Saturday, December 3, 2016

Back After a Little Break with Cards from All Time Brewers

I've been away from the blog for almost two weeks. It's that time of year when a little break is pretty common, to be fair -- Thanksgiving means I'm pretty much unable to get to my computer for a few days, after all. Add in the fact that it's also holiday party time and the end of our billing year, and circumstances conspire to make me dead tired.

I mean, I almost never nap because I never feel the need to do so. Yesterday, I got home a little early from work and took a nap. I guess I'm getting old.

Anyway, I took a little break for the basic reason that I simply had no energy to write. I tried a few times, looked at my scan folder, thought about what I wanted to write -- and I came up with nothing.

Now that Georgia's college football season is over (other than a meaningless minor bowl game), though, my focus turns back to baseball. Today, that means I am going to highlight some cards I got from my pal from Twitter, @AllTimeBrewers. He sent me a few cards with the note that he didn't think I had these Robin Yount cards. He was almost 100% correct, and the one card that I had in my Yount collection I still needed for the team set.

So, let's take a look at what he sent -- and let's highlight some musicians from Wisconsin in the process.

1.  Skylar Grey

Skylar Grey is the stage name of Wisconsin singer/songwriter Holly Brook Hafermann, who grew up in Mazomanie, Wisconsin (just outside Madison). She first recorded under the name Holly Brook from 2003 to 2010 on Machine Shop Recordings, the vanity label run by Linkin Park. Her first album peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart in 2006. 

Then, she changed her name in 2010 while living in Oregon. As Skylar Grey, she wrote "Love the Way You Lie," which became a number 1 hit in 26 different countries as sung by Eminem and Rihanna. Since then, she's done tons of collaborations (including appearing with Machine Gun Kelly at Wrestlemania XXVIII in 2012 prior to John Cena's entrance).

I knew none of this because, well, I wasn't paying attention.

Speaking of not paying attention, I missed this insert in the Topps Finest set last year featuring Robin. That's probably because I wasn't paying enough attention to those sets like Finest, Allen & Ginter X, and the rash of weird stuff that Topps belches out seemingly every other week during the season and thereafter. 

Dang it. I told myself I'd stop bitching so much about Topps as part of my giving thanks for the facts that we still have physical cards being issued. Please sir, may I have another?

2.  Butch Vig

Have you ever heard the name Butch Vig before? If you haven't, I will guarantee that you have heard music he's produced and that you probably have heard his band play.

Vig was born in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Viroqua is in the very western part of the state, about 25 miles from the Mississippi River and about 30 miles from La Crosse. The video above has Butch explaining how he produced the song "In Bloom" on Nirvana's massive megahit album Nevermind. That same year of 1991 saw him also produce Gish by The Smashing Pumpkins. SInce then, he's also produced songs and albums by Sonic  Youth, AFI, Against Me!, Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, Muse, and Foo Fighters. 

Oh, and he also had his own pretty good band too:

There are a lot of men around my age who will tell you that one of their celebrity crushes from the 1990s was Shirley Manson, the Scottish lead singer of the band Angelfish that Vig, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker, and bass player Duke Erikson recruited to be the lead singer of the band they called Garbage. Vig, Marker, and Erikson had played together in bands starting in the mid-1970s while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Vig's a legend. No doubt about it. And Shirley Manson still looks damn good even if she is 50 years old.

Of course Robin Yount is a baseball legend. One of the cards that I got in this package was this 2003 Donruss Studio Enshrinement card serial numbered to 750. It celebrates Yount's enshrinement in the Hall of Fame in 1999 with an appropriately late-career photo of Robin. 

I cringe a bit when I see cards featuring players from the 1980s and 1990s using black and white photography. Even cards of guys from the 1960s and 1970s make me a bit unhappy. By 1963, Polaroid had come up with instant color film. By 1970, prices for color photo processing had dropped significantly. By 1980s, black-and-white film had nearly disappeared (so says Wikipedia). 

So why is it that we get black-and-white photos of guys from the 1980s and thereafter? 

3. Woody Herman

Woody Herman is another legend. He was born in Milwaukee in 1913, and let me tell you, this dude could wail on the clarinet and the saxophone.  He also put together a series of excellent bands. For instance, in 1942, he hired Dizzy Gillespie to write three charts for him -- thus making Woody an early adopter of bebop. By 1946, his band worked with Igor Stravinsky on Ebony Concerto -- a cross between classical and jazz music. 

He then put together a second band that included saxophone virtuosos Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward, and Stan Getz. Due to financial problems thanks to a bad bookkeeper in the 1960s, he had to continue touring and leading his band all the way up to his death in 1987.

I did not have this Gypsy Queen white framed paper parallel from 2014. The more I dig into all the parallels in Topps's world, the less I feel like trying to collect team sets of them. Of course, in sets like Gypsy Queen and Allen & Ginter, the Brewers get so few cards generally that it's not that much of a burden to try to get them all. 

I mean, this coming year, what will the Brewers get? So long as Ryan Braun isn't traded before the end of 2016, he'll be in those sets. Jonathan Villar might be. Topps is so behind that I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris Carter as a Brewer in those sets too. Yount and/or Molitor or both will be in them. 

After that, though, will Topps have any Brewers in the sets? They did not view Orlando Arcia as enough of a prospect to feature his debut in Topps Now (as they did with any number of lesser-rated prospects). I'd venture to guess that no one with Topps could name another Brewers player at this point. So, I'm guessing I'm looking at collecting maybe 4 or 5 players in each set. Maybe. I can do that.

4.  The Violent Femmes

Holy crap this song is 33 years old. I heard it for the first time in 1986, as a freshman in high school, and I was hooked. It spoke to me as a dweeby, poor, too-smart-for-his-own-good kid who decided to join the debate team thanks to having a year off football due to a summertime injury. 

Being a debater was much more my bag than football anyway. I was a 5'11", 175-pound offensive lineman who did not really like to hit people because, well, my brain's thought processes kicked in too much and told me it didn't make sense and I was never going to be a college or pro player anyway. But I knew I would be a professional somehow -- thinking.

I've featured the Violent Femmes on here before. I've seen them play at least two or three times, and they are fantastic in concert. This song has taken on iconic status by this point, what with all the movies and videogames it's been in. They got their start by playing a brief acoustic set at the Oriental Theater in 1981 prior to a show by The Pretenders -- who saw them playing on a street corner in front of the Oriental that afternoon before the show.

The 1984 Donruss set is pretty iconic by this point too. It had a clean, attractive set design with pretty good (for Donruss) photography and a number of good rookie cards. In addition, it also had lower print runs, reportedly, than most sets during the 1980s. 

I had the 1984 Donruss set as a kid. I had the factory version. I ended up selling the set when I was trying unsuccessfully to raise money for me to take a trip with my high school debate coach to the Soviet Union. Being able to go to the USSR would have been pretty cool, but my family's lack of resources always made that trip more of a pipe dream than anything else.

This card was the one card I had already in my Yount collection. I still needed it.

5. Bon Iver

Bon Iver was formed in Fall Creek, Wisconsin -- near Eau Claire -- with its main creative impetus coming from Justin Vernon. The band released its first album in five years -- called 22, A Million -- in September. The critics love it -- Metacritic has it rated at 87 based on 41 critic's reviews. 

The new album is experimental and a break from what came before it. In some respects -- and even as one critic noted -- this new album is akin to how Radiohead's Kid A was received and was released, both pushing the audience away and pulling it closer simultaneously. 

It's the relationship I have with Panini. The Diamond Kings set pulls me in. I want to like it. It's a top quality feeling set. And yet, the lack of logos and the crapload of ridiculous parallels and inserts push me away.

Unlike Bon Iver's work on this concept, however, Panini's work pushes me away far more than it pulls me in. Can a baseball card company create a set that does not feature 20 different parallels? The answer is yes -- one of my favorite sets of 2016 is the Topps Bunt physical card set. The set limits parallels, it limits inserts, and it has a low-end price point. It's everything a card set should be to draw in kids and to bring back the parents of those kids who used to collect.

In other words, it's unlike nearly every other set out there.

Thanks go out to Neosho, Wisconsin, for these cards from @AllTimeBrewers.


  1. Butch Vig and the Femmes....I'll have to try to send cards more often! I know your love for needless parallels and reprints; double check the back of the Yount, I feel like it might be an anniversary reprint (if not then I already have one for your next stack) Enjoy!

    1. I actually recognized that Yount as the Anniversary edition. That is the one I needed for my team set. I should have said that above.

  2. Welcome back. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. This is a pointless point, but do you think the Yount is black and white photography or a Photoshop conversion of a color photo? Both black and white Yount's have a certain je ne said quoi that made me think they had color profiles changed.

    1. Almost certainly you are right on this.

  3. Glad you're back to posting...I think I missed most of those Younts myself. I haven't bought many of his cards in quite some time, but I keep my eyes open for shiny new stuff on COMC.

    Butch Vig sure is a legend. I've been a huge fan of (the) Smashing Pumpkins since the 90's, and most of those other bands you mentioned as well. I was one of those teenage boys that had a crush on Shirley. Matter of fact, I used that exact same Garbage song on my latest post.

  4. Butch Vig had a meet and greet at one of my local records stores today. I should have gone but instead I decided to work some overtime. Silly me.