Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Waiting for quality binder time

Even though I've only recently announced my more focused emphasis on set collecting and easing up a bit on the Dodgers completion quest, it's still been quite awhile since I've spent meaningful time with my Dodgers binders.

There are a couple of stacks of Dodger cards waiting to enter those hallowed binders. I usually update them after the most recent card show (at only 2 or 3 shows a year, it works out well). But after the last show in October, I didn't bother. So, they wait.

Also, it has been awhile since I received a card package like the one that was sent recently by cynicalbuddha at Collector's Crack. This was exclusively Dodgers, and mostly ones from that decade or so when I wasn't collecting.

I used to receive packages like this on the regular. It would make me flock to my binders to check whether I needed the cards. Then, since my knowledge of that time has always been limited, I'd have to check them again, because I can't retain anything made in the '90s or early 2000s in my head.

That's the way it was with this package. Check the binders! Now check them again! Good times.

It's a process. But finally I have it whittled down to just the cards I need.

Come with me now to that strange period between 1995-2005.

What a beauteous card. Picture someone making this card today. It ain't happening. Joe Black? Who's that? Don't you want a 47th card of Acuna? No? Here, have a Jackie Robinson card and shut up. I have 257 Jackie Robinson cards. I now have 14 cards of Joe Black.

I love getting 40Man cards, even more than getting Total cards (40Man looks better). You really feeling like you're making a dent when cards from sets like these arrive. Mark actually sent more than this, but these are the ones I needed. As you can tell, they're key ones.

There are plenty of lumber-themed cards from between 1995-2005. That's natural given wood's contribution to the game. But how about some more baseball-material themed sets? I've seen leather- and rawhide- inserts. I've seen dirt-themed inserts. Some grass-themed ones, too (I'd take a few more of the grass-themed ones). What's left? Sunflower seed cards?

It's interesting that personal computers arrived in the '90s yet some '90s cards are the most difficult to scan. This lovely Bowman's Best numbered parallel is more blue in person.

These, meanwhile -- from 1995 and 1998 -- are scanning disasters.

For the most part, these needs are well-designed cards from the early aughts (Topps Stars always had issues but I like this version better than the others).

This need is a crappily-designed card from the early aughts.

Moving on ...

When gold parallels were king. I miss borders.

The package contained even a few more modern-day cards that crossed off a few want list numbers. I especially like the Archives 1977-themed Turn Back The Clock Piazza card. I wish Topps wouldn't make its best cards the most difficult to get.

Lastly, my first relic card of Dodgers third-string catcher Kyle Farmer.

Back here, I thought I was buying my one-and-only Kyle Farmer card and overpaid for it (the only time I overpaid for a Topps Now card). I should have known better. This is now my seventh Kyle Farmer card.

I also have completed a trifecta for Kyle Farmer -- rookie card, autograph card, relic card. I think I have done that for maybe 30-35 Dodger players total. And now, Kyle Farmer is one of them. Weirdness.

These cards will join the other waiting stacks. I hope to have some quality time with my binders next week as a vacation is arriving. But there's some big holiday arriving at the same time, so who knows?

Just hold on binders. I'll be home for Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Two more players were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. As someone who grew up watching baseball in the 1980s when Harold Baines and Lee Smith did most of their hitting and pitching, neither impressed me as Hall of Fame quality.

That doesn't mean I'm not happy they've been voted into the Hall. I don't think it's "embarrassing" or "a joke" that each were selected. The Hall is already full of players who if they were voted in today would stupefy the social media babblers.

Both Baines and Smith obviously enjoyed long and successful careers (both do seem like they're being rewarded for longevity). And I've evolved in my thinking about the Hall

At first, I thought the restrictions on Hall voting were good; it should be difficult to be inducted. Then I thought the restrictions on Hall voting were bad: it's just a ploy to get people talking about the Hall and deserving players are facing a logjam. But now that the Hall is basically a free-for-all -- Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are not in the Hall of Fame and Harold Baines is -- and the definition of what makes a "Hall of Famer" is as vague and subjective as it has ever been, I'm just happy that good players from the past are being recognized. I'd prefer focusing on that. Maybe Ron Cey will squeeze in someday.

What does annoy me, however, is the many times I heard and read that Baines' and Smith's selections were "long overdue." OK, if Baines and Smith were long overdue to get into the Hall of Fame, what's that make Gil Hodges, someone who died before either of those two put on a major league uniform?

Gil Hodges is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, who drove in at least 100 runs in a season seven straight years (Baines had three his entire career), hit more than 20 home runs in a season 11 straight years, averaged 29 HRs and 100 RBIs and a .487 slugging for his career, is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, who was manager of one of the most shocking World Series championship wins in history, is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, a legendary World Series player -- check out his 1953 and 1959 Series numbers -- and two-time World Series champion, is not in the Hall of Fame.

Gil Hodges, a Boy of Summer, mentioned in the same breath as Robinson, Snider, Reese and Campanella is still not in the Hall of Fame.

Second guy from the left is still not in the Hall of Fame (Furillo isn't either, but one guy at a time).

I've been annoyed for quite awhile that Hodges has been overlooked for so long, but I've been low-key about it just because I've always assumed that every deserving player will get their due. My long-held belief was then shaken by the steroid years and it is shaken further by the recent vote.

When Baines and Smith were announced, folks immediately rejoiced or recoiled. And all of the names that immediately came out of their mouths made me sad. "Well, this opens the door for Dale Murphy." "Larry Walker still isn't in." "Fred McGriff's time is coming." "Edgar Martinez is a shoo-in now." Even players from my era, who I am happy to hear have some new hope, like Ted Simmons, were mentioned.

Yet, nobody mentioned Gil Hodges.

He's forgotten.

How can a guy who dominated an entire decade like that be forgotten?

I have more than 60 cards of Gil Hodges. I've been lucky in that I have quite a few of his 1950s cards. Perhaps that's why he's so lightly regarded. Many of his cards aren't that difficult to find.

Still, I've paid a pretty penny for some of them, and still they're gorgeous.

What I found when looking through my Hodges cards is how great they seem to think he is.

He's an All-Time Dodger.

He's one of baseball's greatest sluggers.

He's one of the Greats.

He was part of a Super Team.

And he's a Legend of New York.

Hell, Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame for this card alone.

Hodges' cards -- the sheer variety -- speak to the respect that historians of the game held and hold for him.

Hodges is in a variety of TCMA Greatest Teams sets through the 1970s and 1980s.

This is the first Gil Hodges card I ever owned. It's from TCMA's 1975 Dodgers' All-Time Team. Gil Hodges is the first baseman on that team. THE GREATEST FIRST BASEMAN OF ALL-TIME FOR A TEAM THAT'S BEEN AROUND SINCE 1890.

Not in the Hall of Fame.

Hodges' exploits are so well-known and numerous that he's appeared on various moment-in-time cards, like this World Series card.

And this NuScoops card. Four Home Runs in a Nite Game, you guys. Let's get this guy a plaque.

Hodges has shown up on cards that feature just his first name.

He's shown up on cards with the team initials painted on his cap.

He's appeared on combo cards.

He's appeared with the peristyle architecture of the Los Angeles Coliseum behind him. How many Hall of Famers can say that?

He's appeared on mini cards and shown up hatless and inside a giant wood-framed television set.

He's also on the only porcelain card in my collection. PORCELAIN! Get this guy in the Hall!

Plus, there are the manager cards (I'm still kicking myself for trading away his 1969 Topps card). Hodges was the rare major leaguer who won a championship as a player and a manager. He's one of just 20 people to do that and one of the most talented, too.

I'm not fond of Hall of Fame debates. To me, they're too much like political arguments or discussions about the weather. It's a lot of talk about nothing and no one is getting anywhere. Save it for talk radio. I don't listen to that either.

But I do believe people should get their due and the longer it goes and the more that people talk about some dude from the 1980s waiting a long time, I can't help but worry that everyone has forgotten about somebody who was probably better than most of the players in the '80s.

The Hall of Fame does have a Golden Days Committee that considers players from 1950-1969. They will meet in 2020 to determine if anyone from that period is deserving to reach the Hall (Maury Wills would be in this group, too). If Hodges doesn't make it then, he won't get another chance until 2025 because the committee meets just every five years.

I don't even want to think about who will fly into the Hall during those future years when Hodges is STILL waiting.

Congrats to Harold Baines and Lee Smith. I'm not much for Chicago sports but I'm sure it was a big day there yesterday. Yet, waiting 15 years or whatever it was -- both Baines and Smith finished their careers in the late '90s/early '00s -- is not a long time or "long overdue."

Hodges ended his career 55 years ago. His managing career ended and he died 46 years ago.

He is still waiting.

THAT is long overdue.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


The posts aren't coming easily lately.

With the time constraints that often arrive at this time of year, plus a few new editions to the list of time-suckers (my blog reading is way down), I basically have one shot on an idea for a post. If that idea falls through, then there's no time for a backup post. This means I should have some posts ready-made in advance, but I don't like doing that. I want to be present in the hobby, here and now, as often as possible.

Today's challenge was figuring out what my favorite card of 2018 was, per P-Town Tom's contest.

I searched through my pretty mediocre 2018 acquisitions and came up with zip. I kept finding cool cards and then I saw each time that the card was created in 2017. This happens because I'm usually behind when acquiring cards from a given year. Many of my best 2018 cards will be acquired in 2019. This is how I keep costs down and keep my sanity from running out by avoiding the feeding frenzy.

So, anyway, I still don't know what my favorite 2018 card is. The good news is the contest runs until Jan. 7, so there's still plenty of time for someone to shower me with fascinating 2018 cards for the holidays!

In the meantime, all I've got for you are cards I like better than 2018 cards: they are old cards from off my want lists.

I received some 1993 and 1994 Ted Williams Company cards from mr haverkamp that whittle down my base set wants for each set to a mere three cards apiece.

Here are the '93 needs crossed off the ol' lists:

Beauties. Start making some 2018 licensed cards of Don Drysdale and I'll come up with my favorite 2018 card in no time.

The Negro Leagues card of Bullet Rogan at the top of the post came off my '94 TWC want list.

Here are the rest of the needed '94s:

That Ted Williams card is a looker. That checklist card is not.

The colorization on the '94 TWC cards does not seem right, but I will not complain about an Ed Collins card. The guy was playing in 1910!

Noted Mike Schmidt card collector mr haverkamp provided a spare 1981 Fleer Schmidty for my set collection quest. That set is down to seven cards to go.

Another one of the reasons I'm having troubles finding my favorite 2018 card is I pretty much shut down on buying 2018 product around about June or July to focus on older cards, so the selection is pretty weak.

But I am not giving up. Before January 7, you will see my favorite 2018 card. Even if I have to rip up a Ryan Braun card and glue it back together, I will produce a favorite from this humdrum card year.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Take two

I wanted to write about the 1983 Topps glossy send-ins because I had recently decided I need to complete the 40-card set.

So last night after work (and driving through a foot of snow), I wrote up a whole post on my love for the very first of the glossy send-in sets and just before hitting "publish," realized that I had basically written the entire post seven years ago.


Well, the cards are scanned already, now what?

My curiosity is always buzzing so it wouldn't allow me to let go of the 1983 glossies that easily. I looked at the ones that I owned -- all of them obtained back in 1983 from sending in those "runs" cards that allowed you to pick a group of five glossy cards. I wondered if I could figure out which groups I ordered back then and why.

I have 19 of the cards, which is interesting because there were eight groups of five cards each for 40 cards. Nineteen cards means I ordered my five cards four separate times, but somehow lost one of the cards. How'd that happen?

Fortunately, the numbered checklist pointed it out for me.

The first group in the checklist contains Carl Yastrzemski, Mookie Wilson, Andre Thornton, Keith Hernandez and Robin Yount.

I have just four from that group, Wilson, Thornton, Hernandez and Yount.

That means Yaz is missing. Why is Yaz missing?

I took an online peak at the Yaz '83 glossy. It didn't look familiar at all. That probably means only one thing: I had traded it immediately to my brother upon receiving the five cards in the mail from Topps.

This was the rule of law in our house among my brothers and I. If we were to obtain a card of a player from the others' favorite team, we MUST trade it to that brother. Yaz was as good as gone when I ordered the five-card group.

So, which other groups did I order?

I ordered the second group, cards 6 through 10.

This is likely the first group that I ordered, as soon as I accumulated the "25 runs" I needed, because of the Fernando Valenzuela card. I don't remember actually receiving this card, but I'm sure it was a treat.

The next two groups I skipped. The third group, cards 11-15 contain Rich Gossage, Bob Horner, Toby Harrah, Pete Rose and Cecil Cooper. Even with the childhood favorites of Harrah and Cooper there was no need to choose that one. The fourth group, cards 16-20, featured Dale Murphy, Carlton Fisk, Ray Knight, Jim Palmer and Gary Carter. That is a lot of star power, but I ignored it. Nothing there fit in my collection.

The fifth group, meanwhile, contained another Dodger, and I'm assuming I snapped up this one next.

This selection, of cards 21-25, may be the lightest on star power but when I see a Dodger, nothing else matters. Sure I'll add a Mariner and a Blue Jay. DUSTY!

This also explains why I skipped the sixth group, cards 26-30, which is packed with key players and now I need them all. Those fellows are: Bill Madlock, Lance Parrish, Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew and Al Oliver. Bummer.

I did order the seventh group, cards 31-35. It contains no Dodgers. It doesn't contain any cards from my brothers' favorite teams either.

My guess is I ordered this one because George Brett was a favorite and also it contained two young stars from that period, Rickey Henderson and Kent Hrbek. The other two, both from teams I disliked quite a bit at the time, came along for the ride.

The eighth-and-final group that I skipped also contains a number of notables. In cards No. 36-40 you'll find Steve Carlton, Eddie Murray, Ruppert Jones, Reggie Jackson and Bruce Sutter. Four Hall of Famers, that's all. Sheesh, why didn't I pick that one?

So maybe I didn't do the best with my send-in selections, but it served my collecting needs all the way up until now when I'm looking to complete the set.

This set won't be tough to complete. Each of the missing cards are around a dollar apiece. This would've surprised me way back in 1983 because sending away for cards that you couldn't find anywhere else seemed pretty exclusive at the time (then again, a dollar per card would've sounded enormous).

Anyway, here is how the cards were grouped together in checklist form:

I don't remember seeing this checklist. And neither version of the fronts are familiar:

The Ron Cey collecting box! There's that obvious Penguin swing.

So that's a lot of digging into something that is of interest to only me. But at least it got me to put up a 1983 Topps glossy send-in want list on my main want list page.

To me, this is the only glossy send-in set that matters. The ones that came after, with the green borders and orange borders and blue borders and especially those that you didn't send away for but appeared in rack packs, just don't seem as special as the yellow-bordered beauties.

I mean if I can write about them in two separate posts seven years apart with the same amount of passion, they must be special. Either that or they're so forgettable that I can't remember writing about them the first time.