It's Friday, which means EC is scouting out where to watch MMA, Spy is looking for someone in a Yankees hat to punch in the face and Oso is so distraught over his Bulldogs that he refuses to post any more. So it goes.
Friday also means a Mailbag, let's get to it - and remember, you're always welcome throw your answers out here, too.
From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
Once again, if I may, I'd like to take a trip back to yesteryear and discuss a part of childhood. The subject I'd like for you to talk about is baseball card collecting. I can remember that baseball cards were about the only thing I asked for for Christmas. One year I got the 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr. Upper Deck card (the one with his gap-toothed smile and jerry curl), and I felt like I was holding a million dollars. Today many kids don't even know what baseball card collecting is. I was just wondering if you were a big collector and if so, what were some of your most prized jewels?
P.S. Have you ever noticed that Tyler Bray never seems to wear his mouthpiece?
This e-mail made the 5-at-10 smile. A lot. First, as a 15-year-old pitching in a summer tournament outside of Lexington, Ky., in 1986, Ken Griffey Jr. hit a 5-at-10 belt-high fastball about 650 feet over the right-field fence. In fact, the park called Tuesday and said the ball just landed. It looked like it was launched from a cannon, and you know when a lot of pitchers give up a moon shot that they know is gone they don't even turn around. Well, we knew this one was gone but had to turn around anyway because we wanted to see how far he hit it.
Yes, the 5-at-10 collected baseball cards. And yes, Griffey was a favorite of ours if for no other reason that that home run, and that card - in addition to the gap-tooth smile and the jheri curl, he had more than a few gold chains and a huge turtle neck undershirt - was a jewel.
But the magic of baseball cards was much more than collecting your favorite players or even investing - and yes, we were part of the group that tried to rationalize the baseball card craze as an investment.
There was the excitement of opening each pack, wondering who was next or whether you already had this one or that one.
There was the lesson of caveat emptor when buying cards (we may have bought an Ozzie Smith rookie card for $1 in the mid-80s without taking it out of the plastic cover only to realize that there was a huge stain on the card that was hidden by the price tag).
There was the joy of actually 'playing' with the cards. Be it trading them or stacking them by teams or even the 1978 Topps cards that had different baseball plays (singles, triples, base on balls, double play, etc.) that you could simulate a game.
There was the amazing factoids on the back of most cards. It was baseball Twitter long before technology allowed us to be plugged in to everywhere. (Side notes: Two of the best ones the 5-at-10 can recall were: On the back of hard-throwing reliever Lee Smith's card was this jewel, "Lee's nickname is 'Lee I-a-smoke-a'" and Ron LeFlore's was this gem "Ron spent time in a Michigan penitentiary.") Plus, it had the player's birthday on the card. We can still recall that three players - Dave Winfield, Dennis Eckersley and Brian Downing - shared the 5-at-10's Oct. 3 birthday.
There was the fact that baseball cards were the precursor to "Baseball America" with every 'future stars' card.
As for our favorites, here are some that came to mind immediately:
- Loved the Rickey Henderson rookie card (paid too much for it at a convention, but so it goes)
- Loved the Dodgers' Future Stars card that pictures of Jack Perconte, Mike Scioscia and Fernando Valenzuela (wonder what ever became of Perconte and you know he's got like 12,000 of those cards - heck, if it was the 5-at-10 on that card with Scioscia and Fernando, it would be our business card)
- Loved the Doc Gooden rookie card that came in the midseason pack in 1985
- Loved the Glenn Hubbard card with a huge snake around his shoulder
- Loved the memory of Bill Ripken's card with a cuss word written on his bat that was clearly visible
- Loved the cards of Oscar Gamble's 'fro spilling out from under his hat
We could go on.
I need your help. You're like a sports psychologist, so what do you thing the appropriate level of tirade for a sports fan that suffered through September, considering:
- I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan;
- I grew up watching the Dolphins;
- I graduated from Auburn (which has been much worse than their 3-1 record), but I putt $500 at 12-to-1 on FSU to win the national title.
Thoughts? I need your help 5-at-10konobi, you're my only hope.
Tough month, guy, tough month.
First, focus on the good, and that's the fact that Auburn won a national title last year. You still have that. Embrace it.
Plus, you have the chance to root hard against the Yankees in the playoffs, and while that's of little consolation considering the flame out Boston just suffered, it's still something. Plus, knowing you're passion and anti-Yankees stance, take solace in the fact that you did not root for the Yankees even though you needed the Yankees to win.
As for the Dolphins, well, they stink so bad, you may want to take up golf or tennis on Sundays. Just let dying fish die.
Plus, remember this, it's better to have competed and lost - no matter how heart-wrenching - than to have never competed at all. Think about if you were a poor Pirates fan, who was cheering like the Dickens (to no avail, of course) for a winning record for the first time in 20 years. Does it hurt right now? Sure, but your team was in the game and gave you a vested, rooting interest for six months. Ask a Royals fan if they wouldn't kill for having September mean something.
What happened? This was the most fun baseball season in a while in Braves land, and it ends like this? How did it happen and what's next for a team that should be playing?
We're with you. It was the most fun Braves season in recent memory.
The blame is wide-spread and can be doled out to several Braves, from Fredi Gonzalez to Derek Lowe to Larry Parrish to the guy that sells $8 beers. You don't have a collapse that complete and full without everyone pitching in, and that means everyone from the coaches to the stars to the reserves to the vendors and concession stands folks.
As for fixing it, here are three ideas:
- Thank Larry Parrish for his time and start over. Parrish, the Braves hitting coach, was unimpressive in almost every regard. Quick, name one Braves hitter that had a better-than-expected 2011. Sure, Dan Uggla was the bets hitter in the majors for six weeks but it took a torrid stretch to get him to .235, which is 20-plus points below his career average. And maybe Chipper Jones was better than expected this season considering his age and physical limitations, but Larry Parrish giving Chipper hitting tips is at best laughable and more than likely would be viewed as insulting. And yes, there's no way for Parrish to make these guys hit better with two outs or deliver in pressure situations. But a big part of being a hitting coach is being a hitting psychologist and making sure the hitters are relaxed and focused on productive at-bats.
- Find out what you have in Jason Heyward. Is Heyward a cornerstone of this franchise for the next decade or is he going to be the baseball version of the old recruiting adage, "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane." If he's not the answer, who is. And if he's not the answer, do we need to call in a voodoo specialist to take the curse off right field, where J.D. Drew begat Jeff Francoeur begat Jason Heyward.
- Cut Derek Lowe. There you go. But we're not bitter.
That said, changes have to be made and it appears they won't be on the coaching staff. Guess that beer guy better watch his P's and Q's for the next few weeks, huh?
Hey thanks for the contest - who won the Mocs tickets?
That's not my mailbag question, though. Here's my mailbag question: The Colts stink. If they get the No. 1 pick, what happens? Do they take Andrew Luck?
(Curious about your thoughts (and you still talk too much).
The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.
If the Colts have the No. 1 pick next April they have to take Andrew Luck. Whether they keep Peyton Manning for a few more years and let Luck grow or they look to deal Manning for whatever they can get, Luck is can't-miss as much as any quarterback since Manning.
If Manning returns from his neck injury his career window is a complete unknown. It could be one game; it could be five more years. Either way, you can't afford to not take Luck and watch him three years later torching the NFL.
The only other option - and this is only in play if you get like 17 medical opinions that Manning's 100-percent healthy - is calling San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, who coached Luck at Stanford, and demand all of the 49ers' draft picks for the next three years.
How good is Luck? Harbaugh would probably make that trade.
Everyone knows I'm an Alabama fan so you know where my allegiances lie. That said, I find myself kind of hoping LSU is undefeated when they come to Tuscaloosa in November. Is that strange and do you see that happening? If so, where would that game rank on the scale of all-time regular-season games?
We're with you.
That game could be off the charts. If they're both unbeaten, they'll more than likely be No. 1 and No. 2 in the country.
It would be every bit as big as the classic Oklahoma-Nebraska showdown in 1971. It would be as big as the FSU-Notre Dame showdown in 1993 and the No. 1-No. 2 matchup between Ohio State and Michigan in 2006.
And defensively, LSU-Alabama could be the biggest collection of talent and awesomeness in the history of the sport. And yes, awesomeness is a word.
That said, getting there will be a chore for each of those clubs. Welcome to the SEC folks.