My thoughts right now can basically be summed up in five simple words.
Thank God for summer vacation.
After a couple weeks' worth of continuous studying, worrying, and test-taking, being able to simply kick back these last few days has been nothing short of fantastic.
And, of course, this newfound free time has allowed me to catch up on some much-needed cardboard matters.
Specifically, it's finally time to start making some progress on posting these backlogged trade packages I've accumulated over the past month or so.
Jeff, fellow Illinoisian and the mind behind the great blog "2 by 3 Heroes", was nice enough to send me a trade package recently. And, by recently, I mean about a month ago.
Although I'm only getting to them now, Jeff did manage to send a bunch of great cardboard "heroes" my way. As I've found, he's one of the best at hitting my many mini-collection needs.
This '98 Score Mark McLemore is a terrific new addition to my (surprisingly) expansive "behind the camera" theme.
Just another of the fads '90s cardboard brought us.
Both of these are superb hits to my "cards with kids" and "autograph" collections.
I wish I had the power to revive a few past trends in this hobby. As I've always said, bringing back Topps Total would be my number one priority.
However, one of the more subtle changes I'd make is a revival of the "cards with kids" theme. While I'd have to check, you could probably count the number of them we've seen in recent years on one hand.
They're great shots that give them a glimpse of the ballplayer outside the lines.
And I want them back.
While we're on the topic of my "autograph" collection, here's one of the better specimens I've seen.
Although Wrigley Field is a pretty common setting for cardboard these days, I can't say I remember seeing a card that showcases the visitor's bullpen area of the ballpark.
As you can see, Adam Eaton's 2006 UD issue features him signing for fans along the famous brick wall in foul territory.
Man, do I love Wrigley Field.
Here's an always-appreciated new find for my "pitchers at the plate" collection. Still, if you think about it, this is one of the more interesting cards of the sort you'll ever find.
Roger Salkeld enjoyed a rather short big-league career. And, if you're wondering, I hadn't heard of him before Jeff dropped this gem onto my doorstep.
For one thing, you don't see posed shots of pitchers with a bat too often. Card companies understandably go for the generic "throwing motion" shot in most cases.
Plus, as you'll note, Salkeld was a Seattle Mariner in 1994, an American League club. In the post-DH/pre-interleague era, AL pitchers didn't get to hit a whole lot.
Not surprisingly, Salkeld never took a single at-bat in his two years with the Mariners.
Which makes this one of the greatest "pitcher at the plate" cards in existence.
Another gem from '94 Upper Deck.
While I haven't officially made it a mini-collection yet, I've taken to pulling these "Can you hear me now?" phone-themed cards from dime boxes as of late.
Mr. Hrbek here is the newest member of the club.
Where do I even start with this one?
The mullet. The roided-up biceps. The rare "weight room" shot. The meager 7 1/2 pound weight. The awful tan. The soul-crushing "Canseco glare". The ad-filled outfield wall in the backdrop.
The list just goes on and on.
More than perhaps any other card I've seen, this piece is so bad...
That it's actually kind of good.
If you're tired of reading about my odd, weird, and downright quirky mini-collections, here's a dose of "everyday collecting" for you.
I'd bet most hobbyists out there have at least a few player collections that they take to heart. Both Mark Grace and Gary Carter are a couple of mine.
Plus, it's not every day that you get to see "The Kid" in Dodgers gear.
As has unwittingly become custom with my trade posts lately, I've taken to saving the best for last.
And, without a doubt, Mr. Abbott here was my favorite card from Jeff's latest batch of cardboard.
Yes, I understand I've long knocked the Gypsy Queen brand on this blog. Yes, I know I was quoted as feeling "shorted" by these rather bland "No-Hitters" inserts. And, no, I don't plan on buying any more GQ in the near future.
But, come on, folks.
It's a Jim Abbott card.
I have to give Gypsy Queen some points for that.
Now that I think of it, I can't remember the last time Mr. Abbott popped up in a recent checklist. Word is that he has a base card in this year's GQ release as well. (Although I have yet to find a copy.)
Although I never thought I'd say this, well...
Thank you, Gypsy Queen.
And, thank you, Jeff, for a wonderful trade package.
Now, if you read Jeff's blog, you probably know that he usually closes out his posts with some sort of video clip. Usually of the musical variety.
Some music fans may recognize the title of this post as a lyric from a fairly famous song. I just recently discovered it, in fact.
Plus, it fits in rather well with the title of Jeff's blog.
And the entire concept of my collection, at that.
After all, it's not every day that you see guys like Roger Salkeld recognized in this hobby.