Friday, March 29, 2013

Cutting another Verlander

Huh? Who would cut an extra tall power pitching dominating starter with obvious Hall of Fame potential?

No, no team would cut such a player. But of course, the Houston Astros could hardly take the field with just one player, could they? I'll get back to that.

Yup, I found another 2012 Opening Day Justin Verlander photo variation, though of course I have to cut it into standard baseball card size myself. That makes 3 now. And now it is the perfect day to post this.

A few days ago I found a kinda out-of-the-way Toys R Us, maybe a new one. I had been all through that town all winter long, but I had used some random internet yellow pages type search result to show me where Geoffrey had built his stores, rather than the official site. Turns out the site I clicked on was like a couple years old, and it never listed the one that was closest to me. But it was the top search result, and it worked better (i.e. loaded faster) than the tell us your-zip-code official site, which then loads a map you can't scroll with on mobile.

I have had this same problem with searching for Friendly Local Card Shops, going to several locations that were no longer the correct address. Just because information is on the Internet, does it have to stay there forever? Google, you fail sometimes. I know you are listening ... get this stuff together!

So I finally go to the nearest Toys R Us all along, in hopes of finding more of these blister packs of 2012 Opening Day, plus some hopes to get some more 2013 Opening Day too. I found one 3-pack pack of '12, and that was it. This store moves the baseball cards so slowly, they still had blister packs of 2011 Series One (no bonuses at all in that one, I pack-searched the blister pack very carefully). They even had Complete Factory Sets of 2011 for only $79.95. Those came with a special refractor card of Geoffrey himself! Sadly, I didn't get to read the back, as the last thing I would ever buy is a Complete Set over-priced by about $30. Those Geoffrey refractors sure tore up the hobby now didn't they?

But overall I can't complain. I did get what I hoped to get. Another Verlander in the 2012 style. I hope to figure out just how many of these there are. Kind of a cool retail only set, albeit of only one player, but quite unique these days, which no longer features Kelloggs cards, or Burger Kings, or K-Marts.

And of course today had the big news of Justin signing a 5 year contract extension with the Tigers. Which was immediately buried in the national media by Buster Posey's extension. Hitters will always generate more press than pitchers.

I found out in a neat way - Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski appeared in the broadcast booth at the beginning of the Tigers next-to-last Spring Training game. Kind of another Spring Treat. Much like the other day, I had forgotten that Dombrowski likes to chat on the air with Dan and Jim once in a while.

Overall though, the news today kind-of gives me the blahs. Perhaps it was a blessing that the Posey news overshadowed a new high for paying a pitcher. Back when Felix Hernandez signed a few weeks ago, I looked at his pay in an odd way, and I looked into this again today.

Verlander will make about $28 million a year when the extension kicks in. He will likely be averaging 3,500 pitches a season, as he has been lately. That's $8,000 per pitch. Eight Thousand Dollars. For each pitch.

I can't even wrap my mind around that. Sometimes, I think professional sports has just gone too far. This is one of those times.

On top of that, I'm losing my enthusiasm for the Tigers somewhat, though this is something that has been growing far before today. Their owner, Mike Illitch, wants to win a World Series. He played in the minor leagues and has overall been an excellent owner and a decent citizen of Detroit.

But much like the Red Wings before the salary cap, he is attempting to just purchase his way to the top. I think at one point the Wings had a #1 line that was composed of purely All-Stars, thanks to Illitch's checkbook.

Now, sure, Verlander is a product of the Tigers organization, so I can't quite say his wins are purchased victories. But if he had come up with a half-dozen or so well-known "small market" teams, he would obviously have never stayed with one. He is that good after all.

The greatest thing to happen to the Red Wings was the Salary Cap, in my opinion. They just kept on winning and going to the playoffs. This illustrated the skill of the Front Office more than anything.

Sure, baseball as recently as last season is littered with examples of high payroll teams failing miserably. The Dodgers seem to be this year's test of the idea of purchasing wins, moreso than the Tigers. And we've all seen Moneyball. Yet every low-payroll team that makes the playoffs just seems to be the exception that proves the rule. The Twins made it to a lot of playoff games. But did they make it to the Series?

Somewhere else today I read that Alex Rodriguez alone will make more than the entire Houston Astros team this year. I know who I will be rooting for on Sunday night. Winter is coming!

And really, this whole subject is just sad, and talked out, and nothing ever changes, except salaries continue to go up, up, up, as do ticket prices, and cable TV packages. So far, audio-only is still pretty cheap, but it went up $5 this year for using my mobile app. But it is just sucking the life out my enjoyment of baseball cards today. I feel like my Home Team is, well ... I'll still be rooting for them.

But I feel like I am rooting for the Yankees.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

All-New Series! Let's rip a pack

So I can't wait on these any longer. I actually picked this pack up maybe a couple weeks ago on a trip to the big red bulls-eye to uhh, get some freeze-dried fruit snacks they have there, for my healthy oatmeal in the morning. Yeah. No, no "blasters" involved. Uhh-uhh. Just healthy snacks. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I did take a peek at a certain aisle by the cash registers, and there were these stickers I like though. The only place I've seen them this spring. I think the managers of most of the Big Box stores know when they are being made fun of, and they retaliate by giving their shelf space to Angry Birds Dog Tags instead.

But it's time to explore All-New Series 10. I haven't even cracked any Series 9 yet, though I do have some packs safely tucked away in a travel bag for one of those sad evenings when the internet is down in another one of the bizarrely remote undisclosed locations that are my typical jobsites. First, the wrapper, always a clue to the proceedings:

I think we're in for some poop jokes, and plenty of techno satire, and the usual fun with consumer products.

My first sticker:

Well, a video-game parody, just as predicted on the wrapper. I guess this as good a place as any to explain a little of what draws me to Wacky Packages — there is usually one, sometimes two stickers per Series that are almost entirely going to be humorous for adults, rather than kids. This sticker here could have upped the grown-up level somehow with any sort of reference to Angelina Jolie, but it did not. Oh well.

2nd Sticker:

A standard Wacky. Take a package, change all the words. The graphics are getting pretty tight there, they must use computer software these days or somethin'. Nice penguin....would make a nice icon for fun somewhere if stripped off with some computer software or somethin'.

3rd Sticker:

Never takes long with Wackys. Scatological humor, also as hinted on the wrapper.

4th Sticker:

Ahh, back to a purely painted Piece. Classically Wacky.

5th Sticker:

But wait, where's the blue button? Everyone knows there is a blue light saber. No blue Life Savers though. And hey, what is that black line in the rest of the pack of stickers there????

6th Sticker:

Ding-Ding! A joke kids won't get, with that ear there. Oh, yeah, y'all collect baseball cards. Somehow I doubt most of you have a Bucket List entry of again visiting one of the greatest museums in the world, in a foreign country, across the street from their Rijksmuseum. Can doing something a 2nd time be a valid Bucket List entry? And what does Modeling Clay have to do with painting a masterpiece? Kind of just a soft lazy fly to the center fielder here Topps; he takes two steps to his left and makes the easy catch.

7th Sticker:

Is this another poop joke? I'm confused now Topps. Maybe I'm too old for these.

8th Sticker:

Oooooh! A Hit! Number Six of only Ten! Get eBay on the phone! The phone? Does eBay even have a phone? Oh, wait, it's not a Hit, it's an insert sticker. One of the "Awful Apps." I didn't know eHarmony had an app. If I signed up for eHarmony and listed Baseball Cards as an interest, do you think I would ever make it to this here eA app? Maybe. After all, it looks like someone at Topps just went through a divorce. But, I guess if you have a job in Baseball Cards, that would work a little better on eHarmony. I might have to try this eHarmony / Baseball Cards angle. Now that would be a blog post or three. Or none, the expected level of action on that goofy idea.

9th Sticker:

I'm on a roll now. A parallel! Silver border parallel, 1-in-3 packs. Nice Wacky comment line there on the bottom.

10th and final Sticker:

Now, I'm flustered. Every Series seems to have this. Kind of an un-labeled parallel. The bulk of the stickers have one color, and there is an easy to come by parallel border color, and there is usually a really hard one - Gold in this Series, 1-in-355 packs. I hope I start to pull some when I finally get my Hobby Case, that is like 2 weeks late shipping, again. And then there are these. Is this a parallel? What color is that anyway? Wal-Mart Blue? Didja ever notice that the so-called "Wal-Mart Blue" is nowhere near the color blue on the Wal-Mart sign out in front of the store? And seriously, how can I put this one in the binder? It doesn't go with the Black ones. I just got my first Silver. Should I start a new binder page for it? Will there be more of these? How can Topps not answer this crucial question???!!!???? Can you believe they are the only company that makes Wacky Packages, now and forever? The monopoly is so unfair! They _always_ pull this gimmicky crap. I'm so sick of it! I buy their products like an addict, and they keep feeding me this BS! Every time! I'm calling Topps customer service. They have a phone, and a phone #. And I have that phone #. On speed dial. They _never_ answer my email anyway. But I can hit re-dial as much as I want!

Tony the Tiger is possibly one of the All-Time Leaders in Wacky Packages. And I like the "Khaos" logo, a lot - a bit of a head scratcher for a kid that was laughing at the Bean Jerky sticker. And 'Testy' the Tiger. But overall this one is more of a swing and a pop-up, not deep, the 2nd baseman is drifting back, now he waits on the ball...and he's got it. Topps is out for this inning.

Favorite Sticker: Play-Gogh. Close, but not quite. There is a lot more of this Series to go, thogh.

Least Favorite Sticker: Rold Cold. It's about the "art" Topps. Try and remember that.

But wait, wait....what about the backs? Oh yeah, I Read the Backs.

No real back for the "Awful App". Of the other 9 stickers, we get 3 faux-coupons:

No worries for Polar Pete here. I prefer when the coupons are for made-up things, rather than just the sticker ideas that got sent to AAA. The expiration dates are the only (slight) saving grace on these.

And then there are the puzzles, I got pieces from 2 of them:

Normally the puzzles are from stickers in the Series. So I think there will be a Newts-and-Adders sticker. Let's hope there is a Gingrich joke on it, but I doubt it.

I got 4 pieces of the other puzzle:

Looks like a Hippie themed McDonalds sticker. Oh, the irony, and two memes always ripe for satire. A couple of my favorite Wackys ever, aside from the original Beastball way back there at the top (note  the Terror company, rather than Flopps), are a couple that poke fun at the hippie crowd. I'm looking forward to pulling it from a pack. I'll be collecting these a pack at a time when I see one. And I have that stash of Series 9 to open some boring day, not that I have many of those in the spring-time. And then, of course, it's time to Collect 'Em! Trade 'Em!

P.S. And what about those "Hits"? A Topps product MUST have HITS, right? Tell me there are Hits to be pulled, my hands are starting to get a little shaky here. Yup, even Wacky Packages have hits now. Here are the odds. You'll have to squint and read them yourself:

Good Luck!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What IS That? #2

Yeah, I know, it's a baseball card. Of another great player seemingly stolen by Tiger's GM Dave Dombrowski, though it remains to be seen if Charlie Furbush will be as good a reliever as Fister is as the Tiger's #3 starter. Or maybe #4 this year, we'll find out tomorrow I think. Maybe Friday.

So Fister is a right hander, pitching at home on his standard issue 2013 Topps Baseball Card. There's still seams on the baseballs, and Fister likes a black glove. So what am I looking at?

There, on his hat. On both sides of the olde English D up there. What IS that?

OK, now that I've got your attention, what Hall of Famer do you think of first, right now, after looking at the brand new Doug Fister card?









Spring Treat

I think this is an annual treat on the Tigers Spring Training broadcasts....Al Kaline sat in the booth with Dan & Jim on Tuesday for the first 4 innings or so.

I did not know this was to happen; I caught most of the game on Monday and did not recall them mentioning this ahead of time, but it is easy to miss a sentence or two in a baseball broadcast. I'll be paying better attention this time next year, and I'll Be Prepared. For Realz. Cuz I sure punted it today.

The above is my only Al Kaline card, I think. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to trying to acquire his '74 Record Breaker card from '75, but I have been banking up trade items to publicize eventually. I'm not that into the '87 mini from last year; I've never been a fan of the wood paneled cards, nor the gimmick mini sets, so I'm not chasing the rest of that set either. I am doing the '72s this year because I like colorful cards, and I know the Night Owl will get Ultra•Pro to make us nice binder pages to display them eventually. The backs are so hard to read I might make them double fronted pages with 2 cards per slot.

I have also been lukewarm on reprint cards of past stars. The Kaline is another one that thawed me, after the '11 Kimball Champions I guess. What baseball fan dislikes any kind of Babe Ruth card? But do I really want a card of every Hall of Famer in every Topps style ever designed? No, not really. I'll just keep random examples I like. And how long until a player has more post-retirment cards than active career cards? I'm sure that already happened to some. I pulled a sweet Carlton Fisk retro recently that I do look forward to Googling and babbling.

I don't really plan on chasing any other Kaline cards either (I know they'll fall out of packs whether I want them or not), although I root for the Tigers now and have tremendous respect for Kaline. Currently he plays an important not-just-a-figurehead role in the Tigers organization. Last year he was sent to the Double-A affiliate in Erie, PA, to evaluate top Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos and help in the coaching process of converting him from playing Third Base to the Outfield. The result was the promotion of Avisail Garcia to The Show instead, based on Al's visit. Both are still prime prospects for the Tigers, though I wouldn't be surprised to see one of them traded away by early summer if the Tigers bullpen needs shoring up. The Tigers are under tremendous pressure to erase memories of being swept in the World Series last fall, and there is only one possible way to do that. Just Win, Baby. Now!

I moved to Michigan in the winter of 1977, 2 full seasons after Kaline retired. I wasn't a Tigers fan before that, and the Tigers were a very unlikely selection to see on Kubek & Garagiola's Game of the Week in the mid-70s. And that was pretty much the only game in town for Baseball on the TV back then.

Not long after I was all settled in the Mitten State, I discovered Tigers TV Broadcasts with Al Kaline and George Kell. They were on a local broadcast station. As in over-the-air. For Free. All you needed was any ole TV set and probably a pair of rabbit ears antenna. I sure miss those days. Sure, a baseball game wasn't on your TV for free every single time your team played. But the occasional games were marked with some buzz around town all day long - "Hey, the Tigs are on TV today....whatcha doing later?"

George and Al were both so smooth I can barely recall who did play-by-play and who was the Story Guy (you know, the job called the "Color Analyst"). The Story Guy gets to say "Back in those days" a lot on a baseball broadcast, and it seemed to be a common lead phrase for Kaline. I got to hear him say it several times today. But really I know Kell (RIP) was the smoother one and he handled play-by-play. Kaline was a very enjoyable broadcaster though.

[Even though that is an image from a 'baseball card' from the 1983 Story of Al Kaline set by some minor publisher, I'm not posting this to get that set. That single card above I would like, yes. I like broadcaster cards and will type about them another time. But I doubt singles from that player-specific set float around much.]

They called games in an era quite different from the Baseball on the TV landscape today, where I always think we could be eventually headed towards a pay-for-each-game model if we want to watch one on TV. I would be partially OK with that if it included a pick your own camera angle menu, and a live mic placed just behind the Home Plate umpire, but I doubt that will ever happen.

At least now, all the cable subscribers in the country are helping prop up ball player's salaries through the mandatory inclusion of sports channels in expensive cable packages, whether the subscriber watches sports or not. Houston, I predict turbulence ahead. Seems all those subscribers heard about this thing called the Internet...

But not really for me. I mostly listen to Baseball on the Radio, courtesy of the mobile Internet usually. If I want to see Baseball on the TV, I reach for my baseball card binders. And I discovered one helluva great TV looking card today, but it needs a perfect presentation on the web for y'all to enjoy. A quick phone-camera shot wouldn't do it justice.

I wish I could tell you more of what Kaline discussed on the broadcast. Plenty of stories from Back In Those Days (no, not one of my goofy Frankenset titles. Yet.), and a delicate discussion of the Tigers final roster moves, considering that Kaline gives input to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski on those moves. I think they are down to 30 players as I type.

Kaline did mention that it used to be a sign of dis-respect to the pitcher if the batter took such a huge swing at the plate that the batter fell down, and tensions in that particular game would rise a little bit. I wasn't clear on whether this happened in the Tigers<>Braves game today, but I think so. Now it is just shrugged off by everyone as a failed attempt at a huge rip. That was an interesting story.

The Amazing Al also told the story of a pitcher who would do his warm-ups and for the final pitch would deliberately throw a heater wildly up into the foul ball screen, just to keep the batter thinking about what could happen on each pitch. I missed the name; I was working adjacent to a school playground and the recess shrieking was extra loud right then.

And I missed many other bits of the broadcast unfortunately, and if you have read along this far, I hope to help someone who has the otherwise wonderful MLB At Bat App '13 on their iPhone app. I will write up a little bit more on it but I was waiting till Opening Day for that - such a great app.

Why did I screw up such a great day for catching some Baseball on the Radio? Yesterday morning I was perusing the general MLB headlines (see, I told y'all I knew there was a techie solution for that) over a cup of coffee, and I set the phone down in the truck before closing the app. And then several hours later I learned the hard way a slight flaw in the At Bat App - it won't put the phone to sleep if there are x minutes of inactivity, like other apps do. And since MLB action seems to be a 24/7 proposition with possible score changes and headline articles to read, it is constantly pinging the cell towers for more MLB data nuggets. The app user must have constant brand-new baseball info. The app user must have constant brand-new baseball info. The app user ....

So when I picked up my phone to catch what turned out to be one of the best broadcasts all spring, it was nearly out of juice in the battery. And I couldn't afford to just sit in the truck and listen to the game. Some jobs I could have slid my schedule around for that one, but not yesterday's.

Sunk on loving some baseball broadcast action by my love of baseball news. Thanks MLB app designer. That's baseball of course. You win some, you lose some. And there's always next year.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Morrows Traded

Oh gee, what am I doing with a Hockey trade headline and a picture of a baseball card?

I just couldn't resist writing up that headline. I was reading my free-in-every-hotel USA Today this morning, and it informed that the Dallas Stars traded winger Brenden Morrow to the Pittsburgh Penguins for rookie defenseman Joe Morrow. Sadly, they are completely unrelated. I returned quickly to my laptop to see which sports section would write the obvious headline for the trade.

The answer? None. So I had to put it out there. I mean really, who could resist such a jaunty headline? Apparently, each and every sports editor in the USA and Canada. Sports is always so serious now. Here's all the details on the trade, from the Pittsburgh paper.

So why is Neftali Feliz overseeing today's abnormal daytime babblings? Well, I need another copy of his card for one. I already have him on a couple of Frankenset pages. He gets a Horizontal card this year, one that looks like a set-up for a Fernando Rodney arrow-shot. He looks like he is just about to blow a speedball past somebody. I've always liked this particular action shot pose. And, Neftali is sporting an Alternate Cap. That Frankenset is getting off the ground pretty slowly, I only have 3 cards in it so far — all Rangers from '13 Series One. Normally the Rangers wear a blue cap; sometimes on card's it so blue it looks purple. Like the Jurickson Profar hype cookie, errr, Rookie Card, for example.

But I want one more copy of his card because of his cool red glove. Look, I have Cool Gear. That page has Adam Wainwright and Starlin Castro on it so far, with a Jose Bautista card on-deck to join, when the sorting gets a little more caught up.

It is a confusing time of year in baseball for baseball card collectors. Everyday there is a long list of Transactions, For The Record. I like reading them in the newspaper, in the tiny print. Yeah, I know, there is a website for that. Probably a smartphone app and a Twitter feed too, so I can have up to the minute knowledge of just when last year's 13th round pick straight outta Florida Gulf Coast has finished negotiations and finally been Assigned to some A-level minor league team on the Florida Gulf coast somewhere. You know, so you too can be ready for the inquisitive glance from the actual GM on whether that was actually a sleeper selection that should have been made in the single digit rounds of the draft, the way Jonah Hill was ready for such questions in Moneyball.

One of this weekend's Transactions was Cleveland's outright release of this guy:

Probably another Why, Topps, why? effort in the minds of Red Sox collectors this year. The Transaction list usually has several details on which cards are now well on their way to being Sunset cards.

Veteran players can go through lightning quick changes of uniforms this year too. Endy Chaves will probably be in the '13 Update set this year....young mid-Atlantic collectors are probably trying to figure out how to designate Chaves for assignment to their Seattle Mariners cards when he is wearing the fabulously bright alternate home Orioles uniform on his Series One card this year, despite signing with the Royals in December. Maybe Ronny Cedeno will be in the Update set too. The Astros have to get cards in some set of baseball cards, don't they?

But getting back to tomorrows being traded, another recent Cleveland Transaction is more of why I called this time of year confusing for card collectors. You see these cards with a bit of buzz, like this one:

Yes, I know, Photoshop. Not the greatest effort there either, but service-able. Trevor always sports Great Sox, wherever he pitches. I learned that from my baseball cards. I find it a little more interesting that Topps went with a new photo for the card, one of several like it in the new Opening Day set. I'll be working up a post on that, probably for tomorrow.

Does Topps feed off the buzz around media darlings like Bauer? Perhaps. I don't read that stuff, I read baseball cards. After getting his official Rookie Card in '12 Update, a base card in Series One, making the cut for the Opening Day set, and even a spot in the '72 Mini insert set, it seems like a head-scratcher when you read "Cleveland optioned RHP Trevor Bauer to Columbus (International League)" a week before Opening Day. A bit of baseball card hype dashed again.

Or is it? Looking at MLB rosters through the prism of baseball cards can be a little deceiving. There is some rules / player-contract structuring device happening this time of year where it is to an MLB's team advantage to have a young prospect start the season at the AAA level. I don't understand how that all works, but I know a number of those excitingly-fresh-with-anything-can-happen-anticipation Rookie Card players have been assigned to the minors this way over the last few weeks. A number of Baltimore Orioles come to mind (hot card pitcher Dylan Bundy opens the season at Double-A); Mike Olt of the Rangers was just on this list as well.

So, I guess if you are the GM of the greatest baseball team ever assembled, in your own head at least —as we all are; then baseball cards can only help you so much. I don't "play" in a Fantasy League. I just keep re-arranging little pieces of cardboard instead.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

No one likes cutting their own cards...

...but it can be worth it. Fortunately, I don't have access to my random amounts of old Hostess cards to scan some severely sad seventies scissors selections.

So just where did this 2012 Justin Verlander card that you've never seen before come from?

Here is the source material:

Courtesy of Geoffrey once again. Who's Geoffrey? Which blog is his? No, no, Geoffrey is the name of the giraffe that is the mascot for Toys R Us. This is a blister pack that held 3 packs of '12 Opening Day, with the usual T-R-U mark-up, so it cost $3.99 for 3 packs. I guess the cut-your-own bonus card is supposed to help make up for that. It has been nice buying cards from Geoffrey this month at least, when the big ole cuddly giraffe is offering them up at 20% off.

And there are random surprises about the 2013 Opening Day blister packs at Toys R Us too. I'll cover that here very soon.

Although it clearly states "Cut Out Your BONUS TRADING CARD Under This Pack" at the top of the blister there, I didn't quite understand that part. I'm slow sometimes. I thought there would be a bonus card in there loose, so I wasn't all that careful peeling open the blister and I put a crease in this 2012 Topps Opening Day Justin Verlander image-variation card. Short Print? Well, in this hobby there are no hard and fast definitions of that term, that's for sure. So I'll leave that alone for a second.

It is interesting that Topps put the April 5, 2012 date on that particular piece of cardboard, just as they do with the Opening Day parallels of late, and only on the parallels now. Does that imply that some of these variant cards might have a color parallel? Don't ask me. Were any printed and cut in the normal process? Again, dunno.

I have put off this post for a few weeks of owning this "card", because I seriously didn't look forward to the required scissors work. Overall it came out pretty good I think. Two slight creases, one wavy edge. The word "mint" will certainly never be attached to the effort though.

Which was OK, but it made for good practice to get this card:

YES! I wasn't looking forward to the effort required to ever get this one. I didn't buy many cards in 2012 (a story I keep promising to tell here) and I'm going to just buy a factory set of them. (Horrors! Yes, I know.) But that means little chance to ever pull one from a pack, or any of the other short-prints from that set to trade for it. And I will have enough of a climb to get the '13 SPs that I want.

I hope maybe to discover the story of this card somewhere. Did they really put that on the scoreboard at Comerica for this shot, or was it done later with digital wizardry? Lots of questions on this one.

For the first week I owned these I thought I might have some fun with saying I scored a 2012 Justin Verlander Short Print Blank Back 1/1!!!!! But then I looked at the actual back:

Pretty boring. And I would just add that I will still use this platform to wonder about the high value of the 1/1 blank back cards. Who wants a baseball card with nothing on the back? Yeah, yeah, there is only one of them. In the Whole World! And I own it! That's what makes it valuable Dude! OK, you get your kicks your way, I'll get mine a different way.

So, of course, I still don't own the 2012 Topps Justin Verlander Short-Print Image Variation baseball card. Technically. And though it is a little hard to see in the small picture above, there is just a trace of the residual gray cardboard this wonderful slab of a cardboard hero was cut from. A Printing Error card. This makes it totally unlike any other version of this card, anywhere. A true 1/1. And I own it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Topps, why?

I know, everybody has seen this one. Quite the photograph. Kudos, Topps.

This card would have to be an all-time contender for having the most people on it with their mouths open, easily. Memorable. Maybe that is why Topps made it card #330. Raburn certainly doesn't make the cut for handing him a Uni # card. Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday, and Will Venable get the 3 #25 cards in Series One, and are all worth more than Raburn. Venable has an average set of averages in his short career, but he is a speedy guy.

And, it is a Shades Card. I like those.

The color elements on the outfield wall there, combined with the colorful fans, make it one I will be looking for in the parallels. Reminds me of a certain painter....a subject of a future blog post that ties in with a card from '12 Update. Again, a well-chosen photo...many, many points on composition.

And it was from a dramatic moment in a Tigers win. Though there are fans pictured with both a Tigers uniform and a Pirates T-shirt, Raburn is wearing his road grey uni. So most likely it is a game @ Heinz Field. Raburn played in 2 games there last June, but in the first he played 2nd Base the whole game. In the second game, on June 24th, he started at 2nd again, but in the 8th inning he was shifted to left field in place of Delmon Young. I'll get to some thoughts on Delmon shortly. Or, it might take a minute.

Jim Leyland's defensive switch was just in time. In the bottom of the 8th, ace workhorse (workhorse ace?) Justin Verlander was still mowing down the Pirates, and the Tigers held a 3-2 lead. The final batter up for Pittsburgh was their 2nd Baseman, Josh Harrison, and although not known for having a lot of power, he hit a deep fly to left. Caught by Raburn a second or so after the shutter was clicked.

The catch probably didn't make that day's highlights, but it kept the Tigers on top, and they went on to win the game with the same score — a complete game win for Verlander.

So many good things about the front of this baseball card. But why was it issued?

Topps knows the game of baseball inside out. But I have to wonder how much they keep up with the personnel moves some times, and this is one of them. Raburn was released by the Tigers on November 20th. The day before that, Jose Reyes was traded from Miami to Toronto. Topps found time before the Series One cards were printed to create a card featuring Reyes in a Blue Jays uni — Card #331, the one after Rayburn. No, I don't get off on pointing out Photoshop efforts. BFD. I have another post on that idea bubbling around my brain that will certainly piss off some readers.

Anyhow, why did they even choose to issue a Raburn card in Series One? Seriously. The Tigers have a slew of players more likely to make the Opening Day roster than Raburn looked last fall. Raburn got a lot of playing time in the first third of the 2012 season, but was hitting below the Menodoza/Uecker line and was sent down to AAA in the summer, then returned with the expanded rosters in September and got all of 7 at-bats. Avisail Garcia came up and went on to have such a hot fall that Topps put his Rookie Card in Series One too. Detroit also has Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks for the outfield.

And the week before Raburn was released, the Tigers signed free agent Torii Hunter. Career minor leaguer Quintin Berry made his Topps Card debut in the 2012 Update set and the fans in Detroit loved his high energy contributions to the team last year, though he faded a bit down the stretch. The #1 prospect in the organization, by some counts - Nick Castellanos - is converting to the outfield from his natural third base position.

How did Topps think Ryan Raburn would be playing in the outfield for the Tigers in 2013? Every baseball fan in the state of Michigan knew this would not be the case.

Raburn has always been a problematic player. Lots of baseball players are known for having poor stats in April. Raburn is well-known for having awesome stats in September. But only in September. At least until 2012 anyhow. Last year he had a great Spring Training. Currently, he is tearing it up for Cleveland on their Spring roster. Maybe Terry Francona can psych him into being a consistent all-season player. I wish Raburn all the best, unlike many Tigers fans. Though if he does break his mental logjam and becomes an every day player, I hope Cleveland trades him to the National League for another worthless starting pitcher.

Perhaps Topps just drooled so much at using the awesome photo, that they just ignored all of the above not-very-secret information. I wish Series One would be made up of players solidly under contract and likely to start to avoid these problems, of which Topps always seems to have many...
Here we have pretty much a repeat of the above problem. Delmon Young got the majority of his playing time in 2012 as the Designated Hitter for the Tigers. In 2013, Victor Martinez is returning to the Tigs to be the everyday DH. Young was not considered by the organization to have sufficient defensive abilities to play the outfield, and they have a plethora of other options there. I really don't know what the Phillies (DY's new team) are thinking on this. Their cupboard must have been that bare, or they just plan to slug their way to victory.

Once again, every Tigers fan in Michigan, and every person with much interest at all in who will the 750 players on Opening Day rosters in 2013, knew that Delmon would not be one of the 25 Tigers come April 1st. And he was released from the organization the day after the World Series.

But Topps released a 2013 card of him as a Tiger anyway.

I just don't get this. So many collectors dump all over Topps for the Photoshop cards. But these types of cards are just considered a standard part of baseball cards.

I do like Delmon's card. I always like Horizontal cards. I don't really care if Delmon is admiring a Home Run, or the shot he just hit curved to the wrong side of the Foul Pole. Either way, a classy, somewhat standard baseball card. It would have made a great shot for the Tigers ALCS card, as Young was the MVP of that series. Far better than the over-done team celebration shots, though thoughts on that may depend on how many of those cards you have been able to enjoy recently. It is great to see an Orioles fan in the presence of their ALDS card this year.

Then other day I picked up some packs of Topps stickers. I want lots of the olde English D sticker, you know, to stick on things. And I like the inclusion of a famous player for every team - I got Reggie Jackson in my first pack. Thanks Topps!

Then I discovered this one:

What the hell? Valverde was released the same day as Delmon Young. Though only 34, his wheels have fallen off so badly that he bailed on pitching for his native country in the recent World Baseball Classic. Not that the Dominicans needed him much with Fernando Rodney in their pen of course. Sadly he can only be said to be having 'issues'. He is still awaiting a phone call from anyone this spring. And again every baseball fan in the state of Michigan knew he would not be pitching for Detroit this year. It was almost the only Tigers topic in the Hot Stove League - who would replace Valverde?

There will be some kids in Michigan putting that sticker in the album upside-down. And perhaps not in a completely unmodified condition either. If, of course, kids actually buy these things. It is a nice Night Sticker at least.

So, Really, Topps — WHY?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'd like to see this on a baseball card.

And I think I have? Maybe on some especially vintage vintage?

No, not Josh Hamilton batting for the Angels. Maybe if I liked the Angels, or wasn't sick of Josh Hamilton news items, I would be more interested in seeing him play for the Halos. Though I am still in need of my first Hamilton on an Angels card — the one from the Spring Fever set.

Check out the lurking umpire in that shot. Standing there behind the pitcher. And it ain't the 2nd Base umpire either.


Yup. He is calling balls and strikes from behind the pitcher's mound. This happened the other day in a Brewers vs. Angels game in Spring Training.

I wasn't watching; I can't imagine actually watching a Spring Training game on the Boob Tube. But I like to listen to them on the radio. The announcers have a bit more freedom than normal to wander off into baseball history, and when you are listening to Bob Uecker call a game, this is gonna happen a lot anyway.

In that game in the 1st inning, a pitch hit umpire Seth Buckminster behind the plate and actually broke his hand. He retired to the clubhouse, along with another umpire who went in to put on the extra gear for calling the game from the normal position behind home plate.

This only left one umpire on the field (Tim McClelland) as they only use 3 for Spring Training games. So to keep the game moving, he called pitches from behind the mound.

Uecker brought it to my attention that this is actually the historical way to do it. And as he discussed it a little bit, an image of an umpire in action back there formed in my mind.

From a baseball card, I think. But I don't have a prayer of ever remembering which one, if I even saw it on a baseball card....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So who's Polar Pete anyway?

Just "home" from a great face-to-face trading session with William from Foul Bunt. Always nice to meet a great baseball fan. I travel a lot for work, so I hope to meet some more baseball card bloggers someday. I'll sort out the results soon I hope. Can never get caught up with sorting baseball cards. Can you?

If you have been thinking about meeting up with some random blogger that is not too far from you, I suggest you get together and trade some cardboard. You'll be glad you did.

So I've been saving up an easy post for some night when I don't have much time to bloggle about some random thing I saw on a baseball card. This might make for a head-scratcher on the blogrolls where mostly just the header image shows, but I believe in credit where credit is due. Plus, after a great night of baseball cards, I think it's time to change gears a little.

When I was setting this blog up I scrolled through the photos on my laptop for something to use for a background shot, and found the one above. I stripped off the © Topps part of the card, cuz I wouldn't want anyone to think there was some legitimate connection between my babblings and that company from Duryea (how would you like to explain that name as your hometown?) or Brooklyn or The Great Cornfield Baseball Diamond In The Sky or wherever it is that Topps baseball cards wonderfully appear from. Ireland?

So now you know. But in what Topps product did a Polar Pete faux coupon appear in?

Naturally, it was this one:

I love Wacky Packages. I even have a mis-mash of packs waiting for me to rip, so now that I blog blog blog, I'll probably do that here one night. I even have a half-dozen packs from like 6 series ago that I got at the Dollar Store. Oh what treasures might be contained.

I am always disappointed when I go in a subculture shop and they have never even heard of Wacky Packages, let alone have any for sale. I am always delighted when I find Wacky Packages inside a Big Box store, gently mocking all the rest of the products therein.

Unfortunately for historical accuracy, I can no longer match up the Polar Pete coupon to the actual Wacky sticker that was on the front of the 'card'. Maybe someday this summer when I truly have nothing else to do I'll figure that out. Yeah, right.

I think in the world of Comics and Comic Cons, the artists behind Wacky Packages get some recognition. I hope so. I'm not one to ever wander into that scene much at all, at least not far past the wonderful world of Wacky Packages. But I have always been impressed that Topps has always put interesting artists to work. I hope they continue to do so. There is a whole galaxy of them featured in Juxtapoz magazine pretty regularly that I think Topps should use as their AAA affiliate for such efforts. Which could even hybridize with their sports cards efforts. It's happened before...but that's another post for another wish list day.

Now it turns out that naturally all of the 20 coupons from that Series 1 release a half-dozen years ago are available online for your enjoyment. But back then I didn't dream up that possibility, so I had several of them scanned in. Here is another favorite:

I think a lot people on the Internet should use these. I wish Topps would have made the actual sticker for it.

Sometimes, I can't believe Topps makes these things for kids:

So insidiously subversive sometimes. This one, perhaps not so much, but it amuses me. I'm sure I'll post lots of Wacky stuff goin' down the road feelin' sad.

That bit of not-quite-kid humor reminds me of my favorite Laffy Taffy joke. Oh, yes, I love Laffy Taffy jokes too. You've never heard of Laffy Taffy jokes? Pity for you. I guess I need to "collect" some of them. Topps won't sell me gum any more, so I gotta satisfy my palette's sweet tooth simultaneously with my subconscious one somehow too.

I kinda wish I had a copy of the best one ever...if I did it would now become part of this post. Oh, wait, I forgot. Everything ever is already on the Internet:

Ouch. Sorry, kid, you were just forced to grow up a little tiny bit.

Though that one is actually a kinder, gentler, variation of the original, which has a much lower number. "What is the hardest kind of tea to swallow? Reality."

Sorry, surreality fans, no time to track down an image of that one. You'll have to complete that completist assignment on your own time/dime. A bit of homework for you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Yeah, I read the backs

And the bon mot above is one of the better ones I have ever read on the back.

Melky was suspended on August 15th, 2012, so I'm thinking the Topps Update editor must have finished his (c'mon, don't you daydream that Erin Andrews actually does this?) work and had the cards off to the presses before that date. I'm sure they would have preferred a Do-Over on this card.

Personally, I wish Update would come out a fair amount earlier. I think it would sell better if it arrived with more time left in the regular season. I'm no expert on such matters. A release date of October 1st means many fans who's team isn't in the playoffs are probably buying football cards instead, methinks. I know Update is tied up with the All-Star game now, and the trading deadline of course.

But last year's Update set creates a question on this. The blockbuster Red Sox <> Dodgers trade was announced August 25, 2012. And Topps had time to create a few super-duper-short printed cards of the major stars in that trade. Perhaps those versions were created and printed during production and the special cards then hit the market a bit later in October; I don't know.

Probably an accidentally goofy statement on the back of the Melky Cabrera card wasn't high on the list of details to cover for the release of the set. I'm sure it is much more important to Topps to keep the amounts and distribution of their manufactured rarities just exactly perfect. But with the All-Star game on July 10, and the so-called trading "deadline" (don't ask me) on July 31st, and then a blockbuster trade on August 25th still kinda-sorta being able to make it into the Update Topps run by Europeans who just take the summer off?

It seems like when I was a kid, those wacky Traded cards came out in late summer, so you still had time to play with them, while baseball was still being played. Then you could take that card where you had crossed out one team's name and written in the player's new team and stick it in your bicycle spokes to give an already mangled card a properly mangled burial. The new Traded card set the record straight, and that was the one to keep. Who needs a card with the wrong team on it?

But there is one other remote possibility about that sentence - Topps has total faith in Melky. And some people do say that about PED's - they don't help you make contact with the ball. Maybe the greenies do though. More upper-body strength should get you more hits though, as your drives rip past the infielders faster than they used to. So perhaps Topps is declaring that Mr. Cabrera will spray the ball all over the Sky-Dome just as he did at the new Candlestick or whatever the heck they call the Giant's ball-field, and like he did at Kauffman Stadium too. But I doubt it. On both counts, if you are following closely here.

I'll be watching to see what they put on his 2013 cards, that's for sure. I'd wager that they avoid the whole thing by adding his minor league stats to his Series Two card, so there is no room for comment.

Whew. Oh where a sentence on the back of a baseball card can take me. To keep from getting too wordy yet again (I thought this would be a short post. That first sentence on the back of the card kinda just says it all, not that that stopped Me), let's look at the front of this card:

I actually love this card as a baseball card. It would make several of my Frankensets I like to look at - it's a Horizontal Card, There's A Baseball On My Baseball Card (with such good stop-motion photog action these days you can see the seams on a live pitch), and it's a Bunt Card. 

I think it might be the first Bunt Card I can recall actually — I will soon post another one to launch a quest for all the Bunt Cards I can find. 

And then Melky has a red bat. I can't recall where else I've seen a red bat. One other Giants card in the last 2 years I think, but I forget which. And since baseball cards are my main visual reference for the game, I really noticed this one. Now of course I discovered this card, like everyone else, with full knowledge of the partially comical Cabrera saga. But looking at the red bat on there, it makes you wonder a it a sign? Melky with red, trouble ahead? Dunno. And I haven't figured out what goofy name to use for a Frankenset full of colorful baseball gear - Hey, Look: My Bat Is RED won't work for the blue glove and pink bat I have discovered elsewhere in the world of Topps recently. Frankenset meme under construction here.

As for cards in the steroid era, I wonder if today's news on Topps remaining exclusive until 2020 will have any other details in the fine print. Not that we card collectors will ever be able to read those details, at least not until 2040 or so when Topps sells off it's copy of the contract perhaps.

But given the flap over even printing the name "Pete Rose" in tiny type on the back of a baseball card this year, it leads me to an obvious thought. If Topps is MLB and MLB is represented on Topps baseball cards, perhaps part of any PED suspension could include Topps. So a busted player would be dropped from certain sets via some mechanism.

I mean, PED's, and even non-performance enhancing drugs, are banned in part because of the poor & dangerous example they set for kids. Sometimes I think too many things in our country are set up that way in my opinion, but this is one I can agree with easily. What about the children? But I'm here to write about baseball cards, not Society.

So when the hypothetical young baseball card collector is building a set and there is no Melky Cabrera in it, even though the kid remembers him winning the All-Star Game MVP last year and he just saw him go 1-for-5 leading off for Toronto on the Saturday Game of the Week, the no-baseball-card-for-cheaters lesson hits home a little bit. If, in fact, kids still buy baseball cards, rather than just Comic Book Guys who like to hang out down at the Android's Dungeon and bitch bitch bitch about their cardboard master all day.

Just a random tangent my mind was led to by the back of a Topps baseball card. Where will these things lead me next?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bring me the Arm of Octavio Dotel

Or at least his baseball cards. Hurry, before that Arm realizes It's Alive! and simply clonks poor Octavio on his noggin and begins a reign of terror.

I love the digital photography era. There is frequently such great separation of subject and background. (Comerica Park on the above card....I'll be starting a Frankenset for it I think).

But sometimes the separation of the elements in the photo can get a little nutty. And then Dotel has a funky motion that makes me think his Arm is actually a separate creature. Just try and name another player with a larger fore-arm than bi-cep. And it surely ain't natural to have one's arm going on it's own special journey back there:

I have those two cards by the way. And his '11 Topps Blue Jays card, and most likely his '12 Topps Tigers card.

I really doubt the following image is on a card, because except on the sad subset of All-Star cards these days, 99% of baseball cards show the player's face. And here his fore-arm seems as one from a normal human, but this shot makes my shoulder hurt:

I swear that Arm is a quasi-independent creature Dotel has cut a deal with to throw baseballs for him.

Whoa. Did you just hear that sound in the closet? I think it's Dotel's Arm, recently escaped from an old Rat Fink card of some sort, and it wants out. It's got a baseball in it's grip, and it's gonna throw it. At you.

Surprisingly, I have resisted all temptation to post images of Dotel making a Funny Pitching Expression Face. His is a good one — he sticks his tongue out at the batter it appears. But the vast majority of pitchers on baseball cards make a Funny Pitching Expression Face. That idea just gets too old and overwhelmed too quickly when you have a pile of baseball cards to paw through.

So I didn't expect to ever do this, but I am launching a Player Collection. My very first one.

I doubt I will have much competition for all those rare short-printed Octavio Dotel auto-relic refractor cards, will I? Too bad the serial #/d cards for him won't have enough demand to merit a press run to ever match his uni #. That sucks.

I am only partially intrigued by the Arm. I have also always been interested in the players who play for the most teams. I think at 13 teams, Octavio holds the current record, which is good because he has absolutely zero League Leader in Italics on the backs of his cards. And the All-Time Record, I believe. So yeah, a PC for a player holding an All-Time Record. Makes sense I think. What about baseball card collecting makes sense?

Plus, 'ole Dotel is currently a Tiger, and probably likely to retire as a Tiger, though his Arm looks eternal to me. Not very rubbery, but not ready to quit yet either.

Another former Tiger also intrigues me as a frequent club-house hopper, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. What is the deal with him?

Why do some players end up on so many teams? For Dotel, it's probably the nature of being a situational reliever. Surprisingly, he is not a lefty; I would think they would bounce around the leagues the most. But probably southpaws stay put more often than righties 'cuz there's never enough lefties to go around.

Other times though, you have to wonder. Does the player just simply fart in the clubhouse too much? Baseball does a pretty good job of keeping what happens in the clubhouse, in the clubhouse. All pro sports teams try to do that, with varying degrees of success. I think MLB does it the best. So I will probably never know why Edwin Jackson gets traded so much.

So in the months to come when you all finally get to see my wants/needs/desires and the pile of bait I am accumulating to obtain them, you can always offer in any Octavio Dotel card you might have. Any manufacturer, any team, any year. It will be neat to see who got his team right the most times, and whether he gets a card for all 13 teams, which I kinda doubt, or for all 15 seasons he has played on an MLB team. And who simply banished him to the Relievers Set, or the Update Set as it's described on the packs.

But I am still a month out from being reunited with my main collection of baseball cards, and 6~7 weeks out from enough time to type up lists of them, etc. I just came off a job without access to baseball cards......err, I mean the Internet, and all you fine folks. The other day, a Reaper flew over me. I thought maybe I should try to take a picture of it, but then it might lock on to me. Such is life working next door to a bombing range. Thankfully, they weren't practicing sorting their night cards.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Pitcher Isn't Pitching

I think this isn't an uncommon baseball card theme to collect. Since this is a visual medium, should I use the new meme for the meme idea, the word "meme"? And is that 'me-me' or 'may-may' or 'meem' or maym'? It's not one you hear out loud much.

Anyhow I know I've read of the idea on Dimebox; I'm sure these cards catch the eye of lots of collectors.

I'm not real thrilled that 2013 Topps doesn't have the player's position on the front of the card. I use baseball cards to keep up with the helps me tremendously in knowing the players. I'll be digging a little deeper into Topp's habits on this soon.

I was talking cards with the owner of the FLCS where I was working in late January, and he pointed out that at least you could tell all of the pitchers by the picture on the the front of the card.

Except sometimes you can't count on that not-pitcher picture being a pitcher picture. Have some drinks and try saying that out loud.

There have been several very good ones the last few years I will be posting. I really like this one from 2013 Series One. Instead of the standard Look-The-Pitcher-Has-A-Baseball-Bat-In-His-Hands, the Pitcher Is Fielding The Ball. Cool. It takes more than a glance to realize he is in a pitching-looking pitcher pose, but he isn't standing on the mound. Can't say I can recall seeing that on a baseball card before, but then I mostly skipped the billion card decade called "the 90s."

Baseball dash Reference dot com quickly decodes the blurry Royal running by as Mike Moustakas, hitting a single (he beat the throw) in the bottom of the third on July 16, 2012. The Mariners won 9-4 and Vargas got the win, allowing 3 run over six innings — all immediately before the Moustakas hit. Jeff Franceour would fly-out and end the inning on the next at-bat, stranding Moustakas at 1st.

Such a mysterious team for me, the Mariners. Barring playoff action, the Tigers play the west coast teams for 2 series a year each. The Mariners always seem to have a bunch of good players on my baseball cards, but never much of a team. What happens in baseball after 10pm eastern time stays on the West Coast and not so much in my mind.

I am building a binder page for this Frankenset idea. I have 3 such cards, one from each of the last 3 series from Topps, and I haven't been able to examine any of the 3 2011 series or all of 2012 series 1 & 2. I will post them eventually, they are both great, great cards that team and player collectors may have never seen.

I'm not sure if I want to blow this up with similar memetic (ooooh, a favorite new two dollar word!) cards out of my 2011-2013 collecting focus, but I probably will. 

Spring Trades

Though this blog has enabled me to launch my first baseball card trades of the 21st Century, I have had real baseball player trades on my mind lately. I'll have a question on card trades in a bit.

So I have been listening to the Tigers Spring Training games some and the big question is whether their rookie Bruce Rondon can become their closer for 2013. I did miss today's broadcast with Rondon's turn to pitch unfortunately. He did well this time, with a couple strikeouts I think.

But it remains to be seen if he will be The Closer on the 25 man roster on April 1. Has there been a baseball card listing a player's position as "Closer" yet? There are DH cards, how about Closer cards? Maybe the first one made could make a nice tribute to Mariano Rivera.

Will there be another Closer in his 40s? It seems to be trending the other long till a teenager strides to the mound in the 9th to strike out Bryce Harper?

But if Rondon doesn't work out for this year, the Tigers will have to make a trade. I would sure hate to be a GM needing to fill holes on a club this time of year. Cough, cough, Brian Cashman, cough cough. They'd better hope the players at Scranton were good last year....

One potential for the Tigers if they trade for a closer would be the player on the card above, by random chance the blue parallel version of his 2012 Topps Update (this card was on the top of the box I opened to retrieve him). It's almost surprising Miami could consider trading away anything else at this point, but perhaps so.

Topps came through for me with that card. I had never heard of this player, but the back of his card backed up my favorite radio announcers on their thinking:

WHIP 1.17, 55 K's in 54 innings, a bit tough to see there, sorry. I am glad WHIP is on cards now, I can get that one. I'm still not so good with SLG and OPS on the hitter's cards though.

Now I don't know much about the Marlins bullpen and the depth of it and what they hold on the farm, etc., but baseball cards sure helped me follow what Dan and Jim were saying about this player. He looks like good potential closer material to me. Maybe the Marlins need a young starter or a young outfielder, we'll see.

But what about trading baseball cards? My question is do you blogger reader types ever pull off 3 way trades. Such as the blockbuster a few years back that sent Granderson to the Yankees, Kennedy to the Diamondbacks and Scherzer & Jackson to the Tigers.

Let's say I finally get around to putting up a Trade Bait post of 2 Carlos Gonzales goodies I picked up this spring - his '13 Heritage Short-Print and his Silver Slugger "manu-relic" (one heck of a strange English construction there). A Rockies collector sees that and knows I want one of the Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown die-cut autos that are a redemption item from Topps this year. The CarGo PC guy knows someone else who has it, and has something that third General Collector wants. Voila!

Does this ever happen? Just curious.

And droopy eyelids make me all warm and fuzzy thinking about the Yankees having to play people under 30 this year. Good night.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I just can't buy a Complete Set

It just goes against all that is baseball cards. To me at least.

When I was a kid, buying a Complete Set of cards was an unreal proposition. Surely, it was something only this kid could do:

I mean, I would have to save up all year long to buy a Complete Set of baseball cards. That kid could just buy one whenever he wanted. And if I spent all year saving for a Compete Set, how could I enjoy baseball cards all summer long? I would have to be stashing money away to buy the Complete Set....when? By the time I had that much money, the World Series would be over. What good would baseball cards be then?

And now, nothing has changed. Well, wait, everything has changed. I could walk in my nearest un-friendly big-box 'mart and buy a Complete Set whenever I want. It would even certainly be way, way cheaper than buying fat packs, blasters, rack packs, and plain ole regular packs and ending up with piles of extra baseball cards and all those usually silly inserts and dastardly parallels.

I still can't buy a Complete Set.

But I think I will.

It seems to be the only way to acquire the card pictured on the header for this post. And I want that card. I love the idea of owning a tiny smidgen of dirt from Fenway Park. I trust Topps actually got the dirt from there. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. I'm not at all interested in relic cards and could care less where they come from and will most likely use any I happen to acquire to just trade for the cards I do want.

But I like Dirt Cards. You know, like this one:

I'll have lots more to babble about Dirt in the future. I would post a more favorite selection, but my baseball cards are a few miles away right now, and Theriot's is the only one from 2013 Series One that I can remember right now (it is a pretty good one actually). I also know I will probably develop a desire to own some of the old Stadium Club cards that feature actual Dirt. In the meantime, I want to own some dirt from Fenway Park.

I have never visited Fenway Park, though I have wanted to since I was 8 years old. I got close once, and I thought I would be ticking that box on the checklist. A college buddy was renting a place right across the street from the Green Monster. How freaking cool is that? I was in Boston in late September 1991, for a series of events that also featured difficult to acquire tickets, but those were in the evenings. The Red Sox had some day games. I was so excited - I had built the Topps set that year for the first time in a long time. I love that set.

Let's go, right? Nope. All sold out, way in advance, I was told. I figured it would be just like the old Tiger Stadium - always some bleacher seats sold every Game Day. If you wanted to go to the game, you just went down to the stadium real early and got in line. But the Red Sox sold all their tickets in advance, and though I can't recall the exact baseball details, I believe Boston was still in it that third week of September, so the price for a scalped ticket was way out of my sorta post-college student range. Besides I needed the money for the night time.

So visiting Fenway Park is still very high on my wish list of things to do in life. In the meantime, I can somehow vicariously enjoy the thrill of the Park by owning that card. And it seems I have to buy a Complete Factory Set of 2012 Topps to do it.

And that will work out, because how else can I know which cards I need for my weirdo Frankensets, if I don't have a Complete Set of them to look at?

So now I have two reasons to buy a Complete Set. Though since this is baseball, I guess I should need three reasons to break such a solid long-standing tradition. I'll try and think of another one. I'll have to. It might help ease the pain of buying my first Complete Set. Did I just type that?

Why didn't I just collect The Topps Set in 2012? Well that is a story for another night. I will need more internet time to find all the right images to explain why not.