Monday, January 30, 2017

COMC Black Friday #4: Ryan Braun

After yesterday's rather sobering history lesson -- one which led me down paths I did not expect at all -- I need a more frivolous post tonight. I'm about to get on a plane tomorrow (actually, 2 planes, connecting through Minneapolis) to go to Palm Desert, California, for one of my American Bar Association trips. 

So, in the interest both of frivolity and of posting some more of the Black Friday cards I got, I thought, "songs about the desert/California!"

Of course. 

I mean, after all, Ryan Braun is a Californian -- born in Mission Hills, California -- so why not? Especially since one of the cards I got is this one:

Let's start with an obvious one:

Hopefully I don't end up on a dark desert highway with cool wind in my hair on this trip. It will mean that something went terribly wrong, I'd say. I do hope, though, to get out and run a little while I'm out there. The temperatures are a bit better than the mid-30s we've had here in the morning lately.

Some buy cards to remember, some buy to forget. I still need about 3 more of this 4-in-1 card from the 2009 Goudey set that Upper Deck put out. I think I still need one more of the 2009 Chrome card too. Those folks hoarding these cards must be living it up.

To be honest, this song is almost more obvious to me to be tied to the Palm Desert area than Hotel California. That's because this song is on the Joshua Tree album. Palm Desert is about 50 miles from Joshua Tree National Park. The only time I've been in the Palm Desert area -- the Coachella Valley -- a couple of friends of mine and I went to the National Park. It's incredible.

That's a younger me amidst some really awesome cacti.

These are Bowman cards of a younger Ryan Braun -- from five or six years ago now. I have trouble at times telling the difference between various years of Bowman cards. Their designs are not memorable or very distinctive, and that makes it difficult to recall whether something is a 2011 or a 2012 or a 2013 card since I wasn't around to learn it the first time around.

So, this song is new to me, though the band, My Chemical Romance, is not. MCR was huge in the era of emo and shortly thereafter -- I mean, their first major label album called Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, an album with a couple of great songs in "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and "Helena," was 14 years ago. The band broke up in 2013 and released a greatest hits album in 2014. 

If I had to guess, I'd estimate that they will reunite for a money-spinning tour at some point in 2018. Just guessing, though. 

In keeping with my snarkiness about MCR -- and let's be honest, I really enjoyed their music on both Three Cheers and their next album, Welcome to the Black Parade, but they got to be a parody of themselves after a while -- I turn to an old standby of Panini Prizm. I swear, Panini goes through product ideas faster than NFL Games can take.

Perhaps they'll stick with Donruss for a while. Who knows. The way they keep bastardizing old Donruss designs, they'll run out of original ideas at the same time that My Chemical Romance reunites.

I've always liked this song. Yeah, it's "soft rock," but lyrically and musically it remains interesting. It tells a story -- which I always appreciate in my music. Sometimes that story is depressing -- how else do you account for my predilection toward The Smiths? -- but often it's just a song giving a feeling or building a picture. That's what this song always feels like to me. 

These cards seem to fit that "soft rock" mentality. Just as Panini goes careering through card designs like a car on an icy mountain road, Topps seemingly just dredges up old designs from other, more original card makers from years gone by. Perhaps it fits to follow a horse with no name to have the card company with no new ideas.

That's harsh, and not necessarily true. After all, Topps has had a number of new ideas lately -- Topps Now in particular. Okay, I can't come up with any more than that, but that was a good idea.

I hope y'all have a great week, and I'll be back on Sunday.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

COMC Black Friday #3: Joe Adcock

Yesterday I posted about the Warren Spahn cards that I picked up off COMC around Thanksgiving. I had intended to combine Spahn with Joe Adcock's cards because of their playing for the Milwaukee Braves together and all. As I wrote about the three Warren musicians, though, stopping with them made a ton of sense.

So, today, let me finish my thought, so to speak. We had Warrens introducing Warrens yesterday, and I was going to do the same for Adcock -- have Joes introduce Joes.  But, today it's time for a different tack. I am going to intersperse baseball cards with some serious history. Apologies for either "boring" you with history or making the trite decision to include baseball cards with much more serious discussion.

Adcock was born and raised in Coushatta, Louisiana -- about 45 miles south of Shreveport in a rural area with a checkered past and a pretty dire-sounding present.

1978 TCMA The 60s I
1989 Swell Baseball Greats
Starting with Coushatta's dire present, well, how bad is it? Well, a population which has declined from a high of 2,299 in 2000 to an estimated 1,852 in 2015, caused almost certainly by the fact that nearly half the population -- 49.7% -- live below the poverty line. That includes 64% of the population in Coushatta who are below the age of 18. The median income for a household in 2000 was $18,958. That's the midpoint. Seriously.

W461 Exhibit
1982 G.S. Gallery All Time Greats
It is worth noting that the area today is represented by Republican Gerald Long -- a 72-year-old whose family history in Louisiana is long and quite checkered itself. Gerald's third cousin is the infamous Kingfisher himself, Huey Long. Huey was a populist demagogue whose platform was based around wealth redistribution under the "Share Our Wealth" program. Gerald, on the other hand, is the only member of the Long family to have been elected as a Republican. 

The area is a very conservative area and is noted as being the last parish in Louisiana to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2015. Parish Clerk of Court Stuart Shaw had sided with then-Governor Bobby Jindal to defy the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. But that ended soon thereafter.

1963 Topps
1961 Nu-Baseball Scoops
Coushatta's checkered past came during Reconstruction, when the local White League got very active. Wikipedia informs me that the White League was "an American white paramilitary organizations started in 1874 to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing." What differentiated the White League from the Klan was the fact that it operated openly. People in the community knew exactly who they were and what their goal was -- the overthrow of the Republican Reconstruction governments in the south.

1956 Topps
1955 Bowman
In Coushatta, the White League forced 6 Republicans from office in August of 1874 and then killed all six before they could leave the state. These people included the brother and three brothers-in-law of Marshall H. Twitchell, a "carpetbagger" from Vermont who moved to the area after the Civil War and married a local woman. He became a successful cotton planter and was elected to the state legislature, and he appointed his family to the local offices in which they served.

The White League also killed between 5 and 20 freedmen (depending on what source you use) who had been escorting the Republicans from the state. This later became known as the Coushatta Massacre. President Ulysses Grant had to send in federal troops to pacify the Red River valley area where Coushatta is located, but the damage was done: voting by Republicans decreased and the Democrats took over the state legislature in 1876.

1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Sluggers
1978 TCMA The 1960s II
What followed? The Democrats took over in Louisiana for the better part of the next century and disenfranchised poor whites and African Americans to maintain control of the state. In fact, starting in 1876, it took until 1980 for Louisiana to elect a Republican governor. The chair of the Louisiana senate was a Democrat from 1877 until 2000. Both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives had a Democratic majority until 2011. That's how strong Reconstruction and its fallout were.

1962 Topps
1961 Topps Stamp...same photo (and same photo as used in 1962)
To be fair, Adcock and his family benefited from this. His family owned a farm and his dad was Ray Adcock -- the longtime sheriff of Red River Parish. His dad was sheriff starting in 1940 and ending in 1952.

To be fair to Joe, it wasn't like he got a ton of benefits. Joe grew up in a time where most people in the Parish did not have telephones -- as one source states, before 1950, only about 30 to 35 percent of parish households had telephones. Due to African American migration outward, population in the Parish declined steadily from 1940 onward. Adding insult to injury for the area, the Red River flooded at historic levels in 1945. By that point, though, Joe found himself at LSU on a basketball scholarship -- he clearly was a lucky boy to get out as he did.

2005 Upper Deck Classics
It's easy (at least for me) to forget at times where baseball and its players fit into the history of our country. This post originated simply because I was curious about the place where Joe Adcock was born, raised, and, in 1999, where he died. It turned into a history lesson for me -- and I hope you didn't mind coming along for the ride.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

COMC Black Friday, Part II: Warren Spahn

Last weekend, I mentioned that I bought a bunch of cards on COMC on Black Friday. Today, and with very little introduction, I want to show some more of those cards. But let's focus on one of my Milwaukee Brave collections: Warren Spahn. Not that you would know, but I didn't get any Spahn cards in my initial purchase. But I bought enough that day that I got some store credit, so I cashed that in on a bunch of Spahn cards. 

Since just showing off a bunch of Warren's cards without more might be a bit pedestrian, I'm going back to a tried and true formula that I use often: music, of course. Songs Warrens to go with the Warrens make sense to me.


Any discussion of songs by Warrens has to start for me with Warren G's "Regulate."  Why? Because I am not quite old enough to have really listened enough to Warren Zevon (don't worry -- he'll be in here), and who else other than those two would you pick? Okay, okay, I know there are others but for someone currently in their mid-40s, those are the two that come to mind first.

Warren G is a little more than a year older than me. This is probably why "Regulate" is the song I think of first here. His son Olaijah Griffin is a four-star defensive back recruit (according to Rivals and as of this writing) who has offers from everyone from Arizona and Cal to Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Michigan. In fact, here's a photo of Olaijah with Deion Sanders:

Okay. Enough Warren G. Let's look at some Warren S.:

I really feel like Panini is hamstrung not only by the fact it cannot use logos, but by the second fact that apparently it is very limited in how close its colorations can be to the actual coloration used by major league teams. It's another licensing issue, of course -- not only are the names of the teams trademarked, but MLB teams also have intellectual property rights in their team colors and designs. 

Then again, I'm not sure if anything could really help that Elite Dominator insert. It's pretty ugly generally.  

The other three cards here are two inserts (the 1987 mini from 2012 and the Chasing History foil parallel from 2013) and a parallel mini from Gypsy Queen of practically the same photo. Variation in photos is not something Topps does terribly well, apparently, but at least they get to use the correct colors.

"Lawyers, Guns, and Money"

"Send lawyers, guns, and money. The shit has hit the fan. All right. Send lawyers, guns, and money."

Funny thing: everyone seems to hate lawyers until they need one. Then the lawyer is their best friend.

Warren Zevon left us too soon, of course -- dying on September 7, 2003, due to an inoperable form of lung cancer. As a brief biography from The Guardian mentions, though, while he was a great songwriter, he was also an intimidating, self-destructive, aloof pain in the ass. He was friends more with writers than singers and was good friends with Hunter Thompson, though they never truly collaborated together on anything.

Three more inserts here. The first one is from 2007 Topps Heritage and is one of the "Flashback" inserts. Now, I only need like three or four more from that subset since 3 of the cards are Milwaukee Braves and two -- this one and the Lew Burdette card -- feature guys I collect. 

The second one is from 2011 Topps Heritage. Can you believe that's six years ago already? I hate how time flies sometimes. I still feel like a bit of a newbie in collecting again, yet I've been back at it for over three years now.

The bottom card is a Topps insert from 2000 or so. That was about the time Topps must have gotten a license from the folks at the Hall of Fame that covers most Hall of Famers. These image rights don't come completely cheaply, which is why we get the same guys in every throwback set in a particular year. 

"Gold Dust Woman"

Warren Haynes is a guitar legend in the world of Southern rock and jam bands. He started his career supporting David Allen Coe and acting as a songwriter for others. In fact, he was the one responsible for writing "Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House" for Garth Brooks on Brooks's album No Fences

In the late 1980s, when the Allman Brothers Band got back together, Haynes joined them. He left in the late 1990s to focus on his own band, Gov't Mule. I know they played at the Georgia Theater when I was in Athens in law school...let's see -- here's the setlist from September 26, 1995, and if you're so inclined, you can actually listen to the show at that link. Not bad for 22 years ago, I suppose...and near the middle of the page is a partial setlist from February 24, 1997...

I'm not sure why I never saw them other than, probably, just money and not really knowing who they were. I'm a bit better versed in music now, I guess.

To close things out: I never did buy any 2016 Archives in packs. It's a shame, too, because I really have always liked the 1979 design that formed one of the three main designs. It's one of those things though -- I feel like I avoid new releases by making a cost-benefit analysis about number of Brewers needed versus number of cards I'll get otherwise. Add in not going to all that many card shows this past year, and you have my reason as to why I had to dip into the COMC pool to get a Warren Spahn base card.

The Topps Tribute is kind of the same thing, except for the fact that I pretty much have never bought any Topps Tribute in unopened form. I really like the cards, but the base cards are not the reason you buy a product like Tribute -- and I really don't chase the sick hits to sell.

The final card is a 1977 TCMA/Renata Galasso Glossy Greats card. I really feel like our hobby needs the ability for an independent card producer to create sets like this -- a reasonably priced set with decent quality printing and with logos on the cards. Of course, licensing fees being what they are and MLB being what it is, that will never happen.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

You Are Looking Live at Cards from Angus

Today, living sportsbook legend Brent Musburger decided to call it a career in broadcasting today. Musburger, 77, basically announced, "yes, next Tuesday, I'm done." His last game will be to call the Georgia Bulldogs basketball game at Kentucky. Musburger supposedly is going to help family members with their new venture in sports handicapping.

For me, it's not soon enough. Musburger's last season was spent paired with Jesse Palmer calling games on the SEC Network. Between Palmer's inability to stop talking whenever any possibility of dead air approached and with Musburger usually -- and tellingly, it seems -- more focused on whether the teams would cover the spread and whether the teams would get over the over/under number, it got to the point where I literally could not listen to them.

Still, Musburger had some memorable calls in his life, what with being around sports for as long as he has. And what better way to thank Angus from Dawg Day Cards for his Christmas card and the gifts that came with it than to start "looking live."

1. Brent Musburger Introduces America to Jenn Sterger

Without Brent Musburger, Jenn Sterger would have never become known to America. Without Brent Musburger, that means, perhaps Brett Favre's little Brett never gets to the Internet. Maybe, just maybe, without Brent Musburger, new Brewer minor leaguer Cody Decker would never have met Jennifer Sterger and gotten engaged to her.

It's always about Wisconsin sports, right?

Starting off the envelope from Angus, we have a Ryan Braun Chrome 1989 Topps refractor from the 2014 Chrome set and a 1997 Dave Nilsson card from the Donruss Limited set -- a "counterparts" card with Jim Thome on the back. I definitely needed the Nilsson, and the Braun scanned so beautifully that I had to share it even though it may be my second or third or fourth copy of that card.

2. Brent Musburger perving on an orange Iowa State fan

This apparently was a couple of years ago at the Big 12 basketball tournament. I guess it was because it was so par for the course for Brent Musburger to get all excited when women were on screen that no one mentioned anything. That, or no one cares enough about the Big 12 basketball tournament to notice...or maybe that's just me.

I'm much more likely to exclaim "Oh, Yeah" when I see 1973 O-Pee-Chee cards than I am about that Oompa-Loompa girl who looks like a bad cross between Donald Trump and Katy Perry, but only if Trump just put on extra spray tan in an effort to try to look orange. Okay, so maybe that's harsh on the girl, and the problem is the color on the video, but man, that is not attracive.

Not like these cards are. Well, except the electric blue Don Money hat in the pinstriped Phillies jersey (n.b. The Brewers did not wear pinstripes until they changed logos in 1978).

3.  Brent Musburger Gets Katherine Webb Airtime

Are you seeing a trend? Over at least the final 10 to 15 years of his career, Brent Musburger started paying less attention to the game and more attention to the girls in the crowd. To be fair, when you see someone as stunning as Katherine Webb, it might be difficult to look away if you are a heterosexual male.

As was the case for Sterger, Katherine Webb parlayed her 15 seconds of fame into about 15 minutes of fame by doing the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2013 and then going on this weird show on ABC called "Splash", which featured D list celebrities jumping off diving boards. I mean, hell, Louie Anderson was on the show, I think.  

Hey, anything to get her on TV in a swimsuit, I suppose. Here's a link to a video from that show. In fairness to her, she already was Miss Alabama, and she had her man A.J. McCarron already (who is now her husband). But still -- no one would recall her today without Brent Musburger.

On the other hand, everyone would know who these two players are whether Brent Musburger called one of their games or not. As best I can tell, Brent did, indeed call baseball games on CBS radio. He was slated to call games in 1990 on TV, but CBS fired him effective the day after he called the NCAA Men's Basketball Final on April 2, 1990 and replaced him with Jack Buck. 

But I can't find any video of him doing it.

4.  Brent Musburger Loses It over "Busty Heart"

Watch the video to about the 1:20 mark to hear about Tree Rollins and Danny Ainge hating each other and about Rollins taking a bite out of Ainge's hand during a scuffle. Stay to see John Salley in the crown seated next to a blond woman who decides to shake her breasts for the camera. That was Susan Sykes a/k/a Busty Heart.

Sykes took her two seconds of infamy and Musburger's inability to stop laughing and has turned it into a life's work. At the age of 55, now, Busty Heart has her own website -- at, of course, -- and you can see videos of her using her 44H breasts to smash bricks, crush cans, and bust watermelons. 

No kidding.

That's disturbing. Go to the website, though, to see video from Today where Kathie Lee Gifford can't stop laughing either.

Something less disturbing...please:

It's Scooter Gennett as a child, looking like someone you'd call Scooter. The Brewers almost certainly tried to find a trade partner willing to take Scooter on as a bench part this offseason since they have said already that Jonathan Villar will be their starting second baseman this year. 

Having found no takers as of this writing, Gennett is still on the Brewers. I'm not quite sure why the team did not decide simply to non-tender him, but I guess they have hope that he either will bring something in trade during the season or that he could develop further. My guess is that he will no longer be a Brewer in the very near future, one way or the other.

5. Brent Musburger Forlorn over UGA TD

So, I can't get a video of just this play to embed, so here's a 12-minute highlight package. You honestly had to hear more than just one play, though, to get the feel. Last fall, Georgia and South Carolina pushed their game in Columbia to Sunday from Saturday due to Hurricane Matthew. It was an entirely out of sync game. Watching college football on a Sunday afternoon felt weird.

Listening to Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer making mistakes all day -- things like Musburger calling UGA quarterback Jacob Eason by the name "Jason", or pronouncing Quincy Mauger's name wrong after Mauger made a huge deal about it being Haitian and pronounced "Mo-zhay" even after Jesse Palmer corrected him.

More annoyingly, though, Musburger spent more of the game worried about the spread -- South Carolina was a 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 point underdog -- than anything else. This was especially shown to be true near the end of the game. Go to the 11-minute mark of the video. South Carolina scored a TD to pull within 7 with a minute-and-a-half to go -- and Brent was excited for that. He must have had money on Carolina to cover. At any rate, South Carolina kicked an onside kick, and Terry Godwin ran it back for a TD.

Brent sounded like someone had run over his puppy. I wasn't the only one to notice.

Something that is the opposite of dejected was me when I got this package and found an awesome poster book from 1985 looking up at me.

$3.75 was big money in 1985! I remember those "Scholastic Book Club" order forms from that time, and getting something that was $3.75 was a major investment. I'd usually bottom feed or try to find something for a dollar or less -- mainly because I couldn't afford such frivolities as books at that point. If I wanted to read, I needed to go to the library and find something to read. I did that often, to be fair.

Anyway, getting back to this poster book, inside was a great Cecil Cooper "poster"


Coop's swing was smooth and as silky as they came. He was not a patient hitter, to be fair, but damn he could hit.

Many thanks go to Angus for the great cards and, legitimately, to Brent Musburger for his lifetime of commentating. When he was on top of his game back in the 1980s and 1990s, he was one of the best.