Hi kids! Welcome back to the Off Hiatus Baseball Card Blog! If you've been wondering where I have been the past week -- and, judging by the emails and the tweets, you almost certainly haven't! -- well, I will fill you in!
Last week Saturday, I spent my weekend at picturesque Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. There, I watched as my Georgia Bulldogs came back and, with just 10 seconds left in the game, scored to go ahead of the Tennessee Volunteers. Of course, it being Georgia Football, that meant that we were being set up for one of the rarest of losses -- a "That Game" loss, as Bill Simmons put it in 2007...you know, around the time that Simmons's ego and paycheck started matching one another for which was bigger.
A "That Game" loss combined two levels of losing -- a "Guillotine" loss mixed with a "Stomach Punch." A Guillotine loss is one where your team is in it or winning, but you can feel the inevitable breakdown coming. As Simmons said, you're angry at yourself for contributing to the bad karma and you are angry it happened at all. A "Stomach Punch" game is a roller-coaster game that ends with an opponent making a pivotal, sometimes improbable play and ends with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can move at all.
Simmons said only one game to him had made it to that level -- the 6th game of the 1986 World Series. This Georgia game made it there, though. UGA scored with 10 seconds left, and, sadly, my wife's uncle and I turned to one another and said, "that may be too much time left." It was, especially after the stupidity of a second-string defensive back running onto the field to celebrate the Ridley TD without his helmet on. Throw in a poor, short, kickoff and a complete Hail Mary, and you have a "That Game" -- one where ESPN's stats guys said UGA had a 99.9% chance of winning after Ridley's TD.
As if that weren't bad enough, we got an email during the game from my father-in-law saying that he wasn't feeling well at all. He ended up going to the hospital that night with kidney failure. He's been in dialysis all week, and only after the doctors started filling him with cortisone has he started feeling any better. The man is only 60 years old -- we're not going to let him go that easily.
Add in that my wife's older uncle is suffering from a disease very similar to dementia that comes on quickly due usually to a trauma of some sort, and last weekend was very, very long.
So, Monday came and my wife went home to help there. They needed her help with her uncle to get him to his various appointments as they try to get him into better shape, and my mother-in-law needed my wife's help because my mother-in-law was staying at the hospital with her husband -- as you would expect.
Of course, that wasn't enough drama. I had a conference for work that I had to attend in Chicago. It was something of a welcome respite from the disastrous weekend, but I really could have used being at home instead. At least I had views like this from the hotel:
My hotel was on Upper Wacker Drive, so we had great views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River Turning Basin, and the Navy Pier. Not that I got to go to any of those places due to all my responsibilities with our seminar, but at least I was around a lot of my friends whom I've known anywhere from a few years to over 20 years.
I got back in town late Friday night, and, yesterday, got up to run errands (like pick up dry cleaning and clean up the cats' litter boxes), and then I drove for two hours to my wife's hometown. I went to see her uncle and her dad -- who is now feeling a million times better thanks to the steroids -- and to take some things to my wife for when she has to go back there this coming week to help out again.
There are a few envelopes that were waiting for me here, so to get back into the mundanity of regular baseball card life, here's one of the envelopes. After my caterwauling to Topps about their ignoring the Brewers, of course the Brewers got two Topps Now cards in the final two weeks of the season. One of them was for turning their second triple play of the season, and that is the card that arrived:
The Brewers ended up totalling six Topps Now cards over the season, assuming that you count the Jonathan Lucroy "Traded" card and the Prince Fielder Retirement card with the Brewers. Of the other four, Chris Carter appeared on three of them -- the card for the team scoring in every inning in mid-August, this card for the triple play, and then his own solo card for reaching the 40-home run mark.
Carter was a heck of a pickup off the scrap heap for the team, as he ended the season tied for the National League home run title with 41. For what it is worth, he and Nolan Arenado tied both for the Homer lead and for the NL Games Played lead. No one in the NL played every game, but Arenado and Carter both sat out only two games each. Carter also set a Brewers team record by striking out an incredible 206 times in 2016 -- but he finished 13 strikeouts behind MLB leader Chris Davis of Baltimore.
NL and Major League stolen base champion Jonathan Villar did not appear on a Topps Now card, however. Villar probably would have gotten one had he hit one more home run in the final days of the season. Villar finished the year with 19 homers, though, so he did not join Joe Morgan (twice), Rickey Henderson (three times), and Eric Davis in the "20/60" club. Of course, it is worth noting that those players plus Villar are still the only ones to be members of the 19/60 club. But we like round numbers.
In the next few weeks, I'll get caught up here on the packages I've received. I'll also write a few of the "Meet the Brewers." But, one more thing I am going to do is recap the Brewers season and the players the team used this year. My love for baseball comes out through words and photos/cards. Since I am not making any cards or taking any photos, I have to write.
Thanks for reading, and here's to a happier, healthier rest of 2016!