Friday, May 26, 2017

Player's Ink: A Big Sig

Twenty-Eight years ago yesterday the Montreal Expos traded three pitching prospects to the Seattle Mariners for a four month rental an established ace (Mark Langston) and a PTBNL. Less than a year later, one of the pitchers Seattle acquired came within one out of a Perfect Game. Only a home run by former Mariner Ken Phelps came between Brian Holman and history. One of the other pitchers acquired for Langston went on to have a pretty good career, too. And he was able to later accomplish what Holman could not (although, it would come as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks).

That pitcher, of course, was none other than Hall of Famer, Randy Johnson. I had been wanting to add an autograph of the Big Unit to my collection for quite a while but never had until a couple of months ago. I really didn't have the money to drop on a more recent certified auto, so I decided to look at older signatures that were certified by some of the more reputable authenticators and then watched and waited on eBay for an uncertified auto; I settled on today's featured card. While there is no COA offered (which usually doesn't mean a thing), I decided to go ahead and take a chance on it; the seller had a good history of satisfied customers on the signatures he had sold and the signature had elements to it that led me to believe it's the real deal. If that's the case it was a good deal on a Big Sig.

On the other hand, I could be just a big sucker.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I've often struggled in finding the right thing to say. Just two nights ago I spoke to my next door neighbor for the first time since his wife passed away two weeks ago. It was an unexpected death- cancer, that had been detected only five weeks earlier. I gave my condolences, told him if he needing anything, to please let us know. I mainly just listened. Pretty much what I did when he told me three weeks ago that she had inoperable cancer. What do you say when someone tells you they or, in this case, their spouse is facing an imminent death. I've found that, for me, a heavy heart usually means even fewer words than I normally speak. For the record, I'm usually a pretty quiet guy.

One of the things I like to do when I'm sad and at a loss for words is to plug in my guitar. I find it easier to articulate my feelings through notes rather than words. Unfortunately I cannot do that here, so I'll just post these photos of the three most recent additions to my Cortez Kennedy collection.

A Hall of Fame talent- literally- but from what everyone who knew him says, Cortez Kennedy was an even better human. RIP, Tez.


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.