Over the past year, I've gotten to know a good share of bloggers and what they collect.
I have a big stack of cards on my dresser, one that contains all the miscellaneous "pieces" I've been setting aside for fellow members of the blogosphere.
Other bloggers have initiated a lot of the trades I've completed during my time here. Somewhat unwittingly, I've found that once you initiate a trade with me, you're added to the "stack".
Once I complete a trade with another blogger, I start looking out for more cards to send his or her way in the future.
I'm always up for initiating a good swap, though. With winter break and all, I should have more time to do that in the coming weeks.
For the most part, my trades are initiated because of a couple reasons.
1) When I feel that I have enough material for another blogger to warrant a good trade package.
2) When the trade stack starts getting too big.
3) When I simply feel the itch to make a couple trades.
The most recent swap I completed was probably some sort of mash-up of those three.
Last week, I contacted Mark of "This Way to the Clubhouse..." to find out if he'd be interested in a possible trade.
He runs one of my favorite blogs in the blogosphere, without a doubt.
And since he collects a lot of the same guys I do, I always seem to have some extra cards to send his way. All of the extra Vlads and Oleruds I've accumulated over the years seem to have Mark's name on them.
Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling that I've made it into Mark's "trade stack" as well. He always seems to have some good stuff to send my way.
The only specific thing I requested for this swap was a few 2012 Gold Sparkles/Gold borders. Mark definitely succeeded in that department, as the above Gordon Beckham gold parallel is one of the new "highlights" of my White Sox binder.
However, the rest of what Mark sent didn't really have much rhyme or reason to it. A little of this, a little of that, and some of the other.
As I've found, those are my favorite types of packages to receive.
Unlike my trading forum days, the swaps I've made in the blogosphere don't consistently revolve around my player or set needs.
Of course, I love to get any hits to my specific "set needs" and such, but they're definitely not a "must" for any potential trade partner.
As Mark put it in the email he sent, he simply included some cards he simply thought I'd "get a kick out of".
And, as many of my readers probably know, I get a "kick" out of a lot of different things in this hobby.
I can never refuse a new "behind the camera" card for my collection.
These actually aren't as rare as you'd probably think. I've seen numerous examples of these over the years.
Still, no matter how many are out there, every single example I can find will always be welcome in this household.
The ones in my collection range from the likes of Larry Walker to Trevor Hoffman.
And now to Al Osuna.
I certainly get a huge "kick" out of these.
Was Delino DeShields a ballet dancer in his pre-baseball days?
Judging from the shot on that one, I wouldn't be too surprised if that were the case.
One thing I'd never known about before my trek into the blogosphere was the existence of those Topps magazine cards. I've started to acquire more and more of them over the past few months.
Mark added a great new "celebration" piece to my Twins binder with that one.
Then again, any blue-bordered card is a great addition to my binders.
Every once in a while, a blogger will send me a card that catches me off-guard.
One that makes me wonder...
"How the heck had I never known about this one before?"
This was one of those special pieces of cardboard.
Even with my interest in stunning stadium shots, I had never known of this card's existence until Mark's package arrived a few days ago.
The back of it chronicles the striking story of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, one that happened to occur during the A's-Giants World Series that year.
I still get the chills every time I see that famous video of Al Michaels' interrupted broadcast during that day's pre-game show.
However, since I wasn't around yet when the earthquake hit, I don't know if I could ever fully grasp the utter craziness of the whole situation.
I'm led to believe that it was one of those "you had to be there" moments.
It's safe to say that this is now one of the most "historic" cards in my collection.
For his participation in Pinnacle's "Sidelines" subset, pitcher John Burkett was shown in the process of delivering a different kind of "strike".
A bowling "strike".
[Insert Big Lebowski quote here]
The back notes that he bowled "three 300 games" and "aspires to turn pro when his baseball career is over".
Trouble is, I can't get past that neon pink shirt he's wearing.
The Marc Newfield/Rondell White combo card is one of the better posed shots I've seen in a long time. The addition of the "Seattle/Montreal" street sign is certainly a nice touch.
I usually don't like "combo" cards, but I'll make an exception for that one.
These are both cards I've seen around the blogosphere in the past.
You can include the O'Brien card amongst the "historic" ranks of cardboard, as that shot marks the first appearance of the hockey-style catcher's mask in the game of baseball.
I have to believe the Hameliin was meant as a joke. I can't honestly think Pinnacle said, "Yup, that's the best shot we've got. Let's use that one."
If so, it's good to know that some card companies still had a sense of humor. Even with all the other craziness that was going on during the '90s.
Although neither of these guys are a part of my binders, I've wanted to nab copies of both of these for a while now.
Thanks to Mark, that quest is now over.
Even with all the terrific cardboard I've showcased thus far, I have to say that I got the biggest "kick" out of this one.
It's a perfect example of why Stadium Club is so widely revered in this hobby.
Great, clean, action-filled photography is something I highly value in my collecting ways. This card of Mr. Raines certainly has all of that, and then some.
That's not even mentioning my love for horizontal cards. And "plays at the plate".
And the White Sox.
I stared at this card for a good thirty seconds after it fell out of the mailer.
That's how you know you've got a true "masterpiece" on your hands.
So, to put it lightly, Mark managed to send me a nice grouping of cards.
One that included gold parallels, guys behind the camera, earthquakes, bowling, goalie-style catcher's masks, and "plays at the plate".
Like I said, it was a little of this, a little of that, and some of the other.
When all is said and done, that's all I could ever ask for out of a trade package.