First things first. I ran into Tommy John today.
I was minding my own business, racing out to mail off some card packages before the post office closed. It's a small office. The space behind the counter is probably 10 feet-by-40 feet. There were a lot of people waiting, a collection of them off to the side and I didn't know if they were really in line or not. So I was in a state already.
An older couple was at the front of the line talking to the post office worker. The man, tall with graying hair, was very animated, cracking jokes. Almost non-stop. When I walked in, he was talking about the dance "The Hustle" for some odd reason. And then he'd riff onto a totally different reference. And then another one. Then he turned to face the woman he was with, and I knew instantly: "That's Tommy John!"
Suddenly I became uncomfortable. I wanted to be 11 again and run up to him and tell him that he was the first person I ever saw on a baseball card and -- look! -- I have the card right here! Will you sign it, please? But I couldn't do that. I'm not 11 anymore. My kid's not 11 anymore. Eleven left a long time ago.
So here I am, very grown up with no card in my possession, just some packages and a couple of bills, actually trying to avoid Tommy John until I think of the proper way to say something. He continued to be very animated, looking around the room as if he expected people to know who he was -- not in an egotistical way, more in a "hey everybody let's have a good time" kind of way. But I tried to avoid eye contact because I knew if our eyes met, I'd just say, "hey." And I can't be having that.
Their transaction was fairly involved and in that time I was able to compose myself. When they were ready to leave, I was able to say, "Hi, Mr. John. I'm a big Dodgers fan. I rooted for you as a kid." He chuckled in a disarming way and I knew he'd heard it a million times. He thanked me and said it was good to meet me and he disappeared by the time I turned to put my packages on the counter.
I was scolding myself for not having a baseball card with me for him to sign. I've known that John has lived in town for two years now and if this isn't an excuse to have a dupe of his 1974 Topps card in my wallet then I don't know what is. I was also scolding myself for being so self-aware that I couldn't possibly ask to have a selfie taken with him so I could broadcast it all over the universe like I see everyone else do. Then I was scolding myself for having a phone so outdated that I couldn't do that very well anyway.
Then, as I was driving away from the post office, I thought "Damn it! I could have at least asked him to sign the packages I was sending out!" How cool would it have been to receive a package with Tommy John's signature on the outside?
I always think of the best ideas 5 minutes later.
The chances of running into John at some future date are still fairly good. He'll probably leave with his girlfriend to warmer climates, and then return here next summer. That'll give me enough time to learn how to play golf because the guy is forever on the golf course.
Anyway, later, I posted the John story (in a much abbreviated version) on Facebook, and I received the response that I expected. The guys say "cool" and the girls either say "who?" or ignore it. I know this is a guy thing -- for the most part. What can I say? I'm a man.
OK, now onto the totally unrelated other thing. But I'll desperately try to tie them together.
Before this encounter, I was planning to post some minis that were sent to me by Chris at Nachos Grande. I don't like breaking schedules, so I'm still doing that here now.
Chris mentioned something about wanting a ranking of the minis that he sent me. I'm always a fan of an arbitrary ranking, and I'm taking him up on this offer.
Let's see here:
MY RANDOM RANKING OF UNEXPECTED MINIS FROM NACHOS GRANDE
5. Jackie Robinson
Obviously, this card should be ranked much higher. But it arrived in a PWE that took a hit on the bottom corner, which I am assuming is where Robinson was positioned in his modified pocket sleeve. He now wears a crease in the lower left corner. To put a positive spin on this, I think I've seen a creased mini maybe one other time in my life. So this is a rarity.
4. Carl Crawford
Crawford IS hitting very well lately and there's nothing I would like more than for someone out of the blue, like Crawford, to put a hurting on the Giants this weekend. So this is your incentive, CC. Don't let me down.
3. Duke Snider
From the era when the Dodgers used to hit home runs. More home runs than anyone except the Yankees. I want to be able to root for a team like that again, although I suppose the Dodgers will have to move into a new stadium before that can happen. The Duke is the third best mini in this package.
2. Clayton Kershaw
Yes, black-bordered Kershaw is No. 2. It's a semi-difficult acquisition of the man who will be the best pitcher of my generation and happens to be my favorite player and is dangerously close to surpassing Orel Hershiser for second place on the list of my all-time favorite Dodgers. Have I taken leave of my senses?
No I haven't. And you'll see why in a moment.
1. Kate Upton
Yep, that's real. Yep, it's spectacular.
An easy No. 1 in this arbitrary ranking.
What can I say? I hero-worship ballplayers from my childhood and I like shapely women.
I'm a man.