Winning is one of the greatest feelings in life.
No, I'm not talking about the Charlie Sheen version of "winning".
I'm talking about pretty much everything besides that.
They tried to tell me that winning didn't matter in Little League. Now, I didn't become one of those uber-competetive kids that I'm sure we all knew growing up, but it sure felt good to come out with a victory every now and again.
I played a few years of floor hockey during my pre-teen years as well. The team I played for during my final "season" finished with a record of 0-8-1. It was a lot of fun just being able to run around like a madman a couple times a week (that's the best way I can describe a game of floor hockey), but the fact that we couldn't even win one measly game still stays with me to this day.
Then there was the time I won the Ryne Sandberg autographed ball at a Cubs game. Seeing the phrase "You are a winner!" plastered across that scratch-off contest ticket felt pretty good.
Yes, I've won my share of card-related contests over the years, something which I've already chronicled on this blog.
But in that regard, the blogosphere has taught me another important lesson.
Winning isn't everything.
I'm by no means a selfish person. Quite the opposite, I think.
Still, in my years of collecting, I'd never thought to hold a contest of my own. I'd never thought to bring the feel of a "contest" to someone else for a change.
After my first few glorious months of basking in the generosity of fellow bloggers, I decided to pull the trigger on my first-ever contest.
It was the least I could do.
The winner was blogger TTG, author of the terrific Padres-themed blog "Friars on Cardboard".
It turns out that those "winnings" I sent him have really gone a long way.
Ever since then, he's been nice enough to send random packages to me from time to time, as a little "thanks" for the cards I sent him after that fateful contest.
In an odd paradoxical turn of events, that contest has netted me some great cards for my own collection, as the cards TTG sends me never cease to surprise me.
Another spectacular group of cards (and other items) arrived on my doorstep a couple afternoons ago, the work of none other than TTG.
He always seems to find some more odd cards to send my way, like the above Triple Play Felix Jose. (Unintentional group of rhymes there.)
I've gone the first twenty years of my life without wearing eyeblack, and I intend for it to stay that way in the future.
That has to be the first time I've seen the process of applying eyeblack on a baseball card.
Although Felix Jose isn't a part of my "binders", this one still fits perfectly into my collection of wild and crazy cards.
That wasn't the only one, though.
As much as I tried, I couldn't get this one to scan straight.
I have a little thing with getting my scans properly lined up, but I'll have to live with this for now. (Much thanks to Paul from "Wrigley Wax" for sending me a more straightened picture of this one!)
I did a post a few weeks ago on what exactly defines a baseball card. The hobby has provided us with cards of all shapes and sizes over the years, but can you really classify all of them as "baseball cards"?
My answer is a definitive yes.
TTG's most recent surprise group of cards included just the third circular issue I own with the above "King B" Barry Bonds oddball.
I have TTG's generosity to than for two-thirds of my circular card collection, as he also sent me the peanut butter-themed Derek Jeter I showcased in my "defining a baseball card" post.
In fact, it's probably the first time I've been happy to see a Barry Bonds card.
Even amongst all the wackiness, TTG still manages to include a little bit of normalcy in the cards he sends me with a few adds to my various player collections.
He managed to add about six or seven new pieces to my budding Darryl Kile collection, including one from the underrated 1991 Leaf set.
Ever since I announced him as one of my new binder "inductees", my Mike/Giancarlo Stanton collection has improved by leaps and bounds.
At the time I made this post, I believe my Stanton card count sat at a whopping two different issues.
With the latest "Gold Futures" addition, courtesy of TTG, I now own 18 different cards of Stanton.
I've come a long way.
Let it be known that this was the first time I'd ever received an actual ticket from a fellow blogger.
One of my life's dreams is to visit all 30 major league ballparks. In that regard, I'm probably similar to a lot of other baseball fans out there.
If that never happens, at least I can say I have a ticket from PNC Park, thanks to a pleasant surprise from TTG.
Incidentally, should my dreams of the ultimate "baseball road trip" ever come to fruition, Pittsburgh would be one of my first stops.
If I were to update my post detailing what I've learned during my time as a blogger, I'd instantly add "pay it forward" to that list.
It felt great sending out the "winnings" after I held my contest, knowing that the recipient would cherish those cards a whole lot more than I ever could.
Never did I think that he'd wind up sending me such great pieces to my collection after the fact.
Once I hit the 100 followers mark on this blog, I'm planning on holding another contest.
Again, it's the least I can do for everything the blogosphere has done for me.