Friday, September 19, 2014

Beguiling Binder Pages #9 and #10

I think. The last time I tried to count them I got 7. Now I'm adding two pages but I count ten in the snazzy permanent binder I have for them. You'll have to wait for the end of the project to see it though.

I'm not sure why I can no longer count to ten correctly. I called a re-do on that pesky page I assembled with a Wal•Mart blue version of Kevin Millwood that was just all wrong, but I think I posted it once already. But that one is not part of the ten finished pages.

I'll probably change the #s again next time I finish a page. Sigh. Meanwhile...
…a couple new items on this page. The center slot is anchored by a Sapphire, that's Luis Ayala there. 

I like the Sapphire Foil cards that were released across all 3 Series when Update came out. I don't much care for the fact that they are in an edition of /25. The popular Hope Diamond parallel in 2011 released similarly, was printed /60.

But of course today, collectors and Topps customers prefer expensive cards and yaddayaddayadda, you've read it all before.

I like the Sapphire Foil, except of course I won't use a blue Sea Turtle for one. I discovered the other day that an Athletic Sapphire Sea Turtle doesn't contrast enough to look that great in the project either.

And I'm glad I pulled that Ayala Sapphire myself. His 2012 Update card is probably my Card of the Year for 2012. What, you missed that post? Yeah, well, I'll get around to that one some day. 2015 perhaps.

What was the other new card here on page 9? Not a new parallel, but the first card I've shown that will be part of an interesting side collection developing out of this project.

The Sea Turtle swims aside to reveal a Starship Enterprise Card:
Some of the horizontal cards on certain teams on the Blue Sparkle wrapper redemption cards, and the Emerald Foil cards, have this certain printing error. How could I resist? In the project they go, even though a Mariner Blue Sparkle is a bit less-than-ideal for the project. I'll be putting together a neato nine of these cards for a separate page, if there are 9 of them, though I'm not sure about that yet.

I might need a third copy of this card for another project for which this card includes an example. I found a great, great such card on ebay the other day for fifty cents and I think you'll see it soon. I'm pretty darn sure I can win that auction.

I also like page #9 because it is only the second from Series One that I have finished. I think the lucky Ayala pack pull occurred after acquiring the Pink Dolis and the Camo Garcia, so I didn't need a third low /# parallel with Johnny Cueto conveniently showing up on the Opening Day Blue Foil. And thus probably my first page without a cheap retail Target Red parallel. Such diversity will certainly help the eye appeal when I am flipping through the completed project in the year 2025.

So on to page #10:
Another dramatic page for me, because it's the one that started it all, somewhat. My first purchase of 2013 Series One was a Hobby Jumbo box from which I pulled the black /62 of Izturis there.

What should I do with it, I wondered? And wondered. And wondered. And read card blogs. And put cards in binders. And worked on the still easily available 2012 Update simultaneously. From which parallels poured out of, since I usually shopped for cards at Wal•Mart and Target. As I was haunting those stores all over eastern North Carolina that winter hoping to find left-over 2011 Update with that confounded Mike Trout RC I still needed and refused to buy as a single.

I'm still pretty sure the chance acquisition of many Emerald Foil editions of St. Louis Cardinals cards like the Furcal on this page somehow made the Christmas-in-February lightbulb come on in my head.
Which somehow led to the Eureka! moment for this project, and a way to use that Izturis card in my collection for all eternity.

I lost track of what was the keystone card here. I think it was the Scott Hairston card there in the center slot…I think I was holding out for a Blue Sparkle version of that one, because the Mets cards look fantastic on that parallel, especially when there is great contrast in the background with infield dirt.

But the Orioles also look fantastic with their eye popping orange home uniforms amidst all those sparkles, and Endy Chavez was patiently waiting. So I think I finally relented and pulled Hairston from the Emerald reserves and declared this page done.

I suspect that when I get my COMC account up and selling with all the extra cards I have laying around (and writing this post is delaying that process yet again…), I will pick up a Sparkly Hariston and an Emerald Chaves and rotate them onto public display once in a while.

Because no good Art Gallery can afford to keep all of it's treasures out on the walls at the same time, can it?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Cards Never Stop

Well hello there. Figured I should stop by the ole watering hole and make sure the bartenders still remember my face well enough to get that extra twist of the wrist when they pour my drink.

Err, wait. Wrong hobby? No, if I haven't had time to blog about baseball cards I surely haven't had time to stop by a bar. Ahh well. Work is good…except sometimes when you have too much of it.

I have been enjoying the game of baseball, and my baseball cards when I can, but I've been trying to make myself catch up on card projects _before_ blogging, rather than rambling on about cards with y'all and then never bothering to deal with all those little stacks of cards.

And I've been working on my main collecting project a fair bit in my limited card time. I realized that with the Sea Turtles now being marked down to their lowest possible prices, people have been ripping them again. And yeah, well, I've picked up a few of those 40% off deals too. And it seems my careful eBay feed for the various 2013 cards I want has been pretty active. I also think I should probably get going on the cards I need, now, instead of 3 years from now when I'm sure the "2013 Topps parallel" feed will be purty slow.

And and and oh let's see a card already:
Yay! A smiling card! I smile when I play with my baseball cards. I hope you do to. This was my first card of Heritage last spring, I figured it was a good omen. My team, and a Smiling Card. No, I'm not thinking to binder up all my Smiling Cards, although now that I type that up...
Hey, he's not smiling. But I do wonder if these might be two of the largest "Floating Head" cards ever made. I think you would need a pair of medical calipers to figure it out though. 

I scanned the Heritage base card selections that caught my eye way back there in Spring Training. You know, back when it was thought the Rays might battle the Red Sox for a certain position in the AL East. Last? I've had these scans just sitting on the laptop all these months, waiting till you got bored with Series 2, so I could put a little color back in your baseball card life. 

I used my little mobile scanner that leaves that line on the side of each scan. I'll probably go back to cell phone pictures for road blogging in the future, when I don't have the home scanner advantage. Just pretend you are looking at gem mint fresh pack pulled cards. Use your imagination. I do.

I always like it when Spring Training sneaks on to baseball cards these days. Of course, most of this set is shot in Spring Training, a part of baseball cards for a very long time. Now though teams frequently have special uniform pieces in Spring Training, like this one:
I Google Imaged "Mariners Baseball Cards" and the first several hundred didn't have this cap. Neither did the first 100 or so on COMC. This one will go in my "Look Ma, I'm Wearing That Special Cap" collection with the cards with the Maple Leaf caps the Jays wear, and all those single bird caps the Cardinals wear on Sunday. I think I will make it to 9 cards soon, and a binder page you will see.

Now before I get too deep into showing you the baseball cards that I put into my own strange little collections and you fall asleep this late at night, I'll catch you up on the rest of my baseball card news, which is two items.

I started another 2013 collection: the Topps Chrome XFractors. I am at 45% to start, and I'll try and have some fun with scanning them sometime and post a list, etc. Maybe. Another big work project starts in a few days. So before you give away that neglected pile of cards from that one blaster of Topps Chrome you bought last year, and especially not from that just one more blaster you bought that yielded up 3 Xfractors instead of 2, hit me up.

I also wrote a long letter to Topps. I kind of want to share it with you fine folks, but it wasn't a long screed of complaints. Just a few complaints. Mostly I told them all the obvious ways they could get more of my money. I don't know how that works, and I doubt I will ever hear from them. I'll just say that if you see a baseball card with that sweet blue bus the Brooklyn Dodgers were tooling around in back in Jackie Robinson's day, as seen in the movie "42", well, you can thank me then.

The Blue Bus … is calling us … back to the cards:
But I already shot the bolt on Dodgers cards for this post, I think. This might be the blue-est card left in the scans though. And another one for my New Respect set, which is my working title for a set of cards where you can see a player wearing the Cross. Cross Cards just doesn't seem to have the proper amount of, well, respect. I am still impressed with these cards, an image I can't remember seeing on cards from the 70s and 80s, though I suspect they were there, once in a while.

Of course, every era of baseball cards since the 60s has had Official® Rookie Cards, made more official these days by the official RC logo. Except in Heritage, where perhaps these Rookie Cards aren't of official rookies:
Maybe this is because these players aren't even official Rookies this year, as recent September call-ups I think they won't use up their Official Rookie status until next year. And really, one has to wonder how Topps picks Rookies in Heritage. Every Bowman-addicted collector is right now screaming Springer! Singleton! Appel! Correa! Buxton! Bryant! Ok, well, Bowman addicts probably don't read this blog, and well, I'm not sure they even care which team a prospect plays for, as long as they sign with New York or the Cubs some day.

Sometimes though Topps does get the Heritage Rookies right:
Back in Spring Training, that was a power packed Rookie Card, though still no RC logo, so this will never be their official Rookie Card I guess. Their Series One cards did have the logo. Oh, the mysteries of Topps. Perhaps some day in a tight AL East pennant race this time of year, this card will be remembered fondly by someone who will give me a dime for it, instead of only a nickel.

This year in Heritage, I found one more notable Rookie Card:
Double Cloud Card! Sunset Cloud Card. Me likey. Fortunately, I know Topps won't let their precious Spring Training posed shot go to waste, so these will get repeated in some other set of cards somewhere soon.

What else did I find in my baseball cards this spring? A flashback card. Several of them:
Hey that's not a Flashback card! For me it is. That is what I would call a Tautological Card, or a card which is tautological. Another new baseball card archetype, for me at least, I think. It gives me a flashback to a University class called Theory of Algebra, which finally and permanently ended my enjoyment of mathematics, and is where I learned what the word "Tautological" means, though not very much else. It was a math class with only three numbers involved - 0 (if that is actually a number, which this class put into doubt), 1, and -1. And lots of the infinity symbol and Greek letters. I can still vividly recall reviving with too much Vivarin, pulling a true, watch-the-sun-come-up-before-the-8am-Final all-nighter trying to learn the mysteries of Algebraic Theory, which seemed in the final analysis to be that the world develops a very interesting vibration when you chase too many caffeine pills with an open tap of Mountain Dew.

Now I have that to deal with when I open a pack of baseball cards:
So what the heck is a Tautological baseball card, as in, just what is it? I'll just say you don't want to end up in a number-less math class, and that I enjoyed the second part of the definition I refreshed my memories with, which mentions it being considered "a fault of style." I didn't know math had a style, but you don't generally expect to use adjectives with math then either. Maybe the peeps at Topps have had too much math also, so they gave up one last Tautology:
Though my road scanner certainly doesn't help you find the logic on that one. But it does feature Cool Gear. I like distinct baseball gear on my baseball cards, like this one:
Blue laces! Cool. Almost as cool as this guy's glove:
Except, wait, "Louisville" should be on the bats I thought, and this shot of his Cool Blue glove doesn't have the magic words some of his other cards do. You'll have to look for those on your homework assignment on your own card sorting time, though my flashbacks tell me that is a worthwhile pursuit.

And Heritage does have actual Flashback cards, and flashbacks in baseball cards can sometimes be magnificent:
Boo-Yah! Scanners and pictures probably can't do this card justice, and is the reason we buy the cards to hold in our hands rather than just look at them digitally, though I hear money was actually made on digital cards from Topps Bunt this year. Real money, for electronic baseball cards.

Those certainly don't blow my mind the way I suspect the above card would have had it been issued in 1965. I think it would possibly be one of the icons of the hobby, seeing a horizontal action card a full six years before the Thurman Munson card changed everything. It's just intense, and spooky, like this one:
I also enjoy daydreaming about what it would have been like to see this come out of a pack of baseball cards in 1965. Mommy, can we leave the light on tonight at bed-time? I think that Russian satellite is flying over us again tonight.

I might have to discover what else is in this little set, because Topps is on a roll so far:
First 'baseball' card with someone's tongue sticking out? Probably not, I would imagine some upstart young card company probably did that back in the 90s, when they had to dream up something, anything to put on all those damn baseball cards made back then.

But Topps never lets me down with their always brilliant insert sets as I'm sure you know:
That's certainly the visual image I have of Beatlemania at Shea Stadium. Not. So maybe I won't chase the rest of these, though I do still need that Rolling Stones Flashback, hint hint. Rolling Stones Flashbacks are always interesting, trust me.

So now we've wandered off into football and pictures of records (records? really?) though I thought I just heard him say Shea Stadium. Baseball was played there, I believe, and, why here's a baseball player in, I believe, Shea Stadium now:

And though this guy plays for the team that played there, I have to wonder if he was born before it was torn down:
I sometimes suspect that pitchers in particular might appreciate their Heritage cards more than their recent Flaship cards which generally show their not-so-flattering Pitcher Face:
Or, perhaps not:

Dunno what happened there Jeremy, and maybe neither does Topps. It could be that I've been out in the sun too long. Not like you.

And then perhaps I suspect that Topps still just has it in for some players:

Hey there, hold on a second….that Heritage card isn't a posed shot out back of some Spring Training facility. It's a baseball player … In Action! An Action Image Variation! Score! Valuable Baseball Card, whoop-whoop, I know I'm gonna make it to the bigs some day opening these packs of lottery tickets, err baseball cards.

Except of course it isn't. Only some players get special Action Image sorta-short-prints worth a whole three dollars or so. Other times, Topps just throws an action image in their otherwise all-posed historically accurate set. I guess just because they can. They're Topps. Or perhaps because by the time these cards came out, Topps forgot what team Ricky was on last spring.
Be that as it may, Heritage is also somewhat known for showing us more hat-less images than any other set of baseball cards, as per history and accuracy I guess. Still though, you would think an experienced veteran like Lance Berkman would remember to shave the day Topps comes to Spring Training:
Though perhaps he wasn't completely planning to ride off onto his final, sunset baseball card back in the spring of 2013.

Fortunately I have discovered an excellent trope on Heritage cards:
Heritage is probably the best set to keep tabs on the regular team shoulder patches the players wear, with these close-ups. I will be building a set of them, for the teams that wear them (and thus a strange set for me - no Tigers card), but I might need your help, dear Reader, in the years to come because Topps sure didn't pick up on what was happening in the rest of the country in the colorful second half of the 1960s, and I have few plans to buy much Heritage after this year.

But I gots me some good ones this year:
I think I might hope for a better example of that one on less of a diagonal in other Heritage sets. I've always liked that patch.
Hey, wait, who do these guys play for again? I'm not sure I will be able to remember.

This one will be a memory-maker though:
Snake tongues in a masoleum. Not a combination I expect to celebrate the game of baseball with.
So the players change uniforms before they change Spring Training fields? Huhh, I did not know that.

I do know that Topps really, really needs to instruct their photographers to switch places with the baseball players when they take these photos every spring. I don't care if there is some dumb suburb behind the photog in these shots. Just get us some new backgrounds on these baseball cards already! That's pretty much exactly how I wrote it in that letter to Topps.

I'm particularly tired of this image, though I guess playing an MLB career in front of the New York City media might actually feel like playing in a prison:
And why is this guy in baseball cards this year anyway? If I can't get any more Pete Rose cards again, ever, including never getting the ultimate Superman card that someone should really make, why A-Rod this year? A year's suspension should include baseball cards.

So while we're wandering baseball card archetypes and complaining a bunch, let's move on.

Now there is a famous image from baseball card sets past. Every ace should have one of these in their Topps oeuvre. This one even has a nice really mini image of the MLB logo. I wonder if there is a little white baseball on that baseball? There is another homework assignment for you baseball card nuts, it's getting late here at the Base.

I also like cards that are red, white, and blue. And a black glove? Yes.

I'm OK with several of these cards in a set. They have that sense of heritage. Well, usually.

Ahh, it's just a catcher. Cut off half of his hand and part of the cool Rays patch. No one cares about light-hitting catchers or Tampa Bay Rays or proper photo-cropping techniques or base cards in general. Do they?

There is one card (or probably more, I don't have the set complete yet, nor even the time to type in my want list for you to hook me up with my remaining needs) with an image you would definitely not see on a baseball card in 1965.

It's just a guy posed on a Spring Training ball-field, like the other 498 cards in the set, right? Well, even today you wouldn't see this on Yankees card. I'm sure that if anything, in Oakland Jeff might have grown that mullet even longer.

My favorite part of this card is the back, amongst which I found little else to share with you from this set. No, I Did Not Read All The Backs, this go-round. Heritage backs are generally too terse to hold much interest. But I liked this card-back anyway.
This one has a nifty cartoon, one of the best in the set — I did check out a lot of those; for your third homework assignment I suggest going back 5 cards from this one for another nice illustration of where a Home Run goes. But what I like about this long-hair's card-back is the Hero #, of a sort. It's truly a pity Samardzija wasn't included in the 100 card refractor checklist, which then would have had a # of THC-420. I'll wager right now that Everth Cabrera will get this card # next year.

Now the final standard baseball card set ingredient I could think of to babble about is the World Series cards, I almost always like those. Last year's Series had a couple memorable oddball game-endings, and Topps saluted at least one of them. (I think I still need some of the other WS cards). As you can tell from this post, I like sorting my baseball cards in oddball ways. Now, perhaps, we have the very first baseball card that can be definitively, positively be labelled as one of those well-known Oddball cards:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beguiling Binder Page #7

Collecting baseball cards is always idiosyncratic. That is, it's uniquely personal. This page of my 2013 All-Parallel collecting project illustrated that to me well, as this was a key page that led me to decide on the color 'rules' for this project as I discussed in the last post in this series, #5.

Why is this post #7? Because of idiosyncrasies. It was time to match up the post # with the page #s I have completed, as the stars and moon weren't aligned on those any more; i.e. the #s didn't match.

May I present Beguiling Binder Page #7:

As always, don't forget you can click on an image on a Blogger blog page for a bigger view of the pretty colors.

I had to re-acquire two cards on this page to conform to those color rules - the David Murphy, and the Torii Hunter, which became the 'keystone' card on this page. When I first started picking up the wonderful "Blue Sparkle" parallels Topps produced last year, I knew I would want Murhpy's edition in that style to see how the scoreboard backdrop looked. And it was (and is) a cool card for the potential Legend of Cardboard. But it was a blue Sea Turtle on a blue parallel - broken color rule. Start over.

I had a worse problem with the Torii Hunter card - it was the only one on this page included in the Opening Day set and available as a "Blue Foil" parallel. Even worse, there were 6 blue Sea Turtles on this page. Really start over.

Fortunately, the Jason Marquis card decided itself as I automatically went for the Camo-Camo combo on any Padres card I could. (I still need the Ian Kennedy Camo from Update). It is also fortunate that I really like the Cubs on Purple even though that is a little similar to their blue Turtle diamond. And I like Pink for the Blue Jays as they are both easy to acquire from Americans who have a hard time shipping singles to Canada, and it works out well with their solid-blue alternate home uniforms as on the Adam Lind card there. I'm also happy to assign Nate Eovaldi to Sparkly world as I generally like his cards. Finally a month or so ago on a rare, short visit home I was able to surf eBay a little and pick up a hobby-only Black border copy of Hunter and the page was complete.

My project is a long way from complete in terms of pages, though many pages are at 8 cards. But it will still be a long project, I know, especially as I am about to enter another baseball card slowdown. I am moving tomorrow and some family is coming to visit my town for a week. I'll be playing with some cards, but they will be Magic:The Gathering cards as my nephews are little wizards at that game. Not my thing, but they were pretty stoked when I showed them binder pages last summer, so I know they are bringing their decks this summer. So the blog will go back to it's now usual slow pace for a bit, sigh. I have a lot of fun things lined up to bloggle about, as soon as I can.

In other blog news, I had to correct an error in my last post about the Junichi Tazawa cards, so I just used the Update function to sort all that out. I spent 20~30 minutes with Google and various websites researching that one, but that didn't quite get-er-done, as I discovered while wandering card blogs the next day.

Ahh well, you win some, you blog some, you lose some. See y'all again soon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Phoning It In #3

…and we're back. So nice to have a full slate of games to listen to once again. I've been cleaning up my mess of baseball cards and trying to refrain from babbling about them, so I can figure out which ones I can babble about.

Mostly that has been slogging through putting Series One in a binder, though I have too many other projects going on simultaneously. I hadn't planned to post for a few more days yet, but I just found these:

I like the '13 Update card quite a bit, it seems to be a night game in a dome perhaps. I like cards with the outfield grass all lit up like that. And I like the live action necklace on both cards. The '14 edition is an example of how as the zoom/crop moves in, the viewer is left with little but facial expression to remember the card by.

The black armband must be part of the memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing … except it isn't. The black armband was worn late in the 2012 season as a memorial for Johnny Pesky.

Which means Topps couldn't be bothered to pick up a 2013 picture of Tazawa for the 2014 set. Not all that surprising, even though Tazawa was one of the best set-up men in the game last year, though still basically lame on the part of Topps. But really the only reason an 8th inning specialist is in Series One was the Red Sox' World Series run, during which Tazawa was outstanding.

Update: I received a FAIL when I turned in my homework assignment on this post. I did not check this key resource:

or this one:

The Red Sox _did_ wear a black armband on the road all of last season as a memorial to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and the 2014 Tazawa card is probably a 2013 photo.

Be careful how you word your Google searches, I guess...

But even though I could post near identical baseball card pictures of baseball picture cards from lots of players this year (and might, just to see), the front of these two cards did not generate this post. The backs did:

I know writing the card backs is a chore. Reading the "Rookie Fact" on each file folder this year is one helluva chore. I have found a couple 'neat' ones so far, but nothing all that entertaining nor illuminating at all. Fairly pointless overall, and that is the hardest kind of work there is.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You would think I would really want this card

You would be wrong.

This is one of the stupidest "collectible" items I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty of idiotic things businesses have dreamed up to separate fools from their money:

I saw this on another blog and I have to comment on this. I've kind of been waiting for the "card" of Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night, which came out in 2013, to appear to write about this topic.

I use Cafe@Night as my avatar over there to your right. So I would love to have the 1/1 Goodwin Champions card of it, right? Hell no.

These items somewhat make me laugh, as I have always had somewhat of an admiration for "artists" who can get money from stupid people, like Marilyn Manson or Thomas Kinkade. But I would never ever spend a dime on such manufactured artifice.

These Art of the Ages cards from Upper Deck are even worse. They are not reproductions of an original masterpiece of art. They are "new versions," freshly painted by some recent poor young art school graduate.

But of course …. they are 1 of 1s. So, basically, they are 100% ego gratification products, and are the ultimate example of how silly the card collecting world has become.

I totally can not understand why anyone would spend a cent on one of these. For far less than this "card" will eventually sell for - I expect it will go in the low four figures, yep more than One Thousand Dollars - you could buy a very nice reproduction of the original painting, have it professionally framed very elegantly, and hang it on the wall in your living room for everyone to enjoy.

Or you could spend a truly crazy, as in mentally ill, more amount of money and buy an imitation of an art masterpiece that is only THREE POINT FIVE INCHES BY TWO POINT FIVE INCHES in size. And then you could keep it safely tucked away in your choice of hard plastic shells in some box or drawer somewhere, so your heart of darkness can draw satisfaction from the fact that you own such a stupid item, and absolutely no one else in the world does.

And what would someone do with such an item? Put it on the mantle and squint at it from across the room? Would they pull it out on special occasions and show it to people? On that latter one, probably not, because any rational person would just laugh at such ridiculousness, I would hope (and thus this post).

I mean think about this in terms of music, and record collectors. Say a record label hired some talented enough wedding reception band to re-record "Stairway to Heaven" and they managed to do it well enough to be pleasantly listenable at least. Then the record label pressed exactly one copy of this onto a 45. And only one forever through all eternity. Absolutely no one would want to own such a thing.

But in the world of card collecting, someone somewhere is getting ready to spend more than One Thousand Dollars to do exactly that. It boggles my mind.

One of the most memorable experiences of my life was visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I liked it so much I returned the next day for another couple hours. On a nice slow weekday in late winter, I could stand in front of this one for 15 minutes at a time:

It gave me chills. It is intense and vibrant in person. In three dimensional real life. Part of that flows from knowing Van Gogh's biography fairly well, and knowing at what point in that biography he painted this one.

I spent more than One Thousand Dollars on that experience, though it was just one of many reasons I visited Amsterdam, where one of my best friends in the entire world lives.

But I will never forget it. Somehow I expect whoever purchases the 1/1 Goodwin Champions Art of the Ages version of Starry Night has never been to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see that painting in person. I haven't yet, though I very much look forward to a trip to do that some day. But I really doubt anyone who would enjoy original paintings in person would ever spend that much money for a tiny knock-off version of a masterpiece, though I could be wrong. 

The world is a strange and completely surreal place, full of a people I do not understand.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All's well that rips well

Well working season finally ended. It took another month in the nearly no-baseball zone of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but I can finally start fiddling with baseball cards again. Working, camping, camping while working, trout fishing, living without internet service or even baseball broadcasts — none of these things are very helpful for enjoying baseball cards. And I must note it is just rather sad and pitiful how generally useless AM radio stations are these days. I don't expect they will be around much longer.

Things got so far removed from the game of baseball that I bought some baseball cards … and didn't even open them! Horrors!

But I made it back to a civilized locale with an actual working television set on time to see the All-Star Game at least. Though I have to move in a few days and then can finally really get down to the serious business of sorting out stacks of baseball cards (and hopefully being able to blog about the results), I figured it was the right time to rip some packs while watching the game. Let's see what I found:
Yawn. Some nice vivid green and yellow, the necklace is In Action, but it seems like every King Felix card I have is of him in this exact same spot in his delivery. Next.
An All-Star card. On All-Star Game day. I like these cards well enough, but with basically no back they are such empty calories. I might peruse the checklist of these Archives inserts for any Tigers or beloved older players, eventually. I kind of wonder if there might be 9 for each League. 

As for this particular card, the Mets always look good on baseball cards, and this one is no exception, I love the orange stripe on the outfield wall - though Topps loves to issue New York Mets cards, they never seem to take as many photos at Citi Field as they used to; perhaps a presumption on my part. Now lots of their cards are shot in Detroit, which I like of course, but I could enjoy Mets colors on the cards, the uniforms, _and_ the outfield wall.

Though I like that Harvey card, I know I have the same image on a sticker and I think one other baseball card. The more I see the same images on multiple cards, the less cards I buy, in packs at least. Are you listening Topps? I am buying less cards this year.

But I like these Archives cards...
…and I like it when Topps puts the contents of their archives to use, as this appears to be a standard posed Shea Stadium shot. They used an In Action shot of Marichal for his '73 card, so they likely had this image filed away from Baseball Card Picture Day that year.

And I like this card. The intense Marichal appears to even be in a good mood. I love cards showing the third deck, and I always like the MLB Logo patch on a card. I don't need 1/1 Logo Man cards, I can enjoy this one just fine. I also like the back of this card:
Or most of the back of this card anyway. I like to imagine some younger fan learning about what has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched" there on the top of the card. Topps perhaps could have mentioned that the losing pitcher (Warren Spahn), also pitched a 16 inning Complete Game. 

I also kind of like the card back writer using newer statistics to illustrate how great a pitcher Marichal was in the 1960s. Though an interesting option would have been to tie in the text with the cartoon scrip and note that Marichal finished his career with one more Complete Game than Wins. A pity that Complete Game wasn't added to the pitcher stat line on the card backs until several years after 1973, and now of course has been removed again, because it's a nearly irrelevant stat in today's game. 244 Complete Games. Unreal.

I never watched Marichal pitch, as he retired after two games for the Dodgers in 1975, the first year of my life that I can remember watching baseball. But then Topps doesn't mention that year either, because they didn't want to run out of room for another iteration of their own name there on the back. As if we would forget who supplies with us with our baseball card fix after purchasing thousands upon thousands of these things. And of course only some years of baseball card backs featured complete career stats - but I expect such on an Archives card.

Anyhow I was happy to discover that Archives card backs are worth investigating. I've been looking at too many retro repro cards in the mini format, which I refuse to read on the back. I discovered a few other things on the backs of those Archives cards, but I'll save that for another night. Let's pull another card:
Hey, that's not an All-Star. Though it does have a star on the card. No, not the Mariners logo star. Just one of the more classic true sunset cards I've ever found. Featuring our beloved local star - The Sun. The one and only. Sweet cloud card too, that one will make the cut for an All-Time All-Cloud binder page.

I like the 1980 cards so I am just fine that Topps is repeating their use in Archives. I will go for a set of them, somehow. I started with two rack packs and got hardly any 1980s…in this rack pack I got 4 of them, which is still a half card short, somehow. It might be hard for me to ever do this one the old fashioned way via ripping and trading - have you noticed you can only get these cards at Target? When a Topps product is not available at Wal•Mart, they become quite a bit more difficult for me to acquire. Archives cards are not in the midwest Big Box chain called Meijer's either. I have seen online speculation about big production cuts for Topps this year; I figure Wal•Mart cutting their order was probably the main reason, and that probably hurt Topps. I live far from Target, and far from any card shop. Yeah, yeah, I know, I can just buy them online. That will take me longer. I spend my online time chatting up y'all. And looking at baseball cards:
Another non-All-Star, though there is All-Star iconography present on the card if you look hard. I like cards with the special "Los Mets" uniform. Though once again Topps kind of buries the special uni details; I think this is the third such card I have.

And I wouldn't count on Topps to help you figure out the Mets infield situation, not that anyone else can either I think. Why would the Mets bring up a new 3rd Baseman when they have a sometimes All-Star anchoring the position (and every Topps set of course)? The answer is that Flores plays at short for the Mets, when he is in the bigs. He will soon have to stay up there and prove he can hit MLB pitching, or no more baseball cards. But off to the Los Mets binder page this card goes.

Now let's get back to actual All-Stars, like this one:
Who doesn't like a Catfish Hunter card? Especially now that Topps is using the name Catfish right there on the front of the card. Such a cool baseball player…I hope one of his retro cards might already or might someday mention the Bob Dylan song about him.

But this card sure looked familiar to me, so I asked the Google, Images Department, what was up with that. Another blog has already sorted that out for me.

The reason I like the 1980 design is the hint of a pennant in the design, the curved solid-color border for the image, and especially the setting of some of the text on an angle. All that works great on this card of an All-Star:
I like how Duke signs his real name, which reminds me of another thing I like about the 1980 style Archives cards - the allegiance to the original card style means the players of today have to supply a signature as well. And then the old fart players always come out looking classy.

I also like the advertising on the Snider card. Flying A Deal! On something. Reminds me that advertising has been a part of large scale public sporting events ever since large scale public sporting events began, and shows it is not some conspiracy on the part of Topps to pick up some of their own ad revenue when an advertising image makes it on a card today.

Ahh well, another nice pack of Archives. I hope I get the chance to buy a few more, but that might be a minute. What else did I find at the big Red Bullseye?
My perpetual weakness for the Opening Day cards. I always like cards with a railing in the background, they help set up the lines of the image tremendously, and this card has great lines. A pity the railing isn't a little more in focus. But then I also like Blurry People cards too.

Adam Jones is like the stealth All-Star each year. He puts up tremendously solid numbers but just never seems to get truly famous. Which is slowly becoming less so for this guy:
An OK card, but nearly identical to his card last year. Even the Blurry People are ho-hum on this one.

I actually bought the last 2 packs of Opening Day in the gravity feed box, though I was hoping for one more blaster. Did you notice that Opening Day was also only available at Target this year? It may have had the blister packs in Toys-R-Us, the perfect store for the set, kinda; but it was not at Wal•Mart.

I never did score a 'Between Innings' insert from those packs this year, though I bought more than the requisite 36 packs suggested on the back. I know, I know, I can just go online. I had hoped to find some other fun inserts to share, but that will have to wait for the day I sort the few blasters of it I did pick up earlier this year. There are a couple neat things waiting for you in those stacks.

And I couldn't pass a trip to visit the pretty young things all over a Target store without picking up some special Target cards:
Another guy that just always seems to get good baseball cards. Of course I always like a Smiling Card. But careful there Chris, I hope that devastating slider the card back describes for me isn't creating a claw hand there. That pitch shortens all too many careers….. but let's get back to some more All-Stars while we rip some more Heritage:
Well that's a baseball card. You could put it on Wikipedia to serve as an example definition almost. It's got red, white, and blue, and two different Phillies icons. But it's not all that much to write a blog about. I still enjoy ripping and sorting Heritage. Just the tactile experience is enjoyable. And I like the color of the '65 style. But I don't think I will be putting that one in binder pages for future perusal, just a few special pages of the highlights, like one that you are supposed to write home about, I guess -
Boom! All-Star Game Day retail hit Mojo. Though hits aren't my thing, I kinda like this one more than most. No extra busy design, and the GU part doesn't make the player image superfluous. And it's a different image than any other Chris Sale baseball memorabilia product I own. His cards always look good so I think this one will go in with the rest.

Like Archives, Heritage is a set shot in the spring time. And thus always in the same places:
There's that mountain again. First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is. It all depends on which player it is, on the Angels or the A's, which is so weird because I wouldn't expect division rivals to share a Spring Training camp. I think I'll probably assemble all my Mountain Cards to see if the players have worn a permanent spot to stand on when Topps poses them for their new baseball card. I've seen this mountain so many times I might have to start seeing if I can figure out the geology of south-central Arizona using baseball cards.

Fortunately for every Mountain Card there are two Cloud Cards, and sunny Florida might have a few clouds once in a while, but never a mountain:
OK, so Zobrist was only technically an All-Star last year, though he did get one All-Star At Bat a few years ago now.

Just another base baseball card that I like. I'm not that into Bat Barrel cards, I just love that Ray patch. This one looks like it has had to show off it's vertical skills getting out of the way of that swing. So off to the binder page it goes, that I will certainly enjoy the next time I flip that binder open. That's why I buy all those Baseball Cards.