Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Some Special Cards for Hump Day



I came across another great photo of the late Kevin Collins. He did get one card for each year he played so this is an extra, and it's really a great shot. Oy, why didn't I come across this one a few days ago. I can't let it go to waste. 

And I learned of another passing of a Metropolitan from the past. We also lost Brock Pemberton, a first baseman who banged around our minor league system for a bunch of years in the early 1970s. He did see time (extremely limited) on the big club in 1974 & '75.

Instead of making more facsimile or '16 season set cards I'll make these two mfc All Time Mets cards. I haven't made any of these for a while. Time-wise I was up to the early 70's with the All Time Mets Set and these additions will be made now. 

Initially I had only planned on including notable Mets in this set but I've decided that if I can find a nice big photo of a Mets player, he'll get a card. Why not? Maybe I can make one for every Met who ever was. That's a nice fantasy.

This excellent photo of Brock was found at Out Of The Park Baseball.



I don't know one single thing nor have any recollections of Mr. Pemberton. 

Oh, I do remember seeing him in an old yearbook on one of those " Down On The Farm" pages. I used to love looking at them as a kid, wondering how the player would pan out. Looking at these same pages today is even more interesting, because I know.

 Jason Fry over at Faith And Fear In Flushing writes a very nice piece about Brock here:

Faith And Fear In Flushing

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Fourteen-year-old Ryan Williams, of Fort Pierce, shows off the baseball he got autographed by New York Mets pitchers Tuesday during spring training practice at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. Ryan, a lifelong Mets fan, had a heart transplant in August. (JON SANTUCCI/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS).

Ryan gets the honors for March's Mets fan of the month, the first fan of the month card of 2016. 


Congratulations Ryan! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

RIP Tony Phillips & Kevin Collins


We lost two Mets this past week. 
Tony Phillips (1998) and Kevin Collins (1965-1969). 
RIP gentlemen.
You will live forever on your baseball cards.


I remember Tony Phillips mostly from his A's days. I was collecting baseball cards during that time and he was a notable player. I'd like to say he was an all-star second baseman, but he wasn't. Something about him must have gotten my attention back then if I was pulling his rookie and regular issue baseball cards and putting them in the "special players to watch" pile. I don't recall what gave me that impression. (update: Phillips had a 50.8 WAR, the highest lifetime WAR for a player never selected to a MLB All Star team.)

His most notable achievement  was garnering 16 MVP votes for his 1993 season with the Detroit Tigers in which he had 707 plate appearances, batting .313 with an OPS of .841.


I hate to say I remember absolutely zeeeero about his stint in a Mets uni. I'm sure I was watching & I'm sure I saw him do stuff. I do recall him in a Mets uni. But that's about it.

Surprisingly I had some difficulty finding quality photos of Phillips as a Metropolitan. The shot used below is off of one of his 1999 Fleer baseball cards. 


The Mets got Tony from Toronto at the trade deadline in 1998. These were Bobby Valentine's Mets, the team that would start to heat up in '98, make the postseason in 1999 and the World Series in 2000. But Phillips was gone before all of that.


When he arrived in New York in '98 he immediately was inserted in the lead-off slot, displacing Brian McCrea who was batting a shallow .265.

Phillips looked like he might be the answer to New York's lead off needs as he batted .385 with 5 runs scored & a homer during his first week with the club, but he soon tailed off badly.  His average plummeted to .223 by the end of September.

The veteran player wasn't interested in playing for the Mets in 1999 and moved on. I didn't even notice because the Mets signed stolen base king and lead off batter extraordinaire Rickey Henderson early in that offseason and he would top the order for New York in 1999.

Reading today I see Mr. Phillips had his own personal demons.
56 years old. Too young :(
My condolences to his family and friends.

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The same for Kevin Collins family and friends. My condolences.

I knew nothing about Kevin Collins other than he looked good on his baseball card (1969t pictured above link below- the photo Topps used was at least four years old! Wacky Topps!). Mr Collins would have been 70 come August and from what I've read since his passing he was a nice guy who lived a nice, happy and fulfilling life. 
Collins was with the organization for a string of years in the late 60's. He was a September call up in 1965 at the tender age of 18, possibly before he was ready for the majors.

Jon Springer, author and host of the website Mets By The Numbers, wrote a great bio for Kevin at the SABR (Society For American Baseball Research) that really fleshes out Mr. Collins nicely. Mr. Springer's interview with Collins also touches on how it was for such a young player at that time in Mets & baseball history. Since reading this I have a much better sense and knowledge of Collins as a player and as a person. A must read for serious Metropolitan fans.

 by Jon Springer 
who informs us that Collins' passing means the oldest man to 
wear four different Met uniform numbers is now Ed Lynch. 

As he was fond of saying, 
"Without me you don't get Donn Clendenon."  




















I don't know how Mr. Collins got by me while I was making the earlier Mets Fantazy Cards. I had some decent photos and I meant to, but looking back I have no Collins cards. 

I did put him on a 1970 mfc Mets Rookies card but that was a gross error considering he had already come and gone in 1970. That card has been pulled (in disgrace) from the mfc pages.

To make up for messing up his Metly playing time I made a card for each year that he appeared on the Mets and these cards will be added to the appropriate year's mfc collection.

I knew I remembered Kevin Collins from something else. Something special. I have his Topps rookie card from 1965! Yea, I have a few real cards.

I picked this up in the mid 1980's relatively cheap considering Tony Perez has top billing. I knew a common Mets player was on the Perez rookie card but had forgotten it was Collins.


The corners are a bit busted but it's a nice print, well centered. I have no idea what this card is worth today but I keep it in a lock box with my Seavers, Ryans and other Mets "money cards" and that puts it in the "treasured" category.

R.I.P. Kevin Collins.
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I'd like to thank Batmagadanleadoff of the CPF for the photo used on Kevin Collins '68mfc card and the WAR info on Tony Phillips.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Blernsball, Leela, & the New New York Mets-3002




The animated TV show Futurama (created by Matt Groening & developed by Matt & David X Cohen) in a nutshell: 
A pizza delivery guy is inadvertently frozen in a cryogenic tube on New Year's Eve, 1999. He is thawed out 1000 years later where he finds his destiny is to continue to be a delivery boy. He lives in New New York City, which was built on the top of the old New York City (of today). The old New York was left to rot and is now inhabited by underground mutants.

It's much more complicated than that, but that's it in a nutshell. I'm a big fan of Futurama and have been ever since Phillip J. Fry leaned too far back on his chair.

I loved when they introduced blernsball in season one. I loved it even more when the 3002 New New York Mets appeared as a blernsball team in an episode that aired in 2003 during season four.
Although the episode that the Mets are in, A Leela Of Her Own, aired in season four it is included on the Futurama season three DvD. The DvD follows the production dates and this episode was scheduled to be aired during season 3 but was postponed. This was a big problem with the show's timeslots while it was broadcast on the FOX network.


FOX aired the show erratically, moving it's timeslot around a number of times (Groening wanted it aired right after The Simpsons but FOX disagreed), and postponed it frequently during its first four seasons, finally cancelling the show in 2003.

Since that time Futurama has gone direct to DvD for four feature length episodes and was ultimately picked up again in 2009 for first run shows by Comedy Central. The animated series wrapped its production run with C.C. in 2013 and aired it's final episode on September 4th, 2013.

Due to the unstable existence of the series, there have been four designated series finales. The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings, Into the Wild Green Yonder and Overclockwise have all been written to serve as a final episode for the show. Meanwhile the episode Meanwhile, which was the last to air on Comedy Central in 2013,  stands as the show's official series finale.

I guess I should also mention that in the year 3000 humans have the technology to extend their lives by having their heads preserved in jars after their bodies pass away. Almost all characters shown in the cartoon that are from our time as well as our past, from Richard M. Nixon to Wade Boggs, are depicted as heads in jars. How does that work? You'll have to watch.

Bender became famous for his shiny metal ass,
mostly because he asked everyone to bite it.
Futurama's creator (Matt Groening) , producers, and cast say that there are still more stories to tell, but no official word as to if or how that would ever come about.

The main cast of Futurama by Unrellius
Futurama has been nominated for 17 Annie Awards (winning 7) and 12 Emmy Awards (winning 6). It has also been nominated four times for a Writers Guild of America Award, winning two for the episodes Godfellas and The Prisoner of Benda. The show has also been nominated for a Nebula Award and has received Environmental Media Awards for episodes The Problem with Popplers and The Futurama Holiday Spectacular.

In 2013, TV Guide ranked Futurama as one of the top 60 Greatest TV Cartoons of All Time. Personally, it's in my top 10. So is The Simpsons, though Futurama would be higher on the list.

Futurama has since doubled its viewership in syndication.
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___________________________BLERNSBALL____________________________

On the show blernsball is a very popular sport in the 31st century. It is a futurized, "jazzed-up" version of today's baseball. In 3000 it is considered to be the worlds
National Pastime.

Some things are the same as the original Baseball:
Both games are played on a diamond shaped field.
Both are a sport played between two teams.
There are 9 players on each team.
Strike zone and outs remain the same.
There is a pitcher who throws the ball for a player to hit.
The aim is to score runs by touching a series of three bases and a home plate.

Additions to "jazz up" the game:

The ball is orange ( Charlie O' was ahead of his time).
Steroid injections are mandatory.
Traditions of the game include aluminum bats, giant dancing mice, and the 7th inning grope.
Like baseball, players hit a ball that is pitched to the batter. However, the ball is attached to the pitcher's mound by a super elastic tether. Extremely powerful hits can break the tether. One ball has been known to have escaped Earth's atmosphere and gone into orbit. This ball is displayed in the Blernsball Hall Of Fame. 
Fielders try to prevent the ball from entering small holes in the field, which score blerns.
If enough balls go into small holes in the center of the field, a special bonus round unlocks and:

A pinball-style multi-ball round begins, shooting balls via hidden pitching machines that rise up on the field and cause chaos while the batter tries to hit as many balls as possible.
                                                    •And then a player on a motorcycle comes onto the field and runs over all four bases while they explode.










Relief pitchers enter the game from the bullpen on the back of a giant tarantula.

In Boston's Fenway Park there is a billboard with a target just beyond the outfield wall out of reach of the tether line that  triggers an "automatic win," called a "grand slam blern". If the tether line breaks and the ball enters the small hole in the center of the billboard, your team automatically wins the game!

• Since the tether pretty much made foul balls a thing of the past, fans were allowed to keep any ballplayer who somehow ended up in the stands. You can see Bender thoughtfully giving his New New York Yankee player to a younger fan. I would have thrown him back.

                                                    •Robots are not allowed on the field with humans anymore. Wireless Joe Jackson was banned from blernsball for being specifically programmed to be a blern hitting machine. The robots started their own Robot League, which failed and soon folded (not to be confused with the League Of Robots, a secret robot organization whose slogan was "Kill All Humans").


Pitch-O-Mat 5000 was described as a modified howitzer

  

The batter is permitted to tip the ump.















The Philadelphia Phelties wore a different color felt 
uniform every day of the month.

Even though many
consider the game unfair to robots, all other race and color bias have been overcome. A display in the Blernsball Hall Of Fame is dedicated to all the various color barriers that were broken through the years.

The Boston blernsball team still plays at Fenway Park, although by the year 3000 the big green monster will be accompanied by an actual Big Green Monster who will serve as both the team mascot and Fenway's organist. 

The Major League Blernsball Teams 
The New New York Mets
The New New York Yankees
The Mars Greenskins
The Boston Poindexters
The Sunken City Of Atlanta Braves
The Swedish Meatballs
The Milwaukee Brewers
The Wong City Buggalos
The Lunar Park Whalers
The Philadelphia Phelties

The Robot League Blernsball Teams *
The Chicago White Bots
The New New York Tankees
The San Francisco Gyros
The Oakland Bees
The Washington Monuments
The Houston Androids
The Boston Red Bots
*These teams were not actually in the show. 
No Robot League teams were mentioned so I made some up. There could be more Robot League cards in mfc's future.



The Blernsball Hall of Fame is located on the same plot of land as the ancient Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New New York. Notable players include over twenty generations of Hank Aaron's, the last of which was celebrated at the hall as "the worst blernsball player ever", batting a record .000 his entire career. He attends his Hall Of Fame display on a daily basis.

Inside the Blernsball Hall of Fame
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Fry: I don't get this. Is Blernsball the exact same as Baseball?
Professor Farnsworth: Baseball? God forbid.
Leela: Face it Fry. Baseball was as boring as Mom and apple pie. That's why they jazzed it up.
Fry: Boring! Baseball wasn't.... Hm. So they finally jazzed it up?

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Blernsball appeared in 2 Futurama episodes. The first was Fear Of A Bot Planet  in season one where the Planet Express gang attend a blernsball game (Fry's first). The second is A Leela Of Her OwnThe title was an homage to the baseball movie A League of Their Own


The game of blernsball, briefly introduced in season one, was explained in more depth in season three's Leela Of Her Own. But that didn't necessarily help as far as understanding the game. The sport didn't even try to make any sense. It went out of it's way to be confusing. I think its main goal was to be a travesty of baseball where the lines between sports and entertainment have finally been blurred beyond recognition.


The episode A Leela Of Her Own originally aired in North America on April 7, 2002. The great Bob Uecker provided the voice of himself, Tom Kenny provided the voice of Abner Doubledeal (the Mets owner), and baseballs home run king Hank Aaron guest starred as himself and Hank Aaron XXIV, a future relative. The episode was written by Patric M. Verrone and directed by Swinton O. Scott III.


                        
   A LEAGUE OF HER OWN    


Every Futurama episode has an opening caption 
along the bottom of the screen during the titles and shows
a snippet of a cartoon from the past.
Opening Caption:

Opening Cartoon: The Gold Rush.
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The plot in as small a nutshell as I can put it without giving too much away (in other words, some spoilers here but you still should watch it. There are a number of sub plots I won't get into): 


After trying to explain the game of blernsball to a new pizzeria owner Fry and the Planet Express crew wind up playing the pizzerias workers in a friendly game of the sport.

Why Turanga Leela is chosen to pitch we never know (as well as Zoidberg in center--the guys got claws for hands!) and when we see her having difficulty it's understandable, because she only has the one big eye.


Leela proceeds to hit every batter she faces and this draws a crowd that roots for her to continue drilling batters. 
Fry: Leela, you beaned a run in. You better let me pitch.
Leela: But I've got a no-hitter going!
Just by chance the rich and brash new owner of the New New York Mets, Abner Doubledeal, also sees Leela as well as the crowds reaction. He signs her up to play for the Mets on the spot.
Even though Doubledeal makes it very clear that he's only using her as a publicity stunt, Leela is blinded by the fact that she would become the first woman in Major League Blernsball and excitedly goes along.
Leela: Ta-da! The first woman ever to play major league blernsball. How do I look?
Hermes: Like a sexy Yogi Berra!
Professor: Why is your number seven-eighth's?
Leela: All the whole numbers have been retired.
Fry: Wow, I must say I'm impressed. You look just like a ball player. Can I pat you on the butt?
Leela: Fry, I'm a professional athlete! 

So go ahead.


Leela's problems in depth perception continued as she hits every blernsball player she ever faces, never retiring a batter. She was quickly becoming known as the worst player in the game of blernsball, male or female. She was also becoming the most popular, doing autograph shows and picking up endorsement deals.



The New New York Mets of 3002 very much resembled the Mets of the 20th century. Aside from the additional "N" in New New York and the shoulder "wings" the uniform was close to the mid 1980's design, with the racing stripes. It seems that in this cartoon all sports figures and celebrities have these disc like "wings" on their clothing or uniform.


If you think the Wilpons are bad wait til you get a load of Abner Doubledeal. Lured by advertising dollars he sold out Mr. Met and the team picked up a new mascot, Señor Bean, as a result of the Leela beanball craze. Say what you want about Wilpon and company, but they would never, ever, ever, sell out Mr. Met.


Shea  Stadium still existed in Futurama's future universe and you see it here and in another episode. In season one's Anthology Of Interest I a giant sized Bender used Shea to boil some water. They portrayed Shea as a bowl and not a horseshoe shaped stadium but I didn't mind. It was for the good of the joke and I was just thrilled they used Shea as opposed to any other NY stadium. And I like that projecting ahead as it does, Futurama pictured a future where Shea was
still the Mets home field.

The 3002 Mets team was not doing too well. The idea to draw crowds by having a one eyed female pitcher that hit every batter she faced was doing just that, and even though the Mets were having a horrendous season they were packing their home park.






Determined to improve and become the best female blernsball player ever, or at least not the worst, Leela visits the Blernsball Hall Of Fame to ask advice from the current  and official "Worst Player In The History Of Blernsball", Hank Aaron XXIV. 





Hank XXIV gives her some great advice and after some practice Leela is able to get the ball over the plate and throw strikes.
 





With her new found confidence Leela begs to take the mound during the game that night.


Welcome to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Poindexters, where the Mets close out a season that'll rank  among Mankind's most awful crimes.






Mets Manager: Now the bases are loaded! Isn't there a man on this team that can get one more out?!
Leela: I can!
Mets Manager: I repeat, isn't there a MAN on this...
Leela: I've been training with Hank Aaron.
Mets Manager: You've been training with "THE" Hank Aaron?!!
Leela: I've been training with "A" Hank Aaron.
Mets Manager: Alright then. Get in there and pitch like you've never pitched like you before!!!





Leela was an instant sensation!










The episode also introduces Jackie Anderson, the first really good female blernsball player. Watch the Futurama episode, A Leela Of Her Own, to find out its exciting conclusion. There is so much more to it than I have described here. It's available through many formats.




Darryl Strawberry did not appear in this episode or in Futurama, but this whole post is just an excuse to make blernsball cards anyway, so the Strawman gets a card. Or the 7th Strawman gets a card.


The 3002 New New York Mets Futurama realogo©








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FunFacts
Hank Aaron was reluctant to be in this episode, but agreed when he found out Bob Uecker had agreed. 

The clown in the opening .GIFcard was a Futurama tribute to the clown prince of baseball, Max Patkin. The clown playing second (and shortstop on some plays) for the Mets is never named, so mfc has chosen the name Pax Matkin for his mfc card in tribute to Futurama's tribute.

Leela's number 7/8 is a play on the number 1/8 which was the jersey number for midget Eddie Gaedel who played in one game for the St. Louis Browns in 1951. St. Louis Browns owner and sideshow promoter  Bill Veeck said of Gaedel, "He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball. He was also the only one." Max Patkin was coaching at 1st base when Gaedel was walked in his only at bat.

Even though Leela says all of the New New York Mets whole numbers were retired, the NNY Mets' manager can be seen wearing number 4. Also all the whole numbers couldn't have been retired since they are infinite. We can assume she was referring to the single & double digit numbers.

In the first Futurama episode that involved blernsball Leela was wearing a New New York Yankees cap, and the 3001 Yankees were playing at Madison Cube Garden.
Jackie Anderson's name and uniform number (24) is a reference to Jackie Robinson the first black (male) player in Major League Baseball (42 was not used in the episode in respect to its retirement in baseball). 
One of the players who broke the various color barriers was a half-black and half-white alien. This was a shout out to the Cheron natives from the Star Trek universe. They appeared in TOS episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.
___________________________
Credits


There were 20 mfc blernsball cards created for this post. Some characters that were only mentioned in the episode but not pictured had to be created. Wireless Joe Jackson and Pitch-O-Matic were made by using a variety of parts from other robots (& vehicles/spaceships) that have appeared on Futurama. The human player cards were made by using a number of Matt Groening characters from the Simpsons and Futurama and mashing them together to make the player image.  

Darryl Strawberry is a mash of this standard uniform guy from Uni-Watch> and Matt Groening's portrayal of Strawberry in The Simpsons episode Homer At The Bat that aired in season three. It's hard to believe that was over 25 years ago.


The Blernsball logo design is by PeterParkerPA



The Blernsball team names The Sunken City Of Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phelties, and The Chicago White Bots were not used in the show. These team names were made up for the blernsball cards they appear on.

The Poindexter used in the Boston logo was created by ElMarcosLuckydel96-deviantart




Futurama Fan Art





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Fish face,lol.
 Matt Groening makes a kool card.