Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beguiling Binder Page #7

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

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

May I present Beguiling Binder Page #7:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Phoning It In #3

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

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

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

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

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

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

or this one:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You would think I would really want this card

You would be wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All's well that rips well

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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