Nearly all of my memories of Saturday Night Live sketches come from the period between 1985 and 1990. Once I was old enough to stay up on a Saturday to watch SNL -- or at least old enough to tape the show on our fancy Curtis Mathes VCR...
...which looked a lot like that, as best I can recall -- I watched the show until I graduated high school or at least until it still was funny to me. As a result, I tend to remember guys like Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and Dana Carvey and women like Nora Dunn and Victoria Jackson as "SNL."
In that way, I feel like SNL is kind of like baseball in some respects. We remember our first exposure to the game -- the first superstars that we cheered for, or the our favorite team's best season -- as being better than that which followed. I haven't watched SNL pretty much at all since about 1996 or so, when sometimes after a night out in law school when I lived in walking distance of downtown Athens, I'd come home to SNL on TV (when I came home early).
My mind works in ways sometimes that are weird, in that it will attach a certain song/TV show/movie line to a certain word. I hear the word "smile" and Pearl Jam's "Smile" starts going in my head. I hear the word "profits" and Franz Ferdinand's song "The Dark of the Matinee" (specifically, the line "Who gives a damn about the profits at Tesco?") gets in my head. And, when I hear the word "chop," Dana Carvey gets in my head:
So, yeah, it's funny how memory works. That seemed a lot funnier back in the 1980s. Or, maybe, it wasn't but it was catchy enough to stick anyway.
All that is a long, long, long way of explaining that Steve, the Chop Keeper at The Card Chop sent me a great envelope of cards. Steve is always good for a few great Brewers cards, and I'm always sure to get some awesome Milwaukee Braves from him also. This package was no different.
There were a couple of Brewers that I needed:
I mentioned in my post about the case break I was in that I did not get any Gold parallels and only a couple of other parallels, so Steve was kind enough to send me a Gold Matt Garza parallel. If only the Brewers could find a place to send Matt Garza, but I don't think anyone wants to take on his salary for the next two years based off how done he looked last year. It's tough to pitch when you have to fight off your infielders trying to stick forks in you.
The other card is an MLB Debut retail insert of Nelson Cruz. Cruz was originally a Mets signee as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 1998. The Mets sent him to Oakland for Jorge Velandia (I haven't heard of him either). He spent four years in Oakland's system and showed real hitting ability in 2004 in Modesto (at age 23 in high-A, about right for the league) and at Midland in the Texas league.
The Brewers stole him from Oakland with pitcher Justin Lehr in exchange for Keith Ginter. He went to Huntsville and hit at age 24 in 2005 (.306/.388/.577) in Double A for half the season, and then hit .269/.382/.490 in Triple-A before getting a 7-plate-appearance cup of coffee in 2005.
He hit again in 2006 in Nashville -- .302/.378/.528 -- before the Brewers thought, "wow, this guy might really be a hitter...let's trade him with Carlos Lee for Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, Francisco Cordero, and a minor leaguer." In 2008, he was designated for assignment by the Rangers, cleared waivers at the end of spring training, and went to Triple-A and mashed. In 2009, the lights went on for Cruz. He was an all-star and, in the seven seasons since then, he has hit 219 HRs and slashed at a .277/.338/.522 pace.
So, who knows -- maybe he doesn't become the player he's become if he's in Milwaukee. Cruz is certainly a natural DH, and the Brewers didn't exactly have a plethora of positions at which to hide him in that 2006-2012 timeframe with Fielder anchoring first, Braun in left, and Hart in right.
Okay, time for more chopping!
After that relaxing musical interlude, it's time to show some Milwaukee Braves!
I appreciate these Upper Deck cards more than I originally did. I did not realize that they were inspired by the T-202 Hassan Triple Folder cards until I saw a Dover reprint of one or two of the originals. Probably because my collecting never has focused on what I view as sort of prehistoric cards -- history began when Bowman did in 1948 to me...what can I say? -- these 1993 take-offs didn't make sense. Now they do, and I like them a ton more.
I tend to be pretty agnostic about the manu-relics. They would be about 8000 times cooler if they were real patches from real uniforms, but I recognize that those might be difficult both to find and to authenticate at this point. Plus, if they could be found in reasonably large numbers, I'm sure that Topps, Donruss, Upper Deck, and Fleer would have used literally all of them up in the 2001 to 2005 timeframe.
Still, that Red Schoendienst patch is pretty awesome. Growing up, I used to think that Red played a lot more for Milwaukee than he did (only 4 years and 1140 plate appearances) or that he was a Milwaukee native of some sort (nope -- he grew up about 40 miles from St. Louis in Germantown, Illinois). My grandpa loved Red Schoendienst. It was probably because Red had one of his best seasons in the major leagues in 1957 (a year split between the Giants and Braves), tallying 200 hits and hitting .309/.344/.451 overall (.310/.348/.434 for Milwaukee). No matter -- whenever I see one of his cards, I think of my grandpa.
The other three cards fit quite nicely into my Spahn and Mathews player collections. I'm up to 115 in the Spahn collection and a fantastic 172 in the Mathews collection.
Let's chop something up one more time:
Holy crap. I'm tired just listening to that dude rapping!
Steve, thank you once again for an excellent cards from The Card Chop!