Wednesday, September 26, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Quarterfinal, Match 4

Seed #11 Britt Burns (#412) VS. Seed #3 Ellis Valentine (#445)

Sorry it's been so long since the last post, but my computer took a shit a couple of days ago, and I just got back on-line last night.

I'm also a little sad that my personal favorite, Pete Redfern, is not in this matchup. The comments in Round of 16, Match 6 contained two solid votes for Burns, one for Redfern, and one comment that mentioned Redfern by name, but was vague as to whether or not the intent to vote was there. If I were a Republican, I would have found a way to get Pete "Where the" Redfern "Grows" into the quarters, possibly through the use some extra special 11th-hour Florida Supreme Court influence, but I'm not that kind of guy.

Alas, we are left with Burns V. Valentine. Let's face it, Ellis is here on the strength of his unorthodox batting helmet. I wrote at length as to what that thing actually is in the Round of 16, yet it still fascinates me. Without question, it belongs in the Sports Equipment Hall of Fame (currently under construction in Sandusky, Ohio, to be completed in the winter of 2009). What else can you find there, you ask? Well, there's John Olerud's infield batting helmet, Tom Dempsey's half-shoe, late Packer Charles Martin's 1986 "Bears Hit List" towel, Joe Niekro's emery boards, and Gary Gaetti's grandfathered earflap-less batting helmet.

I can reach but one conclusion: Ellis Valentine moonlighted as a covert operative for M.A.S.K., 1980s syndicated cartoon and toy line. I'll bet if you checked the volcano in his backyard, it would also turn into a battle station.

Oh, and Britt Burns' shirt makes him look pregnant. Ho-hum. Although it is interesting that wikipedia reports that "his career came to a premature end due to a chronic, degenerative hip condition." Yep, pregnancy can do that to a guy.

Vote the heck out of this one, folks. In a couple of days, the semis start. I'll try to throw in a little treat between rounds.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Quarterfinal, Match 3

Seed #4 Lonnie Smith (#317) VS. Seed #12 Al Hrabosky (#636)

The point of contention here is facial hair. One man's mandibular coiffure makes you want to stand up, place your hand over your heart, and unthinkingly recite a few lines about patriotism. The other man's gives you the dry heaves. These matchups are becoming so close that they are virtually impossible to prognosticate. I ask you to look deep into your hearts and make your choice.

Coincidentally, I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this past week serving on a jury. I even went so far as to make sure I was the foreman. I figured, "Hey, I may never have to do this again, might as well make my experience as full as possible." With that in mind, I believe this particular contest would have been harder to deliberate than the actual trial. We were actually in an 11-1 standoff for a couple of hours until the lone dissenting woman finally relented as we approached 4:00 on what will probably be the last beautiful Friday afternoon in Wisconsin until late May. Thank God I wasn't assigned to Smith V. Hrabosky; I might still be sequestered at this moment.

Vote with your conscience, people.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Quarterfinal, Match 2

Seed #1 Jack Clark (#30) VS. Seed #8 Steve Trout (#552)

How do you like your hair? Salty and dripping? Creeping into a place it has no business being?

This pairing raises all sorts of possibly unanswerable questions: Should Trout offer Clark his glasses to cover up the Bert (unibrow)? Would Clark accept? Did players strategically place tweezers and waxing paraphernelia as subtle hints to Clark? Who is Trout talking to in his card? Why does he look so uneasy? In today's hyper-aware, image-conscious sporting arena, can there be other players with an unironic, extreme look? (Guys like Turnbow and Pedro Martinez (who must think his dripping, Pascual Perez-esque curl actually looks good) don't count.)

Vote, comment, share.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Quarterfinal, Match 1

Now the real competition begins! It's time to kick off the quarterfinal round. All votes have been tabulated, replete with upsets, almost-votes that I couldn't officially count, and even a suden-death tiebreaker.

We have four quarterfinal matches, starting with ones that held to form. Please vote for the best-loking card. Don't ignore a visceral reaction: If you should happen to chuckle, gasp, retch, recoil, shudder, or break wind after glancing at a card, that's probably your winner. In other words, vote with your heart, not your head. Again, you may vote for the duration of the quarterfinal round. A lot is at stake here.

Here we go!

Seed #7 Ross Grimsley (#170) VS. Seed #2 Dennis Eckersley (#620)

In the first round, Grimsley snuck through via tiebreaker, based on higher seed alone. Coincidentally, the two much-maligned hairstyles find themselves face-to-face in the Round of 8. It's truly a clash of blow-dried titans, although very different techniques appear to be used by these two players. While Grimsley looks like his hair is a side-effect of a carefree lifestyle choice, Eckersley looks to have spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror with David Cassidy records playing, a TV blaring an episode of That's Incredible! in the background, and a can of Aqua Net at the ready. To boil it down, Eckersley did his hair while singing into a hairbrush, Grimsley did not. Who is more worthy of advancing? I toss the fate of these men to the wind.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brewers Throwback #1

Tomorrow night I've got tickets to the Brewers-Reds game at Miller Park. Besides the pennant race, it's also Robin Yount Bobblehead Night, probably the foremost game I've been looking forward to all year. I've got my fingers crossed for a blue variant, but we'll see what happens.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Brewers World Series team, Friday night games have been retro bobblehead nights. To help celebrate the most hallowed of these giveaways, Im presenting a special treat to readers of this blog. Back in 1983, presumably around Spring Training, the Milwaukee Sentinel (probably, since there were two papers back then, and my family was not a journal family) printed cut-it-out-yourself baseball cards. My parents demonstrated tremendous foresight by clipping these and affixing them to cardboard. Even though I was only four years old then, an almost complete set was saved for me. Out of all of the cards I own, these are probably the ones I would be least likely to part with. Unfortunately, the Yount card is missing. If anybody has one of these, please get in touch with me on this blog.

The first card I'd like to present is Ted Simmons. Ted was in the TV booth for an inning during the 25th anniversary celebration game, and he came across as one of the smartest baseball guys I've ever heard speak. It was a real treat. Hopefully I can find the time to present more of these soon. If you've got the Yount, please, PLEASE drop me a line.

Oh, yeah...I'm hoping to start the quarterfinals of the 1981 Topps Showdown this weekend. Check in and don't forget to vote!

Monday, September 10, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Round of 16, Match 8

Here's your final Sweet 16 matchup. I will allow the tallies to grow for a few days before moving on to the quarterfinal matchups. Between now and then, I'll add a few surprises to this blog. Stay tuned, and keep leaving the comments. Without your votes there can be no champion. Here we go.

Seed #8 Steve Trout (#552)

I suppose everyone knew this one was coming. It has all the elements of a great card:
Aviator sunglasses?

Sweaty, matted hair pasted to forehead?

Breathable, cotton/poly jersey?

Ladies and gentlemen, the incomprable...Steve Trout.


Seed #9 Manny Sanguillen (#226)

Your first instinct was that a Topps photographer caught Manny mid-chuckle, but that would be where you went wrong. No, Manny was not laughing, he's actually doing a bit of bragging.

Bragging about what, you ask? You might think he's giving Dave Parker the business about Parker's inability to use Dento-tape, but you would be wrong again. Manny Sanguillen is bragging about girth and length. Nothing more. Don't ask how I know this, I just do.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Round of 16, Match 7

Seed #7 Ross Grimsley (#170)

The Cleveland Indians made a great move during the summer of 1980, getting the upper hand in a trade with notoriously shrewd Expos owner Jim Henson and acquiring a Muppet named Ross Grimsley in the process. Although Montreal gave up quite a lot in the deal, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew never quite matched the eye-popping stats that Grimsley put up, including an 18 SO/24 BB ratio and a scintillating 6.75 ERA.

To tell the truth, this guy looks a lot like that one guy who always shows up in Adam Sandler movies, only after he spent a year in the mountains with only a shovel, a blanket, and a creek from which to drink. I guess he was acquired to help fill in the cavernous spaces in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium.


Seed #10 Bobby Bonds (#635)

It's "Battle of the Mountain Men" today.
Either that, or Bonds just got finished playing a crackhead at a "Say No to Drugs" kickoff carnival.

On a related note, check out the movie "Derailed," featuring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston. Bobby Bonds is referenced by one of the supporting characters.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Round of 16, Match 6

Damn, this is a great matchup! It's like a real 6/11 game in the NCAA tournament, except it's more like a 3/4 game that somehow got scheduled for the first round.

Seed #6 Pete Redfern (#714)

"He's sittin' on 714..."
Alright, let me level with you all. I am a Brewers fan. Yeah, I know, not a lot to cheer about since I was, like, four, but near and dear to me. My girlfriend (fiance, now) hails from the bustling metropolis of St. Paul, Minnesota, making her, geographically, a Twins fan (though mostly converted to the Brewers, as long as they are not direct adversaries).
This arrangement allows me to converse with her, in limited fashion, about old Twins stuff. Most of it is easy, like reminiscing about '87 and '91. I must admit I was quite the Kirby fan back in the day.
Here's a direct-as-possible transcript from our conversation about this card:

Me: Hey, check out this guy.

Her: Hm?

Me: Yeah, did you know that the Twins had a guy named Pete Redfern?

Her: No.

Me: And did you know he had beautiful blue eyes?

Her: No, I didn't know that. (Insert insincere cooing here.)

Great shot, great mystified, yet forward thinking expression.


Seed #11 Britt Burns (#412)

This card was chosen because, as everyone can see, Britt is expecting. The White Sox uniforms that year came in maternity sizes. Thankfully, his ankles make no appearance on this card.

Monday, September 3, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Round of 16, Match 5

Happy Labor Day everyone! Let's get down to business.

Seed #5 Mike Ramsey (#366)

Mike earns high seeding because of his choice in headwear. Not surprisingly, forward baseball caps topped by backwards batting helmets became trendy apparel among impressionable youth for a period of five months or so in the greater St. Louis area. Unknown, however, is whether Ramsey was able to solve "The Case of the Westchesterfordshire Abbey Haunting," or if the boys at Scotland Yard were able to beat him to the punch. "Elementary, my dear!"


Seed #12 Al Hrabosky (#636)

Al Hrabosky: Well, I lost my temper and I took a knife and I uh-. Do you know those "Do Not Remove Under the Penalty of Law" labels they put on mattresses?
Pee-Wee: Yeah.
Al Hrabosky: Well I CUT one of them off!

Wow, meanest-looking emmer-effer in MLB history. All I'm sayin' is, check the crawlspace.

"You don't want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner. A rebel."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

1981 Topps Tournament -- Round of 16, Match 4

Seed #4 Lonnie Smith (#317)

The patchiness of Lonnie's hamburger meat beard is the highlight of this card, and should make it hard to beat in this round. I considered showing the area in question in greater detail and size, but I'd rather not inflict that upon any sensitive viewers.


Seed #13 Renie Martin (#452)

Apparently today's matchup pits bad facial hair against bad teeth. The only way I can picture Renie Martin in the present is in the role of a strange old man whose house most kids skip on Halloween. Those brave enough to ring his doorbell are given a large handful of the most bizarre, out-of-date, foreign-produced candies imaginable (but not before a loopy, lisped warning, something like, "Take as many as you want, kiddies, but look what candy did to me!") This smile may haunt my dreams.

On a side note, doesn't "Renie Martin" sound like it should be the name of a mixed drink? "Bartender, I'll have a Tom Collins and she'll have a Renie Martin."

Thanks to everyone who has voted. We're halfway through the first round, with a lot more great cards on the way. Keep sending others to the site.