Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chasing History Jumps the Shark

I know it's probably a challenge to dream up the text and subjects for each and every baseball card that makes up whatever sort of set is being constructed. I mean once you combine oddball stats in oddball ways long enough, the well must run dry.

So, now we have Home Run Derby cards creeping into insert if there aren't enough in the Update set already.

And swinging a baseball bat at a baseball without a batting helmet on is like, well, wearing a leather jacket while water-skiing.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

One side disputing the other

Sorting out some new Heritage acquisitions tonight courtesy of a trade with All The Way to the Backstop, and I found this card I had put in the Huhhh? pile:

As you know, yep, I read the backs - this one says "Cole, a bespectacled..."

The question is, does Topps read the front?

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Oldest Active Baseball Card

Could be this one?

I see Giambi got a hit tonight. I've been trying to hold off posting this one till he hit a Home Run, for a bit more splash. 'cept I unexpectedly ended up in the town up the way there with the great Baseball Card Store, so I did a little shopping, and found a neat box of the '91 Traded set. Plus I need a short topic for tonight. Tired.

Topps got a hit here too. Team USA. Red, white and blue. There, was that so hard Topps?

I love the '91 set and collected it in the day, probably pulled in by the anniversary angle or something. But I never picked up the Traded extras. The shop-owner was concerned that it might not be complete, as it was not sealed, and he was right. The Team USA cards were all missing. I do own the one above from way back, not today, which is somehow the only one I have. So I will have to track those down, but I can't say it will be high on the to-get list. I've lived without them for 21 years, I think I'll make it through some more. For a five-spot, the card shop was happy, and I am happy.

I enjoyed thumbing through the 100-some cards I do have, and found some to post and mess around with some other time.

As for oldest active cards, I'm pretty sure I know what the next one is too, someone absolutely positively due to retire this year. But it's not a card I have or want as it is from a set I don't collect and it is also a non-baseball image; indeed it could be one of the first of such cards and that has been a terrible trend. For the '14 season, I won't have a clue, because after '91 my baseball card itch went into semi-hibernation for ten years.

When time and life and baseball move on into the future, it will probably be about impossible to discover the oldest active baseball card amongst all those kid cards today. Instead it is a bit of an interesting question to wonder which is the youngest player ever depicted on a card. That would take more research into birthdays and even set release dates then I would ever look into on such a trend in the hobby I'm just not into — though I also bought some cards today that partially make me a hypocrite on that idea. Something else I'll get around to-it some other night.

Last year 2 players retired that were older than me. The last such players. One didn't even receive a card during his final season after a career chock-a-block full of cards, and left us with this one, a great In Action edition:

The other was Jamie Moyer, who's final game was in May, 2012. I have some thoughts and associated cards to post with his final card some other night.

Omar's final game was on the final day of the season. I made sure to catch the radio call, which was nice - he had one hit. But when he came out of the game in the 8th or so for a final crowd salute, well, I know at some point in the early fall in Cleveland, there will probably be a certain small set of fans who have the same thought I had 9 months ago now.

I guess my shot at showing up for Spring Training and making it to The Show is officially impossible now.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let's trade ... empty binder pages?

Huhhh? Yep. I need a binder page. A special binder page. The one that holds these little guys:

But I only need one really. I like the little Kimball Champion cards, and I want to keep a page of them to enjoy. I'm not going to collect the rest of the set; I've got a little more than 1/3 of the whole 150. I know there are still some more in the pile of '11 Update I didn't finish sorting last night.

I will get a list together, and I know there is even one I want that I don't have - the Tigers version of Miguel Cabrera. There might be one or two more, and then 30 some Kimball Champions will be up on the block. Babe will stay with me though.

This one here, though, is up for grabs:

I picked just 3 to scan to jazz up a post about empty binder pages somehow. I like the umpire being in the center of the frame. A long while back on this blog, I had this little card in mind in a post about the spring training game this year where for various reasons the umpire crew got so short-handed they had to call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher's mound — 19th century style. I had thought it might be depicted in this set, but it just doesn't go that far back.

This one gets a little closer to my thought:

...but I know that is just your usual 2nd base umpire. Brett's card can go to your house if you'd like, all 3 of them (yo, super-collector!). The A's starting staff shouldn't be called a rotation; it always seems more like a merry-go-round to me and I hardly ever have a clue about any of their pitchers. That is a puzzle too convoluted even for my baseball cards to untangle.

And yeah, I would like to find just one of those special pages that hold these cards.

I can offer up something you might not expect....a whole 100 pack of 9 pocket pages. Sure, a crazy imbalanced trade. But I don't want the things. I bought them at a memorabilia store. They came in a black box, and I didn't look too closely at it as I put together a few purchases. They are from BCW, rather than Ultra-Pro.

But they aren't Ultra-Pro Platinums. I bought a couple packages of those this spring, and those are what I want to keep using. I'm not that picky about baseball cards, but I definitely am about the pages I put them in. The BCW pages I have are serviceable enough, but just aren't the best they can be. They don't seem to be perfectly flat to start out with, like the Platinums. So I hardly want to use them for things like this year's color parallels, that slowly curl if they are not in a tall stack of cards. However they aren't as flimsy as the ones for sale retail in the Big Box card aisle, the ones with the faux perforated edges.

I haven't been able to find Platinums for sale retail since March. The store I go to in the winter months only carries those I think, because they simply are the best. Why mess with less? Oh, yeah, $$$ of course. I don't plan to own dozens of binders, and I do like to look at my cards, and I think they will look better in the nice flat Platinums.

I have some set to arrive imminently, and then I can get back to shrinking the stacks of cards into their new homes with their strange non-numerical neighbors the way I put some sets of cards together.

So please drive a little faster Mr. Brown, or Mr. Fed, or Mr. DHL, or whoever brings me the Platinums. I think some of those stacks are starting to sway a little bit.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Baseball Card Therapy

I've learned a helluva lot about baseball cards in the last five months, and that has been great. One of my life lessons along the way crept up on me very slowly, but it definitively crystallized for me early this morning.

I noticed over these months of reading baseball card blogs how many bloggers have to take a break from frequent posting, and not by choice. Real Life always intervenes with life's never-ending stream of good and bad chaos, and the baseball cards have to be put down for a time.

Now perhaps at times this leads to blogs going dark for long periods, but I think more often than not it doesn't. People want to get back to socializing with others over a bit of pack ripping, card sorting, and trade pulling.

A few blogs have pointed this out very explicitly. I also noticed it early on in my own overly busy life the last few months. Then last Friday I heard a direct quote on the subject. I was placing an order for some supplies (and, heck yeah, some cards along'll see) from an online vendor selected essentially at random for having both the exact supplies and cards I wanted. There was a slight problem with the billing address vs shipping address with my debit card, and I ended up on the phone with the company. This led to an incidental chat about another hobby revealed by one of my email addresses, and how rare it was to meet people with both hobbies. Then the baseball card fan on the other end of the line gave me the quote - "Oh yes, it's always nice to sit down over some cards. So therapeutic."

That is spot on. Tonight after I finish typing this post, I am going to sit down and just sort some big stacks of cards until my eyelids droop, which probably won't take long. I have some trades due to leave Base Set Calling HQ ASAP, and even one trade that has come in that I haven't even opened yet. I'm very sorry to be late and should be back to mailing, etc., on Thursday. I finish a very, very long 7 month "season" of my main work tomorrow too, and I will celebrate by going out to watch a baseball game on color television I hope.

But work has nothing to do with why I will be seeking sanctuary in card numbers tonight. Numbers have always soothed my brain. I used to look at four digit numbers and deconstruct and reconstruct them in various ways in my head, though that has faded over time. So the ever elegant game of baseball has always appealed to me....and of course led to my love of baseball cards.

Last night I had plans to finish up all the trade work I now have planned for Thursday. But Real Life intervened as it all too often does. A pet of 16 years acquaintance died early this morning as the daylight was appearing. It was that time. Unfortunately the situation deteriorated too fast overnight to ask a vet for some help easing the obvious pain involved, and it quite unexpectedly became a long hard, generally helpless night, finally eased by a rain shower supplying enough white noise for me to fall asleep. Even plentiful stacks of cards near at hand couldn't help through that night.

Now I understand this was just a four legged companion, and the loss does not compare to losing a dear friend or family member, as I know has been part of some blogger's lives this year.

When I awoke a few hours later, I had little choice but to brew up some coffee and head out to a jobsite. Over the cups of coffee, I reached for my phone to read some card blogs, and quickly found what I was looking for, without knowing what exactly I was looking for right then. It was just a simple post about the simple joy of discovering a wonderful new baseball card (one I had thought to babble about, but would have never dreamed up what my fellow blogger did), like this one following here, to supply a nice visual header on the blog rolls:

What a card. I pulled it just tonight when I turned to just a little ripping therapy, to go along with this writing therapy.

Of course it can go on the Tatooine binder page, and my Airborne page. If I were to launch a Sweet Shadows page (uhh-oh), it could fit there too. And if we finally reach 9 different players with the last name Cabrera all simultaneously active on Topps baseball cards, well...oh dear. It obviously brings to mind a certain famous player who can't currently be seen on Topps products. I vote for more stealth homage cards for that player, Topps. I'm sure it will end up on many best-of-Series lists.

What I especially like about it is the dirt stain Everth already has on his right leg — this is his second time catching air this game.

Now a part of baseball card blogging is revealing your life's connection to baseball cards. As my profile states, I came back to everyday collecting in 2011 after a long break, though I generally have some miscellaneous cards from every year of my life, even when I wasn't building a set that year. My cards have definitely added to my appreciation of the game of late, and I don't expect to walk very far away from them any time soon.

But I didn't collect much in 2012, and have hinted at some reasons why. There are two of them; I will write about the other one, with scads of baseball card pictures to go along with (I promise), another time.

The non-card reason for sitting out 2012 after such a great 2011 was a basic lack of community. Buying and absorbing baseball cards by yourself is OK, but is something that is much more enjoyable to share. Living in a small town very far from any card shop to talk cards at made the hobby quite a bit more dull. When I was back to ripping more than a few packs in 2011, I kept thinking "I will just use this new Internet thing to get back to trading baseball cards." I actually have a long experience with the Internet, having sent my first cross-state-lines email in about 1988, but not with cards on the Internet.

But I just couldn't find a hospitable place to talk cards. The card forums I wandered around just didn't do it for me. So much focus on the buying and selling of cards, and always with lots of negativity and other, well, repetitive not-positive sentiment. I could hardly ever find a simple "I love this card." Plenty of "I love the value of this card" though.

I have come to think this is likely a generational / age deal, though of course there is one great blogger who disproves that, and I think there are others. But the card forums seem to be the domain of a younger crowd on average than the blogging world. And the younger collectors, well, I shouldn't stereotype, generalize, etc. I don't know, I just know that the $ side of collecting cards is just not for me. Neither is the all too common naked vitriol nature of the Internet, where anonymous speech comes with certain downsides.

But this post isn't another woe-is-the-hobby screed. I'll bore you to tears on that topic some other night. I just wish I had discovered the world of baseball card blogs in the fall of 2011, when I first typed the wonderful words "baseball cards" into an Internet search engine. Then I probably wouldn't be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2012 cards I skipped over until I acquired them from nice Mr. Therapeutic on Friday.

So I just wanted to thank you all for publishing your love of baseball cards on humanity's new social medium here. It has been a wonderful five months.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some baseball cards to sort.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Would Jon Rauch fit on this card?

Nice card. You gots your red, your blue, and your white. Classic. Baseball.

Now why did the fan in the stands wearing green have to go and muck it all up?

Interesting lines on this card. They create a certain effect on me...but I just can't seem to fit it into words or I might bump into my time ceiling for this evening.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Black Beauties

A slice of live evil. Easily the most evil card I have pulled this year, but since I am a Tigers fan, I mean that in a very good way. I have been wanting to post this one for a while, and I think finally it is about that time. If you were standing on the corner, this one might just make you want to duck into a cellar door.

Black. Red. Power colors. The ball will come out of a black and red glove, delivered by a power arm.

Tigers. Jungle. Yes, I know that is overdone. After this masterpiece, probably Topps should find a new spot in Lakeland to pose the Tigers; this meme should be retired.

What's up with Max's eye there? That is a condition called heterochromia. The colors of his eyes don't match; he was simply born that way. I have to wonder how well you can see that from the batter's box. Which makes me think that would be an awesome place to take a picture of a pitcher from. I wonder if that has ever been done for a baseball card? Anyhow, sometimes you can see that on Max's cards, sometimes you can't. This is one of the clearest examples.

It was a pity tonight (especially for the Red Sox), that Clay Buchholz was still unable to start. I don't know how much power Fox has on moving game times around the way NBC can with football games, but I would imagine a Scherzer<>Buchholz match-up of unbeatens would have been a Game of the Week. I would also imagine the press would have decided the winner should be the All-Star starter for the American League.

Speaking of Tigers in the jungle, that is something the Tigers have added to the list of various charitable causes they work with.....efforts to keep wild tiger populations healthy via the sale of a special stamp, if you feel like collecting something besides baseball cards. It made for a nice event in Washington D.C. back in May, which included Max and his girlfriend. I would post the pictures from that day but it connects a bit too much to the way the top Google Image suggestion for each and every baseball player's name you type in is 'wife' or 'girlfriend'. Weird world we live in.

I recently wandered across a nice blog post detailing a few other things about Max's life and one of his first cards. I got to see Max pitch a game last year and I'm glad I did.

And of course I couldn't have pulled that great Scherzer card from a pack all by itself. Here's the card that came next:

A 3 card pack becomes a Tigers hot-pack! These are of course from the 3 pack blister pack of Heritage available at Target. Well, sort of available. I've been into a lot of Big Box stores this year looking for not-your-everyday packs of baseball cards, and these are some of the toughest ones to find. I can't get to a Target that often, but I have to wonder if there will even be any left this year, as I strike out on finding them more often than opposing batters do against Scherzer.

There is something else interesting about these 3 card is the next card from that first pack:

Nice card. 2 short-prints out of 3. I'm not sure how these were collated, but I don't think the short prints were short printed on the black parallel versions.

I have been able to find only 2 other packs (only one each time I was in Target). Here is the next one:

Not really a fan of the lime green on the regular Cardinals Heritage cards, but it works great here.

The Diamondbacks cards look good in black as the lack of an extra color border on the team name make them look centered correctly.

And another short-print! In general I have to wonder about distribution and collation of these little packs. Here is the third pack:

Yet another short-print, which was followed by yet another short-print:

Hey, haven't we seen that card already? Yep, but that's what I got. It is so nice I don't mind showing it twice. And I'll leave it as the final image too, even though I should have one more card to show. But I won't, since it is another double - Prince Fielder. 2 packs each with the same 2 Tigers. One of those things that make you go hmmmmm. Pretty sorta ingenious of Topps/Excello to deliver those right to me via a store in Michigan.

I am just a tad bummed about these in that I wish I would have known of their existence earlier; then I wouldn't have bought any other type of Heritage packs. Though perhaps then I wouldn't have pulled a different super purdy parallel I'll show you some other night as the keystone of a different post.

I'm not sure what to do with these. What's that you say, these are up for trade? Well, not really. I think they would make an outstanding sampler page as there is no way I could consider chasing a set of these. So having 9 is the perfect #. But of course, I only have 7 different cards, so I need to trade a little. Ideally I could get  some of the other Tigers. Verlander and Cabrera would be outstanding. But I dream too big on trades I think. And if I made it to 4 Tigers on such a page, perhaps I should go for a set of Black Tigers. Most likely I just want to get a third Tiger, to make one row of them.

I think I'll just add these to my list list list and see what happens I guess.

And I still have a Heritage post or two to go. Perhaps I'll never catch up. I am enjoying Series Two so far, though I haven't ripped all my packs yet. Polar Pete is keeping his eye on a few cards in that Series already, but I also have some posts from Series One still to go as well. A baseball card is worth a thousand words you know.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sea Turtle makes it to near-cardboard

On the blister pack there. Kind of more of a stiff paper than cardboard. Not brown. Keep swimming Mr. Sea Turtle. Topps is bound to reprint you some day on actual brown cardboard if we keep whining enough. Maybe in Archives 2031. You'll simply have to download the code from Topps and send it over to the 3D printer. It will look and feel just like cardboard, and you can pick how thick to make it.

Ho-Hum. Gambled on finding an image variation in this retail set and lost.

I like the team sets Topps puts together for that reason. In fact, I first picked up the NL set with that one player from Washington on the cover, thinking the big box store thought we had all moved to the D.C. area. I had to think, hey, perhaps I'll find a bonus card not in the regular Series. I'll be buying some more of the actual team sets, but probably not until 2015 when they are just a couple bucks apiece. I have a sinking feeling that I'll be going for a Master Set of all the Sea Turtle cards. Not all the inserts they get packaged with, just all of the cards with Sea Turtles on them. At least the Short Prints in Series 2 look to be not-so-shortly printed.

But all you get in this set is a foil stamp of the American League logo. I'm sure these will bedevil card shop employees in the 2030s with non-collectors bringing one in from this storage locker they purchased, hoping for cash money from that special stamp. Best of luck there. Here is an example:

Based on all other parallel prices, that one is the one most likely to be wanted by anyone, for their double rainbow of every variant possible.

The Checklist runs like this

Reyes      ... hey, he wasn't in the American League last year. This is not an All-Star set.

A little heavy on the infielders there Topps, the American League better hope none of their outfielders get injured this year. I won't be picking up the National League blister pack to make head-to-head match ups.

The five cards that are from Series 2 are all the same as their previous editions in Opening Day, just to supply some reporting here.

So if you need a foil eagle stamp for a PC entry, by all means offer me up anything you like. I like baseball cards, those will work.

Don't forget all these great features:

American League™ embossed Eagle logo Silver Foil Stamping

Unique AL-# card number on the back

Unique Topps production code number on the back

Not available in packs

Pack-fresh Gem Mint condition

Order today and receive Bonus! regular Series edition of each card. That's right, TWO cards!

Boredom sold separately in this year's Panini packs.

Too Much Loot

Sensory overload tonight. I went to a Baseball Card Store! Oh, sure there were some other sport cards in there (not many), and some baseballs and other baseball Americana, as they call it (even less). And the customer in the shop at my arrival had just delivered a miniature replica of the "Bird Nest" stadium from the Beijing Olympics that lit up, as a gift for the owner. Oh, the things you see every day...

Mostly, though, this store just sold Baseball Cards. Yep, good ole 2.5" x 3.5" Baseball Cards. Made of cardboard. Baseball Cards.

Baseball Cards everywhere. A "Wall of Wax". Singles. Sets. Boxes. More boxes.

I've been to 6 other Friendly Local Card Shops this year. One wasn't even actually friendly. This one is probably the MVP of the group. I am looking forward to doing little reviews of all of them, when I run out of cards to blab about.

But that might take a while. Because.... I bought a bunch of Baseball Cards! Some thoughts:

I like the Day-Glo orange Archives parallels. I have a Parallel Problem, for sure. But I only pulled 2 of them in 4 packs. The '85 Wei-Yin Chen is up for trade. I'd like a '90, or a '72 for it. Day-Glo of course.

Yeah, I only got 4 of those packs. I really respect that the owner of the store is very carefully spreading them across his whole customer base. Reading comments on internet-only-card-dealing-punks forums that ran like "yeah, I only got 70 of those packs. I sold all the Day-Glos on the damn eBay and made a tidy profit, after those eBay pricks took their vampire cut" made me wonder once again if I'd rather just participate in this hobby all by myself, without even ever knowing about all the esoteric eye candy out there.

But, I only got 4 of those packs, and 2 of the goodies. Topps dangles the carrot in front of my nose, and I keep trudging forward trying to reach it. And I wonder why they call them "Master Sets."

Moving on somewhat...the Blue Sparkle parallels are ridiculous. Hypnotic crack from the Master. I only received one from Series One, I think a kindly FLCS took pity on me if I recall correctly, and I was very fortunate to trade it for the Blue Sparkle of my very first PC I've ever dreamed up. I think I traded card #221 for #220 with Colbey in SC; he got one of his PC players. Neither of those cards really showed me the potential of that parallel. Four new ones from Series 2 have.

Yep, four "Week 2" packs. Four Blue Sparkles. No Silver Slates. Boo-hoo. Really. I'll have to actually buy one. I've never liked buying a baseball card. I don't know why that is. I like ripping and trading, but not card shopping.

I'm glad there is no wrapper redemption for Series 2. This way I can open all my new packs a lot more leisurely for the next few weeks, and absorb the cards the way I like. But that is why I got my Series 1 wrappers mailed in just a few days too late.

But I wish there was a wrapper redemption for Series 2. That way I could get more crack by just giving more money to the Master, and his retail agents. I'd probably end up overnighting my wrappers in with hourly tracking and required signatures at the receiving end, the way the Bowman kids do it. And then complain all the way to the bank with the results.

In other ga-ga news, I'm falling for 2009 O-Pee-Chee. Why can't baseball card Base Sets be like this one? 600 pieces of real cardboard. I had thought to avoid opening the book on any years prior to 2011 that I didn't already have a partial set from. So much for that idea. I still kick myself for passing over 2 discounted blasters of the stuff at a K•Mart back in February. Fortunately, I found one today, at a K•Mart I hadn't pillaged yet this year. I just like using the option-8 bullet I think•

Even better, I got 216 of those pieces of cardboard in a single box. Of course, at my new favorite Baseball Card Store. Too bad I bought the last one they had. I like how it says "Hobby" right on it. Yep, a hobby. Not a pseudo-business that every customer almost has to participate in. Just a nice relaxing hobby. I'll probably repeat all this blubbery when I go nuts scanning some of the delights in that box. They're better than whipped cream.

I don't know yet if I got what I really want out of today's O-Pee-Chee purchases. I'll just savor opening them for quite a while yet. What is that? That would be cards that launched a lawsuit — always tantalizing, eh? I never did hear how that turned out, though I'm sure it's over, and I'd wager that the Master won. They usually do. But to me, it's news. Stay tuned.

And, I got some supplies. Yeah, zzzzzz. But I'll have to post about that one of these nights too. Like those seemingly cool box-cards on the aforementioned '09 O-Pee-Chee, there is always something in this hobby that turns out almost perfect. Good, or just OK, but not perfect. Perfection is so very rare in baseball. So maybe I shouldn't expect Topps to be perfect either. Hmmm.

Blahblahblah, you're up past your bedtime reading this babble and I haven't even rewarded you with any pictures of any cards, though you sure have a hankering after that '69 Stargell up there, and that hatless Harper just might be a bit too ghey. Yep, I typed that. I know, I type too much. I just can't scan anything else tonight, not even the paralyzing Wei-Yin Chen Blue Sparkle. You thought that was up for trade, nope, nunnhhh-uhh, never. His Day-Glo can go however. I had a Wei-Yin Chen hot promo day. I hope he's a good player. Those sparkles could cheer me up as good as elf trinkets do for Hobbits. Or, oh heck I'll just delete all the silly similes I had in mind and get back to Baseball Cards.

I got over my disdain for buying a Baseball Card at the Baseball Cards Store today. I was contentedly reliving some youth with the ever-wonderful cigarette box of the 1982 K•Mart set. Oh what a happy day it will be when I find my boxes of that. Printed in that set are some cards I want. Some more than others. One most of all. I casually mentioned that to the helpful FLCS owner and in a jiffy he parted the stacks of cardboard boxes of cardboard and offered me an Original Copy of a White Whale I've been able to close my eyes and picture in my head for near-on 37 years now, since I first saw it on the first reprint of it, just a year after it was first issued. 1982 stoked the fire some more. Blogs the last few months made those eyes-closed memories of it seem like reality, floating just out of reach. Oh dear.

Oh, sure, I could've probably bought the card elsewhere over the years if I tried, but I never did. I'm sure I'm just 4 mouse clicks away from buying an even better copy right now. Buying a baseball card has just never been my style. I can't explain that. Baseball cards have always seemed like a luxury item, and maybe I should just take my chances on collecting them from packs. Dunno. Plus, Baseball Card stores have always been very far away from where I usually am, unless I am traveling, and then I don't usually have spare change for Baseball Cards. The stores still are - 110 mile round trip today.

Anyhow, there it was. And only ONE DOLLAR. I never dreamed that would be the price tag on it, unless it had been hideously tortured in the ole bicycle spokes. If I could purchase a larger reproduction of this, suitable for framing, I surely would. I just might hang the 2.5" x 3.5" version on my wall some day anyway. I'm not even a particular fan of the player, or the team. I did not know he ever played Third Base. That surprised me. But that's what's great about baseball cards. The details...that I forgot over the years. Like that he was a Michigan State Spartan. I went to that other school in Michigan, and thus I shouldn't ever wanna collect Spartan cards. But that's irrelevant.

Baseball player on the TV. THEY are watching. The lurkerest card ever.

Ahoy, Mateys!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Serious Today

Happy Series Two Day! It wasn't for me, I had to, like, work or something. Of course, I work for myself, so I could have just bailed and headed off to my friendly local card shop, which is so not local to anywhere that it is best to wait an extra day, in case the delivery guy phoned it in today (I made reservations for tomorrow night). And I do keep my client's interests at heart the best I can, even when there is nothing like doing an absurdly pointless job for a clueless client, overseen by an idiot from the government. Your tax dollars are partially flying out the window on this one, as is the client's money. So it goes. When the going gets surreal, I reach for the serial seriousness of pop culture hobbies.

Hey, Topps doesn't put that on baseball card wrappers any more! You are correct. Here is the bottom of the wrapper:

That's right kids, it's time to get Wacky! As in Wacky Packages. A product from Topps that is a good one! It says so right on the wrapper!

Wait, what's that say? No Kidding. No Way! Sorry Topps, it's too late. Telling me No Kidding about Kidding is like, just kidding, right?

But, Hey, again, back up: what's with the number 4 on the wrapper up there? I thought these orange packs had 10 parodies in them? This pack is from the Dollar Tree store. And they say money doesn't grow on trees. They certainly won't for the guy I'm working for this week. Anyhow, the 4 sticky send-ups cost only a buck. What the ...

And actually, this makes them cost the same as the 10 sticker packs at the grown-up store named Big Box, where they run $2.49 every day. There is a catch though, you'll have to read the back of the pack inserts in the Dollar Tree packs. Topps still assures me that they make no guarantees that their products will accrue additional value in the future, just to be safe. The baseball cards work the same way, though they are 5/buck, but without inserts. I'm still evaluating the cost of that vs blasters, rack packs, jumbos, fat packs, what have you. Probably more expensive at the $ Tree slightly, but at least I won't have to worry about getting a hit of some sharpie scrawl of some also-ran that I then have to worry about figuring how to find some sucker to buy it from me somehow. Yes, auto-relic mania has come to the world of Wacky Packages too. Woo-hooon't. Actually, no "relics" in there. Yet. Though Topps should get their butt in gear on that idea. Hint hint. That's what Wacky Packages should be all about.....spoofing goofy products, especially their own. It says so right on the wrapper.

But I wanted to be less serious tonight, and try and be more real, sir. So I thought forcing myself to evaluate a single quatrain of sillyness might do the trick:

Boom! A lead-off home-run! The Hamburglar picks up the Hippie Girl! That purple creature-thing on the Mickey D's commercials finally makes sense. But that's not why I dig this one so much, you dig, although I've been anticipating it since my last foray into Wacky World. No, I pull on my sad sack over just another dumb job that has me feeling like I'm just punching the time-clock of stupidity, and Topps keeps it real for me: "Have Fun Now - You'll Be Stuck Working Here Later!"

So yeah, things could be worse. I might need to go to the dentist:

Actually, I do need to go to the dentist. Which is why I have to keep punching that clock, so I can get all the way back to broke again. Maybe it is a good thing my baseball cards don't have gum in them any more. And maybe I should just blame it all on Monsanto, like my conspiracy theory friends. Topps is ready for them too:

I almost forgot! I read the backs! Topps always gives it's customers value-added products, right, errr, well, what was that the wrapper always says? Anyhow, about half the time you get a puzzle piece on the back of the sticker. Not much value added there, seeing as how the puzzle always just pictures one of the cards in the Series. The other half of the pack, you get bonus entertainment on the back, just like on their wacky baseball cards with that line about The Chase. So it's like 6 gags for a buck....if this keeps up, we'll be back in the 70s before you know it. Topps sure is hard on those hippies though. I wonder what they did to Topps to deserve such satire? Maybe they laughed at those kids playing with baseball cards back when Topps was young.

Fortunately, Topps has it's head on Straight, and can focus sometimes on sending up consumerism. Dig this:

In case you were wondering what lazy Hippies actually do eat. And this sticker led me to test one of my theorems about life in the 21st century - no matter what the topic, there's a website for that.

I'll have to keep things moving here though, and skip over the back of that one. A not-surreal cereal parody that was about as exciting as Josh Hamilton stepping into the batter's box against Jose Valverde. Topps can't hit a home run every time, and they're hitting three-for-four plus a walk so far here, as the McLovin' It sticker featured a puzzle piece on the back.

Or can they?

Ka-Boom! The Ka part comes from the fine print over there on the side of the 'box':

Freaky just got Flabulous! Dang, Topps, making fun of tween toys and using innuendo to do it. I'm feeling a little old here, possibly even creepy. It is a Monster parody though, so maybe that's OK. But I think I should be doing something grown-up now, like heading off to the bar like the other grown-ups do after a dumb day at work. Maybe I'd better read the back of this pick-me-up product and return to my childhood refuge:

I'm speechless. A new Wacky Pack back. It's not a coupon, it's not a puzzle piece. It's a billboard parody. Can you say Series 11, here we come?

But Topps is right as usual. I have to work tomorrow. Cya!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Baseball Card TV

You really can't beat a horizontal baseball card.

Though you can scan them running downhill a little. Oops.

And you could have put them in binder pages so the #s run from top left to bottom right. Second oops.

'course, a sub-set builder could also rule out sub-sub-sets, like the leader cards. Third oops.

and those team celebration shots, do we really need those? Fourth oops.

For the most part though, horizontal cards speak for themselves. Even with the sound off.

uhh-ohh, fault-conflict in sub-sub-set rule at location 282. Should we leave Russell Martin on the TV here? What then to do with the 2 cards with lurking TV cameras on them? Subset problems. Problematic subsets. An Artificial Intelligence computer will never be able to sort baseball cards very well.

But people make mistakes, like not bothering to crop a scan when they are tired. 5th oops. Maybe you do need a baseball card robot to take care of these things for you. Little details like counting the cards.

60 of these in Series One, of 330 = 18.1818181818181818%

That's about 18%, or almost but not quite 1 card in 5. This seems like a high ratio. I can only wonder if it is as high as in the 1973 set, or the 1991. Or set years missing from my memory collection up there in the ole noggin. This will give me something to keep investigating with the little rectangular pieces of card-stock.

However only 44 of these feature a named player. And not even all 44 are a standard issued single player baseball card, as some of the playoff cards put a hero-player name on the front, some put a team name on the front. Pursuing that line leaves us with 38 horizontal baseball players. The 22 League Leader and Playoffs cards, along with 5 checklist cards, makes for a Series One of 303 baseball picture cards.

And thus we actually have 38 horizontal players, of 303 = 12.5%, or 'zactly 1 out of 8 player cards.

A favorite? On which page? I don't pick favorites when I watch TV. I like all baseball players on TV, usually. It's reading about them later that makes me not like some of them.

But I like too many of these cards to pick a favorite, or run a final count-down. How do those bloggers do that? Drawing cards out of a hat? That's how I would have to do it.

I can't even organize my cards right sometimes. I know I could make these pages look even better. But that's the great thing about baseball cards. There's always next Series.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Patching Around

Patches are an integral part of uniforms. I know this from my baseball cards. There are lots of different kinds of are those I found in 2013 Series One:

Generally the right shoulder is for a 'limited edition' patch which is only to be worn for one season. Tributes generally show up here, though not always. In 2012, the Mets wore this patch at home games as a memorial for Gary Carter.

Yes, the patch repeats right there on the corner of the card. I skip over some like that in this collection, especially all the ones that are simply the team logo, and especially the ones that are identical to the patch on the cap. But I like the Red Sox, and I like this patch.

A common right shoulder patch is an anniversary patch. The Rangers celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2012.

Right at this point I would note that I am skipping over the Anthony Rizzo card, which has a good depiction of the great Chicago Cubs left shoulder patch. I like that patch, but I want a perfect example of it.

Another anniversary patch, for Fenway's 100th season. Great patch, great card. I would like to get a photo with a bigger example of the patch, but it would be hard to replace this card.

Patches aren't always on the shoulder; this one is another memorial patch. I'll quote Wikipedia here: "In 2011, the Phillies added a black circular patch with a 'B' in honor of minority owners Alexander and John Buck, who died in late 2010." OK. But, Topps, this is a 2013 set of baseball cards. I also just learned that my set of alternate uniform cards I posted yesterday will have to be increased, as this is the Phillies' alternate home jersey (missed a Throwback jersey too). The pinstripe uniform is their everyday home uniform.

In the long run, this will probably not be the all-time greatest example of the famous A's elephant patch, as the patch's portion of the photo is a bit small. Sure enough, the Uni-Watch website has an FAQ question on this patch. I'd hook you up with a link that explains it, but that link is broken today. Which is a drag, because I want to read that story.

I should have rambled about this card yesterday, but I was sticking to generalities, posting 61 cards at once. How many baseball cards feature 2 different team uniforms, and a warm-up jacket? Where I live, a lot of people still like Brandon Inge, because he clearly played hard all the way through the Tigers' terrible 2003 season when they racked up 119 losses. He is at that point in his career now where his bat speed is decreasing, and he has always struck out too much. Haters are gonna hate, and he experienced plenty of that by the end of his time with the Tigers. But he is still in the game, serving as a pinch-hitter and super-utility man for the Pirates, as Inge can play any position. I would expect to see a card of him in the '13 Update set with the Pirates, and I expect that will be his final card. I hope it's a good one. But then I thought his card last year was his final card...

Another well-known patch, the Texas state flag. There are lots of examples of it on baseball cards. This was the first one I encountered sequentially in this set that is a good shot of it, and I will probably stay with it for a long-term collection. Especially if Olt lives up to expectations.

Also a well-known patch. I expect I'll find a better (bigger) example before too long. But I like cards showing a player that went for it earlier in the game, either fielding in the infield or a head-first slide. So I picked this one for now.

This patch is just ... sad, somehow? I wish I had more time to follow the Marlins this year. Total rebuilding projects always fascinate me. But those Marlins fans.....the taxpayers of Florida help pay for a new ballpark, and the owner guts the team (again), and can't keep professional front office help around — but hey we'll wear a neat patch to celebrate our empty ballpark! I'm looking for a certain card to use in conjunction with another post on this topic.

Hey, we play in Texas too. Last time you'll see this one on a baseball card, as they pushed the reset button on their uniforms for the move to the American League. Unless of course Topps were to use a 2012 photo on a 2014 card...would that ever happen?

Another great patch, great card combo. I expect to find a better replacement for this eventually, patch-wise.

Good ole Mr. Redlegs. Can't have a set of patch cards without him, could we?

Indeed, he is so iconic I picked out an example on their home white uniform too. I will probably do that for some other patches as well. The 20 cards posted here will be the nucleus for a permanent set of pages across all teams, sets, manufacturers, and years, as I find great patch cards.

The "Bend-It" card. I'm always tempted to just start bending this card when I have it in my hands. Again from Wikipedia: "The double diamond patches pay tribute to Bill “Moose” Skowron, with the initials “BMS”, and Kevin Hickey with his nickname “HIC MAN”. They were both former White Sox players who went on to work for the club for a long time. I expect there could be a better example of these out there, but this is another card I would be loath to replace. There are slight variants of these patches on their other uniforms, but I won't be Chasing picture cards of those. I'm not a White Sox fan at all, and one is enough. I do admire their new manager though.

This one says "Oriole Park at Camden Yards" I believe, and I believe I will find a sharper focused example of it eventually. Not sure if the Orioles will always wear this patch now, but I guess so.

The patches sure do tend to show up on some good cards, eh? I love the Rays patch, but I have already found a better example on a card released after this one. Sorry Ben, though you will always get a lot of glory from this card, even if it seems there are almost as many umpires watching the game as paid customers.

Another anniversary patch. Teal on a white-edged card. Classy.

And the patch doesn't even have to be on the player named on the card. Dodger Stadium anniversary patch.

You win the World Series, you get to wear a patch to remind everybody. Seems fair enough. The Cardinals pick the left shoulder, where they don't normally have a patch.

Yeah, I typed that I wouldn't use patches that just repeat what is on the player's head. I lied. I will definitely never get too concerned about it if that logo on the card ever appears on a patch, however.

So there ya go. Your next new patch fix arrives in just a few more days. Hang in there.

In other news, I've made a little progress on typing in all these numbers from the backs of all these baseball cards just inches from this keyboard. I have a long way to go, but don't forget those parallels. I wants them. Also, I will soon be putting up a trade report. So some of you'll get to see your old cards you sent me, one last time. Unless, of course, you sent me your double cards. I am perhaps more likely to only send out only triple or > triple cards. That way I get to make binder pages like this one.