Sunday, June 29, 2014

Have Coasters, Will Travel

A good friend of mine put in a request for a batch of coasters and he even supplied me with a couple of the cards.  I'm on the road again this weekend visiting him in the state where everything is bigger.

Time for delivery!

His wife is a HUGE George Brett fan, thus the mini 1987 of most popular Royal of them all:

Cubs?  Heck yeah!  Andre Dawson!

Ron Santo!

Ernie Banks!
I think the Mr. Cub coaster turned out the best.
All were made with epoxy resin, blue self-sticking felt, and a pinch of glitter for the backgrounds. Definitely one of my better batches, even if I had to take an exacto knife to make the Santo card fit within my coaster mold.  A don't know if a mini or Ron Santo wearing a Cubs uniform exists.  Why does Topps ignore certain Hall-of-Famer players like they tend to do?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Box Beak Reminder

Baseball Legends!
I just returned home from math conference.  Yep, you read that right... Math Conference!  Four days and three nights, thirty-two hours in all.  Working problems, asking questions, talking math.  Fun!  No, seriously, I had a good time.  I came away with a bunch of goodies:
1. handouts, worksheets, activities and many lab ideas in the three ring binder
2. about twenty pages of notes for the new material that I will start teaching in the fall
3. a stack of Calculus books and reference materials
I've been teaching AB Calculus for years, but my high school is branching out and will now offer BC Calculus as well.  My confidence level is starting to build after this past week.  Watch out high school students!
On to other topics that will interest the blogosphere a bit more:
The last box for my 4 box group break arrived while I was away crunching numbers and playing with my calculator.  I've already ripped the other three boxes and each player on the checklists is accounted for.  Complete team sets for all who sign up!   Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: Blockade Billy

  Title: Blockade Billy
Author: Stephen King   
Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Story  Ease of Reading: I was reading a longer book when I recently left for vacation, but I took this one along as a back-up in case I finished. I should have brought a back-up for my back-up!  Eighty pages in all, which could probably be knocked out in an hour if you're a fast reader. 
Synapse:The Titans needed a starting catcher after they lost their top two backstops right before they headed north from spring training.  Enter William Blakely.  Blakely takes the league by storm and earns the nickname "Blockade Billy" because of how he blocks the plate so effectively.  There seems to be more to Billy than there appears and that's when you realize this is a short story written by Stephen King.  <Insert ominous music.>
Comments:  This is a nice little piece in which King demonstrates his baseball knowledge.  After pushing through my last book, it was a welcome to have a quick and easy read.
Grade: I don't know how I would feel if I paid the $14.99 MSRP, rather than the sale price of $4.98.  It's a quick book for sure, but I like value and feeling as though I got my monies worth is important to me.  On a separate note, I labeled this one as historical fiction because King mixes in quite a few other baseball names that I have come to know: Ted Williams, Bill Skowron, and Nellie Fox.  I'll give this one an 'A' based on price and entertainment value.  If anyone's interested I'd be happy to dump this one into a media mail envelope for you.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

House of Cards - Vacation Cardboard

While on vacation I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to seek out a couple of baseball card shops.  The second one, TnT Baseball Cards in Philadelphia, was less than impressive.  How unimpressed was I?  Well, I walked 1.2 miles from our hotel in 90 degree heat to visit the store and I didn't even bother to make a purchase for my troubles.  It was crowded and unorganized, there junkwax everywhere, and there were kids playing card games.  Not the place for me.

The first one?  It was set to close at 6:00pm and I walked in at 5:45.  I didn't leave until 7:15.  Yep, I had some fun and the owners were happy to stay open.  House of Cards in Silver Spring, Maryland, is supposedly the second oldest card shop in the country.   The owners are big on eBay, have their own Auction House, and possess a great variety of packs and cards in store.  Overall, it's a fun store.

Lucky for me they were having a moving sale and many items were 50% off and there were even some 75% off items. I've been looking for some 1969 Topps cards to pay back Jaybarkerfan's Junk and I hit gold.  I had Wes' list of cards stored as a bookmark, but my smartphone wasn't working properly.  Luckily the owners were more than happy to search the interwebs and print off a copy for me.  That's some good old fashioned customer service right there.  So, I picked up a healthy stack of '69 cards that were discounted 50% and one item for JediJeff out of the 75% off cabinet. 

I was supposed to meet up with JediJeff this week in Chicagoland while I was taking my Calculus BC refresher course, but I guess my reputation scared him off and he ran for the mountains.  No, seriously.  He's in Colorado. 
So, what did I find Jeff?  It's the Collectors Set of 110 cards from the Eight Men Out movie.  Nice!  I'm not sure how White Sox fans feel about the movie or the set, but Jeff will find this in his mailbox when he returns from his trip.

I did purchase some cards for myself.  I went straight to the sale box of vintage cards and found these beauties:
 This is the one Tommy John collection that I wanted for my collection.  Fifty cents?  Yes, please!
 Huh, I wonder why Tommy was on the disabled list in 1975?  I kid. I kid.

A couple of new vintage Billy Williams for my player collection!
 Here's a young Ron Santo and a slightly older one.  I miss Ron Santo. 

 My favorite card by far was this wrinkled 1959 high numbered Ernie Banks All-Star card.  I'd never seen this card before and now it's all mine!
 While the gentlemen behind the counter were ringing me up, I was flipping through the parallel box, which was also discounted... 
... and like magic an orange chrome Anthony Rizzo caught my eye.  I love how the outline of Anthony's head has an "electric" looking feel to it.  Sometimes my camera does cool things.

In summary, I found two card shops, and although one was a dude the House of Cards shop made up for it.  Thanks for stopping by today!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pack Wars: '91 Swell vs. '14S2

It's time for a shameless plug for my 4-box group break which will then seamlessly transition into another edition of Pack Wars!  Sign ups are still going on: cards of your favorite team from four boxes for four bucks.  I've busted the '89 and '90 Swell boxes and pulled enough cards for complete sets from both, which means guaranteed teams sets.  Woo-Hoo!
I'm in the process of breaking and sorting the '91 Swell box, but I thought it might be fun to pit a pack of '91 Swell Baseball Greats against 2014 Topps Series 2.

Round 1:
 Wow, Swell comes out of the gates swinging for the fences with arguably one of the best players of all time.  The De La Rosa is a nice card, but in my eyes this is about as lopsided as a match-up you'll find.
'91 Swell = 1
'14 Topps S2 = 0

Round 2:
 Lefty Gomez was a fantastic pitcher, but I love the emotion captured on Brandon Phillips card.  Did you see BP gave a ball to a heckler with a message on it the other night?  Simply. Classic.  Topps evens the score.
'91 Swell = 1
'14 Topps S2 = 1

Round 3:
Who likes balls?  Dizzy Dean likes balls!
'91 Swell = 2
'14 Topps S2 = 1

Round 4:
Vintage Pirates hat?  Check.  Awesome mustache?  Check.  Point for Round 4?  Check.
'91 Swell = 3
'14 Topps S2 = 1

Round 5:
 I really liked the cropping on the Conor Gillaspie card above, but I think Topps went in too close on this one.  I want to see where the ball is located!  Contact?  Swing-and-a-miss?  Brooks Robinson might be the finest fielding third baseman of all time, but the posed shots from Swell are making me yawn.  The point goes to Topps.
'91 Swell = 3
'14 Topps S2 =2

Round 6:
 Ty Cobb versus a mini?  Wow, what a heavyweight match-up! Wil Myers is really struggling this year after capturing the Rookie of the Year award last year.  Plus, I don't think I know of any Rays bloggers to trade with.  Bummer.  Upon further review, this point goes to Swell.
'91 Swell = 4
'14 Topps S2 = 2

Round 7:
 I apologize for the blurriness of some of these photos.  Swell finally used an action shot in the pack!  Jacob Turner?  Meh.  Again, I don't have a trading partner I can send the Marlin to.  
'91 Swell = 5
'14 Topps S2 = 2

Round 8:
 Clete Boyer?  Um.  Yeah...  On the other hand I've always been a fan of Justin Morneau... all the way back to when he hit over .400 in rookie ball.
'91 Swell = 5
'14 Topps S2 =3

Round 9:
 Bobby Murcer gives me my fourth Yankee in the pack, which by my count is at least three too many.  To tip the scales even further Mat Latos is so bad-a$$ he only needs one "t" to spell his first name.
'91 Swell = 5
'14 Topps S2 =4

Mathewson was a stud, but the beard is powerful.  Fear the beard.
'91 Swell = 5
'14 Topps S2 =5

There we have it.  '91 Swell plays Topps to a draw, but we could have had a different outcome if I had drawn a better player than Wil Myers for the insert.  So it goes!

Thanks for stopping by for another edition of Pack Wars.  Don't forget to sign up for my box break!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Trade with My Cardboard Mistress

What a great name for a blog!  No?  Adam, from My Cardboard Mistress, and I hammered out a quick trade.  You may know Adam as 'Spankee' or perhaps have seen his avatar pop up in the comments section of a blog.  If not, reach out to My Cardboard Mistress, because he's working on a few sets and is a solid blogger to trade with.

So, let's dig in an see what Adam and his generosity sent my way!  As always, I'm only going to show my favorites from the stack. 

Oh, man...  I think I just got bipped with Joe Girardi cards?  What that correctly be referred to as getting 'Girardi'd'?  I did take a class in orthography back in the day, but by no means do I have the English grammatical skills to pay the bills.  Thank goodness for math!

Mini relics!  A 2011 Marlon Byrd card from the short lived Lineage line and a 2012 Ryan Theriot from Allen and Ginter's.  Nice.
 Captain Chaos!  I'm not sure if that's Neal Cotts legitimate nickname or just the one that I surreptitiously dubbed him. 
 Hall of Fame Cubs!  I love that I'm getting some 2014 product in trade, because I haven't been purchasing much.
 Random, long forgotten cubs!
 More of Fame Cubs!

All-Star Cubs! Power hitters are very infrequently pictured baserunning or sliding, but that's what we have in these gems.

My first Fathead!
  A nice Cubs prospect in Pierce Johnson and a Kosuke Fukudome card for my player collection!
 And lastly, a couple of Cubs core position players who are both having nice bounce back seasons.
 Castro has already eclipsed his homer total from last season and is nearing his RBI total.  Rizzo has is becoming that solid middle-of-the-order hitter that all Cubs fans were hoping for.

Thanks for a great trade, Adam!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Trip 2014

This is the summer of Laura and I's ten year wedding anniversary. It may be a bit cliche to say, but it seems just like yesterday when we were tying the not. It's as though we blinked and somehow a decade elapsed.

To celebrate we took a nine day vacation and traveled out east.  We accumulated just over two thousand miles on Laura's car and while doing so we had some great conversation, listened to some podcasts, and a book on CD.  We didn't really get hung up in traffic too frequently, and I supposed that can be attributed to Laura's great scheduling: leaving major cities in the AM and entering in the PM. 
We left early last Wednesday morning and because of a rain delay we were able to catch first pitch in Pittsburgh!

Laura with her crab fries and cheese dip!
Pittsburgh is still my favorite ballpark.  It's just absolutely gorgeous and everyone who works within PNC seems to always be very helpful and wearing a smile.

We didn't hang around in Pittsburgh too long, because we had to catch the Oriole's game the next night.

Another rainy day, but no matter.  We sat in the first row of the top deck and had a nice and quiet time.  I've been having good luck buying from scalpers the last couple of years and I again came away pretty happy.

Earlier in the evening I ventured out in the rain and walked to the birthplace of Babe Ruth.  It's a nice little museum and definitely worth the price of admission.
 I didn't know Babe's first professional home run occurred in Toronto and that he once was a catcher.  Good stuff all the way around.

We hit our nation's capitol the next couple of days.  We made good use of our ponchos the first day and applied plenty of sunscreen the next.
 We visited just about every big sight-seeing attraction around the National Mall.  I found the below little gem in the National Portrait Gallery.
Next, we were scheduled to visit Philadelphia.  Our stay in Philadelphia started with the Cubs blanking the Phillies 3-0 on Father's Day.  Nice!
Quick question for those of you in the know:  What's up with the red seats in the Phillies' dugout?

That evening we stopped by Sonny's and had a traditional cheesesteak sandwich.  Yum!

While in Philly we visited Ben Franklin's old stomping grounds and stopped by the oldest inhabited street in the US, Elfreth's Alley.

 Naturally, we found the Rocky statue.  But even better, we found the "Chasing Dreams" exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History.  Hello, Moe Berg!
During our last night in Philadelphia we took a sailboat tour along the Delaware River.  Romantic!

We had already done our tour through DC, but because the Nationals weren't there over the weekend we went back and caught a game when they arrived back in town.  Isn't my wife the best?

What a great trip overall!  I was able to see two new ballparks, tasted some amazing food, learned quite a but through all of the museums and monuments, and we made some great memories. ... like Laura walking barefoot on the lawn by the Washington Momument through the wet grass because she wore the wrong shoes.  Good times for sure!