Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scary Baseball Cards & Super Creeps

It's Halloweentime again.

This post is not for the timid. I cannot be held responsible for any nightmares and lingering mental health issues that may develop for anyone who continues reading this blog post. You've been warned.

Here are some absolutely ghoulish baseball cards.

Holy God! How was this ghastly spectre ever allowed on a ballfield? When he pulled a pitcher, he'd literally pull the pitcher limb from limb, and drain the blood right there on the mound. It gave the fans a thrill at first, but ownership quickly tired of it and fired him. By "fired" I mean they performed a séance in the manger's office and he turned to dust at midnight.

This freakish beast impersonated Gaylord Perry for 6 years before the real Gaylord was able to convince the front office of the deception. Similar to Billy Gardner, this monster-man would routinely rip the arms off opposing batters, then use the arm for a bat next time he came to the plate. He had a respectable lifetime average of .253 until the commissioner's office officially banned the use of flesh bats in 1970. The real Gaylord was able to subdue the monster by smothering it with gel made of holy water and pine tar, a trick he discovered during one of his many late nights studying ancient books on the occult, searching for the creature's weakness. From that point on, Gaylord never took the mound without an emergency stash of the mixture.

This is the visual definition of terror. Just try to shake this image from your mind. You won't be able to. You will now routinely wake up in the middle of the night, jolted out of your slumber by the vivid memory of this picture haunting all your dreams forever.

On the topic of demonic powers, some of you disturbingly-observant readers may have noticed that the background image I've been using for the past few months prominently features 2 baseball cards: one of the Cardinals and one of the Red Sox. As you can imagine, my blood ran cold and my hair turned white and stood on end when these exact 2 teams later went on to meet in the World Series. Were dark forces behind this prophecy being fulfilled? Absolutely yes. No doubt about it. (UPDATE EDIT: And notice how the Red Sox card is on top?? I take full responsibility for the championship they just won moments ago.)

Adding to the eeriness, the two other cards you can almost make out are of the Tigers and Pirates, respectively. I essentially cursed each team to lose in the playoffs, and I feel horrible about that. I must learn how to harness this power that I possess. I apologize for my irresponsibility. I'm not certain where the Padres cap fits in with all this, but I'm pretty sure I either just ensured the dawning of a multi-championship San Diego dynasty, or cursed them to never make the postseason again for the lifetime of the franchise. Smart money is on the latter.

Finally, this has nothing to do with baseball cards, but here's a little animated short I put together a few years back. It's sort of creepy, in a silly way, featuring an evil balloon and a scared porcupine. I'm always looking for an excuse to share it, so here it is. I did everything here, including the music. My life's artistic triumphs are few, but this is a good one, by my modest standards, I think.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just Commons vs. COMC

I've talked about my exercise in self-restraint of not purchasing any cards for the rest of the year. I made an exception for 2004 Topps Retired autos. And I recently caved in and bought some more cards. At least it wasn't eBay, though. The site Just Commons has apparently been around for a few years, but it seems like the blogosphere has really been buzzing about it the past few weeks. I had to get in on the action. I threw 47 cards in my cart, most for around $0.08-.0.30 a pop. I splurged on one relatively-pricey card ($6), but otherwise everything was under a buck each, and my total was under $15. Very happy to fill in a bunch of holes in my player collections on the cheap. (About half the cards were Bill Madlock.. nearly completing my Mad Dog standard base collection.)

I'm sure I'll be back for another order before long. So now my card acquiring avenues include eBay, Listia, COMC, Just Commons, and in theory, trades. (I'm hoping my new "Desperate Dozen" card-specific wantlist on the sidebar will help drum up a trade or two. And I still need to get around to posting some "trade bait" posts.)

As for pros and cons, COMC shows you what the cards look like, which is a definite edge over Just Commons, which doesn't feature card images. So if you're picky about condition/centering, COMC gets the nod. Plus, if you're a team collector, you need to be careful not to accidentally get a card of a player on a different team, like Dodger fan GCRL did when a Sheffield he bought turned out to be a Yankee card.

And COMC has a bigger inventory, generally speaking, including all sportscards, not just baseball. While Just Commons is named that for a reason, there are in fact some non-commons too. But don't expect to find many vintage cards, especially of star players. But the site is well-stocked for 80s, 90s, 00's, and today. It seems like the way the site operates is the guy (guys?) behind the site break cases of cards and buy big lots, putting the hits on eBay and the "misses" on Just Commons. Sounds like a good idea to me.

It's not uncommon for Just Commons to be out of stock on a card even though it'll be listed as available and the site will allow you to purchase it. Of the 47 cards I ordered, one ('81 Donruss Gaylord Perry) was sold out and I got my 15 cents refunded when the order shipped. It took about a week from the day I ordered to the day the cards showed up. Pretty decent.

I have to give the nod to COMC when it comes to accuracy, though. I've never gotten a "wrong card" from COMC, but there were a couple mistakes in my Just Commons order. I ordered 1985 Donruss #200 (Bill Madlock), but instead received 1984 Donruss #200 (Manny Sarmiento), and I ordered 1985 Fleer #468 (Bill Madlock) but received 1984 Fleer #468 (Nick Esasky). So looks like whoever pulled the order was off by a year in the box he or she grabbed for these 2 cards, and just looked at card number, not player name. I probably won't bother pestering them about it since these are just 15 cent cards, but yeah, it's a bit of an annoyance.

And for price, it's Just Commons by a wide margin.. cards are roughly about half the price of COMC on average. Plus US shipping is free at Just Commons for orders over $10. COMC used to have a deal similar to that, but now has a $3 flat shipping cost.

There's another site called Sportslots that many people seem to like for buying their singles. I haven't ordered from that site yet, but it seems to basically split the difference between COMC and Just Commons in most areas.

So yeah, I'm happy to have let JC into my life (wait, I'm talking about Just Commons, here, not getting religious). Many of these newly acquired cards will be featured in upcoming posts here at the Breakdown.

Here's the pricey $6 card I bought:

A Tony Gwynn 1983 Donruss rookie card. (At first I thought that Rudolph dot at the tip of his nose was a defect in this particular card, but a Google image search seems to indicate all copies have it.) His Topps rookie was one of the first "expensive" cards I bought when I was a young San Diegan. Earlier this year, I got a Fleer rookie off Listia. And I had won a Donruss rookie off Listia, too.. BUT the seller flaked out and never sent the card. Bummer. But now I've finally achieved the Gwynn Rookie Card Trifecta. It feels good.

I also picked up 3 early cards of the only man who could possibly have even a whisper of a chance at challenging Tony for the title of Mr. Padre.

Trevor was coming up just as I was leaving the hobby back around '93, and I never happened to get any of his cards back then. Since I started back up collecting a couple years ago, I've been playing catch-up building a PC for him, as any self-respecting Padres fan card collector certainly does. These few pre-San Diego rookie-ish issues here definitely help it shape up.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One True Rookie: Julio Franco

One True Rookie™ is a feature here where we take a look at a player who only had 1 actual rookie card from a major card company during the 80s. First we featured Fred McGriff, then Joe Carter. Both of those cards were Donruss beating Topps and Fleer to the bag. Get ready to chalk up another one to the ol' Leaf corporation!

Julio Cesar Franco was signed by Philadelphia as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1978. He steadily rose through the system never batting under .300 in the minors, plus showing great speed and good power. The knock against him, as with many young shortstops, was his defense, accumulating around 30 to 40 errors per season.

Most of Julio's 1982 was spent in AAA, but he was called-up to the Phillies for a few games here and there, finishing the year with 16 big league games under his belt. After the season, he was included in a trade package to get Von Hayes from the Indians. With Ivan de Jesus the starting shortstop, the Phillies thought Julio was expendable, I guess. You might notice similarities to another young Phillie shortstop who played just a few games in purple before being traded away. Yep, Ryne Sandberg was a step or two ahead of Julio in Philadelphia's farm system in the late 70s, early 80s. Both players went on to greater success at other positions for other clubs. But while Sandberg hopped to 3rd for a year before being entrenched at 2nd, Franco stuck with SS for the next several years, even if he was often atop the AL in errors committed.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

When the 1983 baseball card sets came out, Julio Franco was not included in the checklist for Topps nor Fleer. But in one of the earliest examples of scoring rookie gold before the other guys, Donruss gave young Julio a card.

While Sandberg infamously got shut out with no Phillies RC in 1982, Franco at least went 1-for-3 with the big card companies. --Ok, maybe not "infamously" but it's a WTF moment that Ryne had to wait an extra year for his rookie card(s) to come out.

An official "cards that never were" from 2007.
Donruss wouldn't debut their "Rated Rookie" subset until the following year, so who knows whether Julio would've gotten the RR distinction or not. But I'll bet he would have. (Update: A friendly comment informed me that there actually are a few Rated Rookies in 1983 Donruss, but instead of having anything noting it on the front, there's just a bold line of text near the bottom of the card back. He did not in fact get the blurb about being a Rated Rookie.)

Julio made the Indians out of spring training as their starting shortstop. Topps and Fleer got caught with their pants down, as a solid rookie campaign earned him runner-up to AL Rookie of the Year winner Ron Kittle.

1983 Topps Traded
Fleer got shut out for the year, since their inaugural Update set wouldn't come out until 1984. Topps, on the other hand, included Julio in their 1983 Traded set, but of course it wasn't until 1984 that Julio had a real, flagship Topps card. (He made the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, but '84 Topps cards didn't feature the rookie cups.)

Back of his '84 Topps card.. a good look at his minors & rookie numbers.
Over the next few years, Julio's offense and defense both improved a bit. In 1988, he switched to second base to make way for Jay Bell at short. After the season, Cleveland shipped him to the Rangers for Jerry Browne, Oddibe McDowell, and Pete O'Brien. The trade worked out for Texas, as Julio continued to produce, earning 3 straight All-Star nods and winning the batting crown in 1991 when his .341 average bested 2nd place Wade Boggs' mark of .332.

Unfortunately, it would be the last time Julio led the league in a major offensive category. An injury took away much of his '92 season, and his speed was never the same. With his mobility somewhat diminished, he mostly DH'ed or played first base from this point on.

But while the common version of that scenario involves the player hanging on for a couple years then fading away into retirement, Julio managed to defy the odds and stick around not just for a few more seasons, but 15 years! Wow. He was the oldest player in the sport at 49 when he played his final MLB game near the end of 2007. Forty-freakin'-NINE!

Julio had an unorthodox stance and used a heavy bat.
Those last 15 years were spent bouncing around with many different teams, often as a pinch-hitting specialist and platooning at DH or 1st. From Texas, he went to the White Sox for the '94 season where he found his power stroke, setting career highs in home runs (20) and RBI (98) even with the strike-shortened schedule. Then he spent a year playing in Japan. He returned for another stint with Cleveland in '96. He went to Milwaukee for the second part of the 1997 season. Then back to Japan for '98. Then he played in Mexico for '99, also getting a solitary at-bat (a strikeout) with Tampa Bay late in the season. The year 2000 found him playing in South Korea. The next year he was back in Mexico much of the year, then signed with Atlanta for the last month of the season and stuck with the Braves through the end of 2005. He signed with the Mets for 2006. In 2007, he finally started to slow down. New York released him after 40 games, and he finished up with 15 games back with the Braves, ultimately ending his major league career. And he still wasn't done! He played a bit in Mexico the following year before finally hanging up his cleats. And even then, he couldn't leave the game, going straight into managing. He currently manages in Mexico.

His major league career totals are pretty darn good. If not for the seasons "lost" to foreign leagues, he would have most likely gotten well over 3000 hits, therefore garnering serious Hall of Fame consideration. But instead he ended up with 2,586 hits and a fine .298 average. Add to that 173 homers, 1,194 RBI, and 281 stolen bases. Excellent career numbers, but not quite enough to impress HOF voters. In his first year of eligibility, 2013, Franco received just 1.1% of the vote and was dropped from future ballots. The list of players with numbers closest to him at baseball-reference includes 2 HOFers in the top 10, Enos Slaughter and contemporary Roberto Alomar, plus the "not in the Hall but probably could/should be" Tiger tandem of Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker.

Near-complete career numbers via back of Franco's 2007 card.
Counting all professional hits (minors, majors, Dominican, Mexican, and Asian leagues), he's got well over 4,000 hits, in the company of Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Ichiro Suzuki. He had the most career MLB hits by a Dominican-born player until Vlad Guerrero passed him. He holds the record for oldest non-pitcher regular MLB player (ie, not a publicity stunt appearance), and oldest to hit a home run and grand slam.

Who would have thought that Julio Franco's major league career would stretch for a whopping 25 years? After that first year, anyways, only Donruss deemed him worthy of a flagship card. Say what you want about them, but you gotta give Donruss credit for their rookie selection in the 80s. Excellent foresight once again in identifying a future star and giving him his one true rookie.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Regurgitatin' Action: Joe Buck (ugh..)

Back during my wild eBay spending days of a month or two ago, I bought a couple retail boxes of 2001 Fleer Greats of the Game and a few packs of 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites. All I wanted was to pull one autograph from either set. Just one! That was my very realistic hope. It could have been anybody.. Some backup utility infielder I'd never heard of before.. FINE. Wally Backman! Kevin Bass! ANYBODY! Just give me a f*cking autograph for once in my life.

Of course, my reputation as the "hitless wonder" remained intact and I got zero autographs. Just my luck, the only card that could be somewhat considered a hit was this serial numbered Joe Buck refractor (#091/299).

Yeah, gross, right?

Do you know who I wish I would have gotten besides this Joe Buck card? That's right: ANYBODY. Only Hitler and Osama would be worse cards to get (look for them in next year's A&G). I kinda hate Joe Buck. But I'm posting this card because the World Series is starting this evening (or maybe Game 1 is over by the time I post this), so it's a good a time as any. I don't have cable or a great desire to hunt down a TV with the games, so I most likely will not be watching a single live pitch from the post season again this year. It's cool, though. Buck (again), McCarver (again), the Cardinals (again) and Sox (again).. no thanks.

Does anybody want this Joe Buck card?? Trade bait? Anyone? A Cardinals fan, maybe, since he's their regular TV announcer? I really don't want to keep Jimmy Neutron here around longer than I have to. If I pray hard enough, maybe it'll turn into a Vin Scully card.. or literally any other broadcaster besides Joe Buck. (WAIT!, not Tim McCarver either! nooooooooooooooo)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Refraction Action: Philip Rivers 2004 Topps Finest

This beaut was on eBay a few weeks ago. 2004 Topps Finest Certified Auto Rookie Refractor /#199. I had seen the card up before, but the seller was asking like $150 for it.. Too rich for my blood. After no takers, he reposted it, this time with a low opening bid. I ended up losing it by a buck. This was one of the losses that prompted a little drunken rant on the blog about how I was experiencing a lot of 2nd place eBay finishes lately and it was starting to get me down. (It's probably for the best, though. See my self-imposed eBay moratorium for the remainder of the year.)

But this one really stung. Football cards are definitely not a high collecting priority for me. Over the past few years, my interest in football has been eroding. I didn't even watch the past couple Super Bowls, much less a regular season game. I was once a pretty big Chargers fan, but now I feel pretty out of touch the team and its players.

But I still have a place in my heart for Charger stars from the past, such as LaDainian, Seau, Fouts, and the kid here Philip Rivers. I've got a few standard cards of his, including a Topps rookie card I got for a bunch of Listia credits a while back. But I didn't have any fancy "hit" cards, so this certified autograph rookie refractor would've been nice to own. It really is a nice looking card!

Missing out on this card stuck with me.. It would shine and refract in my mind day and night. --ok, maybe it wasn't that bad, but there were a few times where I'd think of it, either out of the blue, or when seeing that the Chargers won and Rivers had a good game. It was a thorn in my side. A card that got away.

So when, one fateful day, I got an email from eBay for a "second chance offer" on this card for my earlier bid, I jumped at it. I guess the guy who outbid me flaked out or something. It was a lot to pay for a card, and I rarely buy pricey "hit" cards like this (save maybe my obsession with 2004 Topps Retired), but this is a rewarding addition to my collection and I'm glad this wayward card eventually found its way to me where it belongs. (Just my luck, another one of these sold just the other day for less, but oh well.. the highs and lows of buying cards on eBay.)

As I mentioned, I also have his regular Topps rookie, with a different photo that seems to have been taken a split-second before the Topps Finest refractor photo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paul Molitorel Hershiser (2004 Retired goal update)

It's been a while since I've been able to check any cards off my current main collecting goal of all 76 autographs from the 2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition set. It's the one exception I've granted myself during my card-spending shutdown for the rest of 2013.

After my recent Listia heartbreak, it was nice to have a couple eBay scores to soothe the wounds. Molitor and Hershiser from this set have been tough to track down. I think this is the 1st time I've seen either of them for sale since beginning my unwise completion quest nearly a year ago. (Although a Hershisher auto'd printing plate was on eBay a while back, if that counts) I do a search multiple times per day, hate to admit (but it's often just a mindless web-surfing click/habit), usually in vain, but it paid off today.

These cards were both posted by the same seller with very reasonable buy-it-now's. I jumped on them so fast, I didn't even slow down to buy them both at once, meaning I paid more shipping than I needed to. But had someone else snatched them while I was farting around with that, it would have caused me to jump out the nearest window while pumping dual middle fingers skyward to all the universe as I plunged to my death.

Got out the door with both cards for under $30 total.. quite pleased with that.. lower than I would have expected for these cards individually, much less combined. Thankfully, the seller was super cool and refunded one of the card's shipping costs without even being asked. Very unexpected and nice of him. Not even just discounted shipping on the 2nd card, but no additional shipping! Plus I know since I paypal'd him separately, PayPal took out more in fees than they would have for one payment. So again, that's above-and-beyond for a seller. I feel like I should give him a plug.. musicrooster$.. and here's a link to his current card auctions.. check him out.. lots of certified autos and other stuff with low opening bids and reasonable buy-it-now prices. He also has many other 2004 Retired cards I already have, and a couple multi-card lots that would make good "starter" sets for anyone looking to get into this set. (Don't! DON'T!! I say that as a friendly warning [it's dumb expensive to collect full sets of certified autos], and also because I don't want more competition for the cards left that I need.. haha)

And with that, let's take a look at where I am with this goal. This makes 58 cards down and just 18 left to go. (as of 10/17/2013):

2004 Topps Retired Signature Edition

Red = Need it
Green = Got it
Orange = I got 2 of it (my orange for your red trade offers welcomed!)

Group A: Cal Ripken; Nolan Ryan; Carl Yastrzemski; Robin Yount
Group B: Hank Aaron; Ernie Banks; Stan Musial; Duke Snider
Group C: Johnny Bench; Yogi Berra; Whitey Ford; Bob Gibson; Dwight Gooden;Tony Gwynn; Don Mattingly; Brooks Robinson; Mike Schmidt; Tom Seaver; Ozzie Smith
Group D: Wade Boggs; John Candelaria; Jose Canseco; Gary Carter; Carlton Fisk; Ralph Kiner; Paul Molitor; Paul O'Neill; Frank Robinson; Ryne Sandberg; Darryl Strawberry; Don Zimmer
Group E: Buddy Bell; Rod Carew; Bucky Dent; Rob Dibble; Dennis Eckersley; Tony Fernandez; Rollie Fingers; George Foster; Ceasar Geronimo; Kirk Gibson; Goose Gossage; Orel HershiserAl Hrabosky; Greg Luzinski; Tony Oliva; Dave Parker; Jimmy Piersall; Alan Trammell;
Group F: Davey Lopes
Group G: Tony Armas; Vida Blue; Tom Brunansky; Bill Buckner; Orlando Cepeda; Darren Daulton; Darrell Evans; Bobby GrichFerguson Jenkins; Wally Joyner; Jimmy Key; Ron Kittle; Bill Madlock; Jack McDowell; Dale Murphy; Graig Nettles; Al Oliver; Bobby Richardson; Ron Santo; Dave Stieb; Bruce Sutter; Ron Swoboda; Luis Tiant; Earl Weaver; Maury Wills
Group H: Elroy Face

Usually with something like this, I would wait till I had the cards in-hand before I posted about them, but wanted to rush this post out #1 to cleanse the bad taste from the previous post, and #2 so I could plug the friendly seller before his current auctions ended (that's another cool thing about him: no super-long auctions.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Listia Tragedy


Had the top bid. Set an alarm to put in a "just in case" last-minute bid, but apparently the clock on my iPod is a minute or two slow, and the auction was already over. I'm at work and I almost punched a hole through my monitor. And then I almost ripped its cables out and chucked it across the office shouting unintelligible obscenities at the top of my lungs till my vocal chords violently shred in a painful, bloody explosion. Then I almost broke down crying in a pool of tears and my own waste products that I had released in rage.

Burn in hell, mikeb1958, for so cruelly, heartlessly stealing this card out from out of my innocent, childlike hands. I hope you choke on this card in some bizarre Three Stooges-type folly involving a stray rollerskate, a frying pan, and a playful kitten. And then it somehow ends your marriage, posthumously. You are an evil person.

I will never get this card now, horribly miscut or not. That's a great pic of Rich. Don't know who the other guy is, but he seems like a nice fellow.


[DEEP BREATH... deep breath..]

Ok... sorry, mikeb1958, it's not your fault you're better at Listia-ing than I am. I take back the horrible, horrible things I said about you and your mother.

And I apologize for anyone offended by the profanity and violent imagery. I feel obligated to have a breakdown on the blog once in a while, since after all, it is called Baseball Card Breakdown, so it comes with the territory.

Live and learn. Make sure your clocks are properly synced when setting an important alarm. 

Good luck out there, people.


Have you ever blocked someone on Listia just because they outbid you? It's petty and pointless, and could potentially hurt a future auction of yours because they're obviously a collector with credits to burn, yet it's still somehow satisfying.

One A-hole blocked me just because I once politely asked him about compromising on a price of an overpriced card he had up. Really? The hilarious thing is the card didn't get a single bidder. And he reposted in a few more times for less, finally eventually selling for less that what I had proposed to him. Yeah, I was really outta line, huh? (rolls eyes) Douche.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pose Masters: Mike Fiore, the scoop pose king

Mike Fiore's major league career wasn't all that impressive. He secured his place in baseball lore, albeit it a footnote, when he hit the first home run ever in Kansas City Royals history. But where his skill really shone was hit ability to make a scoop pose for his baseball card photos. It's only fitting that Fiore is the initial subject of Pose Masters, a new reoccurring(?) feature here at BCB celebrating athletes whose skills on the diamond extended to when they were standing in front of a photographer getting a shot for a forthcoming baseball card.

Fiore, a first-baseman, has 3 solo cards: Topps 1970-1972. His best year (his only decent year, in fact) was his rookie campaign of 1969 with the expansion Royals, when he batted .274 with 12 tatters, one of which was that fateful 1st Royal jack, leading off the 2nd inning of the 5th game of the season, against the A's on April 13th.

Unfortunately for Fiore, the dreams he must've entertained of becoming Mr. Royal, beloved by all of Kansas, not just their eponymous city, would go unfulfilled, paving the way for George Brett to claim the title years later. He bounced around with a few more teams, first as an underperforming bench player, then toiling for several more years in AAA.

But he leaves us with a legacy of scooping baseball card photos that is unmatched! He really knew what he was doing, and the camera ate it up! You gotta wonder if the photographer suggested the pose each time or what. I'd like to believe Fiore came up with it himself.

Topps photographer: "OK, Mike: say cheese."

Mike Fiore: "I got this! Check out this bad-ass pose of me scooping out a low throw from short! Boo-yah!"

Topps photographer: "... ok. [click] We're good here."

Mike Fiore: ":)"

It's not like he was known for his excellent defense. In his only year with 100+ games, 1969, he committed 10 errors at first-base in just 91 games at the position, 3rd most in the league. (He also added another error in 13 games playing the outfield.)

Coach: "Fiore, here comes the throw.. get your glove up!"

Mike Fiore: "Screw that, coach! Mike Fiore is all about the scoop. THE SCOOOOP! [ball flies just over his shoulder] oops."

Today, Mike Fiore might be relegated to the answer of a KC Royals trivia question, but for fans of vintage baseball cards, he will forever be fondly remembered as a true pose master.

(Artist re-creation of the full-photo used on Mike Fiore's rookie card. There's little doubt in my mind that this is the pose he struck. A true professional from day one.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Refraction Action: Bob Gibson 2012 Panini Prizm

I kinda hate the Cardinals. And I kinda hate that they just killed off the Pirates. But I kinda love Bob Gibson. But I kinda hate how this gif turned out. It's not very appealing at all. Sorry, guys.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eating the gum

When I was a kid collecting in the early 90s, my local card shop had a decent price on 1982 Topps wax packs. I bought a pack or two now and then, and over the span of a year or two, compiled probably over half the set, scoring some great cards including RC's of Cal Ripken, Lee Smith, and Dave Stewart, and late-career cards of legends like Yaz, Bench, and Stargell. They were the closest thing to "vintage" packs I ever had a chance to rip, and I loved it.

And of course, back in the good old days, every pack of Topps included a piece of gum. I know a lot of people warn you to stay away from the old gum in baseball card packs, saying it's got dangerous bacteria or organisms or cooties or whatever that have been hanging out and multiplying over the years... but I'll admit it, I ate the gum.

And I say "ate" not "chewed" because-- as you know if you've tried it-- it's crunchy at first but quickly melts away in your mouth till after a moment you're left with a wad of gum about the size of a piece of rice. It's got a weird, but not unpleasant taste. So yeah, it doesn't exactly improve with age like a fine wine. But in all time times I ate decade-old gum, I never once felt any discomfort or any ill effects from it.

A few weeks ago, View From the Skybox sent me my cards from his recent group break along with a bunch of bonus cards. Also included was an unopened pack of 1989 Topps. No GEM MINT 10 Randy Johnson rookie or other notable cards to be found when I ripped 'er open, sad to say.. but yep, there was an old piece of gum.

Back in 1992, it sure seemed like 1982 was a long time ago. Now in 2013, 1989 doesn't really seem all that long ago. Hell, I can remember things that happened in 1989. But I was just a toddler in 1982, so I can't really remember that year at all. Olden times.

It's just one of those mind tricks that come with getting old, I guess.

So you see where I'm going with this. Without giving it too much thought, I ate the gum. Well, actually, the gum had arrived broken in half. I ate a half and saved a half.. unsure if I would eat it too. Despite how it seemed in my head, that 24-year-old gum was obviously much older than the 10-year-old gum from in my youth. At 24, the gum could vote and fight for its country. But it couldn't rent a car, at least not without an added "under-25" fee, so I feel good about that.

After making it through with no stomach irritation, I ate the 2nd half a few days later (after getting the idea for this post and taking the cheesy photo up top). I'm still here.. feeling fine.. maybe a few extra bacteria cooties crawling around in my guts, but whatever. It's a guilty pleasure, sure, but now the experience and distinct taste and texture really takes me back to the early 90s, chomping '82 gum. Ah, nostalgia.

Now that I think about it, I bought a few 1984 Topps packs on eBay back around 2008 (I had the hankerin' to open some old wax, and I never had much '84 Topps), and I'm pretty sure I ate the gum then too.. at least one piece. That would also have been 24-year-old gum at the time. But I have a limit, I think. For example, if I was ever somehow fortunate enough to wind up with (or pay a large amount for) a pre-80s unopened pack of cards to rip.. I would definitely have to think long and hard about eating the gum. And anything from the 50s or 60s-- forget it. I guess my cutoff would be my age. I wouldn't eat a piece of gum older than me. Haha

Howbout you guys? Anybody brave enough to admit they eat the gum too? It seems like admitting you eat the gum is akin to admitting you eat your boogers (something I haven't done for a very long time, I assure you!) Feel free to shame me or offer scientific proof that old gum causes cancer or something, but chances are, next time I rip an old pack of Topps, I'm inevitably going to snap into that dusty pink rectangle with no regrets. *crunch* Yummmmm........

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

eBay moratorium

I gotta stop spending so much of my paycheck on eBay cards. I gotta! For the rest of the year, no more eBay searches/purchases. Time to start exercising some serious self-control. I'll place some sniping bids on what's currently in my watchlist, but then it's cold turkey till '14. If it gets too tough, I'll have to ask my fiancée to change my password or something. Or maybe I should join with those proud government workers and stay off eBay until the shutdown is resolved. (Don't get political on a baseball card blog! Baseball card blogs are a haven away from political discussion! I do not want to hear about the political leanings of any collectors! LOL)

That said, I've gotten some neat cards on eBay lately and they make me happy. Watching Ken Burns: Baseball the other day, when they got to the part when they talk about Don Larsen's perfect game, I giddily grabbed my recently-acquired 2003 Topps Retired certified autograph (inexplicably featuring the man in an Orioles uniform, not Yankees, but whatever) and like a kid at a puppet show, bounced around in my seat repeating to myself, "I got that guy's autograph!" (That one was under $5 shipped, a pretty good deal, I thought.)

But yeah, I'm posting this so I won't be able to avoid it.. it's on Blogger forever now. No more eBaying for me till 2014.

To get my card fix(es), I'll be posting a series of "trade bait" posts here over the next 3 months, probably split up by team, so hopefully I can goad a few of you guys into trading with me. (Please! For me!) Keep me off the pipe pole eBay. Thanks, guys! Have a good one.

A couple more caveats for myself: I think I may make an exception for searching for (and potentially buying) 2004 Topps Retired autos I need, since that's my "main collecting goal" these days, and the ones I need don't pop up very often these days, especially not with reasonable opening bids. So I may need to keep an eye out for those 20 elusive cards that have evaded me thus far.

Also, the moratorium also applies to COMC orders and any similar card-selling site. But Listia is still ok, just obviously no "buying credits" but I wouldn't do that anyways.

And as I mentioned in the comments, I can still venture to eBay for Christmas shopping.. just not cards.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Refraction Action: Todd Helton 2012 Panini Prizm

The career numbers for Todd Helton are in. A .316 batting average with 2519 hits, 369 home runs, and 1406 RBI. Not too shabby. When the sour taste of the steroid era eventually starts to fade with time, look for him to get some HOF attention. Eventually. Probably.

I never did like Helton much (always seemed to victimize my Padres), but I always respected him (well, until the DUI). He seemed like a good ballplayer and solid teammate. Adios, Todd, thanks for playing.

The above card is a refractor parallel from 2012 Panini Prizm. This was the set where I got in with a group break last month (I suppose I should write a post on my haul soon). I got so swept up with it that I bought my own box, too. Needless to say, my brief love affair with the set has come to an end. I got no hits in the group break, and no hits in my own box (it promised 2 autos per box, and both my autos were non-stars.. Skip and Fister.. say la vie.. or however you spell that.) This was one of the 3 refractors in my box. Figured I'd whip up a refractin' action of it to sorta salute Helton here on a fine major league career. It turned out all right.

Thanks for joining us and see you next time, here on Refractin' Action®, where we bring refractors to life.