Saturday, July 8, 2017

One More Post from eBay

As many of you know, I decided to start a second blog to indulge myself in a bit of cataloging and, at the same time, in a bit of history and oddball love. My new blog, "Collecting the 1980s: Remembering the Oddballs from the Best Decade in Cards," focuses on the fun, offbeat, and forgotten cards from the 1980s. Of course I call it the best decade in cards because that is when I was a kid and cards are always best when you're a kid. I'd sure appreciate it if you would stop over there and read some of those posts and comment.

All that said, I'm trying not to neglect this blog more than I have already. I mean, my purchases are still focused on the Brewers as are my (dwindling) trades with other people. But y'all know how it is sometimes -- you need a little bit of extra spice in your life. That change or twist to keep things exciting and interesting. That's what the new blog is, really -- a new twist for me to keep writing about things I enjoy while paying little attention to new issues other than to note them for future checklists. 

So, I still surf on eBay looking for deals. Sometimes, it is just for a Topps Now card -- to pay $5.99 for a card that Topps would charge me $9.99 to get. I'm not super excited about that "deal" -- I mean, it's still one card for $6 -- but it's better than a $10 card. Other times, I can find the random lots that have cards I need. Today's post is one of those times. 

Powered by the prog-rock timeline at Strawberry Bricks, let's dig in.

Strawberry Bricks calls itself "a record guide to music of the progressive era of rock music." As is the case with a lot of genres of music, the timeline for prog rock starts with the Beatles -- here, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is incredible to think about all the different genres of rock music that the Beatles influenced. Everything from the prog rock of Pink Floyd and Yes to the grunge sound of Nirvana (Kurt Cobain was heavily influenced by the Beatles) to the blatant worshipfulness of 90s Britpop from Oasis is descended directly from the Beatles. And that is just a quick run.

This song, "A Day In The Life," has been called the 28th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone and, then, in a list of just Beatles songs, it was called the best song by Rolling Stone. I'm not sure how that is squared other than different writers at different times looking at different things. 


One of the impetuses for buying this lot were the Prince Fielder cards that I needed for my Fielder collection. Other than the one of him signing autographs -- which I think goes into my team set -- all of these were needed for the Prince book. As you might be able to see, the 2009 Upper Deck A Piece of History parallels are both serial numbered -- the blue one is 184/299 and the gold one is 48/50 -- and so is the 2009 Upper Deck Icons Future Foundations, which is numbered 750/999. 

Last year, I posted some Braves cards accompanied by jazz. One of the songs I included was "Blue Rondo à la Turk" by Dave Brubeck. The Nice, a London band from 1967 formed by Keith Emerson (later of Emerson, Lake & Palmer), performed this prog-rock cover of the song and titled it simply "Rondo." 

Emerson is the keyboardist here -- as he always has been in his other bands prior to his death on March 11, 2016 -- but rather than using all kinds of different types of keyboards as he did later in ELP, he focused almost exclusively on using a Hammond organ. No less a music luminary than John Peel was an early champion of The Nice and infamously referred to ELP as "a waste of talent and electricity."

I'm hoping that these three guys don't end up as wastes of talent and electricity. There are troubling signs for each, however.

Gilbert Lara -- a die-cut card from the 2014 Elite Extra Edition set serial numbered to 200 -- does not turn 20 years old until October 20 of this year. He moved up to full-season Wisconsin this year and has struggled -- 7 BB and 73 Ks in 210 plate appearances, slash of .189/.219/.269 is not good even when you are 2 years younger than the average age in the league. Fangraphs has Lara rated as a 40 Future Value player and notes that "the quality of his at-bats is resoundingly poor, he looks tense and uncomfortable in the box, gets visibly frustrated when he struggles, and hasn't tapped into his considerable raw power in games, even in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League." Not good.

Nathan Kirby was drafted in the second round in 2015 out of the University of Virginia. Prior to that college season, he was seen as a potential top-10 talent. Injuries (strained lat) cost him much of that 2015 season, and he slid into the second round where the Brewers selected him #40 overall. He went to Single-A Wisconsin, threw 12-2/3 innings, and was promptly sidelined by a torn ulnar collateral ligament leading directly to Tommy John surgery. This year, he came back in spring training only to suffer from ulnar neuritis -- leading to ulnar nerve transposition surgery which will keep him out to at least the end of this month. He'll be 24 next year and really needs to do something as a pro pitcher next year.

Braden Webb was an oddball of sorts himself. He graduated high school in 2014 and had Tommy John surgery even before he graduated. Despite being old for his high school class -- he turned 19 prior to graduating high school -- he sat out and stayed out of college entirely in 2015 before enrolling for one season with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Due to his age, he was draft eligible after that season, and the Brewers picked him in the third round of the 2016 draft. As was the case for Webb in college, he is struggling with his control at Single-A Wisconsin this year -- walking 5 men every 9 innings. 

One thing you can count on from prog rock are super long, overly indulgent (at times) songs which seem to go on and on and on. Often, that is not a bad thing. This is especially true when the men (and in prog rock, it is almost entirely men) who are playing are virtuoso in their playing ability. 

This song, "Bare Wires Suite," is by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and comprised the entire first side of the album called Bare Wires. Embedded within this suite are seven individual songs: "Bare Wires," "Where Did I Belong," "I Started Walking," "Open Up A New Door," "Fire," "I Know Now," and "Look In The Mirror." Unlike some of the other prog rock here, there is a bluesy feel to this song. You can hear the blues chord changes flying by in each of the songs by listening to the bass line, the rhythm guitar, and, at times, the keyboards. Any jazz band member will tell you that the bass line is literally the most important sound within that jazz ensemble -- along with the drums -- because it sets tempo and key. Everything else from there is icing on the cake.

Before this season began, I expressed some concern that Arcia had the potential to turn into Rey Ordoñez 2.0 due to the significant questions about his ability to hit at the major league level. All indications from scouts were that Arcia would be a plus-plus fielder -- and that has definitely been the case. As it stands currently, he leads the NL in total zone runs, range factor per nine innings, double plays turned, assists, and putouts at short. Yes, he's committed 11 errors, but that happens when you get to a ton of balls.

The question was going to be his bat. This concern was highlighted after his .219/.273/.358 slash line last year (an OPS+ of just 66). Thankfully, he has improved significantly this year. He hit a low-water mark on May 17 with an 0-for-4 performance against the Padres that left his slash line at .208/.261/.352 (eerily similar to 2016). Since that game and over the past 7 weeks, Arcia has hit .356/.388/.494 with four homers and four steals. 

Sure, he's not walking a ton (10 walks in 170 plate appearances) and his contact hasn't been great (30 Ks) but he has been hitting 8th for much of that time, meaning that walks generally do not come into play with the pitcher hitting behind him. That burst has put him just about right at being an average NL hitter. With his glove, that makes him a very valuable player. 

And all of this has been done before he turns 23 years old on August 4. If he can stay at being a league average hitter for his whole career and fields as well as he has, he could quite literally end up being more Ozzie Smith 2.0 (career OPS+: 87) than Rey Ordoñez. I'm not making him a PC yet -- I'm still feeling a bit burned by Jean Segura's hacktastic ways -- but he will be soon enough if his development continues.

Before the band added Phil Collins and lost Peter Gabriel, Genesis was very much a prog rock band instead of singing pop songs like "Sussudio." The song "The Silent Sun" was Genesis's first-ever single from its first album, From Genesis to Revelation, and it was released in 1968. The album was not released until March of 1969 even though the single was released on February 22, 1968. 

If you listen to this short song -- it's only a little over 2 minutes long -- you will hear nothing that sounds either like anything Genesis or Peter Gabriel released in the 1980s. It's very much a piece of its time in the late 1960s.

And finally: lots of Ryan Braun. The fact that much of this lot is Braun-focused is appropriate since it seems nearly every set by every card issuer these days includes Braun and maybe Arcia and that's about it. Somehow, I'd missed that Topps issued Gold Label again last year -- it must have been an online exclusive or something -- so this lot helped me by getting me the parallel/variations of the "Class 2 and Class 3." There's also a 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Silver parallel serial numbered to 399 in there as well along with one of what is Panini's best set every year -- Diamond Kings from 2017. I'd still prefer hatless players from Panini rather than no-logo, but at least there isn't a fake autograph on it.

All of these cards fit well into my collection either for team sets or for my player collections. The great thing about this purchase was that I got a total of 38 different Brewers cards, including a couple of relics, a few autographs, and several serial numbered cards, for just $7.12 total with shipping included. Basically, that's less than 50 cents a card. For what I got, that seems like a good deal to me.

Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you want to trade.


  1. Oh I really loved ELP back in the day. They were right up there with Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues. I guess you can see where my tastes lay back then (and now too to some extent).

  2. Big Mayall fan. Liked ELP. Genesis not so much

  3. I remember leafing through a book once that was a big directory of all the rock n roll bands, with various information for each one, including "influences". For most bands, there were 5-10 similar, earlier bands. For Black Sabbath, it just said "The Beatles and Bela Lugosi".

  4. Never would have guessed that was Genesis/Peter Gabriel. We learn something new every day. Just added your new blog to the reading list. Heading over there now to read my first post.