Monday, May 2, 2016

Give a Hoot #SuperTraders!

So, today I was just about to post about an envelope I received from Canada's best blog about cards from the dollar store. Then, I saw that Night Owl did exactly that. As a result, I felt compelled to change up and see what other envelope I had available to blog about.

In a twist of irony only Canadian Alanis Morissette could find ironic, the only other cards I received recently came from...Night Owl. 

Isn't that ironic, don't you think? 

Recognizing that everyone is probably tired of hearing about how not ironic Alanis's lyrics really were and also recognizing that I need some music to pick myself up, let's go with songs and stories from and relating to the band that Rolling Stone called the "Best New Band of 1985." Of course, it's The Hooters.

1. "Who the F*ck are The Hooters?"

For those of you who don't know, the Hooters were/are a Philadelphia band who achieved some mainstream success in the 1980s. Notably, the Hooters opened the U.S. side of the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia in 1985. 

Main Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof famously responded to being required to put The Hooters on the bill by asking, "Who the f*ck are The Hooters?" At that point, Geldof could be forgiven for not knowing, seeing as their first major album did not come out until 1985.

Guess what? I've got a card for that.

Chris Demaria was drafted by the Pirates in the 17th round of the 2002 draft. The Kansas City Royals then picked Demaria up in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft in 2004, kept him for a year, and shipped him to the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2006 season. Weirdly, I have this card with Demaria in both this Royals uniform and in a painted-on Brewers uniform. I don't think I've seen that variation identified online, but it's not like anyone notices or cares other than Brewers and Royals collectors.

I don't think even Demaria noticed.

2. The Who "Behind Blue Eyes" 

In 1982, The Who went on the first of their ten farewell tours -- the current one is the tenth and possibly final one. The Hooters were the local band chosen to open for one of the farewell shows at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on September 25, 1982. 

To go with this?

I bet Zack Greinke thinks he knows what it's like to be the bad man, behind blue eyes.

3.  Cyndi Lauper: "Time After Time"

Speaking of "and I blame you," one of the co-founders of The Hooters was Rob Hyman. Rob was brought in by Cyndi Lauper's producer, Rick Chertoff, to help write "one more song" for Lauper's debut album She's So Unusual. According to Wikipedia, Hyman and Lauper sat at a piano and started working on it by drawing on their own particular relationship issues. Hyman is the male backup singer on the song.

It ended up being one of the most critically acclaimed songs in Lauper's entire catalog and regularly rates in those "Greatest Love Songs" or "Best Ballads of All-Time" countdowns that VH1 used to issue with a vengeance to fill weekend time.

I have to admit -- I've never really liked this song. I don't know if it is Lauper, the syrupy ballad not appealing to the then 11-year-old me, or what. Well, it can't be that 11-year-old thing, though, because I still don't like it.

I also still have problems with Bud Selig. In addition to my much discussed antipathy toward the club's player recruitment policies in the early 1990s, Selig made himself a laughing stock by declaring the 2002 All-Star Game -- held at Miller Park in Milwaukee -- to be a 7-7 tie when the teams ran out of pitchers after 11 innings. 

Selig put the All-Star Game in Milwaukee as an ego-feeding piece, aggrandizing the openly rapacious sales tax imposed on a five-county area (including the county in which I grew up) in order to buy Milwaukee a new stadium to increase his franchise's value. After that game, the ridiculous "solution" of giving the winning league home-field advantage came into effect. As if that made a difference. 

And yet, there is now a "Bud Selig Experience" in Miller Park to pay tribute to the man. I get that he brought baseball back to Milwaukee. It's just that he spent so much time making sure that baseball in Milwaukee would always feature a terrible team that pisses me off.

4. The Hooters "All You Zombies"

This song is almost as much about biblical stories as it is anything else. It does rip on people being "zombies" and not paying attention to those who are trying to lead them away from bad things -- like Noah and Moses. This song may name check Moses more than any other song in history.

Apropos of nothing, here are four cards from the 1980s and 1990s. Let's talk about Don August. From everything I've heard and seen, he is a pretty decent dude who still participates in Brewer fantasy camps, as he mentioned on April 24 on Twitter. He was traded from the Houston Astros to the Brewers with Mark Knudsen in exchange for the skeletal remnants of Danny Darwin's career in August of 1986. August is a trivia answer as well -- he was the winning pitcher in the first game played at SkyDome (Rogers Centre) in Toronto back on June 5, 1989.

5. The Hooters "And We Danced"

The song I most remember from The Hooters is "And We Danced." It only reached number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, though it hit #3 on the Mainstream Rock chart. This article compares the song unfavorably to one of the universally most disliked pop songs of all time, "We Built This City." The article concludes that the video -- watch it yourself! -- "may be pop culture's worst musical moment ever."

Ever? Really? I mean, it's pretty cheesy, what with the breaking into a drive-in theater being featured in a mid-1980s song as if drive-ins still existed at that point. They did, but they were dying fast, of course.

UK music magazine NME calls the following song only the fifth-worst video ever. It's a song called "Call on Me" by Eric Prydz. 

I'm legitimately scared for my life after watching that video. Is it the simulated sex with a towel? Women working out in thongs? The legwarmers? The sketchy Italian guy just hanging out in the class with a dirtbag smile? The fact that one of the women actually walks up to sketchy dude and is interested?

Yes. Yes it is.

To go with this, well, nothing Night Owl sent deserves this. 

But, let's go with some Finest and a little bit of Oddball. Something needs to redeem this post. 

Only an oddball can. It's certainly not The Hooters.

Night Owl, thank you once again for sending these cards my way -- they are greatly appreciated...far more than The Hooters ever could be. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Back from Nashville with Cards from #SuperTrader JayBarkerFan

Nashville is a city near and dear to my heart. I lived there for four years for college (minus summers, of course). I have said frequently to others that I love the city and, if I didn't live in Atlanta, I would look to live in Nashville.

I don't think that is true any more. 

It's nothing that Nashville "did," really. All cities change and evolve, and Southern cities in particular have experienced rapid growth and change. Atlanta has been experiencing that rapid growth since at least 1980, and Nashville especially started its ascent once the Titans moved in from Houston in the mid-1990s.

There's something else, too: I realized how much of a bubble I lived in while I was a student at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is not Nashville. It is in Nashville, but it is its own little world. Even so, even Vanderbilt has changed massively since my time there. The area around campus has been bought up, torn up, and built up again all over -- and it's totally different now. 

Thomas Wolfe's book title was You Can't Go Home Again. Sometimes, "home" is a state of mind, and the realization hits that you can't go back in time to a comfortable place because, often, that place no longer exists either.

I think that desire to go back "home" is something that draws a lot of us back to our baseball card collecting again. Growing up as kids, our cards were a happy place -- our fortress of solitude, our escape from bad stuff around us, our place to daydream and think we too could be big leaguers some day. 

Unlike my trip to Nashville, the good thing about card collecting is that we can all pick up wherever we left off and ignore current cards, if we choose. We can also choose to embrace the changes and dig in to the new fun aspects of collecting while ignoring as best we can those things that we dislike.

In many respects, the package of cards that I received recently from the legend himself, Jaybarkerfan, wraps all of that up in one neat envelope. 

For instance, there were cards that could only come from the 1980s and early 1990s -- home, you might say:

We get Dave Parker in two store-specific sets, Angel Miranda and Joe Kmak from a deck of cards, Ted Simmons from a set fashioned after credit cards, and Teddy Higuera from one of the multitude Fleer Box sets from the mid-to-late 1980s. Oddballs to me are like getting a hug from an old friend -- it's heartfelt, warm, not awkward at all, and it feels welcoming. 

As time passes, different cards take the place of these oddballs. Sometimes, they are oddballs of a different flavor -- such as minor league cards issued by Burger King:

JBF sent me a complete set of the 2001 Huntsville Stars team. For a long time, Huntsville was Milwaukee's Double-A farm team. Last year, after Huntsville refused to be held hostage by the team for a new stadium, the team relocated to Biloxi. It's telling about this team that I chose to highlight Mike Caldwell and Ed Romero -- two members of the 1982 Brewers -- here. The only hitter of note on the team was Bill Hall -- who only got 168 plate appearances. 

Pitching-wise, there wasn't much to look at either. Coppinger was 27 and made his final appearances in the majors later that year. Neugebauer made it to the majors later in 2001 at the age of 21 years old. In typical Brewers fashion for that time period, Neugebauer would suffer a rotator cuff injury in 2002 which led to surgery in February of 2003. The injury could lead to his release in September of 2004 and his retirement.

As a final note, my wife especially liked the list of Burger Kings participating in the promotion, as several of them are owned by the company at which her father is in upper management.

Collecting these days, though, is full of gimmicks. Some gimmicks are still kind of cool -- who doesn't like a certified autograph, after all? 

Patrick Ryan was a 19th round draft pick out of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. That is an odd place for a pitcher to attend school, I'd say -- it's more known as a place to learn to fly as a college major than anything else.

Okay, back to cards. As I said, autographs are excellent. Cards that are jersey relics or bat relics?

They are okay, I suppose. Granted, getting a Molitor relic is very cool -- especially one with some color to it. 

One of the most common -- and overused -- gimmicks are parallels. Bowman is fairly famous for this, but Topps does it in other sets as well:

JBF opened up his Bowman Chrome prospects and Prince files and pulled out these beauties. As you may have heard, Prince Fielder actually was named after the late musician Prince because his mother was a big fan. 

It's not that I hate parallels for being parallels. I just think there are way too many parallels without any reason. 

Finally, JBF sent me a couple of cards that will always be like home. Going back to 1980s Milwaukee will always be home. That "home" includes the Milwaukee Bucks of the 1980s. Even though they never won a championship, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Sidney Moncrief, Terry Cummings, Paul Pressey, Dave Cowens, Bob Lanier, and even Alton Lister. Whenever those teams were on TV back then, the man on color commentary was 1971 Bucks member Jon McGlocklin.  

Similarly, Athens, Georgia will always be home. I visit Athens enough -- and it's close enough to Atlanta -- that I am never surprised completely by changes there. And, JBF sent me something unique that I really appreciate:

Malcolm Mitchell was selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Malcolm's almost better known for being a fantastic example for all of us generally -- even having written a children's book called The Magician's Hat:

JBF, thank you very much for the great cards and the printing plate from Malcolm Mitchell. All of them -- especially the plate -- are greatly appreciated!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A One-Card Post Then Bye Till Saturday

Over the weekend on Netflix, I watched most of the CNN series called "The Seventies." I remember about one-third of the 1970s -- the last third, of course, being born in 1971. The first episode covered television. After that, it was the momentous events of the decade.

I finished the last show in the series tonight. They saved the best for last, of course -- covering the music of the 1970s in the final episode. Chris Connelly -- the ESPN guy who took over Grantland when Bill Simmons left the nest -- made a bold statement to the effect that every kind of rock music ever was done best in the 1970s.

I think that is hyperbole, to be fair. Rap was definitely not done best in the 1970s, even with "Rapper's Delight."

As the series points out, this very song gave "Hip-Hop" its name. That said, it's still pretty primordial and hasn't hit its stride quite yet.

Still, that statement bugged me because I tried to come up with better music from another time. Hard Rock? Nope -- 1980s hair metal in all its glory couldn't match up with Black Sabbath. 

Punk was in its full pomp in the 1970s too -- far better than the Green Day revival that took place in the 1980s. I mean, no other decade had The Clash at its very finest. After all, Rolling Stone had to go to the 1970s for its album of the decade, "London Calling."

How about country music? Arguably, the 1970s were not as good as, say, the 1960s or 1950s. Then, you see Loretta Lynn (Coal Miner's Daughter), Dolly Parton (I Will Always Love You), Kenny Rogers (The Gambler), and the perfect country and western song, written by Steve Goodman:

David Allan Coe is a notoriously temperamental performer who might show up and play for four hours or who might not like the looks of the front row of a crowd and just storm off the stage. He did this a couple of times in Athens at the Georgia Theater, I was told. I had heard the stories and just avoided the shows.

But still -- the more I think about it, the more Chris Connelly has a point. Sometimes, the Good Old Days actually WERE that good.

In some respects, I sometimes feel like baseball cards in the 1960s and 1970s were better than what we have today. What do we have that is good today? 

Well, we get autographs in packs. We get pieces of cloth embedded in cards. We get 20 different versions of the same card, with some even serial numbered. We even have the Topps Now cards, so Topps can issue cards immediately (your shipping time may vary).

What did the 1960s and 1970s have?

Those decades had cards issued in series for well over half the time in question. Then, there might be coins inserted in cards. Sometimes, there would be oddballs issued by Topps. There would be oddballs issued by cereal companies, confectioneries, bakeries, insurance companies, fast-food joints, convenience stories, hot dog makers, and with potato chips. 

Speaking of which, here's an oddball Topps card that I got for a $5 bill (including shipping) on eBay recently:

By that alone, the good old days win in a landslide.

Thanks for stopping by tonight. I'll be in Nashville all week after this for an American Bar Association meeting, so I'll see y'all on Saturday!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Meet the Brewers #23: Wayne Comer

Wayne Comer did not play until the Brewers' third game, serving as a pinch hitter for Russ Snyder before playing right field against the Chicago White Sox in a 5-4 loss in the third game of the season. 

In 1970, Wayne Comer was coming off a very successful rookie season with the Seattle Pilots. In 147 games (573 plate appearances), he put up good numbers: 15 HRs, 54 RBI, 18 SB (in 25 attempts...not so hot), and slashing .245/.354/.380. He walked more than he struck out -- 82 walks, 79 strikeouts -- at the age of just 25 years old. And yet, he played 57 more games in 1969 than in any other season in his career.

Why the 26-year-old who was coming off a fairly successful season did not get to start is a big question: the other options were the 36-year-old Snyder and 33-year-old Ted Savage, amongst others. 

1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers
Perhaps it was this: during an exhibition game just prior to the season that took place in Oakland, Comer was at bat. He fouled a ball off straight down, and it bounced up and hit him in the head. Oddly, his SABR Biography does not make note of this and calls Comer the Brewers' starting centerfielder. This clearly was not true as he made only two starts -- only one in centerfield -- for the Brewers during the first month of the season.

Even though he was a rookie in 1969, he already had a World Series ring. He served as a pinch hitter for the Detroit Tigers in 1968, going 6 for 48. But, he was on the World Series roster against the St. Louis Cardinals in that last World Series before the addition of divisions and the League Championship Series. He batted once in the 1968 Series and singled, meaning he had a perfect post-season career.

Despite the very good 1969, it seems that his talents were not appreciated in his day. Yes, this is another example of baseball people focusing on batting average rather than on-base percentage. His major league OBP in 807 plate appearances was .331, but his batting average was just .229. His minor league OBP was .367 versus a batting average of .275. 

1988 Reprint of 1970 Flavor-Est Milk Set 
The other thing going on here may be as simple as someone actually understanding park effects. Sick's Stadium in Seattle was a bandbox -- just 305 feet down the left-field line. It was a terrible stadium -- just read the Wikipedia entry about it to hear all the problems. For instance, on opening day 1969, some people had to wait to sit down for three innings because workers were still putting the seats together.

Comer did not last long in Milwaukee. He went hitless for his first fifteen at-bats, got a pinch-hit single in the first game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators on May 10, then made an out pinch hitting again in the second game of that doubleheader. That was his last game in Milwaukee, as Comer was traded to the Senators on May 11, 1970 for Hank Allen and Ron Theobald.

1994 Miller Brewing Milwaukee Brewers
Comer played in the minor leagues until the age of 30 in 1974. Thereafter, he first went into sporting goods sales. After that, he became a local teacher and baseball coach in his hometown of Shenandoah, Virginia -- a small town along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River near Interstate 81 in western Virginia -- and in nearby Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

Comer was certainly a local celebrity -- to the point where one reference to him came up on a church website for the Vision of Hope United Methodist Church. The reference is in a sermon overview, and it provides something of a window into what Comer really was like:
Many of you know the name of Wayne Comer. A resident of Page County, Wayne was a super-talented baseball player who made it all the way to the Show -- the major leagues. He was a utility infielder on the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers, and also played for the Seattle Pilots. . . . Wayne spent several years operating a very successful sporting goods franchise here in Harrisonburg. And upon retiring from that, he did a short stint as coach of the Spotswood High School Trailblazers baseball team.
The sermon continued by comparing Comer to Bobby Knight and the "my-way-or-the-highway approach" and described Wayne's personality as follows:
Now anyone who has ever known Wayne will agree he has no lack of confidence. And many will tell you he's an arrogant ol' cuss.
Yet, as the sermon continued, it talked about how long after retirement, Comer agreed to come help a struggling second grade boy who needed someone to keep tabs on him and provide a control and a role model on how to act properly in class and school. It worked like a charm.

Wayne Comer has just 11 cards of him from his playing career on the Trading Card Database. Of course, that Broder-type "Flavor-Est" milk set is not in the Trading Card Database, so make it 12. Out of those 12, four show him as a Brewer -- the three I've shown here along with his 1970 Mike Andersen Postcard -- the photo for which is the same as this Flavor-Est card.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Nothing Can Replace #SuperTrader Brad's Blog

Have you ever watched TV ads and tried to determine what the demographic the advertising company is attempting to reach? Or, more to the point, have you ever watched an ad and wondered who actually gave the green light to the particular advertisement? 

Car insurance ads, in particular, seem to want to be cutesy so as to make people like the pitchman in hopes that that people remember and like the company. 

Liberty Mutual has an ad that appears to be an attempt to appeal to millennials, perhaps, and probably millennial women. It's about an Asian-American woman who names her car "Brad." You have probably seen this ad -- the woman stands with the Statue of Liberty ostensibly behind her talking about how she went through everything with "Brad" before she totaled her car and then breaks into her happy dance in the end.

It all seems rather trite if someone is going to break into a happy dance after destroying their car that they named. 

It probably goes without saying, but I have never understood the whole giving names to a car thing. Anthropomorphizing a car just makes no sense. Then again, this ad is even more disturbing if you treat Brad as a person...

"Nothing can replace Brad!"

I agree -- here in the Blog World, nothing can replace Brad's Blog. After all, he's the Phillies representative in the SuperTraders group. Brad sent me some great cards in a recent mailing, so let's take a look at some of them.

Let's start with some little Allen & Ginter from last year. Both of these cards have the A&G backs on them, so they are parallels of the parallel.

I really did not like the look of the cards last year. I've taken to calling it the Measles set. I showed the cards to my wife and asked her what she thought. Her first response was, "Do those guys have measles?"

Sure looks like it to me. I'm not the only one to say this either.

A few other cards that Brad sent appear to be less contagious. 

Then again, these are from the 1990s. There may be parallels proliferating in a warehouse somewhere in Philadelphia, or England, or somewhere...wherever Gavin Rossdale is these days as his ex-wife dates a country singer.

Speaking of the 1990s, here are a few more additions to the Greg Vaughn collection. 

It's funny how some of my player collections have grown while others have been more stagnant than a swamp. I mean, I haven't added a new card or item to the Jerry Augustine collection since December 17, 2014. Then again, that's largely a function of how few Jerry Augustine cards there really are. I think the only one of his cards that I am missing is the 1981 Fleer error version of his card that actually shows Bill Travers on it. 

That's largely a function of the fact that Augustine simply wasn't a very good player, I suppose.

Brad sent me a couple of true highlight cards -- one a relic and one autograph. Let's see the relic first:

J.J. Hardy is still a very good player for Baltimore, and this nice blue swatch is a cool addition to my collection that I needed. Well, pretty much every relic or autograph is "needed" in some way, I suppose.

Let's see that autograph:

A Leaf Certified Materials of Scott Podsednik! Very cool. Podsednik parlayed his baseball stardom into marrying a Playboy Playmate named Lisa Dergan. Seems like a good excuse to me to post a photo of her.

That will do nicely.

Many thanks to Brad for the great cards and the great excuse!