Thursday, October 31, 2013

C.A.: 2008 Topps Wacky Packages Flashbacks 2 Screech Tape sticker

(Happy Halloween, kiddies. Welcome to the day that I call "just another work night." Instead of handing out candy to children both cute and rude or hitting the party circuit, I'll be toiling under artificial light at my usual post. Have a Reese's on me. This is Cardboard Appreciation, the 191st in a series):


Don't you just hate those collectors who seem to have a card for every occasion? "Oh, it's 'Arbor Day,' here's my card of a ballplayer climbing a tree! Hey, it's April Fool's Day, here are all my Milton Bradley cards!"

I admit, I try to be that collector, periodically. But it's only periodic because most of the time I can't find an appropriate card or cards. I just don't have that varied of a collection. I also didn't collect much in the 1990s, which is a definite drawback when trying to match a card with any occasion. Trust me.

But every once in awhile, my love for Wacky Packages pays off.

This one is fantastic. It's a tribute to the very year that I collected Wacky Packages, in 1975. Topps reprinted a whole bunch of old WP stickers from '75 and various other years.

I really wish I kept all the Wacky Packs I bought in '75. I might try to re-acquire those. ... right after I finish like 7 other baseball sets.

OK, back to work.

Don't eat all your kids' candy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tin tin


Recently, I've received some collectible tins from a couple fellow bloggers. These come directly from the period when I wasn't collecting, and so, like anything from that period, I look at it quizzically as if I'm a dog and someone has just placed a piece of lettuce in front of me ("What is this? I can't eat this and I can't play with it!").

The first tin was a Sweet Spot version that came from Max at Starting Nine.


I apologize for the horrible stolen images, but the World Series game is almost on, I've got a story to write for work and there is no time to fool around with a camera.

Trust me, this is what the tin I received looks like. Without the muddled blurriness.

This is from 2007 and I was collecting a little in '07, but mostly just base Topps and I had no clue that there was a thing called Sweet Spot.

Now let's go to an era in which I had no knowledge of 99 percent of the cards that were produced then:



More ganked images. Sorry. But my camera pictures would be even worse.

These came from Mark at Mark's Ephemera and they're the second attempt by Donruss Preferred to feature cards in a tin. Those are two of my favorite Dodgers from that period featured there and the tins themselves are quite nifty.

The reverse side of the tins displays the Donruss Preferred "Tin Lineup" checklist (a "tin lineup" doesn't seem like a compliment) along with the "Preferred Honors" checklist, whatever that is.

I enjoyed the fine print so much, I'm going to regurgitate it here:

"Reserve your seat now for this year's edition of Donruss Preferred Baseball, the product that combines tradition and innovation within the friendly confines of a collectible tin. 1998 Donruss Preferred Baseball marks the return of our popular Precious Metals inserts featuring cards made of real silver, gold and platinum. Donruss Preferred also showcases Preferred Seating -- single parallel featuring five innovative die-cut shapes, Great X-Pectations -- sequentially numbered to 3,000 with the 1st 300 die-cut and Title Waves -- sequentially numbered to player's specific year their titles were won. The approximate odds of finding an insert card are 1 in 4 tins. Stated odds are based on an entire production run, not based on content of any individual box or case."

Thoughts:

1. That is about the most '90s thing that was ever written. Can we use the word "innovative" one more time?
2. I have a thing about enclosed spaces, so I would not describe the confines of a collectible tin as "friendly." My word would probably be "coffin-like."
3. I can't possibly figure out the parallel situation from that description and I get the feeling the person who wrote it doesn't know either.
4. Writing that out just gave me a headache.

The best thing about these tins, though, is that Mark included cards in them, just like they had originally.





And, of course, there were Nomos!



That Pristine card on the right has always been one of my favorites. And I don't even like that color of green.

Mark also sent a card that didn't fit in one of the tins.


Yay! A 1970 Topps Super!

This Claude Osteen is phenomenal because of the eye black. It also completes the team set of '70 Topps Supers for me. (I had no idea that Osteen and Willie Davis were short-prints in this set). Yay again!

It still cracks me up how thick these cards are. You could actually use them as a paddle.

Of course, since my collecting choices are so specific, whenever I get some non-cardish items, like a tin, I go into panic mode trying to figure out what to do with it.

You know the routine: limited storage space, other people in the house, a dog that eats things. WHAT WILL I DO WITH THESE?

And then it occurred to me. Duh! Cards came out of them, cards can go back into them!

Of course! It's so simple!

Well, I'm glad I've got that solved. What a load off my mind. Now I can get going with the zillion other tasks I have to do. Cross one thing off the list. Moving on!

What was that?

Which cards are going to go into them?

Oh, no ...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My favorite Twins


This is the most sentimental day on the calendar for me. It doesn't have anything to do with baseball (although I did take a tour of old Busch Stadium in St. Louis on that same weekend in 1987). So I avoid slipping into mushy thoughts here by putting a baseball spin on the day.

Last year I celebrated a milestone moment for this day by opening a rack pack of 1987 Topps. And in previous years, I've talked about my fondness for the city of St. Louis because of Oct. 29, 1987.

But since that time, I've soured on the St. Louis Cardinals, the media there, and some of their fans. In 1987, I rooted for the Cardinals against the Twins in the World Series and turned off the TV in disappointment when Minnesota won. But if the same two teams were involved today, I'd be rooting for the Twins.

I'm not sure why I rooted for the Cardinals that year anyway. It was two years removed from Jack Clark, Ozzie Smith, Whitey Herzog and GOD, I hated that team. So what possessed me to root from them shortly after that?

I think I owe the Twins an apology for that one, and I'm going to offer my apology in the form of this post. The Twins are a team I have ignored almost all of my life. I can never remember who is on the team and they always have these weird-named guys like Gary Serum and Lenny Faedo and Paul Thormodsgard who appear for a year or two and then vanish.

In years past, the Twins were that team where Dodgers prospects who couldn't crack the L.A. lineup would go to get playing time (think Geoff Zahn, Mickey Hatcher and Bobby Mitchell). Decades later, the Twins were flops that I selected for my fantasy team (think David McCarty, Shane Mack and Rich Becker).

But it's time for me to stop thinking that way. The Twins are a major league team independent of my preferences and biases. It's time for me to find my favorite Twins -- as in my favorite Twins cards.

So that's what I did. It took up way too much of the day and I couldn't whittle it down any lower than my top 20. And then there were a few I just had to show that didn't even make the list.


There had to be a lawsuit involved after this one.



Greg Gagne has some odd cards.



I know there are lots of product placements in cards these days and I know that nobody cares anymore whether kids buy cards or don't buy cards or drink beer or don't drink beer, but this has to be the point where everyone threw up their hands and said, "who cares, where's my money?"



I am so happy I have this card.



Finally, THIS is a rookie card. This is how you should appear on your rookie card. Dan Ford did it to perfection. You want a memorable rookie card, this is how you should BE.


And now, here are my top 20 favorite Twins. Please enjoy:



20. Ben Revere, 2012 Topps

I didn't review any 2013 cards because I don't think they should be in this conversation. But I didn't rule out modern cards completely. This is an example of the superb photography with which we are spoiled as collectors today.


19. Rod Carew, 2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites

I have mentioned before how Carew didn't smile a lot on his cards. Kudos to Topps for unearthing this photo as proof that Carew was happy when he wore a Twins uniform.



18. Tony Oliva, 1976 Topps

I know this isn't Oliva's best card and it's the final one of his career, but it's also the first Oliva card I ever pulled or saw. I thought it was pretty cool as a 10-year-old in 1976, probably because of that shadow thing going over Oliva's eyes. Not a great card in retrospect, but you can't get rid of those childhood feelings.



17. Terry Felton, 1983 Fleer

This isn't here so much for the card but for what made Felton famous in 1982. Felton lost the first 16 decisions of his career and made news by going 0-13 in 1982. He was released after the 1982 season and never received another card.


Those are his career stats on the back of his 1983 Fleer card.

But only the Donruss card issued that year references his unfortunate record:


Felton would receive cards from Donruss, Fleer and Topps in 1983, but I like the Fleer one best because he's smiling on his card -- despite that career 0-16 record and 5.52 ERA. At least he made the majors.



16. Dick Woodson, 1972 Topps

His name is Dick Woodson and he's damn pleased about that.



15. Greg Gagne, 1992 Stadium Club

OK, this is not an odd card of Gagne. This is when Stadium Club was at its peak and it's one of my favorite SC cards of all-time. You have to enjoy everything that's going on in that photo, although it's obvious that the girl in the front row feels the same way about bunting that everyone does today.



14. Jack Morris, 1991 Topps Traded

The only night card in the entire 1991 Topps set (base or traded) and a perfect card to complement Morris' World Series performance in 1991. At least I rooted for the Twins that year.



13. Steve Brye, 1977 Topps

This will make sense to no one and barely makes sense to me now. But because Steve Brye was designated as the "favorite player" of my brother's stuffed lion when we were kids, we talked about Steve Brye as much as any player who was around at that time. Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Fred Lynn, Jim Palmer, whoever. Steve Brye was right up there. One of those players who will always make me feel like a kid with a talking stuffed animal.


12. Rod Carew, 1978 Topps

Shockingly, this card did not make "The Golden Age of All-Star Cards" Countdown from a few months back. That doesn't mean I made a mistake, it just means that there were a LOT of terrific all-star cards at the time and I picked only 20. Let's consider this No. 21 because we thought it was epic in 1978.



11. Eric Soderholm, 1975 Topps

This is one of the first Twins cards I ever saw and it arrived the very first year I collected cards. I salvaged a ripped up version of this card from the toy chest of my friend Jennifer back in 1975. It's meant a lot to me ever since.


10. Shane Mack, 1991 Topps

One of my favorite cards from the '91 set and you know how many good ones are in that set. Mack is clinging to that base like I clung to last place in my fantasy league when I had him on my team. So it's like a metaphor, man.



9. Lyman Bostock, 1976 Topps

The rookie card of someone who first taught me what "gone too soon" meant. It deserves to be here.



8. Ron Washington, 1982 Topps Traded

Ron Washington player cards are fantastic fun. But his first solo card is the funnest of all.



7. Kent Hrbek, 1982 Donruss

Back in the early '80s when the first stirrings of "rookie card fever" began, we knew something was afoot. Rickey Henderson showed us the way. I don't think we even called them "rookie cards" at the time. Maybe we did. I don't know, it was very vague and we really didn't know what we had. That's what I think of when I see this Kent Hrbek rookie. It was special and worth keeping, but we didn't really know why yet.



6. Butch Wynegar, 1977 Topps

More rookie greatness. Wynegar was huge news in 1976, hitting his first major league home run in Yankee Stadium as a 20-year-old. When I pulled Harold's card it was the closest I'd had ever been to being the same age as a major leaguer.



5. Roy Smalley, 1980 Topps

Wait? What? Smalley's all-star card didn't make it into the "Golden Age of All-Star Cards" Top-20 Countdown either? Sheesh, sorry Twins. I guess make Carew No. 22 and Smalley No. 21. At least Smalley is a former Cardboard Appreciation topic.



4. Harmon Killebrew, 1970 Topps

Killebrew signed this card and you'll never be able to tell me otherwise.



3. Bert Blyleven, 1975 Topps

A borderline iconic card. I've called this photo an example of whistling in the graveyard. Blyleven is blowing bubbles in what looks like a torture chamber. Everything looks terribly dark where he is, but with gum and the bright blue uniform and the crazy-colored '75 border it's all positively super. Love this card.


2. Dan Ford, 1978 Topps

The list of "The Most '70s Card of the '70s" should be a short one. Oscar Gamble, Mark Fidrych, J.R. Richard. But I think Disco Dan Ford deserves inclusion. This has '70s all over it and it's one of the best cards in the 1978 set. Shake Your Groove Thing. Shake Your Groove Thing. Yeah, Yeah. Show 'Em How We Do It Now.



1. Rod Carew, 1975 Topps

The last card I needed to complete the 1975 Topps set, even though I believe I had the card way back in 1975 as a 9-year-old kid. At that time, you couldn't have convinced me that Carew didn't hit 30 home runs a year. This card is precious to me.

Believe it or not, I could have made this 50 cards strong. There is a stack of unscanned Twins cards on the desk in front of me right now.

But we don't want anyone thinking I'm really a Twins fan. I've got to be able to name more than five players on the current team to qualify.

As for those who showed up here thinking I was writing about a different kind of favorite twins ... 

Well, let's keep it in Minnesota with the Twin City Twins.


Everybody happy now?

Monday, October 28, 2013

This series ...


It's funny how a World Series can affect you when you have no horse in the race.

By "funny" I don't mean "oh, golly gee, this wacky timeless diversion that tugs on our heartstrings that we collectively adore through every delightful morsel, this base and ball of hills and valleys that we relish no matter who the participants. Jolly good show lads, jolly good show."

No, by "funny," I mean IS THIS GAME EVER GOING TO ENNNNNNDDDDD SO I CAN GO HOOOOOOOOMME????!!!!!!!!

I don't have an interest in the Red Sox or Cardinals. I'm rooting for the Red Sox by default, but by "root" I mean, "oh, so, the Cardinals won that game? What was the score? Has the boxscore come in yet? Where's my story? WHERE'S MY STORY????? ... Oh, damn, the Cardinals won."

I have seen only snippets of this series, which is is sort of expected for the job that I hold but not to this extreme. Through a quirk of scheduling, every game that the Red Sox and Cardinals have played, I have been producing the sports section for my local paper. And every game that the two teams are off, I am off. So even if I wanted to enjoy Tim McCarver's farewell TV viewer earache send-off, I couldn't. Because when I can settle in the chair and watch a game in its entirety, there is no game.

This is where someone will say, "well, can't you just watch it at work?" These are usually also the people who say, "you're so lucky, you get to watch sports at work."

Well, yes, I am lucky in that regard. When it's late June, and the Blue Jays are playing the Yankees and absolutely no other sport is in session. I can watch a game for a good three, four innings. Weeee.

But not October. The month when the summer season overlaps the fall season which overlaps the winter season.

At my job, there is a working TV two feet to the left of me. And I can't watch.

The game is on, but the sound is almost always off, because of the aforementioned McCarver, and Cialis commercials and, do we have to talk about that stuff now, I'm trying to write headlines and read stories here!

So, the game was on last night.

I knew it was the bottom of the 9th. I knew a Cardinal had gotten on first base. I knew Beltran was up. It was late enough in the night that I was waiting only for a stray NFL game (75 points from the Packers and Vikings), a stray NHL game and trying to edit an early Series sidebar when the guy next to me said:

"Did he get tagged out?"

"What?" I said.

"Did he just get tagged out? The guy on first."

I looked at the screen. They were in a replay (neither of us were aware then that Fox had completely missed the play). "No," I said, not even sure what I was watching. "I think he got back safely."

I went back to my computer fully confident the game was still going on.

"No," my co-worker said. "The game's over!"

I looked at the screen. Koji Uehara was jumping all over the place walking off the field with Mike Napoli and some other Red Sox.

"Whoaaaa," I said. "That's craz --- All right! WHERE'S MY STORY?"

And everything was frenzy for the next hour-plus.

With the exception of the first game of this Series, every other game has been tight literally down to the final play. That means I'm loathe to make a choice of a photo or story because things can change so quickly. Jonny Gomes hit that big home run last night and I thought I had an opening. But nobody could truly spring into action until Wong was picked off.

This makes for draining nights at work and I am hitting the sack even later than usual. The 3 a.m. night-night times are now 4/4:30 a.m. night-night times.

So much for "my Dodgers are eliminated, I can hibernate now."

But what about my fellow bloggers who are watching the game, what's it like for you?

I got some cards from a Braves fan a little while ago. Steve's team was eliminated by my Dodgers. I've heard from another Braves fan that the baseball season is now over. There is no baseball on TV. The season is done. But if that's true, then how come I'm getting home so late?

But I know the feeling. Red Sox? Cardinals? Geez, isn't Glee on or something?

Here are the cards from Steve:




I really miss the days when Takashi Saito was the closer for the Dodgers. Not a care in the world then.

As for the Kevin Brown relic, I can't imagine a more depressing hit.

I also received some cards from a Red Sox Fan in Nebraska, who as you can imagine is a Red Sox fan.

I believe the Series is quite a different experience for him than it is for me. The last time the Dodgers were in the World Series, I was busy trying to start a career with a lot going on -- I could barely focus on the Series. But now? I imagine a lot of angst and agony would be in store for me. And so it is for Red Sox fans, especially in such a tight series.

Here are some of the cards:





Lots of blue and lots of Ramirez, just how I like it.

It's been so long since I've experienced a Series in which I could watch leisurely with a beverage and a snack -- I'm thinking that one of the games in the 2011 Series was the last time -- that I don't even know what fans DO when these games are taking place.

Tonight there is another game and I'll be doing the same thing -- hoping that the winner is determined relatively early so work will be a little less hectic.

I need one of those because I think I'm starting to project with the headlines I write:



It's getting hairy all right.

I'm sure a few people are thinking "you picked the profession, pick another one if it's such a pain." But my inability to watch this World Series isn't that big a deal to me. Like I said. Red Sox and Cardinals. I just like to use the blog to vent a little bit. What's the fun in having a blog if you can't vent?

And there was something good that happened last night.

The Red Sox win means there will be a Game 6.

And I'm scheduled to be off the day of Game 6.

If there's no weather delay, I'll be able to have my beverage and snack and sit in my favorite chair.

That's still what people do, right?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Fleer's turn


One thing that this exercise has taught me is how differently people perceive the exact same thing. It's a simple piece of cardboard with various shapes, colors and lines. But depending on the collector viewing it, it is either the best piece of cardboard ever devised or a train wreck.

For the first time in this "biggest improvement/biggest bust" series you will see a certain combination on each list TWICE. That's right, according to your comments, people think that 1982-83 Fleer and 1994-95 Fleer is both the biggest improvement and the biggest bust.

I'm tempted to think this is just people trolling or being contrary, but I don't think it is. As my grandma used to say, "that's why there's vodka and beer" (OK, really she said, "that's why there's chocolate and vanilla."). People just like different stuff.

So without further babbling, I will present to you the candidates for selection as Fleer's "Biggest Improvement" and "Biggest Bust." I've altered the sidebar -- something I'm loathe to do -- just so you can vote. So don't let all that effort go to waste. Be a dear, and vote (channeling grandma again).

The candidates:


BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT


1982-83: Here is one of the finalists that appears on both lists. My personal view is that this is not an improvement. I don't like the 1983 gray borders. But there's logic to this. 1982 Fleer had a whole lot of blurry and mis-cropped photos. 1983 didn't have as many. And it had a team logo on the front.



1983-84: You're seeing the divergent opinions already. 1983 Fleer was already an improvement! How can it be improved upon? Davey Lopes wants an answer! Well, if you're asking me, I think there's a lot to improve upon with '83 Fleer. And 1984 Fleer did it. The '84 Fleer set might be my most favorite Fleer set.



1991-92: Pete Incaviglia looks like he's trying to get away from 1991 Fleer. I don't blame him. It's unhealthy to be that close to the sun. I'm not crazy about '92 Fleer, but I understand the sentiment here, too. Anything is an improvement over '91 Fleer.



1993-94: I'm surprised this didn't get a few more votes. Gray/silver borders always suck. ALWAYS. Meanwhile, 1994 Fleer is one of the few understated sets of the '90s. Flashy collectors may not like it, but it has a definite following.



1994-95: You might need therapy if you consider this an improvement. But that's me being judgmental again. Sorry.



1995-96: This received the most nominations. I'm not a big fan of Fleer's matte-finish era, but I think a lot of collectors were happy that Fleer's psychotic era had ended and the company was ready to return to civilized society in 1996.


BIGGEST BUST



1982-83: You just saw this on the "biggest improvement" list. Crazy, huh? I like '82 Fleer better than '83 and remember being disappointed when I pulled those first 1983 Fleer out of packs. But I don't know if I'd call it the biggest bust in the Fleer era.



1987-88: Don't really get this one. I consider both sets to be fairly respectable and better than what Fleer put out in 1985 and 1986. 1987 is kind of cool in a way that '88 Fleer never will be so maybe that was the thought here.



1988-89: I agree. If I could find someone to take all of my 1989 Fleer cards, it would be the best day ever.



1990-91: I've mentioned this before. I didn't buy any Fleer in 1990 (I didn't buy more than a few packs of anything that year). When I was at a card show a couple years later, I saw '90 Fleer for the first time and said, "Ugh. Why would anyone collect that?" Then the following year, I bought packs of '91 Fleer and I find out what "uncollectable" was really about.



1994-95: Far-and-away the most cited example. 1994 is your brain. 1995 is your brain on drugs.

But as we've found out. Some collectors like being on drugs ... sorry, judging again.

So those are your voting options.

The poll is on the sidebar. I'll link to this post so people who don't visit every day (what's wrong with you?) can go to this post and vote at their convenience.

As usual, thanks for playing.