I participated in my semi-yearly blogroll cleanse yesterday, and I was surprised at how often I found myself thinking Gee, whatever happened to that blog? or I remember him! during the process.
If you haven't posted in a month or two, don't worry. I kept the cleanse to blogs that haven't been active in over a year. But it did get me thinking about the main reason I was worried about temporarily closing up shop when I went on hiatus earlier this winter.
Blogging, it strikes me, is a very day-in, day-out activity. I'd posted consistently for over four years and, honestly, I was worried breaking that streak would drive away some readers. But the break was necessary. Blogging had become more of a chore than a chosen activity, which, as I've always said, is never a good sign.
I'm back now, and while I'm not posting nearly as much as I used to -- three times a week, max -- I'm glad to see that just about all the readers I had before my temporary break are back with me again.
However, I am sad to see that a few of my favorite bloggers from before my hiatus appear to have gone on a hiatus of their own as of late.
Julie of "A Cracked Bat" fame, for example, hasn't posted in two months. I know she had just moved as of her last posting, so here's hoping it's just a temporary breather, because the blogosphere is really a better place with her around. Not only is her blog top-notch, but her trade packages are second-to-none.
In addition to the beautiful '53 Bowman Color Harry Chiti at the top of this post (a man who was once dubiously traded for himself), Julie knocked out not one, not two...but four of my Dime Box Dozen needs with a single PWE she sent before my break.
The Clemente is a Topps Archives reprint of my all-time favorite baseball card, and the other three are commons that triggered respective HOW DO I NOT OWN THIS ALREADY?! reactions at various times while flipping through my binders.
That PWE followed up a bubble mailer Julie had sent just a couple weeks prior, because, like I said, Julie's just one uber-generous person.
Before my score at a recent card show, this Jon Lester mini was the first I'd seen of last year's online-only Topps '51 release.
It's hard to go wrong sending me Ichiros, especially sparkly ones.
I remember when people were saying he'd never reach 3,000 hits (at least here in the States), and here he is just 16 hits away from the magical plateau as of this writing.
Just goes to show you, never count out Ichiro.
I was quite pleased to see these two 2015 Bowman Rookie Flashback inserts fall out of Julie's mailer.
The Olerud is always welcome because he's a top-tier player collection of mine, but I'd specifically been chasing the Alou for the better part of 2015 because he played in all of two games as a Pirate. Alou went 1-for-5 in his brief cup-of-coffee debut with the Bucs in 1990 before being shipped off to Montreal.
A legendary Short Term Stop if I've ever seen one.
Speaking of Mr. Olerud, there he is again with a particularly wavy insert from Pinnacle.
He's paired here with another one of the more criminally underrated first baseman of my generation, Fred McGriff. I'm glad Julie sent that "tip of the cap" shot my way, because, honestly, where else would I find cards from something like Pros & Prospects anymore?
Some sets seemed to vanish off the face of the cardboard earth the moment they were released, and Pros & Prospects definitely belongs to that fold.
Here's a couple parallels, and a little history lesson, to boot.
I can't say I'd ever heard of Frank Grant before this mailer arrived, but apparently he was one of the pioneers of the Negro Leagues in the late 19th century. This Obak parallel (numbered to a slim 25 copies) is the first card of his I've ever seen.
Educational trade packages are the best kind of trade packages.
Julie also gifted me this complete nine-card '94 UD Ken Burns GM set, which was a supplement to the larger Ken Burns set released that same year, which itself was a supplement to the virtuosic Ken Burns' Baseball documentary that aired on PBS during the baseball strike.
My parents bought me that complete Ken Burns baseball card set for Christmas one year when I was first getting into baseball and all its rich history. I still have all the cards. Somehow, I don't think I've ever written a post about them.
I'll have to change that soon.
While we're on the topic of baseball history, I'm still a little miffed that Panini did away with their Cooperstown brand.
Where else am I going to get my Ed Walsh fix?
Julie is as big of an oddball fanatic as they come, and she certainly showed that with this trade package: brands from Kellogg's to Rite Aid to Post grace this page, and then some.
Random sidebar: I have never once stepped foot in or even seen a Rite Aid in my life -- there's a chance I never would've even heard of the place without baseball cards -- and I don't know if that's normal.
I forgot to snap a picture of it at the time, but this oddball Nolan Ryan -- courtesy of your friends at Hallmark -- came in a box with a Christmas ornament.
Now I can say I have a Hallmark card in my binders and not be lying about it.
"The text on the back of Paul and Rick Reuschel's Big League Brothers card was not the first thing I noticed about this card, but I'm sure it gratified me when I finally got around to reading it, which would have been some time after my stomach stopped hurting from laughing by myself and then with my brother at the two stunned, doughy, beady-eyed lummoxes glowing apprehensively back at us." -- Josh Wilker, Cardboard Gods
Julie had me thinking books with the next couple cards she sent.
Paul Reuschel's blue-inked autograph wasn't enough to distract my brain from immediately jumping to Josh Wilker's fantastic Cardboard Gods upon the card falling out of this trade package. I've read the memoir three times, so most of the cards Wilker mentions are instinctively paired to the book in my mind now, not just the Brothers Reuschel.
Another sidebar: I chose Cardboard Gods as one of my Staff Recommendations at my bookstore job, because, as a collector, I felt it was my duty to bring a little cardboard flair to O'Hare airport.
"Of course a ballplayer with a name like [Foster Castleman] is never going to amount to anything. If you have a name like an orthodontist you're going to play like an orthodontist." -- Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris, The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book
Though it may be a buyback, I feel satisfied knowing I own at least some semblance of the infamous Foster Castleman card mentioned in one of my all-time favorite books (and, for the record, Castleman did hit a very orthodontist-like .205 in five major league seasons).
I guess what I'm really trying to say here is that if you don't own either Cardboard Gods or The Great American Baseball Card Book, try and change that as soon as you can.
The last thing I'll show from Julie is just cold, hard vintage.
No autographs, no buybacks, just a well-loved, forlorn-looking Eddie Mathews with an airbrushed cap on what turned out to be the Hall of Famer's final card as a Brave.
All in all, I probably cleared about a dozen inactive blogs from my blogroll yesterday, and I'm hoping people like Julie start posting again so that number goes down this time next year. At the very least, rest assured you won't see my blog on that list. I'm not sure I'm much of a "regular" in the blogosphere ranks anymore, but I'll be around when I can.
I don't see myself becoming a Whatever happened to that guy? guy anytime soon.