Thursday, August 31, 2017

Buying from Brent with The Music Machine

I've mentioned it before that I've purchased a fair amount this year from Brent Williams on eBay. Pretty much any set where I was not in a break, I was picking up team sets and sometimes parallels from Brent through eBay. As I have bought more frequently, Brent has seemed to pack the packages up to me more quickly.

This time, I got some Stadium Club and some Allen & Ginter. 

You know me well, though, if you think I need music to go with it. I mean, I even snuck in a marching band video in the Ray Nitschke post to get music in there. And the fun thing? After that last post where I took Ray Peters's suggestions for music, he sent me a few more names of bands. The first one I listened to blew me away -- so I felt like I wanted to share a few songs from Sean Bonniwell and his band, The Music Machine.

"Sufferin' Succotash"

This song is listed as being a previously unreleased demo by the person who posted it on YouTube. It was released as part of the 1999 compilation album called Turn On: The Best of the Music Machine, which included the original Turn On album and a bonus disc of unissued material, including two vintage TV performances. 

I'll admit that I had never listed to The Music Machine before Ray mentioned them in his recent email. My first thought was, "Holy crap, this is where punk music came from." Then, I read the Wikipedia article on them, and they are referred to as being "proto-punk" and "one of the groundbreaking acts of the 1960s." 

The group started off in the folk music scene in California, starting with Bonniwell's background as a folk singer. Then, Bonniwell, along with Keith Olsen and Ron Edgar, formed a folk trio called the Wayfarers. That sound petered out, so they became the Raggamuffins, playing with a more unorthodox style. Then, in early 1966, they decided to expand the group to a quintet and added Mark Landon and Doug Rhodes to become the Music Machine.

Sufferin' succotash -- it's Ryan Braun in Stadium Club! It's three variations of the card -- the base, the black foil, and the gold foil. Most everyone in the hobby knows that Susan Lulgjuraj a/k/a Sooz a/k/a Yanxchick is one of the minds and sets of eyes behind the Stadium Club set in terms of photo selection. I have to thank her for the fact that she chose a Ryan Braun card that doesn't have bulging eyes. That's two years in a row that Sooz picked a Braun photo that was actually fairly complimentary. 

So, thanks, Sooz!

"No Girl Gonna Cry"

"No Girl Gonna Cry" is another of those B-sides that did not get released during The Music Machine's heyday but, instead, was simply a great song. There's a brief intro from Halliwell on this song that says he hopes the listener finds it "interesting." I definitely do. This song would fit in well on a Ramones album right after "I Wanna Be Sedated."

Interestingly, those who knew Bonniwell found him to be an extremely engaging person. As this blogpost from 2012 recounts, the writer first heard "No Girl Gonna Cry" when he let a German traveler crash on his living room floor. The German had found Bonniwell in California. Bonniwell gave the traveler a tape of unreleased songs, demos, and alternative versions of Music Machine songs, and it included this song.

The rest of my purchases from Brent are from Allen & Ginter. A&G was one in a long line of recent Topps releases which essentially told Brewers fans, "give us your money so you can get dozens of Yankees and screw you, you midwestern asses." Okay, perhaps the last part is a bit excessive. 

When I got back into collecting in 2014, I really liked A&G and Archives. I liked the mix of people in A&G, along with a decent number of Brewers being included in the set. This year pretty much killed my appreciation of both of those sets. Oh well. I'll just pick up team sets of these uninspiring cards (and the bottom card, which is one of those foil background cards) and ignore the packs in the stores...despite really wanting to have a reason to buy the packs in the stores.

"Talk Talk"

"Talk Talk" was The Music Machine's big hit, charting as high as number 15 on the Billboard charts. Clocking in at just under 2 minutes (1:56), it is considered a garage rock classic.

Sean Bonniwell passed away in Visalia, California, on December 20, 2011 from lung cancer at the age of 71. He remained active musically his entire life despite being so displeased with how little his label supported his solo album in 1969 that he left the music industry completely. He went on a spiritual quest, travelling around the country in a VW bus in what he called his "transcendentalized western guru period." 

It's funny -- all you have to do is listen to their music to hear how much influence their sound had on later bands. Yet, it's rare to hear them referred to these days. 

But, at least Marky Ramone admits that "Talk Talk" is one of his 5 favorite punk songs (along with the Kinks, The Trashmen, Love, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids).

Yes, this is a complete Allen & Ginter X team set. 

I'm hopeful that the Brewers might get a bit more respect from Topps next year. After all, no one thought they would stick close with the Cubs this year. Heck, the Brewers may yet make the playoffs. If that happened, would Milwaukee get more cards in next year's A&G set?

Probably. I'd bet they'd get at least 4 cards. At least.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Mystery with Matt

Like all kids who grow up right in Wisconsin, I'm a Packers fan. I was also a Marquette basketball fan like thousands of other kids of that era, thanks in large part to the Al McGuire wins of the late 1970s. Before I left for the South, I was a Badgers football fan too -- again, as is required of sports fans in Wisconsin. 

Thanks to being a band geek, I had a number of friends who eventually did that crazy high-stepping marching stuff at Wisconsin.

In fact, my dislike for the Tennessee Volunteers started thanks to the 1981 Garden State Bowl. Prior to the Barry Alvarez years starting in the early 1990s, the Badgers football team was not a good program -- the Garden State Bowl was only the program's fourth-ever bowl game. It was also the program's first non-Rose Bowl post-season game; the Badgers lost all three of those Rose Bowls (1952, 1959, and 1962).

So, when the Badgers made the 1981 Garden State Bowl, there was a lot of excitement in Wisconsin. Tennessee had other plans, though, and beat the Badgers 28-21. Man, I hated Willie Gault after that game. That win capped off a Volunteer season that started with a 44-0 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium but finished 8-4 for them. This bowl game took place on December 13, 1981 -- crazy how early in December that was.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the entire Garden State Bowl is available on YouTube.

Move forward to the 1990s. From 1990 to 1994, I was at Vanderbilt -- a school whose football history prior to 1990 was close to Wisconsin's history. While the Badgers went to three bowl games in the 1980s to make it 6 total, Vanderbilt made it to just three bowls total in the 20th Century -- beating Auburn in the 1955 Gator Bowl, tying Texas Tech 6-6 in the 1974 Peach Bowl, and losing 36-28 to Air Force in the Hall of Fame Bowl. After that Hall of Fame Bowl, the team went on probation because they were found to have engaged in significant steroid use. No kidding.

Barry Alvarez started at Wisconsin in 1990, and by 1993 he had the team winning the Rose Bowl. Had I not decided to go back to the South and go to Georgia, I probably would have gone to the University of Wisconsin for law school and been a Badger fan for life. 

With all that said, I was still surprised when I got a PWE from Matt of the Summer of '74 blog. It came with a ticket stub and a note.

Here's the Ticket Stub:

As you can see, this ticket stub dates from 1955, and it was good for the game between the No. 16 Fighting Illini of Illinois versus the Badgers at Camp Randall. Needless to say, I had no idea why Matt was sending this to me when I saw it.

Then I read his note:


Huh. This was the "Dairy State Debut" of an "All-Time Great." And, it's something that Matt thought "a Packer fan" would dig. 

So, let's start with logic first. Obviously, we're talking about a Green Bay legend and one guaranteed to be a member of the Lombardi Packers. That's true because otherwise the player wouldn't be a Green Bay player and he wouldn't be an "all-time great." 

Next, since this game took place in November, I immediately guessed that whomever the legend would be had to be an Illinois player because the Badgers had already played four home games at Camp Randall, including their opening game against non-conference foe Marquette.

Thus, I'm now looking at who was playing for Illinois. The minute I pulled up the Sports Reference roster for the 1955 Illinois team, it became obvious. 

Raymond Ernest Nitschke -- a Chicagoland native -- started at running back and linebacker for the Fighting Illini. Nitschke was named the #47 all-time greatest NFL player in 2010 after having the distinction of being the only player named to the all-time NFL 50th Anniversary team in 1969 and the 75th Anniversary team in 1994. 

Nitschke had a rough life growing up -- his dad died in a car wreck when Ray was only 4 years old, and his mom died of a blood clot when Ray was just 13. As a result, he was raised by his brothers.

In college, he was a smoker, a heavy drinker, and a barroom brawler. He was not taken seriously by his professors because of being on a football scholarship. He started as a quarterback, but due to injuries, he was moved to fullback. In those days of the starting 11 being the starting 11 whether on offense or defense, he also played linebacker -- which is where he blossomed. 

Nitschke grew up a Bears fan, so it had to rankle him that the Bears did not selected him before the Packers did in the third round of the 1958 NFL Draft. That draft was incredible for the Packers since the team also selected running back Jim Taylor from LSU and guard Jerry Kramer from Idaho. Taylor and Nitschke are in the Hall of Fame, and Kramer is a senior committee finalist this year who should be in the Hall of Fame. 

Nitschke played for 15 years with the Packers. He retired in the 1973 preseason, in late August. His last game was a first-round playoff loss to the Redskins.

He settled in Green Bay to live during and after football, splitting time between Green Bay and Naples, Florida. His wife Jackie served as a calming influence, getting Ray to settle down off the field. He was beloved in Green Bay -- so beloved, in fact, that he kept his phone number and home address listed in the Green Bay phone book because he just did not mind having fans say hello.

The Packers retired his number 66 in 1983. The other retired numbers for the team include Bart Starr's #15, Tony Canadeo's #3, Brett Favre's #4, Don Hutson's #14, and Reggie White's #92.

Nitschke died young -- aged just 61 years old -- in 1998 of a heart attack. He was driving to a friend's house with his daughter Amy when it happened. The Packers have named one of its two outdoor practice fields for him, and the US 141 bridge over the Fox River in Green Bay is also named for him.

Matt, many thanks for the opportunity to dig into a little Packer and Badger history!

Monday, August 28, 2017

A P-Town Tom Bomb, with Musical Accompaniment from Ray Peters

Yesterday was Ray Peters's birthday -- so everyone comment below and wish him a happy birthday! For those who do not know Ray, take a few moments to read my "Meet the Brewers" post about him as well as the update post I wrote after I had the pleasure of speaking with him on the telephone. 

Ray is a multifaceted modern-day Renaissance man, well versed in history, in literature, and as a professional athlete too. It's his Harvard background -- shared by current Brewer Brent Suter, whom I'm pleased to have put Ray in touch with through Twitter -- and his innate curiosity that causes him to be such an interesting person.

Last month, Ray was taken with one of my music posts. I'm guessing it was my prog-rock timeline post from Strawberry Bricks. He undertook to send me a massive list of music that he enjoys. With it being Ray's birthday and with having received a bunch of cards from P-Town Tom of Eamus Catuli, I thought, "what a great way to post about both!" 

And away we go!

First out of the box is Jonathan King. King came to Ray's mind when he saw the first Genesis record hit my blog in that Prog-Rock post. King's song "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" was released four full years before the U.S. actually got to the moon and while King was still an undergraduate at Cambridge University. It was a big hit -- making it to #4 in the UK and to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- and it has been covered by everyone from Marlene Dietrich to The Flaming Lips.

King went on to discover Genesis and be their first producer. All of the members of Genesis were between the ages of 15 to 17 at the time he first produced them. Perhaps that is what drew King to the band -- I hope not, though, because King was convicted in 2001 of four counts of indecent assault, one count of buggery, and one count of attempted buggery committed between 1983 and 1987 against five boys aged 14 and 15. There were other charges as well relating to hundreds of Polaroid photos of teenage boys that were found in King's house as well. For that conviction, he served 7 years in jail.

In May of 2017, he was arrested again. This time, he has been charged by Surrey Police with 18 sexual offences relating to nine boys between the ages of 14 and 16 as part of an investigation into sexual abuse at the Walton Hop disco in the 1970s. He's free on bail right now, and his trial date is currently set for June 11, 2018.

To get away from talk of buggery, let's talk about police. Police cards, in particular, that Tom sent. He sent a bunch of different police department's cards, and as my post from Saturday made clear, that puts a smile on my face. These two came from Cudahy (pronounced Cud - uh - hay), which is found south of downtown Milwaukee and due east from the Milwaukee airport.

So, let's talk about Jaime (pronounced "hi-may" or "hi-me") Cocanower, a/k/a James Stanley Cocanower (so, is that pronounced "ha-mace" like the soccer player James Rodriguez?) -- a native Puerto Rican. Cocanower was a smart man like Ray, attending Baylor University and majoring in accounting.  Cocanower rose to fame through his pitching in the College World Series for the Bears in 1977 and 1978, famously dualling 1977 National Player of the Year Randy Martz to a 1-1 tie through 9 innings in the 1977 series (Baylor lost 3-2 in 10 innings). 

Cocanower was then signed as an amateur free agent by the Brewers in 1978 and made it to the majors in 1983. He never struck out more than he walked in any of his four major league seasons spanning 79 appearances (47 starts and 365-2/3 innings worth of pitching), mainly because his strikeouts per 9 innings never went higher than 4.4/9, which came in his final 44-2/3 innings in 1986. After his retirement and even during the offseason, he worked as an accountant. He eventually settled in Arkansas and has worked for years for Acxiom Corporation, a public company, for whom he is the "Functional Leader in Corporate Tax." I found his wife's Facebook page too, but I'm not going to post that.

"Ghost Riders in the Sky" is a very famous song, having been recorded in covers during every decade since 1948 -- the first version being the one on 78 RPM record in the YouTube video above. To me, the most famous version is Johnny Cash's take on the song in 1979, which hit #2 on the Billboard Country chart that year. 

Some other versions include ones by Burl Ives (Billboard's #1 song for 1949), Duane Eddy, The Ramrods, The Shadows (with their Brit-Disco version), Elvis Presley, Dick Dale, Debbie Harry (whose version sounds like it was produced by Moby), Concrete Blonde, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Buckethead. In addition, versions of the song have been recorded in Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, and Spanish (Ray, if you're reading, here's "Jinetes En El Cielo"...and I have to say, it's terrible).

By the late 1980s, the Brewers Police Card sets had taken on a life of their own, complete with corporate sponsorship from Sargento, a cheese manufacturer that is located in Plymouth, Wisconsin, and is one of the largest retail cheese companies in the country. It's still privately held and owned by the Gentine family. 

Bryan Clutterbuck. The name just sounds weird, right? Clutterbuck was a Michigander who grew up in Milford, Michigan. He attended Eastern Michigan University, and the Brewers drafted him from there in the seventh round of the 1981 draft. He made his way to the Brewers in 1986 and provided 20 games of about league-average pitching out of the bullpen. He got sent back down to the minors, and came back to the team in 1989, making 11 starts. The Brewers shipped him out to El Paso that year, and that was the end of his professional career other than two years of independent ball in 1994 and 1995. Clutterbuck passed away a year ago last week (August 23, 2016) at the age of 56 from colon cancer

As a child of the 1980s, this song is always associated with Soft Cell's electronic version of course. Yet, when you hear it here, it makes complete musical sense as a 1960s Motown-sound song. DJ Richard Searling took the song to the UK in the early 1970s and recorded it without making any impact on the charts. 

Soft Cell heard Searling's version, changed the arrangement, slowed the tempo, and changed the key to record their version in a day and a half. If you know that version, you might remember that Soft Cell spliced in a cover of "Where Did Our Love Go" with "Tainted Love." Clearly, that decision makes much more sense now to me, since I had never heard of Gloria Jones's version. The song took a slow trip into the US charts -- starting on January 16, 1982 at number 90, moving up to #64, dropping to #100 for two weeks, then climbing again all the way to #8 in the summer of 1982. In all, it spent 43 weeks on the Hot 100 -- then a record. Goth/electronica/weirdo rocker Marilyn Manson also recorded the song in 2001, and it made a dent on the charts as well.

I call the 1990 police cards the "Big Blues" thanks to their blue borders. I decided to highlight at least one of the randoms, again, rather than focusing on the Younts and Molitors.

Billy Bates, for instance. Bates was tiny -- 5'7" tall, 155 pounds -- and went to the University of Texas in its 1980s heydays. He must have made the team out of spring training in 1990, because otherwise there is no way that he would have a baseball card in the police set. His Brewers career consisted of 21 totals games of 49 plate appearances with a .140/.208/.163 slash line (that is an OPS+ of 6 according to Baseball Reference). 

Bates then was traded with Glenn Braggs to the Cincinnati Reds on June 9, 1990 in exchange for Ron "No I am not Timothy Busfield" Robinson and Bob Sebra. Bates got in 8 games for the Reds and went 0-for-5, yet he made the postseason roster and got a hit in his only at bat in the 1990 World Series -- which the Reds won -- and he scored the winning run in Game 2. 

In addition, he also raced and beat a cheetah in a race. Trust me, I'd sure as hell run my ass off too if I were being chased by a cheetah in a baseball stadium. 

Here's another song that became associated with a later act. Tiny Bradshaw recorded this version of the song in 1951 as a jump blues song. It really rips, too -- great sax solo in it by Red Prysock wailing and honking away.

Johnny Burnette updated the song in 1956 in a style that reminds me of Jerry Lee Lewis, and he brought an upbeat tempo to the song that the blues version lacked.

My mind immediately associates this song with metal, though -- Aerosmith. Their version  helps show the tie between classic rock and the blues, certainly, with the bass line driving the song forward in the way that the back-beat drum did in the Tiny Bradshaw original. Yes, my apologies to those of you who thought of Led Zeppelin or the Yardbirds first -- my brain said Aerosmith.

Tom outdid himself finding all of these different police departments for the Brewers sets. Thanks to him, I am going to have to get my butt in gear and update my want lists for police sets so that I know what I have. Otherwise, I'll end up on eBay buying a third set from the 1986 Winneconne Police or something. And, that just won't do.

By the way, who else remembers Paul Householder being a decent Reds prospect in the early 1980s?

Cozy Powell was a drumming legend in the 1970s and 1980s. This song is "Dance With the Devil," which was based on Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun." On the studio version of this song, Suzi Quatro -- who appeared in the 1970s as "Leather Tuscadero" on Happy Days (though, to be quite fair, that was hardly her career highlight but it's what I remember) -- played bass.

Powell is revered in rock drumming circles for his playing style -- which you can hear on this song up front as very progressive and incorporating various musical influences within it. He played with everyone from The Jeff Beck Group, Whitesnake, Emerson Lake & Powell (he was . . . oh, I bet you don't need an explanation here), Michael Schenker Group, Black Sabbath, and Yngwie Malmsteen, among others. He died in a car wreck on April 5, 1998 -- driving too fast while drunk, talking to his married girlfriend on his mobile phone, not wearing his seatbelt, and having an underinflated rear tire.

I don't think he should have been driving.

This trio of awesome oddballs helped inspire my most recent post on my 1980s Oddball Blog about the 1981 Topps Scratch Offs. I think that the scratch off set is an underappreciated oddball, probably because it is sized weirdly no matter how you display it and it was a one-and-done set. Kellogg's get love everywhere (deservedly).  

The Duracell card? Maybe if Panini could make cards like this rather than being forced into discoloration, they could make a card that looks this good. But I doubt it.

It's odd how one song can be taken in so many directions. The original "Walk Don't Run" is the top video -- a jazz piece by Johnny Smith that meanders over 10 minutes. Chet Atkins -- the important country singer -- created a 2-minute version that drew on his own influences from Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt and George Barnes. The John Barry Seven and The Ventures both recorded the song in 1960.

As an interesting side note, this song was recorded by the Ventures with George T. Babbitt, Jr. as the drummer. He had to drop out from the band because he was not old enough to play with the rest of the band in clubs. Thankfully for him, Babbitt did not miss out on life as a result. He went to the University of Washington on an Air Force ROTC scholarship to get his mechanical engineering degree. He stuck with the Air Force and retired in 2000 as a four-star general who served as Commander, Air Force Materiel Command (COMAFMC) from 1997 to 2000. He even got to reunite with his band in 1998 and play "Walk Don't Run" in full military uniform.

Nothing like a couple of awesome autographs to help push a package to be almost perfect. That's my first autograph for Trebelhorn. The big thing I always remembered about Treb was that he was dating the then-director of Summerfest, Bo Black. Bo was quite the hottie, having appeared on the cover of Playboy in the late 1960s. 

Trebelhorn managed the Brewers from 1986 through 1991, and then managed the Cubs in 1994. After that, he worked for the Orioles for many years in the minors and the majors before being fired after the 2007 season from his job as bench coach. He went back to the minors to Oregon (where he lives today) and managed the Class A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes until 2012. He's probably retired now, at the age of 69, unless another team comes calling wanting his advice.

Perhaps Ray wanted to prove to me that he, too, has strange tastes in music. Okay, let me quote his email to me: "Needless to say I have eclectic musical tastes. Love it all."

You do indeed, Ray -- "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" played by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain can only be described as eclectic. I'll admit that I did not know that there was such a thing as a ukulele orchestra. But these musicians can play incredibly well. As a result, I feel compelled to include one of their covers of a 1990s song.

Holy crap that's really awesome!

I would have never thought that it could be good. Well, until the guy starts singing. He sucks. He sounds like a lounge singer on quaaludes.

Or, as one commenter on YouTube said, "This is the whitest thing I've ever seen."

Yes, I know it's intended to be humorous. And it is. But it's still the whitest thing ever. 

To redeem myself, let's close with a card of one of Ray's Brewers teammates: Tommy Harper on his 1971 Topps Super. I was absolutely blown away when this showed up in the envelope from Tom. I don't think I've really ever seen a 1971 Topps Super before, and it's awesome. I didn't scan the back, but it looks like the 1971 cards.

Ray -- you should get one of these made for you! Happy birthday to you, sir!

Tom -- thank you very much for the fantastic cards (most of which I did not show here)!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Post #700: A Cure for What Ails Me

My lack of posting here is indeed a sign. It's a sign that I'm not as engaged in card collecting as I was two or three years ago. I could lay blame for it fairly easily -- equal parts of blame go to the Brewers (for playing well in the real world), Topps (for a multitude of reasons I've said before), and to rookie mania (which is just an unwelcome extension of the "sick hitz" mentality to me). 

So, I've avoided it, and I made some changes too. I stopped following Topps on Twitter, for example. I deleted my bookmark for Topps Now and have pretty much stopped caring about it. I've even changed my Twitter consumption to an extent by no longer following a few people who seemed only to retweet every Aaron Judge card ever seen. 

All of it has helped some. 

Also helping is diverting my own focus away from new products. About the only products that really give the Brewers a fair shot at getting cards in them seem to be Topps flagship, Heritage, and (perhaps thanks to Sooz seeing my continual complaints) Stadium Club. I mean, when a 200-card set like Chrome (which should have more equal distribution based on it being nothing more than a parallel set to Flagship) has just two base card Brewers, it makes it tough to care about new products without getting angry, upset, and alienated.

So, I found a cure: going to eBay and finding police cards and inserts I need. Yes, Post 700 is just a boring "look what I got on eBay" post, accompanied by songs from one of the best bands from the 1980s, The Cure.

Starting off, we have a song from way back in 1979. It seems hard to believe that The Cure have been around for over 40 years now. This song, "Boys Don't Cry," comes from their dark, gothic period early in the band's career. It was their second single after "Killing an Arab," which, by the way, is a song the band has really backed away from in their career.

The song itself is not particularly deep -- it is what it says it is, which is a song about how boys don't cry about their lost loves in the presence of others. Still, the band's place in the post-punk world after the Sex Pistols was solidified with this jangly song. 

Speaking of jangly, let's start with cards from a 1991 Police set of two guys who simply do not compute as Brewers. 

While he started his career with the Minnesota Twins and was traded to the Yankees in 1972 for the recently deceased Brewer #5 Danny Walton in October of 1972 before moving to Baltimore in 1976 in a terrible trade by the Yankees (Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, Scott McGregor, and Dave Pagan with Dempsey for Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman, and Grant Jackson), Rick Dempsey in my mind will always be a Baltimore Oriole. He spent just the one season -- 1991 -- Milwaukee after signing as a free agent in early April of 1991. Dempsey has his own website through which you can book him for golf and autograph appearances; I don't know what he's talking about, though, by calling himself "The Greatest Catcher of His Era." 

Willie Randolph was another one-and-done Brewer in 1991, though he played at a very high level at age 36 in Milwaukee -- putting up a .327/.424./.374 slash line in 512 plate appearances. That .424 OBP was good enough for 2nd in the league, and his .327 AVG was good enough for third. He did a lot of little things well, but was never a "peak" type player. There are worse players in the Hall of Fame than Randolph, though I'm not advocating that Randolph should be there. It is a close call, though.

Jumping from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, "Pictures of You" is from an era when The Cure had made an impression in the US and American radio wasn't as intimidated by the band. As Wikipedia notes, the inspiration for this song came from when a fire broke out in singer Robert Smith's home. He was going through the aftermath and found his wallet with photos of his wife, Mary in them. 

This song peaked at #71 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1990. Perhaps showing the fact that The Cure has gotten much more respect and notice in the years since, Rolling Stone put the song at #283 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Whomever designed the 1992 Brewers Police set must have been impressed by 1991 Fleer, I guess. My scans on this one show you two different police sets -- one from New Richmond, Wisconsin, which is only about 40 miles from downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, and one from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is about an hour north of Milwaukee. 

The Sheboygan police one kind of hacks me off a bit. I bought the set as being a complete set. I didn't scrutinize it closely enough before leaving feedback, which meant that I didn't notice that the seller decided to strip out the Molitor and the Yount cards from the set. I should have paid closer attention, I guess. 

"Fascination Street" was The Cure's first song to hit #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, which had literally just been created only a few months prior. This song, too, was on The Cure's album Disintegration. I guess you can tell when my favorite Cure songs come from.

Yes, one more set of police cards from New Richmond. If you haven't figured out by now that police cards from random jurisdictions other than Milwaukee make me happy, well, you don't know me at all.

Jody Reed ending up with the Brewers in 1994 was a very strange circumstance. He came up with Boston, of course, but the Red Sox did not think enough of him to protect him from the 1992 expansion draft -- or, rather, they did not think enough of him to go through his final year before free agency with him. The Rockies picked him and promptly traded him to the Dodgers for Rudy Seanez. 

The Dodgers liked Reed, and they tried to sign him on a three-year deal worth $7.8 million after the 1993 season. He would have played out his career there, probably, on that contract. But, he turned it down and gambled that someone would hand him a larger contract. That didn't happen and, instead, he signed with Milwaukee on a one-year, incentive-laden contract under which he earned a total of $1.15 million instead. 

Proving that both Reed and the Dodgers were losers in the deal, the Dodgers filled their newly created hole at second base after the 1993 season by making a trade with the Expos to get Delino DeShields ... and giving up future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in the process.

Finally, let's move backwards about 4 years to 1985. "In Between Days" was the first song for The Cure to hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985 when it made it to #99. It's weird though -- it's an upbeat, superficially happy sounding song with lyrics about aging and fear and loss. 

I chose this song because of all of these things. It is upbeat sounding, but that upbeat nature belies the questioning, uncertainty, and fear that accompanies life generally. It's good to stay upbeat, even when all that I can think about are fears and difficulties. It can be a lot of work to do that, though.

Let's close out Post #700 with a couple of new releases of Ryan Braun. The 2017 Brewers team is struggling offensively over the last couple of months, and I'm not sure what will solve that. Braun has been good -- .281/.351/.513 -- but the team has tons of problems with getting runners in scoring position home. They are very reliant on home runs to score runs, which means that there are streaks where they just don't score enough. 

The hope is that the team starts hitting and continues pitching well and makes a run in the last 6 weeks of the season. They are close enough in both the Wild Card and the Division to where a quick win streak -- say of 6 or 7 games -- could really make a dent in these races. But, they need to score more runs more consistently to do this. 

Let me close by saying thank you to all of you, my readers. I'm consistently surprised by the fact that most posts these days for me get at least to 100 to 150 hits. I'm even more surprised when I do something new -- I joined Net 54's forum's this week -- and in response to my first post, I get a reply of, "Oh, yeah, I've read your blog for a long time now and really enjoy it!"

That stuff means a lot. Thank you, everyone.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bubblegum from JBF

I need to learn how to write up posts more effectively. I get behind, a couple of days or even weeks pass, and I find myself feeling terrible for being terribly behind. I was almost caught up a month ago when the winnings from a Jaybarkerfan a/k/a Willinghammer Rising World Series of Trading package showed up. 

I claimed one card that Wes posted -- I'd like to think that it was posted with me in mind: 

That's a 2014 Topps High Tek Autographs Disco Diffractor serial numbered to 50. I jumped all over that card as fast as I could. 

Wes being Wes, he couldn't just send that single card. No sir. Instead, a bubble mailer arrived filled with great cards for my collection and even an oddball set.

This 1986 Topps Baseball Champion Superstars set was produced specifically for Woolworth's. Wes made sure that this set was 100% complete. In fact, here's the first thing I pulled out of it.

I did not make any effort to chew that 31-year-old gum. No thanks. I remember being in high school in 1988 or 1989 and I spent some money I had made at my summer job on getting an unopened box of 1984 Topps. I actually chewed some of that then 4-to-5-year-old gum, and it was pretty terrible. I can't imagine what gum older than Clayton Kershaw would taste like, nor would I want to.

That said, the gum did give me an idea for a little music accompaniment. Of course: bubblegum pop music straight out of the late 1960s.

Let's start with the Lemon Pipers and their song "Green Tambourine." This song was a massive hit -- reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1968 and being certified gold. It's a song about busking, at its core -- the singer asks people to drop money in his hat and he'll play his green tambourine in return. 

Sounds like a bad deal to me, since the sound of a tambourine by itself is as musically interesting as the sound of a triangle. 

The band itself never achieved as great of success as they did with this song. Reading their Wikipedia entry makes it easy to understand why: this song was written for them by their label and caused them to get forced into the bubblegum genre contrary to what they wanted to do -- which was more 60s-oriented blues, hard rock, and folk rock akin to Byrds and The Who. 

I usually make the card scans bigger than this, but this turned out so well on its own in the shape of a Christmas tree that I just had to leave it.

Let's talk about George Iskenderian. George (so I don't have to type his last name over again) grew up in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and attended Don Bosco Prep. His first stop from there was to attend the University of South Carolina, where he spent his freshman year before he decided he had had enough of the Palmetto State and left. 

He told people publicly that he wanted to be closer to New Jersey, but he transferred instead to Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Florida. In fairness, that is closer to South Jersey (a/k/a South Florida) than South Carolina is. He got his wish to get closer to home after that and attended the University of Miami for his final year of college before the Brewers drafted him in the 7th round in 2015 and signed him.

He hit well in 2015 at Rookie Level Helena. He made his full-season debut in 2016 at Brevard County, but struggled with injuries some and played only 90 games. This year, he started at Biloxi poorly -- 3-for-38 with 2 BB and 16 Ks. He hit the DL, came off it, and then "was moved to Helena" in mid-May. Thing is, though, that he has not played since that time and his biography lists his current status as "Suspended # days." I have not been able to find the reason for the suspension anywhere -- even the usually comprehensive message boards

But, if I read between the lines through his Instagram account, he may simply have quit and gone back to school.
A post shared by George Iskenderian (@giskenderian7) on

 If so, good luck to him. 

Now, back to the music and the cards.

Here's a song I used to listen to regularly on a 45 RPM single as an 8-year-old -- "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by Ohio Express. Reading about Ohio Express and its history is pretty interesting. 

Basically, the group name was used by two producers -- Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz -- to market music recorded by a whole host of different artists. In fact, this song was recorded by studio musicians in New York. If I were to try to provide a story of its history here, it would eat this entry. I mean, the Wikipedia entry for the band's career starts with this sentence: The question of who is the "real" Ohio Express is difficult to answer

So, take a read of that article rather than having me rewrite it here. 

Wes likes to send me great Georgia cards fairly regularly. This package featured the best basketball player ever to attend UGA -- Dominique Wilkins, whose leaving North Carolina and attending UGA became the subject of one of those "SEC Storied" shows on ESPN. 

The other two cards highlight the most disappointing season in UGA football history to me -- the 2007 season. It had everything: two typical Mark Richt losses -- one painful one against South Carolina (which I attended, final score of 16-12) and one "the team didn't show up" game against Tennessee (35-14 loss), which I watched at a local sports bar for about the first half of the first quarter and decided it would be rather better to forget the game and started drinking double Jack Daniels & Diet Cokes. That had the desired effect, as I have no recollection of anything of that game. 

It had the fruitless scoreboard watching, hoping that that Tennessee team would get upended by either Vanderbilt (Vandy blew a 24-9 lead, giving up 16 unanswered 4th quarter points) or Kentucky (Tennessee blew a 17-point lead but, Lazarus-like, was able to block a 35-yard field goal that would have beaten them in the second overtime and then stuff a 2-point conversion in the fourth overtime to win).

On the positive side, 2007 had the "dancing on Urban Meyer" game against Florida.  the blackout against Auburn, the Britney Spears win in overtime against Alabama, and the absolute annihilation of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Yet, it's what could have been that season in those losses and the start of seeing the cracks in Mark Richt's coaching that really marked that season. 

This song was written for the animated series called "The Archie Show" about Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty, Veronica, and the rest of Archie's gang in Riverdale. The song was a massive hit -- finishing as the number one hit for the entire year in 1969 ahead of such (much better) songs as "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," "Honky Tonk Women," "Sweet Caroline," "Come Together," and "Proud Mary."

This is another song that I had on a 45 record that I probably wore out as an 8-year-old. I loved reading the Archie comics as a kid too, so that probably had something to do with my enjoying the song.

Sweet candy to me is getting a new card or two for some of my player collections. To be honest, I'm not sure if these went into the player collections or not -- well, other than that Jonathan Lucroy Platinum Bunt card serial numbered to 99, which certainly did. But, these are all great cards for either the player or team collections. Especially that Yount prism, which looks really awesome in this scan.

Bubblegum pop music was huge in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was so huge that it literally led to a number of television shows, including The Partridge Family. Singer/actor David Cassidy was one of the heartthrobs to emerge from the show. Only Cassidy and Shirley Jones sang on this song; the rest of the musicians are from the now-famous Wrecking Crew group of studio musicians.

As was the case with The Archies in 1969, this song was massive in 1970. It hit number 1 in Australia, Canada, and on the Billboard and Cash Box charts in the US, though it oddly did not hit the year-end chart for Billboard. Weird.

Not weird are the five Warren Spahn cards that Wes sent to me to finish off this envelope. I have yet to finish my checklist of cards that I need for the Braves, a failure due mainly to my own lack of time to do the work and my own lack of effort into getting it done.

That happens when you don't make it home on weekends. 

Wes, thank you very much for the great package. You are truly a generous gentleman whom we in the blogworld are lucky to have with us.