Friday, February 28, 2014


So I splurged this year and got the Official 2014 New York Mets Team calender.  I even bought it early in January so it was only 50% off not in March when the little mall kiosk closes out with everything 90% off.  But...
 Who on god's green earth thought it was a good idea to put David Wright as February?  Why would you put your most popular player on the shortest month?  Before the season even starts?  The Mets are cruel to us fans even in terms of simple time keeping.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mail Call: Ten! Ten Plain White Envelopes!

       Ahahahaha! Okay, well, to be all nit-picky and specific, it is nine plain white envelopes and one yellow one...
                                                                                                                                                                      ^^^ See? Yellow one.

I swear to god, my postman hoards my mail and delivers it all at once.  This represents almost two weeks of purchases on Listia and eBay all spread out on different days and yet somehow, magically, they all get delivered at once.  I mean, yeah, there was three snow storms and a holiday but still, it makes me imagine the Newman style of postal delivery.

Now sprung from their PWE prisons, what you see here is an odd mix - but really, if you read this blog with any sort of regularity, it all makers perfect sense...
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In the first row, you'll see I picked off that Pujols and those two 1985 Topps hall of famers for literally nothing on Listia.  I grabbed that gold Jimenez parallel on eBay for a dollar for my pages.  In the second row is some very typical Max pickups, New Orleans Saints and New York Mets cards.  I got that Sid Fernandez for 100 credits on Listia and bought a whole lot of nine cards to secure that Hojo, which I am 98% sure I don't have.  Of course now I have 8 Mets doubles - that I will probably put on Listia.  Oh the circle of life.  The final row shows a couple of Oakland A's players who are both #527 in their respective sets.  Somehow, I still have not written my post about my 527 collection.  At least I - and by extension you - have something to look forward to.  Lastly is one of those Olivia II smutty art cards.  Shiny and boobies for free?  How could I resist?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mail Call: You Ain't Got No Alibi.

       I acquired a few odd things on Listia and eBay this week and I was stumped as to what tied them all together.  Then I laid them out and I realized there was one very obvious trait that spanned across all of these seemingly unrelated sets and designs: they are U-G-L-Y ugly.

First off is the 2012 Panini Cooperstown:
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This design is trying way too hard to be old-timey and instead looks like the framework for one of those sepia toned gangster novelty photos you'd buy at the mall or at an amusement park.  And the design is the least of the worries for this set.  Without a MLB license, Panini can't show logos.  And in not showing logos, instead of airbrushing, they decided to crop the photos in as awkward a way as possible, oddly cutting off the top halves of heads. 

2013 Panini Cooperstown is a step up from last year, but really. it had nowhere to go but up and it is a very small step.
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The design and colors are somewhat better this time around. Plus they seemed to try to use better photographs and where that didn't happen, they used the hall of fame logo on top of the photo frame to do the dirty work of copyright protection.  Still, pretty terrible rather than ungodly awful. 

In 2010 I was not living near a baseball card shop, so I was never able to pick up the HTA giveaway set from that year.  I found one cheap during a search of eBay for other things and impulsively decided to grab one. Now, I had seen these cards before but never in person...
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...and believe me, scans do not do justice to how ugly these cards are.  They are flat in both color and texture.  The jeweled border is too busy and the font they use over it gets lost in the busyness so you can barely read the player name.  The idea of having the MLB logo match the team colors seemed like a good idea, but the logo takes up far too much real estate and just sits there like a lump overwhelming everything else.  Due to the appalling design elements, the photo of the player only gets about 40% of the area of the card and then it gets super imposed on a background of more team colors shooting up like a demented sun ray (or perhaps those humungous MLB logos are radioactive).  If this was made in a first year GD class, it would get an 'F' and a 'come see me' on the cover page. 

Vintage players don't fair much better...
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...the only slight improvement is the older style photos pop much better against all that modern color rather than getting hopelessly lost.  These would get a 'D-' instead of an 'F' from Professor Max.

Also on Listia, I bought a lot of 2013 Topps Strata football cards, a brand I had seen at Target but decided was too expensive.  Even for free, I might have gotten ripped off on these.  Take a look:
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This is a design straight out of early millennium Upper Deck.  Circles and color everywhere and worse, words in the circles, all against a super-modernist metallic grey robotic background.  And as if that was not enough, Topps decided to add a team logo jutting out of the bottom element, thus giving a nice odd cover to 75% of the crotches of the players.  It's not the worst crotch logo of all time, but certainly it is a topper to an ugly ugly design.  I am getting vertigo just looking at it.

The pièce de résistance to all this hideousness is a set I never knew existed at all.  Feast your eyes on the 1991 Foot Locker Slam Fest card; they are a new low in oddball awful.  I got these off Listia and the auction showed the checklist and the promo sheet, but not the cards themselves.  I saw the players involved and decided I should own this set, wondering why this set wasn't more popular and why I had never heard of it.  Then it got to my mailbox and everything became abundantly clear:
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In and of itself, the design is not atypical for unlicensed oddball giveaway cards: very large promotional logo, simple lines, red white and blue color scheme...not all that bad, really.  But, and whoa is it a big Coco but, the photos in this set are too horrible for words. 

As an unlicensed set, you know there can be no logos, and since they are advertising their store and their TV special, Foot Locker decided to get photos of everyone in the uniform from that special.  Now, special is not a word I would use for those uniforms, the word I would use is amateur...on a ghastly level.  Not to mention most of the pictures look like they were taken with a disc camera and then the photos themselves developed by a technician's assistant at K-Mart. 
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I also love that it says Limited Edition on them too.  I wonder how many of these they made?  250,000?  500,000?  One million?  *pinky to lip* 

I am just gonna show the whole set of these because they have to be seen to be believed.  I had to scan them with the lid closed because they are so curled, the stock they used so cheap.  I wonder if they would look any better against a dark background?  I wonder if they would look better on fire?
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If you haven't been paying attention, some of the names in this set are Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Wilt Chamberlain, Calvin Murphy, John Havlicek, Tim Brown, Carl Lewis, Eric Dickerson, Earl Monroe, Deion Sanders - you can see why I took a chance with this one.  I might just keep it in tact in the set portions of my binders as a warning to the others.  This thing makes some of the Fleer boxed sets from the 1980's look like the 1957 Topps set in comparison.

Lastly, you can see from the backs that they issued these cards in series.  Yup, you had to go into to Foot Locker more than once to get your hands on these babies. 
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There were even coupons inserted into the mix but alas, they expired in August of 1991.  Even back then though I knew Domino's Pizza sucked so it is just as well.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Free beer.

Great sex.

Snow day.

Inherited money.

Very few phrases can elicit such joy as...

Pitchers and
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Today, New York's version of Robin Yount announced that 2014 will be his last season.
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Wait?  The Great Derek Jeter?  He belongs in the pantheon.  He's like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle had a love child and then had him raised by Emily Post.  How could this clutch, gritty, inner circle Hall of Famer ever be compared to such a "pedestrian" type player. Well...
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According to Baseball Reference:
Similar Batters:
  1. Craig Biggio (823)
  2. Paul Molitor (805) *
  3. Roberto Alomar (789) *
  4. Robin Yount (786) *            <---------
  5. Charlie Gehringer (756) *
  6. Johnny Damon (729)
  7. Ivan Rodriguez (723)
  8. Joe Morgan (723) *
  9. Ted Simmons (718)
  10. Frankie Frisch (716) *
* - Signifies Hall of Famer

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The truth hurts. 

I'll have to get him a lovely gift basket before September.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Apparently A Trade With Fuji.

       This one has been in the queue for a while, but it is important for me to both empty this damn draft folder and highlight the giving nature of the card blogosphere.  This time it is the fine altruism of Mark, aka Mr. Fuji of The Chronicles of Fuji, one of the finest blogs that doesn't get nearly enough love - I blame east coast bias.  A little while ago, he posted about picking up a near complete 1984 Donruss set at his infamous flea market that was missing like five common cards.  I immediately looked and realized I had for of them (three of them were Diamond Kings, a subset I am known to hoard) and sent them off to him, expecting nothing in return.  Well, in early January (yup, I am way behind on my posts) these cards arrived in the mail for me:

The man is a scholar and a gentleman as he looked at my want lists and sent me five awesome cards I needed, all either inserts, shiny parallels, or oddballs I have extolled my everlasting love for.  So thank you Fuji for paying it forward; in the grand scheme of things I seem to have gotten the better of this trade - including a second personalized card that has a different autograph from the first (are these little Japanese affirmations or are you cursing at me in another language?;)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles.
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Close your eyes and I'll kiss you
Tomorrow I'll miss you
Remember I'll always be true

And then while I'm away
I'll write home every day
And I'll send all my loving to you

I'll pretend that I'm kissing
The lips I am missing
And hope that my dreams will come true

And then while I'm away
I'll write home every day
And I'll send all my loving to you

All my loving, I will send to you
All my loving, darling I'll be true
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Close your eyes and I'll kiss you
Tomorrow I'll miss you
Remember I'll always be true

And then while I'm away
I'll write home everyday
And I'll send all my loving to you

All my loving, I will send to you
All my loving, darling I'll be true
All my loving, all my loving
Ooh, all my loving, I will send to you
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Oh yeah, I'll tell you something
I think you'll understand
When I'll say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

Oh please, say to me
You'll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
I'll let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy inside
It's such a feeling that my love
I can't hide I can't hide I can't hide
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Yeah, you've got that something
I think you'll understand
When I'll say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy inside
It's such a feeling that my love
I can't hide I can't hide I can't hide

Yeah, you've got that something
I think you'll understand
When I'll feel that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ralph Kiner: 1922-2014.

       I have been listening to Ralph announce Mets games for the last 30 years, which is only a little more than half of the time he actually did them.  In fact, even last year, they would still have him come on the air a few times a year and do a few innings and he was still very sharp and told wonderful stories (even if illness had taken his great delivery and voice).  He really is one of the very last connections to the original 1962 team.  I am not sure he is a Hall of Famer as a player - though he made it - but for longevity, quality, and entertainment value, he is a first ballot member for broadcasting.
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Ralph Kiner Quotes:

"All of his saves have come in relief appearances"

"All of the Mets road wins against the Dodgers this year occurred at Dodger Stadium."

"Darryl Strawberry has been voted to the Hall of Fame five years in a row."

"Hello, everybody. Welcome to Kiner's Corner. This is....uh. I'm...uh..."

"Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords."

"If Casey Stengel were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave."

"I think one of the most difficult things for anyone who's played baseball is to accept the fact that maybe the players today are playing just as well as ever."
(This is the most important quote on this list.  One of the great things about Kiner was he was not one of those "back-in-my-day" kind of announcers, he always gave props to the modern player and understood modern statistics.)
"Jose DeLeon on his career has seventy-three wins and one-hundred and five RBIs."

"Kevin McReynolds stops at third and he scores."

"Now up to bat for the Mets is Gary Cooper."

"On Fathers' Day, we again wish you all happy birthday."

"Solo homers usually come with no one on base."

"(Don) Sutton lost thirteen games in a row without winning a ballgame."

"The Hall of Fame ceremonies are on the thirty-first and thirty-second of July."

"The Mets have gotten their leadoff batter on only once this inning."

"The reason the Mets have played so well at Shea this year is they have the best home record in baseball."

"There's a lot of heredity in that family."

"Tony Gwynn was named player of the year for April."

"Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water. The other third is covered by Garry Maddox."


I am very sad today, it's like your favorite uncle died. Somewhere in heaven, I hope Ralph is interviewing St. Peter and calling him St. Paul.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Football '13 Super Bowl Sunday: The Big Game.

       This afternoon I am rooting, in order, for the meteor, the food, the commercials, and the puppies.  I might even watch the game for five minutes.  And as you watch the Super Bowl today, remember that every time you say the words the big game, there is only one professional football league that was going to refer to its game as The Big Game:
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OK, so the XFL changed the name to The Million Dollar Game, but still...
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...and as you can see, I was really interested in collecting all the players from that failed experiment.  Enjoy yourself tonight and don't drive drunk.  Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wave of the Present.

       So as promised in my last post/tease, I cracked open some brandy dandy new 2014 Topps in the form of two blasters and two Target jumbo peg hanger packs.  These are the fruits of those delightful labors.
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These nine will be immortalized as the 2014 Topps page (until I decide to change it).  Topps has stepped up its photo game since the disasters of 2008/2009.  They are crisp and clean and there is a great variety of shots.  This is by the far the strongest element of the flagship set this time around.  The design is a step down from last year's minimalist piece of perfection.  I can describe it as sort of like the 2005 Topps and 1984 Donruss designs had a May/December love child.  I find the team logo and the team name on the right side redundant - one or the other would have been enough - but the nice little wave with the name and position is pretty cool.  In fact, that little wave reminds me of this gem and if Night Owl needs a suggestion for a name, Catch the Wave seems pretty appropriate. 

Here are the Mets I pulled.  Topps really liked those new blue jerseys, huh?
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I am sure Matt Harvey will look back on the face he is making on this card with great fondness.  There were probably 10,000,000 photos of Matt Harvey taken last year and that is the one they went with?  On the other hand, there is some nice action on the Turner and Lagares cards.  I'll need to add the other Mets to my want list.

Some other base cards of note that are staying in the collection:
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Of course the all star rookies must stay.  The Wil Myers photo is nicely cropped with his trophy.  I only wish he could afford the extra L and E for his name.  The World Series cards make me quite happy this time around since my baseball mistress won it all last year.  Napoli's beard deserves its own card.  I really liked the two photos on the Chapman and the Cespedes, it is just coincidence they are both Cuban.  Those 1969 A's throwback uniforms are magnificent.

My blasters promised manu-patch cards and this is what I got:
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Too bad Prince got traded from the Tigers because that patch is amazing.  A Detroit fan could not be taken to task if they decided to just cut that card into a square to highlight that patch.  Pity the Miggy patch has the classic D and not this.  That Bryce Harper is nice, though it is destined for eBay unless someone has to have it.

Also here is the coupon book from the blaster.  These are very useful coupons for the Target card aisle shopper:
$5 off a 2014 Heritage value box
$1 off three packs of Opening Day
$1 off two packs of Gypsy Queen
$1 off two packs of MLB Chipz (the only one I probably won't use)
$1 off an Archives jumbo pack
$5 off a Topps series 2 value box.

The coupons are dated to coincided to a 2 month window when the products are released.  I like the inclusion of this, my being a cheap bastar...I mean a frugal sort, I never look down upon using a coupon. 

Inserts?  Oh yeah, we got your inserts.  This year's theme is The Future is Now:
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These are sort of painted/graphic art photos with of all things lens flares involved.  JJ Abrams approves these cards.

I am not sure why Topps feels the need to have theme, but here are some more inserts following the "theme":
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The top six cards are called Upper Class and they are nice enough, I guess.  They cover the rookie class of each year and highlight the best of the bunch.  Yankees fans can wallow in seeing Cano in the pinstripes one last time.  The bottom three cards are from a set called 50 Years of the Draft and in a stroke of luck I got not one but two Derek Jeter cards.  Joy.

I am greatly disappointed that the All Star Rookie Cup inserts are hobby only.  I will have to pick these up on ebay I suppose.  Must. Have. Trophy. Cards.  (If you have these to trade, you know what to do...)

Since Topps has decided to constantly shove minis down our throats, this is what we got this time around:
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These aren't just minis, they are die cut minis based on the 1989 design which I guess kind of reflects this year's base design.  I am personally minied out and all these do is remind me of these.  Underwhelming, to say the least.

Lastly, Topps pulled out the old 1983 Super Veteran idea and made it as bland and boring as they possibly could:
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Also there you see the 14th year of the numbered gold parallel which would be fine if they didn't make any other parallels...and oh boy, are there parallels.

In the jumbo peg boxes were yellow parallels:
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The one thing I can say about these is I am glad that they have taken the celebration photos out of the super short print realm and made them base cards.  And no, I didn't get any super duper short prints in these boxes, not that I care much.

Topps also has these Power Player parallels, which are plain parallels with no foil:
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They have codes on the back and I have no clue if this is a game or a contest or whatever Topps has been doing the last few years.  If anyone wants these codes, I happily will let you have them if you have the other Mets cards or something.

These are the shiny red hot foil parallels:
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I think I preferred last year's shiny green ones. 

These being Target boxes, there were also red Target exclusive cards.
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They also do blue for Walmart and purple for Toys R Us.  Since I don't shop in Walmart at all and have no need to ever go into TrU, I only ever see get these in packs.  I like the bold red border, it doesn't really clash with too many teams - though the Royals and Brewers come close - and for teams like the Phillies, Nationals, and Red Sox, they look great.  And for the A's, they of course become accidentally Christmas themed.  

My only issue with all these parallels?  Well, look:
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In two blasters and two jumbo packs, I got 40 of them.  Forty!  Three each in the jumbos and two in each pack of the blasters and that is way way waaaaaay too many.  Unless this is unusual and I just have a shit load of them.   Not shown are the camo, black, pink, clear(!), platinum, and the printing plates.  You can make a rainbow page with just the flagship set now.  I would rather have more base cards.

Speaking of base cards, lets get back to them:
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Like I said, there is some great photography going on in this set.  I also like that the design works well both horizontally and vertically; this is not always the case.  The backs are decent and include for the first time WAR, which is appreciated (though they do not say which version they are going with).  It is also pretty nifty that they tied in the wave element from the front to the back.  They also have a little blurb from everyone's rookie year since, hey, everyone was a rookie once.

So. More themes.  More parallels.  More minis.  Topps seems stuck in a rut.  The look on Mike Trout's face kind of covers my overall feelings about all this - "meh" with a touch of dread and disgust.  There has to be a reason for all this stagnation and a lack of innovation and in fact, it is right there on the wrapper if you look closely...
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Yup, there's you're problem.