I've traded with many different people during my time here in the blogosphere.
Given the sheer volume of swaps, I lost track of the exact number long ago. While it might not be a bad idea to go back through this blog's archives and get an exact number of trading partners, an educated guess is the best I'd fare right about now.
At the very least, it has to be a few dozen. Perhaps even in 50 to 60-trader territory. And I'm sure there's an absolute boatload of awesome people around here with whom I haven't yet dealt.
That's part of the fun, though. Finding new trading partners is one of the constant sources of joy I get here in the blogosphere.
Still, it's just as awesome (if not more so) to find a package in the mail from former trade buddies and longtime friends of the blog. Mark, author of the superb blog "This Way to the Clubhouse...", may be at the top of the list in that regard.
Every so often, he'll send over a new batch of cardboard without any warning whatsoever. It happened again a couple weeks ago.
Mark always manages to find loads and loads of random cards to send my way. Cards that don't have anything in common. Well, except for one thing, of course.
They're always awesome. Take a gander at that Vince Coleman masterpiece if you don't believe me.
Just another great chapter in the vast story of Stadium Club greatness.
Mark has long been one of the better hitmen around when it comes to my mini-collections.
The Clayton, as you can tell, is a nice addition to my "throwback" theme. Meanwhile, Mr. Girardi is the focus of one of the better plays at the plate I've received in a long time.
An emphatic ump call is a special bonus when it comes to shots like those.
Adding to Stadium Club's awesomeness is that "double dip" Billy Ripken.
Constantly overshadowed by his brother, the younger Ripken may not have been the greatest player during his time. But, as I've found in my brief time collecting him, he certainly received some kick-ass cardboard along the way.
Buck Weaver is probably my favorite (and the most tragic) figure from the famous story of the 1919 "Black Sox". Behind The Sandlot, Eight Men Out is far and away the best baseball movie ever made, if you ask me.
And, as if that weren't enough, John Cusack has long been one of my favorite actors. (High Fidelity, anyone?)
Taking all that into account, you can probably see why that Pacific "Eight Men Out" card was one of my most cherished cards from Mark's latest package.
As if he needed more encouragement, Mark now has even more random cards to chase for me.
And it's all thanks to my recent frankenset quest.
While he managed to find a slew of new cardboard for my various "keeper" team binders, Mark also sent me an equally budding stack of potential frankenset nominees.
As I've found with the whole project, you can get lucky sometimes. Slot #162 was previously barren before this neat card of former Cubs farmhand Ozzie Timmons came around. Slotting him into the binder was a fairly painless experience.
What they don't tell you about the frankenset business, however, is the massive number of tough decisions you have to make in the process.
Many times, two awesome cards are forced to compete for the same slot. I've had to give quite a few fantastic pieces of cardboard their walking papers in this quest thus far.
They're what I like to call my "frankenset wars".
And, for better or worse, they come with the territory of such a project.
In his recent trade package, Mark provided me with quite a few interesting frankenset matchups.
Let's take a look, shall we?
From Mark: 1991 Stadium Club #138 Eric Show
Previous slot holder: 1992 Leaf #138 Delino DeShields
This wasn't a horribly tough decision for me.
The DeShields is no doubt one awesome card. (And one that, incidentally, was part of a past trade package from Mark.)
Still, the Show is a card I'd long coveted for my "putting the band back together" mini-collection. While fairly scarce, the former Padre pitcher joins a handful of other ballplayers showcasing their love for music on cardboard.
I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgable on the topic of music equipment. Still, I wrongly thought that the guitar Show is sporting there was of the George Harrison-esque Gretch brand.
After bring the card to my dad, an expert on the subject, I was quickly told that the "axe" is in fact a Gibson. The exact model, though, eluded even my dad, which leads me to believe Show's was some sort of custom design.
In a fairly painless matchup, Show earns his very own slot in my frankenset binder.
I'm guessing he's there to stay, too.
From Mark: 1991 Stadium Club #259 Shane Mack
Previous slot holder: 1992 Upper Deck #259 Al Osuna
If Mark keeps on finding great ones to send my way, I'll bet my franksenset binder will be filled to the brim with '91 Stadium Club before too long.
As much as I love the "behind the camera" Osuna (which was also a part of Mark's aforementioned trade package with the DeShields), I have to give the nod to Mr. Mack.
Like Billy Ripken, Shane Mack received quite a few awesome cards during what was a fairly average career.
I can't pinpoint exactly where that particular shot could've been taken. The empty, tan-filled background almost leads me to believe it was snapped somewhere in the Sahara desert.
It doesn't even look like a ballpark.
Still, the sheer oddity of this one is what made it a terrific add to my frankenset.
From Mark: 1992 Score #331 Scott Bailes
Previous slot holder: 1996 Donruss #331 Scott Bullett
This proved to be a tougher choice than I'd originally thought.
The Bailes, a card which I'd seen a few times prior, is a must-have for a "goofy" collector such as myself. Obviously, relief pitchers don't get a ton of chances to make spectacular over-the-wall grabs.
But, for whatever reason, Bailes posed in such a shot for a Score photographer one sunny afternoon. That leads me to believe he was a fun-loving guy.
And, much to Score's credit, they actually used the wacky photo.
Despite the fact that former Cub Scott Bullett appears to be hopelessly leaping for an out-of-reach fly ball, there's a lot to like about his '96 Donruss issue.
All things considered, it's still a nice action shot. And I absolutely love how the blue outfield wall almost perfectly camouflages with the Cubbie blue on his jersey.
Still, with the muffed fly ball and all, I don't need to be reminded of more Cubs ineptitude while perusing my frankenset binder. And, well, it's 1996 Donruss. Those things are just plain ugly.
From Mark: 1996 Collector's Choice #517 Kevin Jarvis
Previous slot holder: 1997 Upper Deck #517 Charlie O'Brien
This, I think, was the most difficult choice of all.
That was before I met Kevin Jarvis.
The cloud of dirt hovering beneath the hurler's feet gives it a very Old West feel. And it's a friggin' pitcher sliding into home.
Do I really need to emphasize how great that is?
But, therein lies the real question.
It is more awesome than my '97 UD Charlie O'Brien?
Thanks to Upper Deck's neat photo-dating theme that year, we know that that shot features the very first appearance of a hockey-style catcher's mask in the history of baseball. O'Brien was the first backstop to use such an innovative concept.
So, because it captures such an influential moment in baseball lore, I have to give the nod to Charlie O'Brien here. Yes, over a card of a pitcher sliding into home plate.
If that can't beat Mr. O'Brien, nothing can.
The previous slot holder wins in this matchup.
Oh, and did I mention that the O'Brien was also a part of Mark's aforementioned trade package from a few months ago? The one that held now-former frankenset nominees with DeShields and Osuna?
That should tell you just how awesome Mark's trade packages are. This one most definitely continued the trend.
It wouldn't surprise me if some of these frankenset pieces get knocked out with Mark's next batch of cardboard.
I certainly wouldn't put it past him.