Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rocked by the Suburbs

It's human nature to wonder from time to time what people think about you. Sure, psychologically speaking, you'll find more self-help websites preaching to you that you shouldn't care, but we all do it from time to time.

I'm lucky in the blogworld, though, that my reputation and personality is pretty clear: I'm the oddball guy. I love oddballs. Oddballs and the Brewers. I can say honestly that it has nearly always been in my nature to seek out things that are a bit different and to glom on to those things that I like while dispatching those I don't like. 

In card collecting, what that's meant is that I have a healthy appreciation for cards not issued by Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck, Score, or Pacific as part of their regular sets. If a card came from police officers, as a giveaway at a stadium, in a regular-issue book/magazine, from a cereal box, with potato chips, dog food, or a fast-food meal, I will probably like it just a little bit more than if it's just another of the four inserts per pack or some stickergraph.  

That's my nature.

Thankfully, all y'all seem to know that about me.

For instance, I received a PWE this week from Tony Burbs of Wrigley Roster Jenga

Yeah, not all that original to go to Ben Folds, but it's a great song. I mean, I can relate to being male, middle class, and white, and the lyrics give me a built in theme post musically! So let's rock the suburbs and go through the great cards -- and oddballs -- that Tony sent to me.

1.  Rockin' the suburbs just like Michael Jackson did

Let's be clear: this song is irony, and it is intended to make light of things that are definitely first world problems. Being clever is a skill, and it seems a number of reviewers weren't clever enough to figure out that Ben Folds was, indeed, employing irony when writing this song (real irony, not 10,000 spoons when you need a knife irony).

So, Michael Jackson rocking the suburbs? Sure -- back in the early 80s, what self-respecting 10-year-old didn't try to moonwalk?

Not that I could, but everyone who tried dancing ever in the early and mid-1980s had to try to throw a moonwalk into their repertoire. Michael Jackson in 1983 was a 100% badass. 

What cards did Tony send me that go with this?

Police cards from the late 1990s from Prairie du Chien -- in the western part of the state on the Mississippi RIver -- of course. I've never been to Prairie du Chien, so I've never had the pleasure of visiting PDC's third-best place to go: Valley Fish & Cheese.

By 1997, the Brewers or their baseball card sponsors had given up on the preachy, long-winded advice from the early 1980s to pithier, terser statements more easily remembered by a five-year-old.

For instance, here's the 1982 back of Robin Yount's card extolling the virtues of the buddy system when swimming.

By the time 1997 rolled around, kids apparently couldn't be arsed to read five sentences or draw parallels between turning double plays and swimming in pairs. Instead, we get the truncated version of the same advice on the back of Eddy Diaz's card:

It seems off that a card from a guy from Venezuela would feature advice about ice skating in pairs. Then again, by this point, the card makers had given up on the charade of having a player giving advice, and, instead, have an anthropomorphic ball with odd, soulless eyes and matchstick arms and legs advising kids not to swim or ice skate alone. 

And Brewers fans wonder why the team sucked in the late 1990s? Clearly, everyone had given up and said, "aw, to hell with it. No one will notice anyway."

2.  Rockin' the Suburbs just like Quiet Riot Did

Damn, Ben Folds nailed it with this song. An angry band to allow us white, middle-class kids (and those of us like myself who grew up as far less well off than middle class but lived in middle class worlds) to express our anger by singing along with a song.

It's a weird video with the padded cells and all with the late Kevin DuBrow behind the metal mask. Just remember to Bang Your Head!

Cards? Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We're talking about cards here.  Let's see...let's go with the four remaining weirder cards.


Darren Ford was drafted out of high school in the 18th round of the 2004 draft by the Brewers. He liked playing for the West Virginia Power, racking up a .299/.372/.424 line in 820 plate appearances there with 12 homers and 100 stolen bases in 176 games. Ford eventually was traded to the Giants with another minor leaguer for Ray Durham in 2008, and he made it to the majors for 16 total plate appearances (33 games) in 2010 and 2011. He is 30 now and he signed up to continue as organizational depth for the Giants on January 13, 2016.

Otherwise, we've got a 1990 Robin Yount Watertown Police Department card. I've been to Watertown in my life; when I was a little kid, my mom dated a guy who lived there. Strange place.

Then, we've got the King of Clubs, Cal Eldred. I'm not sure I'd want to be on the king of clubs playing card if I were a pitcher, but I'm guessing Cal didn't have much input into that decision.  

Finally, it's the weird one. The unnamed player -- clearly Robin Yount -- on a card with a half-empty beer stein as the team's logo with a fake interview on the back about how the team he's on is "flat and faceless, with no identity, no personality, and no pizazz." The "Confex Baseball Enquirer" tried hard to be funny, and that's probably why it is really not all that funny at all.

3.  Rockin' the Suburbs just like Jon Bon Jovi did

Jon Bon Jovi is okay. 

I liked Deadliest Catch for a while. What can I say.

I mean, Bon Jovi's songs are catchy -- whether solo or with the band that bears his revised last name -- but they are a lot like cotton candy...lots of sugar, sweet for a while, but in the end full of air and unsatisfying.  At least to me. Your mileage may vary. 

But, with that in mind, I'm grouping the last cards I scanned from the PWE together because, while they are cool and all, they are just "normal" cards from the big guys.

Don't misunderstand -- I like these cards. For the most part, our only option these days comes from Topps, and they put out some pretty good cards. Upper Deck may return to baseball some day, and that would be cool too because they had some nice designs in their time as well.

That said, 9 times out of 10, I'll take the weird.

And that, folks, is number 10.  To make the song better, I recommend playing the video at double speed and watching the badass dance moves that dude throws down.

Tony, thank you very much for the great PWE!


  1. I got one of those"Fun Stuff" cards from Tony as well, mine was funny...

    1. Hahaha! I'm happy at least *some* of those cards were funny!

  2. Thought I'd hear some Arcade Fire in this post. Great cards from Tony, I like those police sets a lot.

    1. Yeah, Arcade Fire would have worked perfectly, but for some reason the Ben Folds song is forever tied in my head to the word Suburbs.

  3. I too am more of an oddball myself, so I try to inject a little of my personality into every PWE I send. I'm glad that was a positive for you! Also, great selection in music here. Fun fact, Quiet Riot hated that song so much that they tried to sabotage it by playing it as poorly as possible. 30 years later, it's still a classic. Funny how that works, ain't it?

    1. Maybe it's the name, Tony. It's common enough to make us have to be a little "different" from that *other* Tony! Thanks again!

  4. It's funny... I didn't know Ben Folds was still releasing music.. lol

    Incidentally, I have some Brewers off your wantlist..

    1. Thing is, I think this Ben Folds song is from about 15 years ago!

      As to Brewers, cool! I'm working on putting yours may take a little while with some projects I have going on, but I will do it soon.

    2. Still, I heard of him, but never herd anything of his apparently. lol I was also thinking they were from the 80s, but apparently not.

      No problem.. With having a fixed income, I tend to only send out at the beginning or end of the month..

      I'll keep them aside for you regardless :)

  5. Those Prairie du Chien police cards are surprisingly nice (for police cards). I'd never heard of Prairie du Chien... Is that friend for "Prairie Dog"?

    I've got a couple of those Baseball Enquirer cards. I think the idea was that they couldn't put the player names on them because then they wouldn't be parody, so instead of making up parody names they left a blank box for you to fill in. I appreciate the artwork, but yeah, the humor's pretty forced (and dated).

    1. (Sigh).... Is Prairie du Chien ***FRENCH*** for "prairie dog"?

    2. According to Wikipedia, the name comes from when the French first visited the area. The Fox Indians inhabited the area and were led by a chief named Alim who name meant Dog. So, the French called the area Dog's Prairie -- Prairie du Chien.

  6. Wow. Took your advice and watched that last video @ 2x the speed. It had me giggling like a little girl. Awesome.