Saturday, July 11, 2015

Out of the Blue

Sometimes, some of the best packages of cards come from a completely unexpected -- or nearly unknown -- source.  Recently, I received an e-mail from Shane at Shoebox Legends. It was unexpected because Shane was forwarding an e-mail from a friend of his named Marc. Marc asked Shane to ask for my contact information because Marc wanted to send me cards as part of his own cleanup and organization process.  

Well, of course I won't say no to that.  Marc sent me a great bunch of cards, and it drove me further into an organizational process that started with the Great War with JBF and has culminated in me finally having my Topps Want Lists for base sets finally completed in a way that makes sense to me and will be easier to use at card shows for me as well.  I've split Topps into six total want lists -- Base cards from 1971-1993, 1994-2005, and 2006-2015 (and yes, I'll start a new list next year and, no, I don't have 2015 up yet) and then Topps parallels, inserts, and oddballs from each of the same time periods (1971-1993, 1994-2005, and 2006-2015).  I'm nowhere near done with the parallels pages, and those are my lowest priority at this point -- getting all the base card lists populated for each card issuer on my want list page is a much higher priority.

/end shameless plug for want list organization

As I said, though, Marc sent me some great cards.  Since I'm feeling in a "theme post mood" this morning, let's go musical again.  You might have guessed it from this post's title -- I'm going with songs/albums with "out of the blue" in them.

Let's start this off with something of a 1980s feel:

The The, "Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)"

I had some strange tastes in music as a high schooler. I spent a fair amount of time alone working on improving my debate files, looking for research in books, magazines, and newspapers -- the paper kind, in fact...back when we had to use those green books to find magazine articles by date and page and then go to the magazine archive and hope like hell that the library still had the magazine -- so, wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, weird music.  

To go along with the 80s feel, Marc finished off some holes in my 1980s card collections caused by player collections, autographs, and not buying the 1983 Topps Traded set:

So many mustaches.  So many wistful looks into the distance. And, more importantly, two completed team sets -- including a card of the man who remains the Brewers' All-Time leader in pitching victories, Jim Slaton.

Debbie Gibson, "Out of the Blue"

No, I never listened to Debbie Gibson. My wife tells me the story of how Debbie Gibson was her first concert, and I cringe. When this bubblegum song came out in 1987, I was listening to, well, The The, U2, The Smiths, and Oingo Boingo. But hey, Debbie -- later Deborah -- Gibson was pretty cute back then and still isn't bad looking now either, in a "I've had plenty of work done on my face" sort of way.

But, I needed this poppy song to go with a card that just feels, well, syrupy sweet and a bit overdone:

There's nothing inherently wrong with the Opening Day set. It's harmless enough. No one has super-strong feelings about it -- though there are some people who complain about everything who find fault with about everything in life.  I used to be like that too, but now I just figure that people should enjoy what they want and I can ignore it.  

Does that make sense? I hope so.

Julian Casablancas, "Out of the Blue"

Julian Casablancas is the lead singer of The Strokes, whose buzz in the hipster world 15 years ago was deafening. Casablancas's late father John started the world-famous Elite Model Management, whose clients have included or currently include such notables as Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima, Nina Agdal, Eva Herzigova, and Carol Alt.  If you want photos of these beautiful women, you'll just have to click the links.

What cards go with this link to beauty? Upper Deck, I think.

Simplicity is often the best way to succeed in life and in design in particular. When you have good photography -- or a beautiful subject, you don't need a bunch of gimmicks.  Okay, well, maybe a body-painting gimmick isn't a bad thing -- right, Ms. Agdal?

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)"

You can't go wrong with a classic. Neil Young's music influenced the grunge scene in Seattle in the early 1990s, and the guy is just a great songwriter -- one of the best.  I mean, you're talking about a guy who is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- as a soloist and as a member of Buffalo Springfield.  Throw in his collaboration with Crosby, Stills & Nash, his work with Crazy Horse, and his 1995 album "Mirror Ball" -- where Pearl Jam served as his backup band -- and you have a true rock legend.  The song above was often quoted by Kurt Cobain as well -- "It's better to burn out than fade away" showed up in Cobain's suicide note.  And, Pearl Jam often covers "Rockin' in the Free World" (as in, they've played it 276 times in concert as far back as 1992 and as recently as last year).

So, from one legend to another:

I am not a big fan of the Baseball Heroes sets, whether in their original incarnation back in 1991 or the parallel-crazed 2008 reboot. It's a partial ripoff of the 1959 Topps set, but this ripoff leaves all the simplicity and good looks of that set behind for having far too much text on the front of the card and far too much dead space.

Buzzcocks: "Out of the Blue"

You have to scroll to about the 15:00 mark to hear the song. It's not exactly one of their hits, but I like the Buzzcocks so I included this song. This is another band that influenced the grunge scene a great deal -- and they are another band that Pearl Jam covers (they've played "Why Can't I Touch It?" five times live as a full song, but it often gets mixed into their medleys when they are soloing on "Wishlist" or "Daughter").

Now, talk about not exactly being "hits" but still pretty cool?

Fleer's offerings in the 2000s varied from the sublime (the retro-Ultra full-bleed photos) to the ridiculous (the other three cards pretty much qualify). 

Prides: "Out of the Blue"

This is a very Scottish band with rock and electronics mixed in. With this being the first time I've heard the song, it sounds like someone mixed The Proclaimers with Midnight Oil and a side of any one of a number of earnest sounding 1980s bands.  Weird.

Like this:

Razor (huh?) made signed letters with unlicensed super-small photos. Or, as put it, "They are just like the letters that would come off a jersey purchased at Foot Locker. Razor bought a bunch of letter patches and got them autographed by MLB prospects."

Lintz was a second round pick out of Marshall County High School in Lewisburg, Tennessee in 2008. As a pitcher selected out of high school, all the warnings applied about TINSTAAPP.  Lintz proved them true. He never pitched well anywhere in the Brewers system except in a 10-2/3 inning stint in the Midwest League in 2011 (2.53 ERA, 12 Ks vs. 5 BB).  By 2013, he was out of the Brewers organization and pitched badly in three different independent league stops (54-1/3 innings, 87 hits, 60 runs [49 earned] 28 BB, 45 Ks, 10 HBP and a 8.12 ERA).  He tried again last year over three teams in two leagues and got a little better -- just a 6.67 ERA in 27 innings (28 BBs, 21Ks).  Hopefully, Lintz is in college now working on a degree.

Marc, thank you for the e-mail out of the blue and for the great cards!


  1. Great stuff, Marc is an awesome guy. Also, Neil Young rocks!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Glad you found some cards to your liking. Buzzcocks has to be the best name for a band ever.

  3. Ho! Lee! Crap! I have not thought about The The in Lord knows how many years... I had to go to Wikipedia to remember the name of the song I kinda liked (Armageddon Days Are Here Again).

    Nice cards, fun post!