Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treating with Cardboard Clubhouse

After a sports weekend which featured: (1) my favorite English Premier League team, Manchester United, shooting 37 times without scoring a goal; (2) my favorite college football team, the Georgia Bulldogs, failing to supply any significant offensive output against Florida; and (3) my favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, coming to Atlanta and losing to the Falcons, I started to wonder why I bother with sports. There are just weekends where it would definitely be less frustrating, more entertaining, and more peaceful if I just didn't give a damn about sports at all.

I wondered that for about 5 minutes or so, and then I dismissed that notion quickly. I've been a sports fan my whole life without questioning how or why, and my life would feel emptier -- less complete -- without having the ability to come online, lob a few comments/jokes, and watch the carnage. 

A lot of folks have other things in their life that they like just as completely. For instance, Adam from Cardboard Clubhouse is a huge Halloween fan. I mean huge. As in, "devoting his blog to Halloween since the beginning of September" huge. That is devotion. 

Also as impressive was his "Trick Or Treat" mailer that he sent out to the "SuperCollectors". Let's look at some of the offerings and see what tricks and treats came my way.

First off the top are two minor league cards. Cody Ponce is younger than the Bert Heffernan card by about 5 years -- the Heffernan is from 1989, and Ponce is from 1994. Ponce, of course, is pictured on the Topps Pro Debut set from this year. 

Bert Heffernan was a ninth round pick for Milwaukee from Clemson in 1988. He was already 23 years old when he was drafted, so he really had to be pushed up the chain quickly. He made it to Beloit in 1989 at the age of 24 -- 2 years older than the average Midwest Leaguer -- and slashed .296/.398/.376. He never hit for any power at all. He also never suited up for the big league Brewers. They traded him to the Dodgers for Darren Holmes. The Dodgers were unimpressed enough to allow him to be drafted away in the minor league Rule V draft by the Seattle Mariners after the 1991 season. It was with the Mariners that Heffernan tallied his single major league hit -- a double off Scott Sanderson -- in 11 plate appearances. He was removed from that game for a pinch hitter -- Edgar Martinez.

So, these two qualify as a TREAT for me because (a) I'm really digging the Brewers minor league cards a lot more these days, and, (b) I needed both of them.

Depending on how you look at it, it sure seems like Jonathan Lucroy's 2016 season is like this scene...

His choosing not to join the Indians because of his concern about playing time next year definitely cost Lucroy a trip to the World Series (assuming, of course, that we don't play out a counterfactual which leads to the Indians falling out of the playoffs early) and it may have cost him a championship. 

Of course, Luc doesn't look at it like that. His wife is from Louisiana, and Dallas was his desired location above all -- that or Houston -- when it came to moving on from the Brewers. I'm happy for him that it worked out to get there, though I'm sure he might ask himself "what if" in 10 years or so if the Rangers don't get to the World Series.

Rickie Weeks Jr. is 34 and finished his season with Arizona. But, let's talk about Rickie Sr. instead. Rickie Sr. is the CEO of The Orlando Monarchs Youth Leadership Baseball Program in Florida. That program has its primary focus of reviving baseball in economically deprived areas in the US -- places, as the website says, that do not have "fields, community sponsorships, and baseball leadership support to effectively render the fundamentals of the game in a safe supervised environment." As best I can tell, though, this might be a for-profit enterprise -- none of the usual notations about the enterprise being a 501(3)(c) charitable entity where donations are tax-deductible are present on the website. Hmmm.

Not to cast aspersions on Mr. Weeks Sr., but these two cards are definitely tricks. The giveaway should be the fact that they are logoless Panini. Also, is there a worse set in the history of baseball cards than the Panini Triple Play cartoon set from a few years ago? Seriously, is there?

Score. Geez, remember Score? Pinnacle Brands issued its first set in 1988. Audible gasps came when (1) the cards came in a plastic baggie more akin to opening some candy than getting baseball cards, and (2) there were full color mug shots of the players on the back of each card. Pinnacle also is credited with being the first company to insert printing plates into packs. 

That led to Beckett naming Jerry Meyer -- Pinnacle's CEO -- as Sports Card Executive of the Year in early 1998. That didn't go too well for Beckett or Pinnacle -- Pinnacle declared bankruptcy less than a year later, so Beckett retired the award. 

The upside on these two cards is that I needed both of them. The downside is that the Surhoff was "just" for the set and the Bell is the "Gold Rush" Parallel that I haven't even tried to chase as of yet. Also, Bell passed away due to kidney issues in the Dominican Republic in August at the age of just 48.

Still, needing both of these cards makes this a Treat.

Two checklists from 1970s Topps usually would not make it into any blog post for me because I have these cards already. But wait -- don't call these "trick" yet. While both are a bit off center, both are in wonderfully sharp condition, and both are completely clean on the back. It's not often you find a 40-year-old card in nearly perfect condition (though that will happen with exceptional regularity in about 5 years time, I'd guess).

Both of these ended up being upgrades to existing cards in my collection, so call this a Treat!

Oh Ricky. If only you'd stayed with Lucy and little Ricky, you could have been something -- maybe even a "90's Impact Player" like Doug Henry. 

He's not this Doug Henry, though:

Luckily, that is. I don't think that the baseball player is paralyzed from the waist down, nor did he allegedly expose himself to two female construction workers last year. Nope, this Doug Henry is still hanging around baseball. 

He is the current bullpen coach for the Kansas City Royals. Henry came into the AL like a house of fire; in his rookie season in 1991, he appeared in 32 games (36 IP) and finished with 2 wins and 15 saves -- good enough for just 8th place in the Rookie of the Year voting, however, behind Chuck Knoblauch, Juan Guzman, Milt Cuyler, Ivan Rodriguez, Rich DeLucia, Mike Timlin, and Mark Whiten. Henry's problem -- like Heffernan -- was being old by time he hit the majors at the age of 27. It just took that long for him to arrive, it seems.

All in all, these two cards are a trick. I have both of them already, I believe. Even if I didn't, Bones reminds me of Sheffield (always bad) and Doug Henry reminds me how poor talent evaluation got in the Brewers organization in the late 1980s.

Blindingly colorful PC guys! That's usually worth a treat. But, I have both of these. The Molitor card, in particular, is painful to look at. It's so "1990" that it's painful. What else is "1990"?

Your 1990s SNL cast, featuring the late Phil Hartman and the late Chris Farley. Chris Rock, Tim Meadows, David Spade, Farley, Rob Schneider, and Julia Sweeney all debuted in 1990 officially, and Adam Sandler made his uncredited debut on December 8, 1990, marking one heck of a good new group of cast members. 

That's the upside. The downside is clearly how ugly those Classic Pink cards were. This was too:

Before Colin Kaepernick took his much more principled stand, Roseanne Barr just destroyed the National Anthem before a game in San Diego on July 25, 1990. This is how ugly those Classic cards are. No question.

Plesac's 1986 Donruss Rookie pales in comparison, but that, too, is not a pleasantly colored baseball card. The Green version of those cards is tough to look at, and the photo itself is bleached out.  

This is such a trick that it's like candy corn level of trick -- so terrible and obviously disgusting that it should surprise no one that candy corn is made entirely of corn syrup, honey, and table sugar with food color, gelatin, and just a little bit of salt. Candy Corn is lethal too -- if you are 180 pounds and eat a little over 1,600 pieces of candy corn in one sitting, you'll die.

I think the same would happen if all cards looked like that Classic Molitor.

Adam, many thanks for the great cards, and Happy Halloween!


  1. Your welcome Tony. Glad you enjoyed the cards. Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

  2. About 10 years ago was in Vegas. Somebody in our group got Rosanne Barr tickets to her stand up show. Apprehensively I went. It was actually pretty dam funny.