Friday, March 13, 2015

The First Lifetime Movie I Ever Liked: A Trade Post

My wife loves a good tear-jerker movie.  She also seems to enjoy a lot of cheesy dramas, true-crime stories, and even some romance movies. That's probably why she regularly sets the DVR to record a lot of random sounding movies from the Lifetime Movie Network. Amazingly, the Wikipedia category for "Lifetime (TV Network) Films" includes 197 different entries.

Now, this post thankfully isn't about all the Lifetime movies I've had to watch (I've avoided that generally), nor is it about all the Lifetime movies my wife has watched (thankfully). Instead, this is a post about baseball cards -- specifically, a trade with Charlie from Lifetime Topps Project for which I must still put together a return package.  

Charlie e-mailed me a few weeks ago and offered up some cards off my want lists.  I'll be sending off some nice inserts to him shortly, but in the meantime, inspired by Lifetime Network Movie titles -- and yes, these are all actual titles -- here are the highlights from the stack of cards Charlie sent.

Flirting with Forty
This movie from 2008 featured Heather Locklear (then aged 47) as a forty-year-old divorced mother whose 40th birthday trip to Hawaii found her playing cougar with her young male surfing instructor. She hooks up with him, starts traveling back and forth to Hawaii to visit him, and earns disapproval from everyone in her life.

"Flirtingwithforty" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
For this film, I'll go with a more direct version of flirting with forty -- forty home runs that is.

Greg Vaughn never hit forty homers in a Brewers uniform. In 1996 -- at the age of 30 -- the Brewers traded him away to the San Diego Padres in exchange for two mismatched shoes and an old mustard and brown SD hat...or, at least the equivalent of that in terms of players (Bryce Florie, Ron Villone, and Marc Newfield) a classic "two dimes and a nickel for a ten-dollar bill" trade. At the time Vaughn had hit 31 HR for Milwaukee.  After the trade on July 31, he hit 10 more homers in 1996.  Over the rest of his career through four stops and parts of 8 seasons, Vaughn hit 186 more home runs with a decent OBP and an OPS above league average.

In return, Florie threw 94 innings in Milwaukee (4.79 ERA, 4.56 FIP).  Villone stayed in baseball until 2009 and pitched for basically every major league team in that time (3 years in Seattle split over two stays was his longest stint anywhere) and chipped in 77-1/3 innings (3.38 ERA/5.24 FIP) for Milwaukee.  Newfield -- another former Mariner who, with Villone, was sent to San Diego for Andy Benes -- played 192 games over three seasons for the Brewers with a .259/.319/.379 slash line.

Great job, Brew Crew.

Not Like Everyone Else
This "based on a true story" movie told the tale of a high school girl, Brandi Blackbear, who was a Goth-girl who wrote horror stories.  One day, Brandi checked out books about Wicca, and kids thought she cast a spell to get a teacher sick.  The ACLU sued on her behalf and was made to look stupid when the court dismissed the lawsuit and ordered Brandi's parents to pay fees and costs to the school instead.

Dark Backgrounds are Required for Lifetime Movie Posters
Another person who was not like everyone else -- but in a distinctly less gothic way -- is Dave Nilsson. 

And is that 1995 Topps of Nilsson not like anyone else either.  Thank God.

Nilsson's excellent SABR Biography details how an Australian kid in the 1970s and 1980s got interested in American baseball thanks to his dad being a baseball player of some renown in the 1960s.  One quote mentions that most Aussies with the size and athleticism that Nilsson had (6'3" tall and 185 pounds as a teenager) would almost always go into Rugby League, Rugby Union, or Australian Rules Football rather than American baseball.  

Instead, after the 2004 Olympics in which the Aussies stunningly took the Silver Medal in baseball after losing to the Cubans in the Olympic finals, David ended up being inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 2008.  

Held Hostage
Another true-crime story, this time about a mother who was coerced into robbing a bank at which she worked by armed gunmen who strapped fake bombs to both her and her 7-year-old daughter.  

Again with the black

The Brewers held themselves hostage on several occasions with terrible contracts. One of those contracts was handed out to a personal favorite pitcher of mine, Ted Higuera.

Higuera was excellent in the mid-to-late 1980s, even winning 20 games in 1986.  In 1989, however, he was limited to 22 starts by back surgery and sprained ankles.  In 1990, at the age of 32, Higuera started 27 games and threw 170 effective innings.  Rather than seeing that as a lucky return to health for Higuera, the Brewers instead signed Higuera to a four-year, $13.1 million contract -- at the time, the largest-ever contract the Brewers had given a pitcher in their history.  Higuera tore his rotator cuff in 1991, missed all of 1992, and, over the life of that contract, pitched 125 innings at a 6.34 ERA (5.06 FIP).

Not good.

"A 2009 American independent thriller film, directed by Morgan J. Freeman . . . ." It's basically a movie about a scorned, stalker girlfriend in high school (played by the then-23-year-old Mischa Barton) who gives her old flame's new girlfriend a ride home after a car accident after the homecoming dance. Rather than taking the girl home, Mischa Barton's character goes all Misery on the poor new girl and tortures her.

"Homecomingfinalposter" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
Here, I'll use this title for a guy who started in Milwaukee, was traded away, came back eventually, and left again:

Jeff Cirillo was an excellent player whose value as a hitter came both from a good batting average and a good OBP.  Never much of a power hitter -- his best year featured 17 HR while playing half his games in Coors -- Cirillo's lifetime OBP was .366.  It was almost as if Cirillo came along about 5 years too early for Billy Beane and Moneyball.

On the Second Day of Christmas
This absolutely horrendous sounding movie featured a girl and her aunt planning their next heist as pickpockets in a mall after Christmas.  To show you how unrealistic the movie is and how terrible these two pickpockets are, Wikipedia says that "[t]hey are caught by the mall security guard Bert." 

Yes, Bert.  Ernie was off that day.

Oddly enough, the aunt falls in love with the mall security guard. The Aunt confesses her bad deeds to Santa and eventually gets Bert to quit being a mall security guard by agreeing to marry him.  


I can find nothing about the dog in this movie. 
In the spirit of giving and taking, I'm using this title, though, for the final two cards/players:

Both Eldred and Valentin were part of a trade which saw them go to the Chicago White Sox in January of 2000 in exchange for Jaime Navarro and John Snyder.  This trade was one of then-GM Dean Taylor's big splashes in his first offseason as General Manager.  It showed how completely out of his depth as a GM Taylor really was.

Eldred broke Higuera's team record for largest contract given to a pitcher when, in 1997, he received a $14.2 million, 4-year contract in 1997.  In typical Brewers front office fashion, the Brewers under Sal Bando as GM engaged more in wishcasting than in forecasting future outcomes and statistics for players.  Eldred was coming off a two-year run in 1995-1996 where he pitched 19 games and 108-1/3 innings.  For the four-year contract, the Brewers got 417 innings of 5.48 ERA (5.34 FIP) pitching and got to make a trade to dump the over $5 million albatross for the 2000 season. 

So, either it came down to "Bud Selig the Cheap Bastard" who destroyed the Brewers, or "Dean Taylor is an Idiot" or both, but someone there in Milwaukee thought it would be a good idea to bring the compost-like remains of Jaime Navarro's career -- along with a 25-year-old starting pitcher (John Snyder) who, in 215-2/3 innings with the White Sox prior to the trade, had an ERA of 5.93 (5.62 FIP) with 263 hits and 41 HR allowed.  Batters hit Snyder to the tune of a .299/.371/.475 slash line (versus MLB averages for those years of .269/.342/.430).  AND, the Brewers took on Navarro's $5 million salary.  

In other words, for the opportunity to employ a pitcher who made every batter look like an all-star, the Brewers traded away a player who hit 159 more HR over his career (just 69 more than in his years in Milwaukee!) with a slash line of .246/.320/.468 -- right about league average.  As a shortstop, that's a productive player.  

But not, it seems, to Dean Taylor.

There were a bunch more than plugged gaps in my want lists for my team sets, but these are the guys from my player collections.  

Charlie, thank you very much for the trade, and I hope you didn't mind my going all weird-out Lifetime Movie here.

At least I couldn't find a way to use "Sexting in Suburbia".  


  1. "compost-like remains of Jaime Navarro's career" that had me chuckling. Teddy was one of my favorites to watch growing up too. I don't know if you're into it but he's also a great signer though the mail and has a great looking signature.

  2. Very clever post. First Hallmark movie I've ever liked either!

  3. Great post Tony! I can honestly say I've never watched the Lifetime or Hallmark channels and would lie about it if necessary.

  4. I had the misfortune of adding the Lifetime version of "The Bling Ring" to my Netflix queue, rather than the one with Emma Watson. Painful.

    Great post, though! And I'll be getting something in the mail to you tomorrow.

  5. Thanks for the trade Tony! I got your cards some time while we were in the hospital waiting for kid #2 to show up. So I went through them last night at about 2 AM after he had determined he wouldn't let me stay asleep :). A trade post will be forthcoming (probably early April).