Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Johnny's Trading Spot #SuperTrader Debut

As many of you know, the man whose force of will helped create the SuperTraders group last year -- Wes a/k/a Jaybarkerfan -- decided to leave his creation behind and focus entirely on getting every Josh Willingham card ever. Just call him, "Willinghammer Rising!"

As a result, the man who loves looking at shadows for Sunday silliness -- Johnny of Johnny's Trading Spot -- took over as the Braves SuperTrader. To introduce himself to the group, he sent out Priority Mailers. Well, at least that's what I got. 

To honor John's favorite silliness, let's look at the inserts and parallels he sent to me accompanied by songs only the Shadow will know. Or, rather, songs about shadows. I don't think I've heard of any of these songs before, so I'm hearing them for the first time too.

"Prakriti" by The Shadows

So, have you ever wondered what Candlebox or maybe *shudder* Nickelback would sound like if they sang in Nepali? I'm pretty sure this is it. The Shadows are known as Nepal's first hard rock band, and they hail from Narayangarh, Chitwan, Nepal. 

I haven't the foggiest idea what they are saying. Apparently, though, they are known and are popular due to their lyrics discussing social issues. 

Let's start this post with first basemen. The top card is from the 1994 Upper Deck Major League Baseball 125th Anniversary set, and it's the special foil stamped parallel of Cecil Cooper. I have not seen too many of these cards -- read as: no others that I can recall -- so this was a pretty awesome card to get.

On the bottom, it's a Prince Fielder Upper Deck insert from 2006 and a Topps Attax code card from 2010. Ah yes, 2005/2006...those halcyon days when the Brewers had prospects that were forcing their way quickly into the major leagues -- and I hope those days return soon. Prince was one of the first to get there and made his presence known in a big way. 

"In the Shadows" by The Rasmus

Here's an alternative rock band that somehow escaped my notice in 2003. The band is called The Rasmus. The song isn't too bad -- it's pretty generic alt-rock from a band from Finland, though, so maybe I missed it by the fact I was busy in 2003 getting indoctrinated into Manchester United soccer (that's the year I really became a fan).

That said, with the name of this band, it's almost like my random word search forced me into covering current events here, what with all the kerfuffle about Colby Rasmus's neckbeard making its way into baseball Twitter today. 

Personally, I don't see the big deal.

Going the other direction here, we have the perpetually clean-shaven Teddy Higuera. The Studio card is one of those promo cards. Next to it, of course, we have a Score Gold Rush card -- which were too numerous to presage fully Topps's conversion to the serial numbered gold parallel standard several years later. But, that gold background is only okay -- it's a little too tough to know whether Higuera is pitching on Tatooine or in Cleveland for my taste.

Finally, we have a sticker-back from 1989. For player collectors, these sticker backs are great and completely frustrating for the same reason: how many variations of each back are there? I mean, I know Higuera has at least 4 or 5 variations of which stickers are on the other side. My problem is that I have no idea how many total there are. This is good for my Yount collection though -- increased possibility of adding to it based on the variation.

"Apache" by The Shadows

I think this song appeared in every Western film from 1960 through about 1985, or at least a variation of it. The Shadows are revered by fans of what I would call "proper" country & western music (as opposed to the "Contemporary Country" stuff that is on the radio today) -- the band's rockabilly sensibilities shine through. It feels like tumbleweeds should roll through when this song is playing.

The band also served the backing band for English rock legend Sir Cliff Richard. Richard is huge in England, but he's barely received any notice here in the United States. The Shadows' collaboration with Richard ended in 2009's Golden Anniversary tour in the UK.

Speaking of gold...and silver and metallic and rainbow foils, here are some mid-1990s (and one early 2000s) parallels all gilded up and ready for review. When card companies figured out a way to stick foil everywhere on cards, suddenly everyone everywhere did it.

I'm thinking that there are a couple of innovations coming in the near future to cards. First, I'm waiting for the first high-end GIF cards -- maybe a minute long GIF that has a small solar panel on it to charge a microbattery (you know, like the ones Evan Musk is developing). Second, a similar microbattery card will be produced with the player's voice to tell stories. If it's a super high-end card, perhaps it will include wifi access to update the stories.

Not sure I'd buy either of these creations, but I could see it happen.

"Shadows" by Sabrina Carpenter

Sabrina Carpenter is someone I've never heard of, but that's because I don't have kids to make me watch Disney movies or listen to Radio Disney. She is a 17-year-old actress/singer whose voice sounds similar to many of the other former Disney stars. 

To be quite honest, this song surprised me in how easily it got stuck in my head. It's a well-crafted pop song -- the background music doesn't detract from her voice, and she has what seems like an excellent voice. Of course, who knows how much studio help her voice gets, but it sounds like she can really sing.

To go with a song that surprised me greatly -- I was guessing that I almost certainly wouldn't like it -- here are four very random cards. Jeromy Burnitz is in the midst of a silver Pacific Revolution. It's a card my cat Gus loves, because he loves to chase reflected light spots around the room.

Then, we have two Cal Eldreds -- a Virtual Reality parallel, and a Team 2000 insert. That Team 2000 insert reminds me: I had the 2000 Edition of Baseball Prospectus out recently and read the Brewers section. This section may have colored my view of the Sal-Bando-led Brewers somewhat. Here's what it said about Eldred:
The second poor decision was Phil Garner's sacrifice of Cal Eldred. . . . It's hard to remember how good Eldred was, but when he came up he was a better pitcher than Alex Fernandez. There was every reason to expect Eldred would grow into a staff ace, the kind of guy who makes the job of building a solid rotation almost easy. But Garner couldn't wait for it to happen. Everyone rushed to call him a genius in 1992, so he had to keep putting up a good front. Eldred's career was sacrificed in the seventh and eighth innings of his starts during meaningless 1993 and 1994 seasons, where the only goal was satisfying Phil Garner's sense of self-worth.
Harsh. But true. The whole chapter on the Brewers is a horrible reminder of the days that were the second half of the 1990s in Milwaukee baseball.

"Shadows" by Lindsey Sterling

I am not sure how dubstep and the violin work together, but Lindsey Stirling sort of makes it work. She was a quarterfinalist on season 5 of America's Got Talent, but Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne shot down her hopes and dreams by saying that she simply wasn't good enough to dance and play violin at the same time and that it would not fill a theater in Vegas. 

She also teamed with the Atlanta Music Project in 2013 to spread music appreciation to children who might not otherwise have the chance. I'm not sure how well that went, but hey, she's trying.

This cluster of four cards will finish off this post. On top is just a really well-done card. I like the black and white background with Dave Nilsson in the foreground in color. It just works. 

The middle cards -- a Skybox of Nilsson and one of the Gold Label variants (I think it's a Type 2 or Row 2 or whatever the hell weird nomenclature those used) of Jeromy Burnitz. That uniform of him throwing, though, looks fake to me.

Finally, we close with a Robin. I finally got my hands on a Leaf base-set checklist with Robin on it. Seriously, it took me nearly three years of collecting to get this card. I have no idea why it took that long.

Thanks to John, though, that search is over. As always, my deepest thanks go out to John for the cards and to all of you for reading.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Quick Sunday Post...but Non-Sports?

Every once in awhile, I need a short post. Today is one of those days. I'm in a sorting-cards/organization mood, but I wanted to get a post up.

About two months ago, Mark Hoyle drew my attention to a card I had never heard of but which I most certainly needed in my collection. In 1954, Topps issued a two-series set of 78 cards each called "Topps Scoops." As this Sports Collectors Digest article from August of 2016 mentions, Topps condensed about 3000 years of history into these 156 cards -- focusing on European and U.S. history, of course.

Damn Topps -- always leaving out the South Americans.

Anyway, Mark tweeted a photo of card #130, a card called "Braves Go to Milwaukee." That card definitely fits into my Milwaukee baseball collection, so I started looking for it on eBay.

Most times I found it, the individual card was going for about $20. Then, last week, I found a group of eight cards from the set in "rounded corner" shape for $14.95 with shipping included. That group included the card I was looking for, so I put in a bid at the opening level and waited.

No one else bid, so I now have the card I was looking for.  It's a little bit rough, but I can always look for an upgrade:

These cards are slightly smaller than the 1975 Topps Mini set. Whereas the 1975 minis measured 2-1/4 inches by 3-1/8 inches, these Topps Scoops measure 2-1/16 inches by 2-15/16 inches. The cards feature colorful artwork for the news story highlighted -- some of which are really weird artwork, to be fair.

For example, this is supposed to represent New York Governor DeWitt Clinton emptying a barrel of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic Ocean. It looks more like Clinton is skewering a barrel on the end of some sort of animal tusk.

Certainly, the art is colorful, yet a lot of it is very much the 1950s hokey art style.

Like, what are these red buildings here? The twin lighters?

Ben Franklin looks awfully chill here as the key on his kite glows as if it were radioactive. Of course, the first generation of Mythbusters proved that this was almost certainly an urban legend.

This would have been recent history when the cards were released. The back of the card notes that the Douglas D-588-II Skyrocket reached 1,327 miles per hour -- twice the speed of sound, or Mach 2. As of this writing, it appears that NASA still has the manned air-speed record with a Guinness-certified flight on November 16, 2004 hitting Mach 9.6 -- nearly 7,000 miles per hour.

For whatever reason, I somehow never heard about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 -- which is still known as the most destructive river flood in United States history. Oddly, though, the back of this card cites to The Atlanta Constitution as the source for the news story. Not sure why a New Orleans newspaper wouldn't have been more appropriate. As the Wikipedia article about this flood notes, over 200,000 African Americans were displaced from their homes due to the floods, and many joined the Great Migration to the north and Midwest. 

It being the 1950s, though, we get a hulking white dude holding on to trees and a white dude on a raft in a suit. Because that makes sense, somehow.

Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, is shown above. I have nothing to add to this.

Finally, this one is a weird one. It's almost certainly a story that would have been bigger news in 1954 than to any of us today. The U.S. Air Force -- a branch of the military created just five years prior to this card's date -- held a press conference to say that flying saucers were not real. Those post-war years featured a fair number of "UFO" (the term coined by the Air Force) reports. What seems possible to me is that many of these UFOs were airplanes, light reflections, and other objects that the general public was not used to seeing in the air. 

These days, we're much more likely to know what these things are. Or, at least we are more likely to brush them off as airplanes. It's also possible that some of these UFOs were actually espionage activities of other countries.

It's possible we'll never know for sure.

At any rate, if you see a Scoop you like, let me know. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Beats by Dayf

Earlier this week, I featured some cards that I got at my local card show. At that same show, Dayf from Cardboard Junkie -- who is looking svelte these days after losing about 40 pounds! -- reached out to me to see if I had more binders or sheets that I could spare. I don't have any spare binders at this point -- not while I'm trying to figure out how many binders I'll need for all the inserts and parallels from Topps, at least. But, I do have a bunch of sheets still sitting in a pile waiting for use.

So, I grabbed a big stack of the sheets and piled them into my car. Dave found me at the show parked in front of the dime boxes -- per usual -- and we chatted for awhile. Once we both finished up at the show, we went out to our cars and got the sheets into his car. Then Dave handed me a brown paper bag and said, "I hope you can use some of these."

Dave, there were a couple dozen I could use. To thank you, kind sir, I thought, "how about some Aphex Twin music, since I'm pretty sure you like them." Off we go.

Avril 14th

This video for the song "Avril 14th" is listed as the top track on Spotify for Aphex Twin. This song is just a piano solo -- a hauntingly beautiful one at that. 

As an aside and in case you don't know (because I didn't), Aphex Twin is really just one Irishman called Richard David James, who has also recorded under the names AFX, Blue Clax, Bradley Strider, The Universal Indicator, Brian Tregaskin, The, Smojphace, GAK, Karen Tregaskin, Patrick Tregaskin, Martin Tressider, PBoD (Phonic Boy on Dope), Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Q-Chastic, Dice Man, The Tuss, and Soit-P.P. Wikipedia says that James is "known for his influential and idiosyncratic work in electronic music styles such as IDM and acid techno in the 1990s.

Let's start with Bowman Heritage from the early 2000s. As the nostalgia ball got rolling and Topps was looking for new and different ways to (a) issue more cards and (b) protect its copyrights in its past card designs from interlopers like "Fleer Vintage" outright copying the 1971 Topps design, Bowman Heritage was a natural way of doing so. My only surprise these days is that Bowman Archives hasn't come out as a set as well.

Frankly, that would be a decent set for a few years. Of course, that won't happen because it wouldn't be a high-end set for which Topps could charge $750 a box.


When I'm trying to find out about an artist about which I don't know much, I often turn to Wikipedia and Google. Wikipedia here for this song provides a real insight both into the song and into how obsessive Aphex Twin's fans are. 

If you watch the video above, be careful if you aren't real keen on profanity. As Wikipedia's obsessives point out, "[t]here are 127 uses of profanity in the dialogue segment of the video (which is under 4 minutes), including 44 uses of the word 'f**k'. This averages to more than one use of profanity every two seconds."

Hilarious. Seriously -- it's quite funny.

For some reason, these cards seem appropriate here. The shininess of the mid-1990s goes well with the beats and rhythms of this song. The Jaha is a 1997 New Pinnacle Base Artist's Proof which fell one per 39 packs, according to the always useful Baseball Card Pedia. New Pinnacle was, apparently, the first product ever to include the printing plates in the packages for the cards.

Wax the Nip

The odd visage of Richard James's appears regularly on many of Aphex Twin's album covers and videos. According to James, he did this because it ran counter to the way most techno artists operated -- they did not want to be recognized, so he did the exact opposite. 

This song is on ...I Care Because You Do, which is an album that Dave suggested I listen to when I was looking for something different last weekend. I picked this song because of its name. Of course.

I put the Corey Hart in with some real live 1990s cards because it really is a throwback to Upper Deck's more basic designs of its earlier era. Remember how groundbreaking it was to have top-quality photography on cards -- like Upper Deck and, when it first came out, Stadium Club? To be fair, Stadium Club isn't bad these days, so I'm not complaining there. 

It's humorous that Kelly Wunsch got a card for striking out five guys in one inning. It takes a new level of incompetence either on his part or his catcher's part or both to hit five Ks in an inning. To be fair, though, Wunsch made it to the major leagues as a lefty specialist in the early 2000s. He's now a home builder in Austin, Texas, and he married a girl from Wisconsin.


It's over 9 minutes of Aphex Twin from his first album, Selected Ambient Works 85-92. James got his start in the world of music by being a DJ isolated in Ireland and unable to find the kind of music he wanted to play. As a result, he started making his own.

Over his career, he notoriously held a great deal of antipathy toward the press. As he got older and had a family, though, he mellowed and ended up giving an extended interview to Philip Sherburne on which is intriguing to read.

These stars of the 1980s Brewers -- well, okay, 4 Paul Molitor cards and a Cecil Cooper Archives reprint from 2002 -- belong with early Aphex Twin. They are classic cards in many respects -- even the very recent Stadium Club. 

On that glossy All-Star card, though, I'm betting Molitor is checking out a girl. Just saying.

Analogue Bubblebath Vol I

One of James's very early songs is Analogue Bubblebath Vol. I. It came out in 1991 -- twenty-six years ago! -- and it's very much in a product of that era's electronic music. I don't know if it is the right nomenclature to call this trance, but it sure does put me into something of a trance. 

That last sentence took about 4 minutes to type. I just kind stared off into space for a while. No, I'm not kidding. Just listening to the music and taking it in. I've never really listened to this kind of music all that much before -- I'm a lyrics person when it comes to music, so these instrumental songs are a new world for me.

Not a new world, but all appreciated, are the mix of Upper Deck and Bowman above. Ah, I remember the days three years ago when I first got back into collecting and decided to collect Jean Segura as a player collection. That was funny. I knew that it would end poorly in Milwaukee, and it did.

In fact, the first card show I attended back in 2014, I was at this one guy's table and found about 5 or 6 Segura relics and autographs cheaply and bought them all up. The guy looked at me funny and said, "What's up with Segura? Why are you buying all those?" All I could respond was, "I'm a Brewers fan, and I have high hopes for him."

He then tried to get me to buy a bunch of 1989 Topps Brewers.

Quoth by Polygon Window

Yeah, here's the whole Quoth album. Often, reading the comments on YouTube causes a loss of IQ points, but sometimes they are quite funny. A "David Jackman" said that this album is "so hypnotic, my brain can taste it. it tastes of metal and wood chip." Something called indigopleasuredome said that this album is "the 4 o'clock last-act-rave- Before the musicfestival ends - kind of pulse."

Having never been to a rave, perhaps that is true.

Finishing off the cards from Dave, we have a Chrome Gallardo, an A&G Braun, a Power Players Gomez, and an Orange Wily.

That last card sounds much more menacing to me right now than it should. It must be the trance/dance/techno bender my brain is on right now. In a number of articles, I've seen Richard James's music called "acid house." Is that because it makes you feel like you're on a trip?

Dave, help?

Or is always like this?

Thanks for the great cards, Dave!