Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Charm of Series 2

I was all set to wait for the National to get a couple boxes of 2017 Series 2, but I got a sneak peek at pricing at the Chantilly show last weekend.  Since Steel City was asking almost $80 a box, I said never mind.  My continuing favorite online box vendor, Charm City Cards out of Baltimore, had resisted Judge-Mania and still had them for $61 a pop.  I bit.  I ordered them Monday afternoon (don't tell the boss), and they were on my doorstep after work the NEXT DAY.  Granted, I'm only an hour from Baltimore, but that's still great service!

Late Tuesday, after playing pool, I couldn't resist busting a few packs.  So I decided to open until I got the one hit from the first box.

As I went through, there were some inserts that looked familiar from the two hanger boxes I got before, but it wasn't bad.  I thought I kinda had a Miguel Cabrera hot box, since I got all these rather close together...

But the payoff came with seven packs left.  There were only two regular cards in the pack with this thing.  The jersey cards are especially thick this year.  (Spoiler: I got a Tallion regular relic in the other box and it was the same size.)


Gotta love Charm City - I almost always seem to get something good from their boxes, over and above any from Blowout or D&A.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Star Trek: The Retro Football Card Set - Card #9

Will Decker was the Kirk-appointed Captain of the refitted Enterprise in the first movie.  Demoted to Executive Officer (XO) so Kirk could assume command, he merged with the V'Ger entity at the end and is classified Missing In Action.  So that's what the letters mean - not hugs and kisses from Miami.

Based on the 1950 Topps Felt Back design.

Made a slight departure from the Original Series cast this time.  Still managed to find a 50's design I hadn't used yet that wasn't just a plain photo.

Added noise and subtracted the color from a Decker photo for the front.  Toughest part was, again, cobbling the text from several cards, especially finding an X.  Wanted to mention the V'Ger somehow, but nothing fit.  A lot of these original cards have the guys with wild expression on their faces, so this wasn't going to work with a smiley photo.  And you can see that there are colorful descriptions of the player's position, not just an abbreviation.  Took some liberties with the color of the pennant back.  Just picked one that started with F and looked nice.  These original front and back don't come from the same card.

Friday, July 14, 2017

At Yankee Stadium

At Yankee Stadium

By Rick K. Smith

Yeah, I saw DiMaggio play in center.
Dad told me his spikes were extra long
so he wouldn’t tip over if he dozed off
when guys like Reynolds or Raschi
were on the mound.

And I saw Mantle, a 19 year old kid,
beat out a bunt as a pinch hitter
in his rookie year.

Woodling, Bauer, Mize, Coleman,
Rizzuto and Dr. Bobby Brown.
They couldn’t lose.

But my guys were Frank Leja,
the bonus baby who only got 4 at bats
for his $100,000. And Tommy Carroll,
another one of those whom no one remembers.

Charlie Silvera, back up for Yogi Berra;
he’d get maybe 80 at bats all year,
hit .320 and still couldn’t crack
the lineup.

What about Jim Brideweser,
utility infielder who tripled one afternoon
and was optioned to the minors
the next day.

Cliff Mapes hit an inside-the-park homer,
the only one I’ve ever seen in person.
He was in his twilight then.
When your legs start to go,
I guess you hope for a double.
You actually want the outfielder
to cut off your liner before it splits the gap
and rolls to the wall.

Running out a triple will wear you down.
I can only wonder what Mapes was thinking
Stumbling into the visitors’ dugout,
gasping for air after scoring the only run
for his lowly St. Louis Browns
on another bright and beautiful day
at Yankee Stadium
where once again the Bronx Bombers
would not need to swing
in the bottom of the ninth.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Take Up The Hunt

While researching (which means Googling and browsing my binders) the cards to match up with the poem in this post, I was amazed that I couldn't easily find a couple particular images.

The most evasive card photo was of a catcher showing a sign.  There are many shots of catchers in a crouch, some in full gear and some in just hat and glove.  But pretty much all of them are holding their bare hand outside their knees, either in a fist, or loose hand.  I looked through several vintage sets that I have, plus some from the 80's and 90's, including base Topps and Donruss, as well as Stadium Club, which has more unusual photos.  But I was unable to find any of them with the catcher actually extending fingers.  I found one that had his hand in position, but hand still balled up.

George is as close as I've seen
I challenge any and all of you to find a card like this.  Maybe you know a particular card or set that I don't have that has one.  Bonus points for full gear and in-game action.  Has to be an actual major company-produced card.  Customs are great, but that's cheating. 😊

I don't need you to send me the card, just a scan will do.  I may even be persuaded to send you a nice card or two from your favorite player or team if I have anything, or a couple hits to your want lists.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cardboard OCD Chapter 2: Which Way Is Up?

Everyone has their ways of doing things.  We talk about most of them all the time.  But there are some fundamental things that we do without much thought.  Simple tasks or perceptions that are second nature to us, but may be different to others.  Small psychological differences that are interesting when you take a second to think about them.  Or maybe I just have no life.  (Don't answer that!)

Most cards are oriented vertically, with the text reading from left to right along the shorter (2½") side of the standard card.  For all the examples in this post, the card is "flipped" over it's right edge.

When you look at a group of vertical and horizontal cards together, how do you feel the horizontal cards should be facing?

I consider the "correct" orientation to be like this:

Photo swiped from Nick at Dime Boxes
So what would be the upper left corner of a horizontal card moves to the lower left when turned vertically, or 90° counter-clockwise rotation.  For ease of discussion, let's call it being Right Side Up since literally the right edge of a horizontal card points up, or becomes the top edge.

Looks like the grading companies agree.  A quick search appears to show that they encase cards in this direction too.  If you turn it to read the grading label, the right side is against the label at the top.

The backs of horizontal cards may be vertical and can reveal if the designers agreed with this arrangement.
In this case, they did.

I believe the majority of sets that have horizontal-front cards are consistent with this pattern.  I'll go so far as to flip cards over that are facing the other way in a stack I'm sifting through or in a top loader that I bought from someone.  Cards that aren't Right Side Up just push that little psychological button that says "That's not right.  Needs to be fixed."  At least in my mind.

Now the really strange part is, vertical cards with horizontal backs are actually the opposite, in the sense that the back rotates clockwise 90° or "Left Side Up".

This seems consistent through more modern sets.

So horizontal fronts with vertical backs go counter clockwise, and vertical fronts with horizontal backs go clockwise.

But not always....

I've found some examples that diverge from the "norm".  There are a few sets where all the horizontals are Left Side Up throughout the whole set.  And there are others where it just plain gets weird.

1994 Score has all horizontal backs.  To keep all the backs in the same direction, the horizontal cards end up Left Side Up.  I omitted the arrows because you probably get the idea.

Well OK, that's all fine and good.  At least the whole set is like that.

There is (at least) one Topps flagship set where things seem to have gone awry.

1997 Topps has a couple sections of Prospects cards.  They are horizontal on the front.  The backs are vertical.  For some reason, the orientation flips around among these.  There could be others, I haven't verified.  Check it out:

Backs are all the same.  But flip them all over at once....
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Topps??
Seems like someone was asleep at the design console, perhaps?  I don't see where these are variations anywhere, so I guess it's just how they are.  I don't even think the flipped ones are the good players or anything.

And the most bizarre design I've come across so far is 1993 Select.  These have sort of a two-tone green frame design on the front that varies between left and right facing, as well as horizontals too.  But it really goes nuts when you find that some of the vertical cards have horizontal backs, and some of the horizontal cards have vertical backs.  It's really just totally random.

Left front frame - vertical back
Jose looks concerned....

Right front frame - vertical back
Ok, fine.  Mix it up.  No problem.  Harold knows it's about to get weird....

Vertical front - Horizontal back!
Say Wha?  It's almost like they put so much into the rear photos that they catered the layout to them.  Hey, OK.  Random, but OK.

Horizontal front and back
 Horizontal - Horizontal.  Nothing strange here.

Horizontal front - Vertical back
OK, now ya got me.  They've lost all control....  Though at least from the small sample size I have (a handful in my dupes box), All of the HorizF-VertB ones are Left Side Up to keep the backs upright.  I don't think I'll ever want to complete this set.  It would be too annoying to have them all over the place like that.

So the bottom line question is really this - Which one of these below is "Correct" to you?

Let me know in the comments.  Then go enjoy your properly socialized lives.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Excerpt from Donald Hall

From the Poetry Foundation's website:

In a 1985 essay, Donald Hall describes the sport’s most primal form: “Baseball is fathers and sons playing catch, the long arc of the years between.” Hall reminds us that as much as baseball and poetry are concerned with an unbroken tradition, they also share a devotion to commemorating specific, crystalline moments. Baseball is a game of punctuated stillness, of dramatic seconds surrounded by casual hours. The quiet intervals of nothingness between pitches make up most of the time spent watching a game . . . but then the pitcher glares in at home—and in “The Baseball Players” (1981), Hall explains what happens next:

Against the bright
  grass the white-knickered
  players tense, seize,
  and attend. 

A moment
  ago, outfielders
  and infielders adjusted
  their clothing, glanced
  at the sun and settled
  forward, hands on knees;

  the pitcher walked back
  of the hill, established
  his cap and returned;

  the catcher twitched
  a forefinger;

 the batter
  rotated his bat
  in a slow circle. 

But now
  they pause: 

  exact, suspended— 


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Joy Of A Completed Page - 1960 Topps

Now and then when I'm flipping through my vintage binders, I come across a page that has some interesting aspects.  When you arrange a set in numerical order, you get certain groups of nine on each page, of course.  Here's another interesting full page from 1960.

Gonna work this one backwards, starting at Drysdale in slot #9.

There are lots of head shots in 1960, and really in most 60's sets.  Drysdale's is hatless, which they sometimes did if a player may have been changing teams.  Don't think this was the case here.  Gotta love the slick 'do with the part.

Don't know a lot about Al or Haywood, except I've seen them on cards a lot.  I don't like it when you get three in a row with the same color scheme within the set.  C'mon guys, mix it up better!  Though the names are fun - you got a Ned, a Haywood, and two Al's in a row.

The first Al is Mr. Dark, who I always associate as a manager for the Padres in '78, but that was apparently only a brief stint.  He also managed the Giants ('61-'64), Indians ('68-'71), and had two terms with the A's in both Kansas City and Oakland.

Ned Garver is with said A's.  I always think of this when I see his name.  Guess it's just because it rhymes.

And finally, coaches cards with Floaty Head Madness!!!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Infield Fly To The Moon

Infield Fly Rule is celebrating 200 posts and Adam is having a giveaway for a set of Space Shots cards (that I really want!).

As Anthony Bourdain put it in his recent Antarctica episode of Parts Unknown, we are living in "a time when science is held in open contempt". I thought a little reminder of how cool science can be, and more importantly, what America can do when there is a common goal, is a good thing to spread around.

Update:  I WON!!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Elite EBay Purchase

Was shopping for a couple Cardinals gamers for a trade and came upon the store of Elite Sportscards.  They were offering some nice bargains on jerseys and autos of guys I collect.  So I was able to combine shipping on some needs for myself.

First, some Stephen Davis gamers for the Redskins collection.  If I didn't collect all Redskins to begin with, I would probably collect Davis by himself.  Not sure why, really.  I liked him when he was with us, and he did pretty decent in Carolina, but wasn't a Hall Of Famer or anything.  These were less than two bucks apiece.

Continuing with the Washington veteran theme, some Livans from '06 thru 2015.  I actually have one of the Spectrums already, but the others are new.  These were also basically two bucks each.  And I do collect Livan with other teams.  (I don't collect the Nationals as a team).

A couple non-licensed additions to the Brian Matusz supercollection.  These were $2.50 each.  I wouldn't have paid more than that, especially for the Upper Deck auto.  This is what you get for exclusive licenses.  I don't blame Upper Deck, except for the lame image.  I blame Topps for forcing this kind of desperate attempts by the other companies.  The airbrushed generic ("jail team"?) uniform, and the "we have autos, we have to put them on something" card.  Hell, make an image of his silhouette and use that.  It would have better impact than this Olympic tourist thing.  Oh well, it's off the list anyway.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second (And Last?) Batch of Series 2 Retail

I feel like I complain a lot.

I'm really gonna try to post more positive and fun stuff.

Starting next time.

Got a gift card to Tarjay for some tech support, and had an opportunity to visit my local branch (it's on the other end of town).  So I picked up two hanger boxes of Series 2 and a couple $5 packs of BUNT.

The BUNT I really didn't need, except for the inserts, some of the blues and two of my base cards.  And only half the inserts and blues at that.  OK luck of the draw, right?

So I picked both those packs from the front of the line and did the same to the hanger boxes.  I figure the odds of getting the same runs in consecutive packages are much less than if I try to guess and take the fifth from one row and the seventh from the other, etc.  With my luck, I'd get 63 out of 72 cards the same.  Pulling consecutive packs should be the best collation, you would think.

Well that doesn't work either.

I opened both outer packages at once, and laid the cellphane wrapped blocks next to each other.  The second one had Nick Markakis on top.  I said "Hey Nick, how's it going down there in Atlanta?  Haven't seen you in a while since you left the O's."

As I unwrapped the first block and started in, guess who was about five or six cards in?  Good ol' Nickolai...
Of course, he wasn't alone.  Several of his friends followed him.  I went thought both batches and picked out the common runs.  The horizontals had some common ones too...

Yep.  Now luckily, the inserts were unique in both boxes, save one....

27 cards out of 72.  In consecutive packages on the rack.  Can't wait to open two hobby boxes.

Guess it really doesn't matter, though.  If I get enough for a lot of the inserts, I'll be able to build a second base set, which is useful down the line somewhere.