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Vlad Guerrero meet Capt. Al ...

I had never much pondered the question of what it would take to get me to root for the Texas Rangers, so naturally I was surprised to find out that simply signing my favorite player as a free agent would do the trick nicely.

As I write this the Rangers are 41/2 games atop the American League West, which is no doubt rarefied air for a club that has struggled mightily over the years, and the arrival of Vlad Guerrero is a big part of that story.

Being in the baseball card/memorabilia business, the tendency to cling to that which is old, tried and true is almost unavoidable, and so I’ve been a Vlad Guerrero fan virtually from the start of his career.

Given the teams he’s played for, that’s been a pretty good trick. Even though I lived not far from Montreal for the better part of a decade in the 1970’s, I was never able to get the hang of actually rooting for them; ditto with the Los Angeles/Anaheim/Orange County Angels or whatever the hell their name is.

But I’ll be rooting for the Rangers this time, with the underlying hope that I’d get to watch him again in the postseason. Guerrero reminds me so much of the great Roberto Clemente that it’s just extra fun to watch him at the plate.

When he filed for free agency, there were a lot of naysayers who solemnly opined that he was too old, too injured and too undisciplined to make placing a bet on him a good idea. Uh, huh.

At the moment, as he awaits the 2010 All-Star Game in his former digs, Anaheim or whatever, he’s batting .328 with 18 home runs and a remarkable 70 RBI in only 78 games.

On a vaguely related note, I’m going to have to try to get in touch with a guy who posts regularly on the Collectors Universe Baseball Card and Memorabilia Forum. His cyber name is VladGuerreroCollector, but that’s not why I want to talk to him.

The little picture thingy that goes along with his forum posts – is that called an avatar? – is almost certainly a grainy old photo of a man who was once one of my dearest friends in the world. I am convinced it was the photo used with this man’s obituary; he died 20 years ago.

I know it should be relatively simple to contact VladGuerreroCollector, but I’m not a registered member of the forum and the thought of having to remember yet another password and login name, etc., is more than I can handle right now.

Besides, you know the old W.C. Fields line about refusing to join any club that would consider having someone like me for a member.

If it turns out that I am right about who the guy is in the picture/avatar, I’ll share some stories about “Captain Al,” or at least the ones that will pass muster with the censors. Think those old Reader’s Digest “Unforgettable Character” features.


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