Thursday, April 30, 2020

Never too young for nostalgia

Is 28 too young to be nostalgic?

I used to think so. Nostalgia is a concept reserved for people born way before 1992...or so I thought, because I realized something a few days ago. As a younger collector, I basically ignored cards of '80s and '90s stars, but as I've gotten a bit older, I've begun to right that wrong by chasing stuff of Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, etc. They've quickly grown into some of my larger and more enjoyable player collections as of this writing.

But I never really stopped to realize why I started wanting their cards all of a sudden. And, you know, I think it might have something to do with nostalgia. While I don't have many clear memories of their playing days, guys like Ryno and Gwynn were winding up their careers right when I was getting into baseball. They didn't seem "old" enough to treat as legends, but at the same time I didn't get to see their prime the way I did with Ichiro and others as a kid.

It was a weird middle ground that basically led to me all but ignoring their cards -- which of course wasn't the right decision, but I can see how it happened.

As we turn the page into a new decade, I think I'm starting to see why guys like Ryne Sandberg appeal to me more now -- I am, dare I say, nostalgic for them.

I've had 20 years of ignorance to make up for here, and thankfully frequent trade buddy Bob of "The Best Bubble" helped close one of the many gaps in my newfangled Ryno collection with that Collector's Choice final tribute at the top of the post, a sunset card and a onetime Dime Box Dozen suspect. One down, a bazillion to go.

The cards in this post cover a couple different packages Bob's sent me recently, and I know he's long been trying to get me to start a bat rack mini-collection, which I'm still fighting for now (although I'm squirreling these cards away should the day ever come when I decide to give in).

Mark Grace is one of those guys who's kinda transcended any nostalgia I might have -- I may indeed miss watching him, and wish there were more hitters like him in the game now, but I've always collected him.

It's a bit easier to understand why a large bulk of my collection revolves around legends like Roger Maris who played well before my time or my parents' time -- as collectors, I think we're inclined to be awestruck over heroes of past generations we ourselves never got to see, and thus we become fascinated with their cards.

I pretty much missed the golden era for oddballs, but Bob's done a good job of reminding me that there were a good amount of fun off-the-wall cards issued after the '70s.

No, we're not quite at the point of getting nostalgic for Mark Prior -- and let's not even think of how old I'll be when I start waxing poetic about the days of Anthony Rizzo.

Bob's an All-Star at finding new mini-collection stuff to send me.

Vertical, horizontal, doesn't matter -- my themes owe a great debt to him.

And like the Ryno, Bob hit yet another Dime Box Dozen need with this Rod Carew from 2019 Stadium Club, a card that somehow fell through the cracks when I was scooping up all the Stadium Clubs I needed from card shows (remember those?) late last year.

Nostalgia is a fickle feeling. Sometimes I chalk up my collections of guys like Carew and Roger Maris to a nostalgia for another time, but that's not quite right since I never watch either of them play. I certainly wish I was around to see them, and to enjoy the game as it was played in their times, but there's a difference between longing and nostalgia. What I've started to feel for guys like Ryno, though -- I'm pretty sure that's nostalgia, no matter how suddenly or subconsciously it works. It has to be.

After all, I guess I'm never too young to be nostalgic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset Bracket: Elite Eight

Last week's votes are in!

#1 (Page 51) -- 1973 Topps #456 Dick Green (22 votes)


#4 (Page 22) -- 2017 Stadium Club #197 Tyler Skaggs (18 votes)

#7 (Page 31) -- 1973 Topps #273 Chris Speier (33 votes)


#14 (Page 42) -- 1992 Stadium Club #376 Greg Gagne (8 votes)

#4 (Page 54) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #484 Rex Hudler (26 votes)


#1 (Page 60) -- 1975 Topps #533 Rudy Meoli (15 votes)

#11 (Page 47) -- 1993 Upper Deck #415 Denny Neagle (23 votes)


#7 (Page 33) -- 1963 Topps #294 Bill Rigney (18 votes)

As is the case with brackets, the closer you get to the end, the more heartbreak there is.

Chris Speier killed any thoughts of a longer Cinderella run from Greg Gagne with a resounding defeat, and I had to bid adieu to a couple of my personal favorite cards in the frankenset with the Meoli and Rigney. I was especially hoping Mr. Rigney might go a little further since it's one of the extreme few manager cards in the frankenset binder. 

But alas, results are results, and I can't argue with them.


And so we've come to the Elite Eight -- each region has just two cards remaining, and we're really starting to get into the best of the best (and the toughest of the toughest) matchups now.

Here they are: your Elite Eight.

Cowan Region

#1 (Page 68) -- 1972 Topps #611 Rich Reese


#6 (Page 6) -- 1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #52 Joe Rudi

Alvarado Region

#3 (Page 13) -- 1989 Upper Deck #117 Gary Pettis


#9 (Page 23) -- 1960 Topps #204 Ryne Duren

Bevacqua Region

#1 (Page 51) -- 1973 Topps #456 Dick Green


#7 (Page 31) -- 1973 Topps #273 Chris Speier

Palmer Region

#4 (Page 54) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #484 Rex Hudler


#11 (Page 47) -- 1993 Upper Deck #415 Denny Neagle

There's the Elite Eight for you -- the polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Gimme shelter

Here's a question I feel bad I haven't asked yet: how's everybody doing?

I'm still out of a job, though reports from the bookstore from my managers and such have been somewhat encouraging. I've been catching up on my reading, writing, and Out of the Park Baseball simulations, and I actually left the house twice last week (Post Office, Target), which may or may not have been a mistake. And I'm undertaking a massive and almost unprecedented card cataloging project, which I figure no time like the present. So that's my world in the quarantine.

In these strange times, I think it's helpful to check in with everyone once in a while -- and while I've never met most of you fellow blogosphere patrons outside of the virtual back-and-forth of reading and commenting, I do hope you're doing okay, and still collecting. 

If you're still lucky/unfortunate enough to be working, I hope it's not too stressful.

If you're sheltering in place, I hope it's relaxing.

If you're taking this time to work on otherwise inconceivable projects (like cataloging!), I hope it's coming right along.

If you have a nice car, awesome -- but this really isn't the time to be showing it off in public.

If you have a pet, or pets, or if it's anything like my apartment with seven cats (yup, seven) and a dog currently roaming around -- I hope you're spending some quality time with them.

If you like ugly sweaters, I hope you're wearing them.

If you have a guitar, I hope you're playing it (hammock optional).

If you have a drum set, and understanding neighbors, I hope you're having fun.

And if eating generic cereal with a cardboard cutout of Tommy Lasorda in your (upstairs?) kitchen is your thing...I hope you're doing that, too.

More than anything, I hope you're well, or whatever qualifies as such these days -- and in the meantime, I'll be seeing you around the blogs.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Picking pockets

If you've been reading blogs lately, you've probably noticed the trend of card giveaways around the cardsphere as of late.

It's heartwarming to see people being so magnanimous in these strange times, and I do plan on offering free cards myself soon because, at the very least, I feel I owe a debt to everyone who's been letting me claim free stuff from them. Generosity is a trend that should always be reciprocated. But I have to admit that I'm still a bit wary of doing a Free Card post -- not because I don't have extra cards that could definitely use better homes than mine, because I do.

No, mine is a common worry: I'm worried that people who don't even read my blog or any others (aka prize hounds) will start claiming stuff, and I don't really have a way to control that. I'm on Twitter enough to know that this will happen -- and the couple giveaways I've run on this blog brought out readers that I've never seen comment on my blog before or since. I understand people can't read/comment on every post, but it's pretty obvious who's actually a reader and who's just doing it for the prizes.

When I say the blogs are a community, I don't use that term loosely -- I feel a bond with the people like me who choose to read and write about baseball cards, and if I'm going to give cards away I want them to go to someone who's actually one of us, someone in the community.

But I guess in some ways I shouldn't talk, since I've already taken quite a bit without yet giving -- I mean, I've got a whole post full of stuff I've claimed from Julie's generous Pick Pockets program over at the excellent "A Cracked Bat" blog.

Julie's been a longtime friend of the blog, and her "Pick Pocket" free cards are pretty darn close to virtual dime boxing. They certainly have the unquestioned quality of a good dime box. I didn't actually claim the Doug Harvey insert at the top of the post, Julie just threw it in -- and I love it because how often do you see umpire cards?

These four, however, were all specifically claimed by yours truly -- I'm especially fond of the McCutchen since it's one of the few cards that depicted his already-forgotten stint as a Yankee.

Bless Julie's heart, giving away HOFer food oddballs for free.

Sweet minis! Although I don't know if those "Fortune Teller" inserts officially qualify as minis since they're just as tall as a normal card, just narrower.

More of your standard mini fare.

I think by now you can see why I feel so indebted to people like Julie for offering up such great cardboard.

I'm usually a bit shy about claiming free stuff, but then again it's not every day I see inserts and parallels and oddballs of big names like these (Boggs! Campy!) up for grabs.

A few more modern dudes here -- the Rizzo was one of the last base cards I needed from 2020 Topps, and wouldn't you know it, there it was on Julie's page, waiting to be picked!

Also I got so excited over seeing a free Japanese card that I instantly claimed that Tanaka...only to realize that I actually already had it, part of a past Zippy Zapping, no doubt. As is the insanity that sometimes comes over me when it comes to free baseball cards.

So that's the first time in my recorded history that I've had doubles of a Japanese card -- though I'm happy to say I've already passed it on to another collector who I hope will enjoy the Pick Pockets by proxy.

Russell Martin is a lower-tier player collection of mine, but no matter -- if I see one of these breathtaking diamond parallels of anyone I collect, wherever they are on the totem pole, I want it.

So, once again, I extend a hearty thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Julie and all the other awesome bloggers who've let people like me scoop up the misfit toys of their collection. And yes, look for a free card post from me at some point soon. Like I said, it's the least I can do to contribute to the community.

But if you're a prize hound, just do me and all these other bloggers a favor and stay away -- we know what you're doing, and we're not idiots.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset Bracket: Sweet 16 (Pt. 2)

Had some nail-biters last week!

#1 (Page 68) -- 1972 Topps #611 Rich Reese (18 votes)


#5 (Page 58) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #522 John Smiley (17 votes)

#6 (Page 6) -- 1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #52 Joe Rudi (20 votes)


#2 (Page 10) -- 1992 Studio #86 Jose Lind (16 votes)

#9 (Page 23) -- 1960 Topps #204 Ryne Duren (18 votes)


#12 (Page 55) -- 1991 Upper Deck #492 Geno Petralli (17 votes)

#3 (Page 13) -- 1989 Upper Deck #117 Gary Pettis (21 votes)


#2 (Page 45) -- 1993 Pinnacle #404 Bob Zupcic (15 votes)

As we close in on the final rounds of the bracket, I kinda figured the voting would start to get closer and closer -- last week was certainly proof of that.

All four matchups were fairly even, and a couple went right down to the wire with Rich Reese and Ryne Duren squeaking into the next round by a single vote. Also I knew the Rudi and Pettis cards were popular, but I'm not sure I expected them to make this serious of a run deep into the tournament.

And so the first half of the Elite Eight is decided...


...and now it's time to decide who'll join them.

First up, from the Bevacqua Region:

#1 (Page 51) -- 1973 Topps #456 Dick Green


#4 (Page 22) -- 2017 Stadium Club #197 Tyler Skaggs

#7 (Page 31) -- 1973 Topps #273 Chris Speier


#14 (Page 42) -- 1992 Stadium Club #376 Greg Gagne

And finally, from the Palmer Region:

#1 (Page 60) -- 1975 Topps #533 Rudy Meoli


#4 (Page 54) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #484 Rex Hudler

#7 (Page 33) -- 1963 Topps #294 Bill Rigney


#11 (Page 47) -- 1993 Upper Deck #415 Denny Neagle

That's it for this week's matchups. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!