Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shiny & Sharp: Monster #2 in the #WarWithJBF

Choosing a headline for a story or post can be one of the more difficult parts of writing for me. Most of the time, it's because I'm trying to be original when writing up a trade post using the name of the blog or person who has sent me cards.  But, sometimes, there is almost no work to do.  

Sometimes, the headlines are written for you:

Who am I to disagree?

Wes and I are trading barbs and envelopes and boxes across the Georgia/Alabama border. It's not quite a Border War along the lines of Missouri v. Kansas -- which, come on guys, quit being like Texas and Texas A&M and get your dadgum rivalry game back on your football schedules -- but this war is definitely heating up.  I mean, it's a none-too-veiled threat to receive this guy in your mailbox:

Monster #2 was a much smaller salvo in the war than the first monster box that showed up here at Hiatus Central, but...well, let's have JBF explain:

So, shiny and sharp.  I break them down into shiny and sharp PC guys and shiny and sharp non-PC guys for the team collection.  Let's start with the PC guys.  

Jeromy Burnitz
In the last few months, the Jeromy Burnitz collection stagnated as my sources for late 1990s cards dried up and as other collections -- Ryan Braun in particular -- flourished.  This Shiny & Sharp package pushed things forward, though:

Those Topps Gold Label cards in particular just feel high end in my hand, and those card corners are sharp! I almost got a paper cut.  Would that earn me a Baseball Card Purple Heart?  And, it would be difficult to be any shinier than that Pacific Revolution card.  

On the other hand, the Bowman's Best card is almost as creepy as Michael Myers (the guy in Halloween, not the sidearm-throwing former Brewers/Marlins/Tigers/Rockies/ Diamondbacks/Mariners/Red Sox/Yankees/White Sox lefty).  Why did card companies think that having two photos on the front of the card -- one of which looks like some sort of dissolving stalker composite photo you see on the TV news -- would be a good idea?  

Let's move on.

Ryan Braun
Speaking of my Ryan Braun collection, I think I've added something like 50 Brauns to my collection since the start of the 2015 baseball season.  I guess people are starting to realize that I actually collect him.  Now, to be fair , I decided to demote Braun and all the other active Brewers in my player collections to be "guys I'll collect as Brewers only" (though I did not remove the non-Brewer Carlos Gomez cards from my lists) because, as I thought about it, I almost certainly would not chase cards for any of those guys if they were traded away.  

So what shiny and sharp Brauns did JBF send my way? 

There were a few that were duplicative of cards in my PC already, but I am pretty sure that most of those will migrate into the Brewer team collection.  The obvious highlight is the Baseball Heroes Navy Blue Jersey card, serial numbered 47 out of 50.  The sharp card is that die-cut insert from 2014 Topps Chrome.  That thing is dangerous.

Prince Fielder

Starquests and Refractors for Prince Fielder.  It's really good to see that Prince appears to be healthy again and is taking advantage of the favorable hitting conditions in Texas.  As of this writing, Prince is leading the American League in hits (73), runs batted in (38), and batting average (.361).  I'm glad I loaded up on his cards last year, while he was hurt.

Jeff Cirillo

Just one Cirillo in this group, but it's an early Topps "peel and eat shrimp" finest card.  I'm about 95% sure that I'll peel off that protective plastic.

Warren Spahn

All that glitters is not gold, the old saying goes. This one, though, is no chalcopyrite -- it's the real McCoy as a gold Chasing History insert from the 2013 Topps set.  

As an aside, if Topps wants to go nuts with parallels, they should incorporate educational information into their parallels.  Rather than gold, silver, and platinum parallels, they should use the Mohs scale -- have 10 parallels ranging in commonness from Talc to Diamond to teach kids subliminally about the Mohs scale.  

Or, maybe, go completely off the charts and do parallels based on series on the Periodic table.  "Hey mom, could you buy me this pack of Topps Science Baseball cards? I'm trying to complete the inert gases parallels!"

Okay, I don't know where that came from.  I think I need more coffee.  Or maybe less.

Ben Sheets

One of the highlights of Monster #2 is this Ben Sheets Donruss 2002 Season Stat Line Parallel.  The stat line Donruss used was Sheets's win total -- 11 -- so this card is serial numbered out of 11.  Just awesome.  The Finest is a refractor too, so that's really shiny.

Cal Eldred

Eldred pitched barely into the shiny card era, so there's just one card for him:
It is one of those Cyberstats parallels, where Topps projected out the rest of the 1994 season to point out to everyone what a great season we missed out on when King Bud decided with his owner cronies to cancel the season after the beginning of August.  

Thanks, Topps!

Geoff Jenkins

I think the star of this three-card show is the Fleer E-X card.  The almost rubbery feel of those cards gives it more substance and weight.  If I were ever lost in the woods with only my Geoff Jenkins collection available to me, I'd sacrifice this card to use it as a hatchet to gather firewood.

Don't get me wrong -- I actually like that E-X card a lot -- but I think it would last the longest being used as a tool.

Corey Hart

To be fair, I think that there were four or five of these Corey Hart golden parallels.  I'd say it was a Golden Harting, perhaps.  But not a golden shower.  That's just weird.

Rickie Weeks

Shiny and sharp? Certainly.  Especially that Artifacts Apparel serial numbered 22 of 130. The Bowman Chrome Refractor actually kept my cat Gus entertained as he chased the reflection off the lights in the room around for a while until he got bored with it.

Other Highlights of Shininess and Sharpness
To keep this from extending into another post, here are the highlights from the cards that went into my team collection.  I have to keep it from extending into another post for a good reason...that will be disclosed at the bottom of this post.

That Keith Ginter card probably should have been left on the drawing board -- thanks for the Astro-dressed Brewer "prospect", Select!  And didn't Gene Altman direct M*A*S*H?  Oh, wait, that was Robert Altman.  For Select's information, I don't believe that Gene Altman was ever a prospect unless you think a closer in the Midwest League who splits time between two organizations while putting together a 6-0 season with 17 saves is a prospect (hint: minor league closers are almost never prospects).  In 7 minor league seasons, Gene had an ERA of 5.67 and a WHIP of 1.637.  

And yes, that's yet ANOTHER printing plate.  I think that is now 6 printing plates that have come over from Hazel Green.

But I might be wrong about that.  After all, this is what showed up on my front doorstep yesterday afternoon:

In fact, THREE monsters from Hazel Green showed up yesterday.  An envelope labeled as Monster #3, a single box in the four above was identified as Monster #4, and then three of those boxes above were labeled as Monster #5. 

Will we be able to defeat the monsters? We'll see.  The Shiny & Sharp monster will be tough to top!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Perhaps This Year is The Year?

Before King Bud decided to relive his childhood by forcing the Milwaukee Brewers to switch to the National League back in late 1997, I actually cheered for the Chicago Cubs as my National League team thanks to my aunt, my uncle, and my cousin from Chicago loving the Cubs.  I even attended a game there in 1984 and cheered for the Cubs. 

In those days before interleague play, Brewers fans really didn't mind the Cubs, I don't think. In fact, if you'd have asked me in, say, 1989 to name the three teams I hated the most, my answers would have been easy.  Number three would have been the St. Louis Cardinals. 1982 took a long time to get over.  Number two would have been the New York Yankees. 1981 also took a long time to get over.  Number one, though, would have easily been the Chicago White Sox. 

Going to a White Sox/Brewers game at either stadium was akin to taking your life in your own hands. I've seen mosh pits at concerts that weren't as physically intimidating or as harrowing as sitting in the bleachers at County Stadium for a Friday night game between those two teams. You mix a day of tailgating with full stands and throw in, perhaps, some heat and humidity if the game was in July or early August, and it was like a tinderbox. Dozens to sometime hundreds of arrests would occur.  Seriously, it was dangerous at times.

I know that the 17 years of being in the National League in the same division as the Cubs and not often playing the White Sox has changed the dynamic in Milwaukee.  Cubs fans are viewed as obnoxious -- which they can be, but so can every single fan base of every single team on the planet in some way.  I still carry that soft spot in my heart for the Cubs, though.

That's a long way of introducing Eddie Vedder's paean to being a Cubs fan to honor the envelope of incredible items from Tom at Waiting 'til Next Year.

In that video -- an excellent HD-quality video from the Pearl Jam show at Wrigley in July of 2013 -- Eddie Vedder explains that he wrote the song "All the Way" because Ernie Banks asked him to do it.  Eddie thought that the idea of writing a song to try to capture the feeling of being a Cubs fan was impossible, but since it was Ernie Banks asking, Eddie has to do it.

I view trying to thank Tom for the excellent cards he sent as being impossible, but I have to try.  Let's start with a card that I'm still trying to identify with a bit more specificity other than simply them being "Brewers cards."

So, I think these are cards from a Brewers yearbook or program. I based that on the fact that they are slightly oversized in a size similar to the Brewers yearbook cards from 1989 and 1990, and they are perforated on the edges again in a manner similar to the yearbook cards from 1989 and 1990.  For the obvious reason of this being the '82 Anniversary Collection, the cards must be from either 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, or 2012.  But, I don't know which year.  

If I had to guess, I'd imagine it was 1992 for a couple of reasons -- card stock quality isn't great, the close proximity in time to the previous yearbook cards, and the fact that the Brewer name is both so huge across the card and reflects the new home jersey look for that year, which is circled below:

But, as the Violent Femmes said, "This is only a guess."

Okay, back to the Brewers now. Not only did Tom find those cards for me, he also helped fill in some more recent gaps -- such as 2015 Bowman:

So, that's a base card of Jason Rogers, who's Adam Lind's platoon partner currently, a Yellow parallel of top prospect Orlando Arcia, a "Farm's Finest Mini" of last year's #1 pick Kodi Medeiros, and Taylor Williams (who hasn't pitched this year due to arm problems) on the Prospects Chrome parallel.

Another item from 2015 also arrived with this envelope, but it's not a card:

Of course, it was slot right into the Lucroy collection in my binders, but this is a schedule.  I love schedules that show real Brewers player photos on them!

If Tom had stopped there, it would have been an incredibly generous package.  But he didn't stop there. But, nope, there's more. 

Super-vintage Kellogg's! That's Bill Parsons on a 1972 Kellogg's card!  Parsons was a true prospect -- well, as much of a prospect as a pitcher can be -- for the Pilots (drafted in the 1968 draft in the 7th round).  He was tall and thin -- 6 feet, 6 inches tall but just 195 pounds. He tore through the system quickly. The Brewers jumped him from the Single-A Midwest League in 1969 to Triple-A Portland in 1970, which they had to do to keep promoting him since none of the new 1969 teams (the Royals, the Expos, the Padres, or the Pilots/Brewers) had Double-A teams that year. 

The thing is, Parsons only pitched in 4 games that year before missing the rest of the season.  Despite that, as a 22-year-old rookie in 1971, the Brewers put him on the mound for 36 games (35 starts) and 12 complete games over 244-2/3 innings.  He finished 13-17 with a 3.20 ERA, which was good enough to have him finish second behind Chris Chambliss for Rookie of the Year honors (and Parsons deserved to win it according to WAR).  And yet, two years later, the Brewers traded him to Oakland for Deron Johnson, and after the 1974 season -- at just 26 years old -- Parsons was done in the majors.

And yet, even a 1972 Kellogg's card is not the topper.  You see, a few months ago, I sent Tom a Ryne Sandberg Topps Tribute Blank Bank 1/1 that I bought last year on eBay for a price far below what I thought it should have sold for. Tom's a Ryno collector, so that card belongs in his collection.

In return, Tom asked me what he could possibly send me to repay me for that card in light of the fact that he would be going to a card show in Milwaukee in May.  I told him, well, if you really feel like you need to look for something there for me, look for non-Milwaukee-Police Police cards.  

When this package showed up from Tom, the first thing to pop out was a note apologizing -- saying that the card show was a huge bust.   But how could the show be a bust when you found these, Tom?

From the Wauwatosa Police Department and the Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral Service, it's your 2007 Milwaukee Brewers!  Even though the full set came in a shrink wrapped package, I had to rip that package open immediately to flip through them.  These are excellent!

And yet, there is still one more item.  In his note, Tom said he went to a Brewers game and played Plinko at the stadium on one of the concourses and won something for me.  I didn't realize that the Brewers now feature parts of the set from the Price is Right, but I am not questioning this win:

It's a Ben Oglivie bobblehead from 2007 2014 (oops!)!  That is awesome!  

Tom, thank you so much for the incredible cards, the bobblehead, and all the thought that went into this box!

Tomorrow, it's back to war...hopefully, I will continue to play better against JBF than this former Auburn quarterback ever could:

In the season in which Gross played the most -- 1998 -- the Auburn Tigers went 3-8 and Coach Terry Bowden a/k/a Tater Tot was fired before Halloween.  Gross is lucky he was a far better baseball player than he was a quarterback.

Let's hope I don't get sacked.