Monday, August 31, 2020

Mr. Padre

 It's been a few weeks since I have posted a Project 2020 card.  Nothing has caught my eye recently, but I got a card in the mail that I ordered earlier in the summer.  Just took a little while for it to show up in the mail.  I think some of the Project 2020 "investment" guys are dragging their feet on mailing at cards from razor thin profit.  Still thousandaires.  

Big fan of the art of this card though.  

Mr. Padre.  

I am not sure that this scan even does the card justice.  It pains me to scan cards in one-touch cases sometimes.  Looks really scratchy.  Love the art work combined with the two pictures off of the original Topps Tony Gwynn rookie card. 

A picture of the original card.  

The color scheme with the dark brown and orange is probably the most eye-catching and appealing aspect of my newest Project 2020 card.  I also like the palm trees and the border design.   The patterned border seems to be a feature on a lot of the cards from this artist.  More on him in a minute.  The "Mr. Padre" title at the top is also nice, I just wish the color of the font matched the rest of the card a little better.  

Back of the card.  

Love that old Padres logo in the corner.  Feels like that might be older than the 1983 Topps card.  There is also a biography for the artist, who has a background in painting murals.  He's got some nice looking art up in a few different places online.  

A 1980s Card Part 52 - 1983 Fleer Jim Kaat

 Jim Kaat was an old middle reliever by the time I started watching baseball.  I do not remember him at all as a player.  If you are not familiar with Kaat as player, he spent most of his career with the Twins, but also played for the White Sox, Phillies, and Yankees.  He ended his career with the Cardinals, pitching as a middle reliever during the early 1980s.  

Kaat won almost 300 games in his career, but is probably best known for his fielding abilities and his 16 Gold Gloves.  He is the Brooks Robinson of the pitcher's mound.  Kaat only managed to strike out 2,400 batters over a 25 year career, you do the math, and is not viewed by many as a great of his era.  

To me, Kaat seem a lot like Don Sutton with less strikeouts.

I best know Jim Kaat as a broadcaster.  He's spent the past few decades working in various locations, so I do know him well from watching baseball over the past few decades.  I actually have a few older cards of him with the Twins and Phillies.  

I think this is my best one.....

While I do not remember Kaat as a player with the Cardinals, his 1983 Fleer card is a pretty neat card.  Definitely one of the better cards within the Cardinals set from that year.  It was one of his last as a player, but also has a little foreshadowing for his future career as a broadcaster. 

Here is the card.  

Was this the first baseball card with an appearance by an ESPN logo?  There are plenty of more recent cards with ESPN signs in the background, but I cannot think of another card before this one.  Kaat has never actually worked for ESPN.  Maybe he has appeared on one of their broadcasts as a guest commentator, but still a good connection to his work in broadcasting on cable sports networks.  Most of his broadcasting career was spent with the Yankees and Twins on their local/regional cable broadcasts. More recently Kaat worked for MLB Network.  

Here is the back of the card. 

Kaat's career actually started in 1959 as a member of the Washington Senators.  He played a long time retiring at the age of 43.  After lingering in the top 3 oldest players for much of the late 1970s and early 1980s, behind Manny Mota and Willie McCovey, he finally claimed the top spot in 1983.  Guess all 25 years did not fit on his card.  Fleer used a standard font size for the stats on these cards regardless of how many years the player had been around. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Every Once In A While

The number of Ray Lankford posts I make on here have dwindled over the years.  There are not many cards that I am missing for my collection, and the ones I am missing frequently end up costly crazy amounts of money.  Every once in a while, one pops up and the bidding/price of the card stays reasonable.  

I found a Lankford card missing from my collection, and it cost me right around $10.

So, I swooped in and bought the card.  After a long journey across the country, it arrived in my mailbox earlier this week.  Just a little busy at work this week, so it's been sitting on my desk for a few days.  

Excited about this card.  

The marks are on the top loader and sleeve.  

This is from the 1998 Leaf set, which had all sorts of parallels and die-cuts.  It's an overly complicated baseball card set, further complicated by the fact that there is actually a Chrome style parallel set of the 1998 Leaf set that was packaged with parallel sets of Donruss and Donruss Elite. 

It's true, all of it.  

I have a few different Lankford cards from this set, but not this one.  The card is serial numbered to 50, which seems like a pretty high number in today's baseball cards, but this was a tough pull in 1998.  

This is the lowest serial numbered parallel set in the 1998 Leaf set, so I now own a complete run of all the Ray Lankford cards in the 1998 Leaf set.  Always a good feeling.  When I get a free moment, I need to find the other parallels and put them in a single post.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 51 - 1985 O-Pee-Chee Jack Clark

One of the best trades the Cardinals made during the 1980s was picking up Jack Clark from the Giants for Dave LaPoint, David Green, and Jose Uribe before the 1985 season.    

Jose Uribe from EBay.  

That's not suspicious at all.  

The 1985 Topps set had Jack Clark as a Giant.  

A few months later the Topps Traded set rolled out, and we got Jack Clark in a Cardinals uniform.  

Darrell Porter in the background.  

Meanwhile, our friends north of the border in Canada got a really cool combination of these two cards in the O-Pee-Chee Set, or Maple Topps.  If you have never seen an O-Pee-Card from the 1980s of a player signed as a free agent or traded in the offseason, it is worth your time to go find a few of these cards.  

This is the Jack Clark card.  

We get the Topps Traded border with the base set Topps photo.  The best part is always the caption "Traded" or "Signed" or "Now With" that was stamped onto the card.  These O-Pee-Chee cards are almost better than the Traded cards.  Almost.  

I wish Topps had not used the stamps on the regular Topps cards.  It seemed to make the "Now With" types of stamps a little less special.  

Who remembers Doug DeCinces on the Cardinals? 

Not very memorable, but if you put a Cardinals frame and design around Doug DeCinces than you've got an interesting baseball card.  No, O-Pee-Chee did not give DeCinces the usual treatment.  

Sunday, August 23, 2020

I'm Surprised To See You

Last year, I was really surprised to see the pitching match-up for a Cardinals and Pirates game featuring James Marvel.  I saw that name, honestly I had to go look it up and make sure it was the same person I knew from a few years back.  

Way back in the day, James Marvel went to Duke.  He did not pitch many games while he was in Durham, and was always overshadowed by Michael Matuella.  Matuella was a potential first overall draft pick until arm injuries derailed his career.


He's just one of those college players I never thought I would see play in the Majors.  I guess he might have been better than I remembered....

but still surprised that he made it to the Majors.  

It was even more surprising to see James Marvel pop up in the Topps Chrome set this year on the autograph checklist.  After making the Majors, Marvel only appeared in three games.  I can't find any packs or boxes of Chrome in stores, but there are plenty of these autographs floating around on Ebay.

Here is the card....

That's a great photo on the front of the card. 

The back of the card mentions that Marvel attended Duke.  

Happy to add this one to the collection.  A few more Topps Chrome cards later in the week.  

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Set Appreciation Post #7 - 2017 Topps Heritage Minors

I let my 10 year old son pick out a random set for this post.  I am honestly surprised that he did not come back with the 1996 SPx set.  It is his all-time favorite set.  We both know it's because of the hologram pictures on the front of the cards.  Instead, he chose the 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League set, which is based on the 1968 Topps set.  Yes, the burlap sack set.  

He actually informed me that there are a lot of Durham Bulls card in this set. After taking five minutes to flip through the cards, it appears that he is correct.  There are a lot of Durham Bulls players and cards in this set.  

Basic Design 

I am going to go ahead and show my hand early in the post.  Personally, I find this design a little bit boring.  That's probably a generous assessment.  I also understand some of the attachment to this set.  When I was a kid it was a super cool set.  There were all sorts of cool unaffordable cards in this set.  Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench rookie cards, Bob Clemente, old broken down Mickey Mantle.  

Really, when you get past some of the names on the card, it is really overrated.  Reminds me a lot of Nolan Ryan's actual playing career.  

I actually need to get back on topic.  This is the 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League set.  It's easy to drift off topic with design when Topps just recycles all of the old ones constantly.  Kind of makes the Heritage product line seem a little less special.  

Here's a card.  I will do better on the other side of the scan with focus.  

Is there something nice I can say about the design of the 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League set?  

I have two.  

First, the cards have pictures of Minor League players.  I like Minor League baseball.  This set features some pretty talented baseballers before they reached the Major Leaguers.  

Second, I like this yellow color that Topps used on the back.  Most of my 1968 Topps cards are not of the "pristine" variety, and therefore the color on the back is slightly less yellow.  These look nice with the black ink.  In my opinion, one of the most readable baseball card backs.   

I would rank the burlap sack portion of the 1968 Topps set in the bottom half of all Topps sets.  It might be in the bottom half of the bottom half.  It's at least better than 1996 Topps.  


The "let me tell you something I like" and "let me tell something I don't like" theme really runs throughout this set.  I really like the coin cards that Topps puts in the Heritage Minors on an almost annual basis.  I am not sure that the early Heritage Minor League sets had these cards, but they have been in all of the recent ones.  

I have a few of these cards in my collection.  I wouldn't say that I collect them, but if I see one I like I will usually end up with it at some point.  There have not been any Durham Bulls, but there have been a few Cardinals, along with some other players I enjoyed watching in the Minors.  

I got this J.P. Crawford card because he is shown as a member of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  I am generally of the opinion that Minor League Baseball often goes too far with odd and goofy nicknames.  There are a few that I am willing to overlook for various reasons.  Iron Pigs is one of them.  

The front of the card is really good looking.  The back is a disaster.  

What is all this talk about the Cubs on the back of the card?  I get that it is connected to 1968, but they also randomly throw in the fact that J.P. Crawford was born in 1995 at the top.  

Sir, this is a J.P. Crawford card.  

Couldn't we tie the card back to another shortstop who played in 1968?  Maybe a Phillies player who did something newsworthy in 1968?  You could even just make the card back about J.P. Crawford.  That would work too.  

It's like Topps couldn't get out of their own way while making this set.  


There are some really good autographs in this set.  I don't own any of them.  I won't hold it against the final ranking.  Of all the different baseball card products with autographs of Minor Leaguers, the Heritage sets is always the best.  

The players are in their Minor League uniforms, rather than Major League, which makes it better than Bowman in my opinion.  Pro Debut also has the players in their Minor League uniforms, but those sticker autographs look really bad at times.  

These are nice.....

Both pulled from packs of cards during a meeting at work.  Good story, but for another time.  

I usually try to chase down the different Durham Bulls players, future Durham Bulls players, guys I saw play in college or USA Baseball, or players I just enjoyed watching play in the Minors.  This was not a great set for my collection, but let's face it, this product generally has a good track record.  I know a lot of people who love the autographs in the 2017 Heritage set.  

The autographs are a definite positive.  

Bizarro World.  

I am not a fan of all the different variations.  I will just lump them into the category of "weird stuff".  It happens in almost every Heritage product, and there are very few over the years that I have actual considered owning.  

Just weird.  

Bizarro World.  

Grown men with magnifying classes looking at tiny little codes on the back of baseball cards, or hidden sparkles on the front of cards.  I'm over 40 and I do not wear glasses.  Probably because I do not read the little variation codes on the back of Topps cards.  

This is one of the variations from this set.  

The main variation in the actual 1968 set was the yellow and white team names.  

Why not just roll with that? 

Topps did include variations with the yellow and white teams names, I just don't understand the need to invent some ridiculous new variation for the Heritage remakes.  

Similar to the back of the nickel cards, this is something that should be really simple, but Topps overcomplicates things.  Does this card have any actual connection to the 1968 Topps set?  Maybe there is some variation on a card that I have heard of, but I don't think so.  

Best Cardinals Card 

This was a fairly easy choice, because it's the best Cardinals player in the set.  I am also not into all the gimmicky promotional uniforms that some of the Minor League teams wear at times. I've had it with Star Wars uniforms. This one from the Memphis Redbirds is actually pretty creative.  

Have other teams done themed jersey nights from bands?


In fact, I am almost sure the Toledo Mud Hens did a Sgt. Peppers night at some point too.  Maybe it's the fact Minor League teams have not beat this concept into the ground.  

There is also a Dylan Carlson card in this set from his days in the Midwest League with the Peoria Chiefs.  

The Flaherty card is much better though.  

Best Durham Bulls Card

As mentioned at the top of the post, there are a lot of Durham Bulls cards in this set.  No autographs, but lots of players in the base set, and a few others in the relic card set.  I am not going to scan the relics, but I did the base cards.  

The best of this cards is obviously Adames, who is the Rays starting shortstop.  

Casey Gillaspie was traded to the White Sox, but is playing an independent league this season.  Honeywell is still in the Rays organization, but has had arm injuries the past few years.  I think he might still actually be on the Durham Bulls roster.  

These three cards are far inferior to one other Durham Bulls card that appears in the insert remake of the 1968 Topps Game sets.  The original cards featured players, but the 2017 Heritage Minors set has picture of different mascots.  

This is the Wool E. Bull card.  

Not only is Wool E. Bull a great mascot, but the card has a cool shout out to the movie Bull Durham.  

Best Non-Cardinals Card 

There is a group of short-prints at the end of the set that feature some pretty big name prospects.  I believe Ronald Acuna and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are both in there.  One of the big upsides to the Heritage Minor League set is the checklist.  I actually feel like Topps does a pretty good job of getting a good mix of big name prospects, along with some others that have good potential to make it to the Majors.  

It was hard to choose here.  

However, I went with the best current Major League player with a card in this set......

Little Fernando, as I like to call him, was in A Ball when this picture was taken.  First year in the Padres organization after being traded from the White Sox for James Shields.  Not sure that was the best move in retrospect.  Anyway, I am sure this card is now selling for the equivalent of a second mortgage on your house with the way baseball cards are working at the moment.  

Honestly, I know he's not a Cardinal, but I always liked watching his father play.  I have enjoyed cards of Tatis Jr. for a few years now.  I just wish they weren't suddenly really expensive.  

How Does It Compare?  

The list of sets I would consider placing above the 1983 Topps set is very short, and this is not on that list.  I wouldn't even rank the 1968 Topps set that high.  Again, my biggest positive is the checklist.  The on-card autographs are nice.  My negatives are the odd card backs on the coin cards, the imaginary variations, and basic design.  

I acknowledge that the design could not be helped here, but those other factors are going to push it down my list a ways.  

7. 2000 UD Ionix 
6. 2017 Topps Heritage Minor League  
4. 2001 Fleer EX 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

2020 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 3

In August 2019, I ended the month with 17 Blake Snell autographs for the year.  There have been less Snell autographs this year, not sure I could come up with 14 more 2020 Blake Snell autographs, even if the budget was unlimited.  I might also be suffering some slight hangover from collecting 30 autographs of a single player in a calendar year.  

The new Snell autograph comes out of Topps Series 2, which is impossible to find because of Luis Robert.  Luckily, people are not buying all the Blake Snell cards.  I really like that Topps gave him a 1985 Topps insert autographed card.  

The sticker looks a little more blended on the scan than it is in person, but I just really like the design of this card.  I have always been a big fan of the 1985 Topps set, and found the 1985 inserts in this year's Topps set to be one of it's most redeeming qualities.  

Here is the back of the card....

Seems like it's pretty standard.  

Overall, this might be my favorite Snell autograph that I have picked up in 2020.  There have been so few that I actually can wrap my head around comparing them all.  The design on this one is what really stands out from the other two.  The first was a Postseason insert in Topps Series 1.  The other was out of Tribute.  

I am not going to go find 27 more Blake Snell autographs between now and December, but it actually felt pretty good get some mail that add to that portion of my collection.  

Monday, August 17, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 51 - 1987 Dixon's Negro League James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell

There is no 1980s Cardinals card this week.  Instead, I am going to use this space this week for a card of Cool Papa Bell, who was one of the best to ever take the field as a professional baseball player in St. Louis.  The Cardinals actually honor him with a statue outside of Busch Stadium.  

Major League Baseball just celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues this past weekend by having their players wearing a uniform patch.  I think there might have been a decal on the side of the bases too.  The Marlins went one step further and wore throwback uniforms from the Miami Giants.  Maybe there were limitations with the celebration because of the pandemic, but the event seemed really understated.  

I am not really surprised.  

There were really good players in the Negro Leagues, many of whom have ended up in the Hall of Fame over the years.  Cool Papa Bell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974 and was widely regard as one of the best baseball players during the 1920s, 1930s, and into the 1940s.  

He was incredibly fast.  When you read about Bell, he feels like he might have been the inspiration for the 1980s Cardinals WhiteyBall teams.  Fits with the 1980s Cardinals post theme, right? 

Pitchers from that era feared Bell's base running, which often turned walks and singles into doubles and triples.  He put pressure on defenses with his legs.  Fielders rushed throws.  Pitchers paid attention to holding Bell on base rather than the batter they were facing.  On defense, he played shallow to take away bloop hits over the heads of infielders, but also had the foot speed to track down balls that were hit to deeper parts of the field.  

The Negro League Hall of Fame did a series of videos earlier this year where they got current and former players, former Presidents, and other notable celebrities to "Tip A Cap" in celebration of the centennial anniversary.  A few of the videos included a shout out to Cool Papa Bell including President Obama. 

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Magic Johnson also mentions Cool Papa Bell in his video, but it's a little longer.  Lorenzo Cain from the Milwaukee Brewers as well. I try to post the short ones so you're not here for half an hour.  

Let's get the card.  Here is Cool Papa Bell.  

I would love to tell you that I had a huge box of Negro League cards.  That it took my a long time to decide on the perfect card for this post.  However, there are not many cards with Negro League players around.  Fleer did well with a few years in the early 2000s, I also think there were a few in the 1970s.  

The 1987 Dixon set is my favorite though.  It's a black and white postcard style set that was created by writer Phil Dixon.  No fancy design, just a solid baseball card.  They pop up from time to time on Ebay, and there are single cards on COMC.  Not the easiest to find, but they are worth it if you can find them.  I flip through these a few times a year, read the backs of the cards, and try to learn something new about these former greats.   

As a former Midwesterner, Phil does a lot of different speaking events.  He's great, it's worth your time to go if he is somewhere nearby speaking.  You can also check out his books.  Great stuff. 

Here is the back of the card....

There are some really good information on the back of these cards.  12 seconds around the bases?  I can't find a time around the bases for Billy Hamilton, currently the fastest player in baseball, but he can go home to third in 11 seconds.  That's slower than Cool Papa Bell.  

I lived in St. Louis for more than 20 years, I did not know that there was a Cool Papa Bell Avenue.  I had to find out where it was in the city.  

I am driving down the street the next time I am in town.  

Sunday, August 16, 2020

What Happened Here?

A few years back when I was collecting sets, I would frequently get mail.  I was always excited to walk out to my mailbox to see what cards showed up that day.  The closer I got to completing a set, the more and more important the packages felt.  It didn't really matter whether the last card was a super star player, or some backup catcher.  That final card always felt great to get in the mail.  

Now that I collect single cards?  

I am a little less enthusiastic about the mail.  Sure, there are days where I know what is coming and get really excited about getting a brand new card for my collection.  However, there are also days where I completely forget about the mail and it sits in my mailbox overnight.  

I forgot about the mail on Thursday this week.  Friday morning rolled around, I was scrambling to get my kids out the door and into the car.  I pulled my mail out of the box, threw it in my car, and headed for work.  I dropped the kids off for the day before heading to work.  When I got to work I ended up sticking it into my bag.  

First thing I had Friday morning was a virtual staff meeting.  I got myself settled into my classroom, then looked through my mail from home.  How did I miss this bubble mailer?  

What happened here?  

Plenty of theories, but no answers.  

Beyond the curiosity of what happened to this package, I was also concerned about the contents of the package.  The cards inside were far from irreplaceable, just a pair of Rays autographs from players who appeared for the Durham Bulls.  Miraculously both were in great shape.  

First up is a Topps Chrome autograph of Michael Brosseau.  

He plays all over the place.  He even pitched the other night and struck out Randal Grichuk on a 64 mile per pitch right down the middle of the plate.  

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I have a few other Brosseau autographs from earlier in the year.  I like the action shot on this card and the horizontal layout.  

Because I am a sucker for cheap cards and combined shipping, I also picked up a copy of a 2009 Upper Deck Goudey B.J. Upton autograph.  Upper Deck was really good at remaking old baseball card sets, the 2009 Goudey set is a really good example.  

I have a ton of B.J. (Melvin) Upton cards, but somehow did not have a copy of this one.  This is a really sharp card.  I like that he signed the card vertically, so he did not write across his picture.  A great looking card that showed up in a not so good looking package.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

One Dozen Local Basketball Cards Part 8

Here is the backstory behind these cards.

Errors from last week: Mark Aguirre went to DePaul, not Marquette.  

Today's dozen features players from the Detroit Pistons and the Golden State Warriors.  

The first half dozen for this week.  These are cards 85-90 in the 1990-1991 Skybox set.

The second half dozen.  These are cards 91 - 96 in the 1990-1991 Skybox set.

Here are some questions.  I know more about college basketball than the NBA, feel free to debate the answer to these questions in the space below.  I am not doing research for a basketball card post. 

Best player in this dozen: Isiah Thomas 

Without looking (pinky swear) who went to what college.  

Last week I knew 4 out of 12.  So far, 43 out of the 84 players in the set.  

Isiah Thomas - Indiana 
Bill Laimbeer - Notre Dame 
John Salley - Georgia Tech 

I should know Dennis Rodman, and I am going to kick myself when I go look it up in five minutes.  

Best Card Front: Dennis Rodman.  It's a little weird to see him without tattoos and colored hair, but you can't beat a picture of him boxing out Larry Bird for a rebound.  

Best Card Back: Bill Laimbeer fishing.  

Best Cameo: Larry Bird on the Dennis Rodman card.  

Monday, August 10, 2020


It's taken over 8 years, but this is my 2,000 post.  I had thought about doing some sort of really cool countdown of cards I have posted, or something like that.  I scrapped all of those ideas.  Instead, I am just posting one cool card that I got last month while trading off a few high end modern cards.  No Project 2020 cards were used to trade for this card.  

I think it speaks for itself.  

This 1954 Red Hearts Stan Musial card is my second really nice vintage Cardinals pick up of the summer along my 1959 Topps Bob Gibson rookie card.  There are not very many Musial cards out there, especially from the middle of his career.  Love the coloration on his uniform and hat.  Peak 1950s.

The card is in pretty good condition, just a few minor physical flaws.  The corners are rounded at the top of the card, with the bottom right having some slight paper loss.  Yes, the centering is also off, but I can live with those sorts of problems.  

You can see the centering again on the back of the card.  Nice little write up at the top of the card.  I like that they included the story of why Stan's nickname is "The Man".  I also really like that they put his fielding stats on the back of the card.  That's not common.  

This was a pretty good way to do my 2,000 post.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by during that time to read about my baseball cards.  

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Now, Baseball Cards

 I am still catching up on the new cards that I have added to my collection over the past two weeks.  I am also juggling catching up on my out going mail, nap time for my daughter, and finishing up a project for work that I have stared at for far too long.  Just two cards for this post, keeping it short.  They are great cards though.  

I figured the baseball season was going to be short.  I am honestly surprised that we have made it this far into the season.  Although, my Cardinals should probably be disqualified after the past week and a half.  Not many highlights for me so far this year with no Minor League season, and now no Cardinals.  

I did manage to find two Topps Now cards that featured two pretty memorable highlights from the season.  So, with no Durham Bulls and no Cardinals, I am looking elsewhere.    

First, is the card of Dr. Fauci from his first pitch in the season opener between the Nationals and Yankees.  

I believe this had the largest print run of any Topps Now card ever.  Something like 50,000 copies were made.  Similar to the Project 2020 cards, these have been selling for pretty unreasonable sums of money on Ebay.  I like the picture in the card.  While it was not the best first pitch, it was still pretty memorable considering the circumstances.  

The next card is actually from the Giants exhibition games against the A's.  

This is commemorating Alyssa Nakken becoming the first women to coach in an MLB game.  She has actually been working for the Giants for several years, but had never taken the field in uniform in previous years.  Apparently, teams can hire as many coaches as they choose, but can only have seven in the dugout for the game.  I learned that a few weeks back after this game.  Considering other sports have female assistant coaches and referees, it's probably time for Major League to catch up with the times.