Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cards from the Juice Box

Hey, I heard you missed me.  I'm back!

My week away from home -- sleeping in hotel rooms, meeting new (often very strange) people and seeing old friends -- ended on Friday night. It was only four nights away, to be exact, but I successfully picked up a cold/sore throat and slept perhaps 9 hours from Wednesday through Friday. So, it was a great feeling to get to sleep in my own bed, to see my wife and our two cats, and to get back to the friendly confines of my office/baseball card room.

Even before I left, I had received my first-ever package from a gentleman named Trevor. Trevor has started a blog called "Juice Box Baseball."  I received several comments on my blog from Trevor, so we exchanged e-mails about cards and want lists and the like.  A few days later and Voila! Baseball cards arrive in my mailbox.

Trevor is a Houston Astros collector. Hopefully he will post more soon.  In the meantime, though, here are the highlights from the great envelope of cards that he sent my way for my player collections and/or team collection, punctuated by some juicy music.

Jose Valentin

Yes, there are many readily available cards from the 1990s and early 2000s that I need for my collections, such as these two Topps base set cards of Jose Valentin. I still need both of these one more time for my team collection.  

So what juicy song goes with these two cards?

How about a song from 34 years ago called "Queen of Hearts" by New Jersey native Juice Newton? It's a funny thing about country music -- most of the popular songs from that genre really aren't all that "country" at all. Think about it: if you were alive in 1981, you couldn't avoid this song no matter what radio station you listened to -- country or pop -- as it hit Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Number 14 on the Country chart, and Number 2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Heck, even Alvin & The Chipmunks covered it.

So, the next time you hear someone complain about how Luke Bryan or Taylor Swift really isn't country, know that Barbara Mandrell and Johnny Cash were saying the same thing 35 years ago about Juice Newton.  And what that has to do with Jose Valentin is the square root of bupkis.  

B.J. Surhoff

Surhoff's 1995 Donruss card lists him as a catcher and third baseman. It was the time when everyone in the majors wanted a Tony Phillips thanks to Sparky Anderson's use of Phillips all over the diamond to give other players a day off.  Surhoff was always an incredibly earnest player as well.  As this story from The Washington Times said in 1999, everything Surhoff felts was "writ large across his mug."

To go with that...hmmm....

I'd never heard of or heard this song or this band before today, but it fits here.  The song is called "Juice" and the band -- called Headless Chickens -- was big in New Zealand in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Sort of like Surhoff in Milwaukee.  Take a listen and tell me that this song isn't incredibly earnest with emotional heartstrings being tugged the entire way. Or, it may just be obnoxious, throwaway tripe that got released in every country around that time.

Actually, it's not bad at all, really, so I'm going with the first part of that choice.

Rob Deer

A 1989 Topps Big card of the big three-true-outcomes slugger Rob Deer graced this package as well. I remember buying Topps Big in those cellophane wrappers back in 1989 or 1988. As was the case for the 1989 Bowman set, Topps Big are tough to store in sheets for us binder guys and gals -- they fit, sort of, in the 9-pocket varietals, but they are such a tight fit that you are really jamming them into the pockets. 

Did someone say jamming?

Let's go to Jimmy Kimmel jamming with Oran "Juice" Jones last November on Kimmel's 47th birthday. "The Rain" was Juice's biggest hit, reaching number 9 in the US, number 3 in Germany, number 4 in the UK, and number 6 in both Ireland and Belgium.  Watching this performance from 2014, I feel like Juice may be the world's coolest one-hit wonder ever. Dude is a bad ass.

Prince Fielder

Because Trevor sent me four Fielders for my player collection, we get two songs here.

This Prince Fielder 2007 Topps Turkey Red had me Googling the card to double check the date on it without picking up the card (a crazy thing since the card is right in a stack in front of me as I type this).  

But, that search led me to Dick Perez's website where he sells some of his original art -- such as this absolutely awesome Eddie Mathews acrylic (for $2,000...wish I'd found this site when I was single and had much more disposable income!).  If you like Dick Perez's art, you should poke around there. He has it sorted by team and then by player, and he has some photos with stories about his career.  His early work in particular was fantastic.

Sort of like...

Ahhhhh...rollin' down the street, smokin' indo, sippin' on gin and juice. Laid back....

Snoop's debut album had a creativity and fun about it that couldn't be replicated later in his life for all the obvious reasons. 

Okay, on to the final two cards.

The orange refractor from 2011 Topps pairs well with one of Fielder's final cards as a Brewer player (rather than those after-the-fact cards that Topps puts out from time to time). In retrospect, Fielder leaving Milwaukee started the window closing on the Doug Melvin Brewers's opportunities to contend. Fielder left a big hole behind both in the lineup -- the lefty power bat needed to balance out the rest of the team's right-handedness -- and on the field.  

Corey Hart was a good fit there for a while, but his injuries took him away from being the first baseman.  Then, the Brewers messed around with people like Travis Ishikawa, Mat Gamel, Taylor Green, Brooks Conrad, Cesar Izturis, Yuniesky Betancourt (seriously...WTF is that?), Juan Francisco, Sean Halton, Alex Gonzalez (another shortstop? Huh?), Mark Reynolds, and Lyle Overbay playing first base in 2012 through 2014. That failure to address first base with a real hitter before 2015 and Adam Lind was one of the biggest failures in Doug Melvin's tenure.  That, and signing Jeff Suppan to a four-year contract for $42 million.  The Suppan contract will always be a stain on Melvin's record.

So, what do I have to close this out?

Three 6 Mafia, of course.  Of course.  Jordan Michael Houston -- a/k/a Juicy J -- is one of the founders of Three 6 Mafia out of Memphis.  Sadly, one of the co-founders of Three 6 Mafia -- Koopsta Knicca -- died this past week at the age of just 40 years old from a brain aneurysm. 

Trevor, thanks for the cards that you sent to me.  I've got a package all set to go out to you this week. And for everyone else, Trevor needs a fair amount of late 1980s junk wax -- so check out his want lists!

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