Friday, May 19, 2017

Rusty Cage

I checked my Twitter feed yesterday morning as I sat down to eat breakfast, only to see a couple of tweets about Chris Cornell. While neither mentioned his death, both led me to believe something horrible had happened. A quick check of the news confirmed by suspicions- the Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog vocalist, dead at 52.

I won't pretend to be familiar with his entire body of work. Soundgarden was one of those bands that I liked what I heard of them; I had a couple of their earlier CDs, but never delved into the deep tracks of their catalog. Audioslave- I had heard only two or three of their songs and liked them, but I never searched out their stuff. Chris' solo stuff- same. Although, I will say that his song Seasons, from the Singles soundtrack, is one of my all-time favorite songs. Despite these admissions, I still found myself really down throughout the day. However small that part of his music was in my life, it's still a part that died. Add to that that I've always felt a connection to the singer due to us sharing the same surname; I've never checked my genealogy to see if we're related, but have been asked a number of times if we are related.

Anyway, the singer's musical legacy and his death have been on my mind a lot over the past 24 hours, and I wanted to do a post in his memory. A moment of silence was observed for Cornell prior to last nights Mariners game and at one point during the pre-game show Randy Johnson's relationship with the band was mentioned. As you probably know, the Big Unit now spends his time traveling the world as a photographer, and one of the shoots he has done over the years was from a series of Soundgarden concerts during their 2010 reunion tour. A visit to his website reveals not only does he like shooting rock acts, but nature and things that have to do with adrenaline/speed (race cars, etc.)

The first card I thought about posting was a Johnson card from the Ultra Season Crowns insert set (tie-in to the aforementioned Seasons song), but decided to go with this recent addition to my collection. I can just imagine Randy pounding out Soundgarden's classic Rusty Cage, an up-tempo, aggressive tune that reminds me of the rawness and the fury he exhibited while pitching. Chris's screeching on  songs like Rusty Cage or Birth Ritual (another song off the Singles soundtrack) bring to mind the Big Unit letting out a primal scream after one of his 4875 strikeouts.

If you have never heard Johnny Cash's cover of Rusty Cage, I highly recommend it. Cornell was once asked to do an arrangement for the Man in Black to cover, and couldn't get it. Later, once he heard the recorded cover, he called himself stupid for not seeing how to do such an arrangement.

RIP, Chris. You might be gone, but your voice will continue to be heard. Thank you for your contributions to the world of music; to the world of art.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Topps TBT- Take My Dansby, Carlos, Bryce, but Not My Kid

Topps' Throw Back Thursday (TBT) cards is a great idea, but costs more than I am usually willing to pay for a 6-card (typical) set; even trying to buy singles on the 'Bay can run more than I want to spend. That's why I was pretty bummed when I saw the most recent set- designed after 1990 Topps football. I absolutely love that set and the fact that the latest TBT featured a card of The Kid, I was left thinking, "I've got to find one on eBay." Then it occurred to me: I have a $20 credit on their website for a group of custom cards they refused to print due to their copyright policy.

The downside to this purchase is that, despite featuring former number 1 overall draft picks, the players featured happen to be guys that no one wants. If Gonzalez and Swanson were featured in their respective Dodgers and Braves uniforms, it would be very easy to flip them. And perhaps they will be easier to trade than I think. Strasburg, Harper and Correa... do people even have interest in them? Great players, sure, but there doesn't seem to be high demand for any of them on the blogosphere.

Can you imagine how much better 1990 Topps baseball would have been if this had been the design, instead of that train-wreck of a set they produced? That would have been a pretty impressive 5-year run to start off the '90s.

This is my first TBT set, so I'm assuming the other sets have similar card stock. And by that I mean thick. Really thick card stock. It's too bad that the card back acts as an advertisement for the set rather than including stats and a short write-up about Junior's rookie season. Mention the 1990 Football design if you must, but c'mon, don't use it as a billboard for your online exclusives.

If you're interested in any of the other 5 cards, comment below or shoot me an email. I'm more than willing to trade.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nautical Needs #2: Tribute to the Kid

The first entry into this new series (Nautical Needs, which documents my Mariner wantlists ) was the Ichiro/Chasing 3K insert set from 2016 Topps. Today I'm going to continue with Tribute to the Kid, another insert from last year.

With Ken Griffey, Jr. being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame last summer, it was the perfect time for Topps to release an insert set commemorating the icon's career. The set features 30 cards inserted into Series 2 packs at a 1:8 ratio. While most of the cards pay tribute to events and milestones from his Mariners career, there are also cards with Ken as a Red, as well as with the White Sox. My one complaint is that there wasn't a card looking at his final game, which I happened to be at. Of course everyone wants a card from a game they attended and that's why I was disappointed. Ironically enough, Ichiro had a 'milestone' that night (career hit #2100, coming on May 31, 2010) that did make it in to the 2016 Topps Chasing 3K insert set (card #21).

2016 Topps Tribute to the Kid Needs: #2, 12

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Moose and Mascots: a Trade with LV's TTM Autographs and Baseball Cards

I recently made my first trade with Laurie from LV's TTM Autographs and Baseball Cards- sending her a card from 2016 Topps' 100 Years of Wrigley Field in exchange for a 2017 Topps Opening Day Mariner Moose Mascot card.

Topps has been featuring the mascot cards in Opening Day for quite a few years now and I have yet to get tired of them. I have never consciously tried to complete a team set from this release but do like adding the mascot cards to the flagship team sets. If getting younger kids interested in baseball cards is a goal of the card manufacturers, then these inserts are a great place to start.

One of baseball's most popular mascots, the Moose debuted in April of 1990.  A contest had been held to determine what the first Mascot in team history would be, and the Moose had narrowly edged out (reportedly by one vote) Seaward the Seamonster. Children 14-years and younger from around the Pacific Northwest had submitted over 2500 entries, and among the finalists were Bernie the Mariners Mongoose, Mightyball, the Mariner Seal, and Mr. Mariner (no other details given). Want to rent the Moose for your party or corporate event? You can- for the right price. According to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, the Moose is among the top 3 most popular baseball mascots and can be rented for $600 per hour, a price in the same neighborhood as the top 2 (Mr Met and the Phillie Phanatic).

Thanks again for the trade, Laurie. Will have to definitely exchange some more cards in the future.

Monday, May 15, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #27: Favorite Oddball from the 90s

I'm posting this a day late, I suppose. No, this card doesn't have anything to do with my mother, but rather my other 'mother figure'- my grandmother. You see, my mother was just finishing college when I was born and soon went into the workforce. Thus, for the first two or so years of my life, my grandmother took care of me during the day. And for the rest of her life, I always felt a really close bond to my grandmother.

I wouldn't call this card my favorite oddball from the '90s; instead, I'd call it a favorite. That's because my grandmother, later in life, became a die-hard Mariners fan and her favorite player was 'Little' Joey Cora. I've often thought about starting a Joey Cora PC in her honor.  Odds are I won't, but I do have a number of other Cora cards that remind me of her.

I'll also mention that when it comes to the cola wars, I'm a Pepsi guy. I don't drink that much of the soft drink, but when I do, I prefer Pepsi over Coke. And I certainly won't pass up any Pepsi set.

Friday, May 12, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #26: Oddball from the 1980s

There are a lot of great oddballs from the 1980s, but I'm going to have to go with an Oddball Rookie Card of the Kid, Ken Griffey Jr. 

Today's card (#3, for those keeping track at home) is from the 28-card Mariners team set that was distributed to fans attending a game at the Kingdome during the 1989 season. Fans received a 20-card starter set and then had to trade to finish the other eight cards. Another 'key rookie' in the set is shortstop Omar Vizquel.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

30-Day Baseball Challenge Day 25: Favorite Oddball Card from the 1970s

What decade do you consider the 'Golden Era' for oddballs? Judging from the love Kellogg's and Hostess cards get on the blogosphere, I'm guessing your answer is the '70s. The only other possible answer (for me, anyways) would be the 80s and even the early 90s, when an explosion in special boxes sets and food-issues took place. Collectively, the former probably out-weighs the latter but none of those junk-wax era products can match the love of those grease stained or lenticular cards.

While I prefer oddballs from the junk era, my absolute favorite oddball from any era is this 1979 Hostess Dale Murphy card. Long on my wantlist, I received this as a birthday gift from my wife a few years ago. As tempting as it is to try to break out of the case, I think I'll just keep it as is. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #24: 1960s Oddball

Not too much commentary on today's card.

I don't have a lot of oddballs from the '60s in my collection and this was the winner, hands down, for favorite. Had I not had this card, I probably would have gone with a Joe Torre from the same set (I mean, an oddball rookie card!)- or an Eddie Mathews.

Only six more entries in the challenge... I'm beginning to see daylight.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Tomahawks for Tridents: A Trade with Dubs

I recently completed my second trade with Joey from Dubs Mentality. I had sent Dubs a bunch of Ron Gant cards in the first round and went with a wider variety of Braves this time around. In return, Joey sent a bubble mailer full of Mariners. Tomahawks for Tridents, most of which were needed for the binders.

I've gotten a little tired of Topps revisiting the well. We have Heritage, and I'm cool with that. I even like Archives- as long as they don't keep reusing designs they've used recently. We also have Throw Back Thursday (TBT) cards added to the mix (although, I will say that I do like the older non-baseball designs they've used for this on-demand brand). I do like what the company has done with the 1987 30th anniversary cards in this year's set. As far as the minis... I like them much better like this than if they were in the standard size.

Disappointment comes with being a fan of the team: Johjima started his major league career with a bang- homering in his first two games. He went on to set an A.L. record for most hits by a rookie catcher (147). His second year wasn't quite as impressive as his debut, but was a solid season, nevertheless. Kenji saw his playing time- and production-  diminish during his third and fourth seasons with the team. He would opt out of the final two seasons of his contract and return to Japan. To his left is Taijuan Walker, who often teased fans with stuff that led us to believe he would one day replace King Felix as the Ace. Walker's inconsistency eventually wore on management, who shipped him to the desert. As disappointing as I was at the time of the trade, the play the team has got from Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger has left me saying, "Taijuan who?" *Waiting for Edwin Diaz to leave us saying "if only."

Speaking of disappointing... Zunino just got sent down to AAA after starting out the year hitting a buck and a half (or thereabouts).  I was thrilled to get the Omar Rookie Card!! I've been wanting to add one to the collection. 

A handful of cards of the Kid. While I don't collect his stuff with the Reds or White Sox, the 2007 Topps is a beauty- and the Hit Parade below isn't too shabby, either. 

A couple of Hisashi rookies. The refractor, in particular, is a thing of beauty. The scan doesn't do it justice.

Moving on to the King. Felix cards are always a welcomed sight- although the photos often look the same. Have you ever noticed how some players cards are like that?

Finishing it up with a little of this and a little of that. Tino- was really high on him when he was in their system and got his call-up. But of course he ended up with the Yanks and all those fuzzy feelings were gone, just like *that*. Michael Pineda is another guy whose inconsistency drives fans (and his team) nuts. He's the Yanks problem, now. I do wish him all the best and hope he can put it all together because he has great stuff.

And I'll close this out with two of the ugliest, least favorite sets today: Donruss and Gypsy Queen. Panini keeps beating the horse by playing off past designs, some of which were uglier than sin the first go around. Why do they think they'll be more attractive this time? Especially considering they have no logos!

Thanks again, Joey, for the great trade. Keep them M's coming- I've still got plenty of Bravos. And that goes for any other Braves collectors-- send me your Tridents and I'll send you some Tomahawks. 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Player's Ink: 300

Thirty-Five years ago tonight, Mariners right-hander Gaylord Perry beat the Yankees for his 300th career win. To honor the Hall of Fame pitcher, the M's invited Perry to throw out the first pitch before tonight's matchup against another former team of Gaylord's, the Texas Rangers.

Topps honored the two-time Cy Young Award Winner's career by producing a 6-card 'Career Highlights' set. Released in 1983, the set featured the years 1962, 1968, 1972, 1975, 1978 and, of course, his 1982 season . I'm ashamed to admit this, but I was never aware of this gem until a couple of months ago, when I ran across today's featured card on eBay. I snagged it to add to my Mariners collection, but at this time have no plans of adding any of the other singles. That I was able to get a signed copy was just icing on the cake.

One of my favorite numbers about Mr. Perry: the 303 complete games he threw. No, that wasn't a typo. He actually threw 303 complete games. Quite an accomplishment when you think about how most pitchers don't even throw 7 innings in a game these days.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Food-Issue Friday: Trade Edition

I'm taking a much-needed break today from the 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge post. Instead, I'm going to start catching up on trade posts.

I received today's cards from John, proprietor of Johnny's Trading Spot. If you haven't visited his blog, you're missing out. John is an Elway, T206 and Atlanta Braves collector; he also has a pretty good collection of Wacky Packages, which he features on Wacky Wednesday.

Anyway, I sent John some oddball Braves cards  last month and in return received some much needed 2002 Post Cereal cards for my set.

I know I've mentioned it before, but I'm reminded of this set every time I see 2010 Topps flagship. It's that curve on the left side of the card.

Not only is the 2010 design reminiscent of the Post set, but it also includes the teams color scheme on the card front. That's always a winner, in my book.

Card backs (not shown) feature a gray border and the Topps logo in the upper left corner, just above the player's name. The card number is in the upper right corner. A photo of the player is featured, along with the typical 'vital stats' such as height, weight, born, bats and throws, along with a brief Highlights section. Stats are a month-by-month look at the 2001 season, as well as MLB Career Totals. 

With the addition of these four cards, I'm now needing only 8 to complete the 30 card set: #13 Frank Thomas, #18 Shawn Green, #22 Ryan Klesko, #23 Jeromy Burnitz, #24 Bobby Higginson, #26 Cliff Floyd, #27 Greg Vaughn and #28 Brad Radke.

Thanks again for the trade, John.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #23: Favorite 50s Oddball

Day #23 Prompt: A favorite oddball card from the 1950s.

For today's card I decided to go with a pretty gnarly set- 1953 Johnston's Cookies Milwaukee Braves. I have probably blabbered on before about how all the cool regional sets seem to come out of the midwest, but can you blame me? There's no particular reason I chose this Antonelli card; I have a few others from the set that just as easily could have been picked. Winner winner, chicken dinner. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #22: Card that Eludes You

Day 22 Prompt: A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you.

Well, judging by my wantlist, I would say today's card still eludes me, as it is the only card I need for my 1997 Topps flagship set. 

**photo pulled from the trading card database**

Please, someone- anyone- tell me you have this card and will trade it. This set is 20 years old and needs to be put to rest.

Monday, May 1, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge Day 21: Investment

While I never hoarded Mike Kelly's 1992 Upper Deck Rookie card, I did put a lot of stock in him. By stock, I mean hope- hope that he was going to be another Barry Bonds-type of impact player after being drafted 2nd overall in the '91 draft. The ASU alum had big-time power but also a propensity to swing and miss. Mike never panned out and I had a player collection that wouldn't have paid an overdue book fine, let alone my children's education.