Music has always been a major part of my life. I played saxophone from late elementary school all the way through college, and the last time I played was at Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final in 1994. Probably the height of my interest in music, though, was when I was in high school.
Way back when so many years ago, I listened to a lot of metal. It was the late 1980s, and metal was all the rage for raging teenagers. Well, metal and the nascent rap scene emerging out of Los Angeles and New York, but metal was much more accessible for Midwestern kids.
I was on the track team in high school all four years. I wasn't that great at any particular event -- I mean, I threw discus and shot, ran sprints and middle distances, and even ran cross-country one year, but I wasn't good enough at any of them to be a "star" of any kind. But, being a "weight man" as a shot and discus thrower meant that we lifted weights three times a week after doing practice on technique. A staple in the weight room starting in 1987 was "Appetite for Destruction" by Guns 'n' Roses (of course). For whatever reason, I always liked one song that did not get a bunch of major airplay: "It's So Easy."
I think I liked it for the bridge in the song after the second verse..."I see you standing there. You think you're so cool. Why don't you just f**k off!"
I had a lot of rage as a kid.
Anyway, after that long, tortured introduction to get a song I like into the post...
These days, what is so easy is for me to find cheap Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder cards. Both struggled with injuries in 2014. Braun played through his thumb issues, only to get cryotherapy after the season with two more sessions in his future. Fielder missed the entire season with fusion surgery for a herniated disc in his neck.
So, it was so f**king easy to find so many Brauns and Fielders at my most recent trip to the card show.
I mean, there's everything from a Chrome version of the 1972 Topps card to a Bowman's Best to 2013 Chip(z) to a 206 to a Heritage League Leader card to the 1989 die-cut mini insert from the 2014 Topps Update set. Lots of Braun for everyone else to hate and for me to collect.
And then I started finding all these ridiculous "Generation Now" inserts for Fielder from the 2007 Topps set.
Thank God he only hit 28 home runs in 2006.
On the other hand, this 2007 Topps card inserted specially for Wal-Mart Shoppers may be one of my favorite inserts. Of course it is because the card echoes those fantastic Post cards from the early 1960s.
I'd like to see someone emulate the Hostess 1976 set as a mini insert rather than these die-cut abortions from the 1989 set. My guess for next year (if it has been announced, I've missed it) is that the die-cuts will be the 1980 set, but that we'll get plenty of those multi-colored trashy looking 1990 cards too. My vote -- if I get one -- would be to resurrect some of the food issues.
And now, for a couple of inserts.
A Topps Co-Signer. That set didn't last long, did it?
Finest. Nondescript design, fake looking background. It could be one of any number of sets.
Sweet Spot, with raised laces on the card for your pitching pleasure.
A Dick Perez-drawn insert.
Upper Deck cards just look nicer. I think it's the real photography being used.
Prince IS "X", die cut.
Finally, a Peak Performance insert celebrating Prince being the youngest player ever to hit 50 home runs.
These cards are easy to collect these days.
In other words, pick your player collections wisely, kids. Look for guys who are good, but not TOO good!