We'll see how this post goes. This was the kind of stuff that killed about 10 years ago or so, but I don't know anymore.
It's Valentine's Day, and in the online baseball world, that means showing a picture of Bobby or Ellis Valentine and moving on with your day.
I try to do a little more than that. Even though it's delightful to show this familiar card of Bobby Valentine on the blog (has anyone else noticed the elbows photobombing Valentine from either side?), there's so much more to this holiday when it comes to baseball cards. Practically nobody knows that you could fill an entire outfield of Valentines.
There. I just did.
But, how about forming an entire team of Valentine-themed baseball names?
Ah, yes, this is where it starts to involve a little bit of effort. Not only is there some additional thought, but there is all the pulling of cards from the collection and then scanning them all and then forming a lineup that would make sense and then putting all those cards back after the show's over.
Nobody else is doing this. I don't even know if I should be doing this anymore.
But I'm doing it.
Now, obviously, you can't fill an entire team with just dudes named "Valentine". But if you add words that are commonly associated with Valentine's Day and then find players associated with those words, then, yes, you can form an All-Valentine's Day team. It's pretty damn good, too. Well, the offense is anyway.
The only other criteria for this team is that all the cards had to come from my collection. Again, anyone can filch an image online. It takes dedication (and stupidity) to go through 14 different binders and seven different boxes to pull out the exact right card.
Let's check out this team with more heart than the scrappiest team under Tony La Russa's watch.
Batting first: Pete ROSE, first base
On the short-list of the greatest lead-off hitters of all-time. He knew exactly what he was supposed to be doing out there. A bouquet of roses for that rambling, gambling man.
Batting second: Jake FLOWERS, shortstop
I don't know much about Flowers other than that he was a backup infielder for the Dodgers and Cardinals, mostly. His stats aren't all that impressive for a guy from the 1930s (I have this stereotype that every '30s player batted .370), but he is on a 1930s Goudey card and that's impressive enough.
Batting third: BABE Herman, outfield
Somewhere over the decades, "Babe" moved from a common nickname for baseball players to the No. 1 term of affection between couples. "Babe" Herman's 1930 season for the Dodgers is the stuff of video games. I'm sure I'd regard him with affection if I was around in 1930.
Batting fourth: BABE Ruth, outfield
As soon as you saw I was using "Babe" with this team, you knew The Sultan was going to show up soon. There is nothing that says "you played a long time ago" then a colored pencil sketch on a baseball card.
Batting fifth: BABE Dahlgren, first base
The string of Babes (that has a slightly different connotation these days, too) continues with Babe Dahlgren, whose best days came as a slugger for the Yankees during the late '30s and early '40s. The Dodgers picked him up during the war when his best days were over.
Batting sixth: Ellis VALENTINE, outfield
My favorite Valentine. He could hit for power and run for speed and he had an arm that was out of sight. Also he was appearing in cards when I was pulling them as a kid. Those players have a special place in my heart.
Batting seventh: Jim Ray HART, designated hitter
Yeah, I know, I don't usually recognize the DH with these teams. But I wanted to squeeze in as many players as possible this time. I also know that "heart" isn't spelled that way. Do you want a full team or not?
Batting eighth, BABE Phelps, catcher
Love being able to trot out old Play Ball cards for this exercise. Phelps was a backup for much of his career, but he could hit.
Batting ninth: Bobby ROSE, second base
Start with a Rose and end with a Rose. Bobby played during the early '90s when card companies didn't like putting positions on the front of their cards for whatever reason. So, I had to settle for this one that says "Infield". But trust me, he played second.
OK, before we get to the pitchers, I want to go through the bench. There's some gems here.
Rick SWEET, backup catcher
Tyler FLOWERS, backup catcher
Corey HART, backup outfielder
CANDY Maldonado, backup outfielder
Mike ROSE, backup catcher
(Yes, there are four catchers on this team!). Rose is clearly with the A's on this card and he played in all of 15 games for the Dodgers.
Bo HART, backup infielder
He got a rookie cup in 2004 and played his last games in 2004.
And the aforementioned Fred VALENTINE as a backup outfielder
Time for the pitching. This team is definitely getting by on its hitting. If I had a card of Candy Cummings, the starting staff would look a whole lot better.
Ron DARLING, starting pitcher 1
Jimmy RING, starting pitcher 2
Don ROSE, starting pitcher 3
Kevin HART, starting pitcher 4
CANDY Sierra, starting pitcher 5
Richard LOVELADY, relief pitcher
I have a couple other cards of players that would fill out the 25-man roster: Vance Lovelace, Royce Ring and Jason Hart, but they're all on multi-player rookie cards and we want only Valentine names appearing on this team.
So there you are: a bruising bunch of belters and light-tossers that is as sweet as any team could be.
I hope you enjoyed. The first person who mentions "you missed so-and-so" has to put away all these cards. In order.