Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wally World again?

Yes, I have the Fever. There's a Johnny Fever baseball card? No, I don't think so. I'll brb after I ask The Google....

Nope, no Johnny Fever baseball cards seem to exist. Such a pity. Just think of the possibilities on the Jennifer Marlowe super-short-print variation card. In fact, searching for them leads to an image of a 2013 Topps Spring Fever redemption card.

Which is what I have a mild Fever for. So the stars and moon aligned (just past full tonight), and off I went to a very friendly LCS. I'll write up a review of my adventures there later.

I did pick up two more packs of the Spring Fever cards. The shops are pretty generous with them actually. Well, I base that on a survey sample of 2 so far. But both are in a very friendly state.

These two packs increased my set to 38 of the 50 cards. I simply went back to yesterday's post and edited the lists there to keep things simple, silly. Eventually I'll put up full-on want lists, etc.

And I still want to write up an FAQ on trading cards in the mail. You probably know all the answers; I'll have all the questions. Maybe tomorrow.

Of course, anything can happen when you start up a blog to discuss Topps base sets and immediately start by babbling about an obscure redemption-only set. Kinda like baseball - once the first pitch is thrown, all bets are off. 'Cept maybe in a certain dug-out in the 80s I guess.

So of the 3 cards I added tonight, the first was card #1 - Wally Joyner. Well played, Topps, well played.

I saw him on the checklist several weeks ago and had to chuckle even then. Of course this set features both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, the two "IT" players right now. (Stephen Strasburg seems to be becoming somewhat MIA lately). What are the current Vegas odds Mike Trout is on the box & wrappers for the second series - 3:2 ?

But back in 1986, it was all about Wally Joyner. Angels home games were soon played at "Wally World." I don't know if the hoopla set off a Joyner card printing frenzy - this was long before a hot player generated 50 different cards a year, or whatever the totals might be for those 2 guys on every checklist right now.

Eventually the Absorbine cooled off of course, though it took several years. I was never much of a fan as he was a bit of a Tiger killer. (Walt Terrell no-hitter through 26 batters, cough, cough). Joyner finished with very respectable numbers across his career, definitely ones good enough for Topps to salute with a new card, especially for such a popular player. I don't know if he has been on any cards since retirement, but I suspect not.

Despite this well-deserved new issue, I don't think Topps selected him as card #1 of their Spring Fever set just because he was Wally Joyner. Spring time goes so well with hot Rookies, and I think the set editor at Topps on this one had some fond memories of that 1986 season, amidst all this phenom fever.

Let's trade Topps Spring Fever

So you thought I said I couldn't put cards up yet?

Well, it will be a long while before I can do them up right with a scanner. But I decided to give it a try using my phone.

I think it will be the way to go with these foil cards, as it turns out. Though the pro collectors probably wouldn't grade this effort very well on centering, would they?

This is one of my favorites of the set I have seen so far. It looks like Rickey has already made his jump towards 2nd, as you would expect of him. And, he is an Oakland Athletic which is how I will always think of him, to answer a question from earlier tonight on a blog I admire.

I like foil cards. Believe it or not, I think these are my first ever foil cards, though I might have some single example from some random pack purchase in the last 20 years. Eventually, like all bloggers, I'll share my baseball card collecting history here. There is another set of foil cards I am slowly falling for; naturally that is a perfect set-up for a future blog post.

I have 35 of is another favorite. I've always liked seeing a baseball on my baseball card:

Again some card photog flunkie couldn't get the borders right. I especially like a baseball in flight, and especially when it flies through refracting colors as you turn the card in bright light. There is a nice white baseball on the back of every card too; a bit surprising Topps didn't exploit that nice white space somehow.

Of course, having only 38 of them means I need 12 more. Naturally, I have doubles, and fortunately, I have 22 of those, sort of. So I am looking to trade 1-for-1 only on these Topps 2013 Spring Fever cards.

Oh, and ever since I met my first fellow baseball card collector when I was ten years old, I have referred to owning 2 or more copies of the same card as "doubles". Perhaps 'dupes' or 'duplicates' is more common, I don't know, but "doubles" certainly has more of a baseball ring to it.

Also, I haven't really started advertising this blog to get some readers/subscribers/fans/followers/eyeballs for it yet. But I will soon.

I need:

2 Haren
5 Cepeda
9 Machado
12 Middlebrooks
19 Fielder
23 Gonzalez
25 Segura
26 Wright
34 Clark
38 Rodney
40 Longoria
43 Hamilton

I have available:

6 Hanson
16 Peavy
17 Frazier
24 x4 Eovaldi
33 x4 Marte
35 Griffey Jr
36 x2 Musial
44 x3 Bautista
47 x4 Votto
50 Posey

With so many triple-doubles (hmmm, what sport are we obsessing over again?), it seems like it could be tricky to get this done. Keep in mind that I am on the road and not always within simple range of a Post Office. I work back in the woods you see.

I'll have some other questions about 21st century trading etiquette in my next post. It's been a long, long time since I have traded baseball cards in the mail. I can't wait to open my first package...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In the beginning, there were no Baseball cards

So I've wondered for a long time how Dan Dickerson, the play-by-play radio announcer for the Detroit Tigers (that's him on the left with his broadcast partner Jim Price) would open his first Spring Training broadcast.

His famous predecessor, Ernie Harwell, read this poem every year to open the season on the radio:

For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

But of course Dan could hardly just repeat Ernie, now could he?

Yet every late February I am never in Michigan, as I work in the south-eastern states that time of year.

A couple years ago I found a great solution for catching Tigers broadcasts while traveling - MLB's "app" for smartphones. For a one-time fee (this year one can pay in monthly installments), every MLB game is streamed to your phone, from either team's broadcast.

Finally this year (perhaps last, but not in 2011), this app carries Spring Training broadcasts.

Normally Tigers broadcasts start 25 minutes before the First Pitch time. So last Friday I had spent the morning buying an iTunes card and installing the 2013 version of the app. I was running errands before heading to a meeting with a client, nebulously set up for "a little after lunch", to give me time to catch the beginning of the broadcast.

Many of these errands revolved around baseball cards. First I attempted to visit an official Topps dealer based on the dealer map on the Topps website. I have two "Spring Fever" redemption cards to turn in for packs of a special set of cards. This was a FAIL. The dealer had moved to a new address.

Next I drove over to a Toys R Us attempting to purchase some of their exclusive packages with purple parallel versions of the new 2013 Topps baseball cards. Another FAIL - all sold out there.

Then I caught up on some mailing and copying tasks at an office supply chain store. While doing that I finally sent in some of the 2013 wrappers for the special wrapper redemption cards. In my heart I knew it was probably too late, another FAIL, but I hoped maybe the karma of sending them minutes before my team's first game of Spring Training might rub off on the envelope and some Topps employee would have mercy on me.

Upon leaving the office place, I found myself across the parking lot from a Target store. By this time it was nearing 12:30; First Pitch was scheduled for 1:05 in Florida. A little more than ten minutes till the broadcast, I thought. So....might as well run in and pick up, yes, more baseball cards. Target has the red parallels of course. I literally ran to the store, hurried to the wonderful card section, and grabbed a 'blaster' box.

I made it back to the truck at 12:39 - perfect! I got the MLB app up and running and streaming over the truck speakers and heard: Nothing. More FAIL? I couldn't tell. Maybe the broadcast just hadn't started yet. Fortunately, I had the ten new packs of cards to occupy my time. I don't need much more of the 2013 Topps "Flagship" set, or what I call the "Base" set, but I do like extra copies of the cards to play with in various ways. (These will be revealed in the months to come on this blog).

But the new cards were just one more case of FAIL on this day now going rapidly downhill. I thought all blasters in Target had some of the red parallels. But no, only the 'specially marked boxes' have them. Definite FAIL.

Just as I was thinking it was time to hit the road to my client meeting, the static on the speakers cleared and Dan Dickerson's voice came across loud and clear:

"In the beginning, there was no Baseball." The verse from B.J. Phillips continues "But ever since, there have been few beginning as good as the start of a baseball season. It is the most splendid time in sport."

Dickerson explained a bit more of the source last year:

"I don't even know who B.J. Phillips is. But I found this saying in Time Magazine in 1980, liked it, and open every year with it."

I could of Googled all this long ago, as I have writing this post, but I have always wanted to hear it for myself. And now I know.

The actual first game of Spring Training was a nice one for the Tigers, though like all Baseball games, it could not have been well predicted in advance. I kept my client meeting short and got back to my truck and the game as fast as possible. The steady stream of various Braves pitchers actually had a No Hitter going until the 8th inning. Has there ever been a No Hitter in Spring Training? Dan & Jim weren't sure. They weren't too excited about trying to find out either. I still don't know.

Finally Tyler Collins, an A/AA prospect in the outfield, hit a triple. Then Jeff Kobernus, a Rule 5 pick-up, knocked him in. Always nice to see a Rule 5 player do well. Collins had another hit his next time up and also had some nice defensive plays.

The Tigers won the game, but that isn't important. Some potential future Tigers did well, and that is always good. And baseball is back!

Oh, and while I plan to write about baseball cards as well as occasionally the Tigers, while following the season via radio broadcasts and baseball cards, I won't be able to show you cards all that often. Unless taking pictures of them works out. I will be working on the road until a bit past Opening Day sometime, and thus unable to scan in the images of my beloved little glossies.

So, in the beginning of my blog, there are no Baseball cards.