Saturday, February 13, 2016

Crackin' Wax Case Break: Topps Flagship Series 1

The last two years, I have participated in case breaks for the Topps Series 1 cards. Last year, I went with Nachos Grande. This year, I saw Crackin' Wax's charity break first and decided to join up there. That's not meant to be a statement on either breakers' offerings. That's more along the lines of my collecting ADHD: First in time, first in mind. was fun catching a few boxes of the case break live as the man known as Topher and his wife a/k/a Literal Quirk bantered with those of us assembled in the peanut gallery. 

Nearly everyone who collects baseball cards and blogs has weighed in on this set and its design already. In fact, I've provided my $15 worth of commentary on a few blogs already (actually, it's more than that, because I bill in 6-minute increments and nothing less! :-|  )

So, here are the 9 base card Brewers. I think I got about 10 of each of these, so let me know if you need any of these (CB?):

I am not a fan of the "dramatic effect clouds" on the card. Also, I'm not sure why Jonathan Lucroy's number looks pink or red.  The original, from Getty images, is a little reddish, but it's not pink.

Otherwise, I don't mind this design all that much, except that it's just the same old complaints: the cropping is poor (too close), pitchers are always shown mid-delivery grimacing, everyone but Maldonado is hitting (and, let's be honest, Maldonado can't hit so that's for the better), and I swear that Ryan Braun is always shown with his eyes bulging in his hitting follow-through. Perhaps when I need an idea for a post, I'll show you the Ryan Braun follow through photos. I guarantee that post will quickly become the most popular post ever on Off Hiatus. 

I've never watched that TV show, but the quote fits.

Back to 2016 Topps.

I did pretty well generally, though, in the case break. I got all the inserts I would have expected to get.  I received several of the Braun "Perspectives" card, though I'd already gotten one of those thanks to the Cardboard Junkie; I also got about 4 each of the horrendous looking dissolving player "back-to-back" inserts:

I don't mind getting new Younts and Molitors every year, but man, that card is not a good look for anyone. And Fielder/Braun works, but again, it just looks like a printing error rather than a cool effect.

Former Commissioner/Franchise Destroyer Bud Selig's First Pitch card also showed up.

I am pretty hard on Bud thanks to his decision in the 1990s to make Milwaukee the poster child for small market teams. Bud may have been the ultimate baseball reactionary and, at the same time, the ultimate baseball socialist. He wanted a return to the early 1970s in labor relations -- before the reserve clause had been interpreted as it was written rather than as perpetual indentured servitude -- and, at the same time (and, to be fair, there's much more sense in this than in the reserve clause), he wanted much greater revenue sharing. 

For people who cheer for teams like the Dodgers and Yankees, keep in mind that the great local TV and radio contracts your teams have require your team to have someone to play, the revenue should be split more equitably. Of course, that's a bit socialist.

Can you tell that these cards don't exactly grab my attention all that much?

Also showing up about 4 times in the case is the Berger's Best of Robin know the one...the one on which Topps forgot that it had a mini set in 1975 and not 1974 (and that Robin Yount did not appear on a 1974 card because why would he?)?

The final insert is one that seems harder to pull, apparently. Only one of them in the entire case:

There's that post-swing puffed cheek look again.

Now for the cooler stuff. A couple of parallels:

The Braun is a foil parallel (not that you can tell it from looking at it, of course). The Taylor Jungmann is one of those photo negative parallel things. Except it really isn't, because if it were a photo negative it would look like this:

Which is a hell of a lot cooler than a black and white card that I can't read the player's name on at all. Oddly enough, I did not get any gold parallel cards as best I can tell. I'm guessing these are seeded more frequently in retail rather than hobby boxes in an effort to get us to spend our hard-earned dollars chasing in both arenas rather than picking one or the other.

I hit on a couple of player collection buybacks as well -- one for Jim Slaton and one for Prince Fielder:

In the world of pointless buyback cards, these are two of them. At least the Slaton card from 1983 has sharp corners.

Finally, I did receive one card that is very cool. It was a great hit for the break for me:

It's a Fielder and Braun Back-to-Back base relic serial numbered 97 of 99, and it looks great in hand. Yes, the photos aren't any better here with their dissolving pixelation than they are "back to back", but throw in a couple of swatches of fabric, and it's almost forgiven.

All in all, it was a pretty good break for me. I can complain about the designs and the cheesy buybacks all I want, but I'm sure Topps would eventually like to get rid of all the 1989 cards they have laying around just like the rest of us would.

Thanks go out to Crackin' Wax and Literal Quirk for the break and for a couple of enjoyable hours watching other people open baseball cards. Everything's more fun, after all, with a Death's Door Gin & Ginger Ale drink with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

After all, I'm from Wisconsin. We're all "Wisconsin-Proud" and Death's Door is from Door County!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Other cards from the Card Show

I attended my first card show of the year on Sunday. I even got a box I thought about adding to the Super Traders group breaks (and probably will, eventually)...then I realized that 1992 Fleer Ultra will not have any cards for the Marlins (no loss there), the Rockies, the Diamondbacks, and the Rays. In other words, it wouldn't exactly be a great break because, well, I'd be leaving three people out from the get-go.

And, let's be honest. Bringing 1992 Fleer Ultra to the SuperTraders is sort of like bringing a Yugo to a car show. You can do it, and people might appreciate it for the oddity, but no one goes to a car show looking to see a sweet Yugo. Or AMC Gremlin. 

Still, I'll probably break that box and throw the results into the SuperTraders stuff I mail out. I'm thinking I'll buy a box or two online and throw all three together into one big break -- probably some time around Opening Day, so I can get a couple of good boxes.

Anyway, that digression aside, I want to emphasize that I'm still trading with whomever wants to trade with me. I'm sometimes slow to respond or reciprocate, and I apologize in advance for my inability at times to sit down and put packages together. 

I need a theme for the card show...let's see...let's put my iTunes "Top Rated" on random and see what happens.

"Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body)" -- Three 6 Mafia ft. Project Pat, Young D, & Superpower

Yeah, how 'bout them apples. If you've read my blog before, you know that my musical tastes are all over the board. Sinatra to Anthrax, The Clash to The Cure, and sure, there's Three 6 Mafia too.  

What goes well with Lolli popping that body in the club?

My most surprising dime box find of the day. I really should have just grabbed all of the 1998 Pacific Crown Royale cards in that dime box. I could have used them for the SuperTraders! Damn. A missed opportunity. I think I equate these cards with rap music because of the trend in the 1990s -- and apparently still today -- to their use for storing assorted....ahem.... illegal paraphernalia.  

Or maybe that was just the use for Crown Royal bags that I saw on TV shows.

It's time to move on.

"Down Under" -- Men At Work

Like I said before, I'm all over the map. To be fair, I recall very distinctly that the first music I ever bought for myself was this very song on a 45-RPM single record. 

Surprisingly enough, this song has actual drug references in it. The first two lines of the song are: "Travelling in a fried-out Kombi / on a hippy trail, head full of zombie."  As this BBC article notes, that line refers to a Kombi -- an old VW camper van -- followed by "the hippy trail" of dropping out of the rat race in a very 60s fashion. And the "head full of zombie" is a reference to a very potent strain of marijuana, occasionally laced with angel dust.

I'm pretty sure that if my mom realized that that is what the song meant, I probably would not have been able to buy that 45 back in 1982.

What goes with that?

I think these two items qualify. On the left, we have the very weird looking manu-relic of Eddie Mathews in a Detroit Tigers uniform. Mathews had a grand total of 57 plate appearances for the 1968 Detroit Tigers (for which he was paid $75,000...about $525,000 today...which is near the league minimum but in 1968 that was an impressive salary). His final at bats -- and his final hit -- were in the 1968 World Series against the Cardinals, which the Tigers won.

On the right side, we have Larry Pardo. Larry was a minor league pitcher in the 1980s for the Rangers and, later, the Angels. My god were his stats atrocious. In 500-1/3 innings in the minors, he walked 375 guys while striking out 361. In 1987, in the California League at the age of 21, Larry pitched 71-2/3 innings. He gave up 75 hits, 110 walks, and 31 wild pitches while striking out 63. He hit 5 guys for good measure. Larry later became a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers, though. His most notable signings: Michael Brantley and Ryan Braun. So, it has a Brewers logo on it. I bought it.

I'm not proud.

"Your Love" -- The Outfield

This song has always been a big favorite of mine from the 1980s. It's so damn catchy. Then, just like "Down Under," you listen to the words and feel a little skeevy.

As Wikipedia puts it bluntly: 
"Your Love" is written from the point of view of a man who tries to convince a younger female acquaintance to have an intimate night with him while his older girlfriend, Josie, is away on vacation.

Since we're talking about youngsters...sorry, it's all I've got.

I loaded up on a bunch of minor league cards. A fair amount of them are recent, and some aren't -- like 2010 Eric Arnett Helena Brewers card from the Topps Pro Debut set. Eric was old for Helena in 2009, when he played there. The guy was a first round pick out of Indiana University, and well, he was a 100% 1st round bust. He never played about high-A ball in 2012 and 2013 for Brevard County in the Florida State League. He didn't exactly do superbly, either. 2013 was the end for him in the minors -- assuredly he's moved on to something else by now...and he's pocketed his $1.197 million bonus too.

Okay, a couple more songs for a few more songs.

"Soul Meets Body" -- Death Cab for Cutie

In the mid-2000s, I had XM Radio. In my condo, I'd listen to XM, play video games or read books, and drink wine. That was a nice, relaxing weekend night for me. I enjoyed my own company. I didn't mind being alone. Life was good -- not great, sometimes lonely -- but still good.

I found some vintage cards at the show that fit that feel. They are good -- not great -- but good. I paid more than I should have, probably, in light of their condition. But I needed the cards for my Milwaukee Braves collection.

Like I said, good. Not great. Good. The Mathews is the most disappointing, certainly, since someone felt the need to change his affiliation in 1967 for those 101 games he appeared in. I mean, kid in 1967, did you really have to do that to a card from 1963? 

That Lou [sic] Burdette card looks like someone spilled a drink on it too. It was something like $0.50, so it wasn't pricy, could be better.

Okay, last one:

"Famous Last Words" -- My Chemical Romance

Filming this video hurt the band badly. Literally. Gerard Way (lead singer) suffered torn ligaments in his ankle, and Bob Bryar (the drummer at the time) suffered burns on his leg that turned into a staph infection.

Funny thing about this band is that I like their music, but their entire persona was so overwrought and pretentious that I probably would have hated seeing them in concert. In fact, I probably would have hated them personally, even. In fact, I recall seeing them live on some show and thinking, "what a bunch of prats."

Because, pretentious as I was, I would have used some British slang instead of calling them more choice American slang like "C**ts" or "a**holes."

None of that has anything to do with this last assortment of cards, though.

The Fielder rookie was in a quarter box. The autographs were like $2 each. The Hall UD Game Materials was $3. The Braun bat -- which I didn't check to see if I had and, yup, already had it -- was $2. The Lucroy 2014 Update jersey card was $2 also. 

I'll spare you all the shiny Panini I got. After all, there is only so much logoless stuff anyone can take at any one time.

But, I'll leave you with one final song off my playlist.  It doesn't fit with anything else on this page either.

But I like this song by Georgia boy Zac Brown anyway. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Off Hiatus: A Retrospective

Today is my two-year anniversary of kicking off my card blogging life. Last year, I didn't even realize that my one-year anniversary had passed until three days after it had hit. It's been a tough, strange, fun, crazy, off-the-wall, difficult year for me personally and professionally as I left BigLaw, basically was my own firm for about 7 months, then joined another firm in July of last year. 

Lew Burdette was happy for me to switch law firms.
In between last February and now, I spent most of my time trying to catch up with trades both incoming and outgoing.  To be fair, it comes and goes for me in terms of having time to put together the outgoing trade packages. I owe some of you a package currently, and I apologize for my laxity in not getting those together already.  They will go out soon.

This past year has been a great one for me in many respects. I lived through a war with Jaybarkerfan -- a war in six parts (1a, 1b, 1c, 2, 3, 4, 5a, 5b, and 6) that was declared a draw thanks in large part to an invasion from Canada and the proprietor of Dawg Day Cards, Angus.

I received cards from a multitude of countries too (and I know I still owe cards, now long overdue, to the Italian Completist...dude, I am VERY sorry...I will be sending you a package soon). As best I recall it, I've gotten cards from Canada (a few times), France, Italy, the Netherlands, and England as a start.

My most popular posts of all time all came in the last year, and I have no earthly idea why these posts are so popular. That's not meant as a jab at the person I traded with whose cards are highlighted in the past, but I still don't know why these two posts both have over 1350 hits each while no other post has over 500 (there is one sitting at 500). Those two popular posts? 

With 1385 hits, it's "Julie: A Trade Post." Julie's "A Cracked Bat" provides a wonderfully different perspective on card collecting, as Julie -- unlike most of us -- came to collecting as an adult rather than having collected as a kid and returning when we want to be kids again. Still, I think the reason that that blogpost gets so many hits is because I included an American Girl Doll reference in it.

Not that I'm above doing things to drive web traffic to my site or anything.

The other post that gets tons of hits -- at 1451 hits as of today -- is "Catching Up with a Trade Post." Mark Kaz is great and the 1990s Brewers he sent were awesome enough to lead me to post both photos of kangaroos and a Violent Femmes song ("Promise" in case you were wondering). But why so many hits for those two?

Of course, now that I think about it, perhaps all the traffic is just looking for a "trading post" and clicks through that way.  Maybe I should name all of my blog posts "trade post."

So, it's the beginning of year three for me as a blogger. While some people do resolutions at the beginning of the year, I tend to like to wait for a different day important only to me. Here are my resolutions:

1.  Grow my Robin Yount collection to 1000 items. It stands currently at 875 items, including magazine covers, mugs, bobbleheads, glasses, placemats, rulers, books, talking baseball cards, and autographs.

2.  Get more organized, again. With the addition of approximately 25,000 to 30,000 cards as part of that Christmas Horde, I have got an absolute crapload (sorry for the legalese) of cards to sort through again. I'm pretty sure I have to have over 100,000 cards now, of which perhaps 20% are Brewers. 

3.  With that said, I want to winnow my collection a bit too. Get rid of some of those Twins cards, or Expos cards, or Blue Jays, or Yankees. Especially Yankees. 

4. To do that, I need to sit down on a regular basis -- perhaps even a scheduled basis -- to put together packages to send out. I'm hoping the "SuperTraders" will help me with this. By the way, does anyone know a good Indians, Royals, or Marlins collector who wants in?
Actually, does anyone know ANY Marlins collectors?

5.  Stick to a better budget on buying cards. Rather, create a budget for buying cards. If I had a budget maybe I'd follow it.

6. Get my Brewers parallels, oddballs, and Paninis all organized and set up in proper want lists and, also, get my Milwaukee Braves post-1965 cards organized and get want lists created. I love my lists and want more.

7.  Last one: Keep up on the 1982 Blog and the "Meet the Brewers" posts, trying to do one a month each.

Okay, finally, one more thing. I wanted to show off a card I got at my local show yesterday:


It's a JSA certified Eddie Mathews autograph. I got it for $24 from Frank Moiger, the promoter of the card show, and I love it. I wanted a Mathews autograph, and this one will do quite nicely, thank you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm still trying to get Coldplay songs out of my head after that Super Bowl halftime last night.