For the post-1981 major releases and oddballs released before about 1995, a combination of Trading Card Database and the 2011 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards usually gets me the information I need. I think the publisher has stopped trying to update this book for recent cards and continues only to publish the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards for cards before 1981.
For cards from 1995 through 2000 -- which is as far as I have gotten so far -- it's been more of a combination of Trading Card Database mixed in with BaseballCardPedia.com. I have found that the early years of parallels and inserts on TradingCardDB tend to be very hit-or-miss, with everything classified as inserts and little information regarding which cards in the inserts or which parallels were more limited in the numbers of cards printed or which were serial numbered. That's where BaseballCardPedia comes in.
But, when I first got back into the hobby and started trying to figure out what was what in the 2014 Topps blasters I bought, the first website I went to was Cardboard Connection. For more recent releases, I have found that their layout on parallels and inserts -- especially now that they have added team names with player names on their release checklists -- is the most user friendly for my uses. I'm also a bit biased in their favor because, in November of last year, Cardboard Connection included a link to my post called "The Ghosts of First Rounds Past" when I highlighted what players the Brewers might have selected instead of either Rickie Weeks in 2003 or Ben Sheets in 1999.
The guy responsible for much of the heavy lifting at Cardboard Connection (and the guy responsible for posting that link in November) is Ryan Cracknell. By that, I mean he posted 7 different stories on April 10 alone. Ryan also tweets fairly regularly (most of you follow him, I'm sure, but if not, you should) and he also has two different blogs -- one here on Blogspot highlighting his set-building needs and one with its own domain of TraderCracks.com.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that he had a ton of 2013 Topps Series 2 needs. After my case break last year, I have about 6 of every card from that set in hand (hey, if you need something from that set, please email me!). So, I reached out to Ryan on Twitter and asked him to e-mail me his address. I sent him the cards, and he was kind enough to send cards back.
Now, Ryan is from Nanaimo, British Columbia (it says so on his Twitter profile). I've never been to Nanaimo, but I have been to Vancouver. I know -- they aren't even close to one another and, indeed, the only ways to get between the two appears to be taking a ferry. So, my apologies to Ryan upfront for going with the big city people know rather than his city, but I wanted an excuse to post my own travel ratings for Vancouver -- with pictures and cards!
Prettiest sights in Vancouver:
If you go to Vancouver, please, go to Stanley Park. The sheer size of this park is incredible -- 400 hectares. When people think of rainforests, they immediately think tropical. But, Stanley Park and Vancouver prove that a temperate rainforest can be just a spellbinding sight to see. Just imagine what that "stump" must have looked like as a tree...
To me, this "Robbed in Center" insert from 2015 Topps is an appropriate start and match for this gorgeous tree. The majesty of the home run being stolen -- and Gomez's incredible ability to do it almost regularly -- mesh well with the trees of Stanley Park.
Added Culture in the Park: The Totem Poles
These totem poles are replicas of the originals, which are located in the climate-controlled comfort of a museum. They are impressive and cool, but they are just a replica...
...which reminds me of the multiple parallels that Topps put out last year. This is a gold parallel of Ryan Braun, serial numbered to 2014, of course. It's just a replica of the real base card.
The Strange and Difficult to Explain
I'm not quite sure what would differentiate Afro-Canadian food. Is it Ethiopian style but using salmon a bunch? Is it a weird melange of Egyptian, Moroccan, South African, and Gambian food with poutine on the side?
It's like trying to figure out what "game used memorabilia" has been inserted in this Tyler Thornburg auto/relic from Bowman Platinum. It looks like some weird undershirt or something.
Throwbacks in History
John "Gassy Jack" Deighton was from Hull, England, and an entire portion of Vancouver along the north coast of downtown is called "Gastown" because of him. According to Wikipedia and according to local lore, he got his nickname because of his storytelling and because he never stopped talking.
Considering he appears to be standing on a makeshift beer keg, I'm thinking the nickname came from another gas. But, in the name of being talkative and on a throwback-style card...
...we have Carlos Gomez, who genuinely enjoys playing the game of baseball and, at times, has trouble closing his mouth.
Right in the middle of Vancouver is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which in 2011 was named by National Geographic as the best city garden in the world. It was the first Chinese "scholars" garden built outside of China, and it is, of course, located in Vancouver's Chinatown. It is a small garden, but I spent at least a good hour just chilling out in the gardens.
With superlatives like that and the historic first tied to the garden, I think putting up the two cards that Ryan sent to me of the first player enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Milwaukee Brewer is appropriate.
Hop on a Water Taxi
In my Peoria post, I mentioned how I am a sucker when it comes to getting on boats or ferries. In Vancouver, I took a water taxi to the Granville Island Market.
I'm also always going to take the opportunity to get parallels and inserts and Brewers autographs. Despite complaints from time to time about the number of parallels, I still collect these.
Probably my favorite sunset view in all of my travels is this one, from the balcony of my hotel room in Vancouver. The brilliant shades of yellow, red, and orange, the foothills of the mountains, and the water -- and the fact that I took this photo at about 9:30 PM -- all combined to make a favorite.
And, of the cards Ryan sent, this Jean Segura was my favorite. The reasonably small serial number, the blue on-card autograph, and the fact that this photo is different from most of the other Segura photos Topps has used make this the best of the lot.
Thank you, Ryan, for the excellent cards that you sent, and thank you for the hard work you do with Cardboard Connection. Both are greatly appreciated.