Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Small Step Up the Ladder

Last summer I worked downtown at Dozer Park entering data for the Peoria Chiefs on their TrackMan software. In short, I worked about 15 fifteen games, made minimum wage, was given a $10 food voucher for each game, and had the best seat in the house to watch a historically bad Peoria Chiefs season. (The 2019 team broke the franchise mark for most losses in a season. Ouch.)

I'm still thirteen years or so away from retiring from my high school teaching and coaching job, but it's never too early to lay the groundwork for a post-retirement job. Working at a part-time data entry position on game days seemed like an excellent way to get my foot in the door. Plus, those perks... being paid to watch baseball!

In 2019 was one of five part-time individuals who worked the TrackMan system. I didn't meet them all, but I believe the rest were all college students. I received an email earlier this week from my contact at the Chiefs asking if I'd like to work again this year. He wanted to know if I'd be interested in becoming a substitute stringer in addition to working the TrackMan system. Heck yeah!

Last season's stringer, a veteran of at least a few seasons, was a mid-twenties gentleman who decided to take the LSAT and was accepted to law school. From what I have gleaned from recent emails the new full-time guy comes from within the organization and I'll be his backup.

In a perfect world, my plan is to become the Chiefs' full-time stringer after I retire in 2033, while working as a part-time data entry guy until then. Moving up the ladder this early wasn't part of the plan, but I'm pretty excited about it.  Here's a great article on the daily routine of a baseball stringer.

Applying for a non-fan MLB account was my first step.
As part of my training I'll have to watch video of some baseball games and input them into the stringer software, otherwise known as Gameday to you and I.
Once I become proficient, I will have earned the title of "official scorer" at the MiLB level, albeit a part-time substitute scorer.

High school baseball tryouts start in 36 days, which seems like forever from now, but at least now I have something to keep me busy until then. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

USPS vs. The Vogelmonster

I ship cards using the good old plain white envelope (PWE) all the time. I don't really ever remember having much of a problem. Don't get me wrong, there are some horrifying stories out there, but I've been relatively fortunate thus far.

I was expecting an Ebay purchase to arrive last week from the Chicago suburbs last week. It did not come. Then I saw the same card listed on Ebay over the weekend and the new seller was from Chicago.

With a hobby full of card trimming, sketchy grading practices from companies, and other unscrupulous individuals it was hard not to think the worst of the seller. Could they have marked the auction as shipped, but instead they relisted the card at a higher price because they didn't get the price they wanted the first time around?

Today, this arrived:
It's the dreaded body bag from the USPS!

Writing "Non-Machinable" and "Do Not Bend" on the PWE didn't do much this time around.

Obviously, I didn't get my card last week because USPS employees were using my PWE to play ultimate frisbee over the weekend. The seller was a good dude after all!

Here's the envelope removed from the body bag:
There's actually a third, smaller hole on the corner near my index finger. The two holes in this picture were pretty sizable, but the card holder was taped to the inside of the envelope so it wasn't going anywhere. Maybe the tape not allowing the holder to slide around on the inside of the envelope is what caused the problems in the first place?
 The card holder hit the trash can immediately after freeing my card. Look at the top of the picture. There's something cross between a cat's hairball and the coronavirus attached to that thing. Ack!
 The card had slid toward the opening and it barely stuck to the painter's tape.

No biggie, because . . .
So beautiful!

Body bag, holes in the PWE, and a marred card protector, but the Vogelbach card came out unscathed!

You can't stop THE VOGELMONSTER!

The Vogelmonster: 1

Better luck next time, USPS!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Creating More Sawdust

When time allows and the creative juices are flowing I enjoy making sawdust. You know, buying some wood, cutting it this way and that, and then piecing it together.

Here's some of the projects I've completed in the past:
1. Built-Ins for Living Room, November 2011
2. Cat Tree #1, August 2014
3. TV Stand, April 2015
4. Vogelmonster Baseball Card Box, November 2017
5. Bat Rack, December 2017
6. Cat "Tree" #2, April 2019

The TV stand, card box, and bat rack can all be found in my man room. My work isn't the most ornate, but it's mine and I love it.

I think what I enjoy the most is the planning process. I spent more than a handful of nights last month drawing pictures, running through measurements, and starting over from scratch when a new idea hit.

I started and finished this piece, another one for my man room, during this winter break from teaching.

Here's what I was looking to replace in the man room: my end table.
This piece of furniture was actually something I believe came with me, from my parents' house, when I moved out 20+ years ago. Once upon a time it had a mate, but it was worse for wear and I put it out to pasture some years ago.

Here's what I started with:
You know, just your standard boards of pine cut to specifications. After running the saw and sanding down the edges the workroom was full of saw dust! Making a mess is so much fun!

The next step was to drill the holes for the screws to join the boards together.

I've used this Kreg jig tool before. It's really easy to use and helps hide screws so well.
 Plus, it creates more saw dust!

After cleaning the workroom up it was time to stain, and sand, and stain again. I really dislike this process, but wife kept encouraging me and I'm thankful she did.
A stained board is on the left and the original is on the right. I used a 2-in-1 stain and polyurethane product that worked fairly well. 

I spent this past Sunday afternoon assembling the end table.
It turned out alright if you ask me. Honestly, the sense of accomplishment when a page full of scribbles turns into a finished product is a great self-esteem boost.

Here's the before and after. I found new homes for my softball glove and the other items you see on the old end table.
 The new table is build specifically to hold ten baseball card binders, or nine and my Chromebook. I know neither of the picture shows it, but each shelf within the table holds two binders, with access from the front and the back of the table.

The binders in the front are designated for the ones I reach for the most. In the picture (top to bottom) is my Vogelmonster binder, my Kerry Wood binder, my 2016 World Series binder, and my Sandberg binder.

The five slots on the back are empty right now, and now there's also four vacant slots within my card closet. That means there's room for NINE more binders! For those of you wondering, my HOF binder is taking up one of the two slots in my TV stand, which is quite the prestigious location.

I'm very pleased with this project and I'm looking forward to playing with my binders and eventually filling those holes!

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Feel Good PWE on a Monday

Is there a better feeling than coming home from work on a Monday and finding a PWE in your mailbox?
My favorite John Kruk fan, and author of Baseball Every Night, sent me a couple of cards. Woo-Hoo!
 I needed this Kintzler for my Cubs team set. Very nice.

But here's what really made me smile.
Vogey!  Um, I mean, The Vogelmonster!  (When I say "Vogey" like that I believe I'm stepping too far into the fanboy zone.)

Thanks for thinking of me Peter and have fun in the PNW!

Friday, January 3, 2020

A Ratio Dilemma

Yesterday a PWE landed in my mailbox and the return address read: Luis Torrens Fan Club. Hmmm... I think we all know who the president, VP, secretary, treasurer and media relations guru of the Luis Torrens Fan Club is, but if there's any doubt, then here's a quick link to ZZ's blog.

The PWE yielded some most excellent bounty.

Up first, a Dexter Fowler rookie card.
I miss Dex atop the Cubs lineup. He hasn't had the most productive time in St. Louis. I wonder if he misses Chicago.

A 2019 Topps insert of Ryne Sandberg:
 Perennial All-Stars? I think Ryno fits that description quite well as he was elected to ten straight mid-summer classics.

Ah, this card is the best!  Don Zimmer, as a third base coach, swatting Sandberg on the a$$ while he rounds third.
Undeniably, this is the content you came here to see! What a great card!  For the record, I'm now up to 941 unique Sandberg cards in my collection. If I were in a goal setting mood I would ramble on about how acquiring 59 more cards would put me at an arbitrary round number.  Lucky for you, I'm not into setting goals in 2020.

Thanks for the surprise PWE, Zippy Zappy!

When it comes to baseball cards and the magical PWE I pride myself in reciprocating. Yet, here's a link to Zippy Zappy's recent post about his goals for 2020 wherein he writes:

Well, isn't that something? Now you see where my dilemma comes into play.

Do I send cards or do I not send cards?  

Obviously, ZZ is cutting stock and maybe that's why I received the PWE. He's glad to get the cards out his house.

Is he hoping I don't send anything back?

Or maybe he's counting on me to continue my PWE ways and he's hoping I return the favor so he's forced to jettison more cardboard?

Then, there's the fallout of what happens if I do decide to send cards his way. If I send a half-dozen cards, then someone unsuspecting blogger (like @Lost_Collector) gets dumped on 15-fold because you know ZZ is not messing around when it comes to his annual goals. Can I live with that kind of guilt?

Wow. When I was young I was looking forward to 2020 because I was convinced everyone would have a flying car by then. Instead, I'm dealing with cardboard dilemmas.

Perhaps the two aren't mutually exclusive and I'll have my flying card before the year is out? Or maybe ZZ will chime in within the comments and I can stop trying to read between the lines.

Either way, I'm not quite sure what to think about 2020 so far.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your weekend.