Tuesday, June 20, 2017

5ive From... 1984 (A Care Package from Fuji)

I start off every year, it seems, vowing to be more involved in the comment sections on the various card blogs I follow. Good intentions, obviously, but, like most new year's resolutions, I always fall short.




















While I am an introvert (and have suffered from that type of hangover, on multiple occasions), I'm not going to use that as an excuse. Part of it has to do with me doing a lot of my blog reading on the Feedly app on my cell phone, which doesn't allow for comments to be made without going to a web browser. Laziness probably accounts for a large part of the reason, if I'm being honest with myself.

There are plenty of you out there who might be called 'social butterflies', judging from your involvement in the blogosphere. And if I were to give out an award to the Collector/Blogger who is Most Likely to Leave a Comment, it would go, hands down, to Mark of The Chronicles of Fuji fame. A few weeks ago I posted about the card show I had attended in May, and featured, among many pieces of cardboard purchased at the show, a single card from the 1984 Topps set. Mark was kind enough to inquire about which cards I still needed for the set and then, a short time later... BOOM! A PWE arrived with 5 cards. Five cards- perfect number because I've began a new series called 5ive From...

Because all the cards Mark sent were from the year 1984, I'll be featuring music from 1984. My first inclination was to pick tunes from some of my favorite bands at the time (it was a great year for hard rock/metal) but I've decided to go with a little more eclectic mix. Now, I did pick a song from an all-time favorite band (U2) and like three of the other four bands. More on that later.






Hard Habit To Break (Chicago)....I was a freshman during the spring of 1984 and I was moving on from collecting cards, becoming more interested in girls, cars and guitars. Looking back in hindsight, my decision to stop collecting wasn't difficult- especially as one who had been collecting for a large chunk of my childhood. And that surprises me because it seems like it should be harder to walk away from something that brought so much joy. Losing must be a hard habit to break for teams like the Texas Rangers, who lost a lot of games during the 80s. I vaguely remember Jim Anderson, more from his days in Seattle- but it was as a middle infielder (and the typical '70s-'80s m.i. at that: no hit, no power, decent glove). Was surprised to see him listed as a 'C-SS'. Don't see that every day.






Heaven (Psychedelic Furs)-- Call me crazy but when watching this video, I can't help but think that singer Richard Butler looks a little like Dave Righetti, or, at the very least, like he could be a relative. Wasn't much of a fan of the band; in fact, I don't know if I could name another song after this one.
Righetti had his 'heavenly' moment in 1983, throwing the first ever no-hitter at Yankee Stadium by a lefty. I wonder if the photo on the card front is from that game? Topps mentions his glorious no-no on the card back.




That Was Yesterday (Foreigner)-- a song which, according to Mick Jones, was about a failed relationship which you're still trying to hang on to; that there's a chance to resurrect it. At this point of time, the band (Foreigner) is like a failed relationship. Sure, there were some great moments, but at some point you've gotta ask 'why is this still a thing?' In case you don't know, the band is now comprised of really no original members. Jones still makes an occasional appearance, but for the most part it's just a bunch of replacements. Scabs, I guess you could call them. Likewise, I don't recognize the Nationals as being the former Expos team. They're just a bunch of scabs, to me.









Defenders of the Faith (Judas Priest)-- Speaking of resurrection... former Expos outfielder Warren Cromartie is hopeful of baseball returning to Quebec. Cromartie is the founder and president of the Montreal Baseball Project, which exists to bring baseball back to the largest city in North America without a baseball team. One of the things I like about the Priest album cover is how colorful it is, much like those colorful uniforms of our favorite Canadian team.








Promenade (U2)-- One of the more underrated (and unknown) songs in the U2 catalog, Bono paints beautiful imagery in the lyrics on this tune and the production team of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois helped the band produce an ambiance on The Unforgettable Fire unlike any of their previous releases. Bono was once quoted as saying the entire album "was a beautifully out of focus record, blurred like an impressionist painting..." I can see that. Very much so.




Take the lyrics at the end of the song ("slide show, seaside town, Coca-cola, football, radio radio radio radio radio radio) and replace it with "Tim Raines, Montreal, Expos Expos Expos Expos..." and I wouldn't have a problem with it. there obviously wouldn't be the same flow, but go with it.



Thanks again, Mark, for the great additions to my set. I'll soon work on getting some cards sent your way!!







Sunday, June 18, 2017

Knocking Back a Few for Father's Day

I had to make a run to the grocery store yesterday. That's something my wife usually does but she and my daughter were helping a couple who are getting ready to open a thrift store, and we were needing a few things for the Father's Day dinner at our house. Yeah, dad gets stuck doing the grocery shopping for his own day. I didn't mind, however, because that gave me an excuse to drive the 1.5 mile or so drive to Target. Do I really have to say why?

I try to always temper those high hopes when a new product is released. For whatever reason, it's usually a week or so after a product is released before our local retail stores have their card aisles stocked. Such is the punishment for living in Idaho.

This time, there would be no disappointment. It's like the cardboard gods were looking out for me, making sure I'd be able to purchase that Father's Day present for myself.

Pack #1

540- Billy Hamilton
660- Jeanmar Gomez
492- Avisail Garcia
466- David Robertson
387- Zack Godley
All-Time All-Stars #ATAS-29 Hank Aaron
642- Renato Nunez
693- Matt Cain
398- Blake Treinen
383- Adam Frazier
530- Jabari Blash
429- Mark Melancon




Pack #2

474- Michael Pineda
616- Mark Trumbo
525- Curtis Granderson
683- Mac Williamson
472- Pittsburgh Pirates
497- Boston Red Sox
Memorable Moments #MM-4 Steve Carlton
Home Run Derby Champs #HRD-3 Cal Ripken, Jr.
Rediscover Topps- 2006 Topps UH296 Cardinals Team Leaders
676- Eric Hosmer
634- Danny Duffy
623- Melvin Upton Jr.
696- Jeff Mathis







Well, that was unusual to get three inserts in a single retail pack- at least, from my experience.


For the third pack, I went with one of those 72-card hanger boxes. I would have preferred a jumbo pack but they did not have any at the time. I'm not going to list every single individual card from the box, but I will note that there was a 3-card run identical to the last three in pack #2 (Duffy, Upton, Mathis). Nice collation, there, Topps.


 I'll just stop complaining there because in the middle of the 7 inserts was this card.




A red flag immediately went up; a base card, with a run of four inserts before and three inserts after it? That can mean only one thing. Checking out Beckett's 'cheat sheet' for SSP Variations confirmed my suspicions. Super Short Print. That'll be going on eBay.

As far as the other inserts, here are the others from the hanger box.







Thank you, cardboard gods, thank you very much! *blows kisses*






















Thursday, June 15, 2017

Base(ball) Oddity #44: VIPs

News broke yesterday via the NSCC twitter account about the VIP cards for this year's National. And with this being the 30th anniversary of the iconic 1987 Topps baseball set, it's no surprise that the card manufacturer will revisit the design for those purchasing the VIP tickets.











Great- a Junior Griffey card. I can tell you right now that this card won't be added to my collection- there will be too many collectors clamoring for his card. I would hope that Topps would use an earlier photo from Junior's career, which started in 1987. It would have been really nice if they could somehow use a picture of the Kid in a Bellingham uniform, where he began his professional career.









I may not be able to add that wood-bordered design to my set, but I still have two other VIPs featuring a wood design...









These two cards were part of the 2011 NSCC VIP packages and were from a COMC purchase I made last year. Look up 'disappointment' in the sports card dictionary and both of these names might be included: Ackley, for failing to live up to the hype that was (unfairly) place upon him coming out of college, and Pineda, for being traded for Jesus Montero. Yankee fans have pulled their hair out over Pineda's inconsistency, but at least he's still pitching for your team; I don't really have anything positive to say about Montero.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

You Got Me, Donruss

I've been fairly vocal about my dislike of products such as Fleer (and then featured 1999 Fleer in yesterday's post) and the logo-less cards that Donruss has issued. It's pretty easy to be critical when you're a set collector- you just collect what you like. But these sub-par releases can cause consternation to the team set collector.




Having returned to being a team set collector has caused me to question just what should I collect? Are unlicensed products part of the goal? There are certainly no rules as to what a team set, or player collector, has to collect. But there is that part of me that feels like I need to add whatever I can to the binder pages; it's that sense of being a completist, I suppose. This feeling has led me down the path of picking up recent Donruss issues such as the 2017 Dominator and 2016 Disco Ball card.

One thing I have realized through this change in collector status: it was much easier when I was just collecting Topps sets.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Anniversary?

I received an email yesterday reminding me of an anniversary I apparently wasn't even aware of. No, it wasn't my wife sending a message, scolding me for a forgotten anniversary; it was from eBay, offering a look at some of the 'milestones we've shared' (their words) and a look ahead to our future together. Sounds like a serious relationship.

To commemorate this union, I'm going to feature 18 cards- one for each year we've been together- each card, recently purchased off the website and arriving in the mail yesterday. Almost like an anniversary gift- to myself. Gifts on an anniversary are a tradition, right?






I've been critical of Fleer in the past, at one point saying the only set worth a damn was 1994 baseball. But upon further review, this offering from 1996 wasn't bad, either. In fact, the more I looked at it, the more I decided I needed to find a team set.






And so purchase a team set was exactly what I did- all 31 cards. But being that it's only our 18th anniversary, the other 13 cards will have to wait to be featured. When and on what occasion... I haven't a clue.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Nautical Nees #3: 2016 Archives '85 #1 Draft Picks

The 2017 MLB draft begins today, with the Twins selecting first. While there doesn't seem to be a consensus #1 overall pick, there is reportedly a list of five players who are locks for the top five picks, Hunter Greene being the only one I've ever heard of (I no longer follow college or high school ball).

You might remember that Topps included an insert set in last year's Archives, paying homage to the 1985 Topps #1 Draft Picks subset. I'm not putting the entire insert set together, but am in need of 1 for my Mariners team set. The card needed is # 85DP-AR of Alex Rodriguez.

Prior to the Mariners taking Alex Rodriguez first overall in '93, the team had the first pick three other times, drafting Al Chambers in 1979, Mike Moore in 1981 and Ken Griffey Jr in 1987. 





So who's the best #1 pick of all-time? Is it Chipper, with his 85 WAR, 1 World Series ring and the 1999 MVP?  Griffey's WAR is just south of Chipper's, at 83.6. The Kid also won an MVP, but didn't get the title. Perhaps a case should be made for Arod, whose 117.2 WAR ranks 16th all-time. He, too, has a ring to go along with 3 MVPs and numerous other awards. Something tells me his admitted steroid use and his reputation of being a prima donna won't garner him many votes.




Needed: 2016 Topps Archives #85DP-AR Alex Rodriguez. 


Friday, June 9, 2017

Food-Issue Friday: Ballooned

Our recent week-long vacation was bookended by a high-school graduation (night before leaving) and then two weddings in two nights immediately upon returning home. Throw in my wife's birthday after those weddings and what you have is a stretch of us eating out for dinner in 10 of 12 days. Lest we forget mid-day meals, there were seven days of eating out for lunch while in Oregon (then another one a couple of days after returning home). While that equates to a lot of money forked out to many different establishments, I bring this up because of how I felt upon returning to work this past Monday: bloated.


Speaking of things that have ballooned astronomically...




It's an Arod oddball, from the 1997 Denny's set.

After having Upper Deck produce its first five offerings, Denny's 1997 set marked the second year of the set being produced by Pinnacle. Once again, the hologram was incorporated into the design, being used on the back of the card, while the front sported 3-D technology (a first for the Denny's series). One-card packs were available at the restaurant for 59 cents between June 26- September 3, with ten cents from each sale going to children's charities.




If only Denny's were running a similar promotion while we were on vacation. It would have been Denny's every morning, noon and night.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Conflicted

I'm a little conflicted this time of year. We're about two weeks from the summer solstice and the older I get, the more I dread summer. Southwestern Idaho gets miserable between June and late August- and by miserable I mean anything above 80 degrees. The average temps where I live look like this: June 84, July 93, August 92. On the sunny side, I do like the card release calendar for May and June each year. Finest comes out today, followed by Series 2 next week and then, later this month, Stadium Club. And lest we forget May... there was Bunt (if that's your thing), Topps Pro Debut, and, more recently, Archives.

Speaking of Archives, I still haven't found any packs- but that's okay, the Mariners team set I had ordered off of eBay arrived yesterday.





One thing I'm not conflicted about is my love for 1992 Topps and, by extension, the cards in this year's Archives that bear its design. Some collectors hate on it and I can't understand why. I suppose one can complain about the blurred photos that are found on various cards, but that was pretty common among Topps' junk-wax era sets. Perhaps collectors didn't like the backs, which were a departure from the tradional backs, or the fact that Brien Taylor didn't pan out (but there was Manny, Cliff Floyd and Shawn Green!). Whatever the case, I still think it's a great set.




I was pretty excited to hear about the reported contract extension for Jean Segura. As of this morning, there hasn't been a confirmed agreement; but as of late last night, negotiations were going well and he and the team were close to a 5-year, $70 million deal. The way Segura's hitting this year is proving last year was no fluke. Now if he can only stay on the field (2 trips to the DL this season).




Coming in second place in this year's set is the 1960 design. Just as the '92s featured a former Mariner (Omar!), so, too, does the '60 clone, legend Edgar Martinez. And we can't forget about Drew Smyly, who has yet to appear in a game for the M's.




Finally, there were three current Mariners representing the 1982 set. I won't bother mentioning how disappointed I was (oops!) in Topps' decision to include this set once again. But if you're going to be guilty of overkill, might as well include Cano and Cruz. Neither photo, however, fits the zeitgeist of the original release. 


Monday, June 5, 2017

A Bunt, a Strikeout and a Grand Slam. All in One At-Bat.

We got home from vacation on Thursday night and I was back on the road the next morning, taking my father-in-law to the airport. Having dropped him off, I felt an urge to stop by one of our two card shops and pick up a box of Topps Archives. I hit the jackpot last year (pulled an autographed Costner) and tried to use that as justification. Maybe I'd pull another huge signature (like a Jeter). Thankfully, my head won out over my heart, and I settled on a trip to Target to buy a pack or two. Only, Target didn't have them. I guess it's a jumbo pack of Bunt (and a pack of 2017 Score Football).

When it comes to opening packs of new product, I have realized that it's best to go with either the jumbo or 'value' packs. Yes, they cost a little more, but the number of inserts you get more than make up for the higher price. This was especially true in buying a product like Bunt, a product of which I have no desire to collect any of the base cards (more on that in a minute). While someone might be looking to add the base cards to their collection, at least I know that the inserts can be used as trade bait. 

Before I begin looking at the cards themselves, I want to throw out this complaint: The packaging boasts of 24 trading cards but what you really get is 23 cards and a scratch-off card to claim $25 in free coins. In other words, it's an ad for their Bunt App. I'm fine with the card's inclusion, but don't like that they include this as one of the 24 cards. 

As far as my pack, let's start off with the only thing that matters in Bunt- the inserts. Knowing that the inserts would be sandwiched in between base cards, I quickly skimmed through the first 8, until I saw this!




1/1. Not bad. Not bad, at all. While there are certainly far more popular players I could have pulled, the Cubs still seem to be in demand coming off of last year's WS victory. I shouldn't have any trouble moving this printing plate. It could be that I only received 23 cards because of this one. Anyone else experience this?


























The Contreras was followed up by three blue parallels, because... parallels. You will never convince me that parallels add anything positive to the hobby. Let's move on...




There was a time when I would have been super excited to pull the Julio Teheran Programs card, but I'm no longer collecting the Braves ace so this one, too, is up for trade. It seems to be one of the more popular inserts of the past two years. I will say, however, that last year's offering looks far more like a game program than this year's.




Infinite proves that the manufactures can produce a high-quality looking insert for those on a shoe-string budget. Well done, Topps; well done.



Perspectives... see above commentary.




Following the inserts were more base cards, which, as already mentioned, I'm not a fan of. The first images I saw for 2017 Bunt got me excited for its release. However, I soon realized that those images I had viewed were of the multipliers (or, Boost cards) found in its digital brand, and that the physical cards were far less appealing to my collecting tastes. My biggest problem lies with the 'light' effect at the top and lower parts of the base cards. This irks me like the 'smoke' effect on 2016 Topps did to many collectors. I'm also not crazy about the photos- too many of the close-ups that rankled many of those same collectors. Every hitter's card, every pitcher's card... looks the same. Perhaps it's not fair, saying this based upon such a small sample size.

While the Bunt base cards prove to be a strikeout, at least the inserts are a hit. And that Contreras-why, it's a Grand Slam!


And on another note... and totally unrelated to the blog... Happy Birthday to Mrs. Cardboard Jones, whose age I won't reveal. *cough-Andy Pettite Yankees number-cough* She may not read the blog, but she also doesn't complain about the amount of time and money that goes into my collection or time spent reading and writing on the blogs.





Thursday, June 1, 2017

5ive From: '84 Topps Traded / Allman Brothers


I used to feature far more music in my posts, but it hasn't played as prominent a role on the blog in the last two or three years.  It (music) has always been a big part of my life, along with sports and collecting cards, so it just seemed natural to feature lyrics, videos and/or references in my posts. One way I'd like to get back into the habit of featuring artists and their music is through a new series called Five From, where- you guessed it- I'll look at five cards from a set or of a particular player along with 5 songs from an album or of an artist. 

Starting off this new series will be 5 songs from the Allman Brothers Band, whose co-founder and singer, Gregg Allman passed away recently from complications of liver cancer. The legendary Allman was 69.  


"You're my blue sky, you're my sunny day. Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way."  Blue Sky, from 1972's Eat a Peach



It's funny that my two favorite Allman Brothers songs were neither penned, nor sung, by an Allman. I'll get to my favorite ABB song shortly, but in the meantime, I'll start off with my second favorite song: Blue Sky. 

Written and sung by Dickey Betts, Blue Sky was about Bett's then-girlfriend (and future wife) Sandy "Bluesky" Wabegijig, and features a much more country-influenced sound than anything the band had previously done. The song also is one of the final recordings of Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident in October of 1971, during tracking for the band's classic Eat A Peach album. Thankfully Skydog, as Duane was known as, was able to lay down his guitar tracks on the song, which featured solos by both guitarists as well as one of the most beautiful harmonized solos you'll ever hear.

Speaking of second favorites... I've mentioned on a previous post about my favorite Mariners player as a child being Julio Cruz; I don't recall if I've mentioned Ruppert Jones being my second favorite. Well, now you know. I had forgotten he was with Detroit. 





"You don't need no gyspy to tell you why; ya can't let one precious day to slip by. Well, look inside yourself, and if you don't see what you want, maybe sometimes then you don't. But leave your mind alone and just get high." Ain't Wastin' Time No More, from Eat a Peach




One of the greatest moments on Eat a Peach, in my opinion, is the band's performance on Ain't Wastin' Time No More. Lyrically, Gregg Allman comes to grip with his brother's death, finding the strength move forward and to not "let one precious day slip by." Musically, the songs starts out with a rolling piano riff before Dickey Betts comes in with a slide guitar that channels the band's fallen leader. Bett's performance on the song is pure brilliance- and is something that I would have found totally unexpected, should I have been older at the time and aware of the situation.

Willie Hernandez' 1984 campaign was the greatest moment of his career, becoming just the third pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award, MVP and World Series all in the same season. Acquired from the Phillies towards the end of the 1984 spring training, Willie started out the season sharing duties at the back end of the pen with righty closer Aurelio Lopez (who dominated righties, but struggled against lefties). He would gain control of the closer's role early in June and would not look back. Over the course of the season, Hernandez pitched 140 innings over 80 games (68 of which he finished) while compiling a 9-3 record with 35 saves in 36 opportunities. While the save total may not sound that impressive, keep in mind these were different times: the lefty pitched more than one-inning in 66% of his save opportunities, as well as 2+ innings in 18 appearances. Firemen also pitched in many non-save situations back then, and Willie was no different. One such appearance netted him four innings. Proving his value, the Tiger's closer finished the game in the AL East clincher and then threw the final pitches of both the ALCS and the World Series. 








 "I think back to what my daddy said, He said, 'boy, in the darkness before the dawn: let your soul shine, it's better than sunshine, better than moonshine, damn sure better than rain." Soulshine, from Back Where it All Began



Change can be hard for some folks. Life throws a curveball- job loss, divorce, an unexpected death. It's not a question of will something happen, forcing us to accept change, but how are we going to deal with it and move on. Soulshine, my favorite Allman Brothers tune- and one of my all-time favorite songs, period, was the result of change. 

Following the death of guitarist and band leader Duane Allman, the Brothers continued with Dickey Betts as the lone guitarist until their breakup in 1976. The band would reunite in 1978 and bring aboard guitarist Dan Toler, who had played with the Dickey Betts band. A subsequent breakup and then second reunion brought DB band member, guitarist Warren Haynes, into the fold- and it was Haynes who penned my favorite tune, Soulshine. 

As far as Gossage, you might remember some of his controversial remarks in recent years about the evolution of the game. Gossage, of course, is an old-school player and has ranted about everything from players flipping their bats and celebrating, to the use of advanced metrics and everything else that is done in a way that differed from his generation. Brian Cashman helped set the record straight, however, by reminding Goose that players at one time did not wear helmets. Cashman and manager Joe Girardi apparently sat down with the hall of fame reliever multiple times to discuss his diatribes; after not getting through Cashman eventually said he wouldn't "waste [his] time" sitting down with Gossage.          




"Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel, like I been tied to the whippin' post. Tied to the whippin' post, tied to the whippin' post. Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin'."- Whipping Post (from 1969's The Allman Brothers Band album.)

   


I really don't know how to take a card of Tom Terrific and a song that many rock critics consider the Allman's greatest musical achievement (Whipping Post) and tie them together. Perhaps it's best to just acknowledge the genius of both. 






"Cause I have a hunger for dreams I'll never see"-  Dreams (from The Allman Brothers Band, 1969)




In Allman's autobiography, My Cross to Bear, the singer states, "If I fell over dead right now, I have led some kind of life." Having read the book, I can attest to what he says (should his accounts be truthful, which, they probably are); but still I wonder: is there something that he didn't live to see- a dream he hungered for, but never saw realized? Its been a few years since I read My Cross to Bear and I don't remember anything specificically being mentioned, but surely there was a longing for something he had not attained.  One thing Allman did live to see was his and the band's 1995 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As deserving as Pete Rose might be- as a player- we all know that he won't live to see the day he's inducted.


RIP, to a legend, Gregg Allman. Your contributions to the world of music has made this world a better place. Thank you for using your God-given gifts to enrichin my love of music.