Saturday, August 29, 2015

Omne Trium Perfectum, or The Rule of Three

You have probably heard of 'The Rule of Three'- an effective communication principle that grew out of the ancient oral storytelling tradition and has continued to this very day. We have seen it in politics, religion and music (among other things). And even if you haven't heard the term, you are surely familiar with them.

According to experts, we as humans process information through pattern recognition, with the most effective communication being done with the smallest pattern possible. What's the smallest number required to make a pattern? Three. III. 3.

Storytelling and Fairy Tales
The most obvious use of the Rule of Three in stories is in how they're structured (Beginning/Middle/End).

We also see it used in the themes of many of our favorite stories and fairy tales:

Three Little Pigs
Three Blind Mice
Three Billy Goats Gruff
Goldi Locks and the Three Bears
The Three Musketeers

Veni, vidi, vici.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen- lend me your ears.

Advertising, Real Estate and Public Safety

Some of the most powerful advertising slogans in our culture have used this principle:
Just Do It!
I'm Loving It!
Snap, Crackle and Pop!
Finger Lickin' Good!

Of course, a real estate agent is nothing more than a salesman- looking to sale real estate.
Location, Location, Location!

Who doesn't remember being a child and being taught these public safety messages:
Stop, Look & Listen!
Stop, Drop & Roll!

A blonde, a brunette and a redhead all die. In order to get to heaven, they must go up 100 steps, each containing a joke. The trick is they must not laugh. The brunette makes it up one step, the redhead up two.... The blonde got up 99 steps before she laughs. God asks her, "you were so close, why'd you laugh?" She relied, "I just got the first joke!"


The U.S. Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches our our government

Sworn oaths in our courtrooms: "I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "...government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

 For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Amen. (The Lord's Prayer)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19- The Great Commission and the basis for the Trinitarian formula of baptism)

Prophet, Priest and King- the Threefold office of Christ

I recently won these three Murphy cards in three different eBay auctions- all were from the same seller- for a grand total of $7.56 plus shipping. I suppose that they communicate to my readers my interest in the 2-time N.L. MVP (he should have won a third, in 1987).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bought a Box o' Big Baseball

Say that 4 times fast!

Having received a decent amount of birthday money earlier this month and not having any immediate needs, I turned my attention to wants. It's important to know the difference between the two and I always make sure my needs are taken care of before August, so that when I do get my spending birthday money I can spend it on frivolous necessities such as a box of big baseball.

I'm not talking about some 5,000-count super monster box full of cards- no, I'm talking Topps BIG BASEBALL, circa 1989. Second Series. With my homeboy Dale Murphy on the box.

Sorry if I seemed to contradict myself earlier- just think of it as a paradox. Wants vs Needs. Wants that are necessities. You see, because Murph is on the box top, it automatically became a need.

With this purchase, I'm now down to needing one (known) product that has the Braves icon on the box, 1984 Topps Super.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Click 'Like'

I'm really conflicted about what to do with my Facebook account. On the one hand, I've been able to reconnect with old friends I had not spoken to in years (although the communication is often very minimal), I can get news feeds (but I prefer Twitter), and keep up with family members. But... I think the 'bad' outweighs the 'good' all-too-often: the incessant political posts (even if I agree with them, I can only take so much), the narcissism and of course, the 'Click Like if you remember this' memes. Some can be funny, but again, there are just too many of them.

I rarely post on Facebook- and even more rare is the 'Click Like' meme- but if I were to post one, it might just feature a baseball card.

1998 Etch-A-Sketch #ES4

Something like 'Click Like if you remember the original iPad'- or 'Click Like if you played with one of these as a kid.' You get the idea.

It's always fun to see cards like this one, which features the work of the 'Etch-a-Sketch Kid', George Vlosich. This set contained nine cards, which were seeded one card per 36 packs. I'm not completely crazy about the card design (front or back), but I guess it beats digital cards.

Let's see little Johnny do this on his iPad. Oh, wait- there's probably an app that allows him to do just that.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Long Time

I checked my phone this morning as I was eating breakfast and having my morning coffee, and to my surprise was a Facebook friend request from an old friend whom I haven't seen or heard from since 1982- our seventh grade year. I found it quite interesting, as I have for some time been looking back longingly at that time period: the music, the movies, the television shows and sports- particularly my beloved Atlanta Braves and the Seattle Seahawks. A time when I didn't have many responsibilities Call it my midlife crisis.

Over the years I had inquired about the whereabouts of my old buddy, but no one really knew what became of him. Last I knew, he and his mom had moved about twenty miles away right before our eighth grade year and after that... he just seemed to have vanished. Our friendship had developed over our love of sports and we played plenty of baseball and basketball together. I always looked up to Ron, as he was a superb athlete- and he had that cool aura about him. He was our town's Kelly Leak. Although it wouldn't be the last time I saw him, my final memory of time spent with Ron was him coming over to my house one Sunday afternoon in 1982. We shot some hoops, watched the new Van Halen (a band both of us enjoyed) video on MTV (Oh, Pretty Woman- which I want to say was the 'World Premiere' of the video) and then topped off the day watching what turned out to be the first NCAA Selection Sunday show (it wasn't known by that moniker in those days). Thanks to the internet, I discovered that would have been Sunday, March 7, 1982.

Like my friend, there have been plenty of athletes who have made us pause and ask, "what ever became of him?" Brian Asselstine is one such player.

I don't remember watching Asselstine as a Brave. While we got cable in the spring of 1981 (and I became an immediate fan of the team), Brian didn't do anything to cause me to remember him. I only know him by his baseball cards. His earliest card- his Rookie card- was from the 1977 Topps set, where he is featured on a 'Quad' Rookie Outfielders card along with Wayne Gross, Sam Mejias and Alvis Woods. Brian had some big-ass hair in those days, making for an interesting photo on card #479. He would also appear in the '78 and '79 Topps issues before being left out of the 1980 set. Along came 1981 and that's where I really remember Brian from, because his card featured an actual action shot. Still relatively novel, the action photo made you remember a player. Released by the Braves in March of 1982, Brian wouldn't play again until 1983, as a member of the Phoenix Giants of the PCL. He spent one season with the Giants AAA team before retiring. He might not have spent any time on a big league roster during the 1982 regular season, but he did have three cards that year.

The only of Brian's final cards I don't have is the 1982 Fleer one, which features a horrible crop and a fuzzy, grainy photo. But weren't they all?

As I mentioned earlier, what ever happened to Brian Asselstine? Well, googling his name didn't pull up too much info on him. I found a construction company under his name. Was this the same guy? Well, the city matched the information found on the back of his baseball card (Home: Santa Ynez, CA) and I eventually found a TTM post on a card site which featured the same address as the business address. The TTM post did show Brian going 4-4 on his signing success (with two newer 'pending'). Not bad for a .254 lifetime hitter.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #39: Money Waster

"To my low down downtown money waster, your only saving grace is I like to taste ya but your flower is spoiled." The Black Crowes' Downtown Money Waster

I had been re-evaluating my collecting habits prior to my so called 'hiatus' earlier this summer (I call it so-called because I haven't been away very much). It all began as I was in the process of preparing for the painting and re-organization of the office that serves as my card room. Unfortunately, I have to share said room with my wife, which means that I'm limited on space for 'my stuff.' The rate at which my shelves were filling up meant a change was needed. More than that, though, was the realization that I had moved away from what my collection started out as (Braves Topps team sets, Dale Murphy, Chipper Jones) and had morphed into something that just isn't sustainable- either financially (the taking of funds that I'd rather spend on my biggest interests) or the room it would take to house it.

The most discouraging aspect during this time was the realization of how much money has been spent on items that I now consider expendable. I had been raised to value a dollar. After all, 'money doesn't grow on trees'- so you work and save; stay out of debt and don't waste your money on foolish things. Some of that money could have been saved to go towards some of the more expensive vintage Topps cards need to complete my Braves team sets. Or, to purchase the '89 Upper Deck Reverse Negative Dale Murphy card. Heck, there's a lot of things I could have done with that lost money.

There is one saving grace in this cardboard conundrum of mine: the expendable stuff that I have accumulated was purchased without ever going into debt. With the proliferation of credit card offers and now PayPal credit, it's certainly a temptation that many collectors have faced- and some succumbing to. Had today's featured card been issued today, one might view it as those crusaders viewed Camel cigarettes quite a few years ago. Remember Joe Camel and the 'appeal to kids'? Well, I suppose someone would have done the same with Perma Graphics credit cards. They're a gateway drug, collectors- stay away from them!

Perma Graphics, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri, has spent over thirty-five years in the "manufacturing and fulfillment of credit cards, debit, gift, phone casino, hotel key, membership access and other transaction cards." It was thirty-two years ago that the company teamed up with Topps in producing these Super Star credit card-style oddballs. The set wasn't their first offering, however. That would have been the one released in 1981. Hardly the most attractive oddball that's on the market, but an interesting one, nonetheless!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

They Didn't Come with Bubblegum

As is the case with trade posts, I'm behind on posting the goods that Jeff from Wish They Still Came with Bubblegum sent me back in July. Jeff's a fellow Brave fan/collector, so I was excited to see what was in the envelope that arrived not too long after the celebration of our nation's birth.

The first of the two enclosed cards was this beauty-

Two things to note here: a) you can never go wrong with Dale Murphy and b) you can never go wrong with Diamond Kings. Oh, and one more thing--- Donruss totally blew it on the back of the card by saying he was an 18th-round draft pick. Uh, no he wasn't; he was the fifth overall pick in the 1974 amateur draft. Regardless, it's still a stunning card.

Jeff also included this Donruss card of Murph, which is also new to my collection.

I refer to the years 2002-2008 as 'The Lost Years,' as far as my collection goes. I had neither time nor money to invest in the hobby and so that time period is the least represented in my collection, and for good reason as there was just way too much stuff released.

But like I said, you can never go wrong with Murphy.

Thanks again, Jeff, for the trade- they were much appreciated!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pack to the Future

Most collectors are aware of the kind of prices that unopened boxes and packs can bring. Junk wax can be a fun, cheap rip, while vintage stuff might require a second mortgage. Even if many of us could afford such a luxurious purchase, the possibility of fraud is quite a deterrent- at least for this collector.

Fraud was something I wasn't concerned about when purchasing today's featured item. Having recently purchased a box of 1988 Donruss to add to my Dale Murphy collection, I decided it was about time to add an unopened pack with Murph on top. A search of eBay found quite a few different ones to choose from- including this 1986 Topps cello pack, which I picked up for $2.25. Most of the others were quite a bit more, so I figured I'd wait for some cheaper prices on similar packs.

I was no longer collecting in 1986 and it would be only the second year since 1977 of me not buying any packs. The pack abstinence would continue into the spring of 1991, when I would re-enter the hobby and find that things had changed in six years. Not only had the packs themselves changed (foil packs?!), but the prices had, too. A buck twenty-five for a pack of cards!! Are you kidding me?!

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Bad Mutha

"You talkin' 'bout Kelly Leak? That dude is a bad mutha."- Ahmad Abdul Rahim, The Bad News Bears

The character Kelly Leak from the Bad News Bears was a pretty bad dude, or at least came across as one on the silver screen, but he was no Claudell Washington. Leak smoked cigarettes; Claudell snorted cocaine. Kelly drove a stolen van; Washington drove a Jag. I'd have to revisit the Bad News movies but I don't ever recall Leak pummeling pitchers- other than from the plate, that is. Claudell, well, let's just say that if you were an opposing pitcher, you had better not throw anywhere near his chiseled physique.

I was reminded of just how bad Mr. Washington was recently as I was watching a video on the 1983 Atlanta Braves team.  In a game in Montreal during the '83 season, Claudell inadvertently stepped on the foot of pitcher Scott Sanderson, who was covering 1st base on the play, causing a gash on the pitcher's foot. Six days later, the clubs met up once again- this time in Atlanta- with Sanderson taking the bump. Leading off the bottom of the first, the left-handed Washington dealt Sanderson the first of two blows by hitting a home run. In the sixth inning, Claudell landed the second blow- this time a left to the chin of Sanderson, after the pitcher threw one high and tight under the hitter's own chin. A tit-for-tat, if you will.

Hopefully the video is queued up for the melee (it's supposed to be)- but if not, it starts at 11:58

A year later, the Braves outfielder was involved in another incident, leading to a brawl with the Cincinnati Reds. Once again, Washington led off the bottom of the first with a homer, this one coming off Reds' ace Mario Soto. The next time Claudell came to bat, he was brushed back with a Soto pitch and would eventually strikeout. Clearly looking for vengeance,  Claudell came to bat in the fifth and let 'er rip- with the bat 'flying' out of his hands before walking out towards the mound. Words were exchanged and CW went in for the kill before Soto hit him with the ball as Reds catcher Dann Bilardello tackled him.

Although he was about 5 inches shorter and 50 lbs lighter than Jason Heyward, I always thought of Mr. Washington whenever I'd see Heyward in a Braves uniform. Obviously, both were impressive specimens, physically, but each also possessed tremendous power and speed and were rookie phenoms at the age of 20. I don't know if I've ever seen Heyward charging the mound, though.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Write Stuff

August is always a tight month, financially, for those of us with children who are still in school. Backpacks, clothing, school seems the list is never ending. It's even more difficult for those of us who have opted out of state education for private institutions, as tuition now starts becoming due. And then there are school supplies- which don't seem like they would cost that much, but by the time you total up that bill, you're in the hole again.

Speaking of being in the hole... the final purchase of my July hobby money was spent on school supplies. Or rather, a pencil. A Dale Murphy pencil.

Growing up, the only sports-themed pencils I saw were of the NFL variety. The first ones I remember had the primary color of the specific team, with stripes running along the edges from the eraser band to the tip. The stripes and team name were done in another of the team colors, giving the pencil a very nice look. The second pencils from the 70s/early 80s that I remember were similar, but did not feature the stripes and had helmets next the team name. The helmets did not feature logos, but were a solid color. Other brands came along later as I entered adulthood, but they were jumbled and don't have that clean, classic look to them.

As far as today's featured oddball- it's part of a two series set from 1984 and was manufactured by the National Pen and Pencil Company of Shelbyville, TN. I haven't seen an exhaustive checklist on the pencil sets, but I have seen the Murphy's from each series and from what I can tell the only difference between the Series 1 and 2 Murph's is the pencil number; in the first series (the pencil I bought) he is #33 of 36, while he is numbered 17 out of 18 in the second series.

Perhaps I might be more inclined to work on new material if I were to use this pencil. But then again, sharpening it and watching Dale's name, image and signature might just kill all inspiration.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Worthy of a Record Breaker Card

One of my favorite twitter accounts to follow is @BravesHistory, which, as you guessed it, informs its followers of different events in Braves history. There was a fact that came across my timeline Thursday that I thought should have warranted an inclusion of a 'Record Breaker' card in 1983 Topps, but one that must not have impressed the decision makers at Topps.

It was on August 6, 1982 that Braves catcher Bruce Benedict tied an MLB record by throwing out 3 Dodgers attempting to second base in one inning. I don't know how often that happens (my guess: not very), but it is one record that cannot be 'broken'- so, yes, it should have been included in the next year's set.

I would create a custom card to commemorate the feat if only I wasn't experiencing problems with my Photoshop software. Instead, I'll just feature a few of Bruuuuuuce's 1982 and 1983 cards. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Always Wanted One

As I have mentioned previously, my wife rocks. Not only was she willing to let me have a controlled shopping spree on for Father's Day, but she also got something for my birthday that I've wanted for over 35 years. I knew what it was in advance- in fact, I asked her if I could order it on eBay. She agreed and then held on to the package for about two weeks once it had arrived. Needless to say, it was a great test of my patience!

Regular readers of the blog might remember a post a few weeks ago featuring a couple of cards with Chipper, Dale and a lot of bats. In the post, I lamented about the very first wood bat I had as a youngster and how it cracked after having only used it once (a friend also used it once and was the one who cracked it in an at-bat). The bat was a George Brett model- kind of a consulation prize for not being able to get a Dale Murphy model. Well, my twelve-year old self would be pleased last night when I was finally able to open the gift.

There it is, in all of its glory. It may only be a youth model, but dangit, it's mine. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #38: Franks for the Memories

I will admit from the get-go that the title for today's post isn't an original of mine- it comes from an article on about the turning over of the Medford Food Company to Hatfield Quality Meats, Inc. Medford was the originator of the Phillies Franks and was a one-time sponsor of the Phillies team-issued card set.

It was 25 years ago yesterday that the Braves traded icon Dale Murphy to the Phillies in a 5-player trade that shocked and angered many Braves faithful. Had I been about eight or nine years younger at the time of the trade, I would have probably, as one tweep said today, 'cried myself to sleep that night.' As it was, I was two days from my twenty-first birthday, working myself to death that summer and not following the game like I had for most of my life. I was disappointed, for sure, but wasn't completely surprised since Murph was on the downside of his career.

One thing I wasn't disappointed in was winning a long sought-after card (team set, actually) from the 1992 Phillies Medford set. I stumbled across this beautiful team set on the 'bay and was determined to win it- putting in a high bid of over $20. Thankfully the auction didn't go that high and I won the 35-card set for $7.50 plus $5.99 shipping. Cards measure 4 x 6 and features stars such as Curt Schilling as well as coaches, a stadium card, team photo card and the Philly Phanatic.

The Murphy, obviously, was the major coup in this auction and is going into the binder. All others are available- if anyone is in need of singles from this set.