Saturday, November 5, 2022

Out of comission

 For about the past 2 weeks, it has seemed like my laptop has been running slower. Just taking longer for web pages to load, and programs weren’t responding nearly as fast. I had been struggling through making the 1996 Topps Reds team set, as well as a few 2021 and 2022 Topps customs of Brody Koerner. I was able to upland the ‘96 Reds set and started on a few ‘96 Topps Rockies, and had Friday off and was going to make some more. 
I turned the laptop on Friday and figured I would try to run the defrag program in the background as I made customs, when it acted like it was turning on instead of coming out of sleep mode. For about an hour it just sat at a loading screen, so I rebooted it. It took forever to start, but just about when it gets to the home page, it restarts and gives me an error code of ‘critical process died’ or something. 
I don’t know if I just saved too many customs and need to delete files of ones that are on my site (which is about 90% of them) or what, but if I can’t even get past the Home Screen I don’t know what to do. I don’t download stuff except for a font or two every few months, and I don’t go onto ‘bad’ websites or anything like that. The laptop is like 7+ years old, so maybe it was just time. I am glad that most of my customs are saved and I can probably find all of the templates and stuff that I need from this here blog, but I don’t know if we’re going to spring for a laptop just so I can mainly make customs and record songs about how much I hate the corporate mentality, the Man, and how the bourgeois exploit the prolotariots who need a union to help them get some rights back from the rich company owners and management. Or something like that…
I’ll keep blogging from my phone for the time being, but the customs might not come back for a while. I ordered the 2022 Topps Update set yesterday, so I’ll have that coming in and maybe I’ll let Kyler help me put my newer cards in their binders. With the laptop not working, I can probably put all of my loose cards in binders. I actually watched the World Series tonight and got my Astros binder done (until I get the Update cards). I was also hoping to make a video on my laptop showing how I make customs for some more tricky Topps sets (1951, 1976, 1988, and 1996), but that will have to wait as well. 
If anyone has any suggestions on what to do with my laptop it would be appreciated. Congrats to the Astros on wining the Series!
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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Quick Finest Post

 The 2 packs of Topps Finest came in early, so I had some fun when I got home from work today. 
Thats what the front of the packs look like if you've never seen them. They are from Series 2. I believe Series 1 has Tony Gwynn on the front, and Series 2 looks like Mets prospect Jeromy Burnitz. 
Part of the back of the pack. No odds for the Refractors printed on the back, but BaseballCardPedia says they are 1 in 9 packs. 
Other view of the back with the barcode and legal stuff showing. 

Well, those were my cards. No refractors. No Tigers. No favorite players, and even a dupe. Not a good way to spend 10 bucks plus shipping, but hey, it's a gamble. I could've just as easily pulled a Cecil Fielder refractor or something. From L-R, Bob Wickman, Steve Farr (I actually get those 2 pitchers confused alot as they were guys who racked up saves but weren't big names), Hector Carrasco and another Hector Carrasco, Mark Grace (probably the best card of the pack), Mike MacFarlane, Paul Molitor, Matt Walbeck, Kent Hrbek, Kevin Seitzer, Rey Sanchez, Rheal Cormier, Bob Scanlan, and Carlos Reyes. 
Had I got this pack 15-20 years ago, I could've had every card in this pack autographed except for Mr. Reyes at the end. I got Walbeck and Sanchez in person, and the rest through the mail. Never tried Reyes, but I suspect had I got that much of the 2 packs done, I would've tried Carlos. 
It was neat ripping into a premium pack that I never had the money to open. Not the best cards, but I've already put them into my sorting box to put in my collection (unless someone needs anyone in the group). If you are interested in one of the cards, let me know. I'm not really attatched to any of them, and it's always good to find cards good homes. I shudder when I think about all of the cool inserts, parallels, and just good old base cards that are still sitting in boxes that are in cases that are in warehouses that will never see the light of day and get into collectors hands. They all are cards that someone could use, and it's just a shame that they can't be opened and distributed to people who would add them to their collections. With that being said, if you see a pack just sitting there by itself or have some extra cash burning a hole in you pocket, but the lonely pack, buy some cards with that extra money. The more packs that are opened, the less cards are just going to be destroyed and the more that someone will enjoy them. 

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A bunch of Chrome, and Yankee Elimination Day!

 I think things are finally getting back to normal here at the DeJong headquarters. The flooring has been installed for a few weeks, most of the totes are unpacked, and really the only room that needs anything is our master bedroom, which just needs a few pictures hung up. That might get done on Friday when I have a day off. Another thing that I hope to get done that day is to finish the master 2022 Topps and Topps Update missing players checklists. As you might know, Topps released the ‘22 Topps Update checklist a day ago, and sadly for me, no Brody Koerner card. I guess I’ll have to hope he catches on with a team in 2023 and makes it to the Bigs. He does, however, have a 2022 card in the Charlotte Knights team set, and I’ll be ordering that in a few weeks. I should get a bonus from work the first week or so of November, and I should be ordering some cards from COMC, and I hope the card pops up on the site by then. If not, I’ll just buy the single online. 

Speaking of buying cards online, I saw one of those junk wax monthly subscription things a week or so ago which had a pack of 1994 Topps Finest on the top. 1994 Finest is one of my favorite Finest designs, if not, one of my favorite designs of any set. I just love the home plate shape, the green color around it, and the classy blue ribbon at the bottom. The All-Star subset was classy as well, with the yellow swirl in the middle and the rainbow behind it. The best part is the early ‘90’s Chrome technology. I thought about getting the box for 30 bucks, but the other 2 packs on top were ‘94 Stadium Club (I purchased a box of Series 2 & 3 of that set, so a good chance of dupes), and ‘94 Collector’s Choice, which I have the complete set of. With the rest of the packs guaranteed to not only be junk wax, but also from sports other than baseball, I decided to take a look on eBay for cheap ‘94 Finest packs. I found a lot of 2 Series 2 packs (probably taken from a box where the refractor had already been pulled), with a 9.99 minimum bid and 1 day left and zero bids. I put in a bid with 10 minutes left and won. I’ll let you guys know how I do. I’m just hoping for a Tiger or 2 and maybe a favorite player, but not expecting much. It will still be a fun break. 

I also got another blaster of 2022 Topps Chrome after having so much fun with the first one. I don’t know if I can do another one with the price, but I didn’t pull a Wander Franco base card, which was the one card I wanted, but I did find some decent ones, including the best card of the blaster, an autograph. 
If you were the average flipper brah, you would be laughing your butt off at me right now. Well, Patrick Mazeika went to Stetson University, which is 5 minutes away from my house. I’m actually hoping to add more Mazeika cards to my collection with my COMC purchase, and now I don’t have to pony up for an autograph. 
Refractors weren’t anything too special, but I might be going after a Max Fried rainbow after getting the Sepia one in the last blaster and now the regular one (unless Johnny wants them). 

Only 2 rookies were the Beer and another Sheets insert (which is Gavin’s if he needs them). I got a Chrome sunset card of Ryan Zimmerman. Only Rays were Arozarena and a Franco insert. I would rather have the base card though, so if you have one and are willing to work out a trade, let me know. Favorite players were deGrom and the previously mentioned Mazeika. 

I recently won one of Johnny’s almost daily contests, and he hooked me up with 9 Rays cards, many of the Chrome variety. 

I think all of these are needs, as I didn’t really buy much from 2012-2014, and haven’t been able to get too much of non-flagship stuff over the past 3 years. I love the Glasnow Fishfractor, and I look forward to what he can do in 2023.  I also love the McKay refractor from the ‘52 set (can’t think of what it’s called). I’ve always had a soft spot for McKay. He was a pitcher/position player before Ohtani was even a blip on the radar. If he can stay healthy, he could be a dual threat for the Rays. Thanks for the cards, John. 

If you haven’t heard of Yankee Elimination Day, you probably haven’t been reading this blog long. Yankee Elimination Day is the day the Yankee$ are either eliminated from getting into the playoffs or eliminated from the playoffs. It happened on my wife’s birthday this year, which made it even sweeter. I figured I’d make a custom celebrating it in the 2023 Topps design. I don’t know about you, but I can’t picture Topps being able to make highlight or combo cards with the new design. I wouldn’t miss the combo cards, but I can’t go without highlight cards. 
I thought the 62 HR quote was a nice touch, along with the photo of him turning around watching the Astros celebrate. Added with the Astros colors since they won, and this card is a winner for me. I should’ve put the game # instead of the position, but that’s an easy fix. Between the Yankee$ and ‘Bama (who also lost recently) I don’t know who I would rather have eliminated, but I’m happy the Yankee$ lost because they looked scary early this year. I’m also happy the bat flipping money throwing Padres are out as well. This should be a great World Series in my opinion. I don’t care for Philly since they somehow beat the Rays in the ‘08 Classic, but I’d be ok with Harper winning a ring. I’d also be ok with the Astros sweeping them to go 11-0 in the postseason. It would give Dusty a ring as a player and a manager, and shut up all of the haters that say their only title in 2017 was tainted. I saw that team play the Rangers in Houston that season, and they just tore the cover off of the ball that game. They batted around, and I didn’t hear one trash can bang. They just have awesome hitters. I also have become a Kyle Tucker fan and would love to see him win a ring. We saw him play at Corpus Cristi that year, and he signed some cards for me, plus he’s a Florida boy who went to school in Gainesville where my wife has had all her surgeries at. 
Whoever wins, I’m just happy it’s not a big spender (Yankee$, Dodgers, Padres), someone who’s been there lately (Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals), or a team with punks who flip bats or are loud (Padres-Machado & Tatis, Dodgers-Justin Turner, Cardinals-Molina, White Sox-Tim Anderson, Yankees-Bader, Cole). Harper can get a little loud at times, but it’s not 24-7 like Machado, Tatis and say what you want, but he was the face of the sport for almost a decade. We’ll know in a week or so who will get a ring. 

I’ll post what I get in the ‘94 Finest packs seconds after they arrive at my door. 
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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Out of routine, Hurricane Ian, and 2022 Topps Chrome

 This has been probably one of the craziest 2 weeks I've had in a while. If anyone knows me, they know that I kind of like to have a routine and do things the same way, and just everything right now is so we can't have it that way. It's for the best, but my mind is freaking out just a little while going through it. 

As you know, we are painting our house and getting some laminate wood flooring across the whole house as well. This will be great for allergies (and I personally look forward to seeing how far I can slide across the floors while wearing socks), and the paint will make the house look nice and hopefully increase value if we end up moving during the next few years, or just give it that touch that makes it feel like ours if we end up staying for a while. The bad part is that all of this involves basically packing most of our belongings up in boxes and totes until the floors get installed. Fortunately for us, it is supposed to happen on Wednesday and Thursday. I think we are about halfway there, still need to get a little more done in mine and Karen's room, the entire guest room, a closet or two, and bathrooms. I'm freaking out a little, but we all know that with things like moving, that it eventually gets done and all right before the buzzer. I'm off tomorrow and Tuesday, so hopefully I can get some stuff packed those days. We will be picking up all of the flooring tomorrow and stacking 83 boxes somewhere in the dining room/kitchen, but hey, I lift 5 or so 40-lb boxes of flour on days I mix bread at work, what are a few boxes of flooring?

The hurricane also threw some non-routine things into our plans this past week. I was fortunate to be off of work on Tuesday, but had to bake on Wednesday. I really expected the store to stay open normal hours (until 10 PM) that night, but there was a video of one of our stores in Miami getting a tornado in the parking lot during one of the first small squalls while the store was still open, with cars getting flipped and stuff, and I bet corporate didn't want that look again, so they ended up telling us we were going to shut down at 5PM. That was nice for me, because they let us quit setting things up, I was finished baking, so I didn't have to put anything else into our proof box or ovens, and I just got to clean up and try to go home. We ended up staying at Karen's work. She is the Executive Director of an assisted living facility in Port Orange, Florida, and whenever there is a hurricane, she has to stay in the building until it passes over, so it was basically like she was at work but with a storm, and family was allowed to stay, so Kyler and I came and the 3 of us stayed in an empty room at the facility. 
That kind of gives you an idea of where we are. DeLand is basically exit 118 on I-4, Port Orange is a few miles off of exit 128 on I-4, and Daytona is a few miles North of Port Orange. I work in Orange City, which is exit 111, so after I got off work, I drove home North to DeLand, packed up anything I needed and anything Karen forgot, and drove to Port Orange, and met Karen and Kyler at her work. We had some friends stay at our home and they kept us updated. 

Now I have lived in Florida since 1991, with a year in Montgomery, AL in 2001, and 3 years in Montgomery, AL from 2006-2009. I have been through a few dozen hurricanes, and this one was probably one of the worst ones I've seen. I've been through one that took down most of a tree in our house. I've been through one that knocked the power out for 2 weeks, but this one just had so much rain. We have been getting a good amount of rain the past month. Enough that my county had a flood warning before this storm came to be. Karen's work had a good amount of damage. Ceilings leaking, water coming through doors, a tree falling in the parking lot, fences torn down, and flooding everywhere outside. When I had to drive back to work on Friday morning, one of the streets I took to I-4 was just flooded about 300 feet after I turned onto it, and I had to turn around and find another way. 2 people at Karen's work lost their homes because flooding was like 5 feet deep in the house. Many other people had 1 foot flooding. Just about everyone lost power. I think Daytona, Port Orange, and some of the cities along the coast got it pretty bad, but that's just from what I've heard from people I've ran into that live near me. Other cities down south got it bad, too. And compared to Puerto Rico and the hurricane they had earlier, Florida got nothing. Back in DeLand, many people lost power. A few months ago, these construction workers did some digging in our front yard and it was all to put the power lines underground. It looked like they left the job unfinished, and we just assumed they were going to come back and do some work at some point. I guess we never lost power, so either the power lines are underground or we just got lucky. A few branches fell down, but all of my flowers survived and didn't really even show signs of leaning to one direction because of the wind. We did have some water get into the kitchen and laundry room, but our friends were able to get it up with a shop vac and some towels. I'm a little concerned that we have mold because of that, but we hope to get some mold people to look at it, plus the floors are coming up anyways and they might be able to give us some advice when it gets instatlled, and were going to get some mold spray and damp rid when we go to Lowes tomorrow to pick up the floors. The hurricane did some major damage and interrupted our routine, but we were lucky. 
I went to work Friday morning, and Karen and Kyler packed up and came home at noon. It was nice to sleep in our own beds last night as the mattresses we slept on at Karens work just killed my back. Saturday it was almost a routine Saturday except Karen's mom stayed with us since her power still isn't on. I went to work, had lunch with Karen, Kyler, and her mom, finished up work, and then came home. Karen usually goes to Target after having lunch with me, and more often than not will look at the baseball card aisle to see if they have anything that interests me. A few weeks ago, Night Owl posted that it had been years since he purchased Topps Chrome. It had been the same for me. I think 2018 was the last year I did. Well, Karen found a blaster of Topps Chrome, and picked it up. I'm waiting for Update so I can finish my 2022 set and get to work on my master checklists of missing players, but it is nice to have a product out since nothing really has been on the shelves since Series 2 came out. My blaster had 7 4-card packs, and I think I got some decent cards. I was really hoping to pull a Wander Franco but I came up empty, and I almost want to get another one, but I guess I can always find one online in a month or so when the prices go down. 

I did pull a Miguel Cabrera and a Shane Baz for my 2 favorite teams. It's a shame Baz will miss next year, but here's hoping he will recover, and he could head a 2024 Rays rotation of Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Drew Rasmussen, Luis Patino (all a with a year more experience), and dark horses like Brendan McKay, Jeffrey Springs, and whoever they can get in free agency. It has me drooling already. The refractors really stood out to me. I guess the Aqua ones are new this year, and I pulled an Aqua Mini Diamond version of George Springer #d to 199. My Pink Refractors were Walker Buehler and Jose Altuve. I pulled a Fish-Fractor of Teoscar Hernandez, and a regular refractor of Kyle Hendricks. My 2 Sepia Refractors were of Max Fried (It's yours if you need it, Johnny) and Matt Olson. 
I also pulled some nice rookies. I got regular versions of Jarren Duran and Luis Gil. I always look at the back of any Luis Gil cards I get, because he started Brody Koerner's MLB debut game, and it was the first time in Yankee history or something that 3 players made ther debut in the same game (Gil, Stephen Ridings, and Brody). I'm hoping one of Gil's cards mentions it and Brody's name on the back, but so far, nothing. The Gavin Sheets is an insert, and I guess technically counted as a Refractor since the pack I pulled it from didn't have one. Funny, because the '87 inserts don't have a version without a refractor sheen, so I'm technically getting gyped a refractor for every time I pull an '87 insert from Chrome. The last 2 cards are an Aqua Lava Refractor #d to 199 of Jarren Duran, and a regular refractor of O'Neil Cruz. Not too bad of a blaster where I got 2 cool Aqua Refractors, only 2 regular refractors, pulled a few team guys and also got some nice rookies. This box is making me want to get another one really bad. And those Twitter mojo hitz flipper bro's are sad because the set doesn't have Spencer Torkelson and Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt, Jr. I didn't notice. 
The cards were a nice treat at the end of a chaotic week. I'm off tomorrow, get to play in the church band, see how everyone there fared, and then hopefully finish this flooring and get stuff unpacked and back to normal...until another hurricane comes. 

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Saturday, September 24, 2022

1996 Topps Seattle Mariners team set

 In 1996, I was 13 years old. I had just come off of a 1995 baseball season where I saw one of my favorite teams of the time, the Atlanta Braves, win the World Series. Kind of lost in the glory of the Braves finally winning a title and the Indians getting so close was the story of the 1995 Seattle Mariners. The team had some major hurdles that summer (Ken Griffey, Jr. getting injured and the potential relocation of the team if a stadium bill wasn't passed), but they overcame them. There is a very nice documentary on the MLB network about the team, so if you have MLB Network, I would recommend you check it out. I remember Griffey had a great 1995 season, and I was expecting him to hit 50 HRs, and then he got injured, and it seemed like the team would miss the postseason again. He came back from the injury early, and the Mariners got hot and the Angels got cold, forcing a 1-game playoff at the end of the season against the Angels for the AL West crown and a spot in the postseason. Randy Johnson won the game, only giving up 3 hits, and the Mariners were in the playoffs. In the ALDS, they won the series in the final game on an extra inning double by Edgar Martinez to score Griffey. They were a tad weaker than the Indians, but if you played the 1995 ALCS 100 times, I bet that Mariners team could've won about 35-40 of the games. 
Just off the top of my head, they had a decent starting lineup. Catcher Dan Wilson was a great defensive catcher, and he had a little power. 1B Tino Martinez was just starting to come to his own and hit for power. 2B Joey Cora was fast and an excellent bunter. SS Alex Rodriguez struggled some, but we all know how his career went.  3B Mike Blowers was solid and could give you about 20 HRs.   LF was a mix of Rich Amaral, Darren Bragg, and Vince Coleman. The first 2 were solid defenders, while Coleman gave you a threat to steal bases. CF Ken Griffy, Jr. was one of the best players of my generation, and the centerpiece of the Mariners lineup. RF Jay Buhner could mash 40 HRs yearly. DH Edgar Martinez was a doubles machine and challenged for the batting title every year.
The starting pitchers were Randy Johnson, Andy Benes, Tim Belcher, Bob Wolcott, and Chris Bosio. Johnson was a threat for a no-hitter every time out. Benes was a solid strikeout pitcher and was capable of 15 wins a year. Belcher had playoff experience and could win you 12-15 every year. Wolcott was a surprising rookie who had enormous potential before his career fizzled out. Bosio was a 12-15 win pitcher, and he pitched a no-hitter 2 seasons earlier. The bullpen was solid with Jeff Nelson, Norm Charlton, Ron Villone, Bob Wells, Lee Guetterman, Bill Krueger, and Bobby Ayala. Most of the guys had middle relief or setup fame, but all were decent players, and Charlton had playoff experience with the Reds. Throw in some solid bench guys like C Chad Kreuter (who hit 20 HRs for Detroit), Felix Fermin, Luis Sojo, Doug Strange, Rich Amaral, and Warren Newson, and they had a deep bench who came through during the playoffs. 
After watching the 1995 season, I was eager to get baseball cards in 1996. I got random packs at Wal-Mart (Topps, Upper Deck, Collector's Choice), and towards the end of the year, Topps put out team sets of a number of teams. Each one came with a big card of the teams best player. For the Braves, each card had a World Championship logo on it, the Indians had the AL Champions logo on it, each division winner had a special logo on it, and the rest of the teams with sets had a 'Team Topps' logo. I got the Braves, Indians, Mariners, and the Yankees (don't hate. I wanted the Mickey Mantle card) that summer/fall. While I had the 1996 Topps Mariners team set, the entire 1996 Topps set is only 440 cards, its smallest set ever. I decided to skip ahead of the checklist in the 1996 Topps set and finish off all of the Mariners and post them. 

The Kingdome and Piniella card were done by Richard B. of the FB Custom Card group, and the A-Rod was done by Topps. 
So, there you have it, the missing Mariners cards in the 1996 Topps set. Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. 
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