2.17.21 by Ryan Masteller
Oh to be memorialized as a Donruss Diamond King. Zack Kouns and Rick Weaver got the treatment by artist Chrissy Jones for “The 1990 Cincinnati Reds,” and I’m as jealous as it gets. Now to be clear, because there’s not a lot of jock stuff that goes on here on this site or within this podcast, I should warn you that Kouns & Weaver were not ACTUALLY members of that storied team that swept the heavily favored defending champs, the Oakland A’s, led by Bash Brothers and androstenedione enthusiasts Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, in four games. No, the duo didn’t sport rec specs or ever go by the nickname “The Nasty Boys.” No, these two never got caught in 1989 for betting on their own team.
Kouns & Weaver are musicians.
But here they are, adorned in all the baseball card glory a 10-year-old me would have died for, holding in their hearts that one last spark of diamond magic. And you can tell that they’re true fans – this conceit doesn’t stop at the cover art. In fact, each track is named after a player on the 1990 team (or someone closely related to the franchise), so “Hal Morris” once again suits up next to “Mariano Duncan,” and “Rob Dibble,” “Randy Myers,” and “Norm Charlton” warm up in the bullpen. “Jose Rijo” stares you down as he toes the rubber, and “Mr. Red” cheers you on from atop the home dugout. Each player-track is a vignette by Kouns soundtracked by Weaver, and it’s all essentially 1990 Reds fanfic. Which, if I wasn’t writing about this ridiculous, magnificent tape right now, I would probably be doing (although I’d have to substitute the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies for the 1990 Reds – ah, who am I kidding, it would be 2008).
But honestly, it’s amazing to hear about “Joe Oliver” eating dead animals raw outside the stadium as fans file past after a game. And it’s all perfectly accompanied by the Haord/Hausu vibe Weaver drops (and yes, he’s released on both labels, among others). Kouns speaks his sordid alternate-reality tales atop the quirk slurry, all hyper-focused on imaginary details of bygone Cincinnati players. And the fractured view of the past into some sort of hallucinogenic daydream only sort of makes you forget that some of these dudes were hypermacho jagoffs. I mean, wasn’t late owner “Marge Schott” a Nazi sympathizer or something? Isn’t “Marty Brennamen” actually a piece of shit in real life? These things are brushed aside in favor of things like “Chris Sabo’s” brown 1988 Ford Escort, which is totally the kind of car that dude would have driven back then. I’m chuckling at that. I’m not thinking about Brennamen’s on-air toilet mouth.
Edition of 30 (sold) out on Spare No Expanse.