A buncha PC randos…

I’m a bit of a scatter brain at times.

I love things.  I hate dislike things.

I Get excited.  I Get intimidated.

I’m motivated.  I’m uninspired.

I’m focused.  I’m distracted.

Lots of pendulum swings with my moods.  In fact…just the time it took me to write the words above, i got up to mute the TV, select a song on my iTunes…didn’t see anything i wanted to listen to so i downloaded the new free copy of the OC album.  Poured some water, sat down, got up to pour some whiskey, got some coke to add to the whiskey…and now i’m back ready to write something about my collecting hauls.  The baseball and basketball PC that guys i collect…or do I…?

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I’ve been a Bryce Harper collector for a while.  He’s a fantastic player, intense and quite emotional.  He also has some great hair, see!  Theres something perversely magical about the combination of everything on this card.  The wavy brushed back hair, close cropped beard, unbuttoned shirt, open mouthed gaze to right field…and the animal print border.  This card has it all for the creepy collector…so i picked it up.  Plus it’s numbered to 199, not 200.

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Harper is a good player for me to collect, why you ask?  Well, he’s a National at the moment and will be for another year at least.  He heads in to arbitration after next season and has been fixated on a GIGANTIC contract…a YUUUGE ONE!  Not too many teams can front the cash for a player like Harper, except maybe his favorite team as a child…the Yankees.

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This would be awesome for me.  Many times a player i like moves on to a team i can’t really get down with collecting…i’m looking at you Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford.  So, it’s a win win.  Assuming everything goes according to plan…which rarely happens if ever these days.  So, keeping things in the proper perspective, i can see collecting this guy for a long time, no matter if he plays in DC or NYC.

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Just hope if he ends up in the pinstripes, he can take the ups and downs of playing on a tremendously large stage…it can roughen the edges of the smoothest player.

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Normally i love it when a guy stays on the same team his entire career, like Jeter and Ripken to name a few.  One guy that i could see staying with his team for the duration of his career is this kid, Trea Turner.  He’s a future superstar…with a ton of potential.  I can’t help but thing of Jeter when i see him, slightly different type of player but I think he has that magical ability to be where the play is and can bring a ton of victories the next few years.  I’m slowly working on his collection and this Gold Label is a nice base card pick up from the show.

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Ok, enough about the Nats and baseball.  How about some basketball…and a couple Spurs i picked up.  I’m a streaky Spurs collector.  I’ll go months between a Spurs purchase and then pick up a few cards to add to the collection.  At the moment though, they are just dropped in a box marked “Spurs to be organized”.  The odds are not favorable that that box gets organized in the current year, but at least they are together.  Go Spurs Go!

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The obvious guy for me to collect at the moment is Kawhi.  If this guy wasn’t born to be a Spur, i don’t know what a Spur is.  Tough, physical, durable, smart and doesn’t need to let you know everything about his personal life…i like that.  The quiet modesty vs. the humble brag.

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The problem with me and Spurs cards is that i tend to skip the basketball tables at the show…just walk right past those dudes.  One of the guys works for COMC and is super cool, but his table is filled with basketball cards…and i don’t have that kind of time to sift through a ton of basketball cards.  Not to mention i don’t know most of the guys.  If they don’t play on the Blazer or Spurs…i don’t know them.  Apparently Vince Carter is still dunking over dudes…who knew!

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Every time i get one of these Red White Blue Prizm cards, i’m just gonna go ahead and post this image as well…because…well…it’s the exact same thing.

Rocket Pops

 

I couldn’t get some Leonard cards and not get one of this guys.  The Saint, Timmy Duncan!

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This card in person is crazy sparkly.  It’s like a flat disco ball.  It shimmers quite a bit.  Plus you can really see the gray beard of a man young Duncan became.  He does have skills.

I also picked up this card on a whim…was about to start buying up a bunch of Clemson Tigers at the show and slammed on the brakes, but not before i slipped this Hopkins card on my stack.

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So, as i’ve been typing, i’ve been listening to the new OC album.  I believe it came out today, maybe yesterday…doesn’t really matter.  It’s a free download and it sounds pretty nice.  I’ve been a fan of OC since i first heard Times Up!  A great moment of lyrical supremacy and a very cool sample from Les DeMerle’s Jazz version of A Day in the Life which has been sampled many times in hiphop, but for my money, Times Up is the best use of the first portion of the cover…If you like the OC video below, maybe give the free download a chance…it’s not bad…and it’s free!!!  Or listen to the Beatles A Day in the Life…it’s pretty fantastic as well.

 

 

Patience…

Card Collecting is one of my hobbies, actually, it’s my only true hobby.  The only one I work as consistently and i guess passionately?  (Although i don’t like to use that term for what collecting ultimately is…consumption and hoarding.)  One of the reasons that it brings me as much joy as it does is because it’s really the only thing in my life that i have total control over.  Normally in life you have to answer to a boss, or do chores you don’t want to do or a multitude of other things that aren’t necessarily exciting to you.  Life is all about compromises and working as a team to get something done.  Luckily for me, i have an AMAZING WIFE that is cool with me heading out to the card shop once in a while and hitting up the card show every month or two…so long as it doesn’t get too overwhelming for our family.  She is always more than accommodating which is one of the many reasons why i love her so much.  Not only is she ok with my card consumption, but she also accommodates my desire to read card blogs and write one of my own.  At times the blogs can cut in to important family time or our ever dwindling spouse time (work, kids, friends…!).  I am a very lucky boy to say the very least.

So, my job is to enjoy my hobby as much as possible, but not let it overwhelm me or get in the way of far more important things.  At times though, it can be impossible to avoid the inevitable pitfalls of collecting thousands upon thousands of 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ card stock images of sports figures.  When that starts to happen, i step back and take a break.  The last thing i want to do is get so burned out i bail on everything that i’ve managed to collect for the past 30+ years (off and on).  Shorter version, collecting for me is all about moderation and patience…just a little…nevermind…

After my little blogging break, i have some great stuff to share…well at least i think so.  Lets take a look at some of the much needed card therapy from Saturday.

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Going in to each show, i normally have three objectives.

  1. Pick up Redskins cards from Kim…he’s awesome in picking up and holding stuff for me.  Always gives me the best deals…and is really a great guy.  I’ll get to those cards soon.
  2. Spend way too much time at Bill’s 7 for $5 bonanza table.  Bill is an incredibly fascinating guy…tons of opinions, but even more cards.  I’ve never seen him load up his van he brings from Salem each show, but he has at least twenty 3500 count boxes of cards (top loaders stuffed in tightly!)  along with display cases and dime boxes…and other stuff.
  3. Stop off and chat with Terry and pick up some vintage…this is where we will start today.

I like Terry, he’s a cool older guy, maybe mid 60’s or so.  Big Cubs fan and i think he used to teach.  He’s always great with the younger kids (most of the guys there are) as well…he also likes to shoot the shit with everyone and give people a hard time…in a kind jokingly way.  I enjoy that.  The camaraderie at some of these shows is great.  I’ve never been one to   make friends or acquaintances easily, but the more you see someone the more you are likely to talk to them…or at least that’s what my wife tells me…?

Anyways.  Terry is the main vintage guy at the show.  There are a couple other vintage guys, but in my opinion and judging by his stash i think he carries that belt with pride.  I like to hit his table up last and basically spend the remainder of my card show budget on 1960’s set needs.  Today, i decided to chip away at the 1964 set.  Here is what i picked up…photographed as best as i possibly can with low lighting and glare from a soft halogen.

One of the many things i like about Terry is that he’s incredibly organized and his cards are clearly labeled and tagged for what they are and what they cost.  He will give you a discount, but never a bargain.  His cards are quality, which is why i like them…but man, at this rate…it’s gonna take me 20 years to complete the 1960’s sets…patience.

During the sifting of cards, Terry checks in and likes to find out things about you or tell you stories of other collectors.  He’s the kind of guy that knows everyone.  I’ve seen him in my LCS talking to Brian one day, which was a bit of bizarro moment as Bill from the show and a couple other recognizable dealer faces were in his shop.  It was like a Justice League meeting…but for old card collecting men.  Luckily, none of them were in tights or had on capes.

So there you have it.  My 1964 pick ups for the month of January.  I think next time i may go for the ’63s and start chipping away at those commons.

One little thing that Terry noticed i had and commented on was my notebook of checklists.  I’ve struggled with ways of toting around a list of cards i need without having a bulky binder or constantly turning my phone on to see my list.  So i printed out a bunch of excel checklists scaled down to fit in to a small moleskin cashier notebook…the 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 size.  Fits in my back pocket nicely and i can take it every where i go…it does have its limitations, like smudging though…

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Hope you enjoyed reading.  Not sure what i will post next, but i have quite of few cards to photograph or scan and they should last about 5-6 more posts.

In the meantime…Not sure if any of you are (were) in to New Edition.  I was…loved ’em!  BET just had a three night two hour mini series that was a lot of fun to watch.  Those kids man…they had some issues with each other.  But the music…

 

Rebuilding for the future.

I’ve been avoiding just about anything and everything Redskins on this blog since my team lost to the Giants a few weeks ago.  It was a tough loss to a division rival, a game that would have propelled the Redskins in to the 2016 playoffs.  Not to mention to a team that had a topless boating trip planned for South Beach the following day…no respect.  After seeing how some of the teams that made the playoffs and ended up losing, i can’t help but imagine what could have happened.  You know, the Washington Redskins were the last team to beat the Green Bay Packers.  It’s true!  In hindsight, that game was most likely the penultimate moment for the Redskins season as they put up 42 points on a Sunday night game.  A game under the lights which they have been miserable with the past forever seasons…Clearly, though, it was one of the lowest points for the Green Bay Packers…they were crushed by the Titans a week before…so you could go with either game i guess, but the Pack haven’t lost since and i would be quite happy for them to win two more games.

The off season for the Redskins has begun early as it does most seasons.  But instead of everyone cracking jokes about the Redskins winning the offseason, the talk is how everything is falling apart.  They lost a brilliant young mind in Sean McVay.  He was the OC for an explosive offense at times and is now the head coach for the Rams of Los Angeles…taking Joe Barry along with him to be an assistant defensive coach.  Honestly, i don’t think any Redskins fan is upset about the Barry loss…but McVay is a tough one.  Happy he was able to get a HC job, the youngest ever, but he has a huge task ahead of him. Luckily he has Bum Phillips son to help coach the defense…a defense that will see this guy next year.

The other big news for the offseason is whether or not the Redskins will/want to sign Kirk Cousins to a long term deal.  Personally, i really hope they do.  It’s been 20 years since the franchise has had a QB that has put up the numbers KC has in consecutive seasons.  Granted, he’s not perfect, but he is a top QB and i would argue a franchise QB that you build around.

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That said, if what i’m reading…and it’s all speculation at this point…but if they give him the franchise tag and attempt to trade him, they could get a really nice haul of picks in return.  Not to mention the nearly $30million of cap space they have going in to next year.  They could be well placed to rebuild quickly with young talented players.  Maybe a certain receiver could maybe get healthy and maybe make an impact in his second season…maybe.

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Really hope this kid pans out…i’m getting a ton of his cards and the price is falling on them.  That could be due to his lack of playing though.  Buy low kids!

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It would be seen as a season of rebuilding, but could possibly turn out to be the starting point of something really great.  The defense needs a significant amount of help and could use a great defensive coordinator, whomever that turns out to be…so many names, some good some bad.  Plus, if you are able to move Cousins, you would end up saving a $20+ Million investment in one player.  Who knows, maybe you already have your future QB on the roster anyways…

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This card is really beautiful in person by the way…the scan does not do it justice…but neither does that signature!

if i have to live through years of rebuilding again, i’m gonna need to get my pacemaker hooked up to a clapper…clap on.  Love El-P

Collector seeking Autographs

I used to be an autograph seeker in my adolescent years.  Cards and a fresh sharpie in hand, fighting my way to the front in hopes of getting an illegible scribble from the baseball stars of the 1980’s.  After a while i build up quite a collection that i’m proud of and like to look back on every once in a while.  San Antonio didn’t have a major league team in San Antonio (AA San Antonio Dodgers though!), but my mother…being the most amazing working / single mother that she was (and still is…) would take me to Arlington a couple times each summer.  We’d mostly go the Rangers games rather than the Astros in Houston…i guess i’ve always been an American League guy…or maybe it was those horrific rainbow sherbet jerseys…the trips each year would include the Yankees, of course and maybe the Blue Jays or Mariners.  Looking back, we went to quite a few Mariners games as a kid and now i live in the PNW, it’s like it was fate or somethign?  My mother is an incredibly generous and giving person, and she always went out of her way to make sure i had what i needed, and most times what i wanted.  Even if it was a terrible idea.  Like sitting in an open air stadium under the relentlessly pounding late afternoon sun of Texas in July and August.  It was a brutal request from an only child after driving for 5 hours, but she obliged, albeit with some resentment in her eyes…but hey, i’m an only child :)!!

As i got older and realized i could maximize my inventory while minimizing my road trips through through the mail autographs, or TTM as every single one of you kids out there reading this knows.  I did this for a couple of years and had some success, check out the page of autographs HERE.  DOIT!!

As i got even older…and was able to finally get that Rickey Henderson auto i always wanted…but can’t seem to find anymore…shit…i’ll dig it out.  Anyways, after that autograph, i decided to stop asking adults for their signature.  Seemed kinda silly of me i guess…not sure why, maybe it was that i was starting to get older than the people i wanted autographs from?  Maybe I was a little embarrassed?  Maybe it was simply the asking for something and being shy about it?  Not really sure.  That said, i have nothing against collecting autos…especially if they have some kind of story associated with them.  Unfortunately, the cards below have no great story other than they are what i pulled from the box i picked up at Brian’s shop.  Here they are!  There are 5 of them and they are nice pieces to have in the collection for now.  You gotta wait for these guys, some of them never pan out and other may take a couple of years to get there…so enjoy.

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Will Benson – Cleveland Indians – 1st Bowman Card16-bd-robert-tyler-auto-227250

Robert Tyler – Colorado Rockies – 1st Bowman Card 227/25016-bd-dylan-carlson-auto-316499

Dylan Carlson – St. Louis Cardinals – 1st Bowman Card 316/49916-bd-ben-bowden-auto

Ben Bowden – Colorado Rockies – 1st Bowman Card16-bd-anfernee-grier-auto

Anfernee Grier – Arizona Diamondbacks – 1st Bowman Card

Actually got to see this guy play a couple of games last year in Hillsboro for the Hops.  He was the 39th pick from Auburn in last years draft, so there is some hope that he could find his way to the big leagues in a year or two.

The jumbo box included a couple other cards of note that i was pretty excited about.  This lovely Griffey Jr. card, which could have been posted in my previous post on Sons and Fathers…doesn’t top Gavin’s 1/1 auto, but not a bad looking card to have…and Bo Jackson…

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These Bowman Chrome cards are really nice cards to hold…but do smell a little bit like syrup as Sooz mentioned in a very cool and random tweet a couple days ago.  Speaking of Yankees…Here are the last two cards i wanted to share.  A couple of guys i have high hopes for this year that came through via trades Cushman made out on, or at least the Yankees fans hope so.

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I apologize for the fingerprints on that Sheffield card, not only do they smell like syrup…they love to grab hold of anything that touched the surface.  So much grit!

I hope you had a good MLK day and took a moment to understand the importance of his life.  Normally, this is where i post a music video that ties in to the cards or story of the day but i wanted to post something appropriate for the day rather than the post.  I listened to this while i was at work today and…well, you should listen to.  And in case you question why #BlackLivesMatter, it’s very thoughtfully explained and passionately addressed by Dr. King.

Sons and Fathers

Being an adult is a tough thing to be at times.  It’s a never ending commitment to things you never dreamed of as a child; bills, responsibilities to loved ones as well as our contemporaries can be incredibly daunting at times.  Overwhelming even.  When you add children to the mix it becomes even more difficult.  Prior to becoming a father, i had a very specific image of what having a child would be like…and to be honest, it’s nothing like what i thought.  It is far more difficult than i could have ever imagined.  Getting things done the way i want them or even when i want them is close to impossible.  Over the past few months or so, i’ve learned to let things go.  I had to.  My expectations were not realistic or fair for an incredibly curious toddler.  His young developing mind was discovering a world he needed to experience…in his very own way.  Once i was able to grasp that seemingly simple concept, i was able to become a better father and enjoy the simple moments in life that later become memories we never forget…

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The snow we’ve had in town last night and today was one of those moments to stop and let go of being an adult…although i had to make sure my kid didn’t hurt himself :).  One of my recent posts was a reflection of a fond memory as a kid, the big San Antonio snow storm.  Keeping that in mind, my goal was to make this day off of work and “adulting” as much fun as i could.  Not to break an arm patting myself, but i thing we got it done today and made some awesome memories!

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When i started out on this post i had an idea to show a few cards from the Bowman Draft jumbo box i bought before Christmas.  The theme of the first post would be about sons of former MLB players and their fathers, but i wanted to shed a little personal experience since we had so much fun.  So, for those excited to see some cards that i pulled take a look below…and i promise the hits will be exhibited in the next post!

As i opened the packs, i continued to see names that i recalled from my younger days as a collector…first thought was HOLY CRAP! I’m getting old!!  I remember thinking, damn i’m old when a guy i remember as a rookie retired, or made the Hall of Fame…but now these guys have raised baseball players and kept the name in the family business.

I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to be the son of a professional athlete.  Most of us had idols and a child, and i would imagine most of our idols were professional athletes vs. musicians or actors…or doctors and scientists i guess.  My father had no special talents, nor did he have much of a presence in my life as a kid…which i would imagine is somewhat similar for these guys that made it to their 1st Bowman cards.  The baseball season is long and there is a significant amount of travel each season.  Being a parent is truly a 24 hour job.  Really makes me think how amazing their mothers were…not sure they were as amazing as mine was though. 🙂

I hope to have my son share in my passion for baseball one day.  Not sure if it will happen or not…it’s not something i ever want to force on him, it needs to be his decision, and i’m sure he will make the right decision…:)

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Not sure how many readers out there have kids, if you do, i hope you can understand the sentiments that i’ve shared here today.  It’s a little more personal than i normally like to get, but i felt like it was worthy…thank you for your time to read today.

Here are a few more images from our day…along with a zen like dog photo and a couple pictures of Derek Jeter standing next to a snow buried ruler.

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Have a great night and give your family a hug!  We’re gonna need each other to get through the next four years of this new Trump nation.

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and a song for the day…kinda reminded me of being a kid and going on road trips with my mom each summer…or to visit my father.

Bowman and Snowman

So, it’s snowing again.  This time though, it’s a little different.  I have a feeling this one is gonna be a little more than what we’ve had recently.  I left work today at 5pm when it started snowing and got home around 6pm…and it hasn’t stopped snowing.  Really hate snow right now…but i’m going to make the most of it and act like a 9 year old boy tomorrow morning, assuming of course that my back will cooperate.

Luckily i have some scanned cards of this years Bowman Chrome.  They were a bit of an impulse purchase from Brian at the ‘ol LCS down the street.  But i truly enjoyed opening the mini boxes in the shop.  I don’t typically do it that way because i’m shy.  Normally i like to be in the safety of my humble abode.  I thought this time though, opening the box in front of the watchful eyes of a man that opens a ton of boxes would lead to some great hits…in order to save us all some time, i’m just show you my hits.

…but first…Sooz had a card chat Tuesday discussing where (and why) people buy their cards.  One of the questions “How much do you buy retail compared to hobby” was a great one for me because over the past couple of years my retail luck has been terrible…horrible actually.  I rarely get a hit, not much to write about at least…no John Smotlz, you know.  But my last retail stop at Target (before the holidays) i pulled this beauty!  Aaron Northcraft 1st Bowman Autograph!  On a Sticker!!!  Yes, there is a bit of sarcasm there, but also, there isn’t sarcasm.  Actually, this is one of the best “hits” i’ve ever received from a Target pack or box in a really long time.  So, i’m not complaining.  I’m just saying.  The card is pretty sharp, the high leg kick.  Intense look on the face and that sweet sweet beard.  Just wish it wasn’t a sticker auto, but hey, it’s retail and i’m quite happy with this potential momentum shift of hits.

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Lets get back on track now.  I’m a man of order over chaos. Uniformity over randomness. Rigidity over flexibility…actually, that’s my dad, not me.  I’m right in the middle of all those antonyms.  That said, i am posting the cards in the order in which they were pulled so you can share in the moment that Brian and i had a few weeks ago.

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First on card autograph is from Blake Snell.  The young Rays pitching prospect has seen a few big league hitters in his 19 career games started and appears to have a somewhat bright future in the majors.  Although not stellar, he has shown some early strikeout potential with 9.9 K/9 in his first year.  No idea what his future holds, but if I start to hear his name mentioned more frequently next year, i’ll check him out.

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Next card, another pitcher. Connor Sadzeck, pronounced \sad-ZECK\, not sad sack…which would describe the scribble autograph on his 1st Bowman card.  If I was a future prospect i think i would spend some time working on my sig…but to be honest i don’t know how you write all those odd letters together.  the D, Z and E alone are tricky.  Connor is tall as hell, 6′ 7″ and was drafted in 2010 and then again in 2011.  Doing some quick research on Lone Star Ball, he sounds like he may be someone to watch this season…so watch him, this season if you’re in to the Rangers.

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Cornelius Randolph is the next player.  He hits balls rather than tosses them.  This card is a bit outdated at this point.  He’s now a Washington National, which is cool because i like the Nationals.  He’s also the first hitter from the group i’ve pulled.  I don’t do much prospecting with baseball players, but when i do, i prefer hitters.  Feel like they have a better option with succeeding.  There’s no real basis with that theory, it’s just some illogical conclusion i’ve come up with through the years.  Pitchers get injured too easily.

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Back to the pitcher autographs.  Victor Alcantara.  A 23 year old prospect from the DR.  Really excited about this autograph.  I took a peek at his scouting report on Inside the Halos and he sounds like a true stud pitcher, possibly a bullpen guy, maybe a potential closer?

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Last card, Willie Calhoun from the LA Dodgers.  A second baseman ranked #11 in the Dodgers organization going in to last season and was part of the futures game as well.  He looks to have some pop in his bat as he tagged 27 home runs last year, his OPS is a respectable .788 as well.  Not sure if he has a chance to make the Dodgers roster this season, but i’ll keep an eye on him in Spring Training.

Thanks for reading!

Tonight I watched President Barack Obama’s farewell speech and there were moments that made me realize how proud i was to be in our country.  It’s far from perfect and we have a lot of issues to deal with throughout the nation, but it’s a pretty great place to be if you ask me.  I’m gonna enjoy a snow storm with my family tomorrow and cherish the moments with my beautiful wife and mischevious boy…if you have people you love and care about, you should let them know and give them a hug.

 

 

Clemson Tigers!

I was born in South Carolina.  Conway Country, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach…Myrtle Beach Air Force Base to be exact.  My parents were both in the Air Force when i was born and they were born in South Carolina as well.  Both of my parents were born in South Carolina.  My mom was born in Charleston and My dad’s family was from Spartanburg, SC.  He was the son of a cotton factory worker that loved football, Clemson football.  Football is huge in Texas and really all throughout the south.  Every summer we would visit the Palmetto state, and when we went to Spartanburg we would go to the Beacon drive in.  It’s a bit of a divey drive in greasy spoon kinda place, but damn that food is good!  And the walls were always covered in Clemson newspaper clippings, Frank Howard and Danny Ford photos along Tiger memorabilia everywhere…not so much with the other school in the state, the Cocks, just mostly Clemson Tigers.  So, as a young’n my college football team was chosen.  The Clemson Tigers.  A Tigers fan in the state of Texas, where i could have chosen the Longhorns or Aggies or Red Raiders or whatever…I stuck with my family on this one.  Football hasn’t been too nice to me over the past few years.  The ebbs and flow of a football season are quite emotional, far more than baseball, which i think is why i’m more drawn to the diamond than the gridiron.  But tonight, my team won and it feels great!…and yes, i did order some Panini Clemson Tigers cards tonight.

Now to some baseball cards.

Wrapping up my box of Topps update with the hits.  Like i said, nothing too major, but some cool decent stuff from the jumbo box.

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Christian Vazquez – Boston Red Sox Scouting Report Certified Autograph

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Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals All Star Game 2016 Event Worn Workout Jersey

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Willie McCovey – San Francisco Giants 500 Home Run Club Capt. James Cook Stamp

My mind is a little distracted right now and i’m having a little difficulty writing and listening to ESPN, so i’m just going to let the images be.  That Captain James Cook stamp got me doing some serious research though on global sailing, exploration and cartography.  Maybe i can save some of my research for another (re)post.

Hope you guys have a great night!  Here’s a cool song my wife introduced me to a couple of days ago…probably late on these guys, but love the song!  Enjoy.

One more Chance!

I have a stack of cards in front of me that have a story that needs to be unearthed, something that can connect the pieces of card stock together in a nice little cycle of like kinda way.  I just don’t know what that story is yet.  I got foil cards. I got celebrity cards, I got guys with turkey necks and a guy that took a barbecue sauce bath, and some cards that are called Fire but look like Chihuly glass…guess it was fired glass…semantics i guess.  Let’s start with the celebrity stock of First Pitches.

Two rappers, one is The Rapper…Chance that is.  The other is Warren G.  If you have been reading my words the past few years, you are fully aware of my affinity towards the rap music and culture.  I’m pretty critical with my rap music though, almost a snob…yes, you should call it a snobbish attitude.  I love lyrics and great storytelling.  Guys…and Gals…that can paint a picture with their words in a seemingly quick or witty manner.  The two guys above do that, although in all honesty, i can’t say i’m a fan of either.  The reason for me?  Their voice.  Guru from Gangstarr had a song “Mostly the Voice” that clearly explained that its mostly the voice that we love or hate about a rapper.  Now, he did go on to explain that the lyrics are critical as well, but in his opinion…it’s mostly the voice, and i agree with these two guys.  Both Chance and Warren G have very distinctive sounds to them and are incredible story tellers.  One of Warren G’s biggest hits was a terrific narrative of the wild life of an inner city Regulators, but the voice though…couldn’t handle it, plus it was the kind of laid back west coast music i wasn’t really in to back then.  Now, Chance is one of those new rappers and i’m an old guy, so part of my distaste for his sound is that i’m not sure i truly get his metaphors.  Seems like a great kid, positive kid trying to do some great things and share his stories…just not something i’m really in to yet.  Possibly haven’t given it a good enough listen, I just struggle with him.  Plus he’s in Kit Kat commercials and gettin’ down with so many different stars on my television set and internet machines.  Seems like a lot of success came quick for him, too quick.  I’m sure he’s been grinding at his craft for a while…but too much too soon for me to be a believer.

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Speaking of quick success, Aubrey Plaza.  Came on the scene out of nowhere with her popular character in the comedy series Park and Recreation (April Ludgate) who might have been the quintessential apathetic employee…that’s what the backside of this card said about her.  Think that’s pretty appropriate.  I had never heard of her until the Parks and Rec show that i watched for Nick Offermans’ character, Ron Swanson and the lovable Amy Poehler.  I feel like Aubrey is one of those actors/actresses that doesn’t really ACT! but rather ends up playing the same person in each role that is really her in real life like Vince Vaughn or Michael Cera.  She’s cute, awkwardly funny and somewhat edgy i guess.  I must admit that her glove seems excessively large for her scale of human being.  A smaller glove may have been in order for her big first pitch opportunity.  Wonder if she could borrow another one?

Here are those Fire cards i was talking about earlier, not really sure how i feel about these inserts.  Maybe if the card stock was thicker and possibly shinier, shiny is good sometimes, then i might be all in.  I’m definitely all in for Griffey and McCutchen.

Griffey and Cutch appear to be in a flaming cauldron and trying to swing their way out to a burning hell.  The Cutch card should be a Steelers card.  Meanwhile the two Dodgers i pulled are emerging straight out of a pit of propane and butane, or more poeticly, emerging from the latest experimental Chihuly sculpture.  Either way Maeda is feeling the effects of those flames coming in as hot as blue blazes!!! (my grandma would have been so proud of me for getting that one in, miss you Winn!)

We’re about to go from fire to foil, just like a night over the grill.  (Really wished i pulled a Jason Grilli foil card, would have made that transition solid gold).  I will settle for this quote though from the back of Pat Deans’ card “the cunning southpaw soaked up a barbecue sauce shower after beating Felix Hernandez for his first win”.  So foil, grilling, BBQ sauce, Pat Dean:

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You readers at home are just going to have to trust me in regards to the foil on these guys.  It’s there, you can’t see, but trust me, it’s there.

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The next card was a pretty cool pull, a Cubs team card black and white reverse negative SP card…wait, It’s a Jake Arrieta card…wait, it’s a Jake Arrieta no-hitter card…wait, it’s a damn checklist.  Damn!!!  It’s also a very demonic appearing David Ross.

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Moving on to the next group of cards.  Serial numbered foil cards with perforated screen print and a running 2016 Topps banner…these cards have it all…everything on one card.  If it had a snowflake/snow flake (forgot to look that up today…) it would have been over the top though.  The thing that struck me about this trifecta of National League East pitchers was their turkey neck poses.  I wonder how many players get excited to see their cards in a pack and pull…

THIS!

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OR THIS!

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OR THIS…!!!

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Actually, i can’t really see Bartolo Colon ever caring about his image on a card, seems too carefree for such frivolities.  That glove…he should let Aubrey Plaza use that if she ever tosses out the first pitch for the Metropolitans.

I have a few more cards to post, the hits you know.  Gotta wait for those tomorrow though.  Kinda happy with the little success i had with those three cards…not a bad bunch.  Nothing ground breaking, but nice no less.

Hope you guys have a great evening.

Here’s a video from one of the greatest storytellers in rap and a no doubt classic.  From 1988!!!

We’re all snowflakes…

I grew up in Texas and snow is not a normal thing for me.  When i was 9 we had a huge blizzard in San Antonio, 14″ to be exact.  It was absolutely nuts…as a kid though, fantastic!    It was a freakish event that i will never forget.  Rafik and I missed a couple days of school and had the greatest time ever.  We watched Chris Marrou tell us about the school closures and hoped it would never end!  Our days were filled with bags of sugar to fuel the moments in between epic snowball fights and a rudimentary snow man construction site.  It was the greatest of times for every kid in town.

When we were able (forced) to go back to school, our classrooms had so many leaks that we were huddled en masse in the schools gym.  A very large, crowded and noisy gym.  A gym on the edge of child anarchy.  It was one conch away from being a snowy version of Lord of the Flies.  The teachers were on edge trying to keep us all in line for the couple of days.  We were being taught in a prefabricated building not suited for long division or lessons on social studies.  But they did it and they were the real MVP’s that week.

But now…

I’m a tall adult that likes collecting things like cards and books and also likes rap music.  I also like familiarity and something i can depend on…surprises don’t work well for me.  For the last month or so, my part of Portland has had 3 different weekends of snow…g’darn freakin’ snow!!!  Now, don’t get me wrong, snow is cool when you go to it and are able to look at it and touch it.  But when it comes to you as an unwanted guest, it’s a bit of an annoyance.  We haven’t have had a ruler lengths of snow, but enough to shut the city down a couple of days and keep me from work.  It’s also made my snow driving (sliding) skills ratchet up a tick or two.

All the snow that i was surrounded by made me cave and pick up a box of cards with snow flakes on them.  Subliminal marketing.  Well done Topps, you got me.  Now, let’s see what you gave me Topps.

One of the first things i noticed about these cards is the streaking on the card fronts.  Half of the cards in the blaster box contained the streaking.  Maybe the other bloggers have already touched on this and as usual, i’m late to the party, but it seems that the quality of these cards may have been left to be what they are.  Not super upset about it, but a little disappointed with these…especially the Kershaw card.

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Another thing that was very noticeable is the large amount of white space, most notably on the landscape cards.  Guess that’s the Topps blizzard parallel…?  Seems like a little gradient or transparency could have been a savior for Nick’s card.

These cards were awesome in their original issue and Ricky Bones seems to be dressed appropriately for this card, while Mike Trout is attempting to catch a tiny little snowflake.  Is snow flake one or two words?  snowflake snow flake…

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Dickey Flakes should be a cereal, f’real.

Please let me digress a bit here.  Not sure if you have heard of Krampus, I hadn’t until about two weeks ago.  He’s an incredibly evil Germanic character created to scare the shit out of bad kids…to be honest, i saw a video of him and was a tad scared.  We used the Krampus tactic over the holidays to keep our little snowflake/snow flake in line.  For the most part it worked…but i feel guilty about it in hindsight.  I would point out the window, similar to what Carlos Correa is doing and say “I SEE KRAMPUS!!” and my child of 51 months would run off terrified, similar to what Jed Lowrie is doing.  The things parents do to get done what they want to get done the way they want it to get done.  Not my best parenting story…but sadly, it yielded the result i was looking for.

We now begin the bumpy snowflake portion of the blog post with a couple winners.  Dexter and Kris.  It’s a shame Ernie Banks didn’t get to see these guys win the title.  RIP #14.

If the card on the right was Steve rather than Nori Aoki, the hair on this pair would be most epic.  But it’s just Jacob and Nori.

My game used memorabilia card was Adam Jones which is pretty cool.  I really like Adam and often wonder what his career would have been like if the Mariners kept him..also wonder what the Mariners could have done with his dependability over the incredibly fragile and unreliable Erik Bedard…hindsight is 50/50 man..

So that’s my highlights from a Wal-Mart box of snowflake cards.  Rumor has it we may get some more snow in the next few days up here, climate change ain’t no joke…remember that we are all snowflakes/snow flakes and nobody is like us…even though those Adam Jones cards are pretty much the same thing.

Mile High Hogs

When i travel to a new destination I like to pick up a few packs or a blaster from the local Target or Wal-Mart.  It’s kind of a souvenir.  A souvenir that matters to me and hand a greater level of value than a cheesy shirt (although i love an odd shirt now and again…).  The cards serve as a little reminder of the town I was in, an artifact from a past vacation.  In the past, the trips have been via automobile and the cards were a little easier to handle since i could always see where they were and keep them safe and sound.  The last couple of trips though have been via airplane…the friendly skies!  When traveling, i’m always concerned about the safety and security of the cards and tend to open them up when i get home.  Not this time though, i wanted to join the mile high club!  Well, i wanted my cards to join the mile high club…of sorts.  So i did it on a plane earlier this week!

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Since we card people don’t like damaged cards, getting these guys on the plane safely was a bit of an emotional journey for me.  Going through security and boarding a plane is difficult enough!  My first concern was the lovely TSA folks that can be a little handsy with people and peoples stuff.  The only thing worse than the disinterested cashier man-handling (woman-handling…? person-handling…?) the cards and dropping them 18″ to the bottom of a plastic bag is definitely getting them through TSA.  They pick up bags and boldly ask “THIS RED ONE YOURS SIR!”, why, yes.  The red bag that i was about to grab is mine…definitely my bag.  The surly looks that follow…them, not me…i’m nice.  Half the battle has been fought, but the war has not been won.  I still need to get these unprotected packs boarded and loaded on a flying tube with an ever increasing shortage of personal stowing space.  Done deal.  Packs located gently on my fold away tray until i am told to hide my fold away tray.  See the photo above (and now below) that was after we reached our cruising altitude…so no foul there although my phone was not in airplane mode.

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Normally when i’m opening a pack of cards i like to have space to lay them out and sort them as i go through the cards.  Kinda particular about those sorts of things, you know.  It’s nice to have a little layout space and a clean surface to boot.  In hindsight this plan would have been better if i had a more sturdy box to put them in afterwards.  Enough with the long winded build up.  Here is what was pulled.

Tyler Glasnow – Pittsburgh Pirates | Alex Bergman – Houston Astros

Dee Gordon – Miami Marlins | Cole Hamels – Texas Rangers

Brian McCann – New York Yankees | Tyler White – Houston Astros

Kenta Maeda – Los Angeles Dodgers | Gleyber Torres – New York Yankees

Javier Guerra – San Diego Padres | Jorge Mateo – New York Yankees

Kolby Allard – Atlanta Braves | Lucius Fox – San Francisco Giants

Not a bad pack, no real jaw droppers.  I do like the three Yankee cards and the Alex Bergman is nice as well as the Maeda card.  They all have a nice little shine to them as well.  My wife, sitting in the miserable middle seat (love ya babe!) was particularly fascinated by the shiny-ness of these cards which the cabin lighting made a little extra sexy!  Here’s pack two!

JP Crawford – Philadelphia Phillies | Austin Meadows – Pittsburgh Pirates

Raul Mondesi Jr. – Kansas City Royals | Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins

Eddie Rosario – Minnesota Twins | Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds

Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals | Billy McKinney – Chicago Cubs

Tyler O’Neill – Seattle Mariners | Conner Greene – Toronto Blue Jays

Brady Aiken – Cleveland Indians | Francis Martes – Houston Astros

Each of the cards made it home safe and sound, no dings, no dents, no errors.  Twenty Four shiny cards to sit and wait on now…will they become stars or not…!

So there you go.  That was the very first time i’ve ever busted a pack on a plane, in the air above the United States of America.  Hope you enjoyed the show!

***BIG PIMPIN***

Now it’s time to do some contest pimpin’ for Collector’s Crack and his annual NFL playoff contest!

Almost the Easiest Super Bowl Contest on the Web

Since i don’t have to deal with the emotions of having my team in it this year, i’m free to pick a SB matchup that will hopefully be closer to reality…and so should you!  So, hit that link and sign up!  But first, in honor of CB’s contest i thought i’d post a couple of videos in line with all the pimpin’.  First is one of my favorite UGK songs and the other is an interesting documentary on Pimp C that i haven’t quite gotten through yet.  It’s by Mass Appeal, so you can’t really go wrong though.