Archive for The History of History

When Charlie Manuel Forged America

Young fans of base and ball are likely aware that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is known colloquially as “Uncle History,” but they may not be aware of the endeavors that earned him that hallowed honorific. The reason is quite simple: Charlie Manuel wrote the fucking Constitution.

While the likes of Bobo Cistulli see that august document as nothing more than a user’s guide to the dole, land-owning Deist Charlie Manuel, its author and smith, saw it as nothing less than the Sperm of the Republic, which over a sprawl of nights and days in the Philadelphia State House in 1787, he sent headlong out of his probing phallus toward the Egg of Liberty.

Uncle History, Huge Daddy of Swaths — Thy name is Charlie Manuel.

A recent pilgrimage to the Smithsonian brought to waking life the most sacred creation stories of this, our sovereignty …

Thank you, Uncle History Charlie Manuel. Thank you for forging America.

A History of Dumb Baseball Cards, Vol. 2

The youth are a continual problem in society. They listen to music created by autonomous computers and Canadians, eat cereal comprised entirely of marshmallow, and are occasionally sulky about the incomprehensibly massive national debt they will inherit without representation. They giggle uncontrollably upon hearing the word “fart” and play card games with rules based on statistics far more complicated than anything found on this fair site. Surely, any attempt to understand such creatures is tantamount to madness.

Woe betide, then, the baseball card company whose profits are linked directly to these whimsical beasts. At least, they were until the early 1990s, when the price of a pack of baseball cards tripled in three years and children were crowded out of the market by “investors” and post-philatelists. Sensing a demographic issue, the marketing gurus at Topps and other baseball card companies found a solution: “Kids Cards”, which would appeal to the young soul of the consumer and bring them back into the collectible fold.

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A History of Dumb Baseball Cards, Vol. 1

The baseball card industry, to me, is fascinating. People are willing to pay real money for little bits of cardboard coated in plastic and foil, with tiny and usually grainy pictures of baseball players. The entirety of a baseball card, the images and statistics, can be found on Google in six seconds. The cards have differing values based on the player depicted on the card, and that value has no relation whatsoever to the aesthetic merit of the player in question.

Despite the crumbling of the baseball card industry some ten years back, these cards are still worth some money, despite the fact that they have no intrinsic value to speak of. The baseball card economy is driven solely by the irrational demand of its customers, driven by tales of Mantles and Wagners found in attics, or driven by the horror of the investments their own mothers had tossed away. In short, baseball card collecting is as useless as it is ridiculous, a waste of time and energy.

This is not, in actuality, a bad thing.

Happiness, after all, is often found in the ridiculous. We cannot be caught up in the spiral of productivity and efficiency; these ideas may make us better, and stronger, but they also make us slaves. They’re emblematic of the childlike sense of play that is crushed out of us by societal conformity and increased obligations. Noted (forgotten) philosopher, playwright, and dashing rogue Friedrich von Schiller spoke out as a proponent of frivolity against a backdrop of developing industrialism. It’s only during play, says he (in German), that we develop our aesthetic sense and allow our curiosity to develop. Leisure, it turns out, is good for us. A hundred and thirty years later, legendary face-maker Bertrand Russell piled on, noting that hobbies are “fun”.

So rather than continuing to impugn the dumb activity that is baseball card collecting, I’d like to celebrate it. Unlike most “important” things, no person has ever been killed over a baseball card, or at least there is no evidence of it when I google “killed over a baseball card”.

Our first entry in the history of dumb baseball cards: the 1981 Fleer Graig Nettles Error Card.

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Young Charlie Manuel

Young Charlie Manuel fills his shotgun shells with dried black-eyed peas. That way it just stings a little.

Young Charlie Manuel once benched all of West Virginia for not hustling.

While Loretta Lynn is rightly known as the “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Young Charlie Manuel is just as rightly known as “Damn Good Buddy to the Shenandoah Valley.”

Thanks to Young Charlie Manuel’s soothing presence and weather-predictive hinge joints, he remains to this day the world’s only certified Tornado Whisperer.

Young Charlie Manuel walked into one of Tokyo’s finest restaurants, and the staff knew immediately to prepare him an off-menu dish of squirrel meat and dumplings. He said upon sopping up the last swaths of gravy with a flaky buttermilk biscuit, “では、神を恐れるチャウチャウ、小さい相棒をありがとうございました。 y’すべての右である、知っているya’llですか?”

When Young Charlie Manuel needs to clear his head, he takes his black, street-illegal 1955 Olds 88 — the one with the aftermarket Piper J-3 Cub engine, which he and Rebel Dabney towed out of the junkyard with a battleship chain — out on the rural route and opens her up just a bit.

Young Charlie Manuel would probably be able to relax a bit more if he didn’t have a vast haul of corn liquor in the trunk and strap-bolted to the undercarriage of that black, street-illegal 1955 Olds 88.

Prolly be okay, though, since Young Charlie Manuel is deputized in every county that the creek runs through.

Did you see that shit? Young Charlie Manuel gunned her at the crest of that hill and easily cleared that doe and that opossum crossing the road. Woo-wee shit.

Young Charlie Manuel has, for several years running, been voted Meanest Sumbitch and Nicest Sumbitch in the Valley. Which one he presents you with pretty much depends on you.

Young Charlie Manuel would punch his way out of this dead-end town, ‘cept Young Charlie Manuel has always had thing for dead-end towns.

The next time someone in authority doesn’t survey a mounting disaster and mutter, “God Almighty Damn. Better call Charlie,” will be the first.

Ideally, he knows that the only way to get aholt of Young Charlie Manuel is by CB radio.

A People’s History of Pinch-Running Specialists

Late in the evening sometimes, when the moon is high and the echoes of my wife’s indie music have been soaked into the drywall, I will make an effort to Better myself as a Person and open, with no small hesitation, Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. For those readers who are unaware or are not masochistic, People’s History is America as seen by the working class, the men and women who worked eighteen hours a day while dying of cancer and mercury poisoning simultaneously, who were thrown in jail for whispering and were regularly beaten for wearing denim.

In other words, People’s History is not what people in the marketing business call a “light read”. It almost explains why, after eighteen months, I have finished 54.7% of the book. I am not good with the concept of sadness.

But I wouldn’t have made it even that far without Matt Alexander:

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Great Moments in Revisionist History: All-Star Game Edition

Readers, I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that this is a dull period in the sporting world. Meaningful baseball hasn’t been played since last weekend, the football preseason is weeks away, and soccer remains to be really stupid. It has gotten so bad in my household, I’ve been ceaselessly checking to see if my local basketball team has signed something called a Nic Batum.

Last night I was re-watching an episode of Hillbilly Handfishin’ on Animal Planet, and wishing desperately that there were baseball games to be seen. It seemed as if I were destined to spend yet another night of despair at the bottom of an absinthe bottle, when I got an idea.

The 2012 All-Star Game was a bit of a snoozer, frankly. Though it is has been historically tough to glean enjoyment out of an All-Star Game in general, this year seemed even worse. I chose to play a reenactment of the game in my head, inserting interesting events where I deemed fit. I was not writing this down at the time, but the following is my best recollection of what transpired.

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Found: Shirtless, Pantless Dock Ellis Paper Doll

As students of history and Uncle History himself are well aware, Hall of Famer Nathan Hale (class of 2002) long insisted that paper dolls have nipples. Now, for the first time since Antiquity, when Hale was CEO of Activision and King of All He Surveyed, a paper doll has nipples. Notable for our purposes, the paper doll is of Dock Ellis, who, besides playing baseball, drank deeply of the good and worthy …

In equally uplifting news, you may purchase this at Etsy, where durable goods are made into art and then sold over the Bald Eagle Computers of this fair land.

(HT: Me, for finding this)

GIF: Pablo Sandoval Chia Pet

The undistinguished among us might call what follows “some GIF of a Pablo Sandoval Chia Pet.” The distinguished among us, the boudoir-invaders among us, will instead call it “The Intoxications of Science.” Click. Click twice, it would seem:

During Red Bull breaks, the Framers of the Constitution invented science, and they did so in hopes that one day the Sons of Thunder (i.e., you and I) would be momentarily entertained. And don’t you know that you are?

You have seen this. Now go to Buffalo Wild Wings and father many babies. Name them all “Maximus.”

Opening Day Special: A Look Back in Headlines

2011: “New season brings new hope for Manny Ramirez.”

1999: “Will this be the last season of baseball before the Earth is destroyed by Y2K?”

1969: “Welcome to the Montreal Expos, a team that will be in Montreal forever.”

1871: “Base Ball? This new sport will never last.”

The Others

When the Chicago Cubs hired Theo Epstein, they unleashed a trade full of others.

“The Other Chris Carpenter” went to Boston and in return, the Cubs got “The Other Bogaerts” — marginal-at-best prospect Jair Bogaerts, the twin brother of the Red Sox top prospect, Xander Bogaerts.

Most likely, this is a first. But in another universe, there were other transactions involving the others:

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