Tuesday, October 30, 2018

10th anniversary giveaway continues: Target's card section returns

I freaked out a bit prematurely last week.

My local Target did not do away with cards as I had feared when I saw that the aisle on the far end of the registers had been transformed into gift card heaven (by the way, the previous gift card station near the greeting cards is still there, which leads me to believe this is a temporary set-up).

No, I followed my online friends' advice and traveled to the back of the store near the electronics section. To the right of electronics sits books and CDs and other obsolete ways of consuming media. Directly behind those shelves are Funkos and Disney stuff and what appears to be a now-smaller section of cards. It reminds me a bit of my local Walmart set-up.

The picture above includes most of what was displayed in the card section. There are a couple more boxes off camera to the left. One thing I noticed right away is many of the loosies are up very high, definitely out of reach of pint-sized collectors. I can't help but think there's a reason for that.

In fact my obsession with the perception that retail outlets think of collectors as criminals made me wonder why the cards were moved so far away from the greatest concentration of Target workers. I'm assuming it's because the loss prevention folks are already monitoring the electronics section closely, so why not add the cards to that section?

Anyway, the card selection when I visited was OK. You can see blasters of Archives and Allen and Ginter. There are also hanger boxes of Heritage High Numbers and Series 2. My Target still hasn't gotten Update, which means it's behind the Walmart across the street. But it's got lots and lots and lots of Donruss stuff! Holy, moly, that's half the section!

Way up in the top right corner, far, far away from 10-year-old Jimmy's grimy stealing hands, is a hanger pack of Topps Fire. I stretched and grabbed it just for the sake of proving someone can reach it.

The pack was pretty boring. Nothing of note.

Both of these shiny guys (trust me, they're shiny) are White Sox because earlier in the day I sealed a package for 2x3 Heroes because this is why you don't buy cards after sealing packages. Now I've got to open the thing again. My life is so haaaaaarrrrd.

But Target is selling cards again, so yay!

So, let's continue with this 10th Anniversary Giveaway.

When we last left off, Michael Ott selected the '78 Topps Nolan Ryan, carlsonjok picked the Babe Ruth insert, Jim from Downingtown passed and EP grabbed the 1971 Topps six-pack.

So, next up is Henry Blanchette who is no doubt still celebrating his Red Sox's victory (bleah). He has until 7 p.m. Wednesday to make his selection.

This is what's left on the big board:

Once he picks, gcrl is up next. And so everyone else can follow along, here is who follows gcrl:

26. Bo
27. kcjays
28. sg488

A reminder: if you aren't a regular trader with me -- meaning you haven't traded with me more than once --  please email your mailing address to: nightlite77@yahoo.com. Some of you have already done so. Thank you.

OK, so that's it. And remember, if you suddenly see your Target card aisle transformed into a wall of Olive Garden/Chili's/Lowe's/chain-o-rama gift cards, DON'T FREAK OUT and send angry tweets to customer service like a certain night owl. It will not get you free stuff from Target! Just walk calmly to the back of the store where all your trading card dreams await.

(P.S.: It just occurred to me that many people think sports trading cards are no longer relevant and Target has now placed them with relics like books and CDs. Perhaps Target has already unofficially named this section the "Irrelevant, Old People section" and since it now resides right next to the stock room door are now snickering about us on the opposite side of the wall? Seems about right.)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Match the song title: Back in Black

I'm taking another break from the 10th Anniversary Giveaway. In terms of picks, it's Henry Blanchette's turn to select (followed by gcrl). He may pick by commenting on my last post, but I won't set another selecting deadline until tomorrow's contest post.

OK, as you know, baseball season is over and it was another garbage finish from my perspective. No offense to the Red Sox, who I am well-aware are not the Yankees, but really, I'm in no mood to discuss the close of the season.

This is my mini-mourning period (though not as severe as last year). So the next Match the Song title post is appropriate. This famous album was created as the band mourned the death of their great singer Bon Scott.

The first time I heard AC/DC on the radio was probably when many people did, when the band released "You Shook Me All Night Long" off their "Back in Black" album in the late summer of 1980. Produced by Mutt Lange, "Back in Black" was a bit more polished than heavy metal music of the 1970s and more accessible.

I didn't first come across the album until the following spring. I would bike a few miles down to the park where my younger brother played youth baseball. It was an excuse to watch baseball and hang out with my friends. Somebody -- I don't remember who -- had one of those large boom boxes popular at the time, blaring "Back in Black".

I had never heard something so raucous. Keep in mind, this is a period in which Kenny Rogers and Dionne Warwick were still flying high on the charts. Schmaltzy duo songs -- Lionel Richie/Diana Ross, Eddie Rabbitt/Crystal Gale, Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers (again)/Dolly Parton -- dominated the airwaves. AC/DC spoke to me in a way those sappy songs didn't.

The next real "Back in Black" memory for me came six years later, on this very day. My future wife and I danced to "You Shook Me All Night Long" in a bar in St. Louis, our first dance together. Although AC/DC is about as far on the other side of spectrum from "romantic" as you can get, the song and album has always been awesome for exactly that reason.

But, eewww, that was starting to get as sappy as a Kenny Rogers-Dottie West duet (yet another one, Kenny????). Let's turn to trying to match up some trading cards with some hard driving songs from the boys from Australia.

Take a look at the track list and let's get this party going:

Match the Song Title: "Back in Black - AC/DC"

Track 1: Hells Bells: The walk-in music for Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman. I never liked Hoffman much, but he knew how to pick his music.

Track 2: Shoot to Thrill: Second verse, same as the first. AC/DC gets accused of writing the same song over and over, so let's go with another closer from another one of the Dodgers' rivals. "Shooter" lived hard and died young, much like a protagonist in an AC/DC song.

Track 3: What Do You Do For Money Honey: If you're a baseball player, you play baseball for money, honey. If you want a lot of money, you play for a team with a lot of money, like the Red Sox. Teams pay for championships with money, that's a fact. If you want to win titles through bargains and coupons, you're better off playing fantasy baseball. Because you're living a fantasy. (P.S.: Love Angus Young's playing on this song).

Track 4: Given The Dog A Bone: These next two songs are about only one thing and it's not giving your pet doggie a snack. But we'll pretend it is for the sake of showing this Milk Bone card again.

Track 5: Let Me Put My Love Into You: OK, I could sidestep the last song, but there's only so much I can do with this. I'm a guy and this song steers me in just one direction.

Track 6: Back in Black: Still remember the opening coming out of that kid's boom box. Best AC/DC song of all-time ...

The Yankees can insist they wear navy and are "the good guys" all they want, but they actually wear the black hat and are always from the dark side. It's not easy to find a card of a Yankee in one of those dark jerseys because Topps is trying to shove their pinstripes down our throats all the time, but I got one! The worst part of the offseason is knowing your team didn't win and another year is coming up of rooting against the Yankees getting a title before your team does.

Track 7: You Shook Me All Night Long: So many feels with this song. One of those songs that you wish would never end.

The best game of the entire World Series, the entire postseason really, was the 18-inning Game 3, which I was kind of hoping would never end. It was dominated by memorable moments by the Dodgers, particularly Max Muncy's game-winning home run (and his barely foul home run). Muncy's rookie card has been doing good business lately. It's one of the too few Topps cards of Muncy.

Track 8: Have a Drink On Me: I have 617 different Clayton Kershaw cards. I want more.

In case you haven't heard, Kershaw can be a free agent this offseason and sign with a different team. It's likely that he remains a Dodger, but the media and the online community are bent on creating doubt in Dodger fans' minds. Uncertainty is their fuel and their drug. Then there are the trolls -- those who say Kershaw is a choker, that he can't with the big game, all that garbage that was particularly inaccurate in a Game 5 in which the Dodgers scored just one run. Do you think at the end of his career, people are going to care about that? I doubt it, judging by the appreciation for past superstars who didn't manage to win a championship.

That aside, Kershaw is a better man than any troll will be. What he does for his teammates, his family, and humanity deserves more attention than his ability to pitch in the postseason. That's why I will pay for his drink.

Send me all your Kershaw cards.

Track 9: Shake a Leg: I've mentioned this before, but there aren't enough cards of players on the base paths. For every 45 cards of a player batting there is a card of a player running. It's part of the game! Shake a Leg, Topps!

Track 10: Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution: The song on the album that climbed the highest on the British charts.

That large package that Johnny's Trading Spot sent me recently contained just about the entire set of 1991 Rock Cards (I haven't examined yet to see if it's complete). As you may know, this set contains the same hard-rockers over and over again, Anthrax, Winger, Poison, Megadeth, etc., etc., etc. My personal favorite are the AC/DC cards.

Not done yet.

RIP, Malcolm Young.

And that's where the needle comes off the record.

Back in Black is one of the best-selling albums of all-time and like many albums released during my high school years, it's the source of tremendous pride for me (something that I can take absolutely no credit for, by the way).

During the months that followed Back in Black's release, it received some criticism for being "too primitive" or "too simple." The lyrics were "uncomplicated" and the sentiment "animal."

But that's what rock n' roll is, right? Lean and mean. Songs about girls and explosives and dying young. Balls to the wall. I like complicated as much as the next music fan, but I think I like uncomplicated a lot more.

Hell's bells, this is a great album.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

10th anniversary giveaway continues: I'm tired edition

It's 2:40 in the afternoon, it feels like 7 in the morning and the job says I have a lot of work to do tonight.

These are the days I wish I drank coffee. Or anything caffeinated.

I watched all of Game 3 last night. As a Dodger fan and a night owl with a reputation, it was my duty. But I'd do it all over again because it was phenomenal. Last year's postseason seemed gut-wrenching and also left a bit of a nasty taste in my mouth. This year's postseason is still gut-wrenching, but I'm enjoying it more.

Last night's 18-inning game (I saw all but the first inning) was storybook baseball at its best. Perhaps it wasn't the greatest-played game, but it featured all the elements you need: home runs; game-winning home runs; players thrown out at the plate; TOOTBLANs, an exquisite pitching performance by a youngster who was taken out one inning too soon; bizarre, tumbling plays; Little League squibs; an ex-Dodger throwing 100 pitches in relief for the Red Sox because he's apparently become a cyborg since he left L.A.; Mary Hart imitating a vulture imitating Craig Kimbrel; and, of course, Max Muncy -- a guy no one knew before 2018 -- hitting a game-winning home run at 3:30 in the morning. It had it all. Perhaps the most entertaining game I've taken in since Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS, which I guess the longest game in postseason history should be.

I try to record all the Dodgers' postseason games. I don't know how people record games these days, I admit I still want to stick a tape in a VCR, but I'm now at the DVR stage (at least until I get rid of my cable after this World Series). That means recording your shows in blocks. The guide comically assigns 3-hour blocks for baseball games, apparently not aware that a baseball game hasn't finished in under three hours since 1998. It allows you to add up to two hours onto the end of the three hours, which, of course, I always do.

But last night, not even five hours was enough. Somewhere around five hours, I waved goodbye to the game ever making print in our newspaper (fortunately I wasn't working) and realized I'd have to start recording the half-hour blocks listed on the guide after the baseball game programming. So amid all the excitement, I tried to remember to record a "Two And A Half Men" repeat and then a series of Paid Programming blocks. I missed parts of the game because of this, including Muncy's almost-home run in the 15th. But I did get Muncy's actual home run 7 hours, 20 minutes after the DVR first started recording.

Shortly after the game ended, I heard the thump of the newspaper being delivered to my porch. "Hmm," I thought. "How spooky would it be if the game result was in there?"

I went to bed at 4:30 in the morning. Even for a night owl, that's stretching it a bit.

I'm tired today. So let's get to the latest edition of the 10th Anniversary Giveaway. Because I'm tired and because it's the weekend, I'm providing a two-day window for the next pick.

To get everyone up to speed, Julie Owens selected the Ernie Banks SP with the 17th pick, Nick Vossbrink selected the 1976 Topps Mike Schmidt with the 18th pick, and Al Kawamoto snagged the Russell Martin relic with the 19th pick.

That means Michael Ott gets to select next.

Here are the available choices:

Michael, you've got until 6 p.m. Monday (EST) to make your selection.

Once Michael selects, here are the next folks in line:

21. carlsonjok
22. JimfromDownington
23. EP
24. Henry Blanchette

OK, that's it for awhile.

I'd like to say I'm going to sleep, but instead I'm going to work. So, let's keep Game 4 to a tidy nine innings tonight, please and thank you.

Friday, October 26, 2018

10th anniversary giveaway continues: Buehler, Buehler, Buehler

I have more than 30 different Walker Buehler cards. That's a lot for someone who hadn't pitched a game in the major leagues before 2017 and had appeared in just eight games before 2018.

In fact, 30 cards is more than what I have for some notable players of the 1970s, cherished and well-known stars with established careers. But that's just the way it is in modern card collecting. I was informed earlier today that Buehler has been in each edition of Topps' Throwback Thursday online issues for the last five weeks!! Rookies get all the love, all the overkill, whether some of us collectors are interested or not.

Here is how stupid it gets for rookies (and modern cards in general):

These two pink parallels of Buehler were sent to me by madding at Cards on Cards, along with the regular Panini Optic Buehler card.

The two pink parallels are not only parallels, but they are variations of each other.

How do I know that when each card appears to be exactly the same?

Well, I know because madding tipped me off. But also, because you have to turn these babies over.

Notice that one card features a white baseball and one features a black baseball. One of these is a variation card (don't ask me which one, I go out of my way not to ignore Panini's foolishness).

The write-up on each card is different. Other than that, each card is the same.

This also means that the base Optic Buehler card is also a variation or has a variation (depending on what the black baseball means).

It boggles my mind that Panini does this stuff. It's bad enough that Topps does this, but Panini feels it necessary to replicate some of Topps' worst habits while not even looking as good as Topps. Gee whiz.

The things I do for the Dodgers' Game 3 starter of the World Series (Go, man, go!)

Cards on Cards also sent several other current Dodgers, most of the shiny variety:

And there were just a few non-shinies, too.

I sure hope these guys can win at least one game before the World Series is finished.

But before I turn my attention to Game 3, there is the matter of the 10th anniversary giveaway.

Two more picks have been made in the giveaway.

Shane of Shoebox Legends selected the 2012 Willie Mays short-print.

Meanwhile, Fred Pike chose the 2017 Lou Gehrig short-print.

That's a lot of legendary cardboard there!

So that means it time for Julie Owens to make her selection. She can pick anytime between now and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Here is what's left on the board:

Once she makes her pick, here are the next people in line for selections:

18. Nick Vossbrink
19. Al Kawamoto
20. Michael Ott
21. carlsonjok

Happy selecting! Hopefully, next time I post, the Dodgers will have their first Series win since Game 6 of last year's World Series.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A break for Update

I'm still waiting for Shoebox Legends to make his pick in the 10th anniversary giveaway (he's on the clock until 1 p.m. Friday). But I just can't sit and do nothing on this blog!

NOC is about content, dammit! Here is some content!

I wanted to check out what people had told me after my horrific discovery at Target the other day. They said that Target actually hadn't destroyed the entire card aisle and put all the unopened packs in the trash compacter, but likely had moved them to another part of the store -- most likely the electronics section.

However, Target's hours don't match up with mine. By the time I could go to a store, it was 10:30 p.m. and Target is too weenie to open that late. So, Walmart it was. I needed printer ink anyway.

I thought I'd grab a rack pack or two of Update. That's usually all it's worth. But Walmart didn't have anything smaller than a blaster. Ugh. Do I want a whole blaster of this stuff? I pondered and waffled until I'm quite sure I looked like that creepy guy in the card aisle.

Finally I grabbed it and hoped there were many Dodgers within.

I'm going to go pack by pack here, but I'm only showing the highlights of each pack, according to me. Sorry, Mariners fans. You'll have to buy your own packs.

Pack 1

I'm sure you've spotted it right away. The Don Mattingly card is an SP.

It's already on its way to a Don Mattingly fan -- or at least it's in a stack on my desk with all the other stacks. But that card of a neutered Lance Lynn is available!

The highlight for me, of course, is the Return of Matt Kemp card. (I think that might be Max Muncy also in the frame, which is very interesting considering MAX MUNCY DOESN'T HAVE HIS OWN BASE CARD IN THIS SET!).

The Altuve-Judge card is interesting, too, although it is very 2017. Would've worked a bit better in last year's Update. I do appreciate the "Game for Everyone" label. That's why I like baseball. It's not a freak show like the NBA.

Pack 2

There isn't much to say with Pack 2 except to show you that Update is filled with Ohtani cards, as well as Postseason Preeminence (such big words!) inserts.

Pack 3

It does appear to be true that Topps has done a little better job of getting players in their updated uniforms than it did last year. I still think the set is about 150 cards too large, but I appreciate a photoshopped Tyson Ross card.

The "Don't Blink" inserts, which I believe feature speedsters, is right up my alley. I like the title, too.

Pack 4

The Marcell Ozuna card is very nice. I'm a bit distracted by that neon yellow sleeve he insisted on wearing, but otherwise, good stuff. ... The Andrew Cashner card is there because it's a foily.

Pack 5

Here is Dodger No. 2! Although, that helmet Dozier is wearing is clearly not Dodger blue.

The Will Clark will leave my collection as quickly as humanely possible -- likely to Cards on Cards.

Pack 6

I don't know what Contreras is doing, but the Braves rookies card is pretty cool.

Pack 7

Pack 7 was loaded with all the buzzworthy players!!! The Machado card is interesting because of what card I'll show in a bit.

Pack 8

It's just the way the World Series is going that I had to pull not one, not two, but three J.D. Martinez cards in this blaster. The Dodgers just can't avoid that guy and the Red Sox have an embarrassment of riches.

I'm sure it pained Topps not to be able to get Andrew McCutchen into a Yankees uniform. Not that I'm crazy about him as a Giant.

Pack 9

Wooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! Two Dodgers!!!!!

Manny Machado won't be a Dodger next year, so I'm glad to get at least one card of him with L.A., if only to commemorate his ability to turn Brewers fans into a butt-hurt lynch mob. One of the worst parts of modern baseball is how everyone has to feel slighted all the time. Hal McRae would have needed 24-hour bodyguards if he played today.

I must address the Max Muncy card, too, as it's bizarre that he's shown in the Home Run Derby subset, but he doesn't have his own card in the Traded set. What the hell? How can you rob a guy of his own card when he hit 35 home runs? Not 35 HR Derby home runs, 35 real home runs!!!

Pack 10

This may be the finest Hyn-Jin Ryu card in my collection. Beautiful card. Plus, Bartolo!!!!

One more selection of cards I want to show before ending this.

Let's see the advertisement on the box first though:

I counted 7 Postseason Preeminence (dammit, I have a difficult time typing that word) cards. Woo! A Postseason P-r-e-e-m-i-n-e-n-c-e hot box!!!!

Also, here are the Hall of Famer Highlights cards in the box:

There's a Chipper Jones Hall of Famer Highlight card.

And there are FOUR Vladimir Guerrero Hall of Famer Highlight cards.

I don't know how that adds up to two.

It's actually three Guerrero cards because the card on the top left is some sort of "stained-wood" parallel. I have a sneaking suspicion that the card on the bottom right is a parallel, too. Good luck, all you Vlad collectors.

All right, so there's your box of Update. I think I like it a little better this year. But that's probably because I like the design this year.

(Oops, I forgot to show the Jackie Robinson manu-plastic number thing. Oh well).

10th anniversary giveaway continues: Shoebox Legends is up next

Welp, the Dodgers are down 0-2 just as I figured they would be as the Red Sox continue to mow over the rest of baseball.

While Dodger fans continue to lament manager Dave Roberts' pitching moves, I can see the writing on the Green Monster. Does it really matter? Did you see how the Red Sox handled the Astros? The Yankees? The rest of baseball all season? A pitching move won't change that.

We all have a day off to process the World Series so far, but the 10th anniversary giveaway continues!!!

And, what do you know, it's time for a Red Sox fan to select!

Jason T. Carter picked the shiny Willie Mays insert card above so Shoebox Legends is next in line.

Shoebox can make his choice now, so someone go dig Shane out from under his "WE'RE UP 2-0 IN THE WORLD SERIES" revelry and make sure he picks before 1 p.m. Friday. That's how long he's got.

Here is what's left on the picking board:

Once Shane picks, Fred Pike is up next, followed by Julie Owens.

OK, that's it for now. I hope to have a non-giveaway post up later, but we'll see what the rest of the day brings.