Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Not All PWEs Are Created Equal

Okay, let's review:

  • I busted one pack of Topps Update and pulled two Twins.
  • I had another Twin sent to me in a trade package, which didn't fit any of my collections
  • I sealed them up in a PWE and shipped them to my favorite Minneapolis blogger, Brian.
  • The three cards, with the stamp included, might have been worth a dollar. 
Not a week later a PWE finds my mailbox from Brian, of Highly Subjective and Completely Arbritary

Here is what was inside.

I appreciate a meaningful hand-written note:

Now, let's get the BIG card out of the way first:
Boom! It's the first 2019 Topps Update Vogelmonster that has been sent to me by mail. Take note of the 150 years foil stamp! Parallel mojo! I guess I recently passed the 400-card mark, as this #404 in my Vogelbach PC. So excited!

How about some green chromey goodness?  This one is numbered 73/99 and I absolutely love the way this card photographed.
The green gives the card a Wrigley Field ivy feel. Very cool.

So, here we sit. Either one of these cards, the Vogelmonster or the Schwarber, would have been a more than fair return on what I sent Brian. Instead, he sent both and the scales are already tipping his favor.

But, wait. There's more!


Rounded corners, creases, and stains on the back...

You know. The perfect kind of vintage!

 Yes, that's a 1958 Topps card of Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn. I needed an upgrade for my HOF Binder, preferably a card with Asburn sporting Phillies garb. This will do wonderfully! Beautiful!

Also, in my HOF Binder was a card of Sandy Koufax from the 2011 Topps Lineage set. Nice card, but no stats on the back, and definitely not vintage.

Here we go!
Just. Wow.   1964 Topps is a huge upgrade for the HOF Binder!

What a power packed PWE. I'm simply in awe.

Luckily, Brian keeps his website up-to-date with the Arbitrary 8 and plenty of other card ideas for me to do some future card show shopping.

Thank you very much for the very thoughtful PWE, Brian.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Baseball Birthday

I'm another year older today. Woo.

I spent the day coaching a baseball camp for elementary and middle school athletes in our school district. Our high school coaches ran the camp with the help of our varsity players. It's great to get a large chunk of the program's fundraising out of the way and even better to see our high school players interacting with the participants and giving back. Plus, I can't complain about a day that involves baseball . . . and lots of it!

Earlier in the week my wife and I met up with my side of the family to celebrate my birthday and my mom's. We're only four days apart and it only makes sense. I'm not one who likes all of the attention anyway. I'm not sure if my ten year old self would agree, but this middle age "grown up" enjoys sharing the day with Mom. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I used quotation marks in that last paragraph because I'm not sure a person who receives the kinds of gifts I did would do anything but confirm they're still a child. You be the judge!  Here's my favorite five gifts from earlier in the week.

First up, a science fiction novel about baseball and two universes. This should make for a fun read! Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Here's probably the most useful gift from my birthday haul.
My parents gave me envelope of cash and the above flyer so I can buy a new fungo to hit with for the upcoming spring season. I think it's pretty cool the company is from the southern part of Illinois, near a forest that I have hiked in. Now I have decisions to make about the type of wood, the length, weight, and finish. Fun!

The prize for tastiest gift also goes to my parents.
I love peanut butter toast for breakfast. It's a staple of my mornings, but on occasion I'll shock my taste buds and apply jam instead. To say I'm looking forward to tasting this kiwi-strawberry chipotle jam is a gross understatement.

My sister knows me way too well. Check out this 1950 Bowman card of The Heater from Van Meter.
 Bob Feller is on a very short list of my favorite pitchers of all-time with Kerry Wood and Satchel Paige. Yeah, I think I can lock those guys in as my Top 3. Feller's story is just so unique... He was a small town Iowa kid who's high school graduation was broadcast over national radio because he was a dominate pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. Think about that.
Here's the back, because you know, the card is awesome!

Wait, did you see that it was autographed?

No?  No need to scroll back up.  Here it is again!

Alright, here's the present which made me smile the most.
 This is the front of an XL t-shirt that I will wear the heck out of the next few years. Dan Vogelbach hits freaking BOMBS and now I have a shirt to wear around P-town to make sure everyone else knows, too. 

Great stuff! Enjoy the holidays and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Box of Cubs Cards from TribeCards

Do you remember when David, from TribeCards, was opening a pack of cards a day and posting them on his blog? It was a huge undertaking, especially considering that he planned to sort and ship out all the cards to team collectors and the like. I was in full-on accumulation mode at the time, claimed the Cubs, and watched with glee anytime a Cubs card was pulled. It was a grand time.

Well, last weekend things got even better. The cards arrived!
 Don't mind the cat legs in the background. She always stalks the newest box in the house. She isn't satisfied unless she's given a chance to see if she fits within the void.
 There's not much of a void in this box, outside of that space at the far right. Lots of cardboard to explore!
The space was created by a Topps Qubi. What in the world?
It's a 3D cube of the Cubs lone bright spot before the team turned their losing ways around. This is a pretty cool concept and somehow one that I had missed until now.
  Starlin had so much promise and was critiqued so harshly by the Chicago media. I wish he could have been around for the 2016 season. So it goes.

 Next up are the over-sized cards which were found at the bottom of the box. These are new to me, but I don't need multiple copies. I wonder if Wrigley Wax has these. Anyone else interested?
 Leon Durham! Very nice. I picked up some 4-pocket pages during my trip to St. Louis last weekend. All of these will look great in a binder!

Here's four more cards which are little larger than necessary. Topps Big and '89 Donruss aren't high on my list because they are so difficult to store.

Alright, let's get to the stuff that stood out. For instance, I needed this Rick Monday for my collection. That's one fabulous looking card.

Here's a quartet of my personal favorites. Oddly enough, I have a thing for part-time players.
 Matt Stairs is my favorite of this bunch, but Reed Johnson, all-out effort and his high socks is a close second.

Here's a pair of Rated Rookies and two Topps RCs:
Carl Edwards probably doesn't fit with the other three offensive performers, but I love-love-love that photo!

Rock Shoulders won MiLB's "Minor League Name of the Year" contest back in the day, which I think was created just for him. The Kris Bryant Donruss card is the KB variation.

I have so many of those first pitch cards, but this is my first one of Chris Pratt. Not that you asked, but Guardians of the Galaxy is one of top 5 all-time favorite movies. The honey bear is from the 2016 Wacky Packages set, which I had completely forgotten all about.  I meant to track that card down and now I don't have to!

Old school Cubs!
Obviously, any package that contains a couple of Ernie Banks cards is a winner. I always forget that King Kelly played for the Cubs franchise. Another superb addition to my collection.

There were three Rynos in the package and I needed two of them. I needed both cards from A&G.

 Here's a couple of card from the 1995 Upper Deck SP set. I have no idea if every card has the blue triangle on the left side, but it works really well with the Cubs. I have to imagine it changes colors to match the team.
 Here's the back of the Sosa card. Do you think he was just hit in the head with a pitch?  Or maybe he is having contact lens issues?

Here's another set I knew nothing about: 2005 Upper Deck FlyBall.
 It was a card game of some sort. Ernie Banks was the only player in Group A.
 Group B had most of the stars and Group C had players like Todd Walker and Jeromy Burnitz.

Hits? There hits in the Pack of the Day experience?
 The Sosa bat is from a 2001 product, so I'll believe that.
 The Mark Grace auto is from this collecting year. David somehow tried to sneak that one in. I'm not arguing!

Oh, I love stickers and holograms. A page of these fillers begins everyone one of my Cubs binders and I was running low. Perfect timing!
 Here's the baseball trivia card from the lower left.
 C'mon every die-hard Cub fan knows that one!

Here's my absolute favorite card from the entire box.
 Yes, Wile E. Coyote in a Cubs uniform. I have a few select cards from this '90 Upper Deck masterpiece, but I didn't know Mr. Coyote was sporting Cubs gear!
Why does the fact that Wile E. Coyote plummeting 300 feet from the upper deck not surprise anyone?  Good stuff!

Ahh, here's a great way to end a wonderful and truly generous package. An auto from David. Very nice!
I contributed a few packs to the Pack a Day project back in the day, but I never expected this kind of return. David, thanks again for putting this together and sending all of those cards out!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Bowling, Beer Drama & Vogel-Mojo

My school district always gives us a five day "fall vacation" centered around the Thanksgiving holiday. It couldn't have been timed much better as I was running on fumes and needed a respite to recharge my battery.

How did I spend my time? Well, on Wednesday I hit up the bowling alley and got three practice games in. I'm in a couples league that bowls every other Sunday and this is my second year in the league. Last year I used an alley ball and bowled a straight ball. During the off-season I bought my own ball and have experimented with a hook.
The practice is paying off. I will still roll an errant gutter ball from time-to-time, like I did in the 6th frame, but I'm connecting for more strikes and less splits. I've raised my average about twenty pins since last season and this game marks the first time I didn't have an open frame in a game since I can remember. It was a nice way to start the break!

On Thursday, Laura and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. My parents tend to host more often than not, but both of them have had joint replacement surgeries in the last two months. For what it's worth, I'm super proud of the way they have stuck with their physical therapy and have bounced back. I'll also say that I continue to me impressed by wife of 15+ years. She invited one of her patients, who didn't have anywhere else to go, to our family Thanksgiving dinner. It was such a kind gesture and one I think the older gentleman truly appreciated.

Laura and I opted for a quick two-day getaway to St. Louis on Friday and Saturday. We had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in the area, Pi Pizzeria. I'm a math teacher and I love pizza... it's an easy win. Except, there was drama!

Here's the beer menu:
 I wanted to sample 4-Hands CMS Tiramisu milk stouty, but they were all out. During the winter months I tend to favor the stouts, so I tried again and went with their CMS Panna Cotta milk stout instead.

Here's proof that such a beer does exist:
But, this is what arrived:
 That doesn't look like any stout that I have ever tasted. Plus, it was super fruity.  I asked the waiter if he was sure this was the stout I ordered and he replied, "Yes, it's pretty unique for a stout."

If by unique he meant, "Not a stout," then he would be correct.
Above is a list of the beers that 4-Hands is currently producing. There was no Panna Cotta stout listed, just the white ale with raspberry and vanilla, which was what I was tasting. Argh.  For the record, if you need a nice summer ale after mowing the yard, then I would suggest the Panna Cotta White Ale. But hear me now . . . IT. IS. NOT. A. STOUT.  Obviously, the restaurant misprinted the beer list and their poor, misguided waiters were spewing nonsense.

Moving right along:
 Boom! How about the colors in that picture! Laura and I visited the St. Louis Conservatory and I found this flowering tree in their Climatron. Striking!
Oh, and Laura purchased two more house plants at their gift store, which puts her collection somewhere in the whereabouts of 63 house plants. I'm still surprised our cats leave them all alone.

Here's Laura at lunch before we headed back home on Saturday. She's about ready to enjoy some Arabic coffee from a fancy tea set. 
I think it's a great picture of my better half. Don't tell her, but she could fit 163 plants in our house and I wouldn't say a peep.

When we returned home I found this awaiting me in the mailbox:
Boom!  Vogel-Mojo!

Overall, it was a vacation of family, food, and travel that was exactly what I needed.

I hope your fall holiday was just as enjoyable!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Cards from Dad: Pack Wars!

There were two packs hidden away in the box of goodies my dad gifted me. They were already opened, but they were new to me and perfect for another edition of Pack Wars.

In one corner we have 1994 Topps Series 2, boasting twelve picture cards. In the opposite corner is 1996 Topps Series 1, which also has twelve cards, which may or may not contain pictures.

Round 1
 1994 Topps comes out swinging with a Cal Ripken subset card. John Wettleland is a Yankee and if this were Gint-a-Cuffs he would represent -2 points. This makes it an easy win for '94 Topps.
I don't know if I'd compare Ripken to Luis Aparicio. I suppose if you ignore the speed and slugging categories most players who lasted 12+ years would look fairly similar. No?

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 1
1996 Topps S1 = 0

Round 2
 Round 2 allows us a look at the 1994 base design, but it's of a Cardinal. Ack. Tony Castillo? Who? Doesn't matter. Cardinals should be worth -2 points and not the Yankees.

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 1
1996 Topps S1 = 1

Round 3
 Lloyd McClendon is a former Cub, but I'll go with the horizontal Brad Radke card in this match-up. I feel the Radke card should be centered better or zoomed in, but I still like it enough for the win.

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 1
1996 Topps S1 = 2

Round 4
 Todd Worrell had some good years as the closer for the Cardinals, so there's a strike against the '94 Topps offering. Dante Bichette, along with Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla and Andres Galarraga made Colorado a fun team to follow when I was growing up. 1996 Topps takes a commanding 3-1 lead!

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 1
1996 Topps S1 = 3

Round 5
Dante Bichette tries to double up, but he is denied by Jesse Orosco, who is the all-time leader in games pitched. '94 Topps narrows the gap.  Collation issues. #SMH

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 2
1996 Topps S1 = 3

Round 6
 Ohhhh! An action-packed photo of Steve Buechele, a Cub, versus blogger favorite Tino Martinez. This is quiet the match-up, but I'll side with Tino and give a shout out to The Lost Collector in the process!

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 2
1996 Topps S1 = 4

Round 7
 A gold parallel of Tom Henke versus a pitcher on the bases wearing his warm-up jacket. I'm not the biggest fan of parallels anymore. I think chasing all the 2017 Vogelmonster parallels kind of killed them for me. 1996 Topps seems to have my number as it garners another point, this time for uniqueness on cardboard.

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 2
1996 Topps S1 = 5

Round 8
 Jeff King always had the Cubs number. Boooo!  Omar Vizquel during a double play? Heck yeah!

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 3
1996 Topps S1 = 5

Round 9
 1994 Topps offers it's own unique photograph, with Sid Bream focusing on a pop-up. But, it's pretty hard to ignore cards of Hall of Fame players. Mathematically speaking, 1996 Topps has secured at least a tie in this match-up.

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 3
1996 Topps S1 = 6

Round 10
Joe Boever? Meh?
Rookie Cup card of Hideo Nomo signing autographs? Yes, please!
 This card is a keeper and will be going in a binder.  1996 Topps locks up the victory with two rounds to go.

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 3
1996 Topps S1 = 7

Round 11
 1996 Topps keep bringing the goods. I didn't know Sean Casey was drafted by the Indians until now. Ron Darling is an analyst, and I respect that he's still hanging around the baseball world, but I've always had a soft spot in my collection for The Mayor. 1996 Topps is running away with this battle!

Updated Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 3
1996 Topps S1 = 8

Round 12
Jeremy Hernandez verus Tony McKnight. Talk about anti-climatic.
I couldn't decide between these two, but after further research I found Hernandez made his MLB debut against the Cubs and threw a shutout inning. Meanwhile, McKnight took the loss against the Cubs in his last MLB game. With McKnight being an easier punching bag for my Cubs, I'll have to side with 1996 Topps one last time.

Final Score:
1994 Topps S2 = 3
1996 Topps S1 = 9

For the record, if this contest finished all knotted up at 6 victories apiece I was going to side with 1994 Topps, because I think it has a better design. Outside of the minor collation issues, the card selection from the 1996 pack was stout and quite deserving of the win.

A big thanks goes out to my father for the uber-generous gift of his box of cards. It was fun strolling down memory lane and blogging about cards from 25+ years ago. Thanks, Dad!