Thursday, July 18, 2019

Battling birthday blasters

Greetings, readers! I have been on vacation the last several days, roaming free during my birthday week.

For the first time in a long time, I did not celebrate my birthday at my home base. I don't know why my birthday always seems to end up at my house. It wasn't like that when I was young. Since my birthday is in the summer, I always seemed to be celebrating it at the park or the beach or at some relative's house far away.

But as I got older, the gift-opening usually happened here at the house. Probably something about me wanting to be as close to the TV as possible with the All-Star Game usually occurring somewhere near my birthday.

So, anyway, I spent my birthday with my daughter in her new digs several hours away. It was very nice, even though I didn't receive my usual birthday cake.

Also, both wife and daughter happened to buy me blasters of Topps Series 2 as birthday goodies. It's a bit of a coincidence that both were blasters of Series 2. I did give them a list of modern cards to purchase -- Stadium Club, Big League, Series 2 or Heritage. But I didn't request a specific size (rack pack, loosie, etc.). Before I knew it, I was pulling Series 2 blasters from Target out of each gift bag!

Each blaster was purchased in typical wife/kid fashion. The wife bought it during an hours-long shopping trip with her sister. The kid bought it by going online to Target and ordering it up.

I ended up opening both of them in my hotel room. I thought I would compare the blasters and see which one comes out on top. But in a perfect bit of cosmic self-preservation, I lost track of who gave me which blaster. Good thing, I don't think it's wise to broadcast that wife or daughter got me the best blaster! That information should be confidential!

So here is a quick breakdown of each birthday blaster.


Box 1: Delino DeShields, Rangers

Box 2: Stephen Tarpley, Yankees

Winner: Box 1. DeShields may remind me of his dad and his lousy showing for the Dodgers (not to mention one the worst trades in Dodger history), but Tarpley is a Yankee and a rookie and I can already hear some overeager pinstripe fan boy calling him the next CC Sabathia.


Box 1: Max Muncy, Dodgers, Independence Day parallel

Box 2: Pete Alonso, Mets, rookie card

Winner: Box 1. I have never pulled one of those Independence Day parallels (numbered to /76) and to do it for the first time by pulling a Dodger and a notable Dodger at that, makes this blaster the best of the two easily. It's not even a contest anymore. But for the sake of this post, we'll go on ... half-heartedly.

I feel a bit bad for Pete Alonso. I've been trying to catch up on my baseball viewing this month and Alonso is everything that I've read. Everyone mentions his hitting. But he's fun to watch in the field and he seems to a quality guy all-around. Still, he's no Dodger and there's no flag behind him.


Box 1: Roger Clemens, Red Sox, Greatest Moments insert

Box 2: Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays

Winner: Box 1. Traditionalists will go with Pillar -- great image (if he indeed caught it). But to see a scorecard (and nothing but a scorecard) of a 20-strikeout game on a baseball card is fascinating. So many questions: whose scorecard? Did it come from someone on the Red Sox? Was it from one of the 13,414 in attendance? Did someone from Topps just draw it up a few months ago and pretend it came from April 29, 1986? Why didn't they use an image of Clemens?


Box 1: None really, outside of a handful of dupes.

Box 2: Yup, two of them. Makes up for none in Box 1.

The Todd Helton insert is obviously a parallel. I recognized it right away as the other Franchise Feats cards do not feature the gold design in the top corner, nor is the team name filled in gold. Parallels of inserts still bother me and I still do not expect them, although I should totally plan for them by now.

The Gary Vee card simply baffles me. There are people on Twitter that get outraged by this Gary Vee guy. I barely know who he is. Entrepreneurs don't interest me and guys who land in the hobby and all of a sudden declare it as the place to be (dude, I could of told you that the year you were born), are a little annoying. But beyond that, I just don't get why he has to be plastered on an insert. I can't imagine a kid getting excited over this (outside of a Blue Jays collector) and that's how a judge a card's value.


Box 1: Three of them.

Box 2: One of them (actually two, but the Marlins one was a dupe).

Winner: Box 1: Even though the Orioles one is beautiful and the Padres one shows the OUTSIDE of the stadium (did they throw the photographer out?), three is better than one. Trying to get all of these.


Box 1: Yusei Kikuchi, Mariners

Box 2: Jon Edwards, Indians

Winner: Box 1. I don't know much about either player, which falls in line with me pulling gold parallels of players that barely register. However, the Kikuchi will fill in nicely for the Opening Day Kikuchi that I put in Dime Box Nick's package only to see that he landed one at a card show.


Box 1: Ryan McMahon, Rockies

Box 2: Alex Avila, Diamondbacks

Winner: Box 1. Pulling foil cards of players from the Mountain Time Zone is not one of my favorite things to do. But lucky for Ryan McMahon, he merely plays for the fourth team I would eliminate if I was baseball commissioner. Alex Avila plays for the first.


Box 1: Eddie Murray, Orioles, 1978 design

Box 2: Darryl Strawberry, Mets, 1984 design

Winner: Box 1. The name and position font are not correct on the Murray card, but come on, it's one of the greatest rookie cup cards of all-time (if not the greatest). Darryl doesn't have a chance.


Box 1: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Box 2: Jeffrey Springs, Rangers

Winner: Box 1. Pablo Sandoval attempting to tag Austin Barnes (I refuse to believe that Sandoval can even do what he's alleged to be doing there) is a nifty photo that I was almost sure had to be an SP. The Springs photo I thought was unusual -- and possibly an SP -- just because you don't see tight shots on players anymore on cards, unless they're in Heritage. But not even Topps is making SPs of Jeffrey Springs.

I think if you are keeping score at home you have realized that it was a clean sweep for Box 1. Good thing I don't know who gave me which box!

A couple of other observations, regardless of box:

I was baffled to find an Aaron Judge tribute insert set in the blasters. "Are these from 2018?" I said to myself. (I apparently didn't read the front of the box). There was a Judge tribute in last year's Series 2 in Walmart packs. Did Target throw a stink fit and want a Judge tribute set for it's own? Why are we pulling Judge tribute inserts two straight years? (Yes, I know, Yankees fans everywhere, Yankees fans can't wait to get rid of their money) What do I do with this stuff?

These I pulled out of a pack, back-to-back. If you're not going to mix up the shots, maybe make sure they're a few cards apart.

Staying on the Padres theme, there was a Tatis Jr. card in each box. Both box wanted me to get RICH!

Finally, out of all of the cards I pulled (99 each box, it says on the front), this was the only Dodger I pulled that I needed besides the Muncy flag parallel.

Yup, this card came out of Box 1, too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Well, happy birthday to me

Back in February, I received an email from Rod of Padrographs. We're both collecting the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards and I was inquiring about one of the cards he pulled, Patti LaBelle, as I needed that card.

Rod said he'd send one if he got a dupe and then wrote, "by the way, when's your birthday?"

I looked at it and thought that was an odd question from a fellow blogger. But it was nowhere near my birthday at the time and I sent him his answer and went on my way, never thinking about it again.

Well, now today is my birthday and I know exactly why Rod sent that email.

I have been digging out of a goodie package that he sent on the occasion of being one year older! Imagine that, a blogger sending me birthday gifts!

You already saw one of the Padrograph gifts that arrived earlier. That gift was sent to me by Ron Cey himself.

These presents were sent by Rod himself, but the contents inside were also very much about Ron Cey, too, my all-time favorite player.

Happy birthday to me.

This is an item from last year's Topps Archives Signature Series. You know, that weird set where you buy a box of just one card and hope it's Mike Trout and probably end up with Kelly Gruber (not that there's anything wrong with Kelly Gruber at all).

There have been several Cey signatures in the last couple years of the Signature Series. I haven't bothered going after any of them because I have a lot of signed Cey cards already, including the 1983 Topps card. But a certified signature is a certified signature and, yes, I want it. And so I have it.

Rod sent me the 1983 Topps Ron Cey sticker that I had blogged about recently as being the only Cey sticker I knew of that I needed. It's also the only sticker I've put on my Nebulous 9 list.

Rod also went a little overboard, as we often do.

This is a glossy photograph of Cey (duh) but it's not a 5-by-7 or 8-by-10. It's smaller, like a 3-by-5. I've never known team photo issues to be that small, but then I'm not all that up on team photo issues.

This is a Nike tag that went with something (a shoe box?) that is a miniature version of the Penguin Power poster that Rod sent me a few years ago. Where does he get this stuff?

And this -- oh, man, this -- is something I've wanted since I was a teen.

I've seen these 1976 Linnett Superstars advertised in hobby mail-order catalogs for a long time. I always thought they looked cool and probably drooled a little bit over the Dodgers advertised therein.

Once I found out that the "cards" were much larger than traditional trading cards, my interest faded a bit. But I still love the way they look and it's a dream realized that the Cey item is now mine.

This is the first time I've ever seen the back of one of these. They feature "Great Cars of the World." And I just did a quick online search of the Linnetts and now I really want all the Dodgers again. I need help.

This may look like an out-of-place photo of a very 1980-looking Cey on a 1973 Topps card. And you'd be right about that, but it's not a card. It's a magnet. The only person I know who has been making "magnet cards" is Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown. But since both Gavin and Rod are Portlandians, maybe they've been swapping craft ideas.

And here are some ordinary, run-of-the-mill Ron Cey cards, which means they're not run-of-the-mill at all (well, maybe the Cubs one). That '74 Cey, which I never can get enough of, is a very fine-looking, healthy specimen.

OK, so that was the Ron Cey portion of the package. But that wasn't the entire assortment.

You saw the Ron Cey postcard at the top of the post? Well, I've been sent that particular postcard once before.

I can't say that for most of these though:

I hope you can read those very legible signatures because I don't feel like listing all of them. Those are postcards of Dodgers from the late '60s and early '70s for the most part. The Don Sutton postcard is amazing and getting a photo of Gene Michael in a Dodger uniform is a rarity. The Dick Allen photo has been seen before but is no less wonderful. I adore the Mudcat Grant postcard and the Jimmy Wynn postcard seems to come from another time and place.

You really get a good idea of why he was called "The Toy Cannon" in this shot. I believe that's Willie Crawford on deck.

The contents in this birthday package really scanned the range of my interests.

There were minis for my frankenset mission. Sadly, only the Hicks found a spot in the binder. (Victor Robles is a TBD, based on his career future). Ryu goes in the Dodger binder.

There were signatures of past Buffalo athletes. Check out that majestic scribble on the Thomas Vanek card. I don't know what it is, but it looks like the signature of a super-fast hockey skater. Very slashy.

There were Series 2 needs for my 1991 MusiCards completion quest, or one need, to be exact. Down to needing #289 and #309.

Rod also found the last card I needed to complete the U.K. version of the MusiCards set. I'm so happy that this is complete, almost a year-to-the-date of me opening a whole box of U.K. MusiCards and coming one Cliff Richard card short!

This is an unopened pack of 1995 Topps. I've professed an interest in this set and it's gotten me to close to 300 cards in the set.

I've cooled a bit on it recently though and haven't done much with it. The pack yielded only a few cards that I needed:

The Rojas is one of the CyberStats parallels.

These are those online-only 2019 Topps Total cards. Rod landed a few of them and sent me the Dodgers!

I'm glad to have them because there's no way I'm paying the prices charged for these. It's Topps Total! It's supposed to be like $1.99 for 20 cards!

Rod also sent a bunch of other Dodgers, several of which I needed. I do mostly collect cards you know.

But there's always room for an item like this:

Both Rod and I enjoy our reading material and this looks fascinating. The whole magazine. Talk about a different time and place!

Well, Rod, now I know why you asked when my birthday was. I'm a bit overwhelmed.

Thanks for thinking about me and wishing me a happy birthday in the best possible way.

I think I will now enjoy my birthday.