Monday, September 29, 2008

It's voting season

Don't worry, no presidential pontificating here. The heaviest I will get on this blog is when discussing the combined weight of Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia. Whoa, those are some big boys.

I'm just asking you to point your eyes to the upper right and add your vote to the poll. The question: exactly where has Topps gone wrong? We all agree they're screwing up somehow. So, go ahead and vote. It's free! And you can vote for more than one category. It's like voting for McCain AND Obama AND that guy from the communist worker party. (oops, sorry, that's a political reference).

If you think Topps is untouchable, a benevolent and omnipotent god, then there's a category for that, too. Cast away.

I promise, I will post on whatever category comes out on top. I have no idea what I'll say. But I'm sure it'll be some sort of unoriginal diatribe. Unoriginal but fascinating. Just you wait.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Beautiful blue cards

You thought I was going to post about blue refractors didn't you? Sorry, we're going in an entirely different direction.

The Dodgers clinching a postseason berth tonight got me thinking about why I like the team. And while a lot of that can be explained by card collecting and the fact that the Dodgers were one of the top teams around when I was a child, there's more to it than that.

My appreciation for the Dodgers comes down to history -- Brooklyn Dodgers history, and more specifically, the Boys of Summer. Roger Kahn's book, "The Boys of Summer," based on the 1952 Brooklyn team, stayed with me more than any other book I read during college. And I read a lot of books in college. Kahn's book was like "Ball Four" and "The Bronx Zoo," in that it finally depicted players as people and not mythic legends. And while that idea may seem to contradict the practice of collecting pictures of players on little squares of cardboard, I don't think it does. I collected baseball cards BECAUSE they depict people with all of their imperfections. Let others collect cards of furry creatures or magical wizards.

Anyway, the stories of the 1950s Dodgers and the Brooklyn community solidfied my fondness for the Dodgers forever. And long before I read the book, I acquired this set from TCMA, the '52 Dodgers.

TCMA is the card company that produced many, many sets through the 1970s and 1980s. The company is named after founders Tom Collier and Michael Aronstein. It's probably most famous for the sets of '50s and '60s players that it put out in the early 1980s. But it produced minor league sets, too, and specialized sets of certain major league teams.

I ordered this set, one of the earliest ones TCMA put out, through a collectors' magazine when I was in my early teens. It's 40 cards of everyone on the Dodgers' roster in 1952. If you had five at-bats, you got a card. There are even cards for the coaches.

The cards, which were produced in 1974, are as basic as you can get. I like the blue tint, though. The sizes of the cards are not uniform. Some are standard 2 1/2-by-3 1/2, and some you can't even fit in a regular nine-pocket sheet because they're so wide.

The cards feature the players' first names on the front, and in many cases, nicknames. There is Preacher and Campy and Pee Wee and Skoonj

Until I picked up a 2008 Allen & Ginter mini last month, this was one of only two Robinson cards that I had.

The set is kind of beat up now, but I like it because it reminds me of why I am a Dodger fan.

And I like it for the wonderful, crude backs. Nothing but red ink and a typewriter, and someone who can't spell "shortstop."

Kahn's book is now more than 35 years old. But it's still one of the most touching, heart-breaking, thought-provoking books I've ever read. If you have never read it, you should. It's still relevant today. And who knows, maybe it'll get you to root for the Dodgers in the playoffs this year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Awesome night card, pt. 2

Wow. I don't have a lot of good things to say about 1992 Donruss, but that is a sweet night card. Looks like it was taken after a game. Foster, the conscientious ballplayer that he is, is fulfilling his postgame duties and signing a ball. Wish I knew what he wrote on it. Foster is surrounded in darkness except for the stadium lights in the background and for the camera light pointed at his beaming face.

Foster didn't have a very long career in the majors. He pitched 59 total games between 1991-93, finishing 3-3 with a 2.41 ERA. But he's got a spot in the night card hall of fame.

Bigbie's identity crisis

We're all familiar with Topps' methods of dealing with cards of players who were traded during the offseason. Back in the '50s, the pictures were paintings and they would simply repaint the cap on the picture. During the '60s, they would get a shot of the player without his cap and crop the photo tight so you couldn't see the player's old uniform. During the '70s, Topps constantly featured players staring up into the sky, as if they had just spotted a spaceship (is that what I think it is?), so their cap logo wouldn't show. And of course, there was airbrushing. Topps airbrushed the caps on seemingly half of the 1969 set after baseball expanded by four teams.

During the '70s and '80s, Topps attempted to draw the new team logo onto the players' caps with some spectacularly horrid results. I often wondered if Topps employees hung those card photos on their refrigerator doors at home because the logos looked like children drew them. (Check out the 1974 Jim Perry or the 1987 Mike Laga someday).

Nowadays, photoshopping has replaced airbrushing and it's a little more difficult to tell anything was done to alter the card. A little. And that's not to say Topps still isn't lazy or careless.

Exhibit A is the 2006 Topps Larry Bigbie. It's the first card of a player that I've ever come across that says he plays for THREE different teams. Bigbie started out the 2005 season playing for Baltimore and you can tell that they took the photo while he was with the Orioles. He's in Camden Yards, judging by the giant "Orioles" logo and the apparent Orioles team members in the dugout.

But Bigbie was traded to the Rockies in a deadline deal in July of 2005. So, Topps photoshopped him into a Rockies uniform and used the Rockies color scheme on the border.

THEN, Bigbie was traded to the Cardinals in December. Topps' solution was to stamp the Cardinals silver foil name onto the front of the card, but not change the border. And you'll notice on the back of the card that they put the Cardinals logo on the left-hand side, noted that he was traded from the Rockies in the upper right-hand corner, and colored the name masthead Cardinal red.

What they failed to do in their rush job was change the text at the bottom. It says in part "The Orioles still have high hopes for their former No. 1 draft pick because he supplements (supplements? Is that some sort of Mitchell Report crack?) his ability with such hard work." Well, that's mighty big of the Orioles to have such high hopes for someone playing for St. Louis.

This card basically says that Bigbie plays for the Orioles, Rockies and Cardinals. This was no gimmick because no correction was made as far as I know. Bigbie didn't appear in the update set either.

We all know the irritating stuff that Topps pulls. But this is just stupid. I don't know about you, but it annoys the hell out of the editor in me. It's just shoddy work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thought bubble of the week

"... Get your own @#%&!!!#$ helmet!"

Tribe fan for a night

Sorry, Cliffy. This has nothing to do with hoping the Indians delay the Red Sox's quest for a postseason berth another day. It has everything to do with what I received in the mail Monday. For what before my wondering eyes did appear but a tidy white box direct from Indians Baseball Cards. Always.

Now, I know I'm a newbie in the card blogging world and all you veterans out there already know how generous David can be with his tournaments and trivia questions. But I was dumb-founded when I opened the box. All I did was answer one little trivia question correctly, and for my "effort" I received nearly 100 Dodgers cards. Amazing.

I am here to tell you, when the next Tribe Cards Tourney starts, get your butt over to Indians Baseball Cards. Always. You will NOT regret it. And it's great fun, too!

I have to share some of what I received (I can't possibly scan all of it). Those of you who aren't Dodgers fans may get a little bored. But stick around for the last card (I swear it was the second-to-last card out of the box). I nearly choked on my lunch when I saw it.

First out of the box:

Stan Javier autograph. Any auto -- of a major leaguer, that is -- is a sweet auto. You'll notice that current Dodger first base coach Mariano Duncan is covering the bag. Very nice photo. Very nice card.

A lot of these cards I have never seen. Like I've mentioned before, I stopped collecting for about 10 years, and many of these cards are from that period (1994-2004). This is from Line Drive's series of Collect a Books. Photo on the front, cartoon on the back, stats and bio on pages 2 and 3. I actually learned a little bit about Drysdale that I did not know.

Upper Deck Spectrum 2008 swatch card. Nice! It's got the usual Richard P. McWilliam spiel about how it "is a piece of memorabilia that has been certified to us as having been used in an official Major League Baseball game." That really narrows it down, Richard. But I like it anyway.

I have no idea who this guy is. It's a 2001 card. The back of the card, for some reason, features a backdrop of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. I don't know what Mr. Feliciano is doing right now, but I bet he could use the 185 dollars. (Wax Heaven reports Feliciano is still plugging away in Mets Triple A. Thanks, Mario!)

Fan favorite Dusty Baker! Couldn't get enough of the Fan Favorites when they were out. One of the first current sets I collected after coming back to the hobby.

(My best Andy Rooney voice): Did you ever notice that anytime a major leaguer puts on a cap that is not a major league cap, he looks like your father playing ball?

 This Fleer Greats of the Game is the first card I've seen that managed to make Lasorda look svelte.

1994 Donruss special edition. Delino DeShields, on his way to the Dodgers to infuriate fans across Southern California. Nothing like having the date of L.A.'s most infamous trade stamped on a card forever. It's like having the date I threw up on the school playground plastered on my forehead.

And finally ...

1950 Bowman Carl Furillo! Skoonj himself! I'm speechless! What a wonderful card! In all of its much-loved glory! Beautiful! And this is now the oldest card (by one year) that I own!

Thank you, David again. I should be a Tribe fan for a year for what you've sent me. But I like the Dodgers too much. Go check out Tribe Cards. Always. And enter his tournament! Go, go!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shiny objects

Everyone has seen this year's Topps Chrome offering, I'm sure. But I'm a sucker for a pack-ripping, as I know a few others out there are, too. A Pack A Day is the best. Set up a ripping of 1991 Donruss and I'm there.

So anyway, I picked up a couple of packs Sunday. Lest anyone think I wasted precious gas on cards only, let it be known that the family also purchased toothpaste, cake frosting, a CD for my daughter, spray paint and a pet bed. Now that's one fulfilling afternoon.

It's all about the Yankees tonight, so I'll try to keep it in a New York State of Mind:

Too late. First one out of the gate is a Dodger, albeit an injured one. I don't know if Brad Penny is ever going to get back to his former self, and that's too bad because he was my favorite player during that year-and-a-half with L.A. when he was just bad ass. And that was before he started dating her.

OK, the Yankee theme can start with Mr. Cocky. If this guy stays in a Red Sox uniform for awhile, he's going to tick off New Yorkers for years. And for that, Dustin, I salute you.

It's still staggering how sharply the Braves have fallen. I can't get used to them not being in the postseason. Much like the Yankees this season ... OK, I can get used to that.

No postseason for the Rockies either. Can anyone say, one-year fluke? You said it last year? Me, too.

Mr. Mantle himself. I think his name came up Sunday almost as often as the number of Mantle cards Topps has produced in the last 10 years. Mantle's 470th home run came off of Jim Kaat, by the way.

Mantle, once again. Only this time it's a picture of him gunning for a gig on "The Apprentice." Honestly, what's the appeal of seeing Mantle in a business suit? And I know this topic has been addressed many times before, but has Topps officially destroyed Mantle's reputation as the single most collectible player in the history of sports, thanks to the 25 gajillion Mantle cards it's produced since his death? I, for one, have stopped hoping I get a Mantle card.

Lastly, Chone Figgins. Appropriately, from a team that just kills the Yankees. I always enjoyed seeing the Angels mess with the Yankees' minds. But that's about all I like about the Angels. And now that N.Y. won't be in the playoffs, I don't have much use for the Halos. Unless they meet the Cubs in the Series. Then, work your magic, Mike Scioscia. Work your magic.

A Yankee-hater's tribute

I'm going to refrain from posting any unpleasantness about the Yankees tonight. Even though the Yankee Stadium lovefest was a bit much to endure, I just don't have it in me to go through a litany of all I don't like about them.

So, instead, I'll talk about the fond memories I have of the Yankees. All two of them.

The first is Roy White. I always liked him. He played during an era when the Yankees weren't very good, and then when the Yankees grew into perennial champions in the late-1970s, he remained above all the petty, obnoxious garbage that went on with that team back then. He was a quiet, consistent performer, much like Bernie Williams, although Williams had more talent. Seeing the huge ovation Williams received from the fans Sunday just goes to show you -- you don't have to be a jerk to be popular in New York.

The second memory is my one-and-only trip to Yankee Stadium. It was the day before my birthday. We went down to the game on an overnight visit. It was July 15, 1978, in the middle of the Yankees' two straight World Series titles. I can remember walking through the underground parking lot at the stadium and sitting in our seats along the third base line. I remember looking toward home plate and seeing George Brett in the batter's box and how awesome it was that I was seeing him live and in person. I remember the Royals were wearing their baby blue road unis. I remember a foul line drive heading right toward me before a fan a few rows in front stuck up his glove and caught the ball.

The senses and sights will always stay with me, but I remember very little about the game. I do know the Royals beat the Yankees 8-2 (yes!). Dennis Leonard was the winning pitcher. Ed Figueroa took the loss. I do remember that Thurman Munson played the outfield and pointing out to my brother how odd that was. Years later I looked up the boxscore on retrosheet. Sure enough, Munson was in right field (Mike Heath was the catcher).

We rode home after the game -- the five hours that it took --and got back around 3:30 a.m. I woke up sometime in the mid-afternoon the next day and celebrated my birthday. It paled in comparison to what I had experienced the night before.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Flipping pages, not cards

When I was a kid, I would collect anything -- bottle caps, seashells, rocks, live frogs (don't ask). So when it came to baseball, I didn't collect just cards, but posters, ticket stubs, postcards and yearbooks.

Since I lived so far away from my favorite team and couldn't attend Dodger games in person, I would send away for the annual Dodgers yearbook through the mail. I did that every season, and I have each Dodger yearbook from 1974-85. (But my favorite is the one from 1966 -- when Koufax was king). The 1980 yearbook is my second favorite, because it blended card collecting with my favorite team. It was a neat idea, although I'm sure it wasn't original in the realm of yearbooks. The cards on the front cover are from the 1980 Topps set.

My only complaint was that the Dodgers didn't issue their own cards in the yearbook, like some other yearbooks had done.

Inside, the yearbook featured pictures of various Dodger cards from over the years. On each player's page, was a display of cards from their career. Here is The Penguin himself:

I like that they chose to feature his rookie card from 1973 (his actual real rookie card is from the 1972 set), but covered up the reason why I STILL don't have that card. Of course, that reason is it's Mike Schimidt's rookie card, and it can fetch around $150 these days if you believe those Beckett dudes (and I don't).

In the yearbook, you also got to see cards of players who competed for other teams before they came to L.A, and since I mostly collected Dodgers, that was cool. Here's the page for Dave Goltz, a total bust for the Dodgers (ugh, I can still see Art Howe rounding the bases after tagging Goltz's worthless offering for a two-run homer in that disaster of a special playoff game against the Astros in 1980):

Of course, the yearbook write-up on this page ("true workhorse," "most sought after player") had me thinking he was the second coming of Jim Palmer. Silly school boys, they'll believe anything.

For players that were just coming up from Triple A that year, who didn't have many cards issued yet (this was before the days of Fleer and Donruss, and WAY before the days of draft-pick cards, and first-year cards, and first-picture-of-a-future-player-in-diapers cards), the yearbook producers devised their own design, which was basically a black-and-white rip-off of 1978 Topps:

Nice 'fro, Pedro.

The yearbook is fun to look at now-and-then, but I don't look at the others all that much. I haven't collected baseball memorabilia besides cards for a long time. Over on Treasure Never Buried, there's a recent post on the RC Cola can collectibles. I don't know what you do with that stuff. Or coins, or bobbleheads, or blankets, for that matter. Or anything that's not 2 1/2-by-3 1/2, or a dimension close to that (love the Allen and Ginter minis).

But then I'm a card dweeb, so what do I know.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Awesome night card, pt. 1

This is the first in what should be a regular series featuring cards of players photographed at night. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I collect cards like this because they are totally awesome, or whatever the kids are saying these days (I've watched "Fast Times ..." a few times. Sue me).

Part of the trick to "night cards" is first figuring out whether they were actually photographed at night. For example, a number of photos on cards taken during games at Yankee Stadium, especially in the '70s, look like night shots, but they're not. The darkness of the stands there seems to give the illusion of a night game.

Once that's established, I like to figure out the date of the game in the photo, especially if it's a card that doesn't feature a postseason game. It's usually simple to pinpoint the date of playoff games.

This one was a little tricky, and until I stumbled upon one key fact, I was about to put out a plea to White Sox Cards to help me figure it out. But I think I've got it. Here is the scenario:

This 1983 Topps photo is from a game Britt Burns pitched in 1982 (I know it's '82 because that was the first year the White Sox wore their red, white and blue unis with the block SOX thingy stripped across the chest). There is flag bunting in the background but it's not an All-Star Game because Burns didn't pitch in an All-Star Game (he was selected in 1981 but didn't play -- thank you baseball-reference). The White Sox weren't in the postseason in '82, so the flag bunting means it was Chicago's home opener (Burns is wearing a home jersey).

Burns pitched his first home game that year against Baltimore. It was a doubleheader. Burns pitched the first game. It must've been a twi-nighter because retrosheet says both games were at night. At first, I didn't think that could be the home opener because why would the White Sox schedule a doubleheader as the home opener? But then I remembered, the start of the 1982 season was plagued by a series of April snowstorms that called off games in the East and Midwest. So it makes sense that Chicago's home opener was a doubleheader. Add the fact that the White Sox didn't play a game the previous day before the doubleheader and that previous day was a Friday, and it makes even MORE sense (snow-out?). And if you look at Chicago's schedule, sure enough, the team played five straight games on the road to open the season before coming home to Comiskey on April 17, the date Burns pitched.

Phew! That's a long way to go to come up with this: the photo was taken on April 17, 1982, a 3-1 victory by the White Sox over the Orioles in Comiskey Park. Burns was the winner, pitching seven innings and allowing three hits, Dennis Martinez was the loser, Greg Luzinski hit a two-run home run, and it was Mrs. Peacock in the study with the candlestick!

The White Sox won the second game, too, 10-6, to go to 7-0 on the season. They'd start the year 8-0 before losing to the (ugh!) Yankees.

Hope you enjoyed playing night card detective.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Should Craig Wilson be engaging in such levity while mourning his team's dear, departed owner, August Busch Jr? Or more appropriately, shame on Topps for sending such a conflicting message. Juggling while wearing a black arm band? Kids looking at this card don't know whether to be happy or sad.

Perhaps it's a commentary on the complexity of life, the ups and downs, the yin and yang, the '52 Topps and the '91 Donruss. Maybe Topps is saying, "yeah, sure, he's young now, but his career will be dead soon."

But more likely, it's just a guy bored out of his skull during spring training. Apparently, he had a habit of doing this on baseball cards.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Night critter

I probably should explain the title of this blog a little. It might seem obvious, considering the "about me" profile along the right rail. And if you've been paying attention, almost all of my posts so far have been after midnight.

Yes, I'm a night owl. I have been since I was a teenager. I work a job that requires me to toil at night, and I find that it suits me. I am most unpleasant in the morning (the few mornings that I see), but when 9 p.m. hits, the switch is on. Let's go, let's party.

Now add the fact that I am an East Coast guy who is a fan of a West Coast team. After years of living through, "San Francisco at Los Angeles (n.)" in the newspaper, I fully appreciate being able to find the score of the Dodger game with a few simple key strokes. Waiting until 2 a.m. is no price to pay at all. Hell, I'm up already anyway.

But that's only half of it. The other half is I've always enjoyed the night time more than the day. I love it when the fall weather hits and daylight savings time ends and the street lights are on at 5:30 in the afternoon. As a kid, I remember taking five-hour trips to my grandmother's after my dad got off of work and marveling at the lights along the darkened route. I love neon, I love midnight snacks, I love 1971 Topps (that Cookie Rojas card is awesome). Even 1986 Topps isn't too bad either (except for all the blurry photos).

As any kid finds out going to his first night game, night time makes the game more than a game. It becomes an EVENT. That's why I like collecting cards that feature photos taken at night. There aren't a lot of them, and most of them are like this:

A playoff game, or a World Series game or an All-Star Game. But that makes the card cool. You can see the glow of the flourescent lights on the card and remember the great highlights from that game or series (Sorry, Goose).

So-called "night cards" will be a recurring theme of this blog. Call them cards that will never see the light of day.

Here is one of my favorites:

Now THAT is a great card: Campy kicking up dust, lights glowing in the background, illuminating his day-glo (night-glo?) gold jersey. Millan's glove outstretched, ump in mid-safe! pose. Nice work, Topps.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fame game

This card always puzzled me. I don't know if my depth perception is off or if it's the way the card's cropped, but it looks like they cut around Santo's likeness and then pasted him in the forefront of a Cubs spring training scene. I realize this photo was likely taken in 1973 and photoshop wasn't around, but the photo just looks weird.

But that's not the reason why this card is here. It's here because the Hall of Fame Veterans Comittee on Tuesday announced their list of 10 candidates for the Hall from major leaguers whose careers began in 1943 or later. Santo's on that list. So is Gil Hodges, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Maury Wills, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Dick Allen, Al Oliver and Vada Pinson. On December 8th, the committee will announce whether they've selected anyone from this list, or from the previous list of players whose careers started before 1943, for the Hall of Fame.

And that got me thinking: why go through all the hand-wringing? This debate never ends. Even someone like me, who has no vote, spends too many hours (yes, hours) debating whether these players, or other players, belong in the Hall. I try to balance my desire to see Dodgers like Hodges and Wills in the Hall with my elitist conscience that says, "it's SUPPOSED to be difficult to get in the Hall. Don't let any of these guys in and boot a few players who are already in out of there, too."

Frankly, I'm sick of the angst. It's all so pre-2004 Red Sox fan. Instead, why don't we do this? Let's consider the name for a minute. It's not the Hall of Achievement or Hall of Accomplishment or Hall of Really, Really Good Players. It's called the Hall of Fame. Fame. People who are famous.

So who's famous? I think if you ask a large group of people who have no interest in a certain chosen field if they've ever heard of someone in that chosen field and they say, "yes," then that defines a famous person. For instance, my wife and her friends have little interest in baseball, but they know who Roger Clemens is. So, by that standard, let's put Clemens in the Hall. Steroids? Forget about it. He's famous. Put him in the Hall of Fame.

Same for Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Almost any non-baseball fan has heard of those guys. Put them in the Hall. Pete Rose? That guy who gambles a lot? Yup, the non-baseball fans have heard of him. Put him in the Hall! Jose Canseco? Wasn't he on that reality show? You bet! In the Hall he goes!

Cheated on your wife, died prematurely, starred in a beer commercial? Yes, yes and yes? The Hall is waiting for you.

Wouldn't that make things so much easier? No stats, no intangibles, no "you can't compare eras."

But I guess that's not going to fly, huh?

OK, then, in that case I think the committee should pick Santo and Wills. And maybe the Hall should change its name.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back story

I am a child of the 1970s. As a kid, I dined on space food sticks, collected Wacky Packages, played Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, and sang along to The Electric Company.

My love for baseball and baseball cards also began in the '70s. The first cards I ever saw were from the 1974 Topps set. My mother bought them for me and my brother while on a trip to the store. We enjoyed the cards, but when the summer ended, we thought the cards ended, too, and we THREW THEM AWAY. Fortunately, we weren't such dumb asses the following year. We collected the cards from the 1975 Topps set and held on to them (I have those frayed, scuffed and creased pieces of cardboard to this day). Like all collectors, I have great affection for the set that started it all, and as an added bonus, the 1975 set is considered classic by many (some still don't like it).

My favorite team was the Dodgers from the beginning, and I'm still a faithful Dodger fan. My favorite player as a kid was "The Penguin," Ron Cey, a great player and still a Dodger favorite in Los Angeles. I wanted his 1975 card so much that I traded ... wait for it ... the 1975 Hank Aaron card to get it.

Even then, I knew I got the worst of that trade, but as many say, a card is only worth what someone will pay for it, and my payment was the Home Run King.

I collected for 10 fantastic years, from 1975-85, then went off to college and collected only sporadically. During the card boom of the late 1980s/early 1990s, I collected like crazy and accumulated a ton of crap. And boy was it crap. I made it my mission to try to collect the entire 1989 Topps set by purchasing all my cards from a single drug store in Buffalo. I came up 4 cards short.

By 1994 or so, I'd had it with cards. I didn't like the way they looked. I was never a big Upper Deck fan, and the company's influence was everywhere. I basically stopped collecting except for picking up a stray pack here or there at the start of the baseball season.

But that 1975 set got me hooked again. A couple of people at work started discussing cards, and we traded a little bit. I was turned on to a card dealer who operated in what's basically a pawn shop. Starting in 2004, through trips to that dealer's store, card show visits and trades, I managed to acquire the entire 1975 set, and it's in a lot better shape than those cards I threw around my bedroom as a kid.

I was back. I ended up collecting the 1974 set -- the year of the cards I threw away -- and then became interested in the current base sets, basically because Topps was inserting "vintage" cards into its 2006 rack packs. The inserted cards weren't from the 1970s -- mostly '80s stuff. But I collected in the '80s, too. Just for the heck of blowing my money, I tried doing what I couldn't do in 1989, collect the whole 2006 set simply by buying packs from stores. I'm sure I wasted a bunch of cash, but I did get the whole set.

I've collected ever since. I'm still collecting 1970s stuff and a few older things, and I like the current Topps Heritage and Allen and Ginter, like many collectors. But I have to say, the other stuff that's driving the hobby -- triple cut signatures, patch cards where the patch is twice the size of the photo of the player -- doesn't do it for me. Autographs are cool, but it's not why I collect. I hate the idea of cutting up photos and cards to glue some signatures together. Give me a photo that tells a story any day.

So that raises the question: What can I offer in a card blog if I'm not up on the latest hobby goings-on? Well, I've found out over the last two months that there are plenty of great blogs that do a far better job on breaking hobby news and providing spot-on-commentary than I ever could. If you have never checked out Wax Heaven or Sports Cards Uncensored or Voice of the Collector or Stale Gum, then by all means, get off of my blog and check out there's. They know what they're talking about. I read those card blogs and many others. And that's the point. I love blogs like Dinged Corners and the Baseball Card Blog and Cardboard Junkie even if they're not knocking Beckett on its ear every week. There's room out here for everyone, I hope.

Basically, I'll be offering my perspective on why I love baseball and cards. As a veteran small-city sports journalist and editor, I hope I have a few posts of interest.

But this post is too long already. I'll add some more about what I love about baseball and our hobby in the next day or two.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Knowing when to stop

This is not the first blog to call card collecting an addiction. That it is. That. It. Is.

But sometimes you have to be slapped in the face with a few dud packs, as I was tonight upon ripping into my third Allen and Ginter blaster box in three days. Call it a box-a-day habit. One purchased Wednesday, one Thursday and one Friday.

I bought the last one despite already blowing my weekly allowance -- the cash left over after feeding the Suburban Monster (bills, groceries, gas, dog). But I needed to get one of the last two boxes at Target, because the closest Wal-Mart to my home --apparently operating under the assumption that only kids buy cards -- removed the card display to put up back-to-school stock (enough frivolity, kids! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?)

The Wedneday and Thursday boxes were semi-productive, fueling my habit. The third box tonight was deflating. With eight ripped packs still on the floor, this is my booty, (excluding the mass quantities of duplicates):

-- A Mark Spitz world's greatest victories card

-- Two minis, Brian Barton and Jose Vidro (for crying out loud, I'm getting black border doubles now)

-- World Leaders mini: Mr. Four Names from Oman

-- Three base cards of players I've barely heard of: Jeff Niemann, Clete Thomas and J.R. Towles (rookie cards all)

-- Exactly two cards I'm happy with:

A Walter Johnson mini. The Big Train:

And a Tom Glavine jersey card:

The Glavine card admittedly is cool. But for $20, I received only a handful of cards that I needed. Not my idea of getting value for your money.

So what have I learned tonight? Yep, I should've bought a blaster of Goudey.

Opening night

Welcome! This is the first official post of the newest baseball card blog in our vast and beautiful blogosphere. Nonstop talk about baseball cards. What a great country!

Mr. Verlander and I are very excited.

I am not your typical baseball card blogger. I'm a little older than most and have very little computer expertise. The only way I was able to muster enough confidence to start this blog is through the inspiration I received from reading other card bloggers. I am blown away by your knowledge and the tremendous enthusiasm for the card collecting hobby. All of you have been a great help already, as you can see by the blog roll posted down the right-hand column (I'll be happy to add more to the list, just drop me an email or leave a comment).

I hope to offer my own little spin on the world of collecting. I welcome your input, advice and ideas. I welcome your trade offers. I'll write more about myself in the next couple of posts, but right now I hear a blaster box of Allen and Ginter calling ...