Bill Buckner, the Kansas City Royals and Black Holes

1990 Upper Deck - Bill Buckner

1990 Upper Deck – Bill Buckner

So, the Kansas City Royals are currently in the World Series.  I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see that coming in 2014… and wouldn’t you know it, they’re fairly likeable.  Hard to really hate a team like the one they’ve got.  Somehow, they’ve turned the also reasonably likeable Giants into the hated Yankees.

Now, since you’re watching the World Series, you might have heard of a World Series legend named Bill Buckner.  He was a first baseman with an unbelievable moustache.  Whether it was his fault or not (it wasn’t) that the Red Sox lost in 1986, he’s a bit famous for missing a ground ball that October that a gentleman named Mookie hit for the New York Mets.

While with the Royals in 1988 and 1989, a time in the twilight of his career that few remember, Buckner made his first trip back to Fenway as a player, and then he actually returned to Boston for 22 games in 1990, before staying away for a long, long time… but then, this happened.  Try not to get emotional.

But, let’s talk about the card above.  Do you notice the tarpaulin rolled up along the wall in the background of the picture which forms a neat little black hole between Buckner’s legs?  Well played, Upper Deck, you cheeky bastards.

All About Joe Carter, High Tops and Cool

1992Donruss-JoeCarterHighlights

1992 Donruss – Joe Carter – Highlights

So, 21 years ago tonight, Joe Carter hit a three run home run to win the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Just to make that extra clear, I said twenty-one years ago, and 1993 World Series.  If that doesn’t make you feel old, you’re probably not that old.  You can watch it here if you feel like getting a little bit emotional:

http://m.mlb.com/video/v31146769/20-years-since-joe-carters-memorable-shot-in-toronto

I’m not here to get all emotional about that home run and what it meant for baseball fans in Canada, and how we all remember exactly where we were when it happened (Ithaca, New York – and then I was a very obnoxious 12-year-old the next day dressed head to toe in Blue Jays swag).  What I’m here to talk about is how cool Joe Carter looked back then.

I’m not going to get into the Oakleys, the necklace, the one armband, or the batting gloves with the bright red swath.  What I really care about is the cleats.  You see, in 1992 and 1993, we all wanted Reebok Blacktop Pumps or Nike Air Jordans.  But if you were a Blue Jays fan (or, let’s face it, a human being) then, you also wanted high top baseball cleats that almost covered your stirrups completely.  Joe Carter had them, and he was hitting home runs to win the World Series.

And for a little bit of bonus Joe Carter Cool, I present to you this delightfulness courtesy of 1992 Score.  You can see all the cool is exaggerated.  Goodnight.

1992Score-JoeCarterAS

1992 Score – Joe Carter – All-Star

On Borje Salming, Skate Cuts and Bad Letters

8889Esso-BorjeSalming

1988-89 Esso – Borje Salming

Borje Salming was a great hockey player.  He was a trail blazer, one of the first Swedish players to make an impact in the NHL.  But, I’ll tell you, that sat very poorly with seven-year-old me.  Very poorly indeed.

Let me explain.  The card you see above was issued by Esso during the 1988-89 season and went into an album called the “Esso NHL All-Star Collection.”  All of this was pretty much the coolest thing ever.  I took the cards and the album everywhere and read the articles hundreds of times.  As an aside, to this day I’m convinced that “the computer at NHL headquarters was in danger of overheating because of the extra demands Gretzky’s statistics placed upon its circuits,” because an article called “The Gretzky Era” inside told me that was the case.

Anyway, I was not thrilled with the fact that Borje Salming was Swedish.  I wanted him to be Canadian.  So, I scratched out “Kiruna, Sweden” in the album and wrote in “Canada.”  That seemed to make it better.  Imagine if that logic worked – our Canadian national teams would never lose another game.  I was clearly a genius, even at an early age.

Now, with the perspective of a (fairly immature) adult, I am proud of the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs were once forward-thinking enough to give a Hall of Famer like Borje Salming a chance to come to North America.

Three quick things about Borje, while we’re on the subject:

1. During the 1986-87 season, he took a 200-plus-stitch cut to the face from a skate cut in a scramble in the crease and now, years later, looks exactly like a former hockey player who once took a 200-plus-stitch cut to the face from a skate.
2. He had originally been suspended for the entire 1986-87 season for admitting he had tried cocaine.  The NHL later realized that it was the 1980’s, and they did not want to have to suspend everyone, so they shortened his suspension to just eight games.
3. He now runs an underwear company called Salming Underwear.  True story.

Can we also talk about the A on those 1980’s Leafs jerseys?  What was that all about?  Has anyone ever seen a letter A that looks like that anywhere else, ever?  Didn’t think so.

At least the Leafs look good losing now.