March 21, 2006
The Fantastic Card of the Day
I learned something really great just now: U.L. Washington’s real first name is U.L. For that reason alone, U.L. Washington’s rookie card is the Fantastic Card of the Day. Really, for all the stuff that’s been written about classic sports names, it really doesn’t get any better than having initials as your real name (sidebar: my own grandfather’s real name was B.F.; his father’s first and middle names were Benjamin and Franklin, so they shortened it). It gets you thinking…did U.L. have a relative with a name like…Uncle Levi? See? I can’t even think of a man’s first name that starts with the letter ‘U’. Also great about this card, it’s Mickey Klutts’ rookie as well. That’s two great names on one card. I think the only way that this could’ve been topped was if Bake McBride and Sixto Lezcano somehow ended up on the same card.
And personally, I would like to know what happened to Sixto Lezcano. I’m not so concerned about Bake. With a name like Bake McBride you will pretty much have the best life imaginable: get up around 2pm every day, sit around, maybe make some microwave macaroni and cheese, watch Jeopardy!, prank call Larry Bowa, Google yourself, call your country-singing wife Martina McBride who’s out on the road touring, and maybe watch a little Nick at Nite. Then later head down to the basement, smoke part of one of the Championship joints from 1980 you keep in that old cigar box next to the furnace, burn a little incense, get out that Wailers record that opens like a lighter, put on your engineer’s cap, flip on the transformer and generally chill out while your massive, basement-engulfing O-scale model train setup does its thing.
But Lezcano—I wonder if he tried to hold a job down after retiring, like driving a snowplow. Or did he tour the globe, one vegetarian restaurant open-mic night at a time, playing acoustic guitar? Or maybe he’s one of those genius hermits who sell their World of Warcraft characters on eBay? Or, best of all, did he become a pirate? Does he live on a ghost ship or on a deserted island? And drink rum around gigantic bonfires with Keira Knightley? I can see it now, them staying up for hours, just talking, (because Sixto can listen, baby), she telling him about how Orlando Bloom can’t act his way out of a cardboard box and he regaling her with stories about Charlie Moore, Dick Davis and the rest of Bambi’s Bombers and how Keith Richards—his real father—coaxed him to retire and focus on the open road and eventually the open sea, armed with just a pair of spikes and a six-string, El Mariachi-style. Him being Richards’ son would explain Sixto’s vast improvisational skill on the guitar, as well as his passion for hard liquor and telling rambling, hard-to-believe tall tales about Gorman Thomas, Pete Vukovich and the night he invented the drum solo at Ben Ogilvie’s jazz joint.
One final note about U.L. Washington. I think it would be really awesome if major league baseball was dissolved today and a new league of warring legions, based on where you lived and where you grew up (but also based on bloodlines and having the same last name) took its place. That way Rocco Baldelli would be on the New England team and U.L., Claudell and Ron Washington would’ve been on the same team, and the backs of their uniforms would’ve been fun because it would just say ‘Claudell’ or ‘U.L.’ or ‘Ron.’ Also, I would make Paul Newman the honorary manager, and I would hold a special ceremony before the team boarded the bus for the first time and give the three Washingtons a suitcase containing a slot car racing set and three pairs of black hornrim glasses.