Saturday, June 30, 2012

Embarrassed? Every day, man. Every day

If I made a concerted effort to focus on it, I'm pretty sure I could come up with an embarrassing moment for every day of my life.

Fortunately, I am not a teenager anymore, so whether I am embarrassed is not something that I obsess over or will be the ruin of me. But it's true, embarrassing things still do happen. A lot.

Fuji's latest question asked me to share with everyone an embarrassing sports memorabilia story from my past.

Well, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Because I'm going to share an embarrassing sports memorabilia story from my present. As in "today."

I'm telling ya, every day, man. Ev-er-y-day.

You see the Rafael Furcal Icons jersey card scanned here? See the big ol' wrinkle in the middle?

That arrived in the mail today. I bid on that card. I won that card. I was proud that I won that card. I was proud that I won it and that it was free. I was the man. A relic card? Of a player on my favorite team? For free? Greatness. I didn't care that it was of someone who now plays for the Cardinals.

The card arrived perfectly protected, so I'm assuming that it wasn't damaged in transport.

The photo of the card that was shown online does not show any evidence of a crease.

But it's one of those deals where you don't notice the crease right away even if you're holding the card in your hand. It takes a few tilts in the light for the crease to show itself. Or you can just scan the card and there's no mistaking it: THAT'S A CREASE!

Now, the card was free, so I'm trying not to complain too loudly. I'm not going to demand my credits back or leave negative feedback (I already left positive feedback before I discovered the damage). I don't hold anyone responsible except for myself. I'm a buyer. I need to beware.

Yes, I was a little embarrassed when I discovered the crease.

"What a fool I am to believe I could get something that nice for free," I believe was my thought from a couple hours ago.

I still enjoy the card. It'll still go with the rest of my Dodger relics. It's not the only relic I have with a crease in it, that's for sure.

But yeah, I'll be a little embarrassed about it for the next several hours.

Until tomorrow.

When something else embarrassing happens.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I received good news today

I hope this is the last time I write about my medical issues on this blog. For those of you who groan with the realization that you're about to read about people's doctor visits, I assure you, there will be cards in this post. Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit.

Regular readers here may know I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three months ago and was pretty devastated by the news, as someone who had been in relatively good health for a number of years.

Since then, I have wandered around in a haze, receiving an abundance of information from a variety of sources, realizing I can't possibly process all of the information, recognizing that some of it was making me crazy, and settling on a plan that worked for me.

Diabetes is an overwhelming disease, and I'm convinced its most effective weapon is confusion.

Fortunately, according to my nutritionist, I have cut through the confusion in record time.

Those who are diabetic, or know someone who is, are probably aware of the A1C test, which measures the percentage of glycated hemoglobin in your blood over a three-month period. In very basic terms, if your percentage goes over a certain number, you're at risk for diabetic complications. If it's between that number and another number, you're pre-diabetic. If it's below a certain number, you're considered someone without diabetes.

I received the results of my A1C test today. According to the test, I do not have diabetes.

Yay for me.

This happened in three months, which my nutritionist says is "phenomenal." My doctor hadn't seen the results of the test when I saw her, but she apparently was so impressed with what I was doing she doesn't want to see me for six months.

So, what have I been doing?

I'm only writing this because it's a little different from the norm.

They gave me diabetes medication. I didn't take it. It's sitting unopened in the medicine cabinet.

I was raised to use natural remedies before relying on pills. I decided to give it a shot. If it didn't work, I'd take the medication. So I rehauled my diet. Carbohydrates slashed. Sugar almost eliminated. Portion size downsized. I started an exercise plan. It's really nothing intense, pretty basic -- as I am not an exercise freak. I added a bunch of supplements with names that make my doctor's eyes glaze over. But with the combination of diet, exercise and supplements, I dropped weight easily.

It got so easy that it got a little scary for awhile, both for me and my caretakers. But then the weight leveled off and everyone is in high-five mode. I weigh as much as I did in high school. The looks and questions I've received at work or from others that know me are priceless -- and kind of annoying for someone who doesn't like the public attention. But I realized that people are so lost when it comes to their diets that when they see someone who's lost weight, it's like a miracle to them.

It's not a miracle. It's simple. Get through the first month or two, and you're golden.

I realize that I'll have to deal with this for the rest of my life, and I may have to change things in years to come. Diabetes is a progressive disease. But as the nutritionist says, a huge percentage of us will get diabetes at some point or another if we gain weight or don't watch what we eat. So why not start now? She says I've figured out something in three months that's taken some of her other patients years to figure out. That makes me feel good.

OK, I've written way too long about this, and I promised cards.

Up top, you noticed that Ben Oglivie was very happy for my news.

Here are all of his friends:

Most of them are happy to hear I'm doing well, too, although Skip Lockwood seems to want to mull the news over. But he makes up for Chaney, who's a little TOO happy.

All of these cards arrived from Robert of $30 a Week Habit. Robert is the first person to take advantage of my new 1977 Topps want list. And as a thank you, there is a trade package destined for him and ready to be sent tomorrow.

Here are two goofy bodyless Kershaws. Now if my news didn't make you smile, these certainly did. Even with all the floating heads floating around lately, they're still a hoot.

One of these came from Chris at Nachos Grande, who is constantly pulling Kershaw items. The other is from Brian at Play at the Plate.

Another Play at the Plate card, just in time for Allen & Ginter season. Billingsley isn't smiling at my news, probably because he's still trying to figure out what a release point is.

My fear with ol' Chad is that he will be dealt to the Royals or Twins and suddenly figure out what he hasn't been able to figure out for six years and became absolutely dominating. But I don't know if I can stand watching the guy stuck in neutral year after year anymore.

OK, that wasn't happy.

This is a happy post!

What a strange world. Baseball makes me sad and eating my vegetables makes me happy.

Nope, I'm definitely not a kid anymore.

Awesome night card, pt. 146

Yes, here's another reminder of one of the lowest moments in Dodgerdom.

But everyone just needs to tough it out. The Dodgers just got shut out three straight games by the Giants. Do they deserve anything better from me?


I told you this stretch of the schedule was going to kill them.

Anyway, this card came from Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life! He sent a bunch of night cards, which you will be seeing here and there. And he sent some Dodger needs, too, which you'll see in another post.

This card, of one of Reggie's three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, features a famous image from that game. It's a classic shot from a classic set, 2007 Masterpieces.

However, it's not the 2007 Masterpieces that I know.

The Masterpieces cards that I know have the canvas feel that made them famous. You know. Paintings (or faux paintings) on canvas. Right?

This card is glossy.

Glossy Masterpieces?

I wasn't part of the blog constituency in 2007. Were these glossy Masterpieces cards common knowledge? How were they packaged? Was it part of a box set? Did they come in packs?

And why would anyone want Masterpieces Glossy after seeing Masterpieces on Canvas?

I know. I know. Every modern card must be glossy. And feature foil.

It's a disease.

I'm sure I could find out the answer to this with a couple minutes of research. But this is my last act on a computer for the night and I'm not prolonging it looking up things that shouldn't be. Especially if means adding cards to my want list.

Besides, I need my sleep. I have to prepare for the sweep by the Mets coming up this weekend.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hi, I'm Night Owl, and I'm a snob

I may talk a good game -- glorifying the base card, writing weekly tributes to cardboard worth appreciating, ripping mojo patch hunters -- but the truth is I'm somewhat of a collecting snob.

There, it's out.

Most times I lie somewhere in the middle of the collecting spectrum, which you would think is definitely "un-snobby."

However, since I'm in the middle, I will never be one of those people who collects only graded cards or even ONE graded card. Graded cards, to me, are almost a perversion of collecting. Too much obsession on condition and not enough on the card. Graded cards are like card collecting's version of porn.

I know. That's harsh. I know that's a narrow view. I'm sorry. I have opinions. I'm a snob.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who pay ode to the beat up, stripped down, stomped on the ground, buried six feet under, good god, I think that card SMELLS vintage. The dirtier the better. Stained cards. Foldable cards. Cards that look like they spent the night in an outhouse. Some of these cards -- if I'm being totally honest -- make me gag inside.

I know. Narrow view again. The opinions just come out. I apologize. I'm a snob.

I've tried to be a little more tolerant on both ends. Poor condition isn't a deal breaker to me when the card is old (to me "old" is pre-1970). And I've gratefully added many "off-condition" vintage cards in my collection. I love them just as much as if they were snazzy-new and the inside me does a little dance every time I see them.

On the other end, I've ... uh, well ... I've ... uh, OK, I still don't have a graded card. Any graded card that I have received has been released from its plastic shell with the zeal of a violent prison break. You can practically hear the bombs going off in the neighborhood.

So, there's definitely some snob in me -- and if the name wasn't taken already -- it'd be a good second nickname for me.

There's another area where the snob comes out and that's in trades.

Only this is totally unintentional and not based on any viewpoint at all. I just have happened to been at this trading/blogging thing for a little while now and I have managed to accumulate quite a few trade partners -- I really don't know how this happened.

So I end up with a lot of cards, especially on the Dodger end.

And since the snob in me says -- "wait a minute there, son, only one version of that card is allowed" -- I banish any doubles I receive to a cardboard purgatory and there they sit, waiting for someone to love them. And I get a LOT of doubles.

As you know, base cards are a breeding ground for doubles. There are simply more of them and easier to get. I actually happen to still need a crap-ton of base cards, but the snob in me sees a base card in a trade package and automatically thinks "got it -- TO THE DUPES BOX!!!" without even knowing whether it's true or not. This is why I have to go through each trade package four or five times (there really needs to be 46-hour days) to make sure I'm not discriminating against any poor, unsuspecting base card.

Unfortunately, there are some trade packages in which no base cards survive unscathed.

One such package was from Lonestarr at Life and Baseball Cards. After proper compartmentalization of the cards, I was left with only non-base cards as needs.

The card at the top of the post, a nifty relic card of Shawn Green (Green relic card #14 in the collection), was needed because it is not a base card. It's a hit.

Let's see the others:

Not a base card. Needed because it's a parallel mini.

(2009 A&G is looking better and better after the last 2 years).

Not a base card. Needed because it's a variation.

(You don't know how long it took for me to figure out if I had this card. All Topps 206 blends together).

Not a base card. Needed because it's a parallel.

(The dorky spring training caps make Martin look like he's prematurely gray).

Not a base card. Needed because it's an insert set.

(I think. Anything from 1999 automatically confuses me).

Not a base card. Needed because it's a cloth card parallel.

(Cloth cards are proving to be the most difficult of the Lineage/Archives parallels to obtain)

Not a base card. Needed because it's a red parallel.

(And totally awesome)

Not a base card. Needed because it's both a liquorfractor and a short-print.

(Sure are a lot of Dodger short-prints)

OK. Here's a base card that I needed. But it's an oddball, so in my trading world it still qualifies as a non-base card. And I'm still a snob.

Gray went to Binghamton University, which was about 3 miles down the road from me when I was a kid. Back then, it was called Harpur College, and I'm about the only person who finds that interesting.

But Gray was the first Binghamton U. player drafted in the major leagues. So that's kind of cool for a Southern Tier boy.

So, there you are.

A bunch of non-base cards. Deemed worthy of showing here by night owl, the snob.

The fact is there are tons of base cards that I still need and want. My want list will prove that. I'm just a victim of circumstance ... or something like that. (please don't stop sending me cards!!!)

And, truthfully, I'm just one type of collector, whose opinion is no better than anyone else's. You're not a collector unless you have specific interests, which by their nature are exclusive. Some like graded cards, some like moldy cards, some like 1991 Donruss (yeah, really). Some can take this, but leave that. Why I even read today that someone couldn't stand 1975 Topps (!!!!!!!!!).

Does that mean we're all snobs?

I'm not saying that.

I've said enough already.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Red jerseys expos'd

This is one of my favorite Expos cards. It's not because there is a Dodger in the background or because I have farmers in my background. It's because Farmer is wearing a red Expos jersey in game action.

The red Expos jersey was fantastic, but about the only time you saw it on baseball cards was on a posed shot, during batting practice, with the player grinning goofy-like. There aren't a lot of action photos of Expos in red jerseys -- or at least I don't have many in my collection.

Some time ago, either on my blog or another blog -- I don't know, I read so many -- I could have sworn that someone left a comment that said something like, "I don't remember those red Expos jerseys!!!!!!!"

And my instant reaction was, "you are so young, son."

I filed the comment away, and when post ideas were low, I decided to fish out some other Expos red jerseys photos. But I had to stop, because it just got out of hand.




Of The


Is Wearing

Red On Some Card Or Another.

So I started to wonder if I didn't remember correctly what the commenter said. Is it possible he missed all those Expos stars wearing red?

I dug further.

I found a duo of Ray Burrises, really pleased to be wearing red.

I found a trifecta of red jerseys from '84 Donruss.

I found a quartet of red jerseys from '89 Fleer.

And I found a sextet of red jerseys in '82 Fleer ...

... and '82 Donruss

(OK, one is from '83 Donruss. Nobody is ever going to be able to tell the difference).

I had to stop. There were just too many red jerseys.

Was it possible that this person had missed all this red? Were they color blind? Fans of the American League? Amish?

Not only were there so many photos of Expos wearing red practice jerseys, but the vast majority of them were featured during the heart of the junk wax era. Just about every junk wax set has an Expo wearing red.

And that perplexed me even more.

How could anyone miss that?

Maybe it's not what the comment said. Maybe it said, "I miss the old red Expos jerseys," or "I forgot about the old red Expos jerseys" or "I wish they'd bring back the old red Expos jerseys" (which would be stupid because they're the Nationals now).

Maybe my brain is just too feeble and it's incapable of retaining information anymore. Maybe I went through all this research for nothing.

And then I thought:

"Maybe the person did comment that he didn't remember the Expos wearing red jerseys, and he really doesn't remember, because unlike people who waste a bunch of time digging useless cards out of their collection and then writing about them, he has a JOB, and a LIFE, and he can't spend VALUABLE TIME REMEMBERING WHAT JERSEYS SOME TEAM THAT DOESN'T EVEN EXIST ANYMORE WORE 20 YEARS AGO!!!!!"


I think I need to sit down.

Yeah, that's about right

I thought this was amusing.

Sean Casey was inducted into the Reds' Hall of Fame last weekend. Casey, as you know, was a gregarious first baseman who played for several teams, but mainly for the Reds. He spent his first season of professional baseball in Watertown, N.Y., which is where I call home. I've interviewed him in the past, and he was chipper-gee-golly-whiz each and every time.

But I liked him even more after hearing this anecdote.

Casey was known as "The Mayor" because of the way he chatted up everyone during games. He loved to talk to base runners when they reached first.

Well, here's his story of meeting Rickey Henderson for the first time, relayed on Saturday at the big ceremony:

"My rookie year, I was like three weeks up, I was so excited to be here," Casey said. "Rickey Henderson singled to left or something, and he's at first base. I'm so excited, 23-year-old, wide-eyed. I'm like, 'Hey man, great job, good swing. I've got your baseball card, 1980 Topps.' He kind of looked at me like, 'Shut up, I don't even know who you are.'"

Yeah, Sean, don't worry about it.

Us collectors get that reaction all the time. Sometimes from people right in our own family.

Just keep on smiling. We know you're cool.

Hope you hung on to that Henderson rookie.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We're all just living in his world

How many times have I written about Ron Cey on this blog?

Well, I did some haphazard research. I count 62 separate mentions of Cey on Night Owl Cards, although there are probably more. I also counted at least 80 separate images of Cey on the blog. Some have appeared multiple times.

I have more than 100 different cards of Cey. A handful, three or four, are from when he was with inferior teams. But the vast majority are during his 12 years with the Dodgers. I only care about his cards with the Dodgers, and I am closing in on 100 different cards of him as a Dodger. Even though Cey cards aren't replicated like cards of other past players -- thank goodness -- I should have no problem reaching that total this year.

Although I'm strictly a card collector, I have managed to accumulate other items of Cey, simply because he was my favorite player as a kid, is my favorite player of all-time, and I tend to make exceptions for people like that.

So, on this blog, I have shown:

Cey scratch-offs.

Cey postcards.

Cey sportscaster cards

Cey stickers

Cey stamps

Cey buttons

Cey police cards

Cey cloth stickers

Cey discs with ice cream on them

Cey artist's renderings

And Cey yearbook pages.

On the traditional card front, I've shown all of his major releases.

From his rookie card ...

... to his final card with the Dodgers

From Hostess ...

... to Kellogg's ...

... To O-Pee-Chee.

From cards early in his career ...

... to cards later in his career ...

... to cards from after his career.

As for the "hits," I've shown ...

Bats ...

... and BATS!

Jerseys ...

... and JERSEYS!

And autographs?

I've displayed ...

certified autos ...

... cut autos ...

... and autos received through the mail.

I've shown parallels ...

... oddballs ...

... quad bat cards ...

... expensive cards ...

... and homemade cards.

Shiny cards ...

... sad cards ...

...  and ugly cards.

So ...

When Fuji asked who my favorite player was growing up and whether I collected his cards and whether I had any memorabilia of that person, too, I thought ...

"Lord, I think I've said it all already. What am I going to write about?"

I still don't know.

But I did manage to dig up a scant few Cey items that I haven't shown yet.

A Cey Kellogg's card from 1978. I can't believe I haven't shown this before. This was the year after his big slugging season in which he set the April RBI record. I was never more proud of Cey than in 1977 (well, until 1981 came along). So, his '78 cards were big deals for me.

A team issue photo when you could order these through the mail direct from the Dodgers. They're flimsy and lousy quality, but it was very cool back then to have a photo of everyone on the team.

Topps stickers!!!!!! From 1981 and 1982. The '82 sticker is one of the rare instances of Cey appearing without a cap. The 1976 Topps card of Cey is the most famous example of that.

But those are about the only Dodger items of Cey that I could find that I haven't featured somewhere on the blog so far. I'll just have to get some more so I'm not repeating myself.

Many of the items that I have shown came from generous bloggers who know that Cey is my all-time favorite player. They understand what kind of player he was.

Cey was not a spectacular human specimen. He didn't inspire awe. He wasn't Mark McGwire or Albert Pujols. His talent wasn't immediately apparent like Rickey Henderson or Ichiro Suzuki.

He was relatively short (5-10), compact, and practically waddled when he walked. But, damn, could he mash. And he could field, too.

He was a great talent inside a regular guy. He had great moments -- his diving catch in the 1981 World Series, his grand slam in the 1977 NLCS, his back-to-back All-Star appearances in 1974 and 1975. And he had down moments -- losing World Series in '74, '77 and '78, getting beaned by Rich Gossage in the Series, being injured and not being able to play in the 1980 special playoff against the Astros.

He had ebbs and flows like everyone. Yet, he was (and is) as personable as can be, accommodating to fans, which is something you can't say with a lot of modern ballplayers. He's a family guy, and has raised some talented kids. And he still loves the Dodgers.

What more can you ask for? Even though he's been retired for almost 20 years, we're all just living in his world, hoping to be like him -- a regular guy who figured out a way to achieve greatness anyway. OK, maybe it's just me living in his world.

But anyway, this is why Cey continues to be my favorite player, long after I first saw his 1975 Topps card and rooted for him as a 10-year-old.

Oh, I'm supposed to fill you in on my favorite item of his.

Does everyone who has ever collected a card and logged onto a website know this by now?

Say it with me: "The 1975 Topps Ron Cey card is Night Owl's all-time favorite card."

Got it?

I don't want to be asked again.

OK, maybe I do -- but give me some time to get a few more Cey cards first.