Must-Click Link: Tyler Kepner salutes Sy Berger and baseball cards of the 1980s


This column by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times is a must-read for anyone around my age or a bit younger. As it is, Kepner is two years younger than me and what he writes today is 100% on-point with my feeling and history with baseball cards in the 1970s and 80s.

The jumping off point is the death of Sy Berger, the longtime Topps employee who more or less invented modern baseball cards with the release of the 1952 set and beyond. Kepner notes just how important these cards were to young baseball fans and, in many ways, helped create baseball fans. In my case I can’t remember which came first, actually: the cards or watching the game? One certainly reinforced my love for the other, but I could not tell you which was the first mover.

I still have tens of thousands of cards. Most of them the worthless but charming as all get-out cards of the 80s, with a healthy amount of 1970s and a handful of early 90s thrown in. Kepner’s description of what it was like for people our age to collect and what the cards meant to us is absolutely perfect.

And, by way of some older baseball card content, my brother once got me the 1973 Topps set for Christmas. I wrote about that here and then, a couple of says later, wrote about the silly little cartoons on the back of every one. Enjoy.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.