Sunday, November 22, 2009

Living with Ryne Duran

Things have been crazy lately. Like 1963 Ryne Duran crazy.

I know, "what's so crazy about this card?" Well, if you know anything about Duran, you know that he was generally feared as much for his fastball as for his utter lack of control over it. This is probably due to several factors, not the least of which were heavy drinking, poor vision, and a keen sense of how to put on a show. Did he hit the guy in the on-deck circle because he was hungover? Blind? Nuts? Who knows? That kind of stuff keeps the batter from getting too comfortable in the box, so the point is moot.
Makes the back of his '63 Topps all the funnier, the notion that the Angels used Duran to "blind" opposing batters, since he himself was virtually blind. And check out the K/BB ratio---insane! His sunglasses give the card a real sense of menace I'm not sure I've ever seen on a card before. One imagines that, in his spare time, the man on the front of this card moonlights as a contract killer for a number of international crime syndicates. That, however, wouldn't play so well as a cute cartoon on the back, so they went with something much less interesting about on-field performance and K's. I can hear the exchange:

Topps photographer: "Would you mind removing the shades, Mr. Duran? You're famous for wearing thick glasses, and we'd like to showcase that."

Duran: "I'd mind."

Photographer: "But..."

Duran: "Unless you want to wake up on the bottom of the ocean, the shades stay. And let's get this done quick. I was out late last night and this sun is killing me."

There are different periods we all go through when, for better or worse, we're hitting against Ryne Duran. For days. For weeks. Maybe months. Duran himself had some well documented struggles with alcohol. This, of course, puts my own troubles into perspective. But nonetheless, there are periods when it's tough to keep digging in, swinging away, when the madness is bringing heat and the ball could just as well as kill the mascot as go over the plate. Just gotta stay focused, keep your eyes on the ball, and dig in. Hell, if you get hit you're still getting on base.

Have a great one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

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