On the other hand, I have been pretty lucky. I mean, who has in-laws who would drive 2 hours with a pickup truck bed full of binders as a Christmas gift? Even if the binders contained a lot of cards from that late 1980s/early 1990s time period that all of us have every card from in bushel baskets, it still had some pretty damn nice autographs, oddballs, and even some pretty rare Derek Jeter cards of him in high school (note: I still have those cards too).
This year, I did not get any cards. Well, not directly -- I got cash that I took to my local card show and blew on a bunch of stuff I haven't shown off yet. I did get one baseball item, though, from my wife.
She did better than Night Owl's wife did:
It's one damn sturdy bottle opener, and it's made from what purports to be a "Game Used Bat from the Milwaukee Brewers."
My first thought was, of course, to be completely dubious of that claim. I almost did not want to be responsible for a bat having been carved up. Then, I was wondering where the pine tar is.
In my looking at the bottle opener, though, I saw something on the end with the hanging rope:
It's an MLB authentication hologram. I looked it up, and the print out informed me:
Major League Baseball Bat Bottle Opener made with the handle section. A piece of Game Used broken bat from Cardinals @ Brewers on 9-20-2006/Damian Miller Cracked bat, 7th InningI looked it up. In the bottom of the 7th inning of a scoreless game, LaCrosse County native Damian Miller stepped up to the plate. Miller was actually a Minnesota Twins draft pick in 1990 -- in the 20th round. That was the year that the Brewers were supposed to take me in the 48th round, but I guess that one game that I played in front of a Brewers scout that summer (and hit a homerun) did not impress them enough to get me on their radar. Miller had come to Milwaukee for the 2005 season as a free agent after bouncing from Minnesota to Arizona in the expansion draft and, from there, to the Cubs and Oakland.
Miller was the second hitter in the inning, having followed third baseman David Bell. Bell flew out to deep right field for the first out. I must admit to not recalling the David Bell era in Milwaukee. It lasted all of 53 games and it was the end of his career, so I guess I should be forgiven for that.
On the mound for the Cardinals was Jeff Suppan. Suppan was in the final year of his three-year contract with the Cardinals, and he positively owned Milwaukee. Over his career, he sported a 13-2 record over 23 appearances (21 starts) with a 3.20 ERA -- his best as against any major league team -- in 135 innings. Maybe that is why, in the offseason that followed, the Brewers gave him a stupid 4-year contract for $42 million. It was such a stupid contract that the Brewers decided in June of that fourth year (2010) just to cut him.
Miller took the first pitch from Suppan for a ball. The next pitch, he broke his bat and hit a weak ground ball to shortstop. Miller lost a bat, and, just ten years later, I gained a bottle opener.
Thankfully, the Brewers ended up winning that game thanks to a Geoff Jenkins walk-off home run off a guy named Tyler Johnson -- one of those interchangeable left-handed reliever parts that Tony LaRussa and Mike Matheny love in St. Louis. Of course, the Cardinals went on to win the World Series that year, so I guess they'd probably take that.
In the end, I'd say I did a lot better than Night Owl did. My wife put a lot of thought into this gift and did very, very well indeed.