This week's What??! of the Week features cards that maybe the ladies at Dinged Corners would love, if for no other reason than the players are holding props that normally would not appear in a game situation.
In this age of specialized pitching staffs, nobody is more important to a team than it's closing pitcher, or closer. They are the guys who's sole purpose on the team is to, ahem, close out ballgames. Sometimes, they are called in to put out the "fires" that are left by the pitchers ahead of them, (men on base in a close ball game) to help preserve a win for the team. So these relievers are also called "firemen."
Two such relievers who found tremendous success in the later part of the 1990's were the Astros Billy Wagner and Royals closer Jeff Montgomery. In fact, between the two men, they saved 66 games in 1998 (Montgomery with 36, Wagner with 30). This only goes to show that they both were very good in their respective roles with their teams.
So in 1997, the Topps company decided to have a little fun with both men in preparing for their 1998 Topps baseball cards. What better way to show that you are among the best "firemen" in the league by having each pitcher hold something that firefighters would use for their cards?
Without further ado, here are the cards that make me go What??!:
1998 Topps #3 Billy Wagner and #184 Jeff Montgomery. I guess if they needed to find work after their baseball careers end, they could enlist in the Fire Academy.
Now, I personally like action photography in my baseball cards. A pitcher going through his windup, a batter swinging for the fences, or an outfielder making a spectacular catch. Anything that makes it look like the picture was taken on a field of play. At least Wagner is wearing a fireman's helmet. Montgomery looks like he's posing for a future Firefighter Hunks calendar. And check out the extinguishers. Young Billy there looks like he's ready to oust a kitchen fire with that thing. On the other hand, Jeff's ready to tackle a small building with that tank.
Again, it would not have been so bad if they used one picture or the other, but both??? I'm sure plenty of parents looked at these cards as a reason to teach their children about fire safety and how to use the fire extinguisher in case of an emergency.
These cards were not even given away to kids by the local fire department as part of some fire safety program. If they were, then it makes all the sense in the world, and I look like I'm just nitpicking just to find something to write about. Otherwise, here are more cards that make me wonder...
What Were You Thinking??!