Friday, November 21, 2014

Unmasked!

I can remember the day that I realized I was getting old. It was when Scooby Doo became fodder for hipsters and gamers who were fully 15 years younger than me. Nothing made this clearer than when Warner Brothers Interactive released a video game in 2005 called "Scooby Doo! Unmasked".  

I grew up watching Scooby Doo as an after-school cartoon pretty much as soon as I started going to school for a full day (for the record, that was first grade in 1978).  As the name of the video game implies, the highlight of every episode was when the gang took off the mask of the bad guy so then the bad guy could say, "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

That was always a highlight.

These days, the highlights related to masks for me relate to a couple of things. First, who doesn't like hot girls in masks at Halloween?


Yes, that is click bait. 100%.

The other highlight for me is to read new posts at Sportscard Mask-a-Rade. Despite being a St. Louis Cardinals fan, Roger seems to be a really good person. I chalk that up to the humility he has had to learn in being a St. Louis Blues fan. 

Earlier this week, a package showed up from O'Fallon addressed to me, and it contained some great additions of more recent cards to my collection.

Robin Yount
Honestly, I'm always very excited when someone sends me a Robin Yount card that I do not have. When I started this blog, that happened frequently because I needed a LOT of Younts. Now that I'm standing at 628 Robin Yount items, though, those days have become less frequent. 

But Rog broke through and pushed that number upward:


I only needed one of the Younts for my player collection that Rog sent, but was it a beautiful red parallel from the 2012 Panini Prizm set. 

Ryan Braun
On the other hand, even though nearly every recent package I have received lately has included at least a few Ryan Brauns, apparently everyone is unloading them on me. I am NOT complaining though. To the contrary, I thank you for each one of them. That generosity has pushed my Braun collection to 217 cards as of 11/19.

So go ahead -- send all of them to me. I don't mind. In fact, I encourage it. 


I think this one is a short print based on the yellow background of Braun hitting. Topps's screwing around with stuff like that, though, has continued to befuddle me to this day.




Throw in an "Upper Deck X-Ponential" Insert, a Bowman Platinum Green/Emerald Parallel, and a clear Pinnacle "Pinnacle of Success" insert, and I'm a happy man.

Prince Fielder
Big Prince is another guy whom the blogosphere seems quite happy to push on to my plate. "Tony'll take it -- he takes anything Brewers." That kind of attitude, again, is encouraged -- and Rog sent me a couple of great Prince cards to raise my total number of Fielders up to 133:




So, that's a mini Goodwin Champion from 2009, a Bowman Chrome from 2011, and an Opening Day Insert from 2012. That's a great haul.

Jonathan Lucroy
On the other hand, despite open pleading in this space for more Jonathan Lucroy cards to be sent my way, I have not added all that many Lucs to my collection. I only have 28 so far. I blame the fact that Topps and Panini are too busy this year making 148 different cards of Brian McCann's backup. To compare, Lucroy -- who finished fourth in the NL MVP race this year, was an all-star, and hit 18 HR while slashing .280/.340/.455 LAST YEAR and 13 HR and 53 doubles while slashing .201/.373/.465 this year -- has 100.

To use another hot girl photo:


But, to get back to the cards Rog sent, he did send me this lovely orange Chrome refractor from this year.   


Jean Segura

In contrast, I have collected 67 Jean Segura cards. #67 was the shiny 2014 Panini Prizm, which sounds like it should be a car imported from Indonesia rather than a baseball card:


Corey Hart
This time, Corey Hart is not a die-cut "X". He's just a Base Card "X". And Base Card "X" is #55 in my Corey Hart collection.


Mini Corey Hart is #56.




Ben Sheets
A golden Ultra Sheets pushes my Sheets collection up to 71 cards. 


Parallels like this are aggravating, though. This photo looks like an action shot, but it's just as likely that it was taken in front of a green screen somewhere in Hollywood or Bristol or some place less interesting than Bristol. But hey, "chase gold everybody!"

Ugh.

Rog sent some other cards my way as well. The most interesting of the cards to me was also one of my least favorite players every: Gary Sheffield:


As baseball card companies have struggled to incorporate an online presence into their cards, they turned to these "scratch-off" games, to "power players," to "eTopps", to "million card giveaways," to "online exclusives," and, finally, to virtual cards through things like Topps Bunt.

I have a response to all that:


Or, as John Lackey put it:



Rog, thank you very much for the cards -- they are much appreciated, and I will be putting together a package for you shortly!

Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's All About The South...Really

There's an earworm country song by a band called The Cadillac Three called "The South." The song features guest vocals from Florida Georgia Line, Mike Eli of the Eli Young Band, and fellow Vanderbilt graduate Dierks Bentley (who transferred in to Vanderbilt the year after I graduated).

I won't put you through the pain of getting that song buried in your head. But, it does provide me with an introduction to a crazy oddball of an item I got from everyone's favorite purveyor of vintage items, Mark Hoyle.


Yes, Mark sent me an RC Cola can from the 1970s. RC Cola, surprisingly to me, actually was first invented in the south. In fact, it was first developed in my wife's hometown of Columbus, Georgia, way back in 1905 by Claud A. Hatcher. 

Claud developed the cola because the local Coca-Cola company would not give him a better deal on syrup for his use in his pharmacy. As a result, he said he would make his own cola. It took a while for that to happen, as Claud first released a ginger ale called Royal Crown Ginger Ale. The company was renamed as Chero-Cola in 1910 and then as Nehi Corporation in 1925. 

But you didn't come here to read about RC Cola's history. Why, pray tell, would Mark be sending me an old steel RC Cola can from the 1970s here in 2014? Would his local trash company not take it?

No -- he had a very good reason to send it to me.



That reason, is Sal Bando. The can dates from 1977. While the photos are not licensed by MLB, the MLBPA did provide their okay to use player likenesses.

And now, let's take a trip down memory lane (for some of us) or into the depths of our imaginations (for others)......

Think about how great it was back in the 1970s. For breakfast, you have Frosted Flakes and inside, there is a baseball card

For lunch, you have a sandwich on Wonder Bread (football cards!) and down it with a nice RC Cola with a player on the side...or a Pepsi Cola with a player on a disc in a glove stuck in the 6-pack of bottles

Or, maybe, you stop off at a fastfood place and grab a burger -- and get a complete team set of discs

Finally, after a long day at work (assuming you are old enough then), you can stop off at the package store, grab a 12-pack of Iron City Beer, and get a beer can featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates or Steelers (and oddly enough, I think I might still have one or two of those at my mom's house).

Back to 2014

And those paragraphs are why collecting sports items is so much fun. If only we could get that fun back today through a few cool oddballs, life would be a lot more interesting and fun in the grocery store.

Does anyone know why we DON'T have food issues any more? Is the cost too high?

At any rate, this RC Cola can was just an incredibly cool item to receive in the mail. As always, Mark, I cannot possibly come up with a way to thank you other than saying it: thanks AGAIN, Mark!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Circadian Rhythms

A CBS News story a few months highlighted a study by the University of Barcelona in Catalunya/Spain (depending on whether you support an independent Catalonia/Catalunya in Spain) which focused on the differences between what they called "early risers" and "evening people." 

Early risers are people who are, according to the study:

  • More persistent
  • More resistant to fatigue, frustration, and difficulties
  • Likely to have lower levels of anxiety and depression
  • Likely to have higher life satisfaction
  • Less likely to have substance abuse issues
On the other hand, the "evening persons" tend to have more creative traits, such as:
  • Being more extravagant, temperamental, and impulsive
  • Seeking novelty
  • Having a higher tendency to want to explore the unknown
  • More likely to suffer from insomnia and ADHD
  • More likely to develop addictive behaviors, mental disorders, and antisocial tendencies
That's what the folks in Barcelona said. 

Psychology Today has the other side of the coin, however. Rather than focus on all those bad traits that are pushed onto our nocturnal brethren, their blog focuses on intelligence. There, the psychologists have pointed out that children who are "very bright" and have the highest IQs tend to be evening people. And, further, those who stay up later tend to be more creative people as well.

And, of course, like everything on the Internet, Huffington Post made a list in true Bleacher Report form of 7 reasons to be proud of being a night owl. Lists = click bait, after all. 

If you put all that together, you can see why many baseball card collectors are, in fact, evening people. We are collectors -- an addictive behavior. We like shiny things and new cards and want to open new packs all the time -- seeking novelty, exploring the unknown. We shop on eBay and make purchases that we might regret the next day -- extravagance and impulsiveness. 

And many of us aren't satisfied unless we complete that "next" set.

This is a long introduction to a trade post, but when the trade post is about cards from our resident Night Owl himself, long introductions do not do him justice. 

The Night Owl is the man who inspired many of us to start blogging about our cards. I often find myself reading his posts and thinking, "damn, I wish I had thought of that as an angle on those cards."

Recently, I sent the Night Owl minis!! from the 2014 Topps mini box that I opened a few weeks ago. In return, I received a package from him full of cards that hit player collections and holes in my team sets.



Like this Juan Castillo 1987 Fleer Update card. Fleer Update sets hit my radar in the 1980s infrequently.





These two are more recent cards of a couple of my favorite players from the 1980s. Ben Oglivie for Jim Slaton was one of Harry Dalton's best trades other than that big 1980 trade to get Fingers, Vuckovich, and Simmons.





Both these guys were Brewers draft picks. To be fair, most guys that become at least minor stars as Brewers were draft picks. I can't recall a big free agent signing for Milwaukee that worked out (maybe Kyle Lohse?), and frankly there just aren't that many big free agent signings in their history.

See what I mean? Fielder and Hart were draft picks. Sabathia was a 4-month rental. The Brewers made CC an offer to stay in Milwaukee, but the restaurants of New York were too much of a draw for the large former Cy Young Winner. Coming into next year at the age of 34, Sabathia might be a Hall of Famer already. Here's hoping for his sake that he can add to his resume.


Ryan Braun: another draft pick. The A&G blue swatch was a fantastic addition to my Braun collection, as I really don't have all that many relic cards of his. To be fair, though, that O-Pee-Chee box-bottom card blows the A&G away in my book. I miss getting cards on the bottoms of boxes.


Another draft pick. Surprisingly, I had shiny Lineage and Diamond Collection Lineage but not base set Lineage before this package.


Doug Henry did not make it to the majors until he was 27 years old. In his rookie year, he put up a microscopic 1.00 ERA in 36 innings (15 saves, 2-1 record). He built that ERA on an unsustainably low home run rate -- just 0.3 per nine innings -- and an even more unsustainable hit rate of just 4.0 hits per nine innings. When his hit rate got back to more normal levels, his ERA soared. The Brewers then traded him to the New York Mets in November of 1994 and got back two PTBNL, including Fernando Vina, in return.


Another blind-squirrel paean to hit rates. Austin came up at the same age and in the same year as Henry -- 1991 at the age of 27. He got shelled in 1991 in only 8-2/3 innings. But, in 1992, all the balls in play found gloves, it seems, and he gave up just 5.9 hits per nine innings. That led to an artificially low 1.85 ERA (FIP: 3.95) despite the fact that he walked more batters than he struck out (32 walks, 30 Ks in 58-1/3 innings). In other words, he was never going to be a long-time major leaguer like that. His major-league career was done after 1993.


Night Owl, thank you for the creativity, the inspiration, and even the occasionally anxious post. The blogging world -- and the real world, if there is any real difference -- needs your creativity and insight.

And I need your Brewers cards.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You're Quite a Quiet Domino: Trade with Heartbreaking Cards

Let's start with the musical inspiration for the title of this trade post:



For everyone's sake, I did not post the full movie documentary about the making of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album from back in 2002 -- just the song. I appreciated, though, how the album cover for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is Marina City from State Street in Downtown Chicago. I've been in downtown Chicago a bunch in the past eight or nine years thanks to various work-related trips. Nearly every time I'm there, I'm near the Chicago River and I see these buildings.

As a fellow displaced Wisconsinite who is a more recent transplant to the Peach State, Matt F. at the humbly named Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius -- who, along with Dayf the Cardboard Junkie has started podcasting -- probably can appreciate the Midwestern references here. 

A few weeks ago, after promising to do so for a few months, my sorry, slow attempts at sending Matt some of those 1972 Mini inserts from the 2013 Topps set finally came to fruition. I still have a ton more to go through and send to Matt, but he was kind enough to send me some cards in return already.

Such as, for example, this autograph from Bowman Sterling of 2013 second round draft pick Tucker Neuhaus. Neuhaus was drafted out of Wharton High School in Tampa by the Brewers, and he has spent both of the past two seasons in Rookie Level baseball. He has struggled at the plate -- .232/.296/.328 -- in those seasons and frankly his glove is pretty questionable right now.  On the other hand, he is barely 19 years old. He has time to work out the kinks, and hopefully he will do that.


The other cards I received from Matt fit the title of this post. They are wonderful dominos from 1971:







While generally 1971 Topps cards get me pretty excited -- I love the white letters on the black, and the no-capital-letter look is pretty cool -- I have all of these Topps cards already in my Brewers 1970s binder.

Thing is, though, that these are O-Pee-Chee cards from 1971!

Hopefully y'all will click in on that scan of the backs of the cards to see the French and English in the middle of the much more legible yellow backs that O-Pee-Chee put on these cards -- as compared to that dark green that Topps used.  These cards are just excellent.

Matt, thank you very much for these cards. I need to head to that card show in Morrow some time soon -- hope to see you there!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Team Set Holes

As you have come to expect from me, I like to break my card show purchases into a number of posts so that I get a good week's worth of posts from my day at the show. This card show was no different, either.

This one is my final post from that last show. Basically, it's random Brewer cards that I needed for my team set collections.

Let's start with the most recent ones -- Aramis Ramirez and Mark Reynolds from the Update set.



Escobar played every single game for the Kansas City Royals this year. He was in the Greinke trade with Lorenzo Cain.


Now, for the fun stuff -- Hostess! That Bando card looks like the photo is from the Old Comiskey Park and was taken in front of the old exploding scoreboard.



Those two were from 1978, while this next Bando is from 1977. Along with the Fosse, it shows that Topps wasn't the only company to employ airbrushers back in the 1970s to put guys on different teams. All three of these cards were a quarter each.


This 1979 Dick Davis card was a condition upgrade. Davis reportedly was a major cocaine user in the early 1980s, according to Lonnie Smith's testimony during the 1985 Pittsburgh Drug Trials.


Before I bought this copy of the 1983 RBI Leaders from the 1984 Topps set, I already have at least two copies of it. It's just that one of them is autographed and both of the other two are in my Cooper player collection.

These next four were all great finds from the first dealer table at which I stopped. Three of the four are from the higher numbers in the 1972 set, so they did cost a little bit more (50 cents or $1) than a basic common, but all of them are in good shape and were needed for my team collection.





As was the case with the Cooper RBI leader, I have this card already. It's just in the Ted Simmons player collection.

I used to have this card somewhere. I think it was in the 1984 Donruss set I sold in 1989. No matter. Found another one for a quarter.


Randomly, two former Brewers prospects in the 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition were in the quarter box. I guess it was because they are former prospects. Gindl was DFA'ed in September by Milwaukee, while Adams got to the Single-A Midwest League before getting blown up for an ERA near 6 in 2009.


In one "star" box, I found three 1984 O-Pee-Chee cards of three former Brewers now in the Hall of Fame. For a quarter a piece, I made sure that I got two Molitors for myself as well.


Finally, I picked up this chrome-y reprint of the 1976 Topps Hank Aaron card from 1999. I may not collect him as a player collection, but his appearances in both my Brewers and Braves team sets mean that I have to chase all of his cards for one copy.


As it was, I was slightly underwhelmed by the show this month. I spent more money this month on fewer cards. Certainly, that was because I loaded up on some more expensive vintage cards, but the dime boxes just weren't as productive this time around. So, I had to turn to the quarter boxes which means higher prices and fewer cards.

I may just need to shake things up and attend one of the other shows. Or, I may just need to take a few months off from the show.  We'll see how things progress, as I have some big changes in my life coming up.