Top 7: Must-Have Free Autographs at the 2012 Cardinals Winter Warm Up

January 13, 2012

You booked a room at the Millennieum, packed up the family truckster, even bought a sleeve of baseballs from Walmart, and now you’re ready to head up I-64 for some sweet, sweet Cardinal autograph action at this weekend’s Winter Warm-Up.

Only one problem, you forgot to go to the Cardinals web site and sign up for an autograph session with your favorite Cardinals players (for a specific additional donation of course). Great. Now you can forget about that Lou Brock autograph you always wanted ($75). Lance Berkman too ($100). World Series MVP David Freese ($75)? Forget about it. Hell, you can’t even get J. C. Romero ($5).

But don’t worry, because there are plenty of free autographs to be had. And the best part is we’ve done all the leg work for you, sifting through the list of unremarkables to comprise another Joe Sports Fan Top 7: Must-Have Free Autographs at the 2012 Cardinals Winter Warm Up.

7. T. J. Matthews

In a way, this whole Mark McGwire fiasco was his fault. Yeah! And while you’ll never be able to get Mark McGwire’s autograph for free (unless you’re a Baseball Hall of Fame voter), you can get the guy McGwire was traded to the Oakland A’s for, and unlike a McGwire autograph, it won’t even cost you your integrity.

6. Curt Ford

No, not Curt Flood. Curt Ford. The former sacrificed his life and livelihood so that today’s players could think that God wants them to go to Los Angeles for $240 million instead of stay in St. Louis for $220 million. The latter’s two-run single broke a scoreless tie and propelled the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory in Game 5 of the 1987 World Series, during which Ford hit a healthy .318. The Cardinals wouldn’t win another World Series game for 19 years, and Curt Ford’s career would end abruptly and sadly – just like Curt Flood.

5. Andy and Alan Benes

Together, the brothers Benes combined for 79 wins and 23 arm surgeries while wearing the birds on the bat. In fact, the only thing more stitched than the baseball you’ll give them is the arm they’ll use to sign it. But the duo helped boost the Cardinals to a memorable 1996 playoff run, and that’s got to be worth more than nothing, doesn’t it? The answer here is clearly maybe.

4. Glenn Brummer

A little-known third string catcher steals home during the magical championship season of 1982, and one of the greatest moments in Cardinal lore is born. So let me see if I get this straight…the Cardinals have no problem selling “souvenir” toilets to their fans, but they can’t even charge $5 for a Glenn Brummer autograph? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s worth at least two used toilets, maybe three.

3. Mike Tyson

Just so you can do the joke, “Hey, I got Mike Tyson’s autograph! Mike Tyson the guy that played second base for the Cardinals from 1972-1979, not Mike Tyson the boxer!” to all your friends until one of them punches your face in, a la Mike Tyson. And it will serve you right, you dumb son of a bitch.

2. Tom Lawless

To get the full Tom Lawless free autograph experience, you’re going to need a bat for him to sign. Then, you ask him to stare straight ahead and flip it behind him, without a care for what (or who) is back there, just like he did when he homered in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series. Yep, this is quite possibly the best idea I’ve ever had.

1. Rex Hudler

It’s likely that more than a few witnesses to the debacle that was the 1990 St. Louis Cardinals would say that team wasn’t very much fun to watch. But those people obviously missed the 89 games in which Rex “The Wonder Dog” Hudler played or appeared in. Hudler’s speed, power, and fiery red hair proved an explosive combination, as he finished third on the team with 7 home runs and chipped in 18 steals in limited action. But Hudler’s statistics paled in comparison to the unwavering heart and hustle he displayed every time he stepped on the field.

Why, if diving head-first into third base was worth 5 runs, that 1990 team would have finished 18 games out of first place instead of 25. Hudler is now an award-winning broadcaster and, not surprisingly, a motivational speaker.  He resides in California with his wife and four children, sadly, according to the above photo, none of whom are ginger.


Michael Grubb is a (semi) regular contributor to Team JSF. When he’s not ranking things that don’t matter, he can be reached at:



Top 7: NFL Defenders-Turned-Movie-Star-Performances

August 12, 2011

A tragic blow befell both the sports and entertainment worlds last week, when Bubba Smith died at the not-so-old age of 66. Smith starred at Michigan State and later in the NFL, where he played nine seasons, was named to two Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts.

Despite all his accolades on the gridiron, Smith was perhaps best-known as Cadet (and later Sergeant) Moses Hightower, a role he played in the original 1984 hit movie Police Academy, all the way through Police Academy 6: City Under Seige. He had the good sense to steer clear of part seven, 1994’s straight-to-video Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. Truly, if there is any silver lining with his passing, it could be that it’s by far the best assurance we have that there will never be a Police Academy 8.

As the world’s foremost expert on the Police Academy movie franchise, I can confidently say that Smith as the gentle giant florist-turned-hard-nosed-cop has to be one of the greatest acting performance ever turned in by an NFL defensive player. But where exactly does the Hightower character rank among all big screen performances by NFL defenders? For that, we resurrect an old friend, the Joe Sports Fan Top 7.

7. Howie Long – Kelly – Broken Arrow
When the character you’re playing doesn’t have a last name, that’s not a good sign. The only thing more square than Long’s haircut is his acting. Although deserving of every barb ever directed at him by Terry Bradshaw on Fox’s NFL Sunday, the death of his character in Broken Arrow did give birth to the Howie Scream, making it more memorable than Firestorm (1998), and thus making our list.

6. Bill Romanowski, Lawrence Taylor, and About 90 Other NFL Players – Prison Convicts – Any Given Sunday (1999)
Bill Romanowski and Lawrence Taylor playing football players that had significant run-ins with the law – that’s like Britney Spears playing a young woman driving cross country from the Deep South to Los Angeles to become a singer. And yet somehow, Romanowski is the only one of the three that’s avoided going to jail in real life. Go figure.

5. Brian Bosworth – Joe Huff / John Stone – Stone Cold (1991)
The best way to describe the movie Stone Cold would be as a poor man’s Road House. Now that you’ve been properly enticed, give it a look. Nobody else did. The contract “The Boz” signed as a rookie with the Seattle Seahawks brought in more money than this stinker. However, this movie did feature 92 minutes of Bosworth’s signature frosted mullet and enough male shirtlessness to make Chuck Norris blush. On this basis alone, this film clearly earns its merits.

4. Alex Karras – Mongo – Blazing Saddles (1974)
Sure, you know him as George Papadopoulos, the loving father of a tiny yet fully-grown man afflicted with a terrible genetic disorder, but Karras makes this list because of those three little words that everyone longs to hear: “Telegram for Mongo.”

3. Terry Crews – President Camacho – Idiocracy (2006)
Crews plays Dwayne Elizondo Camacho, 5-time Ultimate Smackdown champion, porn superstar, and president of the United States. He presided over the House of Representin’. He learned that water didn’t always come from the toilet. Crews actually turns in a really funny performance, and the movie is hilarious.


2. Dick Butkus – Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)
Glory Busterburgerlujah! Ah, one of the many advantages of growing up with HBO and absent parents has to be seeing this movie about 127 times as a child.  Somehow, former University of Illinois and Chicago Bears all-time great Dick Butkus, the man to whom all other linebackers will forever be compared, manages to raise his legacy to new heights with his stirring, heartfelt portrayal of Drill Sergeant Ben Drootin, who’s constantly cracking down the misfit students at Buster Burger University trying to earn their bachelor’s degrees in burgerology, or something like that. As an important side note: This movie contains more clever puns on gherkins and eating out than any other in history.


1. Bubba Smith – Sergeant Moses Hightower – Police Academy (Parts 1 Through 6)
It should come as no surprise that the dynamic role of Moses Hightower, played by the late Bubba Smith, tops our list. We watched as he blossomed from a mild-mannered florist into a one-man crime fighting force. We rooted for him as he overcame his own personal demons, like never having learned to drive a car.  We saw him stand up and fight for the rights of minorities, like he did for the patrons of the Blue Oyster Bar on numerous occasions. We watched as he grew into a more prominent leadership role, starting in Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach following the departure of Carey Mahoney. But most of all, we learned that there was no shortage of objects he could throw a really, really long way – be it a football, a set of matched luggage, what have you.

Honorable Mentions:

Lyle Alzado – Bronk Stinson – Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)
Any reason to bring up Ernest Goes to Camp is a good one. End of discussion.

Jim Brown – Fireball – The Running Man (1987), Slammer – I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Okay, so Jim Brown was not a defender. Who cares? This is Joe Sports Fan, not U.S. News & World Report. I’m sure he made a tackle or two after an interception during his career. I refuse to leave the man that played Fireball off this list completely.