Monday, June 10, 2024

A long overdue post

 It has been a good while since I’ve posted. That doesn’t mean I haven’t got any cards since then, actually the contrary. I’ve had so many cards incoming that I have spent the majority of my free time organizing them and putting them into TCDB. I got them done, so now is the perfect time to do a post.

The first set of new cards came from Mark of The Chronicles of Fuji. Fuji was able to add to my Kohl Stewart collection, which is hard to do, since he mainly only has Bowman cards and 2019 issues. He also sent some Rays, the majority of which I needed. 
I don’t have any of the Chrome Generation Now cards, which is odd, since I’ve opened at least 5 or 6 packs of ‘07 Topps Chrome. I’ve also opened a ton of 2010 Topps, and have had many incoming Rays come through in packages, yet I still hadn’t picked up the Evan Longoria Topps 2020 insert until Fuji sent it my way. The Blue David Price, Gold Wil Myers, and Top Prospect Wil Myers Bowman Platinums were needs, and I believe so was the Triple Play Price sticker. Thanks for the cool cards, Fuji!  I’ll have some cards headed to San Jose soon!

As John from Johnny’s Trading Spot mentioned, I was at his place on Monday, and was able to cross off between 800 and 1,000 cards from my Ultimate Topps Project wantlist (basically an attempt at trying to complete every Topps base and Update base set from 1951- whenever I stop collecting. The main sets I put dents in were 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, and 2001 Topps sets. The main trade boxes I dug through were the 1980-1983 and 2001 boxes. My current wantlists for those sets now looks like this. 

He also had a few boxes of mixed stuff he had got in a deal from KnT Sportscards. Most of it was common stuff with all sports mixed in. He had planned to throw them out, but I offered to take them, and those boxes had the additions to the ‘84 and ‘85 Topps sets with some early Donruss commons and some surprises thrown in. 
Those were the baseball I pulled from the 3 boxes. 
That was all of the baseball from the boxes, as well as the cards I pulled from the trade boxes (with a few football/basketball cards pulled as well. 
These are the favorite players/Rays/Tigers from the box. I've never been a fan of Ron Artest/Meta World Peace when he played basketball, but after seeing him on Celebrity Big Brother, I've grown to like him, and I've collected him ever since. Brian Bocock is a guy who I collect because he went to Stetson University, and he mainly has cards in 2008 issues, and I don't run across new cards of him because of the short career. Guys like Chipper, Kluber, Mize, and Sale have tons of cards on the other hand. One of my favorite cards from the box was one of a guy named Steve Sharts. While he was born way before the term became popular, I can't imagine the teasing he gets now. He was actually a decent reliver, who never made the Majors, but he did get pretty close. When the MLB players were on strike in 1994 and 1995, replacement players were called upon for Spring Training games. The majority of the players were guys who had been retired for a few years, and guys in the minors. Sharts was one of those guys in the minors, and had the strike not been resolved, he would have been the closer for the Blue Jays. I figured I already had the Donruss Arozarena, but according to TCDB, I don't. 
The 3 boxes had the early Donruss issues as I mentioned earlier, and also had an almost complete 1986 Fleer Update set. While it didn't have the Bonds, it did have a Wally Joyner, which would've been a huge card in the late '80's had I pulled it then. The Mo Vaughn is a Fleer Update card, my first from the '91 set. While the 1989 Topps Jeff Sellers gets all of the credit for having the roller coaster from the Boardwalk and Baseball theme park on it, the '89 Topps Tom Bolton has a smaller version of it in the top left corner. I could've probably done a better job with the glare in the photo, but trust me, it's there. There was a 1994 Stadium Club 1st Day Issue card, as well as a 2020 Topps Advanced Stat card, and a 2008 Tristar minor league issue numbered to 50. It was a fun day going through John's trade boxes, and hopefully I can go up again in the near future. Thanks again, John!

Today I finished up sorting the cards from the trip to John's house, and I put together a bookshelf. We had a friend take some bulky furniture that had been sitting in our garage since we put it in there when we moved, and Karen was nice enough to let me get 2 bookshelves, that will hopefully solve my card storage problem. I had just been placing binders on top of each other and put them on the desk and dresser that were there. Since those are gone, I really needed some bookshelves to put binders on. I put 1 in our laundry room, and I'll probably replace the broke 1/2 size bookshelf with a full size one. Bottom line, I'll be able to get to some binders that weren't accessible before. I might have to do a post of the final product once the 2nd bookshelf gets build and binders are on it. When I finished building the first one, I went to the mail, and a package from Night Owl was in it. 
Greg had a contest about a week ago in a post that he had about upgrading cards. All I had to do was guess his 2nd 1972 Topps Dodger card. I clicked on the 1972 Topps tag on the post, and went back pretty far, but there was one way back that had the '72 Topps Dodgers set along with some commentary, and after reading it, I was torn between Bobby Valentine, Bill Russell, and another card I can't remember. I guessed Valentine, and was right, and Greg sent some Topps cards that he upgraded and some Rays and Tigers cards. I needed them all besides the Baz card. The Reggie cards are cool to get, as those will probably be some of the toughest cards of the set to get besides some of the rookies. I'll probably take the Paredes rainbow card to the Rays/Cubs game I'm going to on Thursday. Thanks for the cool cards, Greg!  I actually have an envelope coming your way that I sent out today.

This year has been one of the toughest I've had. It's not really even for things that directly happened to me, just stuff that's happened to the family, and the hits just keep coming. Karen's mom has been here for about 2 months, and it's been feeling more like 6. I can't get any quiet. She's always trying to force conversation with me, making some kind of loud noise when the house is quiet and scaring the shit out of me, and just getting on my nerves. That's not going to change for a while, so it is what it is, and the first time that Karen's credit score gets high enough to move, I'm taking it. I don't care if it's one of those stupid tiny homes. 

Karen was in the hospital in March with breathing issues, high white blood cells and lactic acid levels. Then in April, she was back again with the same symptoms. After a hospital-free May, I was hoping the IVIG infusions she was getting again had started working, but she had some concerning lab levels about 10 days ago, and her pulmonologist had her get antibiotic infusions every day for the past 10 days. Today at her appointment, they decided the antibiotics she was getting weren't working, and had her go to the hospital today. It just sucks because it is the same damn thing she was in for the past 2 times, and I really hope we can push them for new diagnostic tests that we pushed for the last time instead of just having them give her nebulizer treatments nonstop for 5 days or so and letting her go when she shows the slightest sign of improvement. Something is not right in her body, whether it be an infection in the shunt, some kind of cancer we haven't tested for, or maybe something in the veins that is wrong. I get it, she's a tough case, but she's just going to be back in the hospital in July if they keep treating her like they have, and if it is a serious problem, how long can she keep going without them doing some extensive tests to find out what is wrong?  After having the 2 hospital trips this year, I have the stuff down at home. I try to keep the dinners simple with something easy I can microwave, I get to the dishes when I get home from work, and same with the laundry if we need to do a load. Kyler is relatively easy to please as long as Karen's mom doesn't interfere and try to get him to come out of his room. That's one of the things with her. Kyler is just fine playing something in his room and doesn't need a parent involved, but she wants to feel needed and is a schoolteacher, so she will force him to come out of his room, do some project with him, and now he kind of expects that. So when I'm dead tired after work or Karen's dead tired, Kyler expects us to do that kind of stuff when he can be fine playing by himself. Same thing with our damn dog. She had this stupid dog at her old place, and she would talk to that damn thing like it was a human, and it got to the point where it would whine when it was quiet or when she would leave the house. She's lived by herself for a long time, but hell, I've lived with my dad when we were on separate schedules, and I didn't talk to myself or a dog just because it was quiet.  It was a nightmare when we had to watch the dog when she was out of town. Now she's pulling that shit with our dog, and she's starting to whine when she leaves or when she gets home from work. Instead of letting the dog outside when it needs to go to the bathroom, she goes outside with it (in 100+degree heat index) and waits for it to pee, and then comes in. It's this kind of crap that I don't want to have to deal with when (mercifully) this ends because I don't want a whining dog that won't pee unless I come outside with it. I'm just ready for her to go. 
Work isn't going well either, part cause my boss is an asshole who needs to be on bipolar medicine, and part because I am pessimistic and he thinks morale is down. However, it's only an issue with me, but not any when the younger employees who share his political views whine about stuff. I've just given up talking when I'm at work, because I can't trust anybody, and I don't want anything I say to come off as pessimistic, and I don't want anybody snitching anything to that piece of crap. 
Now that I got all that out, I'm hopeful for the future. Number 1, I figure if my year has been this shitty so far, I hope it won't get much worse. Number 2, I'll always have my cards to be there when I need some time away. Number 3, Karen's mom is either going to move into a different place, we're going to move out, or she's going to croak. It's just a matter of how long of a time that's going to take. Number 4, and maybe most importantly, I'm going to see a psychiatrist tomorrow. It's a first for me, but I need to make some changes to not be so depressed, so pessimistic, and to hopefully get over some things I've been angry about every since I was 10. It might not work, but there is definitely a chance it will, and I've tried everything else with no success. I really hope it can help me be a little happier at work and not so annoyed about the crap at home.

Even though Karen is in the hospital, the game is still on. No idea how that is going to work out. If Karen is out by then and seems ok, it will go on as normal. If not, I guess I'll drive down to Tampa. I have an extra ticket, so I might invite my buddy Jim who likes to get autographs. I just don't know what to do because of the batting practice passes. If Jim can't go and Karen can't go, I don't know what I'm going to do with Kyler, because I don't think they will let him on the field with me without getting another ticket, and I'm not going to spend that kind of money until he gets a little older. If Jim goes, maybe he'll be ok watching Ky until the gates open. The original plan was to go to the game, stay in a hotel that night, and see my mom on the way back to DeLand. If I'm going by myself, I'd almost like to skip the meetup with my mom and just get home at a decent time. My brother-in-law and youngest sister are supposed to meet us at the game, so they might stop and see my mom, and I'll get to see her in like 2 days after that because of Fathers Day stuff, so I would really just rather skip this time. I guess we'll see how the next few days play out. 

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Friday, May 24, 2024

Fun filled day of driving

 Today was my off day with nobody in the house besides myself, and I did a lot of driving for me. Karen works out in Port Orange, which is a good 30-45 minutes from our house in DeLand, depending on traffic. I had it all planned out to go to Karen's work and visit her around lunchtime, drive 15 minutes to Daytona to meet with a Robert, a guy I've swapped card boxes with before, drive 15 minutes to Ormond Beach to KnT Sportscards, and then make the 45 minute trip home. It all worked out, but not without some kinks in the process. 

I met up with Karen and had some hot dogs at her work, as they were celebrating the upcoming holiday. She kind of kicked me out around 1 so she could get some work done. At this point, I didn't have the address of where I was meeting Robert. I met Robert on a FB junk wax group. He lives in Daytona, and I met up with him previously, and I swapped about 7 random sized boxes of doubles for about a monster box full of cards he had. This time, I was supposed to meet him at his work, but we had been FB messaging, and I didn't have the address yet. I had a plan. I drove to the Wal-Mart near Karen's work, got on their wifi, and sent Robert a message that I had the 2 boxes of doubles and asked where we were going to meet. Problem was that the message wasn't sending. I considered going straight to KnT's when Karen texted wanting to know how far away I was. An employee of hers had her sons baseball stuff in her car and forgot to leave it at home in DeLand, and Karen was wondering if I could go back and drop it off. I was planning on staying at KnT's for a few hours, so I asked when the stuff needed to be back in DeLand. She said 6, so I came back, got the baseball gear, was able to send Robert a message on the wifi at Karen's work, and was back on the road to Daytona. 

I got to Robert's work, a nice mini golf place in Daytona Beach called Congo River. If it wasn't 97 degrees out, I would've stayed and played a few holes. The course has many holes where you can hit the ball in the water or a hazard, but it will direct it to the hole. I met Robert, and loaded my 2 boxes into his trunk, which had a few 1,000 count boxes already in it. I figured those were for me, but he put the trunk down and said 'Well, I got to be going back to work'. I didn't know what to think. He seemed a little odd when I messaged him the first time we traded boxes, but I figured he collects cards. All people that collect cards are a little off'. Some things just didn't add up. I don't know if he's selling them, adding them to his collection, donating some to foster kids (which he told me the first time we met), or a little bit of everything, but I kind of feel like I got screwed today. It was just 2 boxes of doubles, but I asked him yesterday if he had anything for me, and he said yes. I got a 2005 Bowman Verlander rookie from the box he swapped me the first time, so it wasn't a box of junk, but I just don't know if I'm going to trade with him again. He seems like he just takes and takes and takes, and I'm either going to not trade with him or be very cautious. 

On the drive to KnT's, I could look out to the right and practically see the beach. It was almost a shame that I was that close to it, but I didn't have a swimsuit, it was mid '90's outside with a heat index over 100, so maybe I'll have to go another time. I'm sure Kyler would love it. 

I made it to KnT's maybe 2ish, and got to work on the dime boxes. Let me tell you, there were a ton of non-baseball cards mixed in, but they had some good stuff. 
Not many Topps cards for my set quests, but I found a few, and at 10 cents each, I'm happy to pay that. If only the '80's Topps cards at my DeLand LCS were that price. A Javy Lopez rookie was in there. That was a big card in the late '90's. I found a Jose Caballero Chrome rookie, which I hope to get signed at the Rays game on June 13. Don't know how the '24 Bowman Paul Skenes got in the dime box, but I grabbed it. Figured it might be 50 cents, but TCDB say it's a 5 dollar card. Dang. 
While I didn't add many Topps set cards to my inventory, the favorite players, Tigers, and Rays abounded. I found a few cards of DeLand native Nick Fortes for a buck, as I searched the dollar team bins later. I found a 2020 Heritage Minors and 2021 Opening Day Casey Mize card. I thought something looked off with the Opening Day card, and it turns out not only was it an SP, but so was the Heritage. There were a ton of Bowman and Bowman Draft cards, so I picked up some of Tigers I haven't really heard of. 
There was a 2020 Topps Chrome Update Randy Arozarena in the dollar box. A Randy rookie??!!!  For a dollar?!!!  Hell yeah!!!!!  I believe that completed the 2020 Topps Chrome Update Rays team set. the Xavier Edwards Heritage was also an SP. I'm stoked about the 2022 Bowman Chrome Black Wave refractor. Yeah, I know I got 2 Wander Franco's. The Black Gold card looked cool, and I had been wanting to pull the Chrome card since it came out. And all you Dodger fans still get Urias and Bauer cards. Heck, any Yankee collector would be hard pressed not to get a Domingo German, Chuck Knoblauch, Chad Curtis, Mel Hall, John Wetteland, Steve Howe, Luis Polonia, or Jim Leyritz card in a trade. Should Wander get convicted, well, I might accept cards in trades, but not seek them out. The Shane Baz 2022 LogoFractor is my first one. For a buck!!!  The 2023 Bowman Aranda Fuschia card was a buck. 
More Bowman rookies, as well as some 2023 Elite Extra Edition cards. There were 2023 Topps Chrome Blue, Green Sonar, regular, and Sepia refractors in the dollar box, and you can see what I found. I'm going to have stuff for these guys to sign that is just going to be dripping in refractor technology. 
I picked up the Randy 2024 Topps just because it's such a cool pose. I know I'll get the complete set in a month or 2, but maybe I can give it to a kid at the game or something. The League Leader cards can always find a home with another team, and I've wanted the Diaz AVG leaders card since he won the first Rays batting title on the last day of the season. I picked up a rainbow version of the Randy card, and if not for some sweet rookies of his, I think I would get that one signed at the game. I picked up the Ramirez Heritage, thinking it would just be a good card to get signed, no foil or anything, then when I looked at the back when I got home, it was an SP. In a 10 cent bin. I just can't believe some of the deals I got!  Getting to basically complete a Randy Arozarena rookie collection with an Update Chrome card for a buck, getting a logofractor and a black wave refractor for another 2 bucks, and pulling a few SPs and some Topps set needs for 10 cents just made my day. 

I left KnT's around 5, and dropped of the baseball gear around 5:35, and was home a little before 6. I have a splitting headache from mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon and from driving in the hot sun, but man, that trip to KnT's and getting to sort the cards when I got home almost made it go away. Thanks to John from Johnny's Trading Spot for letting me know about the shop. I'll have to go out there another time and find some more deals. 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

New cards and a package from Too Many Verlanders

 It’s been a pretty demanding week at work and I was really wanting to check out Target on Saturday for some new wax to take the edge off. Despite getting out pretty late, I made a quick trip to Target and went straight towards the card aisle. 
I was hoping for some 2024 Bowman, but they didn’t have any, so I got a blaster of 2024 Heritage, a hanging pack of 2024 Big League, and a hanging pack of 2023 Chronicles. I thought Chronicles must’ve been new, but once I opened the pack, it jogged my memory, as 75% of the pack was the same as one I must’ve opened last year (except for the De La Cruz rookie I pulled last year, of course). 

The packs were pretty good, as I got a few Rays, a few Tigers, and some guys I collect. Also got some stuff for other collectors (are you still going to work on the ‘23 Chronicles set, John?
That ‘75 Fred Lynn card never looked weird to me when I saw the regular version. It never looked weird when I saw the ‘01 Topps Archives version when it was just him and zoomed in a lot more. Now, when it is on the MVP subset in ‘24 Heritage, it just looks like it was a bad photoshop job and they just used a gob of white paint and spread it over a minor league jersey. The Lynn insert looks really cool. Sometimes it’s nice to see players in something other than a uniform. Is that Jim Rice next to him?

I think I’m only 1 or 2 World Series subset cards from having every playoff highlight card. I went on a Basabe spree, pulling him in both Topps brands. The Yandy card is an SP. I doubt I’ll ever complete a Big League Rays team set in the current format, but I have 1 SP down at least. What a shame that the morons at Fanatics get a team name wrong with the Basabe Heritage cards. The jerseys aren’t even that similar. 
The Diaz batting title card is cool. I’ve really been wanting to pull it from flagship, but I’ll have it soon enough when I purchase the complete set. The Torkelson die cut card is cool. That whole inset set is neat, I’d be happy to pull one even if it was a Yankee. I pulled a number of Oriole rookies. I hope they forget how to hit and pitch and can let the Rays win the AL. That Abner Uribe card is mocking me as he was one of those punk Brewers pitchers who were throwing first punches at Rays hitters and intentionally throwing at them. I hope Uribe is hit like Sidney Ponson, Alec Manoah, and Esteban Yan, and is relegated to the minors for the rest of his short career. The Goldschmidt bat was a nice surprise. The last 2 cards were the other Big League SPs. 

And for all of those people wondering which Heritage SPs I got, they were

They are set aside for Night Owl. (Late edit, I ended up getting another blaster on Wednesday and pulled 2 more SP needs, so N.O., you can also mark off #2 Freddie Freeman Highlight and #97 Luis Patino from the SPs)

I came home from work on Monday after another demanding day, and lo and behold in the mailbox was a package from Dennis of Too Many Verlanders. I have a few cards set in a pile to send him, but to be honest, I just haven’t really made it to any shows or many shops lately. I’m hoping to rectify that during summer vacation, and Dennis will be one of the first ones on my list of people to look for cards for. 

So many parallels and cards from sets that I don’t get to dabble in that much!  The Co-Signers Gold is the first gold parallel I’ve seen from the set. The Heritage Archer is an SP.  I’ve never opened a pack of ‘20 Bowman Heritage, ‘20 Diamond Kings, or ‘20 Prism, so it’s nice to pick up cards from sets I’ve never had the chance to see. The ‘20 Diamond Kings Arozarena is a rookie, and one I didn’t have.  
More parallels, including rainbows, refractors, pink refractors, and royal blues. I thought I may have had the Yarbrough, but I don’t, so that is going in the player collection. I believe the first 2 ‘20 Chrome cards finished the Rays team set. The last one adds to the Chrome Update set. Love the McClanahan Archives rookie. That got me 1 card away from finishing the Rays team set. Can’t wait to see the Rays ‘25 rotation if everyone stays healthy. The Martin Bowman refractor is a nice one for me, as surprisingly for me, I don’t own cards of every Rays prospect. Any time I can get Bowman Rays, I will take them because you never know who will make it to the Majors, and I love to get autographs on cards at games. The Martin is the first card of him in my collection. I might actually have to place a quick eBay order as I have a feeling I’m a few cards short of a Rays and Cubs 40-man roster for the game I’m going to next month. Thanks to Dennis for the nice Rays additions!  I’m working on a pile to send back to Ann Arbor. 

I actually have a pretty decent next few days coming up. Memorial Day is usually a pain for me at work, as is every holiday, but while it will still be a pain, I am off Friday and Sunday, so I won’t get too much of the brunt of it. Friday I also got out of a recital that one of our nieces is having, so work had my back there. Karen, Kyler, and Karens mom will be headed to Melbourne Friday afternoon to see Karens brothers family and go to the recital and will be coming home Saturday. That means I get the house to myself, so I might head out to Port Orange to have lunch with her, and then the day has 2 options. A guy who I’ve swapped cards with before has some cards for me in Daytona, and I have a box or two of doubles for him, so if he’s available, I might meet up with him and swap cards. I also might go to Ormond and visit Kyle’s shop that John from Johnny’s Trading Spot goes to sometimes. John told me that half of his store is 2022-2024 cards, so it might be a better option to just not go to the shop. I might still stop by and try to find some pre-1980 Topps cards that I need. Either way, I’ll probably be heading home with some new cards. Hopefully I’ll find some cards to put in trade piles as it has been a while since I’ve been to a shop or a show with much selection. I hope everyone else has a nice holiday weekend as I plan to do.

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Thursday, May 16, 2024

2001 Royal Rookies memories

 I was close to my collecting peak in 2002. I was 19, didn’t have a girlfriend, had a 20-25 hour per week job, and still lived at home. While I didn’t realize it at the time, I should’ve taken advantage of it. 

I was just starting to get autographs of players at games and with the job, I blew just about all of my money on packs. With that, and the reasons mentioned in the last paragraph, it led to the perfect storm of finding use for an odd baseball card set. I’m talking about 2001 Royal Rookies. 

I’m not sure if anyone remembers them. I know I vaguely remember the cards. They issued a set in 2000, and I guess had enough people buy their stuff to make them want to issue another one in 2001. I’m not sure if they made a set past that year or not. A Pack to be named Later actually did a post on a pack in 2009. I somehow ended up with a ton of cards from the set and many fond memories as well. 

They basically made cards of minor leaguers with no logos, trying to cash in on rookie hype. The problem was that they had to have only had a license for certain leagues or classes, because most of the guys in the 2001 set were nobodies. I would even venture to say that they only had a license for single-A ball, because in 2002 when I started getting autographs on cards, I only went to low-A Florida State League games, and I got a few Royal Rookies cards signed at those games, and when I went to some double-A games in 2003, I got more Royal Rookie cards signed. 

I don’t really remember opening any packs of the 2001 product, although when I did an eBay search, the pack looked familiar. I’m almost 100% positive that I never saw them in packs at Wal-Mart or Target. It’s kind of a mystery on how I obtained the cards, because the 2001 ‘Futures’ set which I remember the most, has 40 cards, and I believe I have all but 2 or 3 of them. The only way I think I probably got the cards are from repacks. I just don’t remember getting that many repacks in 2002 or 2003. Sure, I got a few of those ones that promised a jersey card or autograph, but those only had like 1 or 2 packs in them. I must’ve purchased a whole bunch more than I thought. I feel like the Royal Rookies cards are the Triple Play of todays repacks. The packs everyone gets a few of in a repack but that nobody wants. Not that they didn’t try to be a good product. They had parallels, inserts, and even autographs. It’s just that very few of the guys in the set turned out to even get to the majors, let alone become a household name. Miguel Cabrera was the only exception to the rule, but you can get lucky every once in a while. 

The parallel set was just a copy of the regular card with ‘Limited Edition’ stamped on it in a kind of foil like Topps would use on its Gold parallel borders from 2002-2014. The autographs were a little different, and you’ll see that a little later. 

However crappy the set may seem, I have some fond memories of getting autographs on cards in the set. 

Bryan Schmack was in spring training with Detroit in 2003, and he signed his card for me, and as he signed it, he mentioned the photo wasn’t him. 

Lee Gardner was another guy I got during spring training for the Tigers. He mentioned that he grew his goatee specifically for the card, which gives me the impression that the guys in the set knew they were going to be in it beforehand. 

Simons Pond is the one I remember most. He was playing low-A ball with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2002. They played the Lakeland Tigers, and I attended a game in Lakeland. Normally, Lakeland would play in Joker Marchand Stadium, a Major League sized stadium, which was spring training home of the Detroit Tigers. In 2002, the park was going through some repairs, so they played their home games at Henley Field, home of the Lakeland High School baseball team. On normal games at Joker Marchant, the Lakeland Tigers would draw 200-400 people, if that. The noise would carry some, but you could still hear people heckling or whatever even with the big size of the ballpark. Henley Field was smaller, had bleacher seats, was mostly made from wood, and the sound carried there. I got Simon Pond to sign his Royal Rookies card before the game, and one inning, he was playing 3rd base, and a Tiger batter hit a line drive that Pond dove for and missed. Right after he missed the ball, Pond let out an F-bomb that the whole stadium heard. Some old guy, probably in his 70’s, shouts out ‘Hey #35!! Watch your mouth!!!’  It was just funny to hear Pond and then the old fart scolding him. 

The last one is off a guy who went to the same school as me, Sheldon Fulse. From 2nd through 5th grade, I went to Temple Christian School in Lakeland, Florida. I only have the yearbook from my 2nd grade year, but Sheldon has a photo in it. He was in 4th grade. 
Fortunately for you, I started attending Temple after the yearbook pictures were taken. Sheldon went to George Jenkins High School, and I went to their rival Lakeland High. Sheldon got drafted in 1999 by Seattle, and moved on to the Red Sox in 2003. That year, he played at low-A Sarasota, and I went to a series in Lakeland, but he was injured and didn’t make the trip, so I couldn’t get his Royal Rookies card signed. In 2004, he got a card in ‘04 Bowman, as well as ‘04 Bowman Chrome. While 2008 was his last year in pro ball, I would still get to meet him in 2010. That year, in the spring, former pro Rob Ducey had a brilliant idea, and held a pro free agent camp, designed for guys who were free agents to showcase their skills and hopefully get signed. It was an autograph haven for me, as I got autographs from ‘coaches’ helping with the event like Cecil Fielder, Heathcliff Slocumb, Pat Hentgen, and Ducey himself. I also got autographs of many of the free agents, including Tim Raines, Jr., Pete LaForest, and a guy I have a yearbook photo of, Sheldon Fulse. 
I wonder if the Boras 4 would’ve signed with a team quicker had Ducey had a camp now?  Hats off to Ducey for having the idea, and I will always remember how kind he was. He not only responded back within hours to an email I sent him regarding if I could try to get autographs at the event, but he also sought me out after the players and coaches had finished eating and offered for me to get in line and grab some of the bbq sandwiches they had for the players and coaches to eat for lunch. Just a stand up guy. 
Anyways, I don’t think Fulse remembered me from grade school, but he signed the Royal Rookies card. Later, I purchased a certified version, and you can see the difference between the two in the photo up top. Same back, but the autograph and serial number stuff on the front. Looks like after pro ball, Sheldon became a physical therapist and offers coaching clinics

That’s all I have as far as memories of the set. I darn near got half of the set autographed with all of the A and AA games I went to in 2002 and 2003. So any of you guys remember the set or if you’ve seen packs in the wild at Wal-Mart or Target?  Are there crappy sets like this that you can’t help but love because of fond memories?

Life has been different and challenging the last few weeks. Karens mom is officially living with us. I could bitch about that all day, but I’ll save that for my coworkers. Karen was in the hospital again with basically the same problems as last time. There was good news, as they got her hooked up with an infusion center who handles tough insurance circumstances, and Karen will now get her ivig infusions at the center and insurance will cover it. Hopefully this will help her not get knocked out so bad every time she gets a cold and hopefully help with the breathing. 

As far as cards, most of my cards are uploaded to TCDB. There are random highlights cards and non-baseball sets I didn’t add, but I’m ok with that right now. I have been working at putting all of my cards from monster boxes into binders now, and have finished Arizona and Atlanta, and am at 1996 with the Cubs. Interestingly, from what I’ve observed, I think I might have enough 9 pocket pages, but might run out of binders, and will probably have to figure out another storage system because I have a bunch of empty binders stacked on top of each other on a desk, but once they are filled with cards, it will be tough to find a binder that I need if they are stacked and the one I need is on the bottom. It is still loads of fun getting to put the cards into binders and made the TCDB project worth it. I’m just not as young as I was when I went to school with Sheldon or when I got most of my Royal Rookies cards, so my arms and hands get tired easier. It’s relaxing, though, so I’ll work through the pain. With the TCDB project done, I might go on there and try to make some trades. It might be a little disappointing to land a card from 1980 that will go in the front of a team binder that I finished updating, but that’s the process, and I’ll have plenty of empty monster boxes to fill with cards until they get full enough to call for an update, which might be a few years down the road. There are just a few more weeks of school left, and once Kyler is out, he should be going to day care and they stay open until 6 PM, so I might use a few days off during the week in the summer to swing over to Ocala and dig through trade boxes at Johnny’s Trading Spot’s HQ, and probably do some trading in DeLand with my friend Jim, another guy who probably has a ton of Royal Rookie cards autographed. I also have my birthday coming up, and I’m really looking forward to the Rays game and having the next day to take our time getting home. Maybe I’ll check out a card shop in Tampa or go to a nice steakhouse. I kind of want to make a sign for the game. Either ‘It’s my 41st birthday tomorrow and the only present I want is to meet Randy Arozarena’ or ‘The only thing worse than Rob Manfraud is Stuart $ternberg not spending money on the Rays!  I want a championship in my lifetime, not 20 Wild Card banners!’  I think the latter one will be nice as I don’t expect the Rays to be in the hunt for anything by then. Maybe in 2025 if no starting pitchers get injured and Arozarena isn’t traded. Anyways, June is going to be a nice month and really after all of the crap that’s went on during the first part of the year, I was honestly just hanging on for the summer. It’s going a little better now, so hopefully it’s a nice rest of the year. Series 2 Topps and 2024 Donruss should come out around then as well, so it could be a fun birthday trip. I’m hoping to get my hands on a blaster of Bowman the next time I’m at Wal-Mart or Target, but we’ll see how full the shelves are. I could probably go for another blaster of Heritage, but I’ll keep my paws off of Series 2 and wait for the complete set. 
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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Sticker shock at the LCS

 I have never had an instance where I went to a card shop, pulled a bunch of cards, and then put them back because the price was just so high. That is, until today. I think part of it has to do with me growing up in the '90's and seeing '80's and '90's commons being listed for 5 cents, with semi-stars being 10 to 15 cents. I just think for what and for how much I was getting, I should've gotten some kind of discount. 

I was off today, so I got to entering my last team into TCDB. Only got through 2005, but it was something. Pop's Sportscards, the local shop in DeLand, opened at noon, and I had to pick Kyler up from school at 2:30, so I had about 2 and a half hours to look for cards. I looked through the Rays and Tigers portion of the quarter boxes first, and found about 5 cards I wanted. I was really looking for some Topps commons to help out with sets. They did have the mis-numbered 2021 Topps Update David Hale card in the Phillies 25 cent box, so my 2021 Topps Update set is officially done. Behind the counter, they had some 'vintage' boxes, and I asked for the '81 to '85 portion, which was 2 boxes worth. I spent about 2 hours digging through them, organizing them by number so I could cross them off of my wantlist. None of those suckers were in order either. After getting what I needed, it was a good 300-400 cards. Not really any stars either. Just '80's commons mostly with the random Tom Seaver or Mike Schmidt thrown in. I was hoping for maybe 40 or 50 bucks for the whole lot. It was just 90% common guys anyways. So I go to ring everything up, and the store owner had stepped out, and his wife was running the register. 'This could either be really good or really bad', I thought. It turned out to be bad. She called the owner, and he said the 'vintage' cards were 50 cents each. I told her I couldn't do that and dug through the stack for cards I really wanted. She must've texted him because she told me he could do them for a quarter each. That still would've come to 100 bucks for early '80's commons, so I purchased the cards I wanted, only like 20 cards, paying 10 bucks (I still think I spent too much), and left. The whole situation kind of pissed me off. They were the kind of owners who talk really softly when you are there, like they don't want you to hear that they are talking about you, even when they were just talking about cards prices or whatever. The lady acted all pissed when I told her I wouldn't do .50 cents on the cards. Whatever. I'm not going to pay 25 cents per card of just commons. I'm taking 400 cards off of your hands, mostly '80's commons that no current people will probably buy, so why not cut me a little bit of a deal. I just don't understand why they charge that much for what I feel are 10 to 15 cent cards. Let's look at what I did end up getting.
I figured I would get the oldest cards I found in the box (a few '70's ones that snuck in there), and anything that I thought was worth a little, plus the Tigers, Rays, and the '21 Update Hale. I really don't think any of those were worth 50 cents. I was glad to get the '85 Bergman as it completed the '85 Topps Tigers set. I think the Carson Williams card might be my first of his, and the Lowe is an SP. Not really regretting the total purchase, but I don't know how much longer I will go to Pop's with prices that high. 

In my Topps Wantlist, I have wanted to just put the price of a common card from TCDB with each set, and since I might be judging the price a little too low, why not do some of that now?  In the '71 Topps set, it was 20 cents. All of the other sets I got were 18 cents. I wasn't off that bad. Maybe I just don't know who commons and stars are. I understand they have to make a profit, but 7 extra cents for each card for just commons? The shop by where I work will do deals for volume. I'm pretty sure I can get all of the '80's Topps commons I need at 17-20 cents each and just have to pay once for shipping at JustCommons or a similar site. I just want to know what you think. Am I out of touch?

In other news, a guy on a FB junk wax site is helping me finish the '86 Topps set and is sending me all of the commons I need. Just 8 more to finish that set, and they all should arrive soon. We got good news with Karen's biopsy. They said it was benign, and that they would just check it yearly. I was really expecting the worst news with my luck lately. It still doesn't take away all of the other medical crap going on (recent lab work has some numbers back where they were when she was in the ICU last month), but at least it's not a case of figuring out what to do in 5 years if she isn't there. I have about 10 more days of freedom before Karen's mom moves in. I'm hoping to have a date night as a last night of privacy without her tagging along to things. With Karen's health, it might not happen, but maybe with all of this happening, Karen will let me buy cards a little more. 

The pineapple in my front yard is getting bigger. A few days ago, it had some nice purple things growing from the fruit, but I think they went away because it's so hot and the fact that they are kind of brown. I hope we get some of the famous Florida afternoon showers soon. I've seen some ants on the plant, and I really want this thing to be as healthy as it can so it will grow pretty big. Plus, it would be a shame to have waited 3 years and not get a tasty fruit out of it. 
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Friday, April 12, 2024

BBA: 5 best pack-pulled hits

 Well, I want to start this post off by thanking everyone who left comments on the last one. Despite what I thought, we were able to actually throw a lot of crap out and make some room in the garage. I am able to get to my cards, and there is a space for my mother-in-law to hopefully fit any crap she brings along in. I would like to have better access to my monster boxes, but I don't want to move anything until everything is brought over. 

Diamond Jesters recently started a Blog Bat-Around about your 5 best pack-pulled hits. I figured since I am still able to get to my binders and boxes that I would dig through them and figure out mine. 
For a few of these, I had to resort to not so good photos. Back in 2013 or 2014, I sold most of my autographed cards, and some of my best pulls were autographs, so I don't have access to the cards. Probably my best hit was a 2005 Bowman's Best certified autograph of Alex Rodriguez. Besides it being an A-Rod autograph, it was serial numbered to 100. It was good enough to get my photo on the Wall of Fame of Lakeland Sports Cards and Collectibles when I pulled it. Unfortunately, I really didn't have a phone then, and the few times from 2009-2011 I was back when I did, I didn't think to take a picture of it. The shop closed down at some point, and the photo of me and the card are probably dust in a landfill by now. Note some of the sweet in-person or ttm autographs around it in the photo. A 2005 Bowman Heritage Andrew McCutcheon ttm auto and a 2005 Grandstand Lakeland Tigers Justin Verlander in-person autograph. Should've kept the binders and sold my plasma for money or something. 
Number 2 is a 2003 Finest bat relic of Cal Ripken, Jr. It isn't a low-numbered or rare card, but it just looks amazing with the design and refractor technology, and Cal is one of the all-time greats. I don't pull good cards that often, but I actually pulled another Cal bat from a Gypsy Queen pack a few years later. 

I pulled this Ichiro All-Star game jersey relic from a 2007 Topps Update pack. It has his workout jersey from the 2007 game where he won the MVP award. If I put any belief in the claim that game-used cards have real jerseys in them, than this is a neat card. 

Number 4 is probably a 2003 Topps World Series Heroes autograph of Brooks Robinson. Another pull at Lakeland Sports Cards and Collectibles, the owner was probably more excited that I pulled it than I was. I would usually go there and dig through quarter bins, a dollar pack tote, and usually get a pack or 2 of new products. When I got the card, he was like 'Awesome! After just getting common stuff for the longest time, I'm glad you finally pulled something!'. To be honest, I was probably more thrilled to pull a jersey card of a common Ray or Tiger than I was from pulling the Robinson auto.  We have more autographs I regret selling. A 2003 Upper Deck vintage in-person autograph of Sparky Anderson and Hideki Matsui, and an in-person auto of Peter Gammons on a 2004 Fans of the Game insert. I do still have the 2004 Topps Grudge Match ttm autographed Mariano Rivera/Luis Gonzalez card. 
The last card is probably a 2008 Upper Deck Piece of History Mike Myers/Austin Powers pants card. It came from one of the first packs of the set that I purchased. The pack felt thick, but I didn't think anything of it, as fat packs usually screwed me over in the past. I got another few packs at Target again, and pulled a George Clooney 3 Kings relic and a Felix Hernandez/Carlos Zambrano dual relic, again from fat packs. I probably should've stopped getting packs, as luck usually isn't that good, but I probably got another 8 packs of the product, trying to pick the fattest ones I could find. I wasn't as lucky as the first times, but I did manage one last relic, a Justin Verlander jersey. 

There were a few ones that probably could've made the cut. a 2011 Topps Matt Kemp autograph, a 2011 Bowman Platinum Jason Heyward auto/jersey, and a 2017 Topps Mark Cahna 1/1 printing plate that netted me a ton of low-numbered Tigers/Rays/PC guys in a trade. But, this is a top 5, not a top 10, so I'l stick with it. 

If they would've included repacks, I could've fit a bunch in 1 spot. Back in 2003, I got a repack from K-Mart. It was an old-school one, as it came in a blister pack and the repacks were actually new-ish and not 1990 Donruss for 7 of the 8 packs. I want to say that I pulled an Andres Torres autograph from a 2003 Donruss The Rookies pack, next one was was a 2002 Upper Deck pack that produced a Lance Berkman Jersey. Next pack was a 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars pack that I pulled a Joe Borchard jersey. I got the Borchard card autographed, so it and the Torres are no longer with me. Next pack was a 2002 Fleer Tradition pack where I pulled an Alfonso Soriano bat card. Best 4-pack stretch of non-guaranteed hit products that I have ever had. 
I finally had my first off day with more than 4 hours by myself in a little over a month. I straightened the house a little, finished putting the Rangers into TCDB, mailed some stuff at the post office, and finally watched some Futurama and South Park. The Rangers I put in (as well as the Blue Jays through 1993) left me needing just 131 cards to get to 100,000 on the site. Granted, there are somehow doubles in a few sets and I have 3 different 1994 Topps sets according to the site. Regardless, after I input the Bankee$ to the site, I will have more than enough to legitimately have 100,000, including any doubles. It will probably be just in time to use the site to dig out cards to get signed for my birthday game. 

I am off Monday and Friday of next week, and hopefully by Friday I will have the Blue Jays done or close to being finished, and we'll see how far I can get with the Bankee$. The good news is that there are cards in binders only up to 1993 or so with them, and the rest are in monster boxes, so I can just flip to the backs really easy, and they should be a a breeze to input to the site like that. Then it's just some USA cards, highlight cards, my special card/insert/parallel/refractor binder, and then my relic binder. At some point, I will probably put in my celebrity/president cards just so I can get an accurate tally on Allen & Ginter sets, and try to input all of my non-baseball Allen & Ginter mini cards so I can trade all of those away. 

I'm really hoping to get all of my cards into TCDB so I can get some trades going for my Ultimate Topps Project. I think by the time I'm done uploading, I'll have a complete Topps run from 1986-1999 and 2019-2023, with additional complete sets of '85 Traded, 2000, 2004, and 2006 Updates & Highlights, with a number of sets being within 50 or so cards from finishing. It will be fun putting the sets into binders one all of cards are in TCDB. Should be a fun few weeks ahead in spite of the mother-in-law stuff. At least the cards will be glass half full.

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Sunday, April 7, 2024

The end is near (maybe)

 I tend to be the type of person who faces change and imagines the worst possible outcome. Some of the time, it will turn out to be true, but many times, it isn’t. Don’t know if I can help it or not, but I just try to see the worst possible outcome and try to plan against it and resist the change as much as I can.  
Well, the end is near, folks. Long story short, my mother in law is moving in with us either this month or early May. It’s technically her house and we are paying her the money for the mortgage and she is paying the bank, and we are trying to get our credit up enough to where she can sign it over to us. So essentially we can’t kick her out and I’m just imagining the worst. Mark my words people. It has been stated to at she is going to try to save money and try to get into an assisted living community. She says she isn’t going to be messy and store too much of her crap here. She says she will let us discipline Kyler without putting her 2 cents in afterwards. She says we are going to have date nights once a week and won’t tag along when we leave the house. I’m telling you right now it’s going to be longer than 6 months. She won’t save money. She won’t clean. She will have boxes of crap clogging up the garage and making my baseball cards impossible to get to. She will constantly speak over us when Kyler needs disciplining. The date nights will last 2 months. She will never leave us alone. 
I may be imagining the worst, but I know at least some of those things will happen and I want to stop this move more than ever for the sake of my sanity and my marriage. 
I can see my fun skipping away. Karen is a shell of herself right now. Can’t breathe and really do normal activities. She has a lump in her stomach that they are doing a biopsy on. They did an ultrasound a few weeks ago, and when we looked up some of the medical terms in the report, many of them said the outcome is 5 years at best. I’m tired as hell but ageeed to take on more responsibility at the house and both of us are just dying. Tired as hell and don’t know how to make our life work anymore. Work is stressing her out as being a manager she is getting crap from employees and corporate. They constantly bug her at home and she can’t be present while she is worrying about work. It’s not like either of us can quit as she is making really good money that is letting us pay rent, bills and stuff, and while my job is making 80,000 or so less than hers, it gives us very good insurance. I don’t think we could make it if she went back to a nursing job and I don’t know what the hell I could do for work other than maybe a cashier or warehouse, but that might give me a Buck or two more an hour, but not the insurance. I feel trapped. 
Right now Karens  brother is about to come over and help straighten up our garage so Karens mom can store some crap in it. I fear this will be the last time I can even get to my cards as I’m going to have to stack monster boxes on top of each other in order to make more space. I’m sure they will put crap in front of it and I just really want to get it my cards and be able to organize them to get some sanity back. 
We went to Wal-Mart last night and I got what could be the last blaster for a while as I will have no where to put them after today. 
Nothing too impressive, just a blaster of ‘22 Prizm for 10 bucks. The Ripken insert is nice. 
No Rays, Tigers, or guys I collect, but the parallels are nice. Joe Ryan hurts me. Rays gave him up for 2 unimpressive months of a steroid free Nelson Cruz. The Green Muncy is set aside for Night Owl and the Red White & Blue Acuna is for Johnny’s Trading Spot, but all the rest are up for grabs. 

While it may not be the last cards I get and I may be able to get to my boxes, I am still prepared for the worst. I really hope it ends up being a short stay and we can somehow up our credit and maybe even end this whole nightmare and buy a new house a few hours away. Maybe we will figure out all this medical mess with Karen. Maybe I can get some rest and we can get the house in running order. Maybe instead of sending me cards, send me liquor. I’ll take any ideas. This thought cycle is going to make me crazy and I don’t know how to fix it. 
Thanks for supporting me through this crap and for still reading my blog even though some times I put to much life crap on it and not enough cards. Maybe someday I’ll come out of this and maybe grow some and it will all work out. I just really don’t want the way my life is right now (besides all of the medical and caretaking frustration) to end. 

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