I was at the dentist earlier this month. I look forward to/enjoy the dental visit about as much as you can imagine. But I still go because I keep hearing about what happens if you don't.
The last couple of visits have been slightly more enjoyable because I have a new dental assistant. The office features three different dentists and several more assistants. I couldn't tell you how many. It seems like about 50. They seem to try to keep certain assistants with certain patients, which I appreciate. And I think I like Rachel quite a bit.
She's one of those people who talks about interesting, relatable topics, and even though I'm at least 20 years older than her, I felt -- right there in that dentist chair -- that she could be a long, lost friend. She also didn't talk to me when my mouth was full of water/instruments. Major bonus.
So, there we'd be, talking about high school experiences or parents' unfamiliarity with technology when suddenly Rachel would change gears and inform me about my teeth and start talking about teeth things in the most knowledgeable way possible.
And I thought, "oh, yeah, she does teeth stuff for a living," and then I thought how unusual that was. Focusing on teeth. Just teeth. Just those hard things inside your mouth. And that's it. And knowing all about them, far more than anyone else. Going to school for that. Teeth.
I hope that's not offensive to those in dentistry. I don't mean it to be. I'm simply approaching it from an outsider. I'm sure Rachel would consider my obsession with the spacing between stories in a newspaper strange if I started talking about it in great detail.
But the teeth topic got me thinking and it didn't take long for it to come to baseball cards. There are certain baseball cards that I like a lot -- that we all like a lot -- and it comes down to teeth. Well, actually it comes down to smiles, but wouldn't it look strange if the players smiled and there were no teeth inside? So, yes, it comes down to teeth.
I thought I'd put together my All-Teeth Team. Maybe a reader or two will get a smile out of it.
You remember Dinged Corners and their appreciation for players smiling? This post is for them.
The manager for this team is Sparky Anderson. I believe Anderson is the happiest manager this side of Chuck Tanner that I will ever experience. He smiled a lot. He'll get this team to smile a lot.
The catcher is Bob Tillman. Have you ever seen a catcher so gleeful in all his life? He's probably elated that he isn't wearing that mask.
Nate Colbert is the first baseman, displaying one of the widest grins ever to appear on a baseball card. I don't know what someone said to make Colbert smile like that. But Colbert seems to be an easy smiler.
There he is with much more facial hair, but that same sparkling grin.
Second base was the most difficult position to find someone showing their pearly whites. It must be an intense position, filled with intense people. I thank Ed Romero for bringing a little levity to the keystone sack.
Another noted toothy smiler, Ozzie Guillen, fills the shortstop position. He can smile -- and talk -- for days.
I noticed while going through my cards that some noted tough guys were also generous smilers. Bill Madlock is one example. He could be ornery on the field, but you'd never know it here. He's the All-Teeth team third baseman.
The largest smilers at any position are in the outfield, hands-down. The responsibilities just aren't as taxing as they are in the field or on the mound. I squeezed Dave Henderson into the left field position because Hendu displayed the most famous example of diastema that wasn't Michael Strahan or Dave Letterman. (Oooh, look at that, Rachel, I can get technical about teeth, too!).
Center field is patrolled by Willie Davis. Willie featured a smile that allowed him to appear in Bewitched, Mr. Ed, The Flying Nun and other shows. Of course he did all that stuff as a Dodger, not a Padre.
Speaking of Dodgers, Jimmy Wynn is our beaming right fielder. The Toy Cannon had quite a bat to go with quite a smile. Perhaps I should have swapped corner infielders Henderson and Wynn. My excuse is I was blinded by their smiles.
The little guy on the card says "outfield," but Hal McRae is the designated hitter because he became known for his DHing. He was also known to become very, very angry. But you cannot deny this smile.
He did like to smile, I promise.
Those are the team's pitchers. You can assemble them in any order you like. Starting staff, bullpen, a little of both. Do you think they'll mind? Look at how happy they are!
These guys fill out the bench. I think this adds up to only a 21-man roster, but Billy Sample is such a terrific smiler that he can do the work of three or four guys easily.
I admit, I do like cards of players smiling over cards of players frowning or grimacing (certain exceptions noted -- Dave Lopes, Eddie Murray). With the way modern cards are, with all the action and the zooming in on faces, there is a lot more grimacing than smiling.
That's not a happy trend.
And I'm sure dental assistant Rachel would be much more interested in the smilers, even if it's just from a clinical perspective.
Maybe we'll talk about that the next time I'm there.
Not that I'm looking forward to it.