Things have been a bit rocky here in Dime Boxedonia lately.
I'm entering into the homestretch of my school semester as we speak. That, of course, means a nearly endless steam of tests, quizzes, projects, and other work. Most of you probably know what I'm talking about.
Even so, you may have noticed that I've returned to at least semi-normal blogging patterns over the last few weeks. (Aside from my recent two-day blog vacation, anyways.)
Unfortunately, things haven't been going as well as I'd hoped at my brand new job. I won't bore you with the details, but I'll just say that my hours have been dramatically cut lately. Hence, the extra blogging time.
In between all that, I've still had my baseball cards. Thanks to school and everything, I haven't been able to devote as much time to the hobby as I'd like lately. But, thanks to my get-it-done-now-so-you-don't-have-to-worry-about-it-later attitude, this week starts a bit of a free period for me.
Little school activities and almost no work allows baseball cards to be a welcome distraction. Because of that, the four big packages and the PWE I received in the mail this past Tuesday couldn't have come at a better time.
I'll get to the packages eventually, but I'd like to start with the PWE for today. As it happens, it was just the latest in a series of surprises I've been receiving from John, over at the newly-christened "Johnny's Trading Spot". (Give him a follow if you haven't already.)
For me, the highlight of the envelope was the '92 UD John Smoltz you see above, a shiny new member of my "pitchers at the plate" mini-collection.
Still, it was far from the first John had sent me.
From what I've read, a lot of bloggers seem to have a reader or two who simply drops unannounced cards onto their doorstep on an incredibly consistent basis, asking for little (if anything) in return.
John has quickly become one of those people for me. The cards you'll see in this post arrived from a series of PWEs and packages I've received from him over the past month or two.
The first chapter in John's saga involved an envelope, one that netted me a few more "pitcher at the plate" inductees.
These two, of course, feature a couple of rare American League hurlers at the dish.
My personal favorite of the lot was this Dempster, though.
Shown here striking a familiar bunting pose, I'm pretty sure this is my first card of him at the plate.
If he stays in the American League, we may never see another one.
The second batch of cards John sent also came in the form of a PWE, although this one would have an indirect effect on a purchase I'd later make.
I don't think I've ever admitted to specifically collecting these cell phone shots, but John felt it was quirky enough to send my way.
I'm glad he did, because I do actually collect these things.
For whatever reason, I've never declared it an official mini-collection of mine. Although I have a few others in my binders, I'd never even seen this Finley specimen before.
So, if you happen to have any of these lying around, please keep me in mind.
As had become par for the course with John, he also sent along a few more "pitchers at the plate".
And just when I thought it couldn't get any better...
John's PWE culminated in this amazing shot of Kevin Brown sliding into third, a rarity in the world of "pitchers at the plate".
As it turns out, the gems in this envelope put the hidden greatness of 1998 Fleer Tradition in the back of my mind.
The contents of the package he'd later send, though, caused me to look further into this particular checklist.
As you might remember, I found a whole bunch of spectacular cards from this set in a recent Just Commons order. John is to wholeheartedly thank for that.
Without him sending me cards like this Rod Beck, I'm not sure I ever would've realized how awesome 1998 Fleer Tradition really is.
That's not to say that the set didn't have its screw-ups.
John threw a couple miscut cards into this particular package, which I always like. I tend to categorize them under my "errors" mini-collection.
This Alou is definitely one of the more dramatic miscuts I've ever seen.
Let's climb off the '98 Fleer Tradition wagon for a bit, though.
If I learned anything over the course of his gifts to me, it's that John is one generous person. He's also quickly becoming an expert at hitting my mini-collection needs.
Bowman International and its impossible-to-scan background didn't come out too well here. All that I care about, though, is that awesome Negro League throwback on Andres Galarraga.
It's really all that matters.
Both "double dips" and "multiple-exposures" also made an appearance in this package.
I guess winning 17 games in your rookie season is enough to get rewarded with one awesome baseball card.
Just ask Dave Fleming, a relatively obscure name nowadays.
Up next are a couple great "autograph" shots for my binders.
I can't say I've ever seen another card that features a guy signing an American flag.
Even stranger is the fact that Ugueth Urbina is actually Venezuelan.
John managed to dig up even more "pitchers at the plate" to send my way.
Whether they're featured on the front or back really doesn't matter to me.
Adding to the mini-collection fun were these two "cards with kids" shots.
As far as I can tell, the Grady Little may well feature the first and only grandson ever seen on a baseball card.
One card John sent really stood out.
In the past, I've poked fun at the apparent competition card companies had back in the day. The objective?
Make Orel Hershiser look as dorky as humanly possible on his cardboard.
Many of the "cards with kids" pieces I own feature infants or toddlers. Here, though, "Bulldog" is featured with his two sons, both of whom appear to be into their teenage years.
I can't decide if this card is dorky, funny, adorable, horrifying, or fantastic.
Probably all of the above.
The long line of trade packages I've received from John, however, were nothing short of spectacular.
If his generosity has shown me anything, it's that cards can almost always be a nice distraction for when things just aren't working your way. I'll always have my collection, after all.
I'll always be able to laugh at Orel Hershiser cards, too.