Saturday, September 2, 2017

Cards from Night Owl

I had a slow day at work yesterday. It wasn't because I did not have anything to do, but it was just one of those days common before a long weekend when I have mentally declared myself on a break. Despite the desire to leave the office pretty much at any point after 10 AM (having arrived at 7 AM), I ended up staying until 3 PM. 

Because I had no desire to work, I ended up doing a little project that I've been meaning to do for quite some time: catalog all the songs that I've posted here. I mean, what good is a collector if he or she can't handle another spreadsheet to catalog a collection?  

The results of my work surprised me somewhat -- I didn't think that I had posted 16 different songs twice, for instance. In total and to date, I've posted a total of 766 different songs, including 22 different songs by Pearl Jam, 6 different songs by REM (including posting "So. Central Rain" twice), and 7 different songs by Weird Al Yankovic (inflated by a theme post...what can I say?). 

Shockingly, though, I've only posted 3 songs by one of my favorite bands of all time -- a favorite that I share with the man who sent me the cards in today's post. That band is U2, and that notable collector with good taste in music is Night Owl. Now, Night Owl has led me before to an all-Foghat post, but today's U2 post is definitely going to top that one. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite U2 songs and some Brewers cards.

"Sunday Bloody Sunday"

I could relate to what Night Owl was talking about with how good the album War is on his post about "The Last Beloved Set of the Masses" comparing 1987 Topps to music in the 1980s. To be fair, I could relate to the whole post, but it was especially true about War. I was an isolated kid in the country 35 miles from downtown Milwaukee -- which, in the era before the internet, might as well have been somewhere in the middle of Montana. So, I was a little late to the U2 bandwagon, but I still caught it before U2 got huge in 1987.

It took participation in high school debate starting in 1986 and interaction with a whole different group of people to open my eyes to all the good things the city had to offer. If I think more deeply about it, I probably would not have become a lawyer without debate, and, going even deeper, I probably would not have joined debate had I not accidentally put my foot through a window playing baseball behind my house a week after my grandmother passed away in 1986. I would have been playing football instead -- badly, mind you, because, even in the 1980s, a 175-pound offensive lineman was destined for backup duty at best.

At any rate, one of those eye-openers was meeting people whose musical tastes were different from mine. A teammate of mine introduced me to The Dead Kennedys and The Dead Milkmen, while another introduced me to Depeche Mode and U2. I'm grateful to both of them for those introductions.

Speaking of introductions (and 1987 Topps, which our friendly neighborhood monopoly is beating so hard into the ground that they are trying to make sure none of us ever wax nostalgic about it again), Orlando Arcia is quickly growing in my estimation as a player whom I may decide to make a player collection. 

The thing about my player collections at this point is that I am trying to stay away from that early commitment mistake that occurred with Jean Segura. Looking at their batting eyes in particular, there is a distinct possibility that that could happen. At the same time, that minimizes the mental aspect of Segura probably needing to get out of Milwaukee so he could stop being reminded of his young son's death in mid-2014. 

So, while I have my eye on Arcia as a possibility, I continue to focus on looking long term. When the position player with the second-most tenure on the Brewers team behind Ryan Braun is Domingo Santana -- who made his Brewers debut on August 21, 2015 -- you can see why I'm hesitant to jump in feet first. There are still a lot of players to sort through, to develop, and see what impact they make on the team's history. I mean, I'd have left Jimmy Nelson for dead last year, and look what he's doing this year.

"Pride (In the Name of Love)"

It's probably a bit of a cliche to say that the two songs I've listed so far are my favorite U2 songs. Yet, these songs hold up -- much better, it must be said, than Bono's massive mullet in the video for this song. A song about the impact that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made on America and the world has nearly as much relevance today as it did thirty years ago. 

Arguably, his message of nonviolent protest in the face of injustice should be even more important today with how fractured American society has become thanks to highly publicized Neo-Nazi demonstrations being met by alleged anti-fascists looking for violence. Who knows what those two groups really are trying to do -- if they are true believers or if they are lost souls who will grow out of their violent ways or what have you -- but Dr. King's message is to meet these protests on both sides with civil disobedience. . . . Let me stop there, because I didn't come here to try to solve our current situations, and you probably didn't come here to read about my thoughts on it, so I'll get back to the cards now.

Night Owl cleaned out some Allen & Ginter minis that he had stored up in his upstate New York baseball-card bunker. Everyone from Prince Fielder to Corey Hart to K-Rod to Segura to Mike Cameron was included. 

Mike Cameron's 20-year-old son Daz was in the news recently for being a part of the bounty that the Detroit Tigers extracted from Houston in exchange for Justin Verlander. Daz has spent parts of the last two seasons in the Midwest League, which sounds like he's stalled except for the fact that, again, he's just 20 years old. He's likely to hit High-A Lakeland next year in the Florida State League. He apparently has a defensive profile like his father -- meaning that Daz is one hell of a good centerfielder.

"A Sort of Homecoming"

Okay, so here's where I stray from the "big" songs to one of U2's slightly lesser known songs. Because I couldn't always afford the complete cassette tapes, I bought U2's Wide Awake In America, which included four songs: "Bad" and this song live and two B-sides of "The Three Sunrises" and "Loves Come Tumbling." 

This song is the perfect album-opener, which is its place on The Unforgettable Fire. It starts softly and slowly, only to build to something akin to a church praise song -- loud, happy, joyful -- and then resolves itself at the end with talk of "coming home" in a decrescendo, slowing to a stop. Much of U2's music has interpretations that could be put in the context of Christianity. That, itself, is an important backstory in the band's history, and it is one that many Christian websites glom onto -- with, for example, a countdown of U2's "top 10 faith-fuelled songs." This song didn't make the cut for that list, but it could be read that way.

This card gets written up by itself because it was the one and only Milwaukee Brewers card in the 2016 Topps Holiday card set. 

Bunch of snowflakes.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"

In my high school days, this song really hit me as a search for more meaning in life. You know how you are as a teenager -- everything in life is on the table and the idea of being the one person to make a huge difference in the world is not as remote as it becomes later in life. As a 15-year-old when the album came out, it made me happy that even Bono hadn't figured out what his search in life was going to yield.

It's a catchy song, too.

Stadium Club cards sort of remind me of this song in some respects. I really like the product. I really like the photos. Even the fact that more than just a couple of Brewers made the setlist makes me like it. Yet, while it is a good set, I am still looking for something to grab me, to shake me and make me say, "Yes, this is it. This is the modern set of cards that I have been waiting to collect." While I like Stadium Club, it's still not what I've been looking for.


This very well may be my favorite song -- single song -- of all time. When I first heard it on Achtung Baby!, it grabbed me immediately. Again, I'm a guy who loves lyrics. This song is such a great breakup song, but in an introspective way. The internal questions that everyone goes through when a relationship seem to come spilling out in this song. Match it with the building guitar line from Edge and the light touch on the drums, and it just seems like a perfectly constructed song to me.

On the other hand, Topps Opening Day is far from being a perfectly constructed set. Any number of improvements could be made to it to make it a far more collectable set. I know I talk about it frequently, but if this is the set intended for kids to collect, then make the set one that kids in every major league city will want to collect. Not every kid is an Aaron Judge fan. Not every kid is a Bryce Harper fan. Some kids are Twins fans or Brewers fans. I've even heard rumors that there are 12 kids that are Rays fans. 

If the intent for this set is to be one to draw in the youngsters, then make it draw in the youngsters and not say to them, "we'd care about you if you were a Yankees fan or a Cubs fan."

"Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own"

The one song beyond U2's true heyday that grabbed me by the heartstrings and made me listen is this one. If you're a U2 fan, you know that this song was written by Bono in the wake of his dad's death. Just listening to it with that little bit of context makes it far more personal. Literally, the song makes me tear up if I haven't heard it in a long time because I can put myself into the position Bono sings about with respect to family members who have passed away. 

It's a beautiful song.

To close on a lighter note, here are some of the extra 1975 Topps buybacks that Night Owl received in his quest to build a buyback set from 1975. I can envision that the Robin Yount and George Brett rookie cards will be very difficult to find.

The weird thing is that I don't listen to U2 now all that much. I loved this band 30 years ago -- still know all the words to every song on War, The Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, Rattle And Hum, and Achtung Baby! -- so why don't I listen to them more? To be honest, I wore myself out on them. I have listened to War on cassette and later on CD enough times to number into the thousands. Same goes for the other CDs/tapes of those other albums. Plus, U2's foray into electronica with Zooropa and all that stuff kind of lost me for a while. I really did not like that album, even though it's eminently more listenable today than it was at the time.

Nonetheless, the fact that one of my favorite albums of all time is now 30 years old is a bit frightening in a mortality sort of way. 

Night Owl, thanks for the great cards.


  1. Not often you see a card of Ed Sprague Sr..

  2. I can't say I listen to U2 that much anymore either, but when I do, I can't figure out why that's not all I'm listening to.

  3. Achtung Baby still gets better and better every time I listen to it. It's probably my second or third favorite album to Oasis What's the Story (Morning Glory)? and The Bends by Radiohead.