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.


  1. Glad you like! Yes, I was totally happy with your package. And dang, I had even planned to do a musical-type post with it in your honor, but it was a stressful weekend and I spaced and just included in in a standard "trade roundup" post.. my bad. :(
    Anyways, great post and great tunes! (though of course a big fan [snob] like myself would have dug up some deeper cuts as far as favorites.. Honestly never card for "Dark is Rising" that much). And yes, I did attend that Three Mile Pilot show in 2012! (At least, I'm pretty sure.. I know I saw them up here once, though they may have played here 2 or 3 times in that time. I've been meaning to work on a big spreadsheet of all the shows I've seen.. and had planned to put it on Google Docs tonight, funny enough.. that would have come in handy right now.) Anyways, thanks again for the trade!

  2. I saw the Toadies live in Providence at a show that was pretty sparsely attended. They killed it, such a good band. Afterwards they hung out and we got to meet and talk with them. They all signed my concert poster from the show which I still have framed and hanging next to the dart board in my basement to this day. Yup, the '90s ruled.