Monday, September 23, 2013

I'll be looking for this guy's cards

Baseball permeates America. Including some odd corners of it, such as this one I found myself in the other day. Still proud of their former Major Leaguer.

I have no clue who this player is. But I love the area where that little town sits. My family first "got off the boat" not very far away, 125-some years ago. It has been a pleasure working in that area. The other day I spent about an hour in a cemetery that likely held some of those distant relatives, though I didn't see any correct names on the the headstones, and didn't have time to look either.

I did peek at Baseball-Reference to find out, so I know his career is before my collections. But that is all I can manage tonight. Though I am happy to be indoors tonight, when you have "free wi-fi", well, sometimes you get what you pay for. It took over an hour to get this all put together.

At least the Brewers are keeping things entertaining. I'll miss Uecker next week, that's for sure.

See y'all eventually.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

5 Cards challenge

Well hello there, I sure have missed y'all. I'll just say that self-employment and blogging can be very mutually exclusive at times. I love to write, which you may have noticed, but I would write quite a bit more if I had a nice regularly scheduled work week.

I do have quite a number of posts figured out, but I also have a long stretch in nearly-no-baseball-access land coming up too. I am hoping Bob Uecker's broadcasts will come in at least, I think they might, and there is a cheap casino just down the road a piece. But I won't be around all that much until Update comes out, then I should be at home some, I hope.

In other blog news, I wish to note that I love it when I find out I am wrong about a baseball card. A part of the reasons I write about any card is an attempt to find out if I am really seeing what I think I am seeing on that card, or if the goofiness is taking over again. So you might want to check out how my previous blog post over a week ago actually turned out.

For tonight though I have plenty on the to-do list (such as packaging one trade and typing out details on another, hang in there), so I'm going with a trick I will probably try more often going forward. The first time I tried this it eventually led to a very long post on photo composition. Oops.

The idea is to pick the smallest possible pack of cards, and blog about one of the contents. How small do packs of the Topps Base Set get? This small:

Yep, that really says "5" there in the crinkle. Where does a 5 card pack come from? The Dollar Store, it turns out. So the cherished image of little Johnny saving his nickels dimes and quarters for taking old Mrs. Smith's garbage cans out to the curb and back and saving up for a pack of baseball cards is still alive, I guess.

I'm actually somewhat seriously considering buying my set this way next year. I was stupid enough to look at the sell sheet for 2014 Topps, a set I already know I will call the "Half Bowman," and I'm just not that excited about it. The inserts just don't appeal to me that much, and I don't see enough color synergy possibilities in the design to get very excited about the parallels. There is some sort of big Rookie theme across the whole if we don't have enough baseball cards of kids not old enough to legally drink yet. That's not a clown comment, bro, that's an all too sober reality. So it might likely be pretty much a Heritage year for me next year.

But I can't really pass on a Base Set of Topps cards. Heritage will never have enough random baseball photos of random utility players to feed my jones. So the question becomes ... how to get those base cards? I like ripping packs, so perhaps a whole bunch of these 5-cards-for-a-buck packs are in my future. But the actual wholesale price of your Topps base showcase, contestant, is actually just 4¢ a card. That's right. If you go out to purchase base cards on the secondary market they run just about 4 shiny Lincolns each when purchased in bulk. That ripping jones is actually pretty expensive.

But all that's next year. It's just silly to know what next year's baseball cards will look like before the playoffs even start, fer-cryin'-out-loud. I'm going to try much harder to never peek at future sell sheets.

I do hope the 2014 wrapper is at least as good as this year's wrapper. I like that the Sea Turtle appears on most of the packaging this year. And I am a sucker for that classic MLB logo on anything. I do sometimes wonder which came first, MLB or the similar one for the NBA? Dunno.

And I have to wonder what is the deal with the Eye Black on the young stars; they sure seem to lay it on a bit thick. But now I'm wandering off into a future topic, and I've already blown the time budget for tonight. And aren't baseball card blogs supposed to be about looking at baseball cards?

So the winner of tonight's 5 card challenge is....Alexei Ramirez:

Tell Alexei what he wins there, Bob. Well Base Set, Alexei didn't manage to escape his fate at either the the traditional no-waiver Trade Deadline or the clear-waivers Playoff Roster deadline, so he seems doomed to be a solid middle infielder on a rebuilding team with a young manager for however long it takes for his contract to run out with hopes the eventual post-Jeter circus might still be in swing, so he wins absolutely nothing. He can have a big pile of duplicate Topps base cards if he would like I guess.

At least Topps handed him a good card this year. Though he is a very good top-of-the-order batter, Topps shows him fielding, in line with their themes for each position. As if they are saying, nope, we don't need to put the player's position on the front of the card, we'll demonstrate it for you in the picture and show slugger Clint Barmes batting instead.

And a good picture it is. I almost always like a horizontal card. There is one in Series 2 that is just stupid, but I didn't pull it in this pack so you'll have to find that one on your own time.

It seems the 5 card challenge does lead to a card with great lines. I'm already looking forward to ripping my next pack. I think I'll take it on the road with me and do a little mobile blogging. The idea of way over-paying for base cards with these dollar packs might be growing on me....

Here we have several examples of lines going from bottom right to top left, from the pinstripes on Ramirez' uniform to Joe Mauer's fingers. They are nicely complemented by just a small amount of not-quite-opposite, more-vertical lines. But the predominant flow of the lines lead straight to a baseball. On a baseball card. I always like seeing a baseball on my baseball card. Nice pick, Topps.

I also like Alexei's 21st century shades, and that little smirk on his face as if he is sayin' yep, All-American pretty-boy perfect baseball player Joe Mauer, you be Out! Not gloating, just a sly little smirk.  And now I'm gonna throw out that slow Willingham dude too! Ha!

The only downfall to this card is the same problem the White Sox always have, save when they bust out some special colorful uniform on special uniform day: monochrome. The Sox are the one team that just don't fare too well in the base Sea Turtle design. (They do pop very, very well in any parallel you wish however). You probably can't see it in the scan, but this card suffers even more as the Topps printer shorted the turtle of the right amount of ink and the Turtle's racing stripes are kinda washed out. Like how most Chicago fans are probably feeling by now.

What else did I pull? Not much to write out to the blogosphere about. 3 more torso cards (zzzzz), one of them Photoshopped (Torii Hunter - that certain shinyness to the cut/pasted uni from some night dome game they use every time always gives it away). Yet more proof that however much I admire the various set blogs and the 2013 Sea Turtle set, I just don't think I could ever pull off writing about all 990 of them with 600 torso shots along the way. Colorful turtles and logos can only get me so far.

Also another turning-two card, of Brandon Phillips and a camouflaged Padre. A nice enough card with Phillips' hat looking like it is a beer can that needs to be opened. I would be too tempted to crack that head open in a blog post, so I'll leave that one be.

So there you have it, another baseball card for another night in the 2013 baseball season. The teams keep on setting lines like a heartbeat on one of those heart machines at the hospital as they win and lose and race towards playoff eligibility. While they do it, I just hope to find the time to follow the lines on their baseball cards.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

John Jay & Tony LaRussa got nuttin' on this card

Cameo cards are neat, sometimes. I set them aside, sometimes. Those times when the 'cameo' is just the back of a player, with his name on the jersey there, those don't count.

This year in Series 1, Topps gave us a heckuva cameo card:

A retired manager cameo. Huhhh? Ron Gardenhire is already hoping to shag home run balls in the St. Louis bleachers? No, no, he isn't retired, just yet. Be nice.

Topps does love the more famous all-time baseball people of course. I guess winning a World Series in each league will get you some Topps action later on down the road.

I have enjoyed this card all season long. I like cards with the fans on them. Aside from Gardenhire's stunt double there, we have a quite possibly drunk Nationals fan seemingly yelling at Jay, "I already got the ball, dummy!" And Jay himself comes off real good on the card for the most part, taking one for the team robbing some National of a home run. But if baseball cards ever make baseball players discreetly ask a trusted associate "do I look fat on that card?", well, the associate would kind of have to tell the otherwise skinny Jay, "uhh, yeah, actually." Weird.

When this card came out, it was another occasionally labelled as part of the Out-of-Bounds series of short-prints, like several other outfield cards. But Topps is sneaky, sometimes. The ball Jay just caught is very much in-bounds.

I am particularly enjoying the card today, sorta, cuz I just won a different copy of it on eBay - the /62 black border parallel. I was having a tough time deciding what color to use for it in the parallel project. Wal•Mart Blue is a regular choice for me for the red teams naturally. Any Foil or Sparkle would be right out on such a great shot of far more than just the baseball player. I don't much care for the red teams on the Target Red or Pink parallels. I'm mostly avoiding the Camo parallels, 'cept just a pair of Padre cards, as much as I can - which isn't too difficult in Series 1 or 2, but I will probably really, really need them from Update.

I would like to brag a bit more and scan my new black border Jon Jay card for you like a good blogger should, but I'm jumping the gun here as the card probably hasn't even shipped yet. Just use your imagination, like when you wonder if your favorite ball-player really did swing a whole baseball bat that your tiny slice was once a part of.

The black parallels always win. They're like trump in the world of parallels, if you ask me. I would love to see a whole set of Black Sea Turtles. They go good with every base color and every team. Whenever Topps returns to making another set of the usually controversial black-border cards some day, the obvious parallel to make with it will be a white border parallel for the h8erz.

So when these parallel dilemmas pop up, the best answer is always - when in doubt, wear black. You never look fat in black, though I could have that backwards. Perhaps baseball cards (or baseball card blogs) aren't the best place to pick up fashion tips.

Which is what I was doing yesterday, when I noticed Dime-Box Nick launching a smart new collection. It triggered a memory of a certain very bad baseball logo, one that I knew was approaching the top of the blog-me, blog-me pile of cards.

I thought I might even have that logo on a baseball uniform on a baseball picture card, and I did, but that has zero to do with why this card is in the blog-me-already,-lazybones pile:

I'm sure even Topps was glad to see that one go. It's there on the uniform too partially, though I wouldn't think it should count for those future uni cards Nick is chasing in those Roosevelt boxes.

The Angels. The team that makes me just shake my head. Or maybe do a face palm, though I'll spare you any more meme-ery of that one. There's no shortage on the ole Internet. But the Angels. Really? Where do they play? Topps won't even tell us any more, their cards just say Angels®. What's the name of the team? Who can keep track? Ownership a mess, roster a mess, just that one fishy card in every set no matter how small that's worth writing home about these days. They're not even loveable losers, the way the Red Sox used to be, or the Cubs, or the Mets. They finally won a World Series this century, so they're done with MLB fan pity for decades out. They escaped from Mickey Mouse only to head off towards a Mickey Mouse operation rivaled only by that Longoria mess in South Florida. Sorry Angels fans, but a mess is a mess. Especially when there's those infinite levels of baseball history and tradition just across the county there. A team with solid logos and uniforms and cards and everything else, these days.

As for Anderson's card there, I can't tell from various websites if that is a home or away uniform. I'm hoping away. And despite the just plain not-good baseball iconography on the card, I love this card.

Because when I see this card, I think, Heck Yeah! I got a Babe Ruth card! Though I can't see how Babe Ruth ever made it onto the Duck Pond in Anaheim, or whatever Walt Disney called the place around the turn of the century. Maybe Mickey Mouse was more unpredictable than I think now.

And that was my first Babe Ruth card ever. It was right there ready to greet me when I blew the dust off the box that said "2001 Topps" earlier this summer. The first card in the box. Card #2 and #3 were underneath it, trumped by card #4. This was a time when the only baseball cards I knew of that had old, old baseball players on them were the 1975 MVP cards. So before the deluge I guess.

Topps loves Babe Ruth cards now. And I still like them too. You never forget your first Babe.....though I have to actually admit I am not 100% sure that is Babe Ruth there on the outfield wall. It's not like I had a Babe Ruth PC to do an instant check with. It looks like Babe Ruth, I think. Who else is gonna get silk-screened (or however they got him on the wall there) onto an outfield wall? Bart Giamatti?

So another Babe Ruth dilemma in my weird world of baseball cards. Goes well with the mystery '75 style Babe that continues to elude me. Now if I could just figure out why they put Kent Tekulve on that outfield wall there with him.