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.

Road Trip Packs III – The end of the Trilogy.

The second day of driving was great, we finally got out of Texas.  Anyone that has had to drive from one end of Texas to another knows that this takes a total commitment in patience and perserverance…long stretches of nothingness and not a whole lot of beauty along the way unless you like the color brown.

Our second stop was Montrose, Colorado which didn’t have a Wal Mart or Target close by and frankly I was really exhausted from the day of driving…so I didn’t pick anything up that night.  Our third day of driving took us through the remainder of Colorado, Utah and we stopped in Twin Falls, Idaho.  I’ve never been to Utah or Idaho and would definitely love to go back for a visit sometime and see all the beautiful rock formations and landscapes…that will be a road trip for the future and a great way to have some family time during the summer.  By the way, if anyone has stayed in Twin Falls, Idaho I would love to know more about the town.  It seemed like a really great place as we sort of passed through.  The gorge with the waterfalls was quite amazing…and the golf courses looked like they would be great to play.

Enough about non card things.  After we checked in I located the nearest Wal Mart and strolled in around 11:30 and picked up a couple more packs of Topps Archives Football and some Archives Baseball.

Archives is doing some tall boys for the baseball version and this guy is becoming a very very special player.  Not the best photo ever of him, but the card design is cool and classic.  Glad to see Miggy  get his career and hopefully his life straight after the DUI a couple of years ago…always room for redemption.

13 TA Miguel Cabrera Mini

Pablo is way too big, like scary big.  When his career winds down, he’s going to have some serious health issues with his ballooning weight.  Look at that guy busting the bottom button loose…and that face!  Obesity in America is a serious thing and seriously needs to be addressed.  I hope the Giants are hooking this kid up with a nutritionist and a 24 hour personal trainer.  That much weight is bad for the joints and not to mention his heart.  Let’s get fit America!

13 TA Pablo Sandoval

The Griff card is pretty amazing.  Look into those youthful eyes.  So much hope and promise in that young face.  Griffey was never one of my favorite players, but I always loved the way he played.  Now living in the Northwest, his importance to the game and the way he played is magnified, especially with the constant PED issues the MLB has had the past several years.  I LOVE THIS CARD.

13 TA Ken Griffey Jr

I also LOVE THIS CARD.  I would have been happy with the die cut…but now i get a transparent “stained glass” card!  I guess these cards were issued at a time when I wasn’t collecting so therefore I have no recollection of them…but they are awesome.  Love that Topps has included them in the set this year.

13 TA Roberto Clemente Gallery of Heroes

Now for the Football version of Archives.  The first card out of the pack was this Adrian Peterson in the 1985 Topps version.  I’ve said many times here that this is one of my all time favorite sets, along with the 1986 Topps baseball…it’s probably the black border thing and the superfonts.  AP came back nicely from his ACL tear, here’s hoping RG3 can do the same…or better! – HTTR!

13 TA Adrian Peterson

I also pulled this Arian Foster.  Loved that two of the prominent running backs were in the ’85 Topps version.

13 TA Arian Foster

There was also this nice looking Gronk mini card.  Wonder if he still hangs out with BiBi?

13 TA Rob Gronkowski Mini

Last up.  This little gem.  A Cornelius Bennett auto.  The autograph is pretty sweet and you can never go wrong with an autograph from a great NFL Linebacker that played in 4 Super Bowls.

13 TA Cornelius Bennett Autograph

 

Road Trip Packs II

The next pack along the road was actually a blaster of 2013 Leaf Draft from Wal-Mart.  Purchased at 12:30am.  This was actually the first group of cards I purchased on the trip and were picked up on a midnight run for ‘snacks’…plus I was really curious what type of Wal-Martians I could find around 1am on a Friday night…and just like the box of cards, the Wal-Martians were just ok.

This is a product I buy a few packs of each year in hopes of getting the Redskins draft picks…the value of these cards is minimal and the quality of them is about the same, but if you like a specific college or NFL team, it’s nice to get the players first (or last) card depending on your perspective.  I’ve never picked up a blaster box of these guys before, so I’m not sure if this is typical, but the package came with 2 autographs in top loaders and placed in a team bag.  I thought that was pretty cool.  No need to open any packs to see what your hits were.  They were just there!  I also thought it was pretty cool that Leaf managed to package them so nicely to keep them in as close to mint condition as possible.

The first auto was Markus Wheaton.  A receiver from Oregon State who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round.  Not a bad auto considering what else I could have pulled.

13 LD Markus Wheaton AutographThe second auto was of Sean Porter, whom quite ironically is from Schertz, Texas and went to Samuel Clemens.  The box of cards was purchased in little ol’ Schertz, Texas.  Porter is an A&M product and played Linebacker during his four year career.  He was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

13 LD Sean Porter Autograph

Next up are the Redskins players.

Jordan Reed TE – 3rd round from Florida.  Early reports from the couple of practices he participated in were really high on this kid.  It sounds like he can become a big time playmaker at Tight End and hopefully compliment Fred Davis for years to come.

13 LD Jordan Reed

Brandon Jenkins DE – 5th round from Florida State.  When healthy, he was pretty much a beast at FSU and could have gone much earlier had he indeed been healthy.  If Jenkins is able to rebound, he should be a nice compliment to Orakpo and Kerrigan next year and hopefully the next 5 years.

13 LD Brandon Jenkins

Jawan Jamison RB – 7th round from Rutgers.  Mike Shanahan has a way of hitting on running backs.  Here’s hoping Jamison can be another one. He too was injured but has a huge upside…but injuries tend to derail the greatest of athletes, especially if they limit opportunities in practice and games.

13 LD Jawan Jamison

Although the cards were not that impressive, I was pretty happy with what i pulled.  If anyone out there has a desire to trade for the autos, please let me know…could be nice for a Bengals or Steelers collector!

Road Trip Packs I

Since I was going to be on a road trip from 4 days, I thought it would be cool to pick up a couple of packs along the way from a local Target or Wal Mart.  Living in Portland, we don’t have too many local Wal Marts and Target is my only real retail option, which isn’t bad at all…I’m just saying.

Our first stop along the way was in Amarillo, Texas.  Yes, I know.  EPIC by all possible definitions.  I picked up a couple retail packs of the Football version of Topps Archives.  I already had a couple of Hobby pack versions and was curious what would come out of a Wal Mart.

And here we go!

Love the Wilson Card, great action photo and love the look in his eyes.  Wilson should be one of the next great QB’s in the league for the next few years…just hope his team stops knocking mine out of the playoffs.

13 TA Russell Wilson

Next up was a mini Calvin Johnson Jr. card with some sweet color gradation from top to bottom.

13 TA Calvin Johnson Jr. Mini

and finally, the last card i’d like to present from a retail wal mart pack is a Darrelle Revis gold parallel from the New York Jets  Tampa Bay Buccaneers!

13 TA Darrelle Revis Gold Parallel