Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Pleasant Surprise from A Cracked Bat

I'm becoming a weekend blogger, it seems. My professional life has been thrown into upheaval by my decision to leave the relative safety of large law firm life and sign on for the complete unknown -- also known as going to a small firm and being responsible to generate business to keep a roof over my family's head and food on our table.

It's been stressful, and it's been fun, and it's been exciting. It's also been exhausting. Throw in a hearing in federal court on Thursday where I led the direct examination of our expert (and now know much more about how search engines work and how websites build "authority"), and it's been crazy too.

The upside is that the potential reward at the end of the day is much greater in many respects than Big Law. I can bill/collect on fewer hours of work billed to clients and still come out relatively close financially to where I was in the past few years. Of course, the stress comes in finding those clients!

Now more than ever, though, my hobbies provide me with needed stress relief. As a result, when I got home from work earlier this week after a particularly long day, I was pleased to find an unexpected 100-count box from Julie at A Cracked Bat waiting for me.

Julie stuffed this box full of Brewers -- in Milwaukee terms, that's drunk.  This box was so drunk that it is a two-post package.  We lead off with the player collection guys. 

Robin Yount

Now, I am never one to turn down a card of Robin Yount. But this Panini from 2013's Cooperstown set bears more resemblance to my dartboard case when it is open than it does to a real baseball card. Still, it counts for the player collection as a new card, as does the Panini Classics from last year.

Paul Molitor

The 2014 Panini Classics had several players whose cards I needed for player collections -- and still need for team collections.  This card of the Ignitor was one of them.

Warren Spahn 
So was this Spahnie.  The card looks like Spahn stopped over at a neighborhood park somewhere to pitch.

Jean Segura
It's been nearly a year now since I started blogging about baseball cards. As that year passed, I found myself becoming less interested with each passing day in new releases. Then, as I put together the checklist for the year to populate my 2014 Want List, I realized that this Jean Segura "1989 Bowman is Back" sparklefest was included in the Draft Picks and Prospects set. Thankfully, Julie opened up a bunch of packs of these, apparently, and found this one so I didn't have to.

Ryan Braun

The final 2014 Panini Classics card in the package was this Ryan Braun. This package from Julie also provided me with my first in-person look at the 2014 Stadium Club set. 

Perhaps my expectations were too high based on the nearly universal praise I heard for this set, but I was somewhat underwhelmed. It was a pleasant change to have decent photography with little in the way of distracting adornments on the card. But, it was disappointing to me that photos were recycled even in this set -- the photos on the back both of Braun's card and the Carlos Gomez card (see below) were the same capless portrait photos featured in 2014 Topps Heritage.

I know, I am tough to please.  

Carlos Gomez

Julie added in a few 2014 Topps Stickers in this package, including this Carlos Gomez that looks more like a Milwaukee Braves throwback to me. And there's the Carlos Gomez. That is a great photo -- showing Gomez about to rob a home run, I'm sure, because that's what Carlos Gomez does.

Yovani Gallardo

Back in September, I questioned whether the Brewers would pick up Yovani Gallardo's team option for the 2015 season.  Then, when the team picked up the option, the press release said that the team were extremely happy about "having what we consider an ace of a staff, a No. 1 guy, tied up." I spent a bunch more bandwidth saying that I wasn't sure it was such a slam dunk that the Brewers should pick up the option in light of Gallardo's age and his declining dominance he displayed.  Later projections that came out early this year on SB Nation absolutely hated Gallardo for 2015.

In other words, I was not surprised when the Brewers picked up the option for 2015, and I was not surprised when the Brewers flipped him to the Rangers for three minor league players (at least one of which is major-league ready as a reliever).  $13 million for Gallardo -- who was trending closer and closer to league average -- seemed steep for a team in Milwaukee's position.

So, I'm left to say, "Thank you, Yo, for your years of service to Milwaukee." And I'm left to hope Jimmy Nelson turns out and that Mike Fiers remains a homeless man's Greg Maddux.

Ben Sheets

In Ben Sheets, perhaps the Brewers saw a cautionary tale with respect to Gallardo. Sheets actually maintained his dominance and control through a few injuries, but neither made it past his arm and shoulder issues. As Branch Rickey once said, apparently, "Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late."

Bill Wegman

Sal Bando never heard of Branch Rickey. He was intent on keeping everyone around, no matter how unlikely a rebound -- or how unlikely stardom -- would be. That is, unless the player was good and would end up in the Hall of Fame, right Mssrs. Molitor and Sheffield? 

Or, for that matter, could hit lots of home runs, right Greg Vaughn?

Everyone loves a die-cut card. Right? 

Okay, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the die-cut inserts.

Dave Nilsson

Nilsson left too soon, but by his own choice in retiring to prepare for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  Seriously, though, who could blame him with those bad late 1990s teams?

Geoff Jenkins

Some players stay just about the right amount of time. When Jenkins left Milwaukee after the team declined his $9 million option after the 2007 season and let him sign with Philadelphia, it made perfect sense for both sides. Jenkins had one season left, won a World Series ring, returned to Milwaukee with a standing ovation for his 10 years of service, and ended up returning to Milwaukee to sign a one-day contract to retire as a Milwaukee Brewer.  

Jenkins and Milwaukee got it just right in that way.  

More from the Cracked Bat HAUL to come.


  1. I want to know where Julie found two of those Cooperstown cards when it couldn't find one in over 2 years!!! Hey and congrats on winning the Rookie of Year Bip Award!

  2. Congrats on the ROYBIP! Crazy thing with the Yount Cooperstown card...I pulled both of them from retail boxes. And to think I was all bummed about dupes... After seeing your comment on CyBuddha's Collector's Crack post back in November, I wanted you to have the second card. Good to know these cards provided a little bit of stress relief! Much better and more fun, than Rolaids!