When last seen, my Canadian co-conspirator in war and peace, Angus, was dropping bombs on Jaybarkerfan in a fitting finale to the war whose coda appeared yesterday. Out of the blue on Friday, though, Angus dropped a package on me.
While I didn't receive any action figures of past Prime Ministers, I did receive some fantastic Canadian goodies and a bunch of more recent cards for my Milwaukee Braves collections. With it being a weekend and a package that began its life in another country, I think it's time for another Off Hiatus travelogue.
I will not get to Montreal probably until the Fall of 2016 -- and I am truly looking forward to that. But, I traveled to Toronto in 2008 over the American Memorial Day holiday weekends. I loved the city immensely. Despite not being more than an hour's drive outside the United States,Toronto has a different vibe to it that is unmistakably Canadian.
Without further introduction, here are highlights from the cards that Angus sent with highlights from Toronto.
The CN Tower
The CN Tower is a huge communications platform that was built in the 1970s. When it was finished, it topped out at just over 1,815 feet tall and was the tallest man-made structure on earth from 1976 until April of 2008.
The Wikipedia article on the Tower says that the Tower held that "Tallest" record through 2010 when the Canton Tower (in Guangzhou, China) and the Burj Khalifa/Burj Dubai were finished. However, I know for a fact that the Burj passed the CN Tower in early April of 2008 -- because I was in Dubai the week after that happened. I mentioned that to a woman at the CN Tower when I was there, and I was greeted with the response, "Not yet it isn't." I didn't argue with her, though.
When you're talking about giants in baseball, you can't help but think about Warren Spahn. It is fair that the winningest left-handed pitcher in baseball history -- a record that may never be topped -- be celebrated with this tall tower:
We've got Topps Archives Reserve Chrome from 2001, three Upper Deck products (SP Legendary Cuts, Origins, and Sweet Spot) and two Donruss products (Studio and Timeless Treasures). Each of them was needed for my player collection.
Inside the CN Tower
One of the coolest parts of the lower observation deck is a thick window to the ground that you can stand on. Even though the signs reassure you that the glass is really thick, that it's thicker than the floor (probably), etc., I'd be lying if I didn't say that my knees were shaking standing on this window. I snapped the photo and got off the window about as fast as I possibly could.
What goes with this kind of "leap" of faith to believe in modern engineering? Nothing, really, but let's go with a Brewer legend who made the leap to play in Toronto:
For Paul Molitor to leave the protective cocoon of Milwaukee for Toronto at what seemed the end of his career -- who knew he'd play another six highly productive years for Toronto and Minnesota (.313/.374/.457, 1038 hits in 3724 plate appearances, 339 walks, 362 Ks, 74 HR, 92 SB) -- it was a true leap of belief in himself to do it. It sucked from a Brewers' fan's perspective, but it had to have motivated Molitor some to show that he could play without missing time, without injuries, for several years beyond what Bud Selig thought he could.
What in the Hell is this?
I went to three Blue Jays games while in Toronto. During pregame, they had a dance troupe perform a traditional Greek dance in centerfield. Having the grounds crew in the foreground made complete sense for this performance.
These look normal. Of course, if they were just your usual Topps cards, I already would have most of these in my collection. Of course, because they came from Angus in Canada, these are not Topps....
Meneurs pour les points produits can only mean one thing -- well, it could mean that the Card Papoy decided to release his own card sets in French, but here it means that Angus sent me a ton of O-Pee-Chee cards from 1975 and 1976. These are the non-player collection cards; here are the player collections:
I was pleasantly surprised by Rogers Centre. For being a dome with artificial turf, it actually was a great place to see a game. I watched the Friday night game from the hotel bar above the left field stands. On Saturday, this was my seat. On Sunday, I went to the Hard Rock Cafe above the right field stands. I even stayed in the hotel at Rogers Centre, though I did not spring for the "field view" room.
Still, the sightlines in each location were great, and it was an experience I will never forget.
This guy will never be forgotten in Milwaukee sports history either. The length of his career, the winning attitude he brought, and the quiet confidence he had will probably never be replicated in Milwaukee -- or perhaps anywhere.
Teams don't bring 18-year-olds to the major leagues after a half-season in the minors at low-A and say, "okay, kid, you're the starting shortstop." The nattering nabobs of negativism on the MLB network and ESPN and in the national media and on Twitter (et cetera) would never stand for that. "Let him get more seasoning! There's no need to rush him!"
The Serenity of Lake Ontario
This photo of a sailboat on Lake Ontario is one that an interior designer friend of mine printed out and put on my wall when she helped redesign and spruce up the condo I lived in back in 2008. It's one of my favorites that I have ever taken.
Just like Eddie Mathews will be one of my favorites always as well. The second-greatest third-baseman ever -- behind Mike Schmidt -- deserves more acclaim than he gets these days. He was the seventh player in major-league history to reach 500 homeruns. He did it exactly 2 months after Mickey Mantle did it in 1967, and he reached 500 homeruns exactly one year before Hank Aaron did -- July 14.
Angus, thank you very much for the cards and the help in the trade war with Wes. I consider myself very lucky to have been on the receiving end of several packages from you, and I am looking forward to the day when I can finally send you something!