Thursday, July 21, 2016

eBay, What you Wanna Do?

This weekend is a weird one for me. I have to go out of town for a business development industry group meeting, leaving tomorrow for Naples, Florida, and returning on Sunday. I almost never have to be gone from home over weekends for work or business development, so it is going to throw me off a bit I'm sure. 

Of course, I'm going to the beach on a weekend by myself. It's a rough life.

I've plucked a few cards and items here and there off eBay again recently. To celebrate, let's pluck a few strings on some 1970s guitar and get in that laid back beach mood.

The 1970s for college kids was a weird time. Apparently, Pure Prairie League's song "Amie" became popular on college campuses, especially in the Midwest, during what Wikipedia calls "a minor bluegrass revival." This song is what gave me my title for tonight's post. So, what card will it introduce?

I could stay with these 7/11 coins from 1984 a while -- maybe longer. My love for the oddball is well documented, and I greatly enjoy finding items like this to scratch the itch. Slowly but surely, I'm finding these coins for my collections. I've got two of the three Younts -- which I think are different literally only because of a single letter on their back. The Younts were released nationally, but the Molitor and Cooper are both from the "Central" issue. I now have two Coopers and one Molitor to go with my one Yount, and I am still looking for two Ted Simmons coins.

There are not many rock songs that feature a flute. You get Jethro Tull's stuff, of course, and then this Marshall Tucker Band song, and also Men At Work's "Down Under" -- but that's all I've got off the top of my head.

Another rarity -- at least for me -- is getting bonus cards in eBay packages. It seems a lot of other bloggers do a lot better than I do with this. Maybe they just buy more off eBay than me, but I rarely get bonus cards. This time, though, I did.

That's what makes that purple Bowman Carlos Gomez so cool to me. It is serial numbered out of 250, and the seller just threw it in with the Finest Black Refractor I bought for 99 cents (free shipping, I think) that it's pictured with. Just outstanding!

Only two more items, so two more laid back 70s Southern Rock songs.

For a while in the early 1990s and almost certainly influenced by the fact that I had moved to the South, I really got into the Allman Brothers Band for a while. It wasn't like I listened to them nonstop or anything, but whenever I was in a chill mood I wanted to hear stuff like this. Pop in the Allman Brothers Greatest Hits CD, and I'd be more laid back than Jimmy Buffett at 5 o'clock.

The opposite of laid back is this ridiculous Bowman's Best insert from last year. I actually found two of these pretty cheap from two different sellers at the same time, so I picked up my requisite "one each for the player collection and the team collection." Apparently, the mirror image here was that Braun had back-to-back 30-30 seasons in 2011 and 2012 in the majors, and Pederson went 30-30 in 2014. 

Is this racial profiling? I mean, is this one of those, "we can only compare Jewish players to other Jewish players" things? Or is it just a mere coincidence? 

Got me.

All this chill music gets me thinking about one of my favorite chill songs of all time.

It's not easy to be peaceful with all the political stuff going on. But I'm trying.

As a kid, I had a tremendous love for media guides. During a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Brewers Media Guide actually was available for purchase at our local grocery store. As a huge Brewer fan, I would wear out that media guide. I memorized middle names of players -- Cecil Celester Cooper, James Elmer Gantner, Paul Leo Molitor, pitching coach Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish .... and the wonder of what Robin Yount's middle name was since he was only listed as "Robin R. Yount."

I did not realize that Robin featured on the front cover of the 1977 Media Guide until very, very recently -- and the minute I found out, I snapped up the least expensive copy I could find on eBay. It's in great shape, so I just got a good deal.

Going back in time is often a lot of fun. Nostalgia is great -- so long as we don't fetishize it too much and remember that the good old times weren't always so good. Often, they were just old. The 1977 Brewers sucked, but better times were ahead. I hope that's where we are going too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Let's be clear about a couple of things. I'm a pretty good technical writer when it comes to writing like a lawyer. I don't mean that I fill my sentences with legalese and "wherefores" and all that, but I mean that write fairly clearly and concisely enough to get my point across in situations in which I usually have a page limit. 

On the other hand, as a creative writer, I'm a bit of a mess. I've never focused on creative writing. My writing tends to angle toward stream of consciousness. All you have to do is read one post here and you will know immediately that, at best, I might plan out a theme for music. Otherwise, my writing is full of what those literary types would call conceits -- which occur when a writer compares two highly dissimilar things to create a far-fetched simile or metaphor. 

Unless you feel that Gypsy Queen Minis really are like Mazzy Star.

At any rate, P-Town Tom -- the math wizard behind Waiting 'til Next Year (which is likely to be in the running for the Zippy Zappy award for renamed blogs if the Cubs finally finish out this year and win the World Series like they should) -- recently sent me a passel of cards to thank me "in advance" for some Conlon cards I was sending his way. I didn't warn Tom before now, but those cards went out yesterday to him and should arrive pretty soon. Be watching for a priority mailer, Tom!

So, let's see what Tom sent my way this time. Do we need music? Sure. Let's use bands that MTV says are "Similar" to some of Tom's favorites.

1. O.A.R. is Similar to....

It's not a terribly long list, and it's populated by a fair number of southern bands. Like this one, from the best city in the entire world and entire galaxy, Athens, Georgia:

I have never really given Widespread Panic a fair shot. Well, I take that back. I've listened to them in the past in bits and pieces. They are considered by some to be the Southern answer to Phish, as one fan quoted in the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger said: "People up North like Phish, but [they] like Panic down here. . . . If I get stressed out, going to a Panic show cures all ills."

That same article said that the band reached its peak in 1998 when between 80,000 and 100,000 people descended on Athens for a CD release show. I remember it well -- it was the fall after I graduated, and I was still living in Athens. I didn't leave my house, though. It was like a football game day -- the football stadium holds 93,000 people -- but without all the freely available parking on campus. Still, I kind of feel like I missed out and should have just went down there anyway.


Speaking of missing out, when I checked out on collecting in about 1989 and started focusing on college and girls and girls and work, I missed out on cards like these. Granted, as Peter says to the Bobs in Office Space, "I wouldn't say I missed it" with respect to 1991 Fleer. 

The highlight here is that dark metal card of Jeromy Burnitz, as it completes my 1998 Metal team set. Yeah man. Metal!

2.  Manchester Orchestra is similar to....

According to MTV, my local band Manchester Orchestra is similar to this next band who hail from the original suburb, Levittown, New York:

Brand New have not put out any new music on a new album since about 2008. They have been working on their fifth album since about that time, supposedly. The first real new song they released came out in 2015. I can see the relationship between Manchester Orchestra and Brand New in some earlier songs I've heard, but this one is pretty poppy alternative. 

It's not bad. It's actually pretty decent.

"Not bad" and "pretty decent" is how I'd describe the recent 2015 Panini Contenders release. I busted a box of this back in February and distributed the results around the blogosphere, but I couldn't tell you if I got that Nathan Kirby as part of that ripping or not. 

These cards for Cubs players will work well for Tony Burbs' new "nothing major" collection he's starting up, though.

3. Thirty Seconds to Mars is like...

I love how the music so far has allowed me to stay pretty local. And, while I don't particularly like this next band, they are all decent guys from all indications. Who are they?

Hailing from Stockbridge, Georgia, Collective Soul got a boost from 99X, the radio station I mentioned a couple of posts ago. This song, "December" came in the midst of a legal battle with a former manager that got ugly and, eventually settled through a confidential mediation. 

There were a lot of hard feelings in Milwaukee just a couple of years earlier when Paul Molitor decided to leave Milwaukee for Toronto. The behind-the-scenes story appears to be that Robin Yount was pretty much always Bud Selig's favorite son and got the big paydays. When it came time for Molitor to get another contract after the 1992 season, Bud Selig and his lackey, er, general manager Sal Bando decided to offer a low-ball 1-year deal to Molitor. 

From some stories, there were even hard feelings between Yount and Molitor for a while thanks to all that. I don't know that I've ever seen much coverage of that or whether things were ever so bad that they needed to be "patched up" though.

For what it's worth, that Molitor went into my team set for the 1981 Kellogg's set. I have three Younts, two Molitors, and absolutely no one else from that set. It's weird.

4. Imagine Dragons is like...

The local angle on this is not obvious immediately. This song has a very particular memory attached to it for me, though:

First, the specific meaning to me. This song was released in 2004, and I loved it. Kaiser Chiefs put out some of the catchiest earworms in indie rock and this one absolutely stuck when I first heard it on XM Radio. 

But, I really glommed on to it -- despite the obvious cliché to it -- when I took a very long trip. In 2008, I was looking at moving to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for work with the law firm I was with at that time. I talked to people over there on the phone, and they seemed like very cool people. So, I got on a plane for a 15-1/2 hour plane ride to spend a week in Dubai. I absolutely hated the place. There are cool things about it if you're going to go there for a vacation -- definitely -- but the actual "living" there part was not for me. The whole time, I was miserable. 

And I must have listened to "Oh My God" about a dozen times on that trip -- first out of excitement and, eventually, out of understanding.

The local Atlanta angle? So, the band is named after South African football team Kaizer Chiefs, which was former Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe's first professional club. That team was named Kaizer Chiefs for its founder, Kaizer Motaung. But why "Chiefs"? Because Kaizer Motaung had played as a striker for the Atlanta Chiefs of the North American Soccer League.

Long, round about stories like that one are perfect for when I get a card in quadruplicate and still need two more of them. Yes, this is the 1987 Sportflics Team Preview card. Tom saw my mention of it before and how I couldn't find it anywhere, and so he sent me four. These went into the Molitor, Higuera, Plesac, and Deer player collections. Now I just need one for the Surhoff collection and the team collection!

5. AWOLNATION is similar to...

Try as I might, I could not find a local tie to any of the bands that MTV listed as being similar to AWOLNATION, so I'll go with a band I know has not featured here.

Foster the People had a pretty big hit (over 214 million YouTube) with "Pumped Up Kicks." While that song is pretty good, I actually prefer either this song or "Houdini." I think it's the fact that my wife absolutely loved "Pumped Up Kicks." When she loves a song, I can count on hearing that song at least 1 or 2 times a day and maybe more on weekends or roadtrips.

It's not a bad thing sometimes, but it can make a person tire more quickly of a song.

So, the title of this post is "Foreshadowing" for a reason. Yesterday, I asked whether I should try to collect the 2016 Topps Jonathan Lucroy rainbow in the wake of receiving the clear Lucroy serial numbered to 10 from Matt at BWTP. 

I mean, I got pretty close with 2014 Topps and Topps Chrome and Topps Mini -- I think I'm missing the 1/1 stuff. But, I already have that covered with the three printing plates I have. 

But, as I said at the end of the post, "Of course, there is that framed version of which there are only 16. That one might be tough to come by too...or..."

Or, maybe, Tom already sent it to me. I think that Tom may have commented to that effect on the post last night and then, realizing what I was doing, deleted it. For that, I thank him. The funny thing is that I received the envelopes from Tom and Matt on the same day.
I opened the one from Matt first and was gobsmacked -- thinking, man, that is just awesome! Then, Tom's package has this framed gem in it. Simply incredible.

Tom, thank you so much for the great cards. And thanks, too, to Matt -- since I didn't thank him properly last night with my attempt at the foreshadowing.

You guys are a part what make this hobby so awesome. Hopefully you'll each get the stuff I've sent your way soon.

Monday, July 18, 2016

3 Cards and the Truth

Nashville legend Harlan Howard wrote dozens of hits in his life, so much so that he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. He was asked one time how he formulated great country songs. His reply is now practically a cliché, but he said it first. His response was, "Three chords and the truth."

The now-legendary giving of Matt from Bob Walk the Plank is almost a cliché by now as well. The guy opens up more top-end cards on a regular basis than I see in a year living in the card show lands here in Atlanta. His recent mailer to me brought to mind Harlan Howard -- it contained three cards and Matt's truth that he had stocked up again on Brewers.

Relying on Harlan's line, here are three songs to go with the three cards.

Ry Cooder, "Three Chords and the Truth"

It's not an exciting video for sure -- basically someone just put up the cover art for the album and uploaded the song. It's a bluesy five-minute song of three chords and Ry Cooder's truth. It's worth a listen -- it sort of reminds me of early 1970s Rolling Stones in some respects.

Corey Knebel's truth is that he attended the University of Texas at Austin and was a Detroit Tigers' first round draft pick (39th overall) in 2013. He signed shortly thereafter, and by the next May he was already in the major leagues with Detroit. He didn't do all that well in his first exposure to the majors, but he was still in demand enough to be sent to the Texas Rangers in a 2014 July trade with Jake Thompson for Joakim Soria. 

Neither Thompson nor Knebel made it through the 2015 season as a Ranger. Thompson went to Philadelphia as part of the Cole Hamels trade, and Knebel came to Milwaukee with the already departed Luis Sardinas and minor league pitcher Marcos Diplan in the Yovani Gallardo trade in January of 2015. Knebel just got recalled from Triple-A a couple of days ago. If the Brewers trade Jeremy Jeffress and/or Will Smith away by the end of July, don't be surprised if Knebel and Tyler Thornburg share closing duties to see whom the long term closer is.

Mrs. Jay Barker, er, Sara Evans: "Three Chords and the Truth"

Look, Sara Evans looks really good now, especially since she is now 45 years old. I mean, that's older than me and I don't look that good.  

</insert charity laugh>

In this video from 1997, Sara was around 25 years old. Let's just say that she was displaying her best fastball in this video. She is gorgeous and, to top it off, this song really allows her to show off her vocal abilities -- unlike all the overdubbed stuff that literally everyone puts out these days.

And I am not even that big of a country music fan. But, if it sounded like this more often, I might listen more often. Instead, it's Florida-Georgia Line and Luke Bryan singing songs that make them sound like 40-year-old overgrown bro frat boys thinking they are still 23. 

Taylor Jungmann actually attended the same high school (Georgetown (TX) HS) as Corey Knebel, and he also attended the University of Texas. Jungmann was the Brewers 1st Round pick -- 12th overall -- in 2011. Two picks later, the Marlins selected Jose Fernandez, and 6 picks later, the Athletics selected VandyBoy Sonny Gray. 

On the bright side, Jungmann is a better hitter than either Fernandez or Gray. Jungmann looked decent last year, but this year he has been a train wreck. He's been demoted to Double-A Biloxi after 20-2/3 innings of 9.15 ERA ball in Milwaukee and 31 innings of 9.87 ERA pitching in Colorado Springs. Usually ERA does not tell a complete story, but in that neighborhood there are only horror stories.

U2: "All Along The Watchtower"

In their version of the Bob Dylan classic which Jimi Hendrix appropriated and made his own on Electric Ladyland, U2 added lines to the song that did not appear in previous versions. In particular, in the bridge of the song, Bono sings, "All I got is a red guitar. Three chords, and the Truth. All I got is a red guitar. The rest is up to you."

Because I was a big U2 fan in high school -- they lost me for a while with that Zooropa stuff, though some of those songs are now okay -- I must have listened to Rattle and Hum from first song ("Helter Skelter") to last ("All I Want Is You") dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Keep in mind -- I grew up in the country, didn't go to the cool kid parties, and I spent a lot of time in my bedroom going through magazines to find evidence for debate topics. 

I know -- it's a complete shock that I wasn't at the cool kid parties after that last revelation.

To be fair, though, Matt did send me a revelation as well:

It's a Jonathan Lucroy 2016 Topps Clear serial numbered 3 of 10! Holy moly. This is my first of the acetate cards that Topps has put out the past several years, and I must admit that I am impressed -- it is a good looking card on both sides of it.

Lucroy is in the news so much lately for trade rumors that I half expected him to be dating Taylor Swift at this point. One day, it's Texas. The next day, it's Boston. Then, it's Cleveland. 

To be honest, I'm okay with him getting traded if it means a good return. I'm also okay if Lucroy retires as a Brewer after a contract extension after the 2018 season. Either way, it's a win for the team.

But, with three printing plates and this clear out of the way, do I need to go for the rainbow?

Maybe. Of course, there is that framed version of which there are only 16. That one might be tough to come by too...or...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Finishing Off Last Week's Card Show: Gary and the Braves

Some days, blogging comes easily. Ideas for posts or themes pop into my head quickly, a few Google searches fleshes them out, and bang! Blog post done. 

Other times, it's not as easy. There are times that, even when the cards are cool and can speak volumes themselves, the post doesn't come together well. The writing process becomes slogging through a morass rather than having words flowing smoothly.

Indeed, today is one of the more difficult days to get words flowing. I've started and stopped, typed and deleted, surfed the web rather than write, played a quiz on Sporcle, and generally stalled while trying to come up with something interesting.

Nothing came to me. Instead, I'm going with a list. Just a list. Maybe some video content. Maybe.  Well, actually, definitely at least one video.

Let's start with item 1 on the list:

1. Gary Carter Cards

Before the Gary Carter cards, it's time for video content.

Yes, it's a video of Gary Carter's last career hit -- a double on September 27, 1992. 

The team brought him in for 1992 as a final tribute season and, probably, to serve as something of a mentor to Darrin Fletcher (who, at age 25, was already in his fourth year in the league) and youngster Tim Laker, who had risen to the major leagues after being a 6th round pick in 1988 out of high school in Simi Valley. Carter had started out that year fairly strongly at the plate. As the year wore on, his hitting faded. 

Because the team was in a pennant race for much of the year, however, Carter started seeing less playing time. It was clear that his tank was empty, and a team which stood tied for first place as late as July 30 (and finished in 2nd place, 9 games behind division winning Pittsburgh) couldn't afford to carry his bat much longer.

In the end, Laker ended up pinch-running for Carter after that double. Perhaps out of sentimentality and the rousing ovation he received, the Expos did not play Carter during the final week of the season since the Expos finished the year on the road.

I found the Carter insert from last year in a dime box. The same goes for the 1992 Upper Deck high number card (which I had in a discolored form previously) and the 1992 O-Pee-Chee Tribute (of which I still need four other cards from that Tribute -- the other four showing him in his various previous stops in the major leagues). Finally, that Historic Swatches of Carter was a $3 card. Not bad for a Hall of Famer's card serial numbered 250 out of 350 from 13 years ago. 

These four cards bring my Gary Carter collection up to 258 different cards. It's nice to have one collection where I don't have to think about getting extra cards for my team collection too. Maybe I should think about another non-Brewer collection. Maybe.

2. Original Mid-1950s Cards

I paid $1 for each of these cards. 

Of these cards, two really stick out to me. First, the Pafko is off center but has a couple of sharp corners. If I were a grading type, I'd totally get this graded. 

Second, the 1954 Topps card of Roy Smalley is one I feel like I have had in my collection forever yet never really did. That's because in both 1976 and again in 1985 for the Father-Son cards, Topps used that same card for Smalley to represent him. This was done despite the fact that Smalley appeared on Topps cards in 1951, 1952, and 1957 in addition to 1954.

Side note: The prices at my local show tend to be really good, as the $1 1956 Topps cards with sharp corners shows. At one table, a guy who sells at shows in other locations and on eBay pored through the nickel and dime boxes looking for cards to flip for anywhere from 25 cents to $5. He got so many cards that he ended up stroking a check for $120. Now THAT is a lot of dime cards...and I'm quite sure that he got more than the 1200 dime cards one would expect for that price.

Incidentally, you will all be pleased to know that the rest of this post is entirely oddballs.

3. One Original 1960s Oddball

There seem to be three things that I am known for in the blogging world. First, I'll take your Milwaukee Brewers off your hands. Second, I post a LOT of music on my blog. Finally, I love oddballs.

For the first time in my collecting career of nearly 40 years, though, I dipped my toe into the Armour coin collecting pool. I did so almost on the spur of the moment, in that I had not walked in to the show thinking, "You know what I need? A 1960 Hank Aaron Armour Coin. And I'm not leaving until I find it." 

That said, when presented with an opportunity, sometimes you just grab it. I ended up paying $25 total for this coin, the two 1971 Topps Coins from yesterday, and the 1973 and 1975 Kellogg's cards from yesterday. 

PSA has a great history of the Armour hot dogs coins. To be quite honest, I could see myself at some point in the future -- perhaps a future with more money in my pocket, I suppose -- trying to collect the full run as a set. If only because I love oddballs so much, that thought appeals to me.

Actually, the thought that really appeals to me is to start with 1946 and to try to make a type collection. That way, I'm not burying myself too much with unobtainable cards -- there are still plenty of those nearly unobtainable cards in that grouping -- but I can avoid trying to find some cabinet card from 1911 that shows up only at auctions at Sotheby's. 

Now, for the rest of the post, let me just say that it was a great day for oddballs and reprints.

4. 1978 TCC Milwaukee Braves Greats Set

This is a 15-card set that includes Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, and Joe Torre. I think this may be my first baseball card of Bob Uecker, strangely enough. By no means was Uecker ever a baseball great, as most of you are aware, but even by 1978, Uecker had achieved national notoriety through his appearances on the Tonight Show that caused his inclusion in this set. 

5.  1983 Larry Fritsch Boston/Milwaukee Braves Collectors Set

This set was printed for noted Wisconsin card dealer Larry Fritsch Cards, LLC. Fritsch has been around for decades now -- since 1970, in fact.  Its namesake Larry passed away in 2007, though the family continues to run the operation in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. For a while in the 1980s, Fritsch printed sets of Midwest League cards and, in fact, hit a big coup for them when one of the guys in the 1983 set who played for the Madison Muskies turned into the hottest name in the hobby in 1987 -- Jose Canseco.

This set was printed to commemorate the Braves' move to Milwaukee in 1983. All the photos are black and white and feature the players in Boston Braves headwear, oddly enough. Still, it's a nice commemorative set even if I'd prefer a color version.

6. Jalfco Reprint Sets of 1953, 1954, and 1955 Johnston Cookies 

The same printing company whose name appears on the back of that reprint of the 1970 Flavor-Est Milk Milwaukee Brewers set in the same year -- 1988. 

All together, these three reprint sets, the TCC set, and the Fritsch set cost me $60 total. That's not a bad cost for these sets together to me since I got them in hand right away and they came in plastic sheets already -- meaning I also got about 15 sheets in that price too.

It's a strange thing to see the 1953 and 1955 cards to me. It seems that every single one of the original cards I've ever seen have been from the 1954 set -- the tall thin ones -- rather than the more normally sized 1953 or 1955 sets. When Jalfco reprinted the 1954 set, though, they shrunk the cards a bit so that they would fit in the normal 9-pocket sheet size without sticking out of the top of the sheet. That was pretty nice of them.

So, at least I have cards that look like the Johnston Cookies sets. The next goal is to get the originals. 

And to do more research on all these reprints.