Monday, October 10, 2016

It Makes Common Sense

Lawyers are a spoiled group of people. We are used to being able to spend money on rather pricy things, such as overseas travel or Broadway musicals. As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the better part of three days in Chicago last week for an American Bar Association meeting. While in Chicago, several people I know decided to spend at least $200 a ticket to see Hamilton

In case you are not familiar with the show, Hamilton is the "it" show on Broadway -- it was nominated for a record-setting 16 Tony Awards and won 11, including Best Musical. It also won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Chicago production opened on September 27. The show is about Alexander Hamilton, and what makes it so highly acclaimed is how Lin-Manuel Miranda (who wrote, scored, and starred in the original Off-Broadway production) took Hamilton's life and updated it in a way that is influenced greatly by rap music.

The video below is a song called "The Schuyler Sisters."

Of course I picked that video because Angelica Schuyler says that she has been reading "Common Sense" -- Thomas Paine's pamphlet advocating for independence.

I'm okay with Broadway musicals, though I tend toward the old school more than the current stuff. To me, these rap-influenced Broadway songs suffer from the same problem that most Broadway songs have -- they are too vanilla. For storyline, the song's lyrics need to be very clear and clearly enunciated, after all, and most rap that I like tends to have an edge to it that is more conversational than lyrical. 

All of this is a long way to get to baseball cards. As I've started to feel like I've exhausted the local card show option by going too frequently (#FirstWorldProblems), I have turned more and more to Just Commons. 

I'm pretty sure now that Just Commons is like one or two guys or gals working out of a small house on Long Island. That actually makes me happy too -- I'd rather it feel like I'm ordering from a small business with people who work their tails off than to be giving money to some troll through COMC. The best thing about Just Commons, though, is that I can load up on Brewers -- who almost all end up in the commons box, after all -- for far less money than the other online alternatives. Plus, when I get to $15, I get free shipping. That does not suck.

So, since I'm not chasing any particular cards and, instead, I'm simply trying to satisfy my OCD and get "everything", Just Commons works out great for me. I spend $30 and I get a bunch of cards. It's a win for me because that isn't much to spend, and it's also a win for me because $30 is barely something that makes my wife take any notice. So, I can get away with getting cards more frequently as a result.

I'm continuing my efforts to load up on Bowman from about 10 to 15 years ago, so let's see what came in this shipment. Just the highlights, though:

Look at how young Rickie Weeks looks here. My goodness. He looks like a little kid. With all the cards I have of him from his later years with his long dreadlocks, seeing him with short hair is almost shocking.

Of course, with the timeframe I mentioned, Rickie was the hot prospect for the Brewers at that point. A high draft pick (2nd overall) with great bat speed and plate patience, Brewers fans were actually quite disappointed in Weeks and his performance in Milwaukee. He wasn't bad -- he just wasn't as good as everyone had hoped. 

His real problem, though, was his health: he had two seasons in Milwaukee of playing over 150 games (2010 and 2012). He had two more seasons -- 2008 and 2014 -- in which he reached 120 games. Otherwise, it was 96, 95, 118, 37, 118, and 104. He just could not stay healthy. He left a bad taste behind as well in that he did not want to play anywhere but second base in his last Milwaukee season. Since he's left Milwaukee, he has not played second.

A little Geoff Jenkins came in as well. I hate to say it, but I sort of wish Topps would recycle the Bowman Heritage idea again. Bowman in the 1950s was miles better than Topps. They had better designs, real photos, and better color on the cards with color. The story of how Bowman ended up getting bought out by Topps is fascinating and worth a read here.

Okay, maybe I spoke too soon about recycling the Heritage idea. This Ryan Braun rookie/first year card makes him look like he has jaundice.

Now that's more like it. If we could get a few more uses out of this set, that would be fantastic. Let's be honest -- the 1955 Bowman set design is truly excellent. I know it got rolled out about five times in five years by Topps in the early 2000s, but can we bring it back now? Maybe?

Last two. I like these knothole cards all right. They aren't great, but they aren't bad. I just wanted an excuse to figure out who Ozzie Chavez was and to talk about Lou Palmisano. 

Chavez first. He was an international signee out of the Dominican Republic. He came to the States at the age of 17 in 2001. He played well in the Arizona Rookie League, so the club pushed him aggressively to full season Beloit in the Midwest League in 2002. In 128 games there, he made 29 errors at shortstop, hit just 1 homer, and slashed at .255/.323/.315 in 531 plate appearances. That performance convinced Topps to put him on this 2003 Bowman card. Chavez actually stuck around the Brewers organization until 2008 -- making it all the way to Triple-A by 2006 at the age of just 22. But he just never hit. He moved on to the Phillies organization in 2009 before ending up with the White Sox and then in the independent Atlantic League in 2011. The Brewers signed him for organizational depth in 2013 before cutting him loose. 

Lou Palmisano looks a little like he got the Gary Carter catcher perm. He was drafted in the third round in 2003 by the Brewers out of Broward CC in Fort Lauderdale and hit a ton in Rookie league that year. The Brewers kept promoting him the next two years, and he hit Double-A Huntsville in 2006. He stayed there in 2007, and he stopped progressing. He is now a volunteer coach with the University of Miami baseball team. I really hoped that Palmisano would become the next Brewers catcher, but he got passed quickly in 2007 when Jonathan Lucroy joined the organization.

The great thing about all the failed Brewers prospects from the 1990s and early 2000s is that none of the cards are expensive now. Sure, these cards were probably more expensive than if I had found them in the wild at a card show, but who brings 2003 Bowman cards of Ozzie Chavez to a card show in the crazy hope that a Brewers fan would show up?

Let's close with more common stuff.  Common People.

This stuff isn't vintage stuff, but I need it all the same.


  1. The only Broadway show I really wanted to see was Avenue Q. There was a show in Toronto Chris Jericho was in that would have been interesting...

    I may need to look at Just Commons, though I doubt they'd have some of what I'm looking for.

  2. Maybe somebody has learned why I've had a $30 habit for several years now.

    Love the old school look on the Ben Sheets card BTW...

  3. $200 for Hamilton when it doesn't feature Lin-Manuel Miranda or Leslie Odom Jr.? Maybe I'm out of touch with theater prices, but that seems excessively expensive.

    I don't know what it says about the original Bowman cards that I like all of the designs in 2003 Bowman Heritage - which used unused Bowman designs - more than any other Bowman Heritage set.

    I'm not objective because I didn't hear the Pulp version until afterwards, but I freakin' love the version of "Common Peoople" by William Shatner and featuring Ben Folds and Joe Jackson:

    ...And I'm not going to get offended about the "Trolls on COMC" comment because I know you aren't talking about me. :-)

    1. Of *course* I'm not talking about you! I'm talking about that Joelshitshow guy whose name I always read as $hitshow overcharging for cards because he can.

      More to the point, since I'm mostly chasing commons, JC is just cheaper.

      As to Shatner, oh yeah, I've heard that version. I only wish he had the cigarette in it like his version of Rocket Man. :-)

  4. Love the Pulp song, and I think I remember the Shatner version being pretty good too. Thanks for linking the video (which I'd never seen before)! Not sure "screw" needed to be edited out of the lyrics...
    Excellent throwback Ben Sheets. I'd love to see more of those 55 Bowman tributes.

  5. My wife is a huge musical fan so I've seen my fair share of old and new over the years. The best one I've seen recently was Book of Mormon.

  6. JustCommons has been my go to place for putting my Brewers team sets together.

  7. "I hate to say it, but I sort of wish Topps would recycle the Bowman Heritage idea again"

    I think something like Bowman Archives would be cool for a few years.. each year rotating 3 or 4 designs. Vintage designs and maybe even a little junk era to mix it up. I'm sure they could have some fun with it. Probably wouldn't be able to keep it up for long, but at least like 2 or 3 years.

  8. A. Haven't shopped @ Just Commons in a few years. Looks like I need to head back over there and spend $15 on some cards.

    B. I have a few friends who have memorized all of the songs from Hamilton. It's pretty crazy how popular it is.

    C. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never heard Common People before. Great song. Kind of reminds me of Bowie.