Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Anatomy of a Baseball Card: Randy Johnson 1989 Upper Deck


I picked up this well known rookie card out of a dime box last weekend. Upon further inspection, it's clear that the card is in less than perfect shape. I could be kicking myself for not grabbing the other copy that was waiting in the dime box, but what do I really need with two Randy Johnson rookie cards? What do I need with one? Who's to say that either of them were in great shape? This is a card that goes for about 75 cents in allegedly great shape on, despite it's theoretical "book value" of $8 as determined by a council of evil over at Beckett headquarters.

Randy Johnson could be regular folk, but he mostly has always looked like carny folk. No matter when or where he could try and fit in, he was always going to be an incredibly tall but spindly lefty who could throw Chapman-like fastballs sustained over 7 or 8 eight innings. He did it for a long time, and he made the Hall of Fame despite Growing Up Mariner. Randy even played for the Expos, man.

I'm not entirely sure what a combination basketball/baseball scholarship is, but I'm pretty sure it's not something that could exist today -- especially not at a major school like USC. Despite the fact that a well-rounded athletic career seems to be as suitable as a balanced breakfast, young athletes seemed to be pushed more and more towards one specialization. There will probably never be another Dave Winfield, let alone a Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson.

Randy Johnson's #25 may never be as interesting as card #1 from Upper Deck's inaugural set, but he did a lot better for himself than Ramon Martinez or Felix Jose. Both of those cards were hot items at one point in my life, but Martinez is best known as Pedro's brother and Jose still sounds like someone accidentally reversed his first and last names.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My First Ozzie Smith Auto

The title says it all. 

As you may recall, I ran into a rare bit of luck recently and pulled a nice Michael Conforto auto. While my eyes initially turned to dollar signs like one of those greedy guys in the old singing frog Looney Tunes cartoons, I was quickly presented with an offer I couldn't refuse. Deep down, I'm in this for the fun of it, and it's honestly more fun to send someone a valuable card (on the rare chance that I get one) who really wants it rather than sell it to some random person I'll never interact with outside of a financial transation. Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown was the one to pounce, and he presented me with my very Ozzie Smith certified autograph, along with a bunch of other cool Cardinals stuffs. (My apologies for the scan, but I wasn't about to bust the thing out of its case and spill some beer on it or whatever.)

1994 Collector's Choice is firmly in junk wax territory even though it came out after I stopped paying attention. That said, the silver and gold signature parallels can be a tough find, especially the gold ones.

Some years ago, some kind blogger interviewed me via email and asked me some questions about the then-current state of the Cardinals. Of all of the players I could've chosen from at the time, I thought I'd sound smart and say that Daryl Jones was the big up-and-comer. I was not right. Gavin sent over this Topps Pro Debut card of the former DJ Tools, along with a pile of other Pro Debut cards that I didn't have. I love minor league cards, I really do. So much promise... and strange names. Daryl's name is pretty ordinary, though.

Just gonna say... '90s style mushroom trip?

Luke Weaver status report: still on the minor league DL with a busted wrist. Could be back soon, though?

This is the real Archives deal. For the cards released from 2012-present, Topps should have just stuck with the Lineage name because they're not at all the same thing as the old Topps Archives. Also, I have to say, I'm not much of a jersey wearing guy, but I would love to own a Cardinals jersey like that one.

Apparently there's an early '90s oddball Orioles set commemorating past players, and they couldn't actually find a Baltimore picture of this guy? Well, he goes in my Cardinals binder. Sorry, O's fans.

Shelby has super duper struggled with the Diamondbacks this year, a season after he was an All-Star with Atlanta who had the strange distinction of going 6-17.

My first Cardinals game seen in person happened to be So Taguchi's MLB debut back in 2002 in Seattle. The Cards are back in Seattle this June for the first time since then, and I've got plans to make it to the entire series.

Fernando "2 Grand Slams in 1 Inning" Tatis has a signature that would make most doctors envious.

Long before there was Panini's Prizm, we had Pacific's Prism. This card is really, really bright!

Finally, Gavin sent over two customs of The Wizard, including this '91 Upper Deck style from Ozzie's memorable trip to the void of Simpsons existence, the dreaded Mystery Spot. Actual real life ballplayers who I'd wish would take a trip to the Mystery Spot: Bryce Harper, Jonathan Papelbon, Brandon Phillips, Kris Bryant, pretty much all of the Cubs roster...

Go crazy, folks! You may have also heard that Gavin caught a little heat for selling some of these great creations of his, so I want to stress that these were sent to me completely free and without any financial incentive. (Not that, uh, we should feel all that sorry for Upper Deck for all their past shenanigans.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Celebrating a Blazers playoff win with a Listia win. 

I picked this 'Sheed card up off of Listia (yeah, I still use it) the other day, and it was waiting in the mailbox for me tonight when I got home from watching the Blazers/Clippers playoff game down at the local watering hole. The Blazers have now won three straight playoff games for the first time since this guy was the star of the team.

This is a piece of game-worn... (drumroll, please...)... warm-up jacket! If your guess was shorts, sorry, maybe next time?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Late to the Party: Heritage Edition

My annual "I finally bought some Topps Heritage" post. 

Last month's Loot Locker packs notwithstanding, last week was my first opportunity to actually dig in to this year's Topps Heritage set. I don't really sweat the timing of it all, to be perfectly honest. I know that, for example, Gypsy Queen is already out, but it's not like I'm going to be buying much of that. On a quick trip to Target, I snagged a blaster and a $9.99 35-card box (whatever those are called) and was on my merry way.

Big Papi's Chrome insert was in the very first pack. This will probably make some Red Sox fan happy as I don't tend to hang on to these unless they're a candidate for my team or player collections. Ideally, I'm a Heritage master set builder, but I draw a line at chrome-y gloss because it doesn't really fit the spirit of the Heritage brand. (If you have Cardinals stuff like this, then we should probably talk!)

This may look familiar, because I also pulled a King Felix SP in one of my two Loot Locker hobby packs.

It seems like Joey Bats and King Felix always get the SP treatment. It's almost as if Topps thinks no one would chase short printed cards of some team's poor backup catcher.

I was pretty excited when I heard about things like "stand-ups" and "discs" being retail inserts in this year's Heritage set. So, imagine my confusion (and dismay) when I pulled this stupid card that is just pretending to be something. The "stand-up" design is just that - a design. This doesn't fold out or punch out into anything. Totally pointless.

On the bright side, I don't think Topps Heritage on-card autographs are never going to not be awesome. I always gripe about there not being any Marlins fans or collectors out there, but this is the one time it doesn't matter because I'm probably keeping this.

In it's 16th year, this New Age Performers design is kind of a yawner, I'm afraid.


The $9.99 hangar-pack-or-whatever actually netted me my only Cardinals card of the day. This is a nice photo, but an even better one would've been of Carlos Martinez giving a home run hitter the requisite cup-of-water-in-the-face.

I didn't know Eddie Mathews ever played for the Astros! I learned stuff.

When you see a card of a star player in the middle of the pack, you just know it's going to be a short print. Pretty predictable, guys.

Tulo has had a dreadful start to his career with the Blue Jays, but at least he's not injured, right? Right?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Anatomy of a Baseball Card: Michael Jordan 1990 "White Sox"

The greatest basketball player impersonating a baseball player. 

Before he entertained the idea for real, Michael Jordan apparently did a photo op with the Chicago White Sox, taking batting practice and pressing the flesh. It's the sort of thing that Billy Crystal does every year. Someone got really excited about it and made a baseball card or two out of the blurry photos. Crummy unlicensed cards were pretty popular at the beginning of the '90s, also the era of the Simpsons bootleg t-shirt.

This one comes complete with stats, but that's not the most impressive thing about it. Some SABR geek had the wherewithal to compute MJ's impressive basketball stats into totally legitimate "Baseball Stats". Someone must have had a blast working on that rebounds-to-RBI formula.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spring Cleaning 2016 is Coming

How do you organize your cards? 

Have I been doing things all wrong? Recently, I began organizing my doubles from sets I am trying to collect by team instead of in number order. I started doing this as part of last year's semi-successful Spring Cleaning trade-off. I've kept things going in that regard, and it's helped me find quick fodder for team collectors when I am trying to stuff a padded envelope.

Some recent blog perusings got me thinking: should I be doing this with the rest of my cards? Should I bother keeping my 2002 cards separate from the 2001 cards? Should I still keep them grouped by set, alphabetically, by year and by card number? There's almost no point to me continuing to do this when I don't collect these sets, unless a lot of people have a lot of want lists for me to look through.

I could even take things further and start recycling cards from certain sets and certain years (hello, late '80 and early '90s!) It's kind of hard to do that in the day and age when someone is literally trying to collect every single Tim Wallach card out there. Maybe someone out there really needs a 1990 Topps Bryan Clutterbuck. And some cards might be more recyclable than others just on the environmental side of things. I'm not sure that glossy UV coating is going to pulp up really well.

In any case, I recently unearthed an old box of weirdness that's going to serve as the launching point for this year's Spring Cleaning efforts. More details to come next week, but I'm going to basically list a bunch of things on the blog here in lots for people to claim, and all you have to do is send me a minimum of one card from my want list. (If you're on that spreadsheet that's been going around, you don't even need to send me anything because I know you're good for it.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


The Cardinals are playing like clowns right now, so here are some jokes. 





I get jokes.

(Thanks to Waiting 'til Next Year for the, er, humor.)