Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The National came to me

I've never been to the National. And I won't be there in Chicago this week either.

Sure, I'd like to go, but with family, work and financial obligations, it hasn't been high on the priority list.

I know I'll miss the majesty of what is available at the show. Everything imaginable -- and unimaginable -- in the card world will be there. But that's why I have the internets. I've already seen some of the stuff that's available there this week. It's pretty amazing.

Still, I'm a results guy. Looking at the splendor of it all is fine, but the question is: can you afford all that? My answer is "no, I can't afford all that." I can't afford the plane flight out, or the hotel room, or eating out all those days either.

But lucky me, I don't have to afford all that.

Because The National came to me on Monday.

If I was going to go to The National, I'd shop there the way I shop at any card show. I'd look for my collecting interests -- Dodgers, 1970s sets, a few cards from the '50s, random oddballs, stuff like that. Nothing exclusive, just good old-fashioned goodies.

And that's just what David sent me.

If you're a regular reader, you know Dave's sent me a lot of great stuff. But he must've been in an especially great mood -- probably because the Pirates are doing so well -- because this was as good as it gets.

It was all contained within a big box on my porch. The postman set it down on chair I have out there. If he knew how to swing things, he could have walked off with it and had a hell of a time. Fortunately, he didn't and now I'm rolling in cardboard glory.

Let's first start with something I didn't even know I was collecting:

A whole mess of 2013 Topps Series 2.

Probably like 200-250 cards.

I suppose this means I need to go through and see how close I am to completing both Series 1 and Series 2. I know that I'm supposed to be angry at Topps and not completing any present-day sets. But if I'm pretty close I think I owe it to the Collecting Brotherhood to complete it, right?

So many Brotherhood obligations.

OK, let's move on to something I KNOW I'm collecting:


I'm sure that's not all of them.

In fact, here is another one right now:

I love me some mid-1990s Mike Piazza diecuts.

Oh, and here's another one:

You can't beat a yellow-speckled Roebuck. This is definitely something I'd grab at a card show, National or otherwise.

One more ...

Yup. I'd nab a wood-cabinet TV Hoak, too.

These are from the National League team set that Topps issued this year. I've only seen the American League one in my Target and I have no idea if I would have obtained these cards if nobody sent them. So I am so happy someone removed that from hovering over my head.

The package was filled with night cards. I can't possibly show all of them here. I don't want to anyway as a lot of them are reserved for Awesome Night Card posts.

But Dave requested a specific Night Card post and I will be glad to oblige soon. So you'll see a few more of the nighty-night cards he sent eventually.

Dave is my favorite kind of reader. An attentive one.

I've mentioned oddball cards so many times here and these sure are oddball. There were even Japanese cards in the box, as well as Hostess, Leaf, O-Pee-Chee and Panini. Weeeeeeeeee!

Another example of attention to detail.

At some point I mentioned a need to upgrade my 1980 Topps Dodgers. I don't remember specifically writing this, but it's entirely possible I did. And now I'm looking forward to upgrading whatever card caused me to write that.

I'm telling you this package is just like coming back from a card show. Lots of post-event fun!

Yup, even more attention to detail.

Way in the future, I know I am going to want to see if I can collect the 1967 Topps set. I know I've mentioned that before.

Dave isn't going to let me wait. He sent me these great cards to get me a head start.

There are some more. Not anybody I know, but I look forward to finding out.

Oops, I forgot a Dodger.

More oddballs!!!!!!

I now have to see how close I am to completing the Crane Potato Chips team set.

I have a terrible time finding '75 minis at card shows, but apparently other people don't. Here is another one for the completion quest.

Yep, I forgot another 1967. Kind of a good one, too.

Here are the 1956 cards I picked out at the show.

Oh, right, Dave picked them out for me.

Aren't they great?

Some day I'll put up a 1956 Topps want list. But first I need to actually land a big name from that set (besides a Dodger) to consider myself serious about this.

For me, the absolute best part of the package was a bunch of 1972 Topps needs. Dave said he'd be sending some my way, and boy howdy, did they arrive.

There's Tom Seaver in action. He looks like he just took a shot to the ... um ... lower regions.

This looks like a regular-old Charlie Hough rookie card, but I regret to inform you it's not.

It's O-Pee-Chee!!!!

(Like an idiot, I turned this card over and noticed that the back was lighter. I searched all over the card looking for the tiny OPC copyright when I could have simply looked for the word "lanceur." Duh.)

Back to American Topps and this is one of the last "low-number" cards I need in the '72 set. And that's because it's the great Carlton Fisk rookie card. (And let's not forget future Dodger Mike Garman and childhood favorite Cecil Cooper).


Here is a terrific in-action card of future manager Pat Corrales.

But if you know anything about the 1972 set, you know we've now entered high-number territory.

1972 high numbers are nasty. Rare. Expensive.

But Dave apparently knows how to find some because there were lots of them in the package.

Isn't that great????

Sure, some are a little miscut or have a little water damage or paper loss.

Do I care?

Hell, no.

These are ideal and I can't wait to get them in my '72 binder. Fill up all those blank pages in the back!!!!

Look! More! One of those great Traded cards in the high-number portion of the '72.

The rookie card of the Penguin! A second one because the other one is residing in my Dodger binder! Cool!

Finally, we have three cards from the very back of the set.

Those are cards No. 762, 765 and 772 in the set. And I find that so awesome, I can barely stand it.

My "National" was pretty damn terrific this year. I mean look at all the exclamation points I used.

I got exactly what I wanted, didn't have to spend a lot of money, didn't sit next to anyone smelly on the plane or get woken up by kids running in the halls in the hotel.

But, yeah, I'm still jealous of those who are at The National.

This just takes the sting out of it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

C.A., the review 3 (part 8)

Before I get into the final vote-off that leads into the semifinals in Cardboard Appreciation, the Review 3, I'd like to mention a few baseball/hobby-related goings-on that have happened to me in the last 24 hours.

Because everyone's just got to know 'bout little ol' night owl, right?

First of all, if you haven't heard about the untimely passing of George "Boomer" Scott, I hate to be the one to break it to you. He died on Sunday at age 69.

I have written at least a couple of odes to Scott during the life of this blog. He is, after all, a member of the Bad-ass Club and the man who taught me the importance of the home run. He is at the very center of my first real introduction to the powers of baseball.

During that late spring/early summer of 1977, Scott was part of a Red Sox home run bash that was the topic of the sports world. As I mentioned in that earlier post, Sports Illustrated put out a story on Boston's HR binge and it became one of the most popular articles for every 11-year-old baseball-loving boy.

Here is the opening spread:

That is 33 "booms," one for each home run hit during Boston's binge that June. I counted them all, and I was also ticked-off that yachtsman Ted Turner got the cover instead of George Scott.

The '76 Topps George Scott pictured above is the first card of Scott I ever saw. It's a fantastic card, although it's probably not his best one (his 1970 Topps card was voted the best of the '70s during yet another Scott-related post). Let's not forget his 1977 Topps card in which he is displaying the necklace that he once stated was strung "with second basemen's teeth."

I'll miss you, George. RIP.

The second thing involves the crazy, cantankerous, surreal world of Twitter.

If you're not on that wild amusement park ride, then you missed it.

I got into an argument with Greg Swindell.

Yes, THAT Greg Swindell. (Also a member of the All-Greg Team, by the way, which is why he needs to be my friend).

It was all regarding the nonsense over Yasiel Puig sliding into home after his walk-off homer last night. I thought, given the particulars, it wasn't any big deal. Probably shouldn't be doing it, but given the cultural differences and the situation (opponents already off the field, teammates surrounding the plate, HR-hitter probably trying to avoid getting pounded on), let's not make something out of nothing.

Swindell took the "unwritten rules" side, and "playing the game right" and all that. This is fine, but you've got to consider a lot more factors than that. It's not that simple.

But he didn't want to hear it, from me or anyone, and as is often the case when you get into it with an MLBer (remember, I'm a sportswriter, it's not the first time), he's going to play the "did you ever play the game" card.

I've gotten this before -- it's the pro athlete's version of "the check's in the mail," an easy way out -- but what do you say after that? He's not going to listen to you unless you say "I played in the big leagues for five years and hit a home run off of YOU."

So, as I've often been told before, I was then informed that my opinion meant zip. Because nobody ever paid me to play baseball.

No big deal, as I expressed in this tweet:

Perhaps Swindell thought that was amusing because he tweeted this a little bit later:

At any rate, it was very bizarre to be disputing something that I thought was pretty insignificant with a former major leaguer, who I had periodically rooted for during his playing career because he is also named "Greg."

That's Twitter for you, crushing your dreams.

Finally, this afternoon, I received a big box on my porch.

I was warned about this package, but I still marvel over the goodness inside.

I'm saving the post on it for later this week, but here is a little list to give you an idea of what was inside:

1. Night cards
2. Dodgers, from the '70s to present day, including some 2013 parallels that will never make it to my neck of the woods
3. 1975 Topps minis
4. 1970s oddballs
5. 1972 Topps high numbers
6. 1967 Topps
7. 1956 Topps
8. A mess of 2013 Topps

And probably other stuff I am missing.

It's tremendous and I can't wait to show it all -- but I have zero time to scan individual cards right now.

Which is why we are now at Cardboard Appreciation, the Review 3, where all of the cards have been scanned already!


I'm sure you're not surprised that rookie Freddy Lynn won last week's vote-off and we're now 7-for-7 for 1970s cards making the next round.

Here is the vote tally:

1. Fred Lynn, 1976 Topps, 27 votes
2. Graig Nettles, 1978 Topps, 9 votes
3. Randy Ready, 1991 Score, 6 votes
4. Stan Musial, 2006 Topps Walmart, 4 votes
5. Cardinals team, 1978 Topps, 2 votes
6. Eric Karros, 2000 Pacific Invincible, 1 vote
7. Matt Kemp, 2009 UD SPx, 1 vote
8. Austin Kearns, 2013 Topps, 1 vote
(51 total votes)

The only question now is will all eight semifinalists be from the 1970s?

The final eight cards up for vote include a couple of '70s entries, but I don't think they're as strong as past cards featured from that decade.

Here is the group:

1. 1977 Topps A's team checklist: The A's team cards of the '70s always fascinated me as it told a tale of extravagant success to pathetic bottom-feeders.

2. 1979 Topps Don Reynolds: Reynolds is the older brother of Harold Reynolds. But even though I collect in 1979, I never heard of him until I pulled this card out of a package a few months ago. Don Reynolds missed out on a chance to be included in my vast collection of useless knowledge.

3. 1953 Topps Billy Loes: A wonderful gnawed card of one of the characters of Bumdom. This card is a rarity among the '53 set for both its wide view of the subject (only 14 cards in the set show a player's legs) and no writing on the uniform.

4. 1998 Topps Jim Leyritz: For the first 30 years or so, baseball card photos featured pretty standard props. Bats, gloves and caps. Then in the '80s, somebody threw a snake on a card and there's no turning back. This card features the rare bar stool on in baseball card photo.

5. 1994 Upper Deck Heroes Joe Garagiola: Garagiola was the broadcaster of my childhood (along with Tony Kubek). That might explain why I was dreaming about him and baseball cards. At least I hope that was why I was dreaming about him.

6. 1981 Donruss Joe Charboneau: Joe Charboneau, the legend who used to open beer bottles with his eye sockets is featured on a card with a scoreboard that is flashing "This Bud's For You." OUT-STANDING.

7. 1988 Score Casey Candaele: This card is noted because it mentions on the back that Candaele's mother played professionally back in the 1940s. An appropriate Mother's Day card, which is when I featured it.

8. 1975 Topps Ted Sizemore: This well-loved card was selected because I was writing about players that you liked for no reason at all. This happens a lot in childhood. For those who remember their childhood anyway.

So, this your final chance to get a card in the semifinals.

I've made the sidebar pink just for you. So shield your eyes once again and vote for one of the fine cards above.

Meanwhile, I think I'm going to go to work and then lie down for a long time. It's been a pretty active 24 hours.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Awesome night card, pt. 184: What if

I had one of my biggest card show fears realized yesterday.

When I know that a card show is coming, I suddenly reacquire all of the irrational feelings that I had when I was a kid.

I can barely contain myself and want to be at the front doors as soon as it opens because "what if the card show isn't there when I get there?"

This particular show is a two-day show. Saturday and Sunday.

I usually go on Saturday because ... "what if?"

What if the dog gets sick and we can't go Sunday?

What if a vicious storm appears on Sunday and wipes out the building?

What if all the dealers pack up a day early because Saturday sucked so much?

What if? What if? What if?


But I couldn't go on Saturday this time. I worked late Friday night. I had to work on Saturday. There were family activities late Saturday afternoon. Sunday, meanwhile, was free and clear.

So, fine, we'll go Sunday. Make a day of it. The show takes place by a sunny, lakeside, tourist community. It'll be a nice time.

Then I read the news today, oh boy.

Very early Sunday morning, when the papers come off the press, I sat at my desk and noticed that a reporter had written a feature story about the show. It's not really a card show, per se. There is all sorts of stuff there, postcards, stamps, jewelry. (There are a few sportscards tables in the back, maybe three or four -- but they always have good stuff). The show attracts a lot of elderly, well-off, tourist types.

But that's the trouble with catering to an elderly crowd. Eventually ... um ... they're not around as much anymore.

And so, this sentence toward the end of an article in my very own newspaper:

"However, there has been a steady decline in foot traffic and participating vendors over the years, and the show was scaled back to a single-day event this year."



The question reverberated in my mind:

What if?

What if?

What if?

"What if" had happened!!!!

They held a card show in my very own backyard ... and I missed it.

Even though I want to blame myself, I can't, because I checked online the day of the show and it assured me that it was a two-day event.

But, still, I had blown it.

And just to reinforce what a crappy day it now is, it has been raining ever since.

I'm very good at handling disappointment in my life, and I quickly rationalized this setback by saying I could now actually obtain the cards I want. Instead of searching at a card show, hoping to find something even close to the best thing ever, I can now order the best thing ever online.

And that's what I'll do.

But the old childhood feelings return again.

I have to waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttttttt!

I have to order the cards and then wait for processing and shipping and ...

What if?

What if the mail truck gets in an accident and packages fall over the embankment never to be found again?

What if the mailman gets an incurable disease and every letter he touches has to be destroyed?

What if some psychic who can see through packages spies my best-ever card and steals it out of my mailbox?


And that's why I don't know if I could be a Pittsburgh Pirate.

(You were waiting for the tie-in, weren't you?)

The Pirates have suffered 20 straight losing seasons, the longest such streak of any North American professional team.

In the process of attempting to break that record, they have had their hopes raised -- then dashed -- in the most deflating ways possible. The last couple of years they have reached Aug. 1 and everything has fallen apart.

And unless you're the most focused player ever, there has to be an element of "what if?" going through your brain.

What if McCutchen gets hurt?

What if this hodge-podge of a pitching staff turns into a pumpkin?

What if 2012 happens again? What if 2011 happens again?

Personally, I'm rooting for them.

I hope they end that streak, get that playoff spot, and -- unless the Dodgers are in the postseason -- win the World Series.

It will be redemption for a lot of things. The Giants winning last year. All those playoffs dominated by Yankees and Braves a decade ago, 20 years of losing, and ... yes, even missed card shows.

Win it to end the "What Ifs," Buccos.

Show everyone that it doesn't always have to end badly.


Night Card Binder candidate: Andrew McCutchen, 2012 Topps Update, #US87
Does it make the binder?: It does. No waiting.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

No, Canada

I don't like saying this, but I don't think I can mail to anyone else in Canada anymore.

Canadian collectors have been very good to me. For whatever reason, I seem to trade with a lot of them. And I hope to continue to trade with Big Brian, Trader Crack Ryan, Dollar Store Douglas and a few others.

But I don't think I can add any more to the list.

As you know, postal rates for shipping from the U.S. to Canada (and Mexico) went up in January. I've shipped cards to Canada since that time, but for some reason the cost really struck me in the last two weeks.

Maybe it was because I was sending out more than one package to Canada at once, or maybe it's because austerity August is on the horizon. But when the postal worker announced the cost of the yellow mailer I was sending, I thought he was kidding:

"$7.35," he said.

I laughed.

This particular postal worker jokes around a lot. Nothing wrong with that. Got to have fun at your job, right?

But, come on, $7.35, that's not real, right?

Turns out it is.

A package that consisted of the same mailer and with the same weight that I was sending at the same time -- to a U.S. destination -- cost me $2.07.

That's more than five bucks difference.

It always cost more to send cards "overseas," but I shrugged it off because trades are worth it. I didn't even notice how much it cost to send to Canada then. But now? Over seven dollars for a package that size seems ludicrous.

The post office guy said it now costs the same to ship a package to Canada or Mexico as it does to an overseas destination.

I suppose that makes sense since Canada and Mexico are foreign countries just like Azerbaijan or the Czech Republic (no, I'm not mailing to those places). But doesn't travel time count for something? Wouldn't it cost less to ship to Ontario, Canada, then over the Atlantic?

I have no knowledge of how these things work, but when you live a half hour from the Canadian border, as I do, it's pretty frustrating knowing that it costs more than $7 to ship a tiny package to a place I can drive to in less than four hours.

The budget's the budget. And it's not getting larger, that's for sure.

So ...

If you reside in Canada and have traded with me before, don't worry. I'll be happy to trade with you again. No need to throw in any shipping costs either. You guys have been plenty good to me.

But I'm cutting it off there. If you're over the border and I haven't traded with you before, it's going to have to be a pretty compelling deal for me to break the budget.

Same goes for you, too, Mexico (not that I'm getting card offers from that direction).

I like Canada a lot and have visited there many times in my life.

But I haven't been over the border in quite awhile now.

Between this and the amount of money you have to shell out now to ensure that you can return to the U.S. once you're in Canada, it seems like someone doesn't want us to do business over there anymore.

All of the cards in this post are from the previously mentioned Douglas of Sportscards From the Dollar Store, one of several Canadian bloggers who have sent me cool cards. I already sent his package northward last week. At $7.35 it better damn well get there.

I've heard that it's a pretty good deal to send cards from Canada to the U.S. these days, and I'm happy for them because I know how the exchange rate can go in these parts.

That's why I'm sorry to have to cut down like this. It's not anything I want to do.