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Showing posts from January, 2009

Keeping myself busy

So, apparently Topps 2009 has made an unexpected but welcome appearance at certain Target locations. That should make a lot of bloggers' weekends a lot happier.

I'll be missing out on the party. I'm flat broke this weekend, and the mortage payment is due, so I won't be performing any budget magic in order to free up a few dollars. To top it off, it's a very busy weekend at work (Super Bowl and all, you know), so I probably won't even get near a Target until next week.

So, I'll just have to live vicariously through y'all. You better come through! I want to see EVERY card in the pack. Don't even skip over the Washington Nationals. Because even when I do get to a Target, who knows if they'll even have the cards. The card-mobile will probably get stuck in one of our six-foot snow drifts on the way to the store.

All of this means I'm looking for ways to keep myself entertained. Fortunately dayf came through with a post yesterday on American Heritage…

Brush with greatness: Eric Gagne

Eric Gagne is the only Dodger player I have interviewed, or at least the only one who was a member of the Dodgers at the time of the interview. And it was quite the crazy scene, from what I recall.

It was August of 2002. The Dodgers were in Montreal for a three-game series. I had tickets to the second game. But I went up for the first game because Gagne has relatives who live in the coverage area of our newspaper, and I thought it would make a good story. So, the first game was business, the second game pleasure. This was Gagne's first year as L.A.'s closer and he was a sensation, piling up saves at a record pace. He had 39 saves at the time, and there was talk of him breaking Bobby Thigpen's record of 57 in 1990 (K-Rod, of course, broke that last year).

Gagne's arrival in Montreal was a big event. Gagne is a native of a town just north of Montreal, and this was just his second appearance in Montreal since he became a major league pitcher. And with all the fanfare over …

If Panini can do it, I can do it

(*measure, measure, measure, trace, trace, trace*)

(*snip, snip, snip, snip*) ...

Oh, hi there. You've caught me in the middle of making my own brand of baseball cards! With the recent news that Panini has acquired the license to produce NBA cards, and the fact that Topps' MLB license expires in a year, I figured, why not? I'll try my hand at some cards. I could win the lottery, um, three times, and buy an exclusive deal, right?

So I have to start planning. I'm going to call my card company "Lower Level," and I'll be starting with the kids' market. We have to get those kids hooked first! My first product is going to be called "Letters." As in, "Lower Level Letters," or "LLL" for short. Catchy, no?

Here is an example of one of the cards:

That's right! All of the cards are die-cuts! This is the "U" card. It is my homage to Upper Deck. Because Upper Deck X was my inspiration.

Here is the "T" card and my t…

Awesome night card, pt. 19

I'm not ashamed to admit it: January has kicked my ass. Between work and finances, and especially the please-god-will-it-ever-stop-snowing weather, it's been a pretty thorough beat down. The only common winter occurrence that hasn't happened this month is illness, and, man, I probably just jinxed myself because there are still three babies left in this 31-day fiasco.

I'm feeling a little bit like the Braves did after Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series. As you may remember, it was an 18-inning ball game that started in the day and ended at night -- a day-night doubleheader folded into a single game. The Braves lost the game, 7-6, and the Astros advanced to the NLCS on Chris Burke's home run in the 18th. It was the longest game in postseason history, at five hours, 50 minutes.

I didn't see very much of the game. I had to work that night, so I caught the first few innings at home, and then tried to watch the rest of the game over my left shoulder (t…

My first TTM try

Even though I don't collect autographs, chase them, or enjoy a lot about that particular aspect of our hobby, I am finding I do make exceptions. Those exceptions have to do with obtaining an autograph of a player that has particularly special meaning.

It can be the player himself, or a certain situation involving the player. For example, the comment left by the daughter of former Oakland pinch-runner extraordinnaire Herb Washington on this post sealed the deal that I must obtain his autograph (since I didn't go to the card show, I'm still looking for an extra '75 card of Washington to send him, which I'll probably just obtain online now. Yeah, I'm going to drag this out for as long as humanly possible). Players that I have talked to for feature stories while working as a sportswriter also fall in that category. Although handing them a card and a pen during the interview is grounds for dismissal, I can make a request in a fan setting, away from my day (er, night…

Manny's rabbit fur coat

"But mostly I'm a hypocrite I sing songs about the deficit But when I sell out and leave Omaha, what will I get? A mansion house and a rabbit fur coat." -- "Rabbit Fur Coat," Jenny Lewis
When I started thinking about this post, which was basically going to be a rant about how Manny Ramirez should get off his butt and tell the Devil Man that $23 million a year is enough to live on and sign with the Dodgers already, all of a sudden the Jenny Lewis song popped in my head.

And that changed my line of thinking. Listen, there is a lot to get angry about over the Ramirez saga. Manny and I are roughly the same age. But our situations couldn't be farther apart.

In the time that Boras and Manny have danced around with the Dodgers, I read about the announcement Monday that nearly 50,000 employees will lose their jobs at various companies. I have heard about businesses going under. I have learned that wages will be frozen at my job for the next year. I have watched my retire…

Define the design (68T)

I've always been interested in coming up with names to define the look of each of the major sets that Topps, and then later Fleer, Donruss, Score, Upper Deck, etc., issued each year. Some, like 1970 Topps (gray border) and 1971 Topps (black border) are easy.

But some are more difficult, like the 1968 Topps set. I've heard the design of this set described most often one of two ways. The first is the "couch cushion" design. The second is the "old Zenith console TV design."

I always called it the "grandma's kitchen wallpaper" design, because I thought that's what it looked like -- drab, old-style wallpaper that one would only put in a kitchen because the color would best hide splattered food stains.

This is probably one of my least favorite Topps designs. It's got to be in the bottom 5. Probably because I was equating it with old splattered gravy stains. I could never understand why Topps came up with that design. I was barely alive in the …

What I didn't get at the card show

It turns out I seriously bollocksed just about everything having to do with Sunday's "card show that never was."

First of all, I should have made an attempt to drive through the lake-effect storm. I talked to someone today who drove the same route, and he said that you couldn't see for maybe 5 miles. He settled behind a tractor trailer for a little bit and before he knew it, the sun was out. I've driven through worse for longer to get to places I didn't even want to be.

Secondly, since I didn't end up going to the show, I should have exhibited a little patience and done some online card buying instead of hitting the card shop and Target. But given my state of agony, I was in the mood for nothing but instant cardification. And I paid for it with a load of dupes.

So, the highlights aren't nearly as numerous as they would be if I reached the card show or went on an eBay spree. And there isn't a vintage card in the lot that I'm about to show, which …

Cardboard appreciation: 1977 Topps Carlton Fisk

(Usually the word "appreciate" appears in sentences with a happy ring to them. Except when it is preceded by the words "I would." As in, "I would appreciate it if you wouldn't leave your clothes lying on the floor," or "I would appreciate it if you wouldn't curse in front of my grandmother, or "I would appreciate it if you would put those cards away and have a conversation with me." ... Um, not that I've ever heard any of these sentences. Time for another edition of cardboard appreciation. This is the 15th in a series):

I'm in a bit of a ornery mood for some unknown reason. So I might as well feature a card that brings all of my childhood hatred for a certain team to the surface.

My brothers and I have despised the Yankees for a long time. I can't pinpoint the exact moment that this began, but I can relay my first recollection of disliking the Yankees. It came on May 2, 1976. That was the day that the Red Sox and Yankees …

January is a black, black month

January needs to be erased from the calendar. Eliminated. Eradicated. Expunged. Scrapped. Put out of its misery. Taken out and shot.

I apologize to anyone with birthdays in this month (my grandmother was born in January, as well as a sister-in-law, a niece and a nephew). But I have no use for it. Any month that comes between me and a card show makes it on The List.

As you've probably figured out, I didn't go to the show. It J.T. Snowed all over the place around here. We got a foot of snow last night, and then the lake effect junk moved south and set up shop right between me and the card show. Clear at my place. Clear in Syracuse. A blinding storm of white terror in between. I thought about taking a chance, then read the warning about "major travel problems" on the interstate and decided not to risk it.

Before the weather forecast changed for the worse late Friday, I had gone to the effort to print out multiple lists for the show and had ranked them in order of priority…

Oddly inappropriate cartoons, pt. 2

Card set: 1973 Topps
Card: Dick Dietz, Los Angeles Dodgers
Card No.: 442
Inappropriate subject: I don't know if "inappropriate" is the word. "Questionable," maybe? It's generally not a good idea for 17-year-olds to get married.
Level of inappropriateness (scale of 1-10): A 2

This cartoon confuses me. I don't know if they're trying to say Dietz was a dumb ass for getting married so young, or if they're praising him for finding the girl of his dreams so early in life, or if they're poking fun (hey, look at the hick!). Whatever the intent, it seems like an odd kind of fact to put on the back of someone's own baseball card.

Dodgers revisited

Sometimes I feel like I'm neglecting my duties as a Dodger fan on this blog. I often drift off into other card collecting topics or baseball in general. But that's not because writing about the Dodgers bores me. It's because I have such an interest in baseball and collecting that I can't help but write about that, too.

In fact, being a Dodger fan is kind of a byproduct of my passion for baseball. Because I enjoy baseball history so much, it's only natural I am a Dodger fan, with the great history the franchise owns. And I greatly respect fans of teams like the Yankees, Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox, Indians, Reds, White Sox, Pirates, etc. -- teams whose histories go way back.

So sometimes I need someone to steer me back to the Dodgers. Receiving card packages is a good way for me to regain my focus. Recently, I received Dodgers from reader Steve, and Jeffrey of Card Junkie.

Steve sent me about 25 Dodgers. I believe I needed about half. Here are some of the highlights:

From your comment to Stadium Club's ears

You don't think there are baseball card gods? You doubt that there are baseball card fairies or gremlins or pixies?

OK, then how do you explain this? In the last post, I wrote about the slow deterioration of baseball players' penmanship skills. One MMayes of the 1972 Topps Baseball blog ended his comment on the post by saying:

"For a fun current autograph, check out Johnny Cueto's card. Looks like a kindergartner printing."

About nine hours later, I found myself in Kmart with the family. I was determined to buy something from the store's notoriously poor card selection (don't worry, it didn't cut into the card show budget). The only thing that whispered in my ear was a blaster of Stadium Club (yeah, yeah, I know, I vowed never to buy another SC blaster. Shut up). So I ponied up, and pulled this:

Looks like I get to find out how much Cueto's signature resembles those of the 5-year-olds on my block.

I've seen Cueto's signature before, so I know …