Monday, June 04, 2007
The Hallmark curse is real, keep D-Wright off my Christmas tree
Hallmark will probably announce its choice for this year’s baseball ornament, and I’m crossing my fingers it won’t be Carlos Beltran, David Wright or Jose Reyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see any of our stars dangling from an evergreen branch on my baseball room Christmas tree.
But as I pointed out last year, the award is cursed. Almost everyone depicted has seen their careers go down in flames shortly after Hallmark unveiled their pose in plastic.
Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr. – all of them fell to pieces or suddenly came under an unsavory cloud.
Not even the dead were safe. The Ted Williams ornament was announced, and next thing we knew the Splendid Splinter’s presumed temporary resting place in the only cold place in Arizona was revealed and all kinds of controversy broke out.
Last summer I predicted Alex Rodriguez was doomed after Hallmark offered him up. Let’s see if the curse held true:
-- The former steady fielder soon could have been called ClankRod after an ugly spate of errors.
-- He got called out in the press by Jason Giambi for his lack of leadership and performance. That’s like being criticized by Ashlee Simpson for lip-synching. Nevertheless, Alex’s teammates and manager didn’t exactly come to his defense.
-- He slipped into a prolonged batting slump that became so bad that Manager Joe Torre batted him eighth in some post-season games. That’s probably the first time a reigning Most Valuable Player viewed the scenery from that far down in the line-up, but it earned him a neat new nickname: 8-Rod.
-- In the off-season it was revealed that 8-Rod might actually use an escape clause to get out of his record-setting contract after the season just to get the heck away from the Bronx. There’s something like $80 million left on the table he could potentially walk away from to sign with a team that might not bat him eighth.
-- During spring training Alex felt the need to announce that he and Derek F. Jeter aren’t best buddies. Now, there’s no shame in that. We’re talking about Derek F. Jeter here. Thank goodness he has some standards. But players typically don’t hold press conferences to tell which teammates they consider friends and the Jeter-lovin’ Yankee apologists that pass for the New York media pounced.
-- Rodriguez has a monster April. Sadly or him, the calendar flipped and then MayRod slipped back to Earth and he could no longer carry the gimpy, elderly Yankees on his back. The team slipped to sections of the AL East standings typically reserved for teams with bad names and bad uniforms like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
-- Alex decides he's in Little League again, and as a Blue Jay player went after a pop-up, the highest-paid player in baseball yelled, "Ha!" or "Got it!" or "Jeter is over-rated," depending on who you want to believe, to distract the player. The Jays were ticked, and Manager Joe Torre yet again didn't quite come to his star's defense.
-- Then last week happened. Alex might have been a slumper, a clanker and a whiner, but he’s always been squeaky clean. Then the New York Post trailed him leaving assorted establishments in Toronto with a young lady who didn’t appear to be Mrs. 8-Rod.
This might have been a family friend, a relative, Yankees front office employee, Ontario Province tour guide, pizza delivery person, body guard…we don’t know. But Alex’s response was “I don’t comment on my personal life.” That non-denial prompted the Post to bestow a new nickname: StrayRod.
Now, I don’t care who Alex spends his time with and one can debate whether it was proper for the Post to have photogs tracking ballplayers away from the stadium. But it’s safe to say it’s not the kind of attention an image-conscious ballplayer wants to attract.
In short, since Hallmark released the ARod ornament his career and life has crashed and burned.
So David, Jose and Carlos: Don’t return a phone call to anybody from Hallmark!
My past as wall art
My son’s exploration into classic rock continues.
I came across my old concert tourbooks while cleaning out the basement and thought my 14-year-old might want to check them out since he’s been filling his iPod with rock from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Then I saw him measuring an AC/DC book and found out he was liked it so much he wanted to look for a frame to hang it on his wall.
Heck, they make frames for album covers, and they were on sale this week. So we headed back into the basement and pulled out the boxes of LPs not seen since we bought a CD player years ago.
I told him he could pick what he wanted, and I would not try to influence him. It was fun pulling out the colorful old sleeves, each one a memory. And we pretended the Wham! album wasn’t there.
Here’s the six he picked:
1) Moving Pictures, Rush. Probably my favorite album cover, which just happens to be on my favorite album. I used lyrics from “Tom Sawyer” on my campaign posters when I ran for treasurer in my junior year. Neat play on words, too, with the front showing workers moving pictures into a museum, and the back showing a film crew making a motion picture of the activity.
2) Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin. The first Zep disc of course has the famous shot of the exploding Hindenberg. Aircraft disasters aren’t my idea of wall art, but I can’t deny the album is classic. It’s also a reminder that bad things happen in New Jersey.
3) Rocket to Russia, Ramones. The first and third Ramones album covers are pretty much identical, with a black and white photo of the band in all of its ripped-jean, leather jacketed glory. He’s been wearing my already ragged Ramones t-shirt for about a year, so I wasn’t surprised by this choice.
4) Ghost in the Machine, The Police. This was a surprise, since I know he’s been listening to “Message in a Bottle” from Regatta de Blanc, and I thought he’d pick that one. Regatta has a better cover, too, but he seemed to like this one better.
5) Paranoid, Black Sabbath. So ugly, so 1970s. And so confusing, too, with a blurry, cartoonish warrior jumping out of the woods at night. I recently read that the band wanted to name the album, “War Pigs” after one of the other songs, and that would make a little more sense. But it’s not like a lot of things related to Sabbath make too much sense. I noticed that the title song is rapidly moving up the play count ranking on iTunes and I’m not playing it.
6) For Those About to Rock, AC/DC. The band’s follow-up to Back in Black was not especially strong, but my son liked the copper-colored cover with the cannon. Probably his weakest selection, but then again he didn’t have to purge the memory of the Madison Square Garden concert and Angus Young’s extended solo and mooning.
I kept my promise not to push any personal favorites, though I did offer up “The Wall,” and Twisted Sister’s “Come Out and Play” only to be rejected. And I didn’t even try to suggest “Destroyer” or “Rock and Roll Over,” two absolute classics!
Thank you, Mike!
You'll notice some changes in the format. I finally figured out how to best use to awesome logo designed for me by my friend Mike at Tales of a Transplanted Mets Fan. What you're seeing is downtwown Grand Rapids, with the tall building being the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. And of course, Shea Stadium.