Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jose Fernandez


This is my best card of Jose Fernandez. It's a 2014 Topps Archives Deckle Edge mini, card #JF, if you're looking for a copy for your own collection.

When I went through what I had, to find something to share with you all today, this was the one that affected me the most, in both good and bad ways. It is very much him, by every account that I've seen, heard or read about. That smile. The warmth that came across even in black and white. Still looking like a damn kid.

I've collected his cards since he got to the bigs, but I still don't have a lot of Jose's cards. Despite really enjoying him as a player, and having him as the anchor of my fantasy team's pitching staff for nearly his entire career (I foolishly dropped him for career starts 5 and 6, after he lost starts 3 and 4; I was very lucky to get him back before start number 7, and kept him for the rest of his career, including the entirety of his recovery from Tommy John surgery), I haven't found many people looking to trade his cards, and I haven't found enough time to hunt for them, either.

There never really is enough time, is there?

My deepest condolences go out to all of Jose Fernandez's loved ones and fans.

He'll be missed, and he will not be forgotten.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

1993 Fleer Flair

As part of a deal I got from a flea market guy I met yesterday, I got the entire 1993 Fleer Flair set in a binder. I'd been working on it fairly steadily for most of the past decade and had only recently gotten to the halfway mark on completion, so this was a very welcome development. (Also: I have a bunch of Flair for trade now, if anyone's in the market.)

The first Flair set, to me anyway, was the best. Even with the double picture/Glamour Shots thing happening on the cards, they were refreshingly minimalist. Great card stock, like the gloss, like the soft focus on the photography, just a set I really enjoy.

I went through the binder just now, and scanned ten of my favorites, so let's look at 'em.


Night Owl has talked about Alex Cole and his eyewear choices before, but this is a card he didn't get to in that piece. This picture has him in great shades, giving a terrific 'The FUCK you lookin' at?" look.


Bernie's been known to wear some glasses, himself. Bernie is much cooler than Alex Cole, though. 


As is Bo. I mean, look at that facial expression in the inset! Also: look at him about to destroy the living hell out of a baseball. I mean, look at the physique on the guy. How could he not?


Stuff had already gotten kinda weird for Doc by the time Flair came out, but he still had that great smile. He really should've been baseball's Jordan, maybe even moreso than Bo because Bo had another sport to be Jordan in along with baseball. Cocaine's bad stuff, y'all.


Fernando.


The Zen Of Mark Lemke. The inset picture looks like parody or revenge. I don't think it's both, but one can never tell nowadays. 


Lou Whitaker was impossibly slick.


Pedro really did come into the league fully-formed, didn't he? I mean, the numbers might not have been '99 Pedro right away, but the swagger sure was. For the longest time, especially after the Zimmer fight (which I still think could've been handled better), I hated this guy, but I've softened a fair deal, dating to a great, if bittersweet moment when he was on the Phils, near the very end of his career. It was Game 2 of the '09 World Series, when he got taken out of the game. He was visibly disappointed that he couldn't keep the Phils in it, and being that it could've been his last time on a ball field as a player (he did come back and pitch Game 6, but he didn't know that'd happen at the time), it was obviously a pretty emotional moment for him. However, as he was walking off the field, OF COURSE the Yankee Stadium crowd let him have it with all they had, because he was Pedro Martinez and they were Yankee fans. Something about it got to him, and he cracked up laughing. At that moment, he became a lot more relatable to me, something other than some invincible, evil ballbuster from hell, like the guy pictured above.


That swing.

My word.

Rickey really was unbelievably graceful to watch. I kinda fell out with Rickey for a while, probably just residuals from the stolen base record fanfare, but I've actually come around to where I've started collecting him again, because I've thought about how much entertainment and joy he brought me aside from that one moment when his ego got the best of him (and, let's be honest, his ego usually had and apparently still has the best of him, but there was one moment above all others) Frankly, it was quite a bit of fun that he brought to my life. I mean, relating directly to cards, my first big "pull" in a pack of cards was his rookie card, in the first pack I ever bought.

Craig Calcaterra has been writing a lot, for a while, about how people take baseball entirely too seriously, and how these various transgressions like displays of ego (and given what the world's seen since Rickey picked up the base and the ballgame stopped, his was a minor transgression, but still one that rubbed me the wrong way at the time without any prodding, because I was trying to watch a ballgame there, and he interrupted it) and steroid use and whatever else don't or at least shouldn't retroactively erase whatever happiness or excitement you felt while watching a game, before you saw or heard about what can't be unseen, and I'm sorta trying to make some peace with that where I can. There's always gonna be some stuff that's just beyond the pale (Chad Curtis, who I used to enjoy watching play baseball, comes to mind), but in a world filled with very imperfect humans and a litany of bullshit, it may enable me to hang onto some joy here and there. I'm trying to apply it to all forms of entertainment, really, because there sure are some mixed up, occasionally lousy, but still very talented people to go around outside of baseball, too.


Hey, luck of the draw, next card in the pile after Rickey would be the guy who threw his 7th no-hitter on the day Rickey Picked Up The Base, with no fanfare to speak of after the game, who became everybody's hero because he Played The Game The Whit...er...Right Way. I have a lot more love these days for Rickey than Nolan, mostly because Nolan hangs out with warmongers in his free time. I'm still glad I got to see Ryan play some (on TV, never in person), regardless. This is a great looking card, too. Nice use of photography within the parameters of the design.

This ended up being about more than 1993 Flair cards, but it was a good exercise, I think. Let's do it again soon.