Browsing Tag

baseball

To Err is Human — And Sometimes Lucrative

As someone who collected baseball cards during the late 80s/early 90s, there were a few players who were always in demand. Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Ken Griffey Jr. Bo Jackson. Todd Van Poppel (no, seriously — one of my friends had a 1991 Upper Deck rookie card for the overhyped prospect who ended up with a career record of 40-52 and a 5.58 ERA and we all thought he had won Powerball).

But the guy everyone wanted a piece of was Gregg Jeffries. A can’t miss prospect for the New York Mets, Jeffries was the first player to win the Minor League Player of the Year Award from Baseball America twice (other players to have won the award include Dwight Gooden, Canseco, Frank Thomas, Derek Jeter, Mike Trout and the only other 2x winner: Andruw Jones). With his versatility in the field and undeniable talent at the plate, Jeffries started his pro career in 1987 with a bang and made an instant impact for the defending champion Mets. The hype train went into overdrive and his rookie cards became the hottest thing since Prometheus brought fire to the people.

So when I got the above Donruss card and noticed the coloring error, I thought I had hit the jackpot. Error cards can be extremely rare and valuable, so the fact that I had one for a player in such demand as Jeffries meant I’d never have to work a day in my life, right?

Obviously, things didn’t work out that way (for me or Gregg, who had a fine 14-year career, including some excellent seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals in the mid-90s, but will never be voted into the Hall of Fame). The value of error cards, and baseball cards as a whole, depend on supply and demand. And once it was clear that Jeffries wasn’t the second coming, demand plummeted and everyone moved on to the next can’t miss kid (Jeter, Chipper Jones, A-Rod… there’s always someone).

Error coins are the same way. Whether or not you have a Griffey Jr. or a Jeffries depends on supply and demand. Here are a few of the error coins I’ve collected over the years:

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Pirates Impressed with Crystal, Sign Comedian to Multi-Year Contract

From the Archives: I wrote this satirical piece in March 2008 after the Yankees signed Billy Crystal and played him in a spring training game against the Pirates. I remembered thinking that Crystal could have made Pittsburgh’s active roster. Considering some of the stiffs they’ve had in the last few years (Jeromy Burnitz, Matt Morris, Derek “Operation Shutdown” Bell), Crystal couldn’t have been any worse.

Bradenton, FL. — The Yankees thought they were giving superfan Billy Crystal a nice gift for his 60th birthday. A one-day contract. A uniform with the number “60″ on it. A spot in the lineup as a Designated Hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However what started out as a one-shot publicity stunt has turned into something much more.

Billy Crystal showed that he belonged in the majors. Unfortunately for him, he showed that he belonged with the Pirates, not the Yankees. Pirates officials were so impressed with Crystal’s performance (0-for-2, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 reached base on error, 2 runs scored) that they signed him to a 5 year deal worth $25 million. The Pirates’ first-year manager, John Russell, raved about Crystal. “His plate discipline was extraordinary. I was impressed with the way he grinded out that walk. It was like he knew that our pitchers weren’t going to able to hit the strike zone at all. His bat never even left his shoulder. Clearly, he has a great eye.”

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Tom Jackson Shoots Chris Berman

From the Archives: I wrote this satirical piece in December 2007, back when I was writing for a website that was kind of like Onion Sports Network – only we had tens of fans and visitors. I think it still holds up well, even today. Watch this week’s “NFL Blitz” and tell me Berman doesn’t do the same schtick he’s done for decades.

Bristol, CT — ESPN Headquarters is reeling over a stunning tragedy that occurred today. Longtime commentator and ESPN personality, Chris Berman, was gunned down in a bizarre and senseless act of violence. The culprit was his broadcast partner and on-air sidekick, Tom Jackson. Former NFL linebacker Jackson, better known as “TJ,” opened fire at approximately 1:00 this morning, right after doing a live NFL-recap segment known as the “NFL Blitz.”

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If “Tessie” is Playing, the Red Sox Won

My first story for Columbia News Service. It was about how sports teams play certain songs when they win games. (Archived here)

Sports and rituals go hand in hand. Some players refuse to change their socks when they’re on hot streaks; others refuse to shave. Michael Jordan always wore his college shorts underneath his NBA uniform, Wade Boggs always dined on chicken, and former Detroit Tiger Mark Fidrych ate the dirt on the mound whenever he pitched.

Teams are no different. The Red Sox play “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning at every home game. For the Yankees, it’s “New York, New York” after every game, win or lose.

Some teams have taken it a step further and have rituals only for when they win.

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Doctor K is In.

BRONX, NEW YORK – It’s Saturday, October 3 and Modell’s Sporting Goods store is having its grand reopening in Bay Plaza in the Bronx. There’s a long line out the front door as scores of people are waiting to get in, but they aren’t necessarily here for the free giveaways, special promotions, and big sales. Instead, many of them have braved the pouring rain for one reason only: to meet one of their baseball heroes.

“I came to meet Doc Gooden and get this ball signed,” said Rafael Rodriguez of the Bronx. “And not only that, to thank him for all he’s done for the Yankees. He’s been a great inspiration for these young kids.”

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