Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bowman's Coming, But I Need to Post Heritage

At the beginning of this year, I decided to stop trying to chase new sets by happenstance and, instead, jump into the case breaks that Chris from Crackin' Wax does.  I like that Chris is a Packers fan living in Minnesota, and I enjoy watching and listening to he and his wife going through the break with the cards. I also like that he donates money to charity as a result of his breaks.

I haven't had much luck scheduling-wise in catching the breaks live, though. Every time a break is scheduled, I seem to miss it. This weekend, though, I should be able to catch the Bowman case break. I noted this on Twitter recently, but I've never been more excited to pay more than the average slot cost in my time back collecting.

In fact, it's probably the first time I've ever paid more than the average slot cost for the Brewers thanks to the fact that Topps probably can't pick out Milwaukee on a map if you spotted them its location in Wisconsin. I mean, I heard that native New Yorker President Trump today identified Wisconsin as a state that borders on Canada. It does not, but that's pretty typical for a lot of New Yorkers -- there's New York, there's LA, there's Florida (a/k/a "Retirementland") and there's "the rest."

But I digress.

The most recent break that I took part in was the Topps Heritage break. Let's talk about the set through the Brewers cards:

We start with the player that Milwaukee would charitably call "the Forgotten Man," Chris Carter of the New York Yankees.  The way that Eric Thames is going, Carter will be the answer to a trivia question of "who did Eric Thames replace as the starting first baseman for the Brewers?" Thames's story is incredible -- I mean, it has to be for him to have two ToppsNow cards in the month of April!

Clearly Topps spent approximately $8 of effort on this leaders card. They reused the portrait portion of Carter's regular card as the photo for the HR Leaders card. The Arenado photo got reused on the 1968 Heritage Game card and the Bryant card makes an appearance in the Heritage set on his "NL All-Topps Selection" card. It's inspired decisions like this that show why Topps deserves the monopoly in licensed cards that it has.

Now it's time for the former Brewers portion of this post. Thankfully, Will Middlebrooks didn't make an appearance in this set. Somehow, though, Chris Capuano did. As for Scooter, well, I'm happy that he is getting to play in his hometown. The Brewers really don't have space for him anywhere, and Gennett simply did not have the ability to play elsewhere on the diamond to make his presence useful.

Two starters for this year's team. My stomach just sunk when I read on Baseball-Reference that Garza has a vesting option for 2018. Oh God No. Could that happen?

Well, thankfully, Garza has spent too much time on the DL for that option to vest. Thankfully. It's now a unilateral team option that could be exercised for $5 million. I would not doubt that the Brewers could use that option as a trade chit somehow if Garza can stay healthy. The team may even exercise that option depending on how players develop or how this year plays out. We'll see.

As for Peralta, well, he currently leads the National League in wins with three. Congratulations.

Next up: the guys who've come from elsewhere to play pretty well as Brewers. In order: the Mayor of Ding Dong City has come to Milwaukee and is slugging like crazy -- of his 18 hits through April 24, 14 of them have been for extra bases. Shaw is a candidate to stick around for a few years depending on how guys like Isan Diaz and Lucas Erceg develop. Shaw is still cheap and isn't arbitration eligible until 2019. I can see him being a Gennett-type -- kept around while necessary, dumped when not.

Hernán Pérez is a similar guy, I think. He's the "super-utility" type who will be useful to play all the positions while the Brewers develop better options. He doesn't walk enough -- only 18 walks in 430 plate appearances last year -- so he has to keep his batting average high to be useful. He reaches arbitration after the 2018 season; we'll see if he's still a Brewer then. Incidentally, the Brewers have had both players named "Hernan" play for them -- Iribarren and Pérez.

Keon Broxton has started the season slowly again. He showed a fair amount last year in the half-season he played (.784 OPS) but he cannot afford to relax at all with the prospect-studded outfield at Colorado Springs.

Finally, we have the youngest player on this page, Jonathan Villar. That's right -- Villar has been in the majors since the age of 22 with Houston back in 2013, and he's about six weeks younger than Pérez. He's almost a full year younger than Broxton. Shaw is older than Broxton by three weeks. Villar also comes up for arbitration in 2018.

Here are the two horizontal cards -- youngster Orlando Arcia (whom some in Milwaukee are already wondering whether he is a bust...at the age of 22...thanks to his lifetime slash over 74 games of .217/.264/.345...oh my god he's Rey Ordoñez) and Harvard grad Brent Suter.

Suter actually follows me on Twitter thanks to the fact that I passed along a message to him from Ray Peters, so I've got that going for me. Perhaps because of that, I really hope for the best for him and want him to be in the major leagues with the Brewers. After all, no pitcher should have to pitch in Colorado Springs regularly.


I got one copy of the New Age Performers card of Orlando Arcia. I mean, I really hope Arcia develops and all, but his bat has never been his strong suit. Still, he needs to pick up the pace at the plate.

Now, this case was pretty terrible for me. I didn't get any Ryan Braun cards from the short-printed high numbers. I had to hit eBay for those two. Oddly, though, the hardest card to find -- which I also purchased on eBay -- was the "Then and Now" card of Villar with Lou Brock.

Here's hoping that the Bowman break treats me right this weekend. I'd better be in the chatroom though to get some of that famous Crackin' Wax Chat Room Mojo©!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Recharging and Collating

The last two months have been brutal for me with work. Being gone thanks to being crazy busy last month led directly into being out this month with busyness and ABA meetings. The next thing on my agenda is coming up in a couple of weeks, so I figured I'd better write something now before I let another week go by.

I wish I could say I was recharging. I feel like Steve a/k/a Cardboard Jones f/k/a The Chop Keeper has reinvigorated and reinvented his collecting: he moved on from being the Chop Keeper as the Atlanta Braves morphed into a team he did not recognize and became Cardboard Jones at Collating Cards -- the set builder. I could see doing that at some point in my life, but my chase for Brewers keeps me moving forward. I don't have it in me at this point to be anything more than a one-note collector of Brewers in many respects.

That is, until such time as I decide that I'll become an oddball type collector and try to get at least one card from every oddball and minor league set in what I consider the modern era of post-World War II.

See, I don't like easily attainable goals. It's too Easy.

Steve's change of collecting has aided me a bit. Steve used to collect the Braves, as I mentioned above. His decision to go to set building of sets led him to send some Braves stuff my way. To be fair, he never disappoints.

Let's start with the cards:

Starting with the three earliest cards, we have 3 from the very green (for the Braves) year of 1958. Casey Wise is an interesting story, even if he would be completely persona non grata in my house based on his choices of colleges and universities. While he started his collegiate career on scholarship at the University of Texas (not bad), Wise eventually received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida (very bad). He then played baseball (and was terrible...more on that in a minute) before going to dental school at the University of Tennessee (flat out ugly) -- becoming the first orthodontist in Naples, Florida.

As to being terrible, Wikipedia quotes The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book as saying, "His may not be the worst Major League hitting record of all time, but it's definitely in contention." How bad was it? Well, over four seasons with the Cubs in 1957 -- which explains the weird blue brimmed hat and the M appearing over what appears to be a scribble, the Braves in 1958-1959, and Detroit in 1960, he came to bat 352 times. He "hit" .174/.243/.240 -- a career OPS of .483 and a career OPS+ (average is 100) of 32.

Wow. Hope he was better at orthodontics.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago/a couple of posts ago that I got two Red Schoendienst 1959 Topps in the space of about 3 days -- one from Commishbob. This one is the second one.

Harry Hanebrink caught my eye in this group for being someone I did not know. Hanebrink was a native St. Louisan who somehow ended up being signed by the Braves in the late 1940s after a tour in the Navy. He had a weird batting stance and hitting approach. As it was described by Hanebrink in his SABR Biography, "Feet very wide. I don't even take a step, but I come forward with the bat three times then take one fast cut when the pitcher starts to throw. All the fans used to count cadence on every pitch at Hartford, clapping and shouting: 'One, two, three, dip.' I guess it looks funny, but I can hit better that way."

Whereas Casey Wise was godawful terrible, Hanebrink was just bad to mediocre -- an OPS+ of 60, slash line over 345 plate appearances of .224/.279/.315; at least he hit for a little bit of power. Hanebrink returned to St. Louis after his career and become a real-estate broker for twenty years before deciding to drive a park-and-ride shuttle at the St. Louis airport. He passed away from a brain aneurysm in 1996 at the age of 69.

Finally, there is the one 1960 Topps card before we get to the oddballs. Pizarro had a long career that started with Milwaukee in 1957 and continued all the way until 1974 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His SABR Biography notes that between the minors, the majors, Mexico, and winter ball in his native Puerto Rico, his career win total in the regular season was 392 and his overall total was over 400. 

He was the son of a construction worker/cockfighting trainer and gambler whose personal love for the nightlife was well known; in one book Where Have You Gone, Vince Dimaggio? he was quoted as saying, "I love to celebrate. I only remember the parties, the women, the hot times." He learned he could throw hard by being a bit of a delinquent -- throwing rocks to hit bottles in a game called piedritas. He is quite the character and is still with us at the age of 80.

Now, for the oddballs:

This postcard sized card is of Vermont's own Ernie Johnson Sr. The elder Johnson led his son Ernie Jr. into the broadcasting profession, in that Ernie spent years and years as the color commentator for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves -- starting in 1962 and ending in 1999.  Ernie Jr. even worked games with his dad in the mid-1990s (1993 to 1996). 

The reason I mentioned that Ernie is Vermont's own is that this card was issued by the Vermont Historical Society in 2000. Others in the set include Jean Dubuc, Pat Putnam, Birdie Tebbetts, and, of course, Carlton Fisk.

Thanks to Steve, I now have three of these photos of former Braves -- he also sent me a Frank Torre in the past. Apparently, I am still missing at least the Andy Pafko card, as an eBay auction lists a lot of 4 including the three I have and Pafko.

These are pretty cool, and it makes me wish that I had made the effort to go back to Wisconsin to see a game at County Stadium one last time before they tore it down after the 2000 season. It was a dump, but it had character. You were close to the field in nearly every seat and the place had history. Yes, it was falling apart and the team needed the ability to close a roof to keep folks from freezing, but dammit that place had character.

And finally:

This is my first Jay Publishing Milwaukee Braves card/photo. This one is from 1961, and it is the same size as the Ohio Casualty Group photos from above. 

These last cards show clearly why oddballs rule. It's easy to get the Topps runs -- relatively easy, at least. But it's a lot more fun to go oddball.

Many thanks go out to Steve for the great cards and the oddballs.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thirty Years Ago Today

Time's passage is inexorable. It hardly seems possible that the most magic April in Milwaukee Brewer history took place 30 years ago. 
Through the magic of YouTube, we get the late Mike Hegan calling the game in full color with play-by-play announcer -- and local Milwaukee sports legend -- Jim Paschke right here:

That Nieves no-hitter remains the only no-hitter ever thrown by a Milwaukee Brewers pitcher. In fact, as Kyle Lobner pointed out today, the Brewers have gone 4,785 consecutive games without having a no-hitter. That's the thirteenth longest streak ever in MLB History.  

If you watch the game, you'll notice that Nieves hardly threw a gem -- that, in many respects, this was a lucky no-hitter. It was, definitely. Nieves was the beneficiary of a few defensive gems -- in particular the diving play by Jim Paciorek in the second inning (a far more difficult play than the one Robin Yount made to end the game). 

Add in the fact that Nieves walked five while striking out seven. Nieves had control issues during his whole brief major league career

Between the two teams, there were four Hall of Famers who took the field -- Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken, and Eddie Murray. Each of them finished their careers with over 3,000 hits and two of them were the rare "One-Team" players. 

On the other hand, you also get to see some lesser lights -- guys that many folks will not remember -- such as Paciorek (Tom Paciorek's brother) playing left field for Milwaukee. Nieves himself is not remembered by many these days outside of Milwaukee, and perhaps outside of the Puerto Rico, as he was the first Puerto Rican pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter. 

There are plenty of the "pretty good" guys in this game too: Cecil Cooper, Lee Lacy, Ray Knight, Rick Burleson, Greg Brock, and Jim Gantner among them.

With that being the first no-hitter by a Brewer at the time, the team's official outlets feted the occasion with a fervor reserved for MVP awards. For instance, the May 1987 issue of the official team magazine, "What's Brewing?", featured Nieves on its cover in a not-at-all awkward pose -- kneeling on a dugout holding up what looks to be a wine glass filled with plastic pellets of some sort:

Thereafter, Nieves was treated to a congratulatory pregame presentation at some point during the 1987 season after the Brewers returned to Milwaukee from Baltimore. 

After the handshakes, of course Juan got to tell the fans all about his no-no:

Juan was a very gracious autograph signer. Of course, at the time he threw the no-hitter, he was just 22 years old. Everyone thought that he had a bright future -- that he'd lead the staff as he grew into his stuff and started to command it better. 

But, as often happens in baseball, hoping and wishing and projecting success gets derailed by reality. In Nieves's case, it was a torn rotator cuff that ended his baseball career as a Brewer after the 1988 season.

The Brewers cut him after the 1990 season. Nieves hooked up with the New York Yankees organization then, signing a minor-league contract with a $300,000 salary if he made the major league squad. He never did make it back. 

Instead, by the time he was in his late 20s, he had transitioned into coaching. He started with the Yankees. After a brief comeback attempt at the age of 33, he moved on to the White Sox. He made it to the majors as a bullpen coach for the White Sox in 2008. After five seasons in that role, he was hired by the Red Sox to be their pitching coach for the 2013 season. Nieves picked up a World Series ring that season, but ended up fired and looking for a new job on May 7, 2015. He spent the rest of that year out of baseball before hooking up with the Miami Marlins as their pitching coach.

That 1987 season was a rollercoaster ride for Brewers fans. I believe it was the Sports Illustrated article about the 13-0 start that led to Brewers' and Packers' fans adopting the cheesehead moniker and taking it from what otherwise might be seen as a derisive name and turning into a term of pride. 

I recall this game well. I did not get to watch the game live except for the final out. That year was my freshman year of high school, and we had our forensic team banquet that night. My mom was driving me home and we had the game on the radio. We heard Bob Uecker say, "Nieves just needs three more outs to get there" or something to that effect, and it didn't take long to figure out what he was talking about. I walked into the house and got to see the very last out of the game: Robin Yount's diving catch that he admitted later in his career he did not need to dive for. 

It's hard to believe that this was thirty years ago. But, as I said, time moves inexorably. I hope I am around to see the game's sixtieth anniversary too. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Favorite Baseball Card of My Favorite Baseball Player

Peter at Baseball Every Night is celebrating his one-year anniversary as a blogger. To mark the occasion, he is holding a contest: write a post of any length, content, or whatever about your favorite baseball card of your favorite baseball player.

If you haven't interacted with Peter before, you should at least follow him on Twitter. Well, you should so long as you appreciate erudite conversation in which he discusses the ins and outs of game theory as it relates to Sylvia Plath.

No, not really.

But you should follow him if you appreciate discussions of good beer, a dislike for the overkill of love shown to David Ortiz last year by Topps, and a complete hatred of 1995 Fleer cards. From time to time, I've been known to ruffle Peter's feathers by saying that, contrary to reality, he actually loves  1995 Fleer. Believe me -- he really does. Not. I mean does not.

So, it should not be a surprise that his contest rules state clearly that:
Any entrants selecting a card from 1995 Fleer will be automatically disqualified. But please do still post as I'll then forward your entry to a psychiatrist so that you can get the help you need.
I can see his point. There's very little to like about that card set. I've stated my dislike for it in the past. But then, it got personal:
Any entrants that select a 1995 Fleer card that I deem is intentionally trying to get disqualified (Tony L.) will be re-entered into the contest and will have their name added to the randomizer 18 times.
Whoa. It sounds like I can tip the scales in my favor in a major way here! But I hate 1995 Fleer. What's a guy to do?

How about a custom "card"?


It's just a prototype for Peter's very own 1995 Fleer card, featuring his position of Blogger and Sylvia Plath Scholar and highlighting the baseball that he stole from a crying 7-year-old kid. Or, rather, that he got by beating out a surly 13-year-old kid. One of those two.

In reality:

The reality is that most cards of my favorite players are cool but never really approach the level of being "THE" favorite. Yet, every time I think of my favorite card literally in my entire collection, I always seem to come back to the same one:

I come back over and over again to the Cardsphere Hero custom card from Christmas of 2015 that came my way courtesy of Gavin at Breakdown Cards. Gavin has a far more popular and much more interesting blog than mine -- I mean, come on...I'm a one note wonder and his collection is as eclectic as it comes -- and he's a much more talented artist and card maker to boot.

Gavin deserves the thanks and praise that all in the blogworld give him. And I haven't thanked him enough yet for this incredible card that remains my favorite baseball card almost 18 months after I received it.

Thanks go out to Peter for both the contest and for being a good sport for putting up with my chicanery and once again to Gavin. And, also, thank you for reading -- I appreciate it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Commish Bob, Meet Zippy Zappy's Music

Sometimes, it's fun to juxtapose two rather disparate concepts or items or people. You know, like putting together something sweet with something salty -- which works nearly all the time. Or, like putting together old with new. That's kind of the concept for today. I'm putting music that (other than one song) is new to me from Zippy Zappy alongside some vintage cards sent to me by everyone's favorite Houston Cougars fan, Commishbob, The Five Tool Collector.

Let's jump right into the music!

Nipsey Hussle a/k/a Ermias Asghedom is a West Coast rapper who first came to prominence about 2008 or so, when he released two mixtapes that got him a collaboration with Drake and, later, with Snoop Dogg and Problem. The big news about Nipsey Hussle here in April of 2017 is that LeBron James shared an unreleased track of Nipsey's on Instagram, and it led to all the music magazines having a collective freakout.

This song is decent and has a catchy hook. Since it's my first time listening to Nipsey Hussle (do I call him Mr. Hussle?), I might just listen to more based on this.

Of course, I hear this rapper's name and the only person who comes to mind is the great Nipsey Russell -- an Atlanta native who passed away in 2005 in New York. Russell was one of the gang of celebrities who made appearing on panel game shows like Hollywood Squares and Match Game into a career.

If you paid close attention to yesterday's post of cards from Shane, you'll note that he also sent me a Denver Lemaster 1963 Topps card. I went from having zero to two in the space of three days. Can't complain about that, though. Lemaster signed with the Braves organization out of high school, and he started his pitching career in beautiful Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

He made his major league debut in 1962 by pitching a complete game in the second game of a doubleheader against Johnny Klippstein, who gave way to noted baseball author Jim Brosnan after 7 innings. Brosnan picked up the win thanks to the fact that the game featured the 16th home runs of both Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson off Lemaster, with Pinson's homer tying the game in the ninth. Lemaster went with the team to Atlanta before being traded after the 1967 season to Houston with Denis Menke in exchange for Chuck Harrison and Sonny Jackson. He spent his final major league season with the Montreal Expos in 1972, and he was released mid-season that year.

Peter Garrett, the lead singer for Midnight Oil, is the reason I had ever heard of the term alopecia. Well, he and former UConn star and Milwaukee Buck Charlie Villanueva.

Of course, "Beds Are Burning" is not a light song. It's about the plight of Australian aboriginal people whose land had been stolen from them. In typical white European style -- as was the norm in the 18th Century -- the British people who settled Australia shunted the aborigines aside, took their land (or at least any land that was worth having) and set into motion literally centuries of mistreatment and disenfranchisement.

When I visited Australia in 2009, I visited an aboriginal cultural center called Muru Mittigar. The speaker for the presentation was excellent, even if he couldn't teach me how to throw a boomerang properly -- too much baseball in my background.

Anyway, enough about me and Australia.

Bob Shaw from 1962 Topps is next. Shaw was a bit of a journeyman. He started with Detroit, then was traded to the White Sox with Ray Boone for, among others, Tito Francona in 1958. Then, in 1961, the White Sox sent him and future Brave Wes Covington (along with two others) to the Kansas City Athletics for, among others, Don Larsen. Shaw ended up in Milwaukee for the 1962 season thanks to being traded after the 1961 season with Lou Klimchock to Milwaukee for Joe Azcue, Ed Charles, and Manny Jimenez. After spending two years in Milwaukee, the Braves flipped him to the San Francisco Giants with Del Crandall and Bob Hendley in exchange for Felipe Alou, Ed Bailey, Billy Hoeft, and Ernie Bowman in December of 1963.

Don't get unpacked yet, Mr. Shaw.

In June of 1966, the New York Mets bought his contract, and he stayed there a year before the Mets sold him to the Cubs organization. In all, Shaw spent 11 seasons in the major leagues but spent no more than four years in any one city -- including his 86 games as a Milwaukee Brave (22-20, 2.74 ERA in 384 innings and an ERA+ of 130...not bad).

Belgian singer Stromae's song "Tous Les Mêmes" is next up. I don't speak French, so I had to rely on Wikipedia and Google Translate to find out that this song's title means "All the Same." The video is supposed to convey how annoyed he is with the attitude of men towards women and how they treat women.

It probably says a lot about me that my first thought on seeing Stromae and his odd haircut was, "he kind of looks like Paul Pogba." That's probably influenced by the fact that the Commish and I both support Manchester United.

And, to be fair, they really don't look all that much alike other than the affinity for really screwed-up haircuts.

No really screwed-up haircuts in the Braves cards that Bob sent, so let's go with Tony Cloninger. If you know anything about Tony Cloninger or have heard the name at all, you know that he was the first National League player -- not pitcher, player --  to hit two grand slams in the same game. The Braves won that game against the Giants by the score of 17-3, and Cloninger went 3-for-5 with nine RBI. Of course, Cloninger did it in 1966 as a member of the Atlanta Braves, so for my purposes it really doesn't count.

Nothing like a good Bollywood dance scene featuring guys dressed in harem pants á la MC Hammer. Then I hear the name of the song is "Sing Raja" and all that comes to my head is former Boston Celtic Dino Radja. Don't ask me why. I don't know.

The song itself isn't bad, but it suffers from the whole not knowing the language thing for me. I like my lyrics -- what can I say?

Red Schoendienst from 1959 Topps is next. I'll note that it's a good day when you get a Hall of Famer's card in the mail for free. Schoendienst is still alive -- aged 94 years old. He went to the Cardinals spring training camp last year, and he made it to St. Louis this year for Opening Day.

Arukara is Japanese. Kenny says their songs are "very weird" and he "can't keep with the plot of their songs at all."

That makes two of us.

This song reminds me, though, of the types of songs that would find their way onto the soundtrack for EA Sports's FIFA games ten years ago or so, when I had time to play video games. It's got a good guitar riff going for it. I was concerned initially that it might turn into Nickelback Japan, but that thankfully didn't happen.

Perhaps appropriately, Arukara's song "Chao Han Music" is the new ending theme for Dragon Ball Super anime. Anime is something else I never got into either.

Chuck Tanner is much more known as a manager than he is as a baseball player -- which is what happens when your playing career includes just 396 games played over 8 seasons. He does hold the distinction of having hit a homerun off the very first pitch he ever saw as a major leaguer -- off Gerry Staley as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning on April 12, 1955. His homer spurred a comeback from 2 runs down to turn the game into a 4-3 win for the Braves and Warren Spahn.

Skambankt sounds a bit like old school Dio, but only if Dio sang only in Norwegian. 

Norwegians really like metal. Like, at an inordinate level of love. In fact, in trying to find an article to summarize that love, I found this article which talks about how Norway actually spawned incredibly violent, rightwing metalheads who literally killed other people and end up in Norwegian jails that the article says that is like "getting comped at a Comfort Inn." That article is worth reading for the sheer weirdness of it all.

To close, let's go to something far more upbeat than Norwegian death metal. Lou [sic] Burdette's 1960 Topps Card! Burdette being a PC for me is based almost entirely on his winning 3 of the 4 games the Braves needed to win the one, and only, World Series title in Milwaukee's history. The fact that Burdette was a big time jokester does not hurt either. 

My thanks go out to Kenny for providing the soundtrack and definitely out to Bob for the fantastic cards. Thanks guys!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Typophiles And Wall Shots

I have never met anyone who calls themselves a typophile.
Okay, that took forever to type. You ever try typing something while changing fonts every single letter?

Shane from Off The Wall Cards -- another Red Sox guy in the blogosphere -- calls himself a typophile on his Twitter biography. I suppose that it makes sense that a graphic designer like Shane would pay special attention to fonts. Here at Off Hiatus, I tend to swap fonts from post to post amongst the few choices we get -- using Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, and Times more often than not with Trebuchet and Verdana sometimes appearing and Courier showing up only if I've totally screwed up.  

I've never liked Courier.

Perhaps it is telling about me, though, that I have watched a movie about a font in the past. Have any of you seen Helvetica? No, seriously, it really is a movie about the font.

Okay, enough about fonts for now. Shane is a great guy to follow on Twitter, and that is where he and I first interacted. I still owe him a follow-up package -- blame it on malaise and work -- but I've got one cooking right now. It just needs to marinate.

Being a graphic designer, Shane dabbles in making custom cards. He sent me one, in fact, that surprised me at how authentic it looks:

Making custom cards is a time when being a typophile must be helpful. Topps and Panini seem to miss that fact from time to time -- going for "good enough" over "authentic" at times such as the redone 1983 Donruss that Panini did this year (their font for player names is too condensed). We collectors see that stuff and cringe.

Of course, this is a card that never existed, and it could only have existed if Topps had done a Traded/Update set in 1977. Wynn started 1977 as a member of the New York Yankees. He was released by the Yankees in July, and the Brewers picked him up two weeks later. In his day, the "Toy Cannon" did a lot of little things well without being a standout at any one thing. He never had a batting average over .282, yet he had two seasons where his OBP was over .400, including his 1969 season when he slashed at .269/.436/.507 while stealing 23 bases (and walking 148 times, 14 intentional).

Now, that was the only custom in the package, but the mailer was packed with great cards that need just a little bit of Boston music to go with it...some mighty music, in fact.

When you mention the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the first song most people think of is this one -- "The Impression That I Get." It's a fun, upbeat ska song that brought the Bosstones national prominence in the alternative rock scene around the time that swing music got popular too. The Bosstones have such a great horn section that it's tough not to like them for a band geek like me.

Shane started out strong by sending some vintage Braves cards my way. I can't say that I had ever heard of or even contemplated the existence of Humberto Robinson before getting this card. Robinson was a Panamanian pitcher whom the Boston Braves signed. In 1954, he put up silly numbers in the Sally League: 23-8, 2.41 ERA in 276 innings. Right around the 1959 season's start, though, the Braves shipped him to Cleveland for the 41-year-old Mickey Vernon. Robinson passed away in 2009 at the age of 79.

Haas missed all of the 1959 season with an injury. He had come up in the Cubs system but then was traded before the 1958 season to the Braves. He only appeared in 55 total major league games over three seasons as a player, and then managed the Atlanta Braves for 121 games in 1985.

Chuck Dressen is part of one of my favorite jokes from the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. The joke came in his discussion about rating all-time third basemen. Boston Braves coach Tom Daly made a joke about the fact that the 1931 Cincinnati Reds would have to build a screen around third base. When asked why be a reporter, Daly dead-panned, "Well, I don't think the fans want to see Joe Stripp or Charlie Dressen . . ."

While "The Impression That I Get" got much more airplay, I preferred "The Rascal King." It was catchy and upbeat, and the video for this song is just cool. The video nails the old-movie feel that this music calls up from inside. It should have an old-time police detective in a trench coat and fedora.

Thankfully, I can say honestly that I never went for this look in the 1990s. To be fair, I kind of like the dressier look -- the zoot suits and the fedoras sure beat the flannel of the early 1990s. I never went for this look because, well, I was in law school and no one in Athens was dressing like this. Too hot.

Scan dump alert!

The reprints from the late 1990s/early 2000s dominate here. I needed nearly all of these cards in some form or fashion. I do wish, though, that Topps would use more players than just Hall of Famers in their insert sets. I know it all comes down to contracts and rights fees, but I wonder what it is that Topps is spending its money on. No, actually, I know they are focused on getting contracts for signatures as opposed to contracts for a wider breadth of players to appear on cards.

It's too bad. We could use more cards of guys like Del Crandall, Lew Burdette, and Gus Bell as opposed to seeing that same Eddie Mathews pose (from that "Cooperstown Collection") again and again.

Bosstones lead singer Dicky Barrett notoriously had some serious drug issues before joining the band. This is a song about heroin addiction, and is apparently a reminder never to do drugs ever again. Barrett has gone on to be the announcer for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", so I guess he's got that going for him.

Shane's apparently done a bit of TTM/IP autograph hunting, since he shared the Ron Belliard and Geoff Jenkins autographs with me. It's good to see the consistency between the Fleer Ultra TTM/IP version and the Topps certified version. Finally, I'm a little surprised by the fact that Fernando Viña didn't put a more prominent tilde over the "n" in his last name.

As the 1990s wound down, the Bosstones did as well in many respects. Ska got co-opted by that atrocious 311 sound, and pretty soon American music tastes went away from the big horn sounds and dancehall/ska type music and devolved more toward a garage sound championed by bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes. 

As this post winds down -- I could post another 50 cards, mind you, but I need to end it somewhere -- I thought I'd go all horizontal. Everything from one of those insert coins from Topps to mid-1980s stickers to some early 2000s Chrome to a Heritage insert that had eluded me. 

Shane is a great dude, and I need to get my butt moving to finish off the return package. My thanks go out to Shane for all the great cards and for his patience.