For a while in November -- while everyone was still shocked that the Earth kept rotating on its slightly tilted axis despite the fact that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series -- I was getting concerned about my collecting. Trade packages had dried up. That was entirely my fault, since I have been very blasé about collecting generally lately. The time I have available for collecting had dried up too, as the real world of work and Thanksgiving and wanting to spend time with my wife all came together to make my card time limited.
Then, just after Thanksgiving or thereabouts, packages just started rolling in. My desk is a mess now of cards needing to be cataloged, sorted, scanned, marked off want lists, and added to player collection lists and binders. I have at least six or seven packages waiting to be scanned right now.
I do have one package that I scanned a while back and which I just haven't gotten around to posting. Probably two or three weeks ago now, I got a package in from Sportscards From the Dollar Store. It was an eclectic mass of Brewers cards, but I only scanned a few of them. Now, whatever else was in the envelope is somewhere on my desk...gah....
In honor -- or should I say, in honour -- of the envelope from the Dollar Store, I thought about dollar stores generally. There seem to be different stores of this nature all over the place. So, here's a few I know of being around where i live.
1. Family Dollar
Dollar stores often have good deals on items that you buy every day. It's just that most of those stores tend not to be places you go every day. For instance, the Family Dollar near me has $1 rolls of wrapping paper, 88-cent 2-liter bottles of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and $3 tubes of Colgate toothpaste. Not bad prices. Maybe I should shop at this dollar store?
Appropriately slow in starting out here -- because, well, I'm slow starting today anyway after a 3.5 mile run/walk in 37 degree weather (I know -- I've gotten weak having lived in Georgia for 21 years) -- let's go to 2010 Upper Deck. It's too bad Upper Deck had its license stripped by MLB. Cards like this -- even if it is a typical pitcher-grimacing photo -- remind me how good a simple design can be...unlike pretty much anything Topps has done since it got an exclusive license.
2. Dollar Tree
I just realized that I have three Dollar Tree stores within three miles of my house and 21 stores within 10 miles of me. Crazy. D
Dollar Tree has the same kinds of deals as Family Dollar -- $1 rolls of wrapping paper seem to be a dollar store staple. Dollar Tree also has the always good 4.5-oz. bag of Cheez-Its for $1. Mmmmm....Cheez-its...
I feel like stores like Dollar Tree have taken over from what Sears and JC Penney used to be -- the local department store where people did all their shopping, including everything from tires to appliances. The reason that they have taken over is that Sears and JC Penney have floundered about trying to position themselves as better than Wal-Mart or as equivalent to a mall department store like Macy's.
Within my Dollar Store package, I got a Topps Chrome and a Topps Update of two pitchers who should be available at a dollar store. The two Italians did not cover themselves in glory in 2016. Capuano came back to the Brewers as a sort of elder statesman innings sponge, but he failed in that role when he got hurt after just 16 appearances and 24 innings in the first two months of the year.
Garza signed for a four-year, $50 million contract after the 2013 season. He's got one year left on that albatross...er, deal. Garza started the year on the DL and did not make his debut until two weeks after Capuano was done for the year. Garza pitched acceptably on occasion -- his first two starts over 10 innings yielded just one earned run, and his last six starts (33-1/3 innings) provided a good run of results as well (2.97 ERA, Opponent's BABIP of .299 means that was right on too). The problem was that those 8 starts bookended an 11-start stretch (58-1/3 innings) of a 6.02 ERA (opponent BABIP: .309...again, nothing out of the ordinary there).
Between Garza and Ryan Braun, the Brewers will spend over half their payroll on two players. Together, they may have a WAR of 0, with Braun's positive negated by Garza.
3. Dollar General
I have to admit -- I get confused by all these different stores. With these names, you can see why. Unlike Dollar Tree and more like Family Dollar, Dollar General tends to have more items that cost more than $1 a piece or don't cost exactly a dollar. For instance, looking to my favorite gin mixer of ginger ale, two twelve packs of cans of Canada Dry Ginger Ale cost $5 here. Like the other stores, wrapping paper starts at a buck. But, you can also get a Star Wars coloring book here for $1. Can you do that at Family Dollar?
Well, probably. I don't know.
Speaking of Ryan Braun, here's an orange parallel from 2011 Bowman. This reminds me that the reason I have stacks of cards on my desk to sort is also caused by the fact that I got bogged down in 2013 Bowman parallels and ran out of steam on cataloging.
I guess I should try to get my police cards into sheets instead.
4. five Below
I've gone into this store once about a year ago. I had to stop at the Office Depot next door to pick up some supplies for one of my wife's charity activities. I found some packs of 2015 Topps Series 1 in what might have been a retail or hobby box -- I didn't take a close look. The problem was that half the packages had actually been opened and rifled through. If there were any inserts in it, they were long gone.
There's pack searching, and there is outright thievery. That was clearly the second.
Putting Molitor and O'Leary together may seem to be a weird thing. But it makes sense here because, under Sal Bando's management as general manager and in Bud Selig's eminent ass-hattery, both O'Leary and Molitor were simply discarded like those commons in the packs at Five Below. And, just like those commons, Bando and Selig made no effort to stop the thievery -- they just watched it happen as their pockets were picked.
This O'Leary card, though, reminds me that I am going to put together a real want list for all Brewers minor league teams. The first step is identifying them. Sort of like admitting that I have a problem.
5. Ollie's Bargain Outlet
While Ollie's does not have that magic "dollar" word in their name, Ollie's is a big-time closeout store. They buy up huge lots of random things that other retailers can't sell or that the manufacturers or middlemen get overstocked and then sell them at cut prices. Thing is, though, that most of their deals are ones that you just have to go to the store to see.
I wouldn't be surprised to see them start selling those awful 2013 Panini Triple Play cards soon. I mean, if Dave and Adam can't get rid of cases of them for $44.95 (suggested retail price: $475.20) or a 24-pack box for $3.95 (suggested: $23.76), it would seem that Ollie's is the next step.
Michael Reed played most of his 2016 season at the age of 23 in Triple-A Colorado Springs. He has appeared in 159 games at Triple-A, and in 640 plate appearances, he's slashing at .248/.363/.369. He is a singles-hitting outfielder who, as a prospect, is the equivalent of putting along in the right lane on the interstate driving five miles per hour under the speed limit while the Porsches and Maseratis and Lamborghinis in the left lane (model names: Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips, Corey Ray, and Trent Clark) go blowing by him so fast that all he feels is breeze.
I mean, Reed is still listed as the 27th best prospect in the Brewers organization. It's just that there are eight other outfielders ahead of him (add in Monte Harrison, Ryan Cordell, Demi Orimoloye, and Tyrone Taylor to those other guys) just on the prospect list and Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton in the majors.
So, maybe someday soon, you too can find a Michael Reed blowout sale at your local dollar store.
Many thanks go out for the great cards.