Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Becooz. Just Becooz.

There is a trading-card equivalent to practically everything, including trading cards. The trading-card equivalent of trading cards is trading cards, and the trading-card equivalent of trading cards that are the trading-cards equivalent of trading cards is trading cards, and the trading-card equivalent of that is Sean Hannity beating on your skull with a hammer.

Yes, Virginia, there is even a trading-card equivalent to the age-old question, "How long after a breakup is the right time to start seeing someone else?" The correct answer to that question is 10-15 minutes, which is not the same as the answer to the trading-card equivalent of that question, which is, "How long after someone is retired or dead or good as dead (i.e., hitting below .270) is the right time to issue a set of cards showing no one else but them?

Just as there is an infinite range of answers to the first question, provided you have an atomic stopwatch, there is an infinite range of answers to the second question.

When the subject of the set is Sam Horn, the correct answer is there is no correct answer. Never is the right time for a Sam Horn set. For Star Company, the Sam Horn set was a spurned suitor who chooses a life of celibacy over more heartbreak, which brings to mind a fantasy-baseball story.

Scheduling issues had made it so the Krause Publications fantasy-baseball draft was to be held on opening day. Though this was in Iola and long before the ascension of the sports bar, there was a TV set above the bar at the Lakeview, and the drafters were paying attention to the game, the Red Sox and the Orioles, between picks.

This game just so happened to be the solitary game when Sam Horn transmogrified into Babe Ruth. He cranked three homers that day, prompting one of the Krauseites to jump on Horn in about the third round.

Naturally, that was it for Sam Horn for the year, but the picker remained defiant. He had gotten enough home runs out of Sam Horn to win his matchup for the week. He was happy and secure in the knowledge that everyone hated him anyway, even without dragging Sam Horn into it.

When the same thing happened even more inexplicably with Tuffy Rhodes, a Krauseite picker was all over him, too. But that person eventually regretted his choice. Besides, no one hated him.

Focus, Kit, focus. The reason this question is asked is not Sam Horn but someone who was as far removed from Sam Horn as you can get without leaving town. This player was epochally great, a winner, bald, and old. We are of course referring to Bob Cousy.

In Boston the right time to issue a Bob Cousy set is ... what time is it now? Bob Cousy and Bobby Orr are all the Beantowners need for life besides beans. And for Fenway Park to remain the charmingly anachronistic dump it is now, with bathrooms that make Adrian Beltre yearn for the slums of San Pedro de Macoris. And another world championship for the Celtics over the Lakers right now. Wait for basketball season, my eye. Oh, and something involving a Kennedy, any Kennedy, even Ian.

Sorry; back to Cousy. Bob Cousy has never been shy to admit that Bob Cousy was the greatest thing to happen to basketball since they booted the women in bloomers off the court. In this regard he is the basketball equivalent of Bob Feller, who we wish a speedy recovery while also noting that he never met a baseball that he didn't think could be improved by the addition of his signature. And that'll be 55 bucks, sonny.

Therefore, a Bob Cousy commemorative set – commemorating what? Oh, any old thing – is in Cousy's mind a capital idea.

In all fairness the set was not positioned as a commemorative set but as the "Bob Cousy Card Collection," which implies that it contains as many cards as my collection, which is somewhere in the millions, even if you leave out the Star Sam Horn set, which suffered fatal injuries by throwing itself in front of a rogue shredder, sacrificing its life to save the lives of its fellow (and much more valuable) cards, including its special friend, the Aurelio Monteagudo Traded card.

And seriously, the fact that this set is devoted to Bob Cousy means there are highlights aplenty, as opposed to the Sam Horn set, which by card three is delving into Horn's exploits with sunflower seeds in Pawtucket.

The Cousy cards are not unattractive, if you like rummage-sale signs. The fact that this card is a numbered specimen from the "Preview Edition" means its value has appreciated from nil to twice nil.

Listen: Cousy was a great basketball player – one of my favorites, truth be told. There would have been a Pete Maravich had there not been a Bob Cousy, but we would have deprived the ill-informed of the opportunity to say otherwise. But the question resonates like the bells in the Old North Church: Why Cousy? Why not Mantle or Mays or Orr or Russell or Williams (who, in all fairness, had his own card company) or Schmidt or Killebrew or Aaron or anyone but Cousy?

Simple: 'Cause someone with a little bit of money convinced Cousy it'd be a good idea. That's how it usually works, and that's how it worked here. That's how it worked for Sam Horn, too. And that's where the similarity ends – even in Boston.

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