Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The 1982 Topps Blog

Just a quick note to let those of you who may have read my other baseball card blog -- the 1982 Topps Blog -- that it is finally back. I am shortening the career write-up down significantly because I don't have as much time to chase down details any more, but I'm keeping the other segments and headlines around.

So, pop over there and read the newest entry: Mookie Wilson at Card #143.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mini Box Break with Cards on Cards

In my final catch up post from packages received in 2014 or near the very beginning of 2015, we have the results of a 2015 Topps Mini box break that Madding from Cards on Cards. I didn't get anything outside base card from the Minis, though I needed a lot of those for either the team collection or player collections. Here are those:

Yeah, as cool as it was to fill in some gaps, these cards scanned in really don't inspire tons of excitement because, after all, they are just another Topps base set parallel. And, I think all of us are ready for the white-bordered sets of the past several years -- as in, what, the last 6 sets? -- to exit stage left and make room for something a bit more inventive.

With my box break not yielding anything noteworthy, Madding was kind enough to throw in some additional cards, all of which were cards again that I needed either for player collections or the Brewers team collection:

Madding, thanks for these cards that you added in to the mini cards, and thanks for running the box break!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Award Season

When I first started blogging last year in February, one of the first things I ran across was Jaybarkerfan's voting in the 2013 Blog of the Year balloting. When JBF took a break in October, people wondered aloud who would run the awards this year. Thankfully, Suzy Lulgjuraj at A Cardboard Problem stepped up with her own group of awards tastefully titled "The 2014 Bip Awards."

I was surprised to be included as a nominee in the Rookie of the Year voting for Best New Blog. To whomever was kind enough to nominate me, I say "Thank you very much."

Go check out Suzy's list of nominations for best Blog, rookie of the year, industry news source, most generous blogger, best non-baseball blog, best non-sports blog, best recurring subject, best Twitter feed, and best Instagram feed.  

Also, be sure to vote on the "Blog you wish would come back." Who knows? Perhaps we could convince the winner out of 30-Year-Old Cardboard, Crinkly Wrapper, Dinged Corners, Napkin Doon, and Wax Heaven to return to the fold!

Have a great day, and may your Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday be an enjoyable one whether you're working or not.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Cool Package from "My Life in the Sports Card Hobby"

At some point in early November, I received a comment on one of my blog posts from an unfamiliar name to me saying that the commenter, a Yankees fan of all things, wanted to send me some cards. Frankie was kind enough to stick with me during my periods of busyness and not having much time for email, and he was even kind enough to make sure that my cards went out even though he had surgery in November and spent time in the hospital where he lives over Thanksgiving.

Seriously, that's crazy.

What's crazier is the fact that Frankie is a middle schooler! His blog, "My Life In the Sports Card Hobby" is a paean to all things Yankees, and Frankie collects Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Aaron Boone, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui, and Bernie Williams.  Sounds like he has about 10,000 cards a year to try to get.

At any rate, I was pleasantly surprised at the great cards that showed up from Frankie because, quite honestly, I haven't sent him anything yet.  But I will be soon.

Here's what he sent to me.

First off, it's an unfortunate fact that most sets just don't have a lot of Brewers in them. Well, it's actually fortunate, because it saves me money. But, it's unfortunate because a lot of collectors just don't have as many cards to send my way.  Frankie had three:

This 2013 Bowman Chrome mini orange parallel of prospect Michael Reed is serial numbered 8 of 15. Reed just turned 22 in November, and his 2014 season showed that he has a little bit of work to do to hit for power, but that his speed is decent and his batting eye is excellent. At High-A Brevard County in the Florida State League, he slashed .255/.396/.378 -- striking out 79 times and walking 78 times in 457 plate appearances. 

The second Brewer that Frankie sent to me isn't quite as exciting as a SN15 card of a pretty good prospect. It's an autograph from 2009 Upper Deck's 2008 Season Documentary of Hernan Iribarren. Upper Deck had to try to get that photo (probably a spring training remnant, to be fair) as Iribarren played in 12 games in 2008 for Milwaukee, coming to bat 15 times. Since his last appearance in the major leagues in 2009, Iribarren has bounced around in Triple-A from Nashville (Milwaukee) to Oklahoma City (Texas) to Colorado Springs (Colorado) to, in 2014, Louisville (Cincinnati).  Things were desperate either for Iribarren, for Louisville, or both this past year, since Iribarren took the mound in 6 games (walking 1, striking out no one, and giving up just one hit in 5 innings).

The final Brewer card from Frankie was of a guy who needs to get moving to have a major league career as anything more than a fourth outfielder -- Michael Ratterree. Okay, it might be an exaggeration to say that, but he's going to be 24 at the start of the 2015 season, and he's played a total of 7 games above the Midwest League in his minor league career. He's a low-average three-true-outcomes-type player who has not quite developed enough power quite yet -- 19 homers in 567 plate appearances in 2014.

The rest of the cards that Frankie sent to me are available to whomever would like them. They aren't Brewers, but there are a number of nice cards.

Serial Numbered 19 of 75

Number 304 of 999

466 of 999, in case you can't make that out. And it's Carl Crawford as a Ray

Thank you very much, Frankie, for the excellent Brewers and the excellent trade bait. And to everyone who has not checked out his blog, take a read and help a younger collector out!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Johnny's Trading Spot is No Hideaway

If you have ever lived in Atlanta, chances are you have heard of Johnny's Hideaway. When I was a younger man, I heard stories about Johnny's. In particular, Johnny's was always known as a Cougar den. Indeed, if you Google "Johnny's Hideaway" using Google's suggestions, the second item on the list after "Johnny's Hideaway Atlanta GA" is "Johnny's Hideaway Cougar."

Now that I'm a bit older -- as in, 15 years older -- I have now been to Johnny's and can say that the stories were true. The place is full of 40-somethings and 50-somethings and 60-somethings and even 70-somethings, all dancing and having fun. Here's a photo I found in a Google search to show you:

I think ol' Wallet Card should make a run there.

Anyway, Johnny's Hideaway should not be confused with Johnny's Trading Spot. No matter how appropriate some of the activity at Johnny's Hideaway might be if it were characterized as being a trading spot -- even if Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich are not involved -- Johnny's Trading Spot is about the cards.

John sent me a ton of Brewers cards in a package just before Christmas. Using the music of the Hideaway as inspiration, here are some of the highlights.

"It's Now or Never"
One of the features at Johnny's Hideaway is The King's Corner, which is all about Elvis Presley. I always liked Elvis's take on "O Sole mio," so "It's Now or Never" gets to represent two guys who always seemed to be close to taking that next step but always got in their own ways -- whether through injury (Eldred) or the distinct inability to make contact (Deer).

Okay, I admit it. I've been to Johnny's Hideaway a couple of times. As the people who like the Elvis Presley stuff fade off into the sunset, they have adapted. Now that the children of the 80s -- like myself -- are now in their 40s, the DJ at Johnny's had added more and more music from the 1980s. 

There's only one song appropriate for David Nilsson cards -- Men At Work's classic from 1981. This was one of my favorite songs at age 9. In fact, I know that it was the very first 45 RPM single that I ever bought myself. And I have heard them play the song at Johnny's Hideaway.

I may even have been the one to request it.

"Little Old Lady from Pasadena"
It's a little mean to associate this song with Jeff Cirillo since he's not a little old lady. But, he is from Pasadena, and the Beach Boys are right in the Hideaway wheelhouse.

"You Make Me Feel So Young"
While Elvis Presley gets a corner in his honor at Johnny's Hideaway, Frank Sinatra has an entire room dedicated to him. One of Ol' Blue Eyes' songs really applies to these cards, because guys like Moose Haas, Don Money, Mike Caldwell, and Jerry Augustine make me feel like a pre-teen kid chasing autographs again.


Poor Bill Wegman. Apparently, no one wanted to get close enough to him to take any photos other than of him on the mound still holding the ball. These pictures are similar enough in their look that they brought Madonna's "Vogue" to mind -- it looks almost intentional that they are so similar.

That, or Wegman was super consistent in his pitching motion. 

I like my conspiracy theory better. It's more interesting.

"Hip Hop Hooray"
Let me be honest. The last time I went to Johnny's Hideaway, the one thing I noticed was that it was not a very diverse crowd. I mean, even in that photo above, I see only two African-American faces. That said, the DJ does play some white-person-friendly rap stuff from the early 1990s. At least the last time I was there, you did not hear any Lil Jon, but you might hear Naughty by Nature.  And Rickie Weeks deserves a little hooray anyway.

"Rags to Riches"
An old school Tony Bennett song for an old-school player, Jim Gantner, and his pal Ted Simmons. Yeah, Simmons is probably more Rachmaninov than Tony Bennett, but I have never heard classical music at a nightclub. Not even Johnny's Hideaway.

Sorry Chuck, I've got nothing for you.

"Living La Vida Loca"
Just as you don't see many black folks in Johnny's Hideaway, you also do not run into too many Hispanic people there.  So, there also isn't much Latino-influenced music that gets played there.  So, Jose Valentin, you get stuck with a Ricky Martin earworm.  

If I had my choice, I'd give you some Juanes "La Camisa Negra"...I mean, that's pretty old school too being ten years old and all, but it's probably too recent for Johnny's Hideaway.

Then again, after reading that the fascists in Italy adopted the song because the fascists like wearing and being called the Black Shirts, I think I'll stick with the ex-Menudo guy's song.

"Dazed and Confused"
The problem with finding any kind of dance club song for Gorman Thomas is that, well, there isn't one that is at all appropriate. I have heard Led Zeppelin in Johnny's Hideaway before, though I've never heard "Dazed and Confused" there. But with Gorman's drug and alcohol issues after his career (and during it), it makes sense to be his song.

"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
It's random, but it fits. 1985 was the year that Wham! took over the pop music airwaves with the infectious energy of this song about going out to dance. 1985 was the year that B.J. Surhoff was the number one overall draft pick. 

I'd have picked the number one overall song from 1985 -- another Wham! song called "Careless Whisper" -- but it's a boring ballad.  Johnny's Hideaway plays those about as regularly as any other 8th grade dance, and watching the action on and off the floor is about as painful and awkward. So, it's the uptempo song that finished the year #3 on the Billboard chart.

"You Dropped A Bomb On Me"
For some reason, this last gasp for disco in 1982 from The Gap Band seemed like the right song for Greg Vaughn. Vaughn loved to hit the bombs.  Thankfully, I never saw Greg Vaughn dressed in any way close to the way that the lead singer of The Gap Band is dressed in that video though...rhinestones on a vest with a camouflage t-shirt and cargo pants along with a green fedora...I don't think Vaughn could have pulled that one off.

Then again, with that hightop fade on that Studio card, maybe I should have dropped a Kid 'N Play video in here.

"You Shook Me All Night Long"
The one AC/DC song that got played at literally every middle school and high school dance I ever attended -- and every time I've ever been at Johnny's Hideaway -- just seems to fit for Jeromy Burnitz. Part of me always will associate this song with our high school weight room too, and that's probably why it fits for Burnitz.  

He kind of reminds me of meathead Rob Lowe from the DirecTV commercial.

"You're the One that I Want"

Ben Sheets was born in 1978. This song that panders to every woman in the bar who pictured themselves as playing the Olivia Newton-John character in Grease hit number one midway through 1978. And trust me, those women in Johnny's Hideaway eat this song up.

Okay, sometimes Johnny's Hideaway realizes that it has to update its playlist. Often, that's based entirely on some person -- usually a woman -- requesting a song.  When they do, they often look to some of the local boys. I've heard Outkast's "Hey Ya" there, and I've heard another local artist there too -- Usher's "Yeah!" in particular.

Funny thing: back in 2004, Geoff Jenkins's at-bat music was....yup, you guessed it. "Yeah!" by Usher.

Personally, I gained more respect for Lyle Overbay when I saw that "Why Go" by Pearl Jam was his at-bat music. 

That's a whole lot of cards -- and those guys were only the player collection additions. Johnny's Trading Spot hit me with a ton more cards from non-PCs as well. To include all of those here, though, would force me into more creative musical gymnastics!

John, thank you VERY much for the huge Priority Mail box you sent. I'm sorry to see that your Atlanta Braves are trying to trade away anything that isn't nailed down to the floor at this point -- it would be nice to have a decent team here in town, but it appears that John Hart is trying to build on young pitching. 

Or something like that.