June 15, 2011

Don Mattingly: Not the Illusion Hologram Implied

Don Mattingly, 1986 SportsFlics

My 1986 Don Mattingly Triple Action Sportsflics card is certainly not the rarest Mattingly card I own, but it is by far the most durable. A great portion of my childhood was spent painstakingly trying to keep my Don Mattingly cards in pristine and mint condition—admiring them in hand and constantly transferring them from binder to binder, plastic cover to plastic cover, did me no favors in this endeavor, minus the pure, innocent, and youthful enjoyment it provided the deepest parts of my baseball-loving soul—but I never had to worry about my Sportsflics card. It was thicker than the sheetrock used to construct the walls of my parents home, and you could run it over with giant spiked tires and it would still look like it did coming out of the pack—that look being blurry and confusing.

I wasn’t sure how this would scan to the ol’ Internet, but even the best scan could not do justice to the magnificence of this card. Like Slusarski, except a million times better, this is “Mattingly in Three Parts:” 1) in his stance and ready to pounce, 2) post-pouncing with his beautiful stride—a Ride-and-Stride even future teammate Matt Nokes would envy—2) and an extreme close-up headshot in which his unparalleled mustache has never looked finer and more lush, which is only faintly visible here, as if a giant-headed and strikingly handsome ghost is watching a Yankee game. Whoever said that 1980s sports-card hologram technology could not stand the test of time—I think it was Mr. Wizard? Pfftt—was wrong.

Don, one of the best players

"Don, one of the best players" I strive for accuracy here.

in the majors — young or old —

That is so … weird. I don’t know why someone would feel the need to mention something like this even in passing, much less make it stand out in between hyphens. It’s as if there was a raging debate at the time: Can young players be the best players? Can old players be the best players? This debate alone bucked the traditional thinking that only exactly middle-aged-by-baseball-standards players could be the best players, therefore by which a 28-year old Spike Owen belonged in the discussion; a 36-year old Nolan Ryan did not. Don Mattingly, by being so undeniably awesome at the not that young age of 24, finally put the debate to rest.

was named the 1985 A.L. MVP. He tore apart the league

And my heart. By never responding to multiple personal requests to coach my Little League team and make me an honorable Yankee batboy, or shortstop.

as he finished first in RBIs

And my heart.

doubles, extra-base hits, total bases and game-winning RBIs (21)

Game-winning RBI are sort of fluky, but: !!!

Don also is an outstanding first baseman who has excellent range and moves in the field.

First base isn’t exactly a haven for physical self-expression, and to say that he had excellent “moves in the field” makes it sound as though he could often be found doing the Roger Rabbit in between innings or roboting his way to the first base after scooping up a routine grounder (by letting it roll up his leg, into the air, and catching it in his hat). Now, I’m not saying that Donnie couldn’t do these things—of course he could—he would just never show up the competition like that. Although I think that would have worked well in a hologram.

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