Friday, July 28, 2006

It's coming ...

There's this one scene in the awesome, colossal dumbass movie Independence Day in which the filthy mad scientist played by the tragic robot from one of the Star Treks is talking about the alien spaceship that crashed at Area 51 in the Eisenhower years. He says that ever since the mother ship showed up in Earth orbit, "all the gizmos inside turned on. The last twenty four hours have been really exciting!" At which point the president yells at him to wipe that smile off his face because "people are dying out there!" As if anyone in the movie cares.

I mention this because today Gene, my occasionally inscrutable but always cheerful postman, delivered my copy of Pro Football Prospectus 2006 by the staff of Football Outsiders. As I cut open the Amazon box and brought that bad boy out into the world, I could ... feel it. Just as if the great Mother Ship Tagliabue were approaching our Big Blue Marble, the little lights and gizmos are coming on again. Football season is approaching. Training camps are opening. Channel 215 on DirecTV -- the NFL Sunday Ticket sign-up channel -- says "You are authorized for this program." They're using our own satellites against us! The countdown has started.

I can only hope the arrival of my firstborn son brings me as much joy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Topps and bottoms

I'm briefly interrupting Down and Distance's customary summer hiatus to call attention to this fine piece in Slate. In it, Dave Jamieson points fingers at the craven assholes who destroyed baseball cards beginning in the 1990s. You know, the collectors who decided to strangle the last drop of childhood joy out of yet another slice of America. And the manufacturers who decided that if having sets from Topps, Fleer and Donruss on the market was good, then having 80 more sets out there every year would be even better. That's not hyperbole; according to Jamieson, there were 90 different sets of baseball cards available in 2004.

For whatever reason, the article got me thinking about my college years, when Mike Cline, who lived a couple doors down from me at Stalnaker Hall, held up his Chris Sabo rookie card and declared, "This card is going to pay for my kids' college education." Sabo would finish his career with 116 home runs and a .268 batting average.

Sample opening bids or "Buy it now" prices, as listed on eBay, 7/26/06
Card setPrice
Topps 10 cents
Fleer $1
Donruss 40 cents
Bowman 29 cents
Upper Deck $2
Sportflics 28 cents

For the record, I think Cline had the Fleer card. Good thing it wasn't the Bowman, or the kids might have to join the Army or something.

As with everything else, I blame the baby boomers for this.