Friday, April 1, 2016

A Cheap Card Trick

For that past 2 months, I've had this day circled on my calendar.  No, it's not because I had some crazy April Fools Day joke planned (though, I'm sure I'll get bit by one a least once today).  That said, it does involve a "Trick" though, a Cheap Trick.

Tonight, I'll be going to see Rockford's own Cheap Trick play a hometown show at the Metro.  For those who aren't familiar with the Chicago music scene, it's a cozy little venue just down the street from Wrigley Field.  So, I get to see the power pop legends play in a place where I can almost reach out and touch them AND check out the Wrigley renovations on my way?  Sounds like an awesome night to me!

In order to celebrate, I've gone ahead and picked out some of my favorite Cheap Trick songs and presented some baseball cards from my collection that I feel best represent said tunes.  Sounds like a rip-roarin' good time, right?

Let's do this!:

The last time I saw the Trick was at the Taste of Joliet last summer, a family friendly event.  Thus, there was no chance they'd be busting out this forgotten gem while adults and children alike engorged on Pizza For U, or any other local eatery's offerings. 

However, since we're going to an actual rock show this time, I have my fingers crossed that this ode to a male gigolo and his sexual prowess will make it into the setlist.  We shall see

Now, you might be asking yourself, how can I possibly relate this song's content to a baseball card?  Well, kind reader, this one was easier than you might think:

Both Raffy Palmeiro and Dave Martinez are a couple of players who the Cubs gave up on early who went on to have much greater success after they left the Windy City.  None of the players the Cubs got back in those late 80's trades did much of anything (Mitch Williams was fairly useful in his short stint).  So, why did the Cubs give up on these guys so early in their career?

Well, if you believe the tabloids, it has been widely rumored that both men had an affair with Ryne Sandberg's then-wife.  Yikes.

It's never been fully substantiated, so this is still all hearsay.  However, if it is true, I have to wonder how Ryno feels now that he's an ambassador for the Cubs and Davey Martinez is Joe Maddon's bench coach.  Awkward.

Perhaps one of the most iconic television theme songs in the history of sitcoms, Cheap Trick's "That 70's Song" opened That 70's Show for it's entire eight season run.  It's really just a cover of "In the Street," originally by the Alex Chilton project Big Star, with some slight lyrical adjustments.

Nevertheless, the song has become one of the band's most recognizable pieces of work and often shows up in their live set-lists.  Unfortunately, it didn't show up at the Taste of Joliet, so here's hoping they bust it out tonight.

Speaking of the 70's....

Is there anything more emblematic of the 70's than these here baseball cards?  What 'fros you have, my dears!

That Oscar Gamble represents the outfielder in my CATRC collection since he does not seem to have any Cubs cards to his name and it's been much discussed and loved here on the blogosphere.  However, that TCMA Steve Stone deserves some love as well - I mean, could you have honestly pictured the Cubs hurler with a full-on afro before seeing this card?  

You're welcome for that image,

Here's a song that got lost in the grunge era, when the excess and showmanship of 70's rock bands was inherently uncool. Ironically, this was Cheap Trick's attempt at down-tuning and being all alternative-like.

The premise of Woke Up With a Monster should be fairly straightforward.  In the history of the Cubs, there's not one, but two documented cases of players who have found former lovers/admirers to be total monsters themselves.

On July 6, 1932, Violet Valli, a showgirl with whom Jurges was romantically linked, tried to kill Jurges in an attempted murder/suicide at the hotel where both lived. The reason?  Jurges had previously tried to end their relationship.  I guess she just couldn't let go.  Billy was shot, but managed to escape and recovered quickly - he was back in the lineup before the month ended.

Meanwhile, Eddie Waitkus was never actually involved with his stalker/admirer, but I'm calling it close enough for this connection.  Ruth Ann Steinhagen was Eddie's biggest fan during his time in Chicago; however, when he was traded to Philly, she took it as a personal affront.  The next time the Phillies visited Chicago in 1948, she tracked him down and shot him several times.

Unlike Jurges, Waitkus was on the brink of death several times in the ensuing hours, but managed to eventually make a full recovery and play ball through the 1955 season.

Violet Valli and Ruth Ann Steinhagen - monsters indeed!

Some might see this gooey power ballad as Cheap Trick selling out.  I, however, do find it to be quite enjoyable and it was a big part of their comeback album, Lap of Luxury, in the late 80's after a total bomb in The Doctor.  To date, it's their only number one single on Billboard.

Besides, every rock band needs a good power ballad, right?

When I began drafting this post, there was one, specific card in my collection which instantly came to mind:

The late-blooming Doug Jones was a top-notch closer for the Indians in the late 80's and early 90's and was briefly a Cub during the 1996 season on the downswing of his career.  However, to see him portrayed as a fire-balling reliever by Score is a bit peculiar, seeing as his two-seamer topped out in the low to mid 80's.

He was the very definition of a junk ball pitcher; the only fireball he ever dealt with likely came from a bottle.

Cheap Trick is putting out an album later this summer; however, until then, this single hails from their most recent album - appropriately titled The Latest.  The song is catchy as hell and incorporates a little WWI era wordplay, as "the sick man of Europe" was a tag originally applied to the struggling Ottoman Empire, which did not survive the Great War.

As such, here's a couple cards of WWI era players who also served in said war:

In fact, the only reason that Alexander ended up a Cub is because Philadelphia feared he'd be drafted into service, therefore trading him to Chicago.  This did indeed come to pass; however, when he returned from Europe, he become the staff ace for the Bruins for nearly a decade.  Also, it should be noted that the PTSD  he suffered during his service became a major exacerbation in the alcoholism that dogged the rest of his life.

Also show here is Pickles Dilhoefer and as an added bonus, the strip card itself hails from the same era (1919).  Coincidentally, as you might have noticed, Pickles is listed with the "Phila Quakers" (aka Phillies).  Well, that's because he was the player who went the other way in the Alexander trade, generally considered one of the worst in Philly history.

Ahhhh, Cheap Trick's defining song needs no introduction.  This timeless ear-worm can still be found blasting out of car radios each summer and in countless movie soundtracks; also, cover versions abound.

This ode to wanting someone to want you as much as you want them reminds me of a certain Cubs free agent signing going into the 1987 campaign:

Surely by now you've heard the story of Andre "The Hawk" Dawson offering up a blank check to the Chicago brass in order to gain their employment.  Sure, the well-documented collusion at the time played a heavy part in that situation, but Dawson did desperately want off the artificial turf in Montreal in order to preserve his knees. 

Awesome Dawson certainly wanted the Cubs to want him.  He rewarded their good faith with an historic MVP year... on a significantly below market value $750,000 contract.

Like many a classic rock band, Cheap Trick's more recent offerings have been largely ignored with listeners instead preferring to stick with the nostalgic tunes of their youth. It's a running gag that when an old band announces they're about to play a new song at a show that beer sales instantly start perking up.

That's a damn shame, especially since Trick' 2006 LP Rockford is fantastic from start to finish - it's one of the few albums I can leave playing all the way through without the slightest urge to hit skip.  If It Takes a Lifetime is no exception.

Speaking of taking a lifetime, these two dudes spent what must have felt like a lifetime trying to make it to the Major Leagues.

Bobby Scales served as a substitute teacher in the offseasons and spent 10 years in the minors across four organizations before he finally got the call with the Cubbies in 2009.   Not to be outdone, J.C. Boscan played a whopping 14 years in the bush leagues until the Braves came a-calling the next year.  He then saw brief time in the Bigs each year until 2013, where he wrapped it all up with six September games in a Cubs uniform.

They might not have stuck around long; but, by golly, they made it.  In fact, you might say that they never "Surrender"ed.

And with that God-awful pun, I'm calling this post a wrap.  I could keep going on with more Cheap Trick songs because their discography is jam-packed with goodies, however I feel the joke has run it's course.

Additionally, I didn't really put it together until now that I'm going to see a band called Cheap "Trick" on that national trickster holiday... funny how that scheduled out.  If this is all one big April Fool's joke and there is no show, I'm going to be kinda upset.  That is, unless Rick Astley actually takes the stage and leads the crowd in a raucous, rick-rolling sing-a-long of Never Gonna Give You Up.

Alright - I'm outta here.  I'll leave you with this favorite that I couldn't find a way to tie into any of my baseball cards.  Hope you enjoyed this show and hope I enjoy my show tonight!


  1. Great cards, great post. Have fun tonight and enjoy the show. Don't raise too much hell.

  2. You missed two great tunes (in my book)

    Stop This Game:

    She's Tight:

    Bet they didn't play that 2nd one at Taste either. Thank goodness they are going into the HOF next week. They deserve it.

  3. I'm jealous. And I was going to mention "She's Tight," too, and how that's gotta be a tough one to match up with a baseball card.

  4. Have fun! Reading the post, I was thinking how "Southern Girls" is a favorite of mine and probably hard to link to cards. Then, boom, there it is! Ha.
    Though when I saw that Doug Jones Dream Team card, I was sure "Dream Police" would be the song.

    1. Damn... there's the connection I was looking for. You win this round Gavin!

  5. Have a great time at the show. Rick Nielsen has some of the best guitars. Maybe he'll break out his famous five neck guitar.