Retro Review – A Super Rookie Wishlist

I think I have sufficiently established here at DubMentality that 1989 was likely the greatest year ever. The movies were stellar, the music was rockin’, video games were 8-bit dream weavers and Sports Cards were catching fire! I’ve said it before but it bears repeating; if I could go back to any one year and live it over and over, it would be 1989. I’ve covered that great year from a ton of different angles but now it’s the Christmas season so there’s really only one way to approach this post; the 1989 Sears Wishbook!

Everyone who is over the age of 30 likely remembers the Sears Wishbook. This 600 page publication had just about everything your heart could desire. Kids loved this book but now that I have a couple kids of my own, I can imagine that parents didn’t get the same enjoyment from it. I found the 1989 book online and was able to sift through the entire 683 pages. It brought back some great memories but one thing that stuck out to me was how expensive some of the items were some 28 years ago. If they seem expensive now, imagine how that felt in 1989 currency!

For example, can you believe that VCR’s in 1989 were as much as $300? You can buy 8-10 BlueRay players for $300 today. You had to rewind tapes and constantly adjust tracking on your VCR too! I do remember these old sports videos though and they were certainly worth the $15 price tag.

You had to have a TV to watch those videos on as well. I’m pretty sure we actually had the middle TV when I was a kid. This is a 27 inch TV for $750! Computer monitors are bigger than 27 inches now. But these were top of the line in 1989.

And what about communications? A normal corded phone would run you anywhere from $50-$100. If you wanted a cordless, it would cost upwards of $125! For the fun loving teen, there was also the Garfield phone for $50. I’m going to guess that this phone outsold all other designs throughout the course of history.

If you wanted personal music, that was going to cost you as well. Some of these Walkman’s were over $100! We are talking about cassette playing, wired headphones, AM/FM devices that cost a Benjamin. I totally feel for my parents and what I probably put them through.

Video games were certainly more important to me back then than VCR’s. And for half the price of a VCR, you could own the sweet Nintendo Entertainment System. No piece of technology has ever been more important to me throughout the course of my life. And just look at these games; Friday the 13th, Marble Madness, Double Dribble, Excitebike and Tecmo Bowl! I really think time could have stood still in 1989 and I would have been just fine.

There were other choices in 1989 for video game consoles but I was a couple years away from the 16-bit Sega and had outgrown the Atari.

If you wanted your gaming on the go, you could opt for the GameBoy. I played it a ton but I actually never owned a GameBoy of my own. I never really wanted one all that bad but I did enjoy the occasional playing of my friends games.

Some people were lucky enough to even have a computer. This Commodore wasn’t much more costly than the Nintendo but that didn’t include the monitor and the mouse. If you wanted those necessities, you were approaching $500. And you certainly had to have the disk drive, which was another $200. By the time you threw in the printer, you were looking at a $1,000 setup. The games were pretty awesome though!

For the gamer on a budget, you could always go with these gems. I had several different baseball and football handhelds during my youth.

When I had to put down the video games and actually go outside and play, I would throw baseballs at my pitch return. I threw at that net for hours on end and learned just as much about fielding as I did pitching.

I always wanted one of these pool tables as well but the closest I ever got was the small pool table in the picture. This wasn’t the easiest table to navigate but I remember playing quite a few games on it.

Then there was the clothing. Pajamas and Sweatsuits were my go to choices back in the day. The Nintendo sweatsuit was pretty sweet. And the team pajamas were pretty awesome too.

I’m pretty sure I had one of these get ups as well but it was UGA. I think there is a picture floating around somewhere with me wearing it. Maybe I’ll find that one day.

And of course, I had a couple of pairs of the sweatpants with the team names down the leg. I had some bicycle shorts too but they weren’t Lakers design.

I had to include this because who didn’t love a great sleeping bag. I remember taking mine to spend the night parties and zipping myself up in it to get all cozy. My daughter sleeps in her sleeping bag now in her bed so kids must still like them.

Finally, for the collectors out there, Sears offered some pretty sweet sports card deals. They had the exclusive Sears Ingots, which I bought at a recent card show(’85 version). They also had “Talking Baseball”, Baseball Star Pop Ups, the Baseball Card Collector’s Case, Price Guides, Binders and more! But item #8 could be had for $14.90 and it’s one of my favorite football sets from my youth; 1989 Topps.

I recently picked up a wax box of 1989 Topps to relive some of the magic of the greatest year ever. Even though some of the key rookie cards from this set are found in the Traded Set, the base set is still loaded with stars and some of the classic rookies from 1989. I love the box and wrappers from 1989 and who will argue over a .45 cent pack?

There were also box bottom cards as was customary for Topps in the 80’s. This year was Players of the Week and I picked up Week’s 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Also a customary inclusion in late 80’s football were the 1,000 Yard Club cards. These were glossy inserts at 1 per pack and covered a plethora of players that hit 1,000 yards. There are familiar names here!

The late 80’s were loaded with Hall of Fame and Star QB’s in the NFL. I pulled Boomer, Jim Kelly, Moon, Cunningham, Elway, Marino and many others.

It’s hard to beat the stud running backs in 1989. Bo Jackson and Christian Okoye were on the way in while Herschel and Craig were mid stride and Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson were wrapping up their illustrious careers.

Wide Receiver was not devoid of stars either.  Jerry Rice and John Taylor were both 1,000 yard receivers on the same team. Sterling Sharpe, Cris Carter and Andre Reed were some of my favorites.

In 1989, Tight Ends were more blockers than pass catchers. While that isn’t too much the case today, these were some good pass catchers back in the day. And we have the rare Jay Novachek in a Cardinals uniform.

The Defensive Line in 1989 was nasty! Bruce Smith, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Reggie White and Howie Long?? These dudes were absolute beasts!

Things didn’t get easier for the offense if they got to the second level of the defense either. LT and Mike Singletary were legendary at the linebacker position but all of these guys were studly.

Finally, the big hitters were in the secondary. Ronnie Lott was a man among men and Joey Browner and Rod Woodson could cover as well as they could hit. Now I am pretty sure Chuck Cecil wouldn’t have had a long career with today’s NFL safety rules. This guy was not scared of anything and he would absolutely take out receivers any time they came across the middle.

The Record Breakers were pretty dang good players too! Tim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Steve Largent and Dan Marino are all 80’s Icons!

I pulled 5 of the League Leader cards and I’ve always loved the Herschel/Dickerson card.

I pulled a ton of these team leader cards as well but I’ll only picture a few to show the design.

The “Super Rookies” were solid in ’89 with the inclusion of Brian Blades, Mark Rypien and Chris Spielman. Though there were two others I pulled that deserve their own photo spots.

Michael Irvin was the man and was one of the key players that helped turn the Cowboys around in the 90’s. This RC is always a welcome addition.

Then there is the gem of the base set, Thurman Thomas! I used Thurman so many times on Tecmo because the Bills were loaded. I wish they had won at least one of those Super Bowls because those guys deserved one.

Because I wanted to make this post complete, I also swiped the Traded Set for $7.95 from my LCS. Not including the big guys, there are still some solid names in this Traded Set that make it well worth the price. Steve Young, Don Beebe and Herschel headline the non-big guys. And I didn’t forget about you Scotty; Mr. Steve Grogan is included!

Here are the studs (except one) in the traded set. The rookies of Aikman, Deion, DT and Rison make this Traded Set worth so much more than the cost!

The best card in the entire 1989 Base and Traded Set is this awesome Barry Sanders. I love this card and it might be my favorite 80’s football card!

I don’t think anyone would argue that the 1989 Topps set is loaded and a great addition to any collection. I give it an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter because the design is classic 80’s and the checklist is star studded! This was such a great rookie year and still included many big stars that were either in the middle of their careers or winding down. There is really nothing I don’t like about this set, except for the 28 year old gum!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Cheese Puffs with Phoebe Cates

As I put more years behind me, I know I have experienced a metamorphosis both physically and mentally. The physical part hasn’t been so great, as I am about 50 lbs. heavier than I was as a senior in high school. There has been a steady increase in that category since age 30 at a rate of about 5 lbs. per year. I have gone from being able to eat a full box of oatmeal crème pies to only being able to eat one a week if I want to keep from feeling terrible about my choices. I also know that my hair has thinned on my head and the hair in my beard has gotten progressively grayer over the last few years. My face is starting to show more lines (I like to call it character) and my back just can’t handle the rigors of basketball and softball like the days of yore.

From a mental standpoint, the changes can sometimes seem less dramatic but I know that they are just as prevalent. For one, I do seem to worry less about things that are out of my control. I have more perspective now than I did when I was a spry young adult. I also don’t get so wrapped up in some of the nuances that life can challenge you with and try to focus more on the important stuff. That is a work in progress but I know that I am on more solid ground at 40. I have a better idea of what is important to me and my family at this age and don’t have as much time for the less important stuff. I have also seen and heard a lot over my life so I’m not as naïve or surprised by things anymore. That doesn’t mean that wild moments don’t exist; it just means that I am less surprised or shocked by them now. I think all of that is a part of maturing mentally.

But one of the key downsides to aging for your mental state is that your memories start to slip. Part of that is age but part of that is today’s society as well. We live in an age where we need to be entertained 24/7 or we get bored and want to pull our hair out. Because we have sensory (and information) overload from Twitter, FaceBook, or any of the other “have it now” tools, we move from one highlight to the next and don’t really take in the full experience anymore. This has a way of affecting the way we remember things, as moments are less of what we create and more of what is created for us. I know, I’m not a fancy psychologist or anything but I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Take for instance, movies. When I was a kid, the only way to see a movie was to go to the theater, get your parents to take you to the video store or catch it when it was on TV. Every time I bring up “video store”, I shed a lone tear in memoriam. So when you watched a movie, you have this experience of going to the video store, scouring the shelves, reading the back of cases and checking it out. You then had one or two days to watch the movie and get it back to the store before you were charged more money. So that meant you would grab a snack, turn the lights down and actually watch a movie from start to finish. It was a movie watching experience and it created memories; even if they are now just anecdotal callbacks to your youth.

Now, we pop on Netflix or our phones and watch a movie over a several day span when the mood strikes us. Or we’ll watch a 15 episode season in one night, which has a way of diluting the event as well. It isn’t about the movie or show anymore as much as it is about filling time or being someone who also saw the hot thing that every one is talking about on Twitter. There are spoilers now. And if you don’t want the spoiler, stay off social media or you will be berated for not seeing it yet. And by being subjected to the spoiler, you would have somehow gotten what you deserved. It’s about being first to see it and having the most sensible fan theory or whatever the kids are calling it now.

This is just an example of a bigger issue. This could be expanded to music, politics, sports and yes, even hobbies. We have forgotten what life was like when we had to appreciate the little things. We have forgotten the little things altogether. Maybe those things didn’t mean as much as we thought. Or maybe we have overrated things today. Either way, we have forgotten the small things and only remembered the major songs, movies, foods and toys from our youth. But there was more! Believe me when I say that “Saved by the Bell” wasn’t the only Saturday morning teen show on the tube. And “Tecmo Super Bowl”, “Super Mario” and “Contra” weren’t the only video games we played. And “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” aren’t the only horror movies the 80’s had to offer!

With that outline in place, and by keeping the context of this blog post light and fluffy, let’s look at some of the things that have been lapped by other pop culture icons but were still great when they were around. Then, strangely enough, this will tie into baseball cards. Because in the end, isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Consider this a list of forgotten/underrated/overlooked favorites according to Dub. I’m here to bring awareness to the masses.

Minute Maid Juice Bars
Everybody my age remembers the bomb pop and the push up and pop-ice that we had as kids. But why have we forgotten about the Minute Maid Juice Bars? These were magical small frozen treats that were fruity delicious and they were available at all of my school snack bars. The tops were oddly shaped triangles that morphed into a different facing triangle at the bottom. Does that make sense? You show me someone who didn’t like those and I’ll show you someone who is living life wrong. They are still around but I showed them to my daughter the last time we were at Publix and she thought I was nuts. We have to make the Minute Maid Juice Bar great again but I think the hashtag #MMMJBGA would be too cumbersome!

Cheese Puffs
While we are at it, let’s bring back another classic snack that is grossly underrated today; the Cheese Puff! I personally am a fan of any cheese puff but my friend CJ swears by the local grocery store brand puff. He doesn’t like frills in his cheese puffs. He just wants air and cheese! You can have your Doritos and Ruffles and I’ll take the Cheese Puffs all day. Again, they still make them and they are popular in pockets but they are definitely more of a kid snack. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

Silver Bullet
I have spoken about “Silver Bullet” before in one of my articles about 1985 Fleer. What’s not to love about this 80’s horror movie? It was a Stephen King adaptation that starred Gary Busey and Corey Haim and was about a preacher that turned into a werewolf. I mean, that sounds like pure gold to me. There is even a part in the film where they are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash; “You can’t bet managers.” This one does not get mentioned with some of the greats from the 80’s because we had to make room for all the new crap we are watching, like “Annabelle”. Chucky would run circles around “Annabelle” by the way.

Halloween III
This one is more about being underrated than forgotten. I have even been a critic of the film but only in the context that it was in the middle of the Halloween franchise. Had this been a standalone film that was never associated with the Michael Myers line of films, this would have gotten much more praise. The film is really quite good for a mid 80’s horror flick but when it didn’t have Myers, fans wrote it off. It is only remembered now as a movie that was drastically out of place.

Maximum Overdrive/Who Made Who
Here is where we cross over from movies to music and the segue couldn’t be more perfect. “Maximum Overdrive” was another Stephen King adaptation that starred Emilio Estevez. Electronics came to life, cars drove themselves and lawn mowers attacked their owners. All of this was to the soundtrack of AC/DC! One of the theme songs in the movie was “Who Made Who” and is one of their best in my mind. They will always be remembered for “Hells Bells”, “Shook Me All Night Long” and “Thunderstruck” but damnit, “Who Made Who” is a great song and should get more recognition when AC/DC comes up in conversation today. I’m betting 9 out of 10 hipsters that wear AC/DC Retro Shirts today don’t know that song.

Everclear
I’m talking about the band, not the liquor. People know about Green Day or Gin Blossoms or Bush but how many of those people name Everclear as an influential band from the 90’s? I know you have heard the song “Santa Monica” but you have probably heard a laundry list of their other songs and didn’t even know it was them. They pumped out gems like “Father of Mine”, “Wonderful”, “Everything to Everyone” and “Learning How to Smile” and we aren’t even scratching the surface here. Kids today think they know what music is but if you don’t have Everclear in your catalogue (on iTunes) then you really are missing a major contributor to the 90’s garage band scene.

California Dreams
How many of you remember this gem? Not enough, because “Saved By The Bell” has taken over your memories and that is the only high school teen show you have room for anymore. This was also about a group of teenagers but this group formed a band that would have slaughtered Zack Morris’ “Friends Forever” routine. Granted, it was not as good as SBTB and Kelly Packard was no Kelly Kapowski but it deserves to have its place in our memories!

You Can’t Do That On Television
Before Nickelodeon went full on bore-fest with Dora, iCarly and Victorious, they were pumping out quality programming that included Ren & Stimpy, Double Dare and Mr. Wizard. One of the best shows in my memory though is “You Can’t Do That On Television”. This was a teenage sketch comedy that originally aired in Canada before moving to a more international audience. This is where slime was created. This was also where we were first introduced to Alanis Morisette and Christine “Moose” McGlade. It was funny, irreverent and corny at times but I really miss that show.

StarTropics
StarTropics was one of the most underrated and thus forgotten NES games of my youth. It was a strategy game very much like Legend of Zelda but was based on archaeology, science, space and oceanography. We’re talking extraterrestrials, speaking parrots and singing dolphins here. The game even came with a physical letter that you had to dip in water to reveal a code to continue gameplay when prompted. The only downside of the game is that it was before the internet so when I lost that letter, I couldn’t play it a second time through because none of my friends had the game and there was nowhere to go to find that code again. You could also throw RC Pro Am and ExciteBike as forgotten gems from my youth as well.

Barbara Crampton
As a teen, I liked horror movies and I liked chicks! And one of the hottest horror movie chicks ever was Barbara Crampton. She was famous for “Re-Animator” but was in others like “Puppet Master”, “The Beyond” and “Chopping Mall.” She’s been in more recent films like “We Are Still Here” and “Beyond The Gates” and still has that mojo. Sure, people remember Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris but Barbara Crampton is a true Scream Queen that should be more recognized today.

Phoebe Cates
Here is another actress that was pretty well known in the 80’s with movies like “Gremlins”, “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Drop Dead Fred”. But she was most well known for her amazing performance in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” She was drop dead gorgeous but has been relatively absent from our minds since the mid 90’s. We must not forget Phoebe Cates! I cannot and will not allow that to happen to our society. A society without Phoebe Cates is not a society I want to be a part of. Too much?

So that brings us to baseball cards. I’ve used all of these examples to set up my list of players from when I was a kid that are grossly underrated or forgotten in the hobby today. Maybe this was a flimsy setup but I enjoyed putting this list together. Collectors today will occasionally jump on an old cheap box and ask me what they should be looking for. The short answer is always the same; Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Nolan Ryan. But yes, just like the list above, there is more to the 80’s baseball card scene than those hot names that everybody remembers. There are some high quality players to be found in 80’s wax that may not break the bank on eBay but certainly should have a more prominent spot in our collection when we pull their cards.

The list is by no means comprehensive but these are some of the bigger names I look for when ripping old wax. These are non-hall of fame players that probably aren’t as obvious to today’s collectors as they are to the old guard like @oriolesrise, @JunkWaxTwins, @OffHiatusBBC and @ShaneKatz73. These are players that we loved to put in our binders and were usually trade centerpieces when we wanted to pick up those Jr’s and Canseco’s.

Ruben Sierra
Sierra spent some great years with the Texas Rangers and I remember seeking him out in the late 80’s. He had 4 seasons with 100+ RBI and 17 seasons with double digit home runs. Seven of those seasons produced 20+ bombs. His best season was in 1989 when he hit .306 with 29 HR, 119 RBI and 13 triples. He was a 4x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner and is in the Rangers Hall of Fame.

Vince Coleman
Coleman didn’t have the all around numbers like Sierra but he was a beast on the base path. He played 13 seasons and finished with 752 career stolen bases. He had 3 seasons with 100+, 7 seasons with 50+ and was a 6x SB leader. He hit for a mediocre average over his career at .264 and only mustered up 28 career bombs. But damn, he was fast!

Shawon Dunston
This was more of a personal favorite of mine than anything. He had so-so numbers over his career in which he hit for a .269 average with 150 HR and 212 SB. He did have 5 seasons with 20+ steals and was a 3x All-Star. I really enjoyed watching him play.

Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell was a real beast! He played 13 seasons and racked up 234 career home runs, which averaged out to 31 per 162 games. He also averaged 101 RBI per 162 games and had a career .284 average. In 1989, he won the NL MVP with a .291 batting average, 47 HR and 125 RBI. He was also a 2x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner.

Jay Buhner
Buhner played 15 seasons and tallied 310 home runs and 965 RBI. Those aren’t HOF numbers but they are dang good as it averaged out to 34 HR/106 RBI per 162 games. He did strike out a lot and only hit .254 over his career but he made up for it with an All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove in ’96 and he’s in the Mariners HOF.

Benito Santiago
Santiago was one of the first catchers I really paid attention to. Alomar Jr. was a hot rookie but I really liked Santiago. He played 20 years and mashed 217 HR and amassed 920 RBI. He also collected 91 SB over his career, which is nothing to sneeze at for a catcher. He was a 5x All-Star, NLCS MVP (2002), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 4x Silver Slugger Winner and the 1987 NL ROY. He was and still is highly collectible for me. He is also a member of the San Diego Padres HOF.

Eric Davis
This may have been the easiest one for me when compiling this list. Davis was beloved by fans in Cincinnati and around the country. He was a likeable player and I enjoyed watching him play. He played 17 seasons and hit 282 HR and 934 RBI which averaged out to 28/93 per 162 games over his career. He also had 349 SB for an average of 35 per 162 games. He had a massive 80 steals in 1986 and 50 in 1985. He was also a 2x All-Star, World Series Champ (’90), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 2x Silver Slugger Award Winner, Roberto Clemente Award Winner and is a member of the Reds HOF. Former teammate Paul O’Neill said that Davis was the “Best Everything” he had ever seen play.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell played 12 seasons and averaged 17 home runs, 10 SB and a .303 batting average per 162 games. He was a 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger Award Winner and is a member of the Red Sox HOF.

Ellis Burks
Greenwell’s teammate, Ellis Burks, is another stud I search for in the Junk Wax sets I rip. Burks played 18 seasons and hit 352 HR and knocked in 1,206 runs. This came out to an average of 29/98 per 162 games over his career. He also had 84 SB, hit for a career .291 avg and hit over .300 a total of 6 times in his career. He was a lock for the Red Sox HOF with these stats and his 2x All-Star, Gold Glove and 2x Silver Slugger Award.

Mark Grace
Grace has had his share of off-field troubles since he retired but he was a very good player during his career. He played 16 seasons and hit 173 HR and 1,146 RBI. He also won 4 Gold Gloves and went to the All-Star game 2 times. He had 9 seasons with a batting average over .300 and finished his career with a .303 average.

Chris Sabo
I’m not going to lie; some of this was about the goggles. Chris Sabo is such a nostalgic player for me because of how unique his cards were. His stats weren’t bad either though as he hit 116 HR and knocked in 426 runs over a 9 year career. He was a 3x All-Star and the NL ROY in 1988 on his way to being inducted into the Reds HOF. The goggles made him fast too as he swiped 120 career SB’s, averaging 21 per 162 games.

Andres Gallaraga
One of the reasons I like collecting Gallaraga is the Expos uniform he is found in on his 80’s cards. He was a Brave for a while too but I believe that the best looking uniform ever belonged to the Montreal Expos. He played 19 seasons and hit 399 HR, collected 1,452 RBI and swiped 128 bases while keeping a career batting average of .288. He was a 5x All-Star, 2x Gold Glover, 2x Silver Slugger, NL Batting Champ in ’93 and NL Home Run Leader in ’96. He was known for his power but he really was a 5-Tool Player for many years.

Will Clark
Clark has a few PC guys out there so this one is not a middle of the road player. Clark played 15 years and had a career batting average of .303 while hitting 284 HR and 1,205 RBI. He also was a 6x All-Star, NLCS MVP (’89), 2x Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner. He hit over .300 for 10 out of 15 total seasons. Will “The Thrill” was amazing at the plate.

Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” is the one player on this list that should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He played 19 years and hit 493 home runs, falling just 7 shy of the magical “500” number. He also hit for average with a career number of .284. He was a 5x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 2x Home Run Leader and hit over .300 during 6 of his seasons. Please tell me why a player with 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, a World Series Ring (’95) and these other accolades is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty!

Dave Stewart
The first pitcher on the list is a 3x World Series Champ with a career 168-129 win-loss record. The key for me with Stewart was what he did during my collecting heyday. From 1987-1990, he won 20+ games every season and finished his career with 1,741 K’s and a 3.95 ERA. He was the 1989 WS MVP and a 2x ALCS MVP. He also threw a no-hitter in 1990. He doesn’t have the numbers for the HOF but he was a very good pitcher when I started collecting.

Jose Rijo
This is not just because I pulled his auto in a recent box of Archives Postseason Signature Series. Like Dave Stewart, Rijo was a stud in the league when I started collecting. He had a career 116-91 record over 14 years but won 14+ from 90-93 and was the WS MVP in 1990. He finished with 1,600 K’s and is a member of the Reds HOF.

Bret Saberhagen
The final pitcher on my list is Saberhagen. He played 16 seasons and finished his career with a 167-117 win-loss record. He had a stellar 3.34 career ERA and struck out 1,715 batters, averaging 151 per 162 games. His best season was 1989 when he went 23-6 with 12 complete games and finished with a 2.16 ERA. He tallied 193 K’s that season. He finished his career as a 3x All-Star, World Series Champ (’85), World Series MVP (’85), 2x AL Cy Young Award, Gold Glove Winner (’89), MLB Wins Leader (’89), AL ERA Leader (’89) and pitched a no-hitter in 1991. It’s no surprise that he is a member of the Kansas City Royals HOF.

For the collectors that ask me who I look for when I rip open those classic junk wax boxes, this is your answer. There are others that are personal favorites of mine that may not have had numbers this good but these are all studs you can find in late 80’s products that make the relatively low cost very much worth it. These are also players that are highly collectible with their team collectors as well. So while Kelly Kapowski was #1 in the late 80’s, I don’t think I would have been complaining if Phoebe Cates gave me a call back then. In that same regard, while Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Canseco were the big catches in the card world, I would complain about pulling any of these guys either. It’s easy to forget about players, songs or movies that we aren’t constantly reminded of today but that doesn’t mean they aren’t classics and worthy of our attention. Get out there and find some of these 80’s legends

J-Dub

Retro Review – Not Quite Kelly Bundy

I remember watching “Growing Pains” quite a bit when I was young. I remember Mike Seaver being Mr. Cool and I probably reminded my parents of him when it came to school work, getting in trouble and pulling dumb stunts with my friends. I also thought Carol was quite the looker for an 80’s sitcom star. But she liked school a little too much for my taste. I never really paid much attention to Ben because he was the obnoxious little brother and I had one of those already. I do remember Dr. Seaver being this sort of all knowing guy that had a sense of humor and an answer for all of the kids problems. He was a psychiatrist after all. He was a good 80’s dad on TV but could be a bit of a cornball at times.I fancy myself as having a little bit of Al Bundy in my personality though. I can be crass, to the point and say things I probably shouldn’t at times. I love sports, love to watch TV and appreciate his ability to completely tune out those around him when they are grinding his last nerve. I also don’t mind the occasional swimsuit calendar on the wall. I never wanted to be a shoe salesman but I did want to one day have a secret club in my garage that consisted of me and my friends sitting around drinking beer and talking about our wives. I still haven’t formed that club but I do have some friends that enjoy sitting around drinking a beer. We only talk about how great our wives are though. We would never disparage our significant others, right?Even though Jason Seaver could be a cornball sometimes, he couldn’t hold a candle to Danny Tanner on “Full House”. Even as a kid, I thought he was a total square. I enjoyed Jessie and Joey much more than I did Danny but I guess that was how it was meant to be written. I definitely didn’t want to be in a house with a bunch of girls when I was 10 either. Yuck! I didn’t have any sisters and actually didn’t have a female cousin until I was about 14 or so. I just never latched on to “Full House” like I did these other sitcoms because I just couldn’t really relate to it like the others. They did all have something in common though; they all debuted in 1987. As I went back and looked through some of the coolness of 1987, I realized that it was a major year for television and the big screen. Maybe that’s because I was 10 and really started getting into TV but there was a lot of excellent options that year.As for TV, that was the year that we were introduced to Spuds McKenzie. You tell me one kid from 1987 that didn’t want a Spuds of his own. I didn’t even pay attention to the beer part of the ad. I wanted that dog! We also met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that year and my cousin is still a pizza fanatic because of Michelangelo. It helps that his name is Michael as well. Then there were those awesome Micro Machines commercials. That guy had a pretty amazing talent with the fast talking! My brother played with those a lot more than I did but I always marveled at the commercials. That probably wouldn’t be a very safe toy for kids by today’s standards.The news on TV that year was also very riveting. That was the year that Baby Jessica fell into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Texas. And when I say well, what I really mean is this tiny pipe that only an 18 month old child could fit in. It took 58 hours to free her from that well and it was a televised event. It was quite scary for parents but it made me leery of small spaces for a while as well. She was eventually rescued from the pipe some 22 feet below ground and is doing well today as per media reports. Someone who didn’t do quite so well with their media circus fame in 1987 was Jim Bakker. Bakker was a TV Evangelist who was accused of rape by a secretary that actually led to the uncovering of financial fraud that led to a 45 year prison conviction. He only served 5 years before being paroled but went through a pretty public divorce from Tammy Faye as well. He has somehow found himself back in the ministry and on TV. I’m just going to leave that alone.The movies were awesome in 1987 were totally tubular! My personal favorites from that year were “Predator” and “Running Man”. I was a big Arnold fan and loved all of his movies. “Predator” was one of the first sci-fi horror movies I watched, along with “Aliens”. That movie kind of freaked me out but I thought it was really cool too. Carl Weathers was the man! As for “Running Man”, this was another sci-fi thriller about a TV game show where the only winners were the contestants who actually finished the game alive. As crazy as that movie premise seemed in 1987, to be brutally honest, we don’t seem too far from some kind of reality show that is very similar to “Running Man” in 2017. It’s a little scary how close that movie portrayed the way our society is heading.There were a lot of other classic movies released that year as well. Some of the more well known include “Lethal Weapon”, “The Untouchables”, “Dirty Dancing” and “Robocop”. Obviously, these are big name movies so I don’t have to explain how good they were. In the horror genre, there were a few that are still on my favorites list. I still love “The Lost Boys” and watched it at a friend’s house when I was totally not supposed to. I had to hide the fact that I was scared to death at my house at night because that would have eventually led to the fact that I watched it. My favorite Freddy movie was “Dream Warriors” and it was released that year as well. Throw in “Creepshow 2” and you’ve got quite a starter list of movies you should go back and re-watch.What about some family movies from ’87? Well, there was “Harry and the Hendersons”, which gave Bigfoot a soft and warm side that made you want to have him as a pet. Then there was “Ernest Goes to Camp”, which does not hold up well in 2017. Trust me, it is not good today. “Summer School” was a fun movie that had a couple of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” super fans in it. “Raising Arizona” was the first great Nicholas Cage film that also starred Holly Hunter. And “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” was a hilarious comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy. One of the best lines in a comedy film in the 80’s came from that movie. After waking up in a hotel room together, they had this unforgettable exchange:

Neal Page: Del? Why did you kiss my ear?
Del Griffith: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal Page: Where’s your OTHER hand?
Del Griffith: Between two pillows….
Neal Page: Those aren’t pillows!!!“Full Metal Jacket” is a cult classic from 1987 and I have watched the first half of that movie over and over and over. That drill sergeant is one of the greatest movie characters ever! I remember Private Pile, Private Joker and all of the characters and one liner’s from that film. It’s one that I still have on VHS in my collection. Finally, I developed a pretty strong crush that year on Elisabeth Shue thanks to “Adventures in Babysitting”. She was already a cutie in “The Karate Kid” but this one put me over the top. I still stop the channel surfing when I see her on my TV screen!There were other cool things from 1987 like “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out”, Guns N Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a Prayer.” 1987 was really a great year for pop culture. That year produced some pretty cool trading cards as well. I remember Garbage Pail Kids that year and trying to gross out the girls in my class with those hideous cards. One of the most iconic sets ever was the 1987 Wood Grain Topps design with the beautiful Bo Jackson Future Star. I also did a review of 1987 Fleer here a few weeks ago. This was almost the perfect year for collecting because most weren’t aware it was overproduced yet but they also only had a few sets to choose from.The remaining set from that year was 1987 Donruss. I never had a ton of ’87 Donruss because I didn’t really start collecting until 1989. But even as a non-collecting kid that played with the classic toys of those days, I had some ’87 Topps lying around. I think most kids had some ’87 Topps, even if half of us didn’t know what we had. But Donruss was a relative unknown to me for many years. I have since added some pieces to my collection but I’ve never busted a full box, or even multiple packs to be honest. My recent trip to the LCS has provided that opportunity now. I picked up a full box for a mere $25, which I think is a pretty good deal.

Donruss had a pretty cool design that year with the black border and gold baseball logo stripe running horizontally across the middle of the card. Of course, there are also Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies to sort through as well. The puzzle is of Roberto Clemente, which is especially cool to me, considering how much I love his cards in the hobby. The set was numbered to 660 and a box had 36 packs with 15 cards per pack. So there are a total of 540 cards per box but if collation is similar to other sets from those years, I’m probably looking at just over half the set when I’m done. I’m really looking forward to this rip though because the set will be a fairly new experience for me.

Let’s jump right in!

First, the wrappers were not my favorite from Donruss. I didn’t like the copper color but they are still wax packs so they aren’t all bad either.

I was able to pull the full Clemente Puzzle together so that was a success!

The Diamond Kings were just as I remembered them. The artwork of Dick Perez is unmistakable. Surprisingly, my least favorite is the Jose Canseco because his head looks so odd on the card. I love the Murphy, Straw, Smith, Puckett and Davis!

The Rated Rookies pictured here were names that you may remember but not Hall of Fame type talent. I particularly liked Benito Santiago in the late 80’s. Rafael Palmeiro could have landed in the Hall had he not had his issues during the steroid era.

These three players epitomized the term “Speed”. Vince Coleman may have been the fastest but Rickey Henderson was the most prolific base stealer. Rock Raines was the closest to a 5 tool player of the group.

The infielders here are absolute studs. This was Will Clark’s rookie Donruss card and Fred McGriff’s second year card. There is a lot of talent here!

The outfielders are just as awesome and star studded as the infielders above. Jose’s rookie was the famous 1986 Donruss but this was Bobby Bonilla’s base rookie as he was included in 1986’s “The Rookies” set. Just look at that smile on Puckett! These guys make me want to pull out RBI Baseball and start swinging!

The pitchers here are Ace material. Lee Smith was a closer but he was as dominant as the starters. The Dodgers rotation was pretty scary with Fernando and Orel. It looks like Doc was startled by someone that got his attention as the photo was about to be taken.

The Veterans are all here too in 1987. I dare you to tell me you wouldn’t have wanted these guys on your team in the 80’s! Pete Rose had the elusive 1B/Mgr card. I really liked Joe Carter too and I think he is vastly underrated in the hobby today. The same could be said about Jim Rice.

The two hits in the box were these great Rated Rookies. While I missed out on the Barry Bonds RC, I am pleased that I pulled Bo and McGwire. I have now pulled all three major Bo Jackson rookies this year ripping old wax. I really wish the careers for these two had ended up better than they did. I wish Bo had stayed healthy and I wish McGwire could have just been this good without the whole steroid thing.

Finally, ’87 Donruss had a nice box bottom like many other mid 80’s wax boxes. The bottom here had Murphy and a sweet Canseco photo taken with him perfectly centered in a star on the outfield wall. There is a Reardon and Clemente puzzle card as well but the Canseco is the real gem here.As with other 1987 rips, this one was loads of fun. A rookie class of Bo, McGwire and Bonds make the ripping exciting but the inclusion of every major star from the 80’s makes the box well worth the $25 price tag. The design was not as good as 1986 but was better than 1988 in my opinion. This was probably one of the top Donruss designs for me but came right one year after my favorite so I tend to judge it too harshly. I have to give this a “4” on the Dub-O-Meter for a few reasons. The checklist is great, the design is good, the price is reasonable and the Clemente Puzzle is a classic. On the negative, the cards weren’t cut very well and collation was as odd as I’ve seen with consecutively numbered cards. The positives far outweigh the negatives here so the 4 is closer to a 4.5 than a 3.5. I would say that ultimately, the set lands somewhere between Carol Seaver and Kelly Bundy, if you know what I mean. I’d recommend this set as a fun build and the box as a nostalgic rip worth your time. What say you about 1987 Donruss?

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Cardboard Time Machine

Have you ever stopped to think about how memories work?  Of course, as I get older, the memories get fuzzier and harder to recount.  But there are some that remain vivid and when I stop and focus on them, I can almost place myself in the exact moment in time.  I think about this a lot because I have a 10 year old daughter that is starting to really enjoy a lot of new things.  She reminds me so much of me as a kid.  She loves watching those teen Nickelodeon shows, making slime, playing video games on her iPad and even collecting sports cards.  I was wondering just the other day how much from this age she would actually remember and it immediately took me back to my youth and what I remember.  She may not be able to retain it all but I certainly hope she remembers the role I played in trying to create them with her.

When we went to Disney in April, she rode Space Mountain for the first time and as we stood in the line, I could totally remember the feeling of wonderment I had going through that futuristic environment to ride an indoor roller coaster at 10.  When these moments arise, I always make sure she understands what’s going on around her. I point things out, I ask her what she thinks and I get her to recount the event to her mom or sister so she’ll take it all in and let it soak in.  In today’s fast paced world, it is hard to stop and focus on something that is really meaningful; we have phones in our face, Twitter spilling news everywhere and fidget spinners taking the world by storm.   We are constantly chasing the next exciting thing.  That’s sort of how modern day collecting has become.

Collecting sports cards doesn’t have to be that way.  I can sit down with a stack of cards and show my daughter various memorable players and share memories of my youth with her.  The cards are more to me than a value in Beckett or a dollar sign on eBay.  Do they have those meanings as well sometimes?  Sure, but it’s not why I do it now.   It’s why I did it in 1989 but I’ve evolved over the years into more of a collector than a cardboard entrepreneur.   Cards don’t just take me back to a specific player or baseball moment.  These old collectibles take me back to the year they are from and I remember the world around me at the time and what I had going on in my life.  Let me see if I can explain a little better with a few cards.

1987This time period was just before I started collecting but I have since gone back and bought tons and tons of ’87 cards for my collection.  Topps that year remains one of the most iconic designs in sports cards and I had more woodgrain in my collection than Ford did in the station wagon.  But when I look through these cards, it doesn’t take me back to actual sports cards memories.  At age 10, I was totally engulfed in baseball.  I was cutting my teeth in little league baseball at Centennial Stadium and watching it as much as possible.   I remember Jason Lee having the hardest fastball and always being thankful that my Uncle Speedy drafted him to be on our team.  I remember always wanting to hit a homerun into the O’San parking lot but never being able to.  I remember playing wiffle ball with the neighbors and watching my uncle Greg play with the big boys.

I also watched a lot of baseball on TV.  In 1987, I was blessed with two TV stations that played baseball every day.  We didn’t have MLB Season Pass “back in my day”; we had 2 channels.  One station was TBS, the home of the Atlanta Braves, America’s Team and my local guys.  We would watch Dale Murphy, Ken Oberkfell, Bob Horner and Gerald Perry every night even though they weren’t very good.  Skip Carey, Pete Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson were soothing to the ears and made me long for the baseball field.  The other station was WGN out of Chicago.  The great thing about Cubs baseball in 1987 was that most every game was played in the afternoon because Wrigley field didn’t have lights until late summer 1988.  I would get home from school around 3:30 and a Cubs game would be on and I would get to here Harry Carey and Steve Stone call the game.   The Cubs weren’t very good in ’87 either.  The Braves finished 20.5 games out of first and the Cubbies were 18.5 games out.  But at the age of 10, watching baseball was more important than watching the standings.   And the Cubs had Ryno, Andre Dawson and Shawon Dunston who were all fun to watch!

1988Believe it or not, the first thing I think of when I see 1988 baseball cards is pro wrestling.  That aforementioned TV station, TBS, had a show on Saturday nights called WCW Saturday Night!   I can’t get into today’s wrestling because it is so overproduced and the storylines are all so outlandish.  The storylines were probably the same in 1988 but I was 11 so I thought they were legit.  Also, WCW “rasslin” was way different than today’s WWE wrestling.   These guys got nasty in the ring and they would bleed and poke eyeballs and kick below the belt.  It was more about what happened inside the ring as opposed to the lead up and fall out after what happened in the ring.  And there is also no better ringside announcer for me than Tony Schiavone!

The wrestlers were so much better back then as well.  We had names like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn and Ollie Anderson, Barry Windham, The Road Warriors and The Midnight Express.  There were hateable managers like Jim Cornett and Paul E. Dangerously.  There were vixens like Miss Elizabeth, Madusa, Missy Hyatt and Georgous George.  A new face had joined WCW with Sting and he is an all-time favorite, along with The Nature Boy.   So yeah, it may be odd but 1988 Score takes me back to Jim Cornette and his tennis racket and wanting Hawk and Animal to demolish the Midnight Express.  I didn’t realize until a recent Beckett podcast that Cornette is doing his own podcast now.  He was such a heel but is such a legend at the same time!

1989I have a lot of baseball card memories from 1989 but I also have other memories that are tied to when I started collecting.  One person I always think of when I am looking through my original ’89 Donruss and Bowman is my late friend, Josh Haire.  Josh and I became friends in Middle School and were best friends until late in high school when we had a falling out that I regrettably was never able to reconcile before he passed away far too soon.  But back in 1989, we were two peas in a pod.  We would spend the night at each other’s house on the weekend and watch movies, trade baseball cards and fish at his pond.  He had a ton of Bowman and I had a ton of Donruss so we would trade with each other to try and help build the sets.

There are some very vivid memories I have of my time with Josh and I will always hold on to them.  It was at his house on a scary Friday night that we played “Bloody Mary” for the first time.  His step dad was the “Voice of the Eagles”; our high school football team that won state in ’89 so we were at all the games and got to sit in the radio booth for many of them.   I learned how to play records at the radio station he DJ’d at on Saturdays.  I watched “The Lost Boys” behind my parents back at Josh’s in the attic bedroom he had.   I wasn’t supposed to watch horror movies at 12 but we watched that one!  He had a couple of Doberman’s that were as gentle as could be but still made me very nervous when I was alone with them.  Josh was a great friend during childhood and I will always remember the good times we spent together.  I also look back on the days we were immature and not so good friends to each other with regret and remorse.  But when I look at cards from ’89, it’s only good memories.

1990I was introduced to the second best video game ever in 1990, RBI Baseball 3.  It is close to Tecmo Super Bowl but nothing can ever top that sports classic.  I got my start in 1986 with RBI 1 at my Uncle Speedy’s house.  Unc was a great ball player and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals but his quest to make it to the majors was derailed by Vietnam.  He even knew a couple of the players on RBI 1.  Our area baseball all-star teams were loaded in the mid 60’s from my understanding as my dad and Uncle Speedy both played on teams with Ray Knight and Harry Spielman.   And to hear the legend, my Uncle Speedy was the best player out of all of them.  He was a SS and I do remember seeing him play softball in his 30’s and he was as smooth as Ozzie Smith.   Who knows, the Cards may have never traded for Ozzie if Unc had stayed on the baseball path.  History as we know it could have been altered!

By 1990, we had moved on from kid games and RBI 3 was what you would routinely find us playing.  It had all of the major league teams at the time and even included the division champs from ’83-’89.  I liked playing with the ’87 Tigers and taking out the Twins but that was more for personal reasons.   My favorite two teams on the game were the ’89 A’s and the ’90 Reds.  I loved Eric Davis and Barry Larkin.  But I also loved Chris Sabo or “Beebo” as we called him for some strange reason.  We would even keep season long stats in a notebook and I drove one of my friends crazy because I would steal bases with Beebo.  He would famously remark one day, “I’ll outrun Beebo backwards!”   I remember that because we would record ourselves on cassette tape while playing the games and then go back and listen to the radio gold.  To this day, I strongly feel that Chris Sabo is one of the most underrated baseball players in major league history.

1991I was on my way to being a trading ace by 1991 and was moving all of my non-favorites for Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and Ken Griffey Jr.  I was only 2 years away from pulling off the awesome (at the time) move of those Igor ’92 Bowman rookies for the Griffey Jr. forgery discussed Here.  But any reminder from 1991 takes me back to the Buffalo Bills.  I know what you’re thinking – Why does a South Ga 14 year old care about the Buffalo Bills?  Three words – Tecmo Super Bowl.  When this game came out, I latched on to the Bills and have really been a closet fan ever since.   I suffered through 4 Super Bowl loses as much as anybody could outside of the state of New York.   I loved Thurman Thomas, Jim Kelley, Andre Reed, Nate Odomes, Cornelius Bennett, Bruce Smith, Don Beebe, Daryl Talley and Steve Tasker.

I went to a post-church youth Super Bowl party every year being the guy that was pulling hard for the Bills.  Every one of those parties ended in disappointment.  The one I especially remember was the loss to the Cowboys because there were a ton of Cowboys fans at this shindig.  Buff was never able to get over the hump but I was consumed with Bills football in 1991.   Remember, the Falcons were not very good at the time.  I pulled for them as my home team but aside from Deion, Tuggle and Rison, there wasn’t much happening by means of stardom.  My heart was broken earlier this year when the Falcons lost in the SB but it really took me back to how I felt each time the Bills lost in the early 90’s.   I know that’s probably crazy to some of you but I can tell you that I will be cheering for Buffalo when they make it back to a Super Bowl, unless they are playing my Falcons.

You see, there are other reasons for me to continue to collect that outweigh trying to get rich.   Besides, I tried that with Gregg Jefferies, Eric Anthony and Kevin Maas and it didn’t pan out.  So when you see me post a review of 1988 Score, don’t think that I’ve lost my mind or that I’m trapped in the junk wax era.  Sometimes, I just want to take a trip down memory lane.  For me, the best (and most fun) way to do that is to go through old sports cards.  The images conjure up the old days for me.  They take me out of the here and now and sit me down in my old bedroom with the Jordan poster and the nerf hoop and the Nintendo.   My stress melts away, if only for a short time.  They are a time machine and I will cherish the junk wax as much as National Treasures for the rest of my days for these very reasons.  I hope that Bailey has something that she can use as a memory inducer when she’s 40 and I’m long gone.  Maybe it will be the cards.  She asks me regularly who is going to get my cards when I’m old and the answer is always, “You, Bailey.”

J-Dub

A Blog About Nothing

  I’ve been struggling today with whether to write a serious piece to get some things off my chest or whether to try and lighten my mood with something fun.  I’ve opted for fun thanks to the Facebook marathon that Ashley and I have been having over the Seinfeld quotes.  I’ve talked music, movies, hobbies but I haven’t touched on the single greatest television series in history.  It’s a series that people either love or hate.  There isn’t much in between.  That’s probably because those of us that love it spend our time quoting it and snickering at inside jokes that seem juvenile to those who aren’t familiar.  If you are one of those that hate it, this is probably not for you.  If you love it or aren’t very familiar, pull up a chair and let’s talk about it.

For those of you who aren’t overly familiar with the show and premise (and there are some out there), let’s get some housekeeping out of the way.  Seinfeld was a sitcom that began airing in 1989 and starred comedian Jerry Seinfeld as himself.  In simple form, it followed his daily life in New York with his three close friends; Elaine Benes, George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer.  The show ran for 9 seasons and covered every inane thing you can imagine.  When you really break down some of the episodes, you could question why everyone can’t make a sitcom about their lives.  But Seinfeld nailed it in a way that could never be matched.  The character development in the show remains second to none.

  First, there was Jerry.  As one of the main characters and namesake of the show, the story centered around his job as a comedian, his apartment in New York and his relationships.  He was usually the voice of reason among his group of friends, which was not saying much.  He had some very unique characteristics such as his germophobia, which was highlighted by his inability to continue dating a woman, even though that woman was Kristin Davis, who unknowingly brushed her teeth with a toothbrush he knocked into the toilet.  To pay him back, she locked him out of his apartment and when he got in, told him that she had placed one of his things in the toilet.  Jerry lost his mind throwing things out left and right only to find out it was the toilet brush.  He also ended a relationship when he found an anti fungal cream in a girlfriends medicine cabinet, later to find out it was for her cat.   

 A running theme on the show was how small meaningless things could end his relationships.  He could not remember Deloris’ name and instead called her Mulva when the hint was “it rhymes with a female body part.”  He dated a beautiful woman that had man hands.  He lost out on Teri Hatcher when he sent Elaine into the sauna to find out if her breasts were real.  “They’re real, and they’re spectacular.”  He dated a virgin and lost her when she found out he was competing with his friends to see who truly was “master of their domain.”  He lost respect for one of his girlfriends when he found out that Newman had dated and dumped her in the past.  He dated a model at one point but she dumped him when she caught him in a nose pick at a red light.  “Are we not human?  If we pick, do we not bleed?”  He dated a masseuse who refused to give him a massage.  He dated Donna Chang, who was an American woman who spoke in Chinese proverbs and lingo.  He dated a woman who walked around the apartment naked and it eventually turned him off.  The one woman that he really hit it off with turned out to be just like him.  They got engaged but later broke it off when they realized they were identical. 

 One of his prior girlfriends was Elaine Benes, another one of the main characters on the show.  They remained friends, even though they tried to be friends with benefits in one episode, with disastrous results.  Elaine had several steady boyfriends but none more serious that David Puddy.  Puddy was my favorite non-main character.  One of my favorite episodes was where Puddy was a car salesman and Jerry used the relationship to try and lock down the insiders deal.  However, Puddy developed a bad habit of asking for high fives during the episode, which led to a breakup between him and Elaine in the middle of Jerry’s deal.  George was supposed to be on hand to help combat the sales tactics of adding undercoating and rust proofing but his day was derailed by a mechanic who stole a twix from him.  This led to arguments over which candy had nougat, which had caramel and which had a cookie crunch culminating in a candy bar lineup to try and trick the mechanic.  I did mention inane in the intro right? 

 Much like Jerry, Elaine had several interesting relationships.She dated Crazy Joe Davola, who took photos of her with telescopic lenses and developed them in his apartment.  She also dated Keith Hernandez, Tim Whatley (the label maker), Joel Rifkin (the serial killer), Lloyd Braun (George’s sworn enemy) and Brett (Desperado).  She also had several interesting jobs.  She’s spent some time at Pendant Publishing where her boss eventually fell for her due to kavorka.  She assisted in the ultimate bankruptcy of the company thanks to Jujy Fruits.  She also becomes an assistant for Mr. Pitt.  She eventually is fired from that job because she is accused of trying to kill Mr. Pitt after she is added to his will.  Her most memorable job was with J. Peterman as a catalog writer.  This job led to several memorable moments such as when she ate a 2,000 year old piece of cake, she was unable to travel due to poppy seed muffins causing a failed drug test, she took over the company when Peterman had a nervous breakdown but was later fired when he came back and she proclaimed her hatred for the movie, The English Patient. 

 Then there was Kramer, the aloof neighbor who was known for busting in to Jerry’s apartment on a regular basis.  Kramer had very few publicized relationships, although he carried himself as a ladies man.  He also did not have many jobs, with the exception of H&H Bagels, which was only discovered after a 12 year strike came to an end.  His employment lasted only a few days after the strik ended before he had enough.  He was well known for his business ideas that never panned out.  He wanted to open a restaurant where you could make your own pie.  He and Morty (Jerry’s dad) tried to push the beltless trenchcoat.  He and Newman tried selling old records and also tried to create a way to successfully transport empty bottles to Michigan where they could collect .05 cents each.  He invented the Bro/Mansier, a bra for men.  He successfully wrote a coffee table book about coffee tables.  My favorite was his creation of Kramerica Industries in which he obtained an intern from NYU to help him develop a bladder system for oil tankers to end oil spills.  This didn’t pan out as their testing of the prototype (simply a rubber ball from George’s company, Play Now) ended another of Jerry’s relationships (Helllllooooo.). Kramer was constantly inventing and scheming. 

 My favorite character was George Costanza.  George was a short, stocky, bald guy who lived with his parents for most of the series.  He was a very unlucky individual who was afraid of most everything.  He had a wide range of jobs including the job at Play Now where he fooled his bosses into thinking he was handicap, scoring his own bathroom and rascal scooter.  He also worked for Pendant with Elaine for a brief time until he was caught having relations with the cleaning lady.  Then for a while, including during one of the most memorable episodes, Festivus, he works for Kruger Industrial Smoothing.  His most successful job was as the assistant to the traveling secretary with the New York Yankees.  The portrayal of George Steinbrenner and their interaction was a treasure trove of comedic value.  At every job, he either attempted to get out of work or provided terrible ideas.  He once had a shelf under his desk built at Yankee Stadium so he could nap during the day.  Also, with the Yankees, he proposed the team switch to cotton jerseys for comfort, which ended up shrinking after the first wash.  Of course, he may be most famously remembered as a wanna be architect by the name of Art Vandelay.

George was a part of many memorable moments on the show.  Here are a few of the funniest:

  • Festivus – his father created a holiday that was anti-commercial and consisted of only a metal pole, airing of grievances and feats of strength.  A classic episode.
  • The high score – he held the high score on a frogger machine in a pizza joint from high school.  His attempts to transport the machcine while leaving it hooked up was priceless.
  • Shrinkage – one of Jerry’s girlfriends walked in on him right after he had gotten out of the pool.  Enough said.
  • 12 Steps – he refused to let an old acquaintance advance in the 12 step program until he apologized for a joke about George’s big head.  This ultimately led to George entering anger management.
  • He double dipped a chip at a funeral.
  • He ran over Bette Midler at home plate in a coed softball game.
  • He fought over the proper way to pull into a parking space.
  • He killed his fiancée because he bought cheap wedding invitations get had poisonous glue.
  • He tried to cheat on his fiancé  with Marisa Tomei.

I could go on and on about great George moments.  I could go on and on about the whole series but these are some of the most memorable episodes and stories for me.  There are so many more characters like Babu Bhatt, Third Person Jimmy, the low talker, the close talker, the sidler, Frank and Estelle Costanza, The Mandlebaum’s and Uncle Leo.  There are countless classic episodes like The Chinese Restaurant, The Merv Griffin Show, The Bizzaro Jerry, The Opposite.  I watched it in the 90’s, I watch it in syndication today and own all of the seasons on DVD.  I can quote the episodes pretty much on command.  It’s a sad commentary to be honest.  But Seinfeld will go down as quite possibly the greatest TV show ever.  It will for me at least.

Joey