I'm taking a break from the big box of cards from Jonathan to conduct a little thinking exercise inspired by Fuji's post from yesterday.
Fuji, as he often does, asked a question at the end of the post related to the team he was featuring, the Angels. He asked, "When you think of the Angels, who are the first players that come to mind?"
I actually read it as "first player -- no 's' -- to come to mind." And the first player that flashed into my mind was none other than bad-ass-'70s-hurler Frank Tanana.
From the comments on Fuji's post, I was the only one who picked Tanana. I get that. I'm older than a lot of bloggers. But I wear it as a badge of pride. I'd much rather think of Tanana first than someone like Tim Salmon. Tim Salmon? When I think of Tim Salmon my brain goes blank. What else is there? With Tanana you have flaming strikeouts and cool mustaches and epic carousing and Foghat playing in the background when you look at his cards.
But I thought it was interesting the variety of answers, everyone from Rod Carew to Mike Trout. A split second after thinking of Tanana, I thought of Dickie Thon, who probably very few people equate with the Angels, since most of his career was spent with the Astros and Phillies. But that's what baseball cards can do, that 1981 Topps card of Thon just popped up in my head.
So I thought I'd do a little thinking exercise. Who is the first player I think of when I consider each Major League team? Is it a past player from the '70s -- like Tanana -- or is it a current player? Is it a legend or someone semi-obscure? Are my thoughts shaped by baseball cards?
I decided to do this exercise the first thing after waking up. That way I wouldn't be influenced by what I read or anything that was happening.
Below is what I found. I didn't scan cards for every team because I don't have that kind of time, and also some of what I thought of was too disturbing to scan.
National League West
Dodgers: Sandy Koufax
This could change every time I did this exercise. But it's a good place to start.
Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
One of a handful of teams that elicited a current player. I'm blaming this one on It's LIke Having My Own Card Shop.
Giants: Will Clark
(*sound of disgust*)
Padres: Dave Winfield
Ninety-five percent of the blogging world would have said "Tony Gwynn," but that's because they didn't grow up with this card. I can't believe I haven't shown this card before. It is a titan of my childhood collecting days.
Rockies: Larry Walker
National League Central
Brewers: Ryan Braun
I almost aborted this entire exercise because I was so angry at myself for thinking of Braun before Gorman Thomas or Cecil Cooper or any number of the late '70s/early '80s Brewers who should teach a class on proper Milwaukee Brewer behavior.
Cardinals: Stan Musial
Cubs: Ryne Sandberg
Confession time: I completely forgot about the Cubs. When I thought I had completed the exercise, I counted up all the teams and came up with 29, one short. Then I realized I put the Astros in the NL Central -- because that's where they BELONG -- and there was an NL Central team missing. That team was the Cubs. I panicked slightly and Ryne Sandberg burst forth from my brain.
Pirates: Willie Stargell
Stargell is such a part of the Pirates that he should be in the team logo somewhere.
Reds: Pete Rose
Growing up in the '70s, Rose not only dwarfed his other very talented teammates, he dwarfed just about everyone in sports.
National League East
Braves: Freddie Freeman
A complete shocker. No Aaron. No Murphy. No Glavine. No Smoltz. Not even a '70s favorite like Horner or Garr. I even wrote down "Ryan Freeman" -- I don't even know who that is -- because that's how half asleep I was.
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
No matter who I thought of first, it would always be a former Marlin.
Mets: Tom Seaver
Nationals: Bryce Harper
Phillies: Greg Luzinski
Considering how much the Phillies meant to my collecting world as a child, it's surprising I didn't pick Mike Schmidt. Or even Garry Maddox or Larry Bowa. But this card practically dominated all of sixth grade. I can't tell you one thing I learned in sixth grade. But I can tell you this card was in my classroom desk.
American League East
Blue Jays: Joe Carter
Orioles: Ken Singleton
Another childhood influence as this was my brother's favorite player. This isn't the first Ken Singleton card I think of -- that would be his 1978 Topps card. But this one is also sealed into my brain. Almost a perfect card of the man.
Rays: Evan Longoria
Red Sox: Roger Clemens
I blame this on it being "Hall of Fame Month". I've never been terribly impressed with Clemens' cards.
Yankees: Babe Ruth
Thank goodness. This could have been so, so, so, so much worse.
American League Central
Indians: Albert Belle
Royals: George Brett
The opposite of Clemens. Brett generates fantastic cards like he has his own George Brett Card Factory.
Tigers: Al Kaline
An old-school choice considering his career was over before I ever saw a baseball game. But I like when the first player I think of is someone like this. It means I respect my elders.
Twins: Bert Blyleven
White Sox: Paul Konerko
American League West
Astros: Craig Biggio
Athletics: Bert Campaneris
Yup, not Reggie Jackson. I was surprised, too.
Mariners: Alex Rodriguez
Surprise 1: My brain went to the '90s.
Surprise 2: It wasn't Ken Griffey Jr.
Rangers: Toby Harrah
This card blocked out all other thoughts. Just about every other Toby Harrah card disappoints me because it doesn't look like this one.
Angels: Frank Tanana
As established already.
So, that's what my brain thought up. I didn't think of anyone obscure, which is a little disappointing, but I'm pretty happy with my brain overall. I'd like to do this exercise again in five years and see how much it is changed. Then again, I could this next month and it likely would be completely different.
Oh, one more thought:
Expos: Gary Carter