Friday, January 31, 2014


       After a very long week of work, which started off every so wonderfully with a nice knee injury on Monday (did I mention I spend 8-10 hours a day on my feet?), I now have a long weekend on my hands.  I have Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off for the first time since before the holidays.  Plus, Sunday is not just any old Sunday, it is Super Sunday.  My plans for the weekend are something along the lines of: drink, sober up, drink, sober up, drink, sober up, drink, sober up - all punctuated with copious amounts of food.  With a plan of this sort, my Friday night was going to be a nice quiet one watching television in my pajamas.  Then I went to Target to run some errands and my Friday night plans changed...

My Friday night plans are now to watch bad TV in my pajamas while drinking a beer and opening some series one 2014 Topps.  I think I've earned it.  I will show you the fruits of my ripping later on or in the morning. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Football '13 Week 20: Championship Week. (Here We Go Again)

       You probably think that little parenthetical statement is about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning but sadly, it is not.  It seems that this year is following the exact same pattern as last year in terms of my blogging - I got off to a good start at the new year but then got the flu and then during that sickness get very very depressed.  It happened last year and it would seem it is happening this year.  I have been sick as a dog all of the last week and instead of following up on my Hall of Fame rants, I have been dormant and feeling terrible.  Well, I am gonna try to work through that shit this time around.  Please bear with me while I do.
 photo brady_zps9201fea9.jpg
Unfortunately, there is not much to get worked up about in my world about these football games.  We have all been through Brady vs. Manning in the playoffs before and I don't see how anything that happens in this game changes either one's legacy.  Tom Brady is what he is.  Peyton Manning is what he is.  And neither one of these teams is as good as either of the NFC offerings, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Plus, the last time I checked, there is 21 other players on the field and they might have a bit to say about what happens in the game.  
 photo pmc_zpsd320a419.jpg
The team I hate least of the remaining teams is the Patriots, but as I have stated before, while all my New England living made me love the Red Sox, the same never happened to me about the Pats.  I don't root for Tom Brady but one can't help but respect him, though no man in the NFL has more haters than Tom Brady.  I guess that is why I want to side with him - Tom Brady has a whole swath of football fans who need to just shut the hell up.  I mean, a restaurant in Denver had this sign up outside completely forgetting that if that is true, he is no doubt wearing the panties of the Brazilian supermodel he just got done banging who happens to be his wife.  Rough life, that Tom Brady.

The late game is the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Seattle Seahawks and well, let me just make this point: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, fucking hate the 49ers.  As a counterpoint: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, fucking hate the Seahawks.
 photo ck_zps3472bd01.jpg
My hatred for the Niners is decades old.  I hated them when they used to play the Giants and hate them now when they play the Saints.  My anger toward them is an old spouse.  The Seahawks, on the other hand, is a new found hatred (much like all their bandwagon fans).  I never had an opinion about the Seahawks but then four years ago the Beast Mode run happened, now I can't stand them.  I can't stand Pete Carroll, I can't stand Russell Wilson, I can't stand the aforementioned Beef Moe, and I certainly can't stand every single player of their defense.  My anger towards them is a torrid new affair. 

When these things come to a head, what usually happens is you go back to your wife.  I cannot measure my complete and utter dislike for these teams with existing technology but the one little thing that I would enjoy watching for two weeks is people pick apart Colin Kaepernick the way they do individually but on the national stage.  Much like Tom Brady, Kaepernick has haters - and why do they hate him?  Because he has tattoos...the horror!  Because he wears his cap backwards on the sideline and during interviews...oh the humanity!  Most of these haters?  50-year-old-plus white male sportswriters.  It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad.  So it would be very pleasing to hope that a few of these dinosaurs will say something so awful and racist during the Super Bowl bye week that they lose their jobs.  Yup, I guess I am rooting for schadenfreude.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Football '13 Week 19: Divisional Playoffs.

       I'm sorry folks, I just can't.  I couldn't write anything yesterday and I am not really up to it again today.  I don't have a football rant in me, I don't have a hall of fame rant in me, hell, I don't even have it in me to mock A-Rod one more time.  The Saints loss on Saturday afternoon just took it all out of me.  I guess you wanna see some cards.  Here, this oddball page is all I got:

These make for lousy football cards but surprisingly good bookmarks.  I will regroup and try again tomorrow.  I hope you all understand.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rant #2: Alumni.

       There is a block of Hall of Fame voters absolutely obsessed with keeping out the steroid users.  Some won't vote for any player from the "steroid era" period.  But what if a player who did steroids, a player we all know and love, is already in the hall of fame.  I am not talking about 19th century health tonic drinkers, I am talking about a player who exhibits every trait of the modern PED users we all have memorized and that the all knowing arbiters of integrity have deemed contemptible and universally rejectable forever in perpetuity. I am talking about Rickey Henderson.
 photo rh1_zps947fcb27.jpg
Now, everything I am about to lay out is pure conjecture, but the baseball writers have no problem using that to make their decisions, so please bear with me.  Rickey came up as a 20 year old rookie and was immediately someone to watch.  In his first five years in Oakland, he lead the league in stolen bases, three times swiping 100 or more.  He was dynamic, dangerous, deadly.  By 1985, the Athletics were rebuilding and Rickey was going to command a lot of money as a free agent, so he got traded to the Yankees.  He then had two of his most brilliant years at age 26 and 27 (as one would expect).  Then something odd happened in 1987, Rickey got hurt.  He came up with this muscular fire plug of a body and suddenly, it betrayed him.  He hurt his hamstrings and missed 70 games and didn't lead the league in steals for the first time in almost a decade.  George Steinbrenner, not known for his compassion or patience, thought Rickey was dogging it.  The media decided to agree with him.  The New York press turned on Rickey and even though he came back to have another wonderful typically Rickey campaign in 1988, the damage was done.  He was a hot dog but worse, just a dog.  He started out slow and injured again in 1989 and the howling became deafening.  He eventually got traded back to the A's in mid-season where suddenly, he was rejuvenated.  He helped them win the World Series that year.  Then in 1990, he had an amazing MVP season where he outdid all his previous hitting and power numbers (by a good margin) and then settled into a comfortable second phase of his career where he basically did not age.  His age 32 season is hardly discernible from his age 39 season, where back with the A's (again) he once again lead the league in stolen bases.  At age 39. 
 photo rh2_zpsb35ea87a.jpg
Funny, who was on that 1989 and 1990 Oakland team?  Why, it's the godfather of steroids, one Jose Canseco.  Who else?  Why, it is one of the all time scapegoats for PEDs, Mark McGwire.  How did a man who made is living with his legs and was starting to get injured and breakdown in his late 20's suddenly able to win an MVP at age 31, then continue having amazing seasons well into his 30's and play until he was 44?  Was 1990 a steroid fueled Fuck You season a la Roger Clemens in 1997 and 1998?  Did his body change?  Well, his thighs certainly look a lot thicker in 1997 (Padres) than they did in 1982 with the A's.  How many players lead the league in steals in his 19th season?  One, Rickey Henderson.  By the end of his career, Rickey Henderson broke major single season and career records by Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, and none other than Babe Ruth.  Why weren't the writers protecting the legacies of these men?  How did all these red flags get by the writers? Why is Rickey Henderson in the Hall of Fame?
 photo rh3_zps8719d438.jpg
Now, I cannot prove any of these things about Rickey Henderson but all these things when presented this way surely make you think.  And I could write a similar breakdown of Hall of Famers like Nolan Ryan (pitched 'til he was 46? throwing 98? really?), Kirby Puckett (sudden illness that lead to retirement, could it have been steroids?), Paul Molitor (overcame a lot of injuries, didn't he?), and heck, why not Roberto Alomar (suddenly stopped playing well when they talked about testing for PEDs) or even Dave Winfield (he played football, right?).  It wouldn't make it true, but the damage would be done.  Funny how that works...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rant #1: Craig Biggio.

       What the hell did Craig Biggio do to anyone?  Did he murder someone?  Did he kidnap the family of a baseball writer and then rape and torture them on a webcam for the world to see?  All Craig Biggio did for 20 years is show up at his job and do it at a level we should all aspire to.  He got on base more times than all of 17 players in the history of the game.  He scored more runs than everyone but 14 players.  He's 5th all time in doubles - do you know who else in in that top ten?  Tris Speaker, Pete Rose, Stan Musial, Ty Cobb, George Brett, Napoleon Lajoie, Carl Yastrzemski, Honus Wagner, and Hank Aaron.  Maybe doubles aren't as sexy and home runs, but that is one hell of a list to be on.  He played catcher, second base, and center field.  Do you know how many other players have ever been regulars at those three positions in their careers?  None.  That's right, he played three of the four "up the middle" positions for entire seasons at a time.  I could go on and on, but just look at his numbers yourself, go on, I'll wait. 
 photo cb2_zps7cb6c688.jpg
Do you know what list you will not find Craig Biggio on?  Any list that includes steroid users or rumored steroid users.  Now, I am not a Houston Astros fan so I didn't follow his career every day, but I followed baseball pretty damn close for his entire tenure in the majors and never once did I hear even whispers.  I have seen several versions of the infamous Mitchell Report - mostly conjecture and nothing based on actual fact (because no one has ever seen it outside of the MLB offices) - and he's never on it.  A lot of rumors surround longtime teammate Jeff Bagwell so I guess he is guilty because he sat in the same dugout and clubhouse?  Rumors suddenly are contagious?  Perhaps Craig Biggio injected Ken Caminiti with the PEDs that won him the 1996 MVP and eventually led to his death?  Does the BBWAA have these incriminating photos circulating amongst themselves and they refuse to share them with the laymen fan?  I am still trying to piece all this together because the facts by themselves make little to no sense whatsoever. 

My eyes were opened to Craig Biggio, like a lot of fans, after reading Bill James' New Historical Abstract in 2001.  In it, he listed Biggio as the 35th best player of all time.  OF ALL TIME.  Now, lord knows James has been guilty of some hyperbole in his time, but he often uses it to make a point.  If you have never read the passage, I suggest you do.  Once again, I'll wait.  Click here if you can't read that link.
 photo cb1_zps4caff4eb.jpg
So Craig Biggio, who is comparable to first ballot Hall of Famers Robin Yount, Joe Morgan, Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken, and Brooks Robinson (and shoe-in Derek Jeter), has to wait until next year, his third on the ballot, because of second hand hearsay and unelected baseball writers who have decided to be judge and jury to a situation that they admit to not understanding.  I want to know where the spike in Craig Biggio's stats are? Where is his 50 home run season?  Where is his 30 pound weight gain with backne?  And as usual, where is his failed drug test?  The player I would compare him to is Charlie Gehringer, who they incidentally called The Mechanical Man.  Craig Biggio has the indignity of being a wonderful baseball player who was amazingly consistent who happened to play at the same time when some players used steroids.  The baseball writers hate players who are "merely" consistent and obviously have shown their aversion to PEDs and somehow, poor Craig Biggio has fallen through these two nasty cracks at once.  I hope when he is finally elected next year, his acceptance speech is simply him reading the names of the writers who didn't vote for him the last two years and then a gypsy curse to befoul all their houses. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


      The Baseball Writers Association of America got around to doing their job this year and elected three (very worthy) men to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Greg Maddux.
 photo gm1_zpsaa1124ab.jpg
Greg got 97.2% of the vote.  What I would really like to know is, who are the 16 idiots who looked at his career numbers and said "meh" so we can publicly shame them.  
 photo gm2_zpsece37d81.jpg
Maddux is one of the five best pitchers in the history of the game and this was a no-brainer, even for a group that is renown for their lack of brains.

Tom Glavine.
 photo tg9_zpsef7a31af.jpg
Glavine was a great Atlanta Braves pitcher and won 300 games.  He also pitched for another team in his career and I refuse to actually acknowledge he did so, for obvious reasons.  Still, bully for Tom.  He got an impressive 91.9% of the vote and he definitely belongs.

Frank Thomas.
 photo ft1_zpsef7e8ac2.jpg
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Tom Glavine in my world is The Big Hurt. 
 photo ft2_zps4d2e8475.jpg
Frank Thomas is one of the most complete and dangerous hitters of all time.  He is also one of my all time favorite players.  I scanned these two pages, one from early in his career and one from later, but I could have chosen from an entire binder.  I also have a whole shoebox full of inserts and game used cards as well.  I was a Frank Thomas completest for a long time.  I am glad the writers used their brain and elected him.  Well, 83.7% of them did, the rest of them should probably have their membership in the BBWAA revoked.  But I digress.  I was trying to keep this post positive and congratulatory.  But rest assured, there are rants coming.  Oh my, are there rants coming.  I have two or three of them brewing and one complete dissertation.  But those will come in the next few days.  In fact, after I spend the next few days howling like a lunatic, maybe I will post my Frank Thomas player collection as a palate cleanser and reward for letting me vent.  For now though, I am quite happy that three very deserving men actually got elected into the Hall.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Football '13 Week 18: Wild Card.

       A couple of times this year, I posted very early on Sunday morning going on and on about how the Saints were going to destroy that week's opponent.  That was a poor choice of blurbs as both times the Saints ingloriously lost on the road to lesser foes.  So I learned my lesson for the playoffs and decided to hold off any pregame braggadocio and let the games take their course.  This course of action worked well as the Saints beat the (hated) Eagles in Philadelphia for the first road playoff victory in team history.  Sticking it to the awful Philly fans was just a bonus. 

In celebration of the Wild Card victory, let's look at a couple of player pages with a different player stuck in as a, um, wild card.
 photo s3_zpsc4522a45.jpg
Here is a page of Superstar Jimmy Graham with a Chrome Kenny Stills rookie card in the lower right.  Stills showed great promise as a fifth round pick this year. 

This is a page of unsung receiver Marques Colston.
 photo s2_zpsf6107289.jpg
There are some great inserts on this page and in the lower right, a rookie card of Nick Toon.  Sadly, Nick got hurt before last season and has not returned.  I am rooting for him not just because he is the son of Jets great Al Toon but because he has one of the great simple wonderful names in recent memory.

OK, that whole idea is a little silly, so let's just look at some cards instead.  I grabbed the first two fancy cards on top of my Saints pile and scanned them for your enjoyment.
 photo s5_zpsdf7ac2b5.jpg
The first one is a manu-patch of Drew Brees from the Super Bowl season.  Those last two things way overcome that first one.  The second is a great autographed patch rookie card of Kenny Stills.  I believe that swatch is from the '8' from the TV numbers on the shoulder.  That or Kenny is a much smaller guy than we are lead to believe.

Oh, and look, a team set.  I always liked this design and Topps used it across the sports that year.  I think it actually works better for football than it did for baseball.
 photo s10a_zps999760be.jpg
In case you were wondering, these are from 2010 Topps...
 photo s10b_zpse3a83bda.jpg
...and we all know what happened that year...
 photo s10_zps42366d02.jpg
Next stop Seattle.  Revenge is a dish best served piping hot.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Triple Trouble.

       I miss breaking high end product.  Oh, I am well aware of my reasons for not doing it anymore (money, sanity, etc.) but that doesn't mean that every once in a while I don't crave the rush of dropping a few hundred dollars on a small shiny box of cards and the heart pounding anticipation of opening the thing.  For all its dangerous fun it is, in the end, merely dangerous.  The end game usually winds up being disappointment and despair and you can't keep chasing the card dragon without it stealing your soul.  But I digress.  My Bukowski-esque romanticizing aside, the one product I can't seem to leave behind is Topps Triple Threads.  I had great luck with the first two incarnations of this stuff and I guess it has never left me.  Even after some very lean pickings in the next couple attempts, it has its hooks in me and has not let go.

After an aborted attempt to join a case break of this year's Triple Threads, I decided to apply that money to some eBay purchases instead.  Not only did I succeed in getting the cards I wanted, I used my new found frugality to do it right (prepare for some humblebragging):
 photo ttt5_zpsd63ebab2.jpg
I bought a small lot of game used jerseys for the price of one Matt Harvey by waiting out a couple people on a late night auction.  Selling off the other two cards ended up paying for that Matt Harvey.  The ones numbered to 27 are the gold or sepia is hard to tell sometimes.  The nice big swatch and the fact that it is much shinier than my scan would indicate make that a tremendous card.  The real star and the card I really had to hold out to get was that Amazin' Triple.  The Triple relics can be real hit or miss as they have gotten very corny and odd in what the pieces spell out.  Here though, you see a classic that can't go wrong. The Mets have been "Amazin'" since 1962 and since this card features David Wright and the two great hopes for the future - Zack Wheeler and the aforementioned Matt Harvey - this was an absolute must have for me.  I really really wanted one that was numbered to /9 and very very shiny but the bidding got out of hand, so I had to settle for the slightly more muted version numbered to /36.

I truly don't care about the numbering as much as I care for the look of the card.  Case in point is that the parallel of the base I loved the most this year was also the highest numbered, the "amethyst" version, or as the laymen would call it, purple.  I am a sucker for purple, so I nailed down a nice lot that not only had three of my favorite players ever (see above) but also allowed me to make a page of current players:
 photo tttp9_zps0575c342.jpg
All that blue and purple is jarringly contrasted with the orange of the Kung-Fu Panda in that first spot on the page (and to a lesser extent by Buster Posey in the middle).  Sometimes I just can't help myself. 

I also picked up a lot of base cards so I could make a page of retired players:
 photo ttt9_zps8a5a2ed3.jpg
Yankees?  Braves??  Tom Glavine?!?!?  At times you are simply at the mercy of the lot you buy.  Aesthetically here, you get a nice George Brett powder blue uni breaking up a ton of old school flannel.  I think this page works well, even with Tom Glavine involved (never forgive, never forget).

Could I have blown a couple of C-notes and gotten my fix?  Sure.  But for a fraction of the cost, I got the cards I really wanted and some piece of mind that maybe as I grow older, I might even grow up.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again.

       As you know I don't do resolutions, but seeing how today is New Year's Day and this is my 200th post, I figured it might not be a bad idea to do a little State of the Blog address.  Of those two hundred posts, only 71 came last year so I would like to get around to posting a little more often than every 5 days.  I also have about 20 half written posts in the drafts that I would like to try and take care of in the dead time between now and spring training (6 weeks and counting!).  I have added some blogs to the blog list (and removed a few dead ones) and if you would like to be added to that list, drop me a line.  I have some series ideas that my intermittent posting hasn't let me bring to fruition, I would certainly like to get those off the ground and bring them to all six of you who read this blog with regularity.  That said, I have an awesome blog and if you don't read it all the time, you should and if you haven't read all my posts, you should go back and do just that, don't worry, I'll wait.

If we are going to do old and new, tried and true today, let's look at a couple of recent trades - nothing more tried and true than a trade post.  First off is one of my oldest and steadiest trade partners, Night Owl.  A few months ago he wrote a platonic love letter to me about how I get him.  Seriously, that shit made me blush.  Well, I can pretty much say that notion is reciprocal.  As I have pointed out before, we have gotten to the point where we don't even set up formal trades, we just put cards aside for each other and when we point out cards in the comments of posts, those get put aside as well.  Then eventually one of us will email the other and into the mail the piles go.  Honestly, my trade relationship with Greg is better than most of my current face-to-face interpersonal relationships and I have never met the man.  Anyway, this pile came to me at the end of November right after I sent him this pile
 photo no1_zps5aae75b8.jpg
Oh those David Wrights.  Since the All Star game was held in Citifield this year, it figured all the Topps Update AS cards would be Mets centric, but wow, Topps outdid themselves with the official logos and some great pictures.  That Chrome Wright on top is probably in my top 10 all time favorite David Wrights already.  Zack Wheeler is going to get most of my love this year while poor Matt Harvey is on the shelf so I will probably end up doing a rainbow of his rookie card so that Chrome is a good start.  I am holding out hope that Juan Lagares turns out to be Steve Finley and not Alex Escobar.  Last in this scan is a marvelous little juxtaposition of a 2013 mini 1971 David Wright and an actual 1971 Topps Mets card.  I am not sure if Night Owl planned it to be such a nice contrast, nor could he have known that I did not have that awesome Sadecki card, but it sure as hell worked out well.  Someday, I want to know why Topps has decided to reprint the 1970's designs in mini form with modern players.  I would really like to have been in on that little committee meeting - and it had to be a committee, because only groupthink could have come up with such an odd and misguided idea as that one.

Not only does the Owl take direction well, he also reads my posts and wantlists:
 photo no2_zpscb5f22de.jpg
I asked him for that Frazier All Star Rookie card and he threw in the Rosario as well.  I had stated in a recent post that I didn't have a complete nine pocket page of Clayton Kershaw and in an altruistic gesture (or perhaps in a doubles dump) he provided more than I needed to put that complete page together.  I must say, that red bordered Dodger card just pops. 

Oh, and he also bipped me with Strawberrys:
 photo no3_zpsbf0247b4.jpg
But the joke is on him, I love pages of single cards, even junk wax ones.

Everything was properly packaged as always and he used blue painters tape to hold it together, but I do have one issue...
 photo no4_zps2b0f8fa1.jpg
...he wrote a little note but I am completely puzzled as to its meaning. A little help, Greg?

The "new" part of this presentation is my first unsolicited trade with a reader who does not have his own blog, a man known in the blogiverse as Zippy Zappy. 
 photo z1_zps0816d26f.jpg
He emailed me out of the blue that he had a bunch of Mets cards and that he had looked at my want lists (hey, someone reads my want lists!) and that he had a bunch of those for me too.  You see here in this first scan some of those Mets cards.  I am gonna miss Johan Santana but since he hasn't pitched much the last year and a half, I guess I am already used to it.  I hope one of those three Prizm rookies pans out.  And it's hard to tell, but that Zack Wheeler is purple.

He also looked at my player want list and came up with some great stuff:
 photo z2_zpse4e60109.jpg
I have a weird attachment to Alex Gordon and now I have a page of his cards to accentuate that odd infatuation.  ZZ is a Yankees fan and filled my odd request for horizontal Derek Jeter cards.  I had obtained a Listia lot of Jeter cards that I had earmarked for trades but it turns out that seven of them were horizontal, so of course instead of getting rid of them I decided to make another page of Jeter cards.  With those two, it is now complete and I hate to say it is pretty sweet.  The Trout, Bautista, Bruce, and Votto go towards finishing their pages as well.  That Bautista card is very very blue.

Zippy Zappy collects Yankees cards and in exchange for this pile of booty, I sent him a nice assortment of 40-50 random Bronx Bomber cards.  Since I did not have a want list to go by, I just kind of picked as many oddball and obscure cards I could of players I figure he liked.  He told me I did a pretty good job as he only had 3 or 4 of the cards I sent.  Who knew I had pinstripe instincts?
 photo z3_zps8a03042f.jpg
Here you see some 2013 Topps Update Mets needs and a wonderful Mr. Met insert from Opening Day.  I have never heard of Logan Verrett but I assure you, he is a Mets prospect.  It is so rare to see green on a Mets card that isn't the grass.  Also here are a couple of Gary Carter cards, one of which I didn't have (the white GQ parallel) and one I already had which featured prominently in this snarky post.  And that lower left card is a gold shiny Matt Harvey rookie card.  Wow, I might not have sent ZZ enough for this package, huh?

The last scan covers some junk wax era stuff he sent, 99% I already had.  I believe that Rick Cerone might be the only one I needed but I certainly appreciate the effort.  Those Knight and Strawberry cards are tremendous to look at so I included them here.  The last card in the package blew my mind...
 photo z4_zps3b422198.jpg
It is a 2007 UD Kellogg's David Wright card that I didn't even know existed, probably because it is Japanese.  Not only did he include this fabulous oddball food issue, he even translated it for me in his little note for me.  Believe me fellow bloggers, if you get an email from Zippy Zappy requesting a trade, answer that thing ASAP.  Thanks Kenny!  You have been proudly added to the trade wall of fame.

***Update*** Turns out right after I posted this, I found out Zippy Zappy started his own blog literally yesterday (thus making a liar out of me;). You should go check it out: