Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sooner or later

I've often thought about starting another blog.

A few card-related ideas have swept through my head in the past. I've kicked around the thought of starting one entirely devoted to my non-baseball collection, featuring A&G's quirky subjects or cards from my American Heritage complete sets.

Still, the idea that keeps coming back to me is starting a blog about music. My two true passions are, in fact, baseball and music. It's something I've mentioned many times in the past around here.

But, as of right now, that idea hasn't come to fruition. I just don't know if I could handle writing for two different blogs. I imagine it'd be quite the time crunch.

So, although I try best I can to mix them with cardboard, you'll have to hear some of my musical ramblings on this blog every now and then. In fact, that's exactly what we have with tonight's post.

I've noticed something throughout my music-loving years. For whatever reason, I almost always seem to like the earlier efforts of bands over their later recordings. I'd say it's true with about 95 percent of the groups I listen to on a regular basis.

I'm actually having a hard time thinking of any group who doesn't fit into that category. Perhaps local natives Cheap Trick would be in there. I'm drawing a blank on any others.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not saying I don't like any later material of my favorite bands. It's just that, in most cases, I enjoy their earlier stuff that much more.

The Ramones are a good example. Tied for my all-time favorite band (with a group I'll mention in a bit), their first three albums completely blow away anything they did afterwards. It's not much of a contest.

Their first album is most likely my all-time favorite in the history of music.

Oh, and remember when I mentioned that The Ramones were tied for my favorite band?

I'll bet you've heard of the other group.

I think I'm in the minority with this one.

Most people I've talked to seem to enjoy the later Beatles more than their "moptop" days. And I completely see why.

Their innovations in the recording studio were certainly more technical and advanced as their careers progressed.

I still find it amazing that they could get the kind of sound they did on "A Day in the Life" or "Strawberry Fields Forever" without the kind of recording equipment we take for granted these days.

Truthfully, it's a tough call for me. The Beatles are probably the most consistent band ever. You can't go wrong with any of their material.

Still, there's just something about their earlier days that I like. Most of the time, I'm just a sucker for catchy tunes.

I guess that's why the "moptop" period has always struck such a powerful chord with me.

R.E.M. is easily my favorite band from the '80s.

As far as the mainstream is concerned, they hit their peak right around the later part of the decade. "Losing My Religion" remains arguably their biggest hit.

But, if you ask me, they topped out a few years before that. I'd probably draw a lot of flack from R.E.M. fans for this, but I've never liked "Losing My Religion" or "Everybody Hurts".

Although other later hits, such as "Man on the Moon" and "It's the End of the World (As We Know It)" are two of my favorite songs ever, I've always preferred their earlier material.

"Gardening At Night" is probably my single favorite R.E.M. track, although "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" is starting to nip at its heels.

Plus, guitarist Peter Buck is probably the coolest person in music history.

Just thought I'd mention that.

So, in relation to my music tastes, I asked myself the same question about my cardboard.

Do I like certain players' early cards more than their later material?

In the case of Dave Concepcion, yes. From what I can tell, he hit his cardboard peak earlier on in his career.

His '74 Topps issue is easily one of the single greatest cards from that year's checklist.

Again, I'm not saying Concepcion didn't have any good later cards.

These two are pretty awesome. (As is his '87 Topps issue, which is currently a gaping hole in my collection and a "Dime Box Dozen" need.)

But, by and large, most of them simply can't measure up to his early "hits".

Upon digging through my binders over the last couple days, however, I discovered something interesting.

Guys like Mr. Concepcion are exceptions to the rule.

For the most part, I seem to prefer players' later cardboard to their earlier ones. Personally, I think it's because most stars take a few years to break into the "mainstream" of baseball.

And, as you probably know, most lesser-name players aren't granted many exciting cards in this hobby. Until they hit the mainstream, that is.

Dennis Eckersley had a perfectly acceptable 1976 season, going 13-12 with a 3.43 ERA with the Tribe that year. Yet, as far as the photo goes, his '77 Topps issue isn't really a standout piece. (Save for perhaps those awful "Bloody Mary" Indians jerseys.)

It wasn't until later that "Eck" started to hit his cardboard stride.

While he had a terrific career as a starter early on, Eckersley is a HOFer because of his later days as a closer.

Many of his post-starter cards are things of beauty.

At least when he wasn't making the "Eck face", that is.

This was a tough call for me.

Harmon Killebrew was like The Beatles when it came to cardboard. He always seemed to produce stellar cards throughout the course of his career.

I'm extremely honored to have such a beautiful (and well-loved) 1958 Topps piece in my collection. I seem to look at this particular card almost every day.


I have to give the nod to later cards of "Killer".

Heck, his last three cards may have been his three greatest.

Above is his monstrous '73 Topps issue, my personal favorite. His '74 features a terrific action hitting shot. And his '75 "sunset" issue shows him signing autographs for a few lucky fans, something that is always a plus in my book.

Those alone are enough to give his later cardboard the edge.

While it's a bit harder to gauge for more recent players, I've found that the same is true for current stars as well.

Even in today's hobby, I find myself enjoying later issues more.

Case in point, Ichiro. He was indeed featured on quite a few cool cards during his first five (or so) years in the bigs.

Ichiro's 2005 Topps issue is one of his better moments in cardboard.

Still, while he may not be the player he once was nowadays, his cardboard seems to be rising in quality.

His 2012 Topps issue was one of the better cards of the previous year, if you ask me. One of the better "at the wall" cards in my collection, no doubt.

Curiously, he hasn't had any cards issued in 2013 thus far. I sure hope Topps didn't screw something up with that.

If the last few years have been any indication, he still has quite a few prime years of cardboard to go.

So, although my two passions in life do parallel each other in a lot of different facets, this isn't one of them.

Later material gets the nod with cardboard. Recent digs through my binders made that painfully obvious to me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to some early R.E.M. Perhaps a little "So. Central Rain" will do the trick.

When it comes to music, earlier is better.

At least to me, anyways.


Jeff said...

My two favorite pcs are Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan. Carew's cards were all pretty standard. Nothing stands out. 90% of Ryan's cards in the 80's were a pic of his pitching motion. you could probably line them up and see the whole pitch. But his 74 is a standout for me.

I'll send you a 87 Concepcion.

BaseSetCalling said...

just wait till you discover the joys of collecting R.E.M. 45s, though you can't find them in the dime box. Catapult / Rockville (live) is probably my favorite. And I still like End of the Century (Ramones).

The short-print of Ichiro in '12 Update is probably one of my favorite cards of the last 3 years.

Fuji said...

I could blog about vinyl & cardboard 365 days a year. Great stuff.

petethan said...

Not surprisingly, we share some tastes in music. I started out much preferring later-day Beatles, but have gravitated toward the earlier stuff as I've aged. I'm also a huge REM fan. But I think their greatness came in waves. Love their old stuff, but I think Automatic for the People is their masterpiece. And after a dry period, I think their final two albums were excellent.

Michael Chase said...

I love your musical flavor posts, even though I'm not big on some of your favorite bands, I certainly have great respect and admiration for what they have done for the music industry and how they have touched the lives of millions around the world.

I think if you did a music related blog, it would be a hit for sure.