The following article is a guest post from Getting Blanked contributor Dave Hodgson. When not scavenging bargains for forgotten baseball memories, Dave is part of the Fun Time Internet team, which one day will be the only website on the internet. They’re that funny.
About a month ago, some eagle-eyed Googlers found that the website for the movie Space Jam, created in 1996, still resides on a dusty old Internet server and remains viewable to the public. It’s crammed full of animated .GIFs and .WAV files, and the garish background looks like a magic eye painting. Seriously, if you try to look through the website, you will see a dolphin.
I love Space Jam. More movies should have, as key elements of their plot, “Michael Jordan” and “alien slavers.” This article is about another fusion of pro sports and the Looney Tunes, but unfortunately, this one sucks it hard.
In the early nineties, Upper Deck, trying to expand its share of the trading card market, debuted its “Comic Ball” series, which dropped colorful characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck onto Major League Baseball rosters. Tweety Bird is a Toronto Blue Jay, appropriately enough. How a canary could handle the grueling pace of a 162-game season is beyond me. He must have been on a platoon.
To call them trading cards isn’t really accurate. Each card is just an out-of-context panel from a lengthy comic strip, so you’d have to buy twenty packs of them to figure out what the hell is going on. Upper Deck basically diced up the funny pages, stuck some of the scraps into a foil package and charged three bucks a pop for it. Now that’s a product!
Even more confusing is the trivia on the back of each card. Rather than being general-knowledge baseball questions, they are – I yank you not – about the minutae of Looney Tunes cartoons from the thirties and forties. Is Comic Ball for kids or elderly men? Come to think of it, the cards kind of make me feel like I have Alzheimer’s.
A big selling point for Comic Ball was the Looney Tunes interacting with MLB stars. Regrettably, it looks like all of these stars were unavailable because the cards are chock full of Reggie Jackson, who had been retired for four years.
Reggie killed in The Naked Gun, but here he seems to be in “please get this over with” mode as he stares blankly into the distance.
“… Reg? You alright?”
The other big name is Nolan Ryan, who was at the tail end of his long career, and due to either a scheduling conflict or pure apathy didn’t sit for pictures where he capers about with Porky Pig and company, so they just used photos from actual games. For this, if not for 5,714 Ks, he deserves our respect.
This Nolan Ryan pitching machine needs a setting for pounding the bejeesus out of Robin Ventura.
The worst part is that when Comic Ball cards were on shelves, there must have been at least one clueless parent whose son or daughter was starting to get into baseball, and they bought them a pack of these instead of actual baseball cards because “Oh! Kids like cartoons!” and turned their kid off of them forever. Taking into account all the fun I had poring through stacks of cards, this should be considered child abuse.
But at least there’s still the Space Jam website. Now if someone can dig up my Our Lady Peace fan page on Geocities with the “Clumsy” MIDI music, I’ll be really impressed.