Friday, September 30, 2011

If I was king of the postseason

All right, the postseason is beginning tonight and I'll be hard at work with little time to jeer who I need to jeer. Yes, it's going to be another one of THOSE postseasons again.

But before I get into the teams involved, first a little thanks for who is not in the postseason.



The good thing about my new little work schedule is that I'm off on the weekend and Saturday -- glorious Saturday -- there are four games on tap. Four wonderful games to view. There's no "well, I guess I could watch college football." It'll be baseball all day and all night.

At this time of year, I like to go over in my mind all of the possible World Series matchups involving the eight postseason teams. It's a fun little exercise, although it always uncovers some horrifying pairings.

So, let's see the possibilities this postseason:

1. Tigers vs. Cardinals: The rematch, five years later.

Best thing about it: Two teams that, at their core, I like. Sure, I've gone sour on the Cardinals lately, but I basically enjoy their history -- excluding a huge gap in the mid-80s. This would be a matchup of best-bud managers Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa, which TV would beat to death. But at least it would be interesting initially.

Worst thing about it: TV wouldn't stop talking about the managers and ignore the game.

Who I'd want to win: Tigers.

2. Rangers vs. Phillies: The Most Likely Scenario.

Best thing about it: The Rangers are the team -- excluding that team that I hate -- that has the best chance of beating the Phillies. While it won't kill me if the Phillies win the Series, the Phillies are a "stack the deck" team and I have a difficult time rooting for teams like that.

Worst thing about it: I'd have to watch Shane Victorino.

Who I'd want to win: Rangers

3. Rays vs. Diamondbacks: The 1998 Expansion Teams Series.

Best thing about it: Fox might abandon broadcasting the World Series after seeing the ratings for this one.

Worst thing about it: Aside from having to read the apocalyptic news accounts of the TV ratings, I wouldn't enjoy watching a Series in these two stadiums. Two of the least pleasant stadiums to see on television. I might actually fall asleep. Or worse, turn to Dancing With the Stars.

Who I'd want to win: Rays

4. Yankees vs. Brewers: Hey, Milwaukee, Pretend Like It's 1982.

Best thing about it: Anytime the Yankees are in the World Series, I hope it's against a team they've never played before in the Series (aside from the Dodgers, of course). The Yankees are in it so much, it just gets boring unless there's a different team on the other side.

Worst thing about it: The Brewers strike me as the team most likely to fall apart in a World Series. Picture Joaquin Andujar in 1985. I don't think they'd fair well against the Yankees. Although I'm sure that's just my impression from afar.

Who I'd want to win: Brewers

5. Tigers vs. Phillies: How is it possible that these two teams
haven't played each other in the Series before?

Best thing about it: It's Placido Polanco against his old team! The drama! The intrigue! The pathos! They could spend three games alone talking about it!

OK, I'm kidding. I don't have much problem with this series. Hope it lasts seven games.

Worst thing about it: Jim Leyland and Charlie Manuel are not the most captivating people.

Who I'd want to win: Tigers

6. Rangers vs. Diamondbacks: Southwest Showdown.

Best thing about it: This is the matchup that includes the team I'd most like to win from the A.L. against the team I'd least like to win from the N.L. It's clear cut. No waffling. I know exactly where I stand on this one. Good vs. Evil. Stomp the Snakes.

Worst thing about it: It's probably going to be HOT down there. The Fall Classic is meant to be played in crisp, autumn air.

Who I want to win: Rangers

7. Rays vs. Brewers: Teams That Used To Wear
Green? I got nothing.

Best thing about it: Again, this will probably be another ratings dud for Fox, which always makes me happy. Put it on the MLB Network! Otherwise, I don't have a lot to say.

Worst thing about it: I just don't like watching games in Tampa Bay's stadium. It's like the '80s/early '90s when we had to watch games in that blasted Metrodome.

Who I'd want to win: Brewers. But just barely.

8. Yankees vs. Cardinals: The Prepare
To Call Into Work Late Series

What's good about it: Two teams with long, proud traditions. The possibility that La Russa might drive the Yankees batty, which is always a good thing. Maybe Chris Carpenter will hit Nick Swisher just because. That'd be fun.

What's bad about it: Six-hour games. The games may kill everyone working in newspaper sports departments across the country (well, except for West Coast guys who have it easy). La Russa and Girardi will use 10 pitchers a game and nothing will finish before midnight.

Who I want to win: Cardinals

9. Rangers vs. Cardinals: The Midwest Series.

What's good about it: I like baseball in the Midwest. The fans seem happy. They seem like they want to be there. They don't seem like they're there for other reasons. They don't have attitude. It'd be a happy Series. And how can you argue with seeing a Series that includes Hamilton and Pujols?

What's bad about it: I think these games will be a little long, too (heck, they're all going to be long).

Who I'd want to win: Rangers

10. Tigers vs. Diamondbacks: The Revenge of Scherzer.

The best thing about it: Justin Verlander against Ian Kennedy. Also, not only did the Tigers and Diamondbacks trade recently, but there are some prominent ex-Yankees on these two teams. So I could laugh, and laugh, and laugh about who didn't get to the Series.

The worst thing about it: I really, really, REALLY, REALLY don't want the Diamondbacks to win.

Who I want to win: Tigers

11. Yankees vs. Phillies: Oh No, Not Again.

The best thing about it: The Phillies have the best chance among N.L. teams to neutralize the Yankees offense. They could also get revenge for 2009.

The worst thing about it: It'd fulfill the prediction that many people had at the beginning of the season about who would be in the World Series. I'm not a huge parity person, but the Series matchup shouldn't be able to be decided in April.

Who I want to win: Phillies

12. Rays vs. Cardinals: The Air and Sea Series.

The best thing about it: Christmas Colors! Green and Red! Santa in the bleachers and Christmas trees in the luxury boxes! ... Oh, wait, the Rays don't wear green anymore. ... OK, I've got nothing.

The worst thing about it: It's just one of those meh Series. I'd watch it. But I really wouldn't care in the end.

Who I'd want to win: Rays

13. Rangers vs. Brewers: The "There Sure Is a Lot
of Good Food at These Two Ballparks" Series

The best thing about it: They might show the food on TV.

The worst thing about it: They might show the food on TV, and then I'll look in my refrigerator and it won't be pleasant.

Who I want to win: Rangers

14. Tigers vs. Brewers: It's guaranteed to be a cold one.

The best thing about it: I might see a lot of home runs. That's not a bad thing when it's a Series in which I have little invested.

The worst thing about it: Isn't this an American League East regular-season series from 1979?

Who I want to win: Toss-up of all toss-ups, but I'll say Brewers.

15. Rays vs. Phillies: The Second-Chance Series.

The best thing about it: Roy Halladay has a shot at another no-hitter.

The worst thing about it: We just saw this matchup three years ago, and as someone who wasn't a Phillies fan, it really wasn't the best series. No more of those weird rain delays, please.

Who I want to win: Rays

16. Yankees vs. Diamondbacks: Ten Years Later.

What's good about it: Ian Kennedy faces the team that scrapped him. Let's hope Kennedy knows how to deliver the "See What You Missed" performance to perfection.

What's bad about it: My two least favorite teams out of all of the postseason contestants. I don't want either team to win ANYTHING. EVER.

Who I want to win: I rooted for the Yankees in 2001, but there were major extenuating circumstances.

Go D'backs!

I haven't had much luck in the postseason the last two years, so I am bracing for a Yankees vs. Diamondbacks Series.

But that's why they play the game. Maybe we'll get the Rays and Brewers and after the ratings come out, I'll never have to hear Buck and McCarver again.

Hey, I can dream.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The "once proud" franchise heads into the offseason

Well, it's the offseason finally. The "once-proud" franchise won its final game of the year. The National League Cy Young Award winner will likely be a player from the "once-proud" franchise, and the N.L. MVP -- if people are thinking clearly -- will also go to a player from the "once-proud" franchise.

The "once-proud" team seems to have found a legitimate closer, a reliable starting staff, a shortstop for the future, and some decent role players (and, no, I'm not talking about Eugenio Velez).

"Once-proud," my team managed to finish above .500 and in third place -- nothing more, but nothing less than what I expected at the start of the season.

For all of the June doom-and-gloom, I think the "once-proud" team produced some truly exciting moments, and two of the best individual performances that I have seen from my "once-proud" favorite club since I started following baseball 35 years ago.

I'm pretty damn proud of some of the stuff I saw from the "once-proud" franchise.

Which is why the Associated Press needs to stuff its "once-proud" bullshit and figure out a more accurate way to describe the Dodgers when writing its stories.

Matt Kemp won the home run and RBI titles, something that hasn't happened for the Dodgers in 70 years. Clayton Kershaw won the pitching triple crown, something that hasn't happened for the Dodgers since Sandy Koufax was on the mound.

To illustrate the two players' dominance, here is the final list of Player of the Day selections for 2011:

1. Clayton Kershaw -20
2. Matt Kemp - 13
3. Hiroki Kuroda - 7
4. Chad Billingsley - 5
5. Andre Ethier - 5
6. Rod Barajas - 4
7. Ted Lilly - 4
8. James Loney - 3
9. Dana Eveland - 2
9. Rafael Furcal  -2
10. Dee Gordon - 2
11. Tony Gwynn Jr. - 2
9. Aaron Miles - 2
10. Dioner Navarro - 2
11. Jerry Sands - 2
12. Nathan Eovaldi - 1
13. Jon Garland - 1
14. Russell Mitchell - 1
15. Trent Oeltjen - 1
15. Juan Uribe - 1

I think Kemp and Kershaw need a better support staff. But the free agent season is coming and with MLB hovering around the Dodger ownership situation, I think L.A. will be spending relatively freely.

There is nothing that I saw with the team this year that prevents me from thinking they could win a title next year. And I can't say that about a number of other teams in the majors. Nor could I say that about my team at this time last year.

So, the once-proud franchise leaves this season pretty proud of how they finished.

And I was proud of them all along.

By the way, the Kemp card at the top of the post came from Greg L. I'll show some of the other cards he sent later.

It's not your average 2009 SP Authentic card.

Here's your average '09 SP Authentic Matt Kemp card:

And here's the one Greg L. sent again:

This is known as the "copper" parallel because the background is more brownish than the base card. Upper Deck numbered it to /99 just in case you didn't catch on to the background thing right away (which I didn't).

There are also titanium parallels and other similar wackiness that makes me glad all over again that Upper Deck isn't manufacturing real baseball cards.

Now there's a spot where you can hang the "once proud" tag.

"Once proud" Upper Deck.

That fits.

The greatest '75 mini post of all-time!!!!!!! ... M-M-M-M-Minis!!!!!

Some of you need some cheering up.

I think I have the perfect thing.

I rarely wish that I was capable of video on this blog. But this is the one time that I do.

I received a gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago from Andy of the blog. It was a thank you for my blog work and contributions to the B-R blog. The gift was one of the coolest items that I have received since blogging, and probably years before that.

You're looking at the gift right now.

The scan that you see is a scan of an unopened wax package of 1975 Topps MINIS. A 36-year-old wax pack dating back to the very first year that I opened packs of cards.

And we're going to open it.

I expect it to be something like this:

Except, you know, more manly, with beer and babes and bazookas.

But first we're going to take a look at the back of the wrapper, all nerdy-like.

What a wonderful sight. Sealed just for me, and packaged with just the right amount of dextrose and BHT (to maintain freshness!)

I have no memory of the Topps Sports Club or wanting to be in it. I never remember seeing Topps Sports Club News, and I'm wondering if the TSC ever got off the ground. The blurb promises "preseason card samples," and autographed pictures. I suppose these could be floating around somewhere, but I don't remember seeing them.

Most of the mini cards that I purchased in 1975 came from a single corner store in Binghamton, N.Y. It was painted an aqua green color, and I never knew if the store had a name. But the minis I bought there weren't wrapped in wax. They came in cellophane packages and there were more than 10 cards to a pack. I don't remember exactly how many. 18, maybe?

Anyway, this wax pack has 10 cards, just like the regular-sized wax packs from '75.

Before I open it, I must ponder what I might get out of this pack. Yes, I'm stringing you along. But you have a "scroll-down" option on your mouse just like me. You can jump to the pretty pictures if you're so weak that you can't keep your pants on for a few sentences.

Best cards I could pull from the pack: A Yount or Brett rookie, Nolan Ryan, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt. These are all cards I need in mini form. Also, any All-Star card in mini form was beyond cool in 1975, so I'd love one of those.  It'd also be interesting to see a league leaders card in mini form. I've never seen one of those.

Worst cards I could pull from the pack: "Worst" is a relative term, since I'm not exactly opening a pack of Upper Deck Spectrum here. But I could potentially pull a drastically miscut card or a checklist (which would be mildly interesting, since I've never seen a mini checklist either). Pulling a mini that I already have is no big deal because many of my minis date to when I was a kid and need upgrading.

OK, it's about time I start opening. This is the part that should be on video. But you'll have to suffer with words:

There's the opened pack, and I imagine some Orioles fans instantly know the first card in the pack. But I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I forgot something:

The gum.

My that's appetizing.

Who wouldn't want to eat something that browns on the edges without the use of fire?

But I had to pass on ingesting it. The gum was tossed because I could barely stand the sight of it. Yet, I scanned it for all of eternity on the blog. So there you are.

And, yes, I still haven't gotten to the cards.

One more thing.

With scans, you can't get a good idea of the "mininess" of the mini (another area where video would work better). So I ended up scanning the minis that I pulled out of the pack next to their corresponding regular-sized card.

OK, now I'm ready.

For the first time since 1975, I am opening a pack of 1975 Topps mini cards!!!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


First card:

#491 - Doyle Alexander

The man who became known as the player traded for a young John Smoltz. But I knew him as a kid as that guy who ... "Hey! He played for the Dodgers for a season!"

Ron Reed played two seasons for the Pistons in 1965-66 and 1966-67. I've known he used to play pro basketball because of cartoons like these on the backs of Topps cards. But I never bothered to look it up until now.

#114 - Dick Lange

This is a very nice, scenic photo of a player whose name sounds like he should have been a talk-show host. Maybe he was. His baseball-playing career was over before he hit 30.

Otto is a cool middle name.

#448 - Frank Duffy

One of the things that disappeared from ballplayers during the 1990s, was the delightful nerdiness of some of them. Of course, they actually weren't nerdy, because they were BALLPLAYERS. But the glasses and slight builds of some of the players from the '60s, '70s and '80s made them see somehow as dorky as the rest of us.

Look, even the cartoon player on the back is wearing glasses.

#138 - Del Unser

Unser is one of those players that was used a lot as a pinch-hitter/role player when I was growing up. Even as a kid, I rooted for many of those players to find a regular starting role and thought they were being left on the bench unfairly. I was actually preparing myself for an adulthood filled with disappointment.

When was the last time you heard an outfielder referred to as a "flychaser"?

#222 - Dan Spillner

The scanner cut off the bottom of the mini card.

As you know, I'm starting to peck away at my '75 mini want list and am starting with the cards that have the most memories of that first year of collecting cards. The Spillner card is one of those cards, so I'm all set there! I saved a few pennies with that pull.

The Padres had a hoard of pitching prospects in the mid-1970s? What happened to them all? Besides Randy Jones, I mean.

#41 - Cesar Geronimo

The famed No. 8 guy in the batting order of the Big Red Machine.

This card actually came out of the pack like this:

The second half of the pack was turned 180 degrees from the first half of the pack. I don't remember seeing that opening packs in '75. But I missed a lot of stuff when I was a kid. Too juiced up on sucrose.

Ah, that 1970s cartoon slapstick humor. The umpire got hit in the head with a baseball! Funny!

#438 - Don Carrithers

One of only four players in the 1975 set displaying a tobacco chaw in his cheek. I know this because I just finished off the 1975 Topps (it's far out, man) blog. In fact, I am opening this pack on that blog, too. I'm a lot less wordy over there.

This is also a mini-upgrade, as I had this mini card already. Love getting mini dupes!!

Dean Look played three games for the Chicago White Sox in 1961. That's it.

#92 - Cecil Upshaw

Cecil got scanned a little crooked. Sorry. Here's another player that isn't afraid to look a little bookish.

And by "hurled," Topps means "pitched." Not ... uh ... "vomited." At least not that I've heard.

#256 - Billy Champion

Champion has one of the best names in all of professional sports. I mentioned that once before. And he dots his "I' with a circle.

This is also the third straight "green-light green" bordered card. Probably my least favorite border combination in the set.

"Buford Champion" is not as great as "Billy Champion." Nice choice, mom or dad or whichever Champion was nicknaming Billy.

#166 - Woodie Fryman

I will forever associate Woodie Fryman with Howard Cosell and the 1981 N.L. Division Series with the Dodgers. L.A. defeated Woodman and Cosell's precious Expos. HA!

And that's the last card in the pack!

If I have to be honest, that was kind of a dud pack. No stars to speak of. No Dodgers. No subsets. A pack chock full of commons.


And that beats any old pack of stars or, especially, rookies, by a million miles. You can have your Triple Threads. I just opened the best pack I'll open all year.

In my pursuit of the 1975 Topps mini set, I added six more cards with this pack. Four of them were dupes, but all are significant upgrades.

A major, major thanks to Andy for allowing me to indulge in the greatest year of my childhood one more time.

It just confirmed for me what I always knew.

The '75 Topps mini set is the greatest set of all-time.

Right now the minis are safely enclosed in the pack. I may never remove them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cardboard appreciation: 1977 Topps Bake McBride

(One of the best quotes about appreciation: "The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one." -- Oscar Wilde. I can't believe I haven't used this before. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 120th in a series):

The "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates are known for a variety of characteristics: the 1979 World Series title, the gold stars, the crazy black-and-gold uniform combinations, "Pops," "The Cobra," "Teke," Sister Sledge, etc.

They also wore those funny, square caps from 1976-86. Their fashion choices became the darlings of the "Those Were the Days," crowd. Remember the '70s? Remember the bizarre clothes we used to wear? Remember the PIRATES? Oh my god, what freaky caps they wore!!!

Of course, cap connoisseurs -- and they're out there -- know that the Pirates' cap choice began as a tribute to the National League's centennial season in 1976. They wore the style of the late 19th century during the '76 season and just kept wearing the caps for another 10 years, I don't know why. Possibly because gold stars looked so good on those square, striped caps?

But some people forget that there were four other National League teams that also wore those pillbox-style caps in 1976. The Cardinals, Mets, Phillies and Reds did the same.

I don't know why it was just those five teams. Although I'm a little grateful that the Dodgers weren't running around in square caps during the bicentennial, it seems unfair that just five teams got to pay tribute to that time period.

I don't remember the Phillies and Reds wearing the caps at all. I just went through all of each team's 1977 Topps cards (which feature players during the 1976 season) and none of them are wearing pillbox caps. I'm wondering if some teams wore them only for Opening Day or certain weekends or something.

I do remember the Mets wearing the caps, because I'd watch Mets games at my grandfather's house that year and I can recall a pitcher sporting them (I don't remember which one). But after going through the 1977 Topps cards, I was sad to see that none of the Mets are wearing them.

The only team that I can find cards of players wearing those caps is the Cardinals. Bake McBride, of course, is famously wearing one -- because anything Bake McBride does becomes instantly famous.

The other players wearing them are Eric Rasmussen and Tom Walker. Also, Lou Brock is wearing a throwback style batting helmet -- it's not square, just striped.

I like to think that I remember the Cardinals wearing those caps. But like many baseball events that happened in the '70s, I'm wondering if I simply remember it because I saw it pictured on a card.

I want to say that the Cardinals or the Mets actually wore the pillbox caps once or twice after the 1976 season. In 1977. But I have no proof.

It makes me wonder that if those four other teams kept wearing the caps for a decade, like the Pirates, would they be iconic teams as the Pirates of that era are? The Phillies, of course, won their first World Series title in 1980, so they're already iconic among fans, although I don't know if they have the breakout instant mind-recall of the '79 Pirates.

I think you might need more than wearing a pillbox cap for 10 years to be an iconic team. You need a championship, and charismatic players and another sort of hook, unique to your team.

But those square caps, man, that's an excellent start.

(P.S.: The fact that I've featured Cardinals at the top of back-to-back posts doesn't mean I'm rooting for them to win the wild card. I'm actually rooting for the Braves, if you can believe it. The thought of a Cardinals vs. Yankees World Series, with La Russa and Girardi micromanaging pitching staffs into six hour games, is a horrifying thought).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I still buy random packs, part 2

I often find myself in the middle of never-ending debates concerning vintage vs. modern, or retail vs. online. Periodically, when I feature a modern set that may not be up to my standards, commenters will jump on my negative vibe and say something like, "thanks for reminding me why I don't waste my money on the garbage they're putting out today."


I wasn't really saying "this set has flaws, therefore burn all of your post-1994 cards." I was just saying "this set has flaws."

Or I'll feature a beloved vintage card of some sort and the response will be *crickets.* Not enough modern innovation for the mojo crowd, I guess.

The same goes for retail vs. online. Although I haven't really come across a ton of collectors advocating for retail, I do come across plenty advocating the online route. Their main clinching argument is: "and that's what I picked up for the price of a blaster."

It's a pretty good argument. I can't find any holes in that. I, too, have just about eliminated full-price blasters from my budget as anyone who has been reading here lately knows. There are more cost-effective ways to get the cards that you want.

But I don't want to eliminate retail pack purchases altogether ever.

Here's why:

It's called The Fun Aspect. I am in this hobby for the fun.

Now, everyone's definition of fun is different. You can talk about hunting for online buys as "fun," and I don't dispute that you consider it fun. But I don't. Shopping for cards online for me is almost work. Searching and comparing and calculating. Ugh. I hate shopping period, whether it's in person or over the intertubes. I am not one of those people who gets a high over landing a great deal. So the appeal is lost on me.

I see "fun" when I walk up to the card aisle and am rewarded with shelves and shelves of brightly colored packs and boxes, all of which I can pick up and examine (but not fondle!). I can also buy them and open them instantly. No waiting, unless you count the time you're standing in the checkout line.

Buying random packs also allows me to acquire cards that I can use for trade bait. It's a much preferable way for me to acquire trade bait then to actually hunt down cards of players I don't collect in hopes that I might be able to flip it for something I like. Although that way may be quite effective, that's too much work for me, and really undermines the whole "fun" aspect that is the key factor in this hobby for me.

Another fun element for me is NOT pinching pennies. This doesn't mean I go overboard and throw the family into debt. I have a card budget. It's very small and it doesn't prevent me from paying bills. But I refuse to beat myself up over buying a pack of Donruss Americana if the mood strikes me. Why did I blow $2.99 on that pack? Because I thought it might be fun. That's all. If it turns out it wasn't (and it wasn't), I'm not going to go into my ledger and scribble $2.99 off the budget and write in bright red letters, never do that again!!!!

Buying cards in this manner is not efficient. I'll admit that.

But I'm not in this hobby for "efficient."

I'm in it for "fun."

"Efficient" comes into play in other, more important aspects of my life, aspects that aren't necessarily fun, thereby causing me to use grown-up, adult words like "efficient."

I don't want to use grown-up adult words when I collect baseball cards. The card budget in the spreadsheet is there in the background to make sure I don't go overboard, but otherwise we don't communicate much. I set the budget, it says, "you go out and play," and I'm off.

There are times when money is tight and I need to hold back. I'll stop retail shopping during those times and go online more often -- if I even can afford to do that. But then in a couple of weeks, I'm back to picking up a few stray retail packs again.

And then there's this: you expect me to go to Target or Walmart and NOT stop by the card aisle? If I didn't buy any retail packs, a trip to Target or Walmart would be as dreary as a trip to any other store that I enter. If I'm at Target with my family and can't hit the card aisle, I might as well be in Fashion Bug. Target will never be my friend again.

Same deal with Walmart. In fact, I don't think you would ever be able to get me to Walmart again if it didn't have cards.

So retail-pack shopping often takes the edge off of what would be an extraordinarily mundane/aggravating store visit.

Online card shopping definitely has its positive points. There are loads of cards online that you'll never find in retail, which is almost 100 percent of the reason why I shop online. There are boxes of cards, which I rarely can afford, but they're there. And online shopping makes the mailbox a lot more pleasant part of the home decor.

But sometimes I don't want to sit around and wait for "fun." I want to go out and get "fun" myself.

So, here are some of the cards I got over the weekend while trying to make my hobby fun:

Yes, I really bought another pack of Topps Attax. But the only reason I did so is because I still needed the Dodger Stadium card. Guess what I pulled in the pack? Great fun.

This came out of the rack pack of Chrome. I'm really excited about what Dee Gordon can do in his first full season at shortstop in 2012.

When the orange refractors are paired up with the right team, there is almost no better card. When they are paired up with a company that uses orange as their primary color, as in Gulf Oil, it is an unbeatable card. Throw in a Hooters girl and I'd have to get this baby slabbed.

This card is too weird. But I know someone will take it off my hands.

I bought a single pack of Allen & Ginter. It contained TWO code parallels, two base set needs, a Hometown Heroes card, AND a Flora of the World card.

This is the second Flora of the World card I've pulled, both out of random packs. I believe these are one per hobby box? Someone really wants me to take up gardening.

Walmart has '08 Baseball Heroes blasters for 9 bucks. This is what I thought they should be selling for in 2008. So, now that the price came down to something reasonable, I bought it.

The box was beat to hell. I half expected to open it and all the cards would come pouring out minus the wrappers. That didn't happen. It was pretty much the same dull packs and dull cards I remembered. But emerald Robin saved the day.

I also grabbed a 5-dollar repack rack pack when we were at the drug store stocking up on paper supplies. I know these packs have a bunch of '87 Topps. They also have 1969 cards of Luis Tiant.

This is why I'm still buying random packs.