Monday, June 26, 2017

Dub Mentality: An Archives Post

In the blog world, there are not a ton of big college football fans. I mean, there are a few, of course -- and I won't try to list them for fear of leaving someone who should be obvious out. But, for about as long as I have been writing my blog (almost three-and-a-half years now!), I have not really come across any Georgia fans.

This year, though, I did. He's a popular man in the Twittersphere and the Blog World who goes by the nickname of Dub Mentality. He's a good south Georgia guy who is a Bulldog fan. Well, I say that, but he may consider himself as not being from south Georgia. You have to remember that to us big city people in Atlanta, everything south of about I-16 and Macon is considered south Georgia. 

Dub loves to open packs. If you check out his Twitter feed or his blog, it's filled with pack openings from current products to some extent but mostly he loves what some would call "junk wax."

His other love is music, specifically a band that I have listened to a little bit but not a lot: The Deftones. So, let's dig into some Deftones and show off the cards that Dub sent my way -- and a couple of things I sent to him that I got at a recent card show.

A website I found called this the best Deftones song at the same time as calling it the more commercially successful single. Yup, I have heard it, so it must have been reasonably successful on commercial alternative radio in the early 2000s. It may also be the most viewed video on YouTube.

In an interview cited in its Wikipedia entry, the band described the process of writing this song as a turning point for them -- when they really started working as a unit. To summarize what was said, they stopped making songs about themselves specifically and started incorporating their own storylines and dialogue into the music to make it a little less personal and more able to have multiple interpretations. 

Dub sent me some 2017 Topps Archives. This is the Ryan Braun 1960 Topps version. I don't particularly like the color choices for this card. First, you have an orange background on the bottom and a blue left side. That's just ugly because it is Florida or Auburn colors, and nothing good has come from those schools other than my wife graduating from Auburn in 1996. Plus, Braun's name is hard to read on that background. The red letters on an orange background is hard on the eyes.

Next up is an even earlier song from Deftones: "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)." This was the Deftones first alternative hit, making it to number 29 on the mainstream rock tracks. The Deftones get cited frequently as employing loud-soft dynamics in their music. I get that, definitely. Nirvana really made that a "thing" in the 1990s with Nevermind, and other bands grabbed it and ran with it. 

The good thing to me is that the Deftones are nowhere near as obnoxious sounding as one of their cohorts in the "nu metal" world, Limp Bizkit. Limp Bizkit was catchy for a moment, but they got so full of themselves, and Fred Durst is such a complete tool, that they were simply unlistenable after a while to me.

The other two Brewers in the Archives base set are Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar. While Topps got close with its reproduction of the 1982 design, it didn't get all the way there. Let's compare briefly.

As you can see, the coloration is close -- but the orange on the current version is brighter. That may be a variation in printing on the Vuke card. So be it. It's not bad. The real issue -- and it is a minor one, really -- is the font used for the team and player names. It could be seen as picking nits, but the real 1982 set had a bolded font versus the Archives version.

Like I said, it's picking nits. 

The backs of the cards (which I did not scan) are far worse than the original, though. The print on the back of the Archives versions are damn near impossible to read. The originals weren't great -- trust me -- but the Archives ones are very bad. 

In all, I still like the idea of Archives. The problems with it are numerous, as I've mentioned before -- set composition and overloading with the usual suspects in teams and including Zack Hample as an autograph...well, just weird. Apparently, as an aside, Hample is buying up his autographs off eBay. For what purpose, only Hample knows.

Time for a more recent Deftones song. This one is called "Leathers." This song came off their album Koi No Yokan. This song is a lot harder than the previous two in this post. It comes across as angrier -- more visceral. This was the first song off the album, though it was not released as a single. 

I could definitely see this being one to listen to if you were frustrated and wanted to let off steam or, conversely, where you wanted to get fired up for a football game. It might be a little much if you were going out to play a round of golf, though.


Dub was kind enough to throw in a Milwaukee Brave for me in Warren Spahn. I think the 1992 portion of the Archives set is generally well done. Some folks have complained about the card stock being thin, but have you ever picked up a 1992 Topps card? They are on thin card stock. It was the first year that Topps went to the white stock. It took Upper Deck and its high quality cardstock and photography to convince Topps -- read as, Topps lost market share -- to change to the white card stock. 

I think this card looks good and "right" in part because Topps had incorporated the trademark superscript on the team names in its 1992 sets. Being picky, though: Topps did not follow the coloration here properly. I don't know if it is because Spahnie is a Milwaukee Brave here, but the 1992 set had the team name for the Braves on a bluish-purple background.

So, not bad, but not correct.

Finally, we have "My Own Summer (Shove It)." The website Loudwire -- from which I pulled the list of the best Deftones Songs -- calls this song essentially the archetypical Deftones song. As the website put it: "Most songs in the Deftones catalog are exercises in tension building. They build you up to break you down, like the Marine Corps!"

I don't know about the Marines. I will say that this song does remind me a bit of Tool, which I was listening to a decent amount in law school because a woman I was trying to date really liked Tool. My dating attempts did not go all that well, but she did give me a nice business card holder as a graduation gift that still sits on my office desk today. Of course, I should have followed up after she gave me that gift, but hey -- I have long been an idiot when it comes to women. 

I am not an idiot, though, when it comes to getting free autographs -- or at least nearly free. To thank Dub both for the Archives cards and for tipping me off about a small card show at which the Braves shown here, Alejandro Peña, signed autographs, I paid $6 total for the card and the photo above and got them signed. 

I mean, for $6, I'd get just about anyone's autograph.

Well, other than Zack Hample, that is.

Many thanks go out to Dub Mentality for the great cards. If you want to read a blog of a guy who really has a great attitude about collecting and life, be sure to check out his blog at

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Man or Astro-Dome?

During my time in law school in Athens, the band Man or Astro-Man? played seemingly once a month. If you have never heard of them, they were/are a garage/surf rock band that formed in 1992 in Auburn, Alabama, and their shows are a thing to behold. Man or Astro-Man?'s music often sampled from old, long forgotten Sci Fi movies, and their stage shows would incorporate everything from a theremin to a Tesla coil along with clips from the movies running in the background.

I got to thinking about Man or Astro-Man? thanks to the fact that Bru a/k/a Marc from Remember the Astrodome sent me a package of cards in late May. Marc had to do some downsizing in his collection recently because, as you can see on his blog, Marc and his wife welcomed a new baby girl into their lives in late May.

Since I have never done a music post to accompany cards from Marc, I thought for about three seconds and MOAM? came to mind from 20 years ago almost immediately. That's how my brain works. So, let's get to the cards and the music.

In early 1996 and probably at the height of the whole 1990s Alternative music boom, an album called Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks was put out to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The original "Schoolhouse Rocky" song was included, but thereafter a number of artists covered the great Schoolhouse Rocks! songs. For example, one of Blind Melon's last records while Shannon Hoon was alive was their cover of "Three Is a Magic Number."

On the album, Man or Astro-Man? covered "Interplanet Janet." The album really seemed to try to feature bands that were not necessarily well known at the time. Sure, you have Blind Melon and Better than Ezra and The Lemonheads, but you also had Buffalo Tom, Goodness, Pavement, Ween, and Skee-Lo.

Incidentally, I bought this CD back in 1996 and really enjoy it. If you ever watched the fantastic Schoolhouse Rocks! cartoons as a kid, you'd enjoy it too. 

Marc sent me a whole host of great Brewers cards from a number of different sets and years. These are some of the cards from the early and mid-1990s. 

I especially appreciate the Mariners Chris Bosio card because that is the kind of card I miss when putting together my want lists. Perhaps some day, when I have finished putting my want lists together completely, I'll go back and review all the photos from all the sets looking for cameos and "traded" cards like this one where the card issuer didn't try to repaint the player into his new uniform, as Topps almost always does.

Kenny Felder's Gold Topps card is in here as a reminder to everyone who watches drafts that not every player who is drafted makes it. Most don't, in fact. I feel like teams have gotten better at making first round selections count, but there are always guys who either provide high upside or who look good on paper and then don't pan out. The Brewers picked Felder 6 picks after the Yankees selected Derek Jeter and 11 picks before the Pirates selected Jason Kendall. 

Even so, Felder was not the biggest bust in the 1992 draft -- that was probably 3rd overall pick B.J. Wallace, who also never made it to the major leagues and was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine in 2011. I can't find anything on how those charges played out, though I did find another arrest in 2013 for Amber McKenzie, the woman whom Wallace was arrested with, for drug possession. Sad things can happen when people fail spectacularly.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, MOAM? performed a cover of the "love theme" from Mystery Science Theater 3000. It would seem to be a natural crossover, after all -- MST3K's movies matched with MOAM?'s sound makes complete sense. As MOAM?'s Wikipedia entry notes, the band had MST3K's creator, Joel Hodgson, appear on stage at a show to sing the theme in 1996, and Joel's character on MST3K later claimed on show to have been a pyrotechnics roadie for the band. 

Some more recent vintage cards here. The Yount Perspectives goes right into my team collection, as does the Braun Fortune Teller. 

Mike Rivera is a guy I don't think I've ever even given a second thought about. Rivera spent 120 games over five different seasons on the Brewers bench (2006 to 2009 and again in 2011) and hit .261/.333/.421 -- not too bad, really, but he was behind Damian Miller (2006), Miller & Johnny Estrada (2007), and Jason Kendall (2008 & 2009) so he was never going to get much playing time even if (whisper it) he probably would have been a far better hitter than Kendall during those years.

Finally, the Yount Prizm gets highlighted here because Panini Prizm looks like a card idea that Panini designers came up with while eating psychedelic mushrooms and watching MST3K.

Man or Astro-Man? also supplied some music for Space Ghost Coast to Coast. This alternate theme featured in the clip above is a MOAM? creation. They also provided the show's closing credits. After he left the band in 1998, guitarist/singer Brian Causey a/k/a Star Crunch composed and performed the theme song for the Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron

Star Crunch? 

Yes. Like all good/weird concept bands, MOAM? members adopted stage personae with appropriate names. The main members of the band included Birdstuff (Brian Teasley), Star Crunch, Wizard (David Scholtz), and Coco the Electronic Monkey (Robert del Bueno). Other guitarists for the band included Dr. Deleto, Cap'n Zeno, and Dexter X. When Star Crunch left the band (he started his own album label in Athens in 1998), they plugged in other guitarists such as Trace Reading and Blazar the Probe Handler. 

The Brewers picked up Ray Durham for the 2008 stretch run, and he performed fairly well over those 41 games -- .280/.369/.477 over 122 plate appearances at second base is not bad at all. The Brewers picked him up in trade for a minor leaguer (Steve Hammond) and Darren Ford, who played in 33 games as a pinch runner/defensive replacement in 2010 and 2011 (16 plate appearances, four hits, 1 walk, 1 HBP, and 9 stolen bases in 15 attempts). I will always associate Durham with the Chicago White Sox and, to a lesser extent, the San Francisco Giants. This 2009 Topps card of his qualifies as his "sunset" card. He retired after the 2008 season.

I see the sticker of Adam Lind, and I am reminded that Adam Lind spent one season as a Brewer. When you turn over the roster in the way that the Brewers did, a lot of different players come and go in rapid succession. It can be somewhat jarring to see them in your team's uniform as the reminder of days gone by. Indeed, the Adam Lind year was only 2 years ago -- in 2015 -- but it seems like it was eons ago. 

To get a real feel for what MOAM? are really like, you need to watch a live show. I have no idea where the guy who posted this last year found this show -- it's a show from Tempe, Arizona, from 1996 -- but it is a good way to get a feel for the live stage act that MOAM? put on. Lots of strange voiceover clips, weird TV feeds, random motorcycle helmet costumes -- it's all there.

Along these lines, Man or Astro-Man?'s website at is well worth checking out. The website has a timeline that allows people to post MOAM-related events and the like, so I could see, for example, that I might have seen them play in Athens in 1996. I know I saw them play at least once with my roommates from my first year of law school. At that time, I found them really weird.

Now, I find them really weird.

To end on an appropriately weird note, let's look at some ProCards minor league cards for three former Brewer "prospects." Okay, Doug Henry panned out probably more than he could have ever been expected to pan out -- making 582 appearances in an 11 year career that didn't start in the major leagues until he was 27 years old.

Shon Ashley was drafted in the third round of the 1985 June Draft by the Brewers out of high school in Meridian, Idaho. He made it as high as noted hitters' paradise El Paso in Double-A in the Brewers system, but he stalled out there -- spending three years (1989-1991) in El Paso. 

His stats were pretty good, so it makes me wonder why the Brewers did not at least give him a shot at Triple-A in 1990. I mean, the outfielders in Denver in 1990 were Bill Moore, Darryel Walters, Mario Monico, Jim Olander, Mark Higgins, Matias Carrillo, retread Mickey Brantley...good God what a bunch of terrible crap. It makes no sense at all now why Ashley didn't at least get a shot. None at all. It appears that Ashley moved back to Idaho after his career based on this LinkedIn bio showing he owns Ashley Glass in Boise, Idaho.

Finally, Bo Dodson was a third-round draft pick in the June draft in 1989 out of Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California. Bo got as far as Triple-A with Milwaukee in 1995 but never made it to the major leagues. After 1995, he played in Boston's system for a couple of years, followed by one year with Rochester in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. 

He moved back home to Sacramento after that. I'm guessing that this is him on LinkedIn serving as the personnel director for All Phase Security, Inc., in Sacramento. His son Tanner plays at Cal and will be eligible for the 2018 draft. Tanner started as a pitcher as a freshman, but struggled and got moved to the outfield, where he showed himself to be a very good hitter as well.

My thanks go out to Bru for the great cards and for making my brain remind me of the existence of Man or Astro-Man?!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Finding Lots on an eBay Kick

I have not been going to card shows lately, so I've spent a little time here and there on eBay looking for potential bargains. I've been lucky enough to find a few, so here's the result of my shopping binges.

I'm in the mood for some new music, so let's take a look at what's on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. Let's start with what I envision might be the very essence of a Heatseeker album: an album by an under-30 millennial guy with a man-bun.

I'm guessing that Avriel & The Sequoias are so high on the chart because Avriel is the soon-to-be-former member of the a cappella band Pentatonix. The song "Sweet Adeline" is the most upbeat song on the EP called Sage And Stone. It's not a bad song. It is a folksy sound -- very much along the whole "Americana" sound championed (ironically) by Mumford & Sons, among others. 

Apropos of nothing, here's four Ryan Braun cards I picked up. The Silver 2016 Archives parallel is serial numbered 13 of 199 and the 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen Green Fortune Teller Parallel Insert is numbered 40 of 99. 

I started talking last time I posted about how I created rules for my player collections that have been a bit difficult to live up to. It's okay that they are, to be fair -- I mean, what's the fun in making the chase simple? But I'm not in any hurry to come up with a new player to collect of this current bunch of new talent. 

Part of me really likes Brett Phillips because he's just a cool, laid-back kid. The downside there is that he is just as likely to end up traded as he is on the Brewers. I've considered Orlando Arcia as well. He might have a career based around his glove alone if recent evidence is anything to rely on. 

But the real point here is that everyone on the current team other than Braun and Jimmy Nelson have barely spent much time on the Brewers. To wit: of position players, the most appearances after Braun's 1384 games over 11 seasons belongs to Hernán Pérez, who has appeared in 280 games in his Milwaukee Career. The pitcher with the most appearances on the team is Wily Peralta with 130, followed by Corey Knebel with 120, and the starter with the most appearances is Nelson with 94. 

So, again, I'm in no hurry for that very reason -- there are the cautionary tales of both Jean Segura and Wily Peralta -- and, frankly, I kind of like being able to cross a set off my list after getting a single team set.

The Number 2 album on the Heatseekers chart is from a Canadian band that's hardly a new artist. The band is called The Birthday Massacre, and they have been around since 1999. They were formed in London, Ontario, and are now based in Toronto. According to their Wikipedia page, they have "utilized the internet throughout their career and are an example of a musical group that has evolved alongside file sharing, and advancements in audio streaming capabilities."

Their whole story is pretty interesting. They even refer to themselves as the "black sheep" of the Canadian music scene. Their music is pretty cool. It's got a goth feel to it. I get a lot of a feel from the music that is similar to New Order or Depeche Mode, but only if they had a female singer and added more of an industrial feel to the music. 

I like it.


The Braun 2016 Bowman's Best above came in a four-card lot of 2016 Bowman's Best that included these three cards: Josh Hader a/k/a Haderade, Corey Ray, and Orlando Arcia. These are all guys I could see becoming possible PCs down the road. Ray made the Southern League (High-A) All-Star team as a Carolina Mudcat, along with Isan Diaz, Jake Gatewood, Nate Griep, Freddy Peralta, and Cody Ponce. Of that group, only Diaz (trade with the D-backs) and Peralta (trade with Seattle for Adam Lind) came over in trades. 

Number 3 on the Heatseekers chart comes from a pair of sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama called The Secret Sisters. While some sources compare them to the Everly Brothers, their sound to me -- the way they harmonize in particular and especially in this song -- reminds me more of old school sound like The Andrews Sisters rather than anything more recent. 

Other songs on this album, such as "Mississippi," sound much more like a demo tape for Miranda Lambert. By this, I mean there is an earthier sound than on "Tennessee River," but it never reaches that overproduced sound common in Nashville these days. I prefer this sound to the first song. Definitely.

These two cards are enough for tonight. On the left, I was able to find a really good price on the short-print photo variation of Jonathan Lucroy's 2016 Topps card, so I snapped it up for my team collection. On the right, we have Robin Yount in his Dodgers' softball uniform in the 1983 Donruss-style cards. At least Panini got the size of the "D" right this year. I still can't stand how discolored they have to make the cards to avoid getting sued, though.

Thanks for stopping by to read this, and let me know what you think of these three heatseekers!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Breakdown a Trade Post

As I mentioned in my post about the "Big Fun Game" and my winning a 1953 Topps card of Hoyt Wilhelm, I planned almost immediately to trade the Wilhelm card away to a Hoyt collector. That Hoyt collector was Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown, who reached out to me almost immediately after the game went final and asked whether I had planned to keep the Wilhelm.

I told him the truth -- "absolutely not" and mentioned that I knew he collected so I told him I'd send it to him. In return, he was kind enough to send me a great package of cards, including one that is really tough to find. Let's get into the cards. As usual, I can't just make it about cards, so let's dig into some of Gavin's favorite bands for some music.

The band Mercury Rev had a couple of albums that hit the Heatseekers Albums chart here in the US, and they had one album that was certified gold in the UK (1998's Deserter's Songs). This song, "Dark Is Rising," is very orchestral sounding -- very grand and grandiose at the same time. 

I think I need to listen to this band more. I vaguely recall a song or two of theirs from the mid-1990s time period. I was intrigued, though, when I read this description of the band from The Guardian's Music Blog: "a rarity in indie rock: a band who have continually evolved their sound, pushing at the boundaries of what rock music actually means over 25 years, borrowing from jazz, funk, doo-wop, techno, folk, and more along the way." 

I'll start with a somewhat elusive card set: the 2007 Topps Co-Signers set. This is such a strange set. When I'm looking for cards -- whether online or in person at shows -- I rarely see these and never think to look for them. So, getting one out of the blue was excellent. 

However, unlike Mercury Rev, I'm not all that intrigued by this card. It just looks like a mistake in coloration to have Hall all in red -- or it's an unappreciated gimmick. Hard pass on this, except for the ones I have to get.

On to something more familiar: The Toadies and their song, "Possum Kingdom." This is from the golden years of 1990s alternative -- 1994-1995, of course. I feel lucky, in a way, that I took a year off from school during that time (after graduating college and before starting law school) and that I could enjoy the music that was out that year. 

As one of the recent commenters on YouTube said, "I wanna go back to the 90s, wear a short sleeved shirt over a long sleeved one, grow my hair to my shoulders, listen to music like this, and watch Mallrats." 

Mid-1990s music was really good. Of course, I will also agree wholeheartedly with the fact that there is good music getting put out all the time. I find stuff from the 1970s that I haven't heard either in ages or ever that blows me away. I find stuff from last year that I haven't heard yet, and it really hits me in all the right places. 

I really love music.

Being busy drinking beer, chasing women, smoking too many cigarettes, sleeping in late on weekends, and spending money on beer, women, and music meant that I did not make time in the 1990s for baseball card collecting. Perhaps if I had been less interested in any one of those things, I might have made time for my collection. Probably not, though.

If I had, I would have loved grabbing these Action Packed cards that were issued in 1993 as a continuation of the first series from 1992. It does seem a bit strange to see Cecil Cooper in a set along with Honus Wagner, Mel Ott, and Walter Johnson, but it does not seem strange to see him in a checklist next to Ron Cey and Dave Parker. 

I like it.

Here's a nice couple of songs from a band called Three Mile Pilot. Three Mile Pilot is a San Diego band who did this show on a public radio station called KEXP in Seattle. In a nice little coincidence in light of the fact that Gavin likes this band, the DJ at the beginning even mentions that 3MP would be playing Portland the next night.

I wonder if Gavin went to that show.

This show is about 25 minutes long. To me, the lead singer sounds like a West Coast version of New Orleans legend Alex McMurtry. He has that rougher hewn voice -- reaching for notes, pushing his tone up to meet the pitch he is going for after starting perhaps a half-step (that's a music term) lower. In some respects, it turns what starts almost as a minor chord into a tonic/major chord. Or, I may just have forgotten all my music education from 23+ years ago.

That's possible too.

Matt LaPorta was supposed to be a stud -- the next one off the Brewers mid-2000s conveyer belt of advanced hitters to follow Ryan Braun. LaPorta was a Gator, and the Brewers drafted him after his senior year. LaPorta is now a mortgage loan officer in Tampa with SunTrust Bank. He left baseball thanks to two hip surgeries that gave him tons of pain to even walk. 

I wish him well, except for his whole Gator thing.

Whenever a song's YouTube introduction reads: "The story is a common one. The son of a Portuguese fisherman rediscovers punk rock and rock & roll and moves to Tijuana in order to find musicians whose instincts haven't been replaced by the sedate notion of what it takes to be successful in the world of professional music making."

Of course. That happens all the time. 

I feel like Rocket from the Crypt made a few appearances in Athens while I was in law school there. I have nothing to back that feeling up other than knowing that their band name sounds familiar, but the song "On a Rope" does not.

This Ryan Braun Bowman from 2016 is similar. It's a parallel, maybe. Or maybe not. I can't tell sometimes with Bowman what is a parallel and what isn't. In fact, it's becoming more and more difficult to discern between base and parallels these days. At least it feels like it is to me. 

At least Braun's bulging eye look isn't as prominent on this card as on others.

I loved this song in 1995/1996. I could sing all the lyrics without any problem, and I actively sought this song out. In fact, as I type this, I'm rocking back and forth in my chair almost involuntarily. 

This song was Hum's biggest hit, reaching #11 on the Modern Rock charts in 1995 and #28 on the Mainstream charts. See -- there it is again...the fact that 1995 has yet another great song.

If you have never heard of Hum, they are from Champaign, Illinois -- where the University of Illinois is located. According to Hum's Wikipedia page, the band has reunited and broken up regularly since 2000 -- coming back together for one-off shows in various places around the country including in Chicago and Atlanta.

A song this good deserves an excellent card, as does the last card of the post. This is a Topps Heritage Color Swap variation from the 2015 set. To tell you how difficult these are to find is easy: there is not a single one for sale on eBay at the present time and, in fact, there aren't even any recent sales for the card.

Gavin, thank you so much for the great trade. I hope that the cards I sent to you were enough to match this great package.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Buying From Brent

Tomorrow, thankfully, the election in my House of Representatives District -- the now infamous GA-06 about which every national political commentator suddenly has become an expert regarding demographics, voting tendencies, geography, and restaurants -- will come to a close. At least I hope so. It would be a terrible trick if the Russian hackers decided to intervene in the election and create a recount of some sort.

Just thinking about it makes me angry and think of punk rock. And yes, the Problem is You!

Perhaps it is funny, and perhaps it is appropriate, that I've only mentioned The Sex Pistols twice on this blog -- and the most recent of them was to highlight my purchase of 2016 Heritage from Brent Williams of Brent & Becca. I've taken the tack this year of finding more team sets on eBay to avoid some of the problems of putting together team sets through random finding at card shows. 

This time around, I'm going to show the result of a couple of purchase packages from Brent. Let's start with 2017 Finest:

While this looks like I bought two of everything, rest assured that the top three cards are the base cards and the bottom three cards are Refractors. I like the use of the gold on the card, but man -- these look like they were infected with that JPEG disease that haunts the base set this year: that Topps had its designers aim for something that would look good on the Bunt App and if it translates to physical cards, well, so be it.  

As an aside, if you would have told me when the season started that (a) Ryan Braun would have played 30 games by June 19; and, (b) Jonathan Villar would also be on the DL as of June 19 and be slashing .213/.283/.342 in 250 plate appearances, I would have guessed that the Brewers would be somewhere around Phillies territory. It's really been a great ride already for the team. Here's hoping that the ride can continue for a while.

Appropriately for showing Topps Finest, here's a song by The Boo Radleys called "The Finest Kiss." The Boo Radleys were definitely in that "shoegazing" thing that was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s in England. Their best known song in the US is probably "There She Goes," which is actually a cover of a song by The La's but which the Radleys covered for the introduction to the movie So I Married An Axe Murder.

Earlier this year, I also bought a master set (probably) from Brent of Topps Bunt. Actually, I bought a little extra because, after all, I have to have two Brauns. I have been trying to place where I have seen that photo of Yount and have been unable to do it. I know I've seen it somewhere though.

When I got back into collecting in 2013/2014, I decided to have bunches of player collections to represent all the different years of the Brewers franchise. As part of that, I made the rule for myself that I needed two of each card -- one for the PC, one for the team set. As I have collected longer, I have started to realize what a fool's errand creating my collection that way is. I mean, it's not easy to find one card serial numbered to 250 from 2002 -- not to mention two. I'm starting to reconsider more and more that position. I may end up scaling it back just to base sets. 

That, or I may just decide that I want to collect all the cards from the 1980s. That appeals to me too. That would be a fun pursuit.

Needing music, I put "Bunt" into the search bar at YouTube and found this band called BUNT. (song is called "Coming Home") that sounds a lot like the song "Wake Me Up" by Avicii to me. There are definitely sound qualities within the song's bridge that strike me as very similar. So, if you are into a danceable sound like Avicii, you might like this song.

Next up: Archives. The Brewers pretty much are getting the same three players in all the sets these days: Ryan Braun, Orlando Arcia, and Jonathan Villar. I get it, of course -- the Brewers were not very good last year, turned over half their roster, and traded away any/all the mainstays that might otherwise engender being included in a set. 

Since the beginning of the season, of course, several players have emerged. For instance, there is former Korean Baseball star Eric Thames -- who is a hell of a lot more chill than I am about all the times he has been tested for drugs/steroids -- whose numbers here are pretty damn impressive: .265/.399/.607 for an OPS of 1.007. There is the Mayor of Ding Dong City, Travis Shaw, about whom I was cautious in light of his .251/.312/.442 slash line in Boston. It's still early days for him, but he, too, has looked fairly good and has learned to take advantage of the hitters' park that is Miller Park. 

Throw in pretty good performances from Hernan Perez, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, and the completely out-of-character run that Eric Sogard has been on, along with Manny Pina's play behind the plate and Jesus Aguilar's ability to play first while Thames is in the outfield, and you can see the real issue here is simply the fact that no one has heard of these guys. Now if only the firestarters in the bullpen would put down the torches, the team would be in even better shape.

I'm starting to think that there is a band with a name to match about anything I can think of at this point. This band is called Archive. Perhaps not surprisingly, they, too, are in the trip hop/shoegaze arena of music. To be fair, I had never heard of them before my searching today, but I feel like I should have. Their songs are well written and are driven by lyrics. That's a sure way to get my attention.

The final cards I got from Brent were randomly dispersed amongst various sets. We have the "Fortune Teller" tallboy insert from Gypsy Queen as well as the printing-mistake-made-parallel blackless version of Braun's GQ card. There's the Mauricio Dubon autograph from Topps Pro Debut in 2017 at the top, and then the Isan Diaz "Bowman Scouts' Top 100" insert from Bowman.

I'm still looking for a bunch of those "Top 100" inserts, if you might be willing to trade those to me.

Since, thankfully, there is not a song to go with "Pro Debut", I figured I'd go with "Fortune Teller" by The Rolling Stones. 

And I will not let an opportunity to post a Van Morrison song go past me, with his song "Gypsy Queen" popping up. Again, let's be fair: a song called "Bowman Scouts' Top 100" would suck.

Brent is a good guy to do business with, and I'll probably buy more from him in the future. If only he wouldn't save all the good Brewers cards for someone else, I'd buy much more from him.