they won a WS–it’s time for a prostate exam) My grandfather took me to a card show st the time, and we met the superstar and had him sign a ball for 20 bucks or whatever the price was. Now I just think of him as a guy who blew his finger off while cleaning a gun, and maybe even the hombre who saved baseball from eating itself. (Brady Anderson anyone?) A tarnished man, but relatable and simply human–albeit, a human whose reach far exceeded his tenuous and fingerless grasp.

In his book, Canseco exposed the hypocrisy of MLB–and maybe even the hypocrisy of capitalist and empirical grifting entities as admired cultural signifiers in a sort of off-hand, metaphorical way–consequently spitting in the face of naive fans who romanticize “fair play” instead of seeing the Selig Era as a money-making, numbers institution at ALL COSTS. Canseco simply wanted to say, everything you know is a lie. George Carlin summed up my feelings astutely on the matter when he said, “Bullshit is the glue that binds us together as a country.” The only problem is that some people actually like the bullshit and will oppress and belittle anyone who even remotely tries to debase their fantasy.


Alyssa Milano of Who’s The Boss fame has banged many, many baseball players…and at the height of his career, Barry Zito was one of them. I sent this card to him when his baseball life was all but over and he was chucking horsehide for the A’s AAA affiliate in Nashville. At this stage in his journey, he was playing for the love of the sport and was cynical and dismissive about the money-making machine trappings of fame, sports cars, and chopping lines in swanky Hollywood discotheque bathrooms with supermodels.

Zito had found religion and started creating his own music, essentially taking it back to humble beginnings. That’s something I can really stand by. I am not a religious man by nature, but the worship of money and status can’t be all good and it was refreshing to hear that from someone who had experienced the fast lifestyle and then proceeded to rise above it. His last Coliseum outing was against Tim Hudson and the Giants and everyone in the joint knew that this was their hardball swan song. The mound masters still had remnants of youthful vigor, but now with an essential veteran powder keg of wisdom and tricks. Alas, two-thirds of “The Big 3” didn’t have their “stuff” and got shelled that day, but it was a wonderful time and both left the field to a standing ovation. Pure nostalgia dopamine.