July 28, 2010
Larry Walker, 1996 Upper Deck
Here is a Larry Walker baseball card, part of an Upper Deck series entitled “Strange but True.” My mind is racing with the possibilities of what I will discover about Larry Walker that is simultaneously strange and true! Perhaps he has a pet Koala Bear that speaks Russian! That would be strange, and also true if it were true. Maybe he is an amateur ballet dancer, which would be so strange in its contrast to baseball! Or maybe Larry Walker dips his baseball glove in milk before every game for no apparent reason! Or maybe I should stop speculating and turn the card over:
First allow me to say that I thoroughly enjoy the pencil-sketch portrait of Larry Walker. It’s very classy, and truly encapsulates the strangeness yet trueness at hand. Now:
“The Rocket in Right Field”
In 1995, Walker recorded a rare feat by throwing out a runner at first base on an apparent single. He has three other similar plays in his career, and in 1992, he gunned out more men at first (three) than third (two).
Breaking news from the strange but true department: Baseball player throws out runner! Granted, I realize how rare it is for an outfielder to throw a runner out at first base –- that’s the kind of stuff that happens in Little League, and woe is you if you are the hitter, and your dad is the coach, and you just lollygagged it to first on a single and got tossed by the right fielder, and your dad gives you a look as you walk back to the dugout like, “Just wait until the car ride home…” –- but there is a difference between rare and strange. For example, it is rare for a player like Larry Walker to throw a runner out at first from right field, though it is indeed true that he has done this several times. It is strange to depict this rare feat in cartoon form with nonsensical dialogue and a bumblebee wearing a baseball hat.
I’m not ashamed to say that I had to read this thing like three times before it sort of sunk in. To recap, two men are watching Larry Walker throw a baseball. The assistant coach –- who has no face –- says to the manager – who also has no face, but wears a “MGR” on his chest, as managers do: Funny – it doesn’t look like a canon. And then –- get this -– the mgr says: It’s not……he throws farther! Also, completely out of the picture to the right is a bumblebee with binoculars that adds: Target sighted!
Here is how I comprehend this cartoon. The assistant coach was told that Larry Walker has a canon for an arm. The assistant coach, who is a moron, took this literally, and so when he is watching Larry Walker throw, he marvels at the fact that Larry Walker’s arm does not physically resemble an actual canon, and states as much. The manager, amused by this moron, assures the assistant coach that he was misinformed –- Larry Walker’s arm is not a canon. This is evident because Larry Walker throws farther than a canon. (This is obviously not true, because a canon can shoot farther than Larry Walker can throw. I know that because I saw it on Mythbusters.) Also, the manager gives no explanation as to what Larry Walker’s arm IS, unless, by not stating anything, he is implying that Larry Walker’s arm is simply an arm, albeit a very, very strong one.
However, the aforementioned title of “The Rocket in Right Field” leaves one to believe that Larry Walker’s arm is actually a rocket. So we can only conclude that Larry Walker’s arm is either an arm or a rocket. We also discover that, although his arm/rocket is undoubtedly strong, Larry Walker’s accuracy is not solely of his own accord, as he employs a bumblebee that wears a baseball hat and uses binoculars to locate “targets,” which in this case would be runners or, more definitively, the teammate covering the respective base. It remains uncertain however, why Larry Walker cannot use his own eyes to locate his targets, as he is the only character depicted that has a face. But hey, I don’t want to get too involved here. It’s just a cartoon.