Friday, April 28, 2017

The Maddux on a Baseball Card

If you've read much of my writing, you're likely aware that when I was a kid, baseball cards were a huge deal to me, really taking off when Topps released its classic 1987 set, the one with the wood paneling trim. I say they were a huge deal when I was a kid, but it's not as though I ever entirely let them go. Last summer in fact, I spent hours over the course of my weeks off from teaching loosely organizing the thousands and thousands of cards I had in a couple of large cardboard boxes in the basement. First I sorted them by sport (because I had a few football and basketball cards as well, along with some Star Wars and Marvel superhero cards too. Then I sorted the baseball cards by brand. There were Donruss and Fleer, Bowman and Score, Upper Deck and O-Pee-Chee. By far the largest pile was the Topps one though. My first love, and always to remain my greatest. And because of that, when I came upon something new today, I beamed with excitement the way I would have when I pulled a Kirby Puckett or a Bo Jackson from a pack as a kid.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Best MLB players of the last 30 years, #6: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols was born the same year as me. Same month, in fact. On Opening Day in 2001, he became the first person younger than me to appear in the Major Leagues. He is by far the best player born in 1980, and while it's too early to know for sure, there's a strong chance he'll go down as the greatest player born at any point in the 80s. (Not that anyone actually keeps track of such a thingThat Pujols is now one of the league's elder statesmen is a reminder that I'm getting older too. I take some comfort in knowing that while 37 is old for baseball, it's only the early stages of middle age for the rest of the world. He was a star from the beginning, and I was aware of the proximity of our births from the beginning, so for his entire career, he's felt like something of an analog to me, if a somewhat more rich, famous, and successful one.