Sunday, May 28, 2017

Stealing a PWE

I'm getting closer to being caught up with posts. Well, what I mean is that I'm getting closer to getting into the things I've gotten in the month of May. I have two things left from the early part of the season to talk about, and first up is a PWE from my good friend Oscar a/k/a Stealing Home. To accompany these cards, I'm going with honoring the late Gregg Allman with some of my favorite Allman Brothers songs.

1.  "Midnight Rider"

Gregg Allman wrote this song in the midst of a pot-smoking binge in early 1971. He got stuck on trying to come up with lines for the third verse when roadie Kim Payne threw out the first two lines of the verse. Allman then wanted to get the song recorded so quickly that he broke into the studio in the middle of the night and laid the demo down himself.

This song came back into America's collective consciousness recently thanks to the fact that GEICO used the song in an ad for motorcycle insurance. This struck a lot of people as being in poor taste in light of the fact that band members Berry Oakley and Duane Allman both died in motorcycle accidents in Macon in the early 1970s about 13 months apart. As the article I linked to points out, it's rather incredible that both the ad agency and the surviving members of the Allman Brothers Band green-lighted that ad.

I'll start the PWE out with the card of the one player who is still with the team. Ryan Braun has been injured a lot this year with a calf problem that is becoming a real issue. Thanks to his lying about his steroid use, there is a significant portion of the Brewers fanbase who would like nothing more than to see Braun sold off for ten cents on the dollar in the interest of "rebuilding." 

I can see their point, but that thinking is short-sighted as well. Braun is entering the decline phase of his career -- yes. But just giving him away does not make sense either. He has value and, now, he has a full no-trade clause thanks to being a 10/5 guy. There are very few teams that he would play for at this point, and of those, I can't think of one that makes sense as a trade partner. In particular, Oscar's Dodgers as a destination makes a little sense but the Dodgers have a crowded outfield already. 

The Brewers surprisingly seem to have done better with Braun out of the lineup this year. Perhaps that will continue.

2. "Jessica"

Rock bands don't tend to have instrumental songs these days, and they never have instrumental songs that are 7-1/2 minutes long (album version) or 15 minutes long (pretty much every live version) like "Jessica." Guitarist Dickey Betts wrote this song, and named it for his daughter Jessica.

Wikipedia tells me that the song is really a tribute to legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt because the song was designed to be played using just two fingers on his left hand. Reinhardt had lost the use of two of his fingers in a fire, but he was able to get past that to become one of the most influential guitarists in any genre.

Let's go to the Hall of Famers next. I've been seeing a lot of folks recently posting their "best players I've seen play" or "from my childhood" lists on Facebook and elsewhere, so I'll use this opportunity to put up my list of the best players from my childhood here:

C: Gary Carter: best hitting catcher of the 1980s
1B: Cecil Cooper: Yes, I'm biased, but it's my list
2B: Ryne Sandberg: Got to see him play in person in 1984 in Wrigley. Pre-lights. 
3B: Mike Schmidt: No doubt the best third baseman ever
SS: Robin Yount: Yount was the precursor for shortstops who could hit playing the position
LF: Dave Winfield: Never liked him because he was a Yankee, but he was damn good
CF: Willie McGee: Single handedly destroyed a 10-year-old's dream in 1982
RF: Jesse Barfield: You *never* ran on Jesse's arm. Ever.
DH: Paul Molitor: The best pure hitter of the 1980s. Not Boggs. Molitor was more complete.
RP: Don Sutton: Yes, really. An artist by the time I saw him pitch. Guile alone, almost.
LP: Ron Guidry: For hating the Yankees, I sure respect them.
RP: Rich Gossage: Almost always lights out, and so intimidating

Others considered:
C: Ted Simmons, Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk
1B: Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly
2B: No one, really.
3B: George Brett
SS: Ozzie Smith.
LF: Jim Rice, Ben Oglivie
CF: Dale Murphy, Robin Yount, Gary Pettis
RF: Reggie Jackson, Dwight Evans, Dave Parker
DH: Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson
SP: Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver
RP: Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Jeff Reardon

Probably the most surprising to me is how weird right field was in the 1980s. Being a mostly American League fan, I didn't see much of Parker to be able to appreciate him. Jackson was a hitter mostly, not a fielder, and my dislike for him outweighed including him. Evans is a solid member of the Hall of the Very, Very Good. There are many worse players in the Hall of Fame, but that isn't an argument to include him.

3. "Ramblin' Man"

A necessity for any Allman Brothers post of their hits or greatest songs. This is one of the best driving songs around. I'm quite sure I fell asleep a few times with this song playing as I was on a roadtrip to wherever in the 1980s and 1990s. The song itself is heavily influenced by country music and was inspired by a Hank Williams Sr. song of the same name. It remains the highest charting Allman Brothers song ever, having hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

I feel like Topps Heritage may be the only set other than the Flagship set that can withstand all the gimmicks and short prints and stupid sh*t that Topps does with literally every single product it puts out. 

For instance, I'm not sure that Archives will stick around much longer after this year's ridiculous checklist. A Skip Bayless autograph? Christ, everyone other than Skip Bayless hates Skip Bayless. 

Zach Hample gets an autograph in this set too. The guy who illegally crashed his way into the Braves game at Fort Bragg last year just so he could push kids away and grab a foul ball is not someone who should be celebrated in any way. The guy is a blight on baseball fans, but he gets a card? Hell, even that self-promoting idiot Marlins Man thought better of trying to go to the Fort Bragg game.

Then we get into announcers. Only John Sterling and Gary Cohen. What? Why does the guy who's called the Yankees games since 1989 or the guy who's called Mets games since 1989 get a card when Bob Uecker -- who has been the Brewers announcer since 1971 and is in the Hall of Fame as a broadcaster since 2003 -- has yet to be included in anything from Topps like this? The last time Uecker was included in anything other than a Buyback was in the 2001 Topps Archives -- the reprint versions. He hasn't even been in Allen & Ginter. 

Why the hell does some obnoxious Yankee fan Bald Vinny get an autograph card in a set like Archives? 

Even player autographs are a mess. Roy Oswalt gets a fan favorite autograph with the Phillies -- the team he pitched 36 games for in 2010 and 2011 -- rather than with the Astros (for whom he pitched 10 years)?

Frankly, 2017 Archives is a train wreck. There are as many Milwaukee Braves in the base set as there are Minnesota Twins -- even Twins legend Harmon Killebrew is shown on the Senators, for crying out loud. There are more Aaron Judge cards (including inserts and autographs) than there are Brewers or Twins or Rays or Padres. 

I loved the Archives set when I got back into collecting in 2014. Now, I hope it is euthanized.

4. "Statesboro Blues"

"Statesboro Blues" is actually a cover of an old blues song written in 1927 by Blind Willie McTell. The Allman Brothers Band made it their own thanks to the inspired guitar playing by Duane Allman on the At Fillmore East live album. Duane used a medicine bottle from medicine he'd used to treat a cold as his slide for the slide guitar part -- and played slide guitar for the first time ever that show. 

Statesboro, Georgia, is actually the home of Georgia Southern University. For a long time it was (and may still be) in a dry county, so students there would make liquor runs to nearby Metter. My brother-in-law worked at that liquor store during college -- the time he calls the best 7 years he ever spent.

Here are the last three cards from Oscar. Manny Parra was going to be the next great Brewer LHP, but injuries kept that from happening. 

Jean Segura has spent time now with four different organizations prior to turning 27 years old. I guess that reflects both that he is desirable and he is easy to part with. The Brewers got three players for him, including yesterday's one-hit hero, Chase Anderson.

Finally, I hate that Scooter Gennett card. It looks like he's been shot in the back or something based on the grimace on his face. 

Oscar, thank you very much for the great cards. And to the Allman Brothers -- get the band back together in the afterlife and start touring up there with Col. Bruce Hampton, would you?


  1. That does seem a little odd about the random people/Yankees bias for Archives.
    Another announcer I could see them doing something for but won't because Blue Jays is Jerry Howarth. He's been on the radio broadcasts since 1981. They could even have a card for Tom Cheek, who called 4206 consecutive Jays games and is generally the voice heard for the Joe Carter 1993 Home Run.

  2. Of everything you listed the Roy Oswalt card bothers me the most... I didn't even remember he played with the Phillies... sheesh. I agree with your assessment of Archives, it could be so much better than what it has become.

  3. I've seen the Brothers and various incarnations upwards of 80-100 times. Just put my 45 min plus version of a Mountain Jam on. Never be another group like them.

  4. Great post, buddy. Yup, never be another group like them.
    Last night we listened to them and toasted to Greg Allman many a time.