Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You can observe a lot by watching.

So I'm ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.

Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded.

Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.

90 percent of this game is half mental.

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The future ain't what it used to be.

You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours.

We made too many wrong mistakes.

When you come to a fork in the road…take it.

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Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.

It's deja vu all over again.

I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.

It ain't over 'til it's over.

Happy 90th Birthday to the greatest philosopher of our times.

I never said most of the things I said.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day Heritage.

        The title of this post would seem slightly contradictory since it is the name of two different Topps products.  And since it actually is opening day, it would make more sense if I was opening packs of said product, but no, seeing how my local Target seems to be restocking will all the efficiency of a dry goods store in Cheyenne, Wyoming circa 1850, my last trip (finally) brought me some value packs of 2015 Heritage three weeks after its release (no Opening Day was to be found).  So before the Mets/Nats game starts at 4pm, let's tear in and see what the pack gods wrought.

Last year saw Topps do one of my absolute favorite sets of all time, 1965.  This year finds us moving on to the next year, 1966, which is one of the more blasé designs of the 60's, second only to the absolute yawn-inducing 1961 design.
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I wonder if anyone actually pays attention that Topps Heritage makes the point of making the modern packs the same style of the vintage ones.  I wonder if anyone outside of the blogosphere actually cares?

Out of my three packs, I got two all star rookie trophy cards, this is the absolute highlight of these base cards for me.  I also got one other Mets player, who is now a former Mets player.
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One thing I do enjoy is some of the little things Topps does, like include manager cards.  Also making combo cards that somewhat reflect the ones in the original set.  I (and others) have screamed ad nauseum about the superfluous copyright information on the fronts, so I am just going to (try to) ignore that for now.  I also noticed that the team cards are not the normal posed team photos that have been used forever on such cards, both modern and vintage, but are field action shots, mostly of celebrations.  This switch up in Heritage mirrors the team cards in the base set.  I am not 100% sure I like this twist since they do the team cards in the base sets the same way; it would be reasonable to use the classic posed shots for Heritage.  Maybe teams don't pose for such pictures anymore?  I am torn. 

Topps did the multi-player rookie and leader cards in similar style to the 1966 set as well.  I had to look up if they all used black borders and low and behold, they do.  Good on you Topps, for getting that element correct.  One thing they did not do back in the day was put two team names on the front of the rookie star cards, they lumped them into league banners.  I am okay with this slight stylistic change.
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They are doing the usual action photo variations, along with some other good (trade lines on back) and bad (color swaps on front) variations as well.  I commend their photo selection overall, it reflects the mostly posed and sideline candid style that the mid-60's cards always had.  They also did a lot of them at spring training, which is also a nice touch.  You get a lot of palm trees and minor league looking advertising backgrounds, which is fun. 

After looking over the 60 cards I got in my packs, this is the page I came up with:
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Why these nine cards?  They captured the essence of the vintage set while having some nice modern touches.  Plus, there are some cool things going on in most of the pictures, like light towers, trees,, missing afros, and teams that didn't exist in 1966.  Not to mention they all have beards to tie it all together (and match my glorious facial hair).

While we are talking about the photos and their overall aesthetic, let's look deeper at a few of the quirks and minutae.  I have 20 minutes to kill here.
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I like how it is pretty obvious that some teams just lined up at spring training and got their photos taken.  That's how you get the same light stanchions, chain link fences, and blue skies in the background. 

Oh, those blue skies. 
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Is the White Sox spring training facility near a park?  This is the second year in a row I have noticed that pretty tree line on their cards. 

If I was a baseball player, I would be very self conscious of photographers because it seems that no other sport lends itself to more goofy candid faces than the grand old game. 
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Seems that dude in the Angels dugout was working overtime.  And the Cabrera card looks like the photog snuck up on him and said "hey Miggy!" *click*

Alright, it seems I have scanned just about all the cards I pulled, a rarity, so let's pull the Gilligan's Island Theme trick and do the rest. 
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I did get a couple of high number short print cards but it seems that any inserts or variations were lacking, that is until I got to the last pack, when I pulled a rare two-fer.  Seems those two Then and Now cards were stuck together, literally.  There was some kind of goo on the back of the Koufax/Price card, giving me Killebrew/Santana one as well and a grand total of 61 cards in three 20 card value packs.  Too bad this couldn't have happened with the low numbered autographs. 

Okay, they are singing the national anthem in DC, so at last it is time to Play Ball!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

'Tis The Season To Be Zippy.

       I have declared this month the one where I settle all draft folder business.  I have finally (and mercifully) come to the end of my first tier of posts to close out, my unwritten trades.  It is a relief to have these out of the draft folder and into the world, if only to thank the kind souls who sent me stuff. 

This past Christmas brought me few glad tidings and fewer reasons for good cheer, but one shining exception was an unexpected package I received from Kenny, aka Zippy Zappy.  Kenny and I have exchanged packages since he started his blog two years ago and I must say, if we were keeping score, I would say he's winning.  This one was sent as a holiday gift in thanks for all our past swaps. 
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If you read his blog, you'll know that ZZ is a huge prospector and his love of rookies was my gain here, as I am now flush in minor league Mets.  One name really stands out here, L.J. Mazzilli is the son of Mets favorite Lee.  This was great to get in December but that joy has been slightly tarnished now that he has been suspended 50 games of the 2015 season.  Luckily, that tiny Dominic Smith card more than makes up for that.

ZZ sends off some major league cards too. 
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Better than jokes about my shiny Dickey would be mentioning my handsome little Dickey, right? Right?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

Back to the bread and butter of ZZ, the rookie prospects.  Here is a six pack of Extra Edition.  I have heard of two of these guys, so in that arena I am batting a cool .333.
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There was a bit of gratuitous junk wax, which is fine, but what makes these stand out is the immortal Kelvin Torve, the first Mets player since Willie Mays to wear #24 (the number is unofficially retired).  Hey, it's nice to have something to be remembered for.

Some more major league cards. I have a soft spot for that Topps Ticket to Stardom set from a few years ago, so it was nice to see more of those, including a Jose Reyes insert I didn't have.
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Seeing Luis Castillo going up for a pop-up is kind of a mean photo, Upper Deck.  Mets fans know what I am talking about. Lets move on before I get mad.

There was a few more older Mets cards, including a tremendous 1972 Tug McGraw card that I somehow didn't have. 
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He also included some New Jersey Devils cards.  I haven't bought much new hockey in the last decade or so, so these are always appreciated.  It would have been even more appropriate if they were in their green and red uniforms, given the time I got this package. 

Last but not least is the absolute highlight of all these cards:
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In our first trade, Kenny included a Japanese David Wright card and even translated it for me.  Here, he makes me a multiple David Wright Asian card collector with another oddball from the far east.  He also wished me Happy Holidays in Japanese.  So let me return the fond wishes here, on St. Patrick's Day mind you, and say thanks for Zapping me for Christmas, Kenny.  I should probably take down my tree, now that I think of it.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I have ended a long fallow period of blogging and declared this month the one where I settle all draft folder business so I can move on anew without dozens of unfinished posts hanging over my head.  This past week, I have concentrated on trade posts that for whatever reason, did not get completed. 

       In one week of August 2014, I received not one but two packages in return for my sending out unsolicited cards.  The first bunch is a perfect little pile from everyone's favorite chronicler, Fuji.  Apparently, I had sent him a little something in a fit of mass mailing and these are the cards he came back with:
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I must say, two game used cards and two autographs is tough to beat.  I especially love the Jorge Toca, one of my favorite Mets prospects that never panned out.  He was supposed to be the Cuban savior and he wasn't even as good as a Cuban sandwich.  Plus, it is hard to beat a shiny Dickey and an even shinier David Wright.  Allow me to extend a 遅ればせながら ありがとう to Fuji for these great cards I know I can use.

The other package that arrived in the dog days was one from Robert of $30 a Week Habit.  I had sent him a stack of gold numbered parallels I had found in a dime box over the summer for his Insanity Set.  Finding cards for this project of his has been one of my favorite altruistic distractions and he always returns the favor in kind.  This time, he outdid himself:
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First of all, more than anyone, Robert looks at and follows my want lists.  He sent me a half dozen 1983-84 OPC hockey cards for one of my pages.  And then, not to be out done, he sent a low numbered camo Mets card from 2013 and a Johan Santana game used Heritage jersey card.  Johan will always be a hero to us Mets fan, so this piece of cloth was greatly appreciated.
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I always refer to how endlessly polite Robert is, and his friendly note that was included in the package is no different.  Thank you, Robert.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

More PWE Goodness from Off-Hiatus.

I have declared this month the one where I settle all draft folder business.  After a nice little respite yesterday, I continue with this week's project, taking care of all the trade posts that did not get posted.

Here on the Ides of March, I will highlight a fun little swap I did with Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball.  Tony is one of the most organized collectors I have seen in the blogosphere.  He consistently posts trade bait and is very good with the turnaround.  I saw in that post he had some Goodwin Champions baseball cards I could use to complete the page I was making.  I only wanted those two cards, so we quickly came to an agreement, a couple Gary Carter cards for those two aforementioned Champions.  A simple plain white envelope exchange.  Here they are, vintage classics both:
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The PWE arrived well protected with a thick paper note and proper use of scotch tape, in this case, using it to support an easily removed post-it. 
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Thank you so much, Tony (even if it is three and half months later than your own post).

Ah, but really, all this is an excuse to showcase the Goodwin Champions page I put together, which is in and of itself just an excuse to showcase one of my new favorite cards of all time.
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See, Upper Deck doesn't have a MLB license anymore so they have to get creative in how they display baseball players in their sets.  In this case, they have done something amazing:
The Penguin dressed as a penguin. I can't even.
That is Ron Cey, one of my favorite players, nicknamed The Penguin, in a tuxedo.  There is no way that is an accident.  That is simply amazing and you are now looking at one of my top five cards of all time.  Upper Deck's attempts at issuing baseball cards have been hit or miss at best for the last 5+ years but this one makes up for all of it.  I am ashamed it has taken me this long to highlight this stroke of brilliance.