Sunday, December 26, 2021

Been a while

 It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I would assume after the last post that everyone wants an update. That’s fair. 
Well, it hasn’t went exactly the way I thought I’d would, but it hasn’t been all bad either. I haven’t purchased a pack of cards for myself since the last post, and my wife has purchased a number of ones for Kyler since then. I’ve opened them with him and it’s seemed to go ok. He enjoys going through each card and asking if the player is one we’ve seen in person at a game. By now, he recognizes some of them and can remember if he has seen them them or not. He has also pulled 2 autographed cards and a jersey card. The autos were a Ryan Weathers from the 1986 Topps insert in 2021 Update and a Nick Madrigal from 2021 Topps Fire. The jersey was a Ryan Mountcastle from 2021 Update. Whether he remembers these cards and is collecting years from now is anyones guess. 
Now for what may be the not so good. I have been kind of secretly pulling the Rays/Tigers/guys I collect from the packs and recently organized my Rays and Tigers binders on a day off. I’m not proud of pulling the cards, and I probably could have not updated my binders with loose cards that I hadn’t put it, but it happened, and that’s where I’m at now. I don’t know if I am just trying to get justification for doing it or what, but yeah, that happened. 
I am proud of how long it’s been since I’ve opened a pack and I think I’ve come to realize that while I think it’s good to have cut down on reading blogs and buying packs and chasing every card that the interaction with people is still a good thing. 
With that being said, I wanted to address each comment left on my last post individually, as they all meant a lot to me. 

Nachos Grande- You’re right about everyone needing to do the best for their family and personal situation. I’ve also enjoyed your blog (although I haven’t commented much either), and I enjoyed your team giveaway you did at Christmas a few years ago. 

Fuji-Glad to have your support. Your blog is a personal favorite of mine because of the thought-provoking questions you pose at the end. I wish I could do that. Glad you enjoy that Posey. 

Johnny’s Trading Spot-I appreciate that. Glad to see the Braves win the Series for you this year. 

Jeff B.-Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. The music has been a good outlet to replace it (more on that later).  I feel like I was tempted a lot early on, but now it isn’t as bad (doesn’t mean it can’t rear its head at any time), and I feel like at least that area has got better with my wife, but I will always have areas to work on.  

Adam-You are right about kind of feeling a freedom. With all of the time that I devoted to organizing cards, updating this site, making customs, there wasn’t much left. Now, I don’t feel like I’m in as much of a rat race, and I have more time to work on music stuff and devote to family and other things. 

Night Owl-You are right about needing moderation in everything. Too much, and it’s an addiction, too little, and you run the risk of going crazy and not having any fun. 

Rod-I’m glad that someone can relate to me in all of this. I love the ‘meet you in the air’ part. I will have to keep that in mind when I end up saying goodbye to someone. 

The Diamond King-I sometimes wonder if I’m posting stuff that’s too personal, but yeah, I trust my readers and feel like if someone doesn’t want to hear what I’m saying they will just tell me or read something else. I do trust my readers and feel like maybe I can help them with something they are dealing with so I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve (like I do in real life). 
It’s tough for me to change some of the ways I’ve believed since I was young, but I sincerely hope I can change some of my long held beliefs for the better. 

Matt-Yep. The greater good is what is important. 

Jon-Thank you. So far it has been good. 

Jafronius- You are right. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but they really are the most important thing. 
I’ll probably be on the lookout for some Brody Koerner cards. Can’t wait till Topps puts out the final checklist for Series 1 so I can know what I’m dealing with. One of his (and my wife’s) cousins is getting married in March 2022, and although I would rather not go, should he be there and have a Topps card by then, that might change my mind, lol. 

A Cracked Bat-Thanks for the well wishes. 

Mark Staffieri-Yeah, I think probably anyone who has collected for more than a year has probably dealt with the addiction factor. 
Doing customs because of the money factor is a good idea. Side note, would you ever be interested in handling the customs part of this blog with the checklists and custom cards and stuff?  Let me know. 

I think that handles it with the comments. Thanks to everyone who commented and went well wishes. 

While I don’t want to get full-time back into blogging, I feel like I kind of want to use this platform as something to just write about life, music, what I am feeling or going through at the moment, and maybe even some baseball thrown in. Just something to connect with everyone, and possibly, just help someone out there who is going through something. 

So what have I been up to since the last post?  We’ll, I’ve made a bunch of music. I probably recorded 20 songs. Some have been in the works for years, some have been written in the past month or 2. It has taken about 3 months to get a halfway decent setup and figure out what works as far as recording. When I first started out, I was just recording using my voice recorder on my phone, my keyboard, the garage band app on my phone, and no mic. Then I would email it from my phone to laptop, cut out parts into tracks, and have a song. Not very good at all. Since then, I’ve added a bunch of things to improve the sound, and it shows. I added a USB external sound card, a few 1/4 inch cables and adapters, an adapter that goes from my phone to headphone jack size, and finally a microphone. Not high quality stuff, but it gets the job done. Probably half of the stuff I’ve recorded will have to get re recorded in order to get rid of unwanted noise and stuff, but I should have some good quality versions of songs that I’ve wanted to record for years. Some of them are serious and have positive messages. Others are just rants about work, corporate machines, and getting stopped by the Man. Still, others are just songs about how much I enjoy Surge soda, working with thugs at McDonalds, or about penguins. Just totally random stuff, but they all have stories behind them. Hopefully I can post some, and you will glean some wisdom from the serious ones, and laugh at all of the rest of them. Stay tuned for some music in the near future when the holidays are done with. 

My wife has also been through some stuff since the last post. The headaches came back, and with all of the symptoms she was having seemed to point to her artery being clogged again. Her neurosuegeon had her in, and after doing scans, we could see that the tubing in her lumbar shunt was kinked again. At that time, we didn’t talk about the artery and just scheduled a surgery to try to reposition the tubing. This was early December. Dr. Murad, her neurosuegeon went in, moved the tubing to a different area, and was about to close up, and it moved, so he had to try a second time, and after doing scans, it looked like it stayed in place, so he closed up. 
It’s been about a month since the surgery, and the headaches are back, and she has had a few episodes where it’s almost like she’s drunk, where her words are slurred and none of her texts make sense. She’s also had issues with breathing which are worse than her normal asthma flare ups. All of the symptoms point to the artery being clogged to me. Blood not getting to her brain could cause the speech and neuro issues, and if there isn’t enough blood with oxygen circulating, that could be causing the breathing issues. The reduced blood flow could be making the headaches bad. That’s not to say that the shunt being kinked wasn’t an issue, but I wished they would’ve at least consulted with the vein people and perhaps done a scan before going in for this last surgery. 
We are getting in contact with the vein people and waiting for an answer. The last time we spoke to them was probably sometime last February when they saw that one of the veins they unclogged in the last surgery had clogged back up again. They didn’t seem to worried about it since another one had grown and seemed like it was doing the job, but I really wish they would’ve monitored it more closely. I believe they said that if the stent they put it the veins didn’t work that they did have another surgery they could do, but it would be complicated. I guess we’ll stay tuned for what they say. 

We went to St. Augustine about a week ago with some family, and although it was a good time, 2 things just stuck out to me and made me sick. 
On the drive there, we got to an intersection, and there was a group of like 15 people with signs and megaphones. Apparently it was some kind of white power rally. Signs that said ‘White Lives Matter’ and stuff, but the one that really got to me was one that read something like ‘Young black men murder white babies’. WTF???  Where do they even get that convoluted  idea from???  I realize where we were at was redneck city, but I didn’t think we were that F-d up. Everyone has thoughts and generalizations of other people and races that aren’t necessarily right or they stereotype certain groups and that’s not ok, but at least they don’t go off the deep end like this group of people. I would like to think that if a life or death situation happened (a war, a shooting, hostage situation, bad car accident, etc), that 99% of people would help out another person, no matter what the color of their skin, beliefs, or whatever. Seeing that crap just made me sad to be a human and wondering the state of the world today. I want to raise good human beings, so why have I only been able to have 1 kid in 10 years and why is it so damn hard to adopt? I’m sure some of those jokers are popping out kids like nobody’s business. Just frustrating. I hope they lose momentum to whatever sick party they are a part of. 
The other thing that I saw that day that concerned me wasn’t anything that really affected me at the time, I was just concerned about what could happen in the future. 
We were going to the main part of the city with the big Christmas tree when we saw 2 young grade-school aged punks with their parents behind them. They were armed with toy machine guns sweeping back and forth, acting like they were shooting up the crowd. While the act didn’t cause any harm in itself, I just imagined what those 2 punks could be doing in another 5-10 years. I’m not opposed to people owning guns per se. I’ve fired a gun before, I know people who hunt. I just think they are a tricky subject and there should be certain stipulations and precautions taken before someone should own certain types. Especially if you have kids. Those 2 kids obviously aren’t going to purchase a gun when they come of age to go hunting with. Maybe we will get lucky and their parents will get them involved in ROTC in middle school and some of that agression will get channeled in with discipline. Or maybe we won’t and somebody will have to be a casualty of parents who don’t teach their kids the difference between good and bad, fantasy and reality, etc. Another instance that day which made me pissed off that the chances of us having another kid don’t look very good. I think it was just worse that day because my wife’s brother and 2 cousins were there with us that day. All 3 couples were pregnant when we found out we were last February. I think it was the first time we saw all 3 of the new kids in the same place after our miscarriage last March. Parts of the trip were fun, but had I known the bad stuff we would’ve seen, I would’ve just stayed home. Maybe I can make sense of all of this with music or something. 

Back to a positive vibe, we had a pretty decent Christmas. Kyler got some legos, puzzles, and other fun stuff for Christmas. Work has been hell with tons of orders and sales going up 20%. Perhaps I’ll get a decent cut of the profit….. I’m just glad that the big holidays are over with. Just got to get through New Years Day, which won’t be too bad for me, watch Bama lose to Cincinnati (a man can dream, can’t he?), and I’ll get a break for a few weeks. I hope to have a great 2022. My ultimate dream? COVID getting under control, moving out of Florida, a nice vacation where we see a new stadium or 2 and go to some nice places to eat, a healthy wife, a pregnancy and healthy birth, lots of songs recorded, and maybe a new house and man cave should we move. If we stay here, maybe a little break from relatives and my boss quitting. 
Sorry this is so long. I will try to keep newer posts shorter. Hopefully with some music to go with it. If you are interested any in what is going through my head musically or any of the piano stuff I am playing, I am working on a piano/music theory kind of blog. I’ll put a link up when I get that up and running. 
Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

A (probably) final update

 Hello everyone. I kind of felt the need to write and just let everyone know where I'm at as a person/collector, why I dropped everything, and maybe help you make sense of everything. I hope this doesn't get to be too long winded, preachy, or non-relatable.
Ever since 1992 or so, baseball, as well as the cards have been a big part of my life. Maybe more so during my middle school years. I think by then, it was starting to get to be more than a hobby. By the time high school came around, I spent most of my money on getting cards, and any time I have the chance to go to a game, I would bring the cards and try to get autographs. I think by that point, it had gotten to be more than a hobby. It just grew by then. When I moved back home to go to college in 2002, I went to a lot more games trying to get autographs, and was buying cards like they were going out of style. 2004 came, and my parents split up, so I really didn't have my mom hounding me to not buy cards, and I started doing the ttm autograph thing. Baseball and the cards were there for me during some crappy times in my life, and although it was fun, the both had become an addiction that I didn't want to let go. 
I met my wife in 2011, and she was concerned at the money I spent on cards and how much time I devoted to baseball websites and the like. I told her I would change, and of course, I didn't. We got married in 2012, and I got a little better, not really buying any packs in 2013 or 2014, but in 2014 I started doing the custom cards, and in 2015, she got me a few packs, and I was hooked again. 
There were a few fights on how important cards were to me, and I made small changes, but would go back into bad habits again. Around 2 months ago, it got really bad, and I'm surprised that my wife stayed around. Every last second of my life was devoted to the cards. I would spend all of my free time on an off day either doing customs or organizing cards. When I got home from work, I would ignore straightening the house up or other daily tasks that needed to be done just to do baseball things. On days both of us were off and we would have a chance to nap, I would purposefully miss sleep in order to get out the laptop and make customs. Any chance we had to go to Wal-Mart, Target, or wherever, I would get more cards. I was just a complete and total selfish jerk. She called me out on it, and on that day, I made the decision to stop with them. It was (and still is) hard, but that is just what I have to do. I have got a few packages in the mail from bloggers, and I've just took the cards out, or quickly went through them with Kyler, and then then quickly put them away in a box that Kyler has for his cards. I honestly can say that I really hope he forgets about them and doesn't get into collecting. It can be fun and good, but I have just went too far with it, and I don't want him to get like I have. The tough part has been if Karen has purchased a few packs for Kyler. I open them with him just because she wants us to have daddy-son bonding time and because I always wanted my dad to collect with me, but the evil part of me wants to keep the cards for my collection and just go back into old bad habits that got me in the place I am now in the first place. And she has said that she is ok with me collecting. I just shouldn't make them more important than other people, and they certainly were. I just don't think I can keep getting cards without going full force back into them, so I had to 'burn the ships' as they say. 
This has left me with a lot of time on my hands. Some of it is alone, some of it is not. I have tried to work on music when I am alone. While none of it will ever get picked up by anyone serious about music, and the music is just nonsense to begin with, it keeps me occupied and has somewhat of a purpose. During times with the family, I've been trying to be more present, probably failing 90% of the time, but still better than when I was 100% into baseball. I've been actually sleeping when we nap, and it feels good to get a little more rest (just wish I didn't have to get up at 3:45 AM every day for work).
Brody Koerner, a guy we are kind of related to (his Uncle John married my wife's Aunt Charla), made his MLB debut in August this year for the Yankees. He might be on cards in 2022, and if so, I want to tread extra lightly, perhaps not even trying to get a simple base card, just so I don't open up the wound again. I might follow the playoffs this year, but hopefully with only a passing interest, even if the Rays do like they did last year.
Here's where it might get a little religious, and if you don't want to hear my thoughts, please scroll down.
All of my life, I have grown up in church. I prayed the prayer, went to the services, read through the Bible a few times, and thought I was living a good life (didn't have sex until I got married, supported Republicans, hated the right people). The more I have been with my wife, the more I have come to realize that it's more about a relationship with God than it is a list of do's or don'ts, and although people may be doing things I don't agree with, there are a lot more sides to an issue than black and white sometimes, and I don't need to judge. It is very hard for me. Very, very hard. It is scary to think that I have been living my life the way I have for 30+ years, thinking I was going to heaven if I died, when I may not have been living my life the right way at all. It is so hard for me to change after 30 years of thinking what I was doing was right. 
With the baseball cards, I always had that lingering thought in my head that should I die, or should Christ return before I died, that the cards would just be left to someone, sold, or if Christ came, just be burned to the ground with the rest of the earth at some point in the tribulation. Yet, still I collected. Still I wasted money. I hope nobody I work with reads this, but sometimes I really hate my job. If I had spent money and invested it, I could've probably retired at least 5 years earlier. Not now, and although I have some cards that I could probably sell for a few hundred bucks, I really doubt if I could even get 5-10 thousand for my collection. I don't want to know what I've spent on the whole thing in its entirety. 
I remember one time in like the 7th grade, a missionary came to our church and gave a powerful talk about how they needed money to keep doing what they were doing and feed starving people. My mom took us to Kay-Bee's and got us kids something, me baseball cards, of course. I felt something inside me (the Holy Spirit) telling me to ask her if I could just leave the cards at the store and donate the money to missions. I was a coward and never spoke up, and while it may not have made a difference in the long run, it is telling of what I have done for years and years. Basically putting myself and the cards first, instead of putting Christ, my family, and others in thier proper spots. I have been trying to consciously change that, trying to help out at work more when I would just rather say 'screw you guys, I'm going home', trying to listen to the Holy Spirit when I am at work or home, and just tyring not to judge people and be open. I am scared to death that I am going to just repeat myself. It seems like every time I try to change, it works for a week or a month, and I just go back to bad habits. I try not to make negative comments, and it works for a few days, and then I'm right back at it. I can't afford to mess this up, or I could lose the best thing in my life (my family). I know it's not realistic to expect to be perfect, but I almost feel that I have to in order to keep my family. I feel like I may be on to something just putting things in their proper spot as far as priorities and letting the rest fall into place, but I guess only time will tell. I would love for any advice. I feel like maybe how they say it takes 17 days to form a good habit could work for me, as I've been basically not messing with cards for at least 17 days, but I just don't want to mess anything up. I have an addiction, and I think as a self-proclaiming Christian, it means more for me to give up these cards and get my priorities straight than someone who isn't (not to be judgy or anything). I guess I mean I just have to choose to actually live like Christ would and believe that heaven after death is real and that only good things we do here on earth matter, or not and just do whatever I felt was best for me. 

Ok, done with the religous part. I also wanted to apologize to some of my readers. I recieved packages from Jay of Card Hemmorhage, Kerry from Cards on Cards, and John of Johnny's Trading Spot. I confess, I haven't read blogs since I quit blogging, and I probably won't, but there were a few trades that were kind of in the works since I stopped everytning (mainly with Jay). I didn't reach out to anyone to ask if they wanted me to ship cards, and I should've. It would've been awkward, but I should have. Jay reached out to me yesterday and called me out on that. I should've reached out, or just went ahead and sent the cards. A few days before I stopped everything, I went to my LCS, and found some cards for Night Owl, Fuji, Card Hemmorhage, Cards on Cards, Johnny's Trading Spot, Cards from the Quarry, and maybe 1 or 2 other bloggers. I haven't sent any of those out. Some are packages, some are envelopes. I hope on Wednesday to stop at the post office after work, and finally just put that to rest. All I ask is not to send anything back. I can't do this anymore, and I just want to put cards behind me. 
I have had some great memories with collecting, and I do have some things I've done in the process that I feel might have some eternal worth (sending someone a nice card they weren't expecting, making someone happy with a custom I've made), but ultimately, I feel that I could be doing so much better without doing the cards. 
As far as this blog, I might check every once in a while to see if there's a comment that really needs addressing, but I feel that after a while, there won't be, and hopefully I can just put it to bed. Part of me wants to see a complete missing player checklist done for all of the Topps run 1951-2026, but I know in my heart that it ultimately doesn't matter. That isn't to say that people who collect cards or do customs are anywhere below me. I think I have shown through my actions that I am one of the chiefest of sinners, if not the worst. 
A reader, David, reached out to me about some earlier customs he has done, and I have given him access to this site in order for him to post them. Not sure what will happen with that, but I trust he has fun and anyone who sees the cards he posts will gain enjoyment from them.
Well, that is about it. If you have any questions about all of this, I guess just let me know. If you feel like I'm decent enough to keep following, I am on Facebook (Jeremy DeJong), though I rarely post, just mainly see what everyone is up to, and occasionally show up on one of my wife's posts. I wish you all the best in life, and hope you can have the best life (whether that involves cards or not). 
Thanks for reading my (probably last) post.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Hanging it up

 This could be my final post for a while. Things are fine in my life, but I need to take a break from cards, blogging, making cards, and baseball in general. I appreciate everyone who has ever sent me a card in the mail, followed the blog, or made a nice comment. The kindness shown was truly undeserved. I hope this page can still be a nice reference for anyone who is into custom cards or just wants to see their favorite player get a Topps card that they never had. If anyone feels like taking over the page, I am happy to hand over the reigns. Thanks again. You guys rock. 


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Latest rip to the card shop

 My last post was a little Covid-heavy, but I really expected at least a few people to ask me to pick them up some cards when I went to my LCS yesterday. Nobody took me up on the offer. Tough crowd. I still made out with some nice cards, and some stuff that I'll hopefully have shipped out in the next week or two. 

I was planning on mowing the lawn, but ended up putting it off until next week, and that gave me time to look through 4 or 5 boxes of .50 cent cards, as well as a pencil box with some loose Rays and Tigers cards in it. 

I've been to the shop enough to know that the owners, 'Pop' and TJ know me as the 'Rays guy', and they had a stack of Rays for me to look through when I got there. That was a nice touch. 
I'll start first with the Tigers I found. Somebody must've had a bunch of 2018 Bowman Refractors, because I found some from a number of different teams, including the Tigers. I wish I would've had that Parker Meadows in 2018, I saw him play at West Michigan that year when I was on vacation, and was able to get him to sign a custom, but I always love the look of a signed Refractor. I also got some 2021 Bowman's, including 2 of Dillon Dingler, the Tigers 2nd pick in the 2020 draft behind Spencer Torkelson. I still need to get a Torkelson and Casey Mize 1st Bowman card. Not pictured are the 2002 Topps Tigers I pulled from the pencil box, leaving me a handful short of the (non-Traded) '02 Topps set. The Heritage cards leave me 1 card short (Spencer Turnbull) of the 2021 Topps Heritage Tigers set (including SP's!!). 
I didn't have as many Rays, but did find some nice '18 Bowman Refractors and '20 Stadium Club Chrome cards. I'm still high on Brandon McKay (and Brent Honeywell), even though they have been injured for a good portion of their careers. The Rays could have a starting rotation of Glasnow, Shane Baz, Honeywell, McKay, Shane McClanahan, and easily trot out Ryan Yarbrough or another power arm in AA or AAA in the future. If only it were that easy. They just traded 2 more good arms (Drew Strotman and Joe Ryan) for a steroid abuser (Nelson Cruz). This move ticks me off for a number of reasons. First, because they should've made this move in addition to keeping Blake Snell. Imagine the club with Snell at #1 with Glasnow as your #2 guy in a 5 game series. Cruz could put them over the hump with Snell still there. Now he just helps keep you getting in the playoffs, but you still don't have the solid 1-2 starting pitching punch like you would've if Snell was still on the club. Second, Cruz is a steroid abuser. There is always the chance he will get caught, and he's not going to keep up his HR production without them. He's been caught with them before, and I don't know why nobody mentions it and keeps talking about him being a great person and good for the clubhouse. On top of that, he's only a rental, since he's a Free Agent at the end of the year. Lastly, Ryan and Strotman are good pitchers, each one on the Rays Top 30 Prospect list. Some of these trades that the Rays have made where they give up a minor leaguer to acquire a Major Leaguer have stumped me. They gave up Jesus Sanchez to get Jesus Aguilar, and they only rented him for a few months. Sanchez was a top prospect before he was traded, and he's one of the top prospects for Florida now. In the Jose Martinez trade, while they did get Randy Arozarena, they gave up Matthew Liberatore, who is a decent pitching prospect. Martinez was basically gone after a few months, with nothing to show for it. I'm just scared this trade won't get the Rays any further in the postseason, and they will have nothing to show, and Minnesota will have some good pitchers for a decade or so.  Back to the cards, there were some Arozarena cards in that stack they saved for me, and I happily got them. I'm trying to hold off on getting any 2021 Topps singles, since I plan to get the set as soon as they come back, and I did a good job, just getting some inserts and parallels from the set.
For Favorite Players, I found a 2021 Topps Gold of Paul DeJong, a 2021 Bowman and Bowman Chrome Logan Gilbert, a 2021 Donruss Blue Orel Hershiser, a 2012 (or 2013?) Finest Drew Hutchison, 2 Casey Mize cards from 2021, and cards of Michael Taylor, Eric Thames, and Touki Toussaint. 
As for stuff I got for trades, I found some Refractors, a few parallels, and other cards that will be thrown in to packages in the near future. 
I’ve been hitting the 1991 Topps set like crazy, finishing all of the missing cards as far as Major Leaguers. Just have to do some stadiums, team photos, and a few Future Star cards to finish the set, which I think I can get done by the end of the weekend with any luck. Next up will be the 1991 Traded set, and then I think I’m leaving to the 1990 Topps set. I know I’m trying to get all of the players from the ‘90’s finished, but the ‘90 Traded set (as well as some from the regular set) will meet that criteria, and I’ll be missing out on that criteria on the back end as well, as the cards from the 2000 Topps Traded set will feature guys from 2000, not 1999. I just feel that 1990 will be a heck of a lot easier than my next option (1995), as it has only 1 font instead of 2, 2 less teams to deal with, and a lot less players overall. Plus it will still give me a run of complete sets in a row (1990-1994), as opposed to 1991-1995. 
That’s about it. Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Last trip to the shop for a while

 I hate to go off on the ‘What if?-COVID’ trail, but have you been paying attention to the numbers lately?  This Delta Variant is causing numbers to go up, not just in unvaccinated people, but also in those who have got the vaccine. 

I tend to freak out about these kind of things, and kind of expect the worst. My wife worked at an assisted living facility, and I have a cousin and a friend in our band at church who both have upper level jobs at hospitals, so besides what I hear or see on TV/internet sites, I kind of have other ‘eyes and ears’ to the ground as far as beds available in hospitals and access to positivity rates and overall positive case numbers. 

What I’ve seen and heard leads me to believe that we could be heading back to some of the ways things were in the early summer of last year. When positivity rates get to above 10% in Florida, my wife’s has all of their employees and residents do a rapid test once a week (I wish my work was so vigilant). They have started ordering rapid tests in anticipation of it going over 10% any day now. No matter where anyone stands on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that nobody wants us to go through any resemblance of 2020 ever again. 

For me, it just sucked not being able to get away with my wife every now and then. Restaurants were closed, ballparks were closed, most places we would go on dates were closed or just not the same. When I had a day off, it was a little more complicated, as I couldn’t really do yard work or straighten the house, or just chill out because our sons school was closed. One of the main things I am passionate about besides cards is playing the piano. I play in our worship band at church, and we didn’t play together as a band from April or May 2020 until sometime around Easter of 2021. It did, however, add something nice, around a few months after we originally shut down. We went to recording the service and putting it on YouTube. For the music, each person in the band would come in and record their part to a song, and Joe, our leader, would record the music on his laptop and mix it, and then would also put together a video of the band playing the song since he recorder video of us playing the instruments. It added a nice touch to the YouTube videos and gave us the confidence that if we ever wanted to record some stuff as a band (including originals) that we could. 

As far as baseball card things that happened in 2020, card shops were closed, card shows weren’t going on, and we all know about the flippers. It makes me sad that we could be going back to the crap that we already have been through with COVID.  I really hope the CDC makes a statement in the coming days and suggests for businesses to require everyone to mask up again and to potentially get ready for lockdowns again.  It might wake people up.  I don’t know what is going to happen, so I’m kind of making a list of things I want to do in the coming month or so just in case everything goes down the toilet again  

Some of the things on the list include going out to eat with my wife a few times.  I want to hit up a minor league game in Daytona (if I were honest, I’d be up for another Rays game, but I’ve already been to one, as well as a game in Wrigley this year, so I don’t want to be greedy).  I would love to go to another baseball card show, but I think that would take a miracle to get a Saturday off that I wouldn’t have to put a request in for.  It just seems like if I request a Saturday off it just throws everything off.  I usually have to give up Sunday and won’t be able to play with the band, and I usually end up working like 6 days in a row.  Sometimes it’s worth just not requesting them off, and if I somehow get one off that occurs when a show does, then I just make plans to go.  

One thing that I probably won’t have to take time off to do is visit the card shop near my house.  I haven’t been there in a few months, and I want to go back before things get crazy.  

I’ll probably just dig through their .50 cent boxes and see what I can find.  I’m hoping to find some newer-ish Rays and Tigers, hopefully from newer issues like Stadium Club and Series 2.  I’ve been through the boxes enough to know that some of the sets that frequent the boxes are 2019 Topps Chrome, 2020 Topps Chrome, 2020 Topps/Update, 2020 Bowman, 2019 Optic, 2020 Optic, 2019 Prism, 2020 Prism, and some parallels from the sets. Not many rookies, serial numbered cards, or superstars, but what would you expect in a .50 cent box?  I say all of this to say that this could be one of the last trips I make to the shop for a while if the pandemic gets worse.  I kind of want to send out some trade packages to old (and new) trading partners, should things get sticky.  So, if any of those sets sound like something you would be interested in, drop me a comment with a team, and I’ll see what I can do.  I already have some trade stacks started for a few certain people, as well as ideas for some other ones (just need to get off my butt and go through some lists and pull some cards out of binders).  

I have Wednesday off, but I’ll probably spend half of the day doing yard work.  After a quick shower, I’m going to try to get out to the shop.  I’ll make a mental note of teams in my head, and try to pull some nice cards from each team, and then probably spend a week or three getting them all organized and packaged up.  Then a trip to the post office, and everyone should get their cards a week or so after that.  

So that’s it, just pick a team and I will see what I can come up with (and theres a good chance I’ll have some stuff from your want list in my collection at home, too).  Stay safe in the coming weeks.  


Friday, July 16, 2021

2022 Topps thoughts and coming up for air

 Yesterday Topps unveiled their design for the 2022 Topps set. Every year, I try to get to the top of the Google Image results for '2022 Topps' by making a custom of a schmuck who will never get on a card (Rob Manfred) as close to the day they unveil the design as I can. I think I got on the first page last year. Let's see if I can get closer to #1 this year and piss off some of the higher ups at Topps.

As far as my thoughts on the design, I think Beckett did a good job in comparing it to the 2013 Topps design. I also think it has a hint from 2020 Topps Big League (the nameplate at the bottom is similar. Maybe this is what would happen if the 2 sets had a baby. They must've listened to collectors who said the fonts for the name were too small, but don't worry. They made the ones for the team small this year. I also think they must've listened to Night Owl and got rid of the slashiness. For some reason, this card almost reminds me of a Bowman design from the last 10 or so years, and I could seeing it being used for a Bowman set. 

I would like to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, or just said a prayer or send good thoughts with my wife's surgery. Dr. Murad found a kink in the tubing of her LP shunt (the one in the back), and placed a piece of plastic where it kinked to try to get it to curve more naturally and stay in place. At this point, he said that the LP shunt is doing probably 90% of the work and the VP shunt (the one going to her brain) isn't doing much at all. If the LP one can drain enough Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) to get her pressure levels to be in the normal 10-15 range, I think everything will be fine. We will see what happens, and I think how she feels in the next 2-3 months will indicate if the LP shunt has remained unkinked, and if it is draining too much or too little. Right now, she is having some pain in her back where they cut into her, and we expect that to go away in the near future. She is also having headaches, but more of the type that she has got when her shunts have been draining too much fluid and gave her low pressure. It's more of a tugging in her neck, and can be helped some by drinking caffeine, which helps create more CSF, and by lying flat. Since they drained some CSF when she got a spinal tap and also had some CSF drain during the surgery, we kind of expected her to have low pressure headaches, and the hope is that the pressure will come back to a somewhat normal level and not stay too low from the shunt draining too much, and not get too high from the shunts not draining enough due to a kink or whatever. 
I was thinking about it yesterday, and between in-laws coming over and wanting to do something with us just about every day, doctor visits, the stay in the hospital for the surgery, band practice, and church, I don't think we've had a normal night where we just sit at home, go through pulling teeth to decide what is for dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed in about 2 weeks, so I'm ready to just come up for air and have a normal night tonight, seeing that we don't have any commitments tonight and the in-laws have finally left town. It should actually be a pretty routine next few weeks, and I'll take it.
Things have been so crazy that I haven't posted in almost 2 weeks, and I didn't have time to offer the proper thanks to Rod from Padrographs. He sent me a package full of Rays. I wasn't expecting it, and it was a nice addition to my Rays collection. I am just a few cards away from completing the 2021 Topps Series 1 & 2 Rays sets. I got my hands on just 1 Series 2 pack, and it was nice to get some Series 2 Rays. Rod was nice enough to send me 2 Randy Arozarena 2020's, 1 from the 2020 Update set, and the other from the 2020 Holiday set. I didn't even know Topps had a mini set in 2020, but now I have a Yonny Chirinos from the set. I haven't been as lucky with the SPs in the 2021 Topps Heritage Rays set as I have with the Tigers set, but I'm still close to getting the Rays set without the SPs. All of the 3 Heritage Rays here are needs. What was nice was that I got my first cards of some Rays who helped the team in the postseason, Josh Fleming and Pete Fairbanks. When (hopefully) the Rays loosen COVID protocalls in 2022 and allow more access to autographs, I'll be ready with 99% of the guys on the team, and it is greatly due to guys like Rod who have send me newer cards. Thanks, Rod, for the nice package. 

I'll have a 2022 Topps page up with just a template or 2, the Manfred card, and a placeholder checklist for now. I have also added the 1st round Draft Picks of the 2021 MLB Draft to the 2021 Topps page, and I will add more names (probably Rays and Tigers) to it in the future. The 1991 Topps set has come along slowly in the last few weeks. Got a team or two done while Karen was in surgery, and I might work on some today if I have time, but now that I have a little more time to come up for air, I figure I'll be able to crank cards out at my normal pace. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Rays game, a trade, and craziness

 After a hellish July 4th sale at work, I finally made it to the end, only to go have another non-normal routine 2 weeks coming up. It isn’t all bad, as one of my favorite TV guilty pleasures (Big Brother) starts up, I got a package and am working out some trades, and my wife was able to find some more 2021 Topps Heritage at Big Lots. 

A week before all of the July 4th torture, we were able to go out to a Rays/Angels game at the Trop on June 27. We got the tickets for my birthday, and even though I knew Pujols was gone and Trout was injured, I felt it would be fun to go to a ballgame, plus we would see Ohtani, Arozarena, and Franco, and it would cross off a team that I haven't seen in person before. I believe only need to see the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres in order to have seen all 30 in a regular season or Spring Training game.

All of the photos just ended up getting out of order, and I had a whole plan of putting pictures of cards with the players shown, but since they are all messed up, I'll just try to remember what I took pictures of during the game. I know I took some photos of Ryan Yarbrough hitting, Wander Franco hitting, Kurt Suzuki batting, Ohtani hitting, Randy Arozarena hitting, and some of Arozarena in the field. We had tickets in left field about 4 rows from the wall, and were about a section over from where Randy threw balls to after tossing the ball around between innings. 

The Rays 2020 AL Championship banner. It should've been a World Series Championship banner, but Rob Manfred would've been a laughingstock had he had to put Justin Turner on quarrantine after he contracted Covid in Game 6. He would've been even more of a laughingstock had he suspended the Series for 2 weeks in order to have both teams at (potentially) normal strength again. Doesn't it seem more possible that he offered Stuart Sternberg a hefty check to blow Game 6? It sure explains why Kevin Cash would take out a hot Blake Snell......

All 3 of us right after getting to the game. 
Around the 3rd Inning, I took Kyler to a section in CF where you could meet Raymond, but unfortunately, Raymond had left. He did get to meet DJ Kitty. We got a tip from an employee that Raymond would hang around the Home side of the field around the 6th Inning. I finally spotted him around the 7th, and we made our way from LF to the 1B side seats. We found Raymond, and Kyler got a picture of him, and he signed his 2009 Topps Rays team set card. 
Kyler was a hoot the whole game. He has been reading for a little while, and every time he saw it say 'Go Rays, Go!' on a scoreboard, he would start chanting it with the crowd. He also saw other messages on the scoreboard that he would chant, specifically one in the 7th inning that said 'Drive sober or get pulled over!'. 
He also cracked me up while we were trying to find Raymond. A while back, we were watching Jeopardy!, and one of the answers to a question was Jackie Robinson. I shouted out "Jackie Robinson!", and Kyler thought it was funny, so he shouted "Jackie Robinson!" randomly for the next few days, just like I did. I figured that would be a good time to show him a few of Jackie's cards and tell him how he was such a great player. I guess he remembered all of that, because when we were looking for Raymond, there was no way to walk around the Home Plate area of the stadium seating sections without going behind the seats by the concession area and then go back through a tunnel and into the seating areas. I wasn't sure if we were past the Home Plate seats, so I chose a random tunnel and walked through. The tunnel I chose had a doorway with a photo of Jackie Robinson on it, and Kyler read it and pointed to it and yelled out "Jackie Robinson!". On the way back to our seats we took a picture with it. 

We had a great time at the game, and I hope we can go back again soon. 

As for the cards I got, I had a big PWE come in from Jay of Card Hemorrhage. I had mentioned on one of his posts that I liked a Randy Arozarena card he had picked up at a shop. He e-mailed me and let me know that he had an extra, so he shot me a PWE at the speed of light. The first 2 are 1978 Topps Burger King Tigers cards, a set that I never figured I would own cards of without making a concentrated effort. The Gibson card got me closer to finishing the '81 Fleer set, and the '95 Flair John Doherty is surprisingly, my first Tiger from that set. I've seen packs of that set in gas stations in the mid-'90's, but never pulled the trigger, and haven't really found that many singles elsewhere. I'm still a few short from completing the '19 Archives and Heritage sets, but I'm 2 and 1 cards closer thanks to Jay. The '21 Heritage Arozarena was the 2nd card of Randy in the envelope, and I'm super stoked I got it, because that was the last Rays Postseason Highlights card I needed from that set, and I figured I was going to have to hit up COMC for it. I've always been a fan of Buck O'Neil, and I might start collecting him. The Hairston, Jr. is a 2002 Finest Refractor, so I'll put it in my Refractor binder. 
If you didn't think that more cards could fit in to a PWE, you were wrong, as Jay fit some vintage cards in on top of the ones already shown. They will be nice additions to my Indians, Braves, Rangers, and Negro League binders. 
Yesterday, Karen was able to find some packs of '21 Heritage at Big Lots, so I was able to bust some wax after I got home from work. I didn't take pictures, but I continued my 2021 luck with pulling Tigers inserts from '21 Heritage, pulling a mini Miguel Cabrera #d to 100. The back of the pack said 1 in 419 packs. Does that make it a SICK SUPER MOT HIT?  Do I need to start calling someone BRAH and join Twitter and Tik-Toc?  Anyway, the Cabrera was the 4th special Tigers insert to me, including the 3 SPs in the team set. I pulled 2 SPs, and I have them set aside for Jay, who happens to collect the '21 Heritage set, as well as some cards I pulled from the packs for his Want List. I'll look through my binders at some point (hopefully in the next week) for more '21 Heritage on the list. Thanks, Jay for the cards!

I've also been plugging away at the custom 1991 Topps set. All of the Highlights and Coach/Manager cards are done in the regular sets, and I'm working my way through the AL teams, with the Red Sox, Tigers, and all but 2 of the Blue Jays being finished. Hoping to work on more of those through the rest of this year as time allows. Follow the progress on my 1991 Topps Reference Page at the very bottom. I will update the cards as I finish teams. I'm a little slowed right now, as my wireless mouse stopped working, but I should have a new one the next time we go out to Wal-Mart.

We have a hurricane passing through Florida. Nothing too major for our area, I don't think. The store has finally slowed down a little now that the holiday is over with. The last thing we needed was a hurricane that was serious to make everyone shop all Covid-crazylike and could possibly do some major damage. On top of that, after drought since almost the fall of last year, we finally started getting the afternoon rainshowers, which although has made the grass grow super fast, has helped my thirsty plants.

My coworker Butch gave me a 4-O-Clock bush a few years ago, and after accidentally getting hit by a weed eater, mower, and probably squirrels, it is finally coming up and I think it will get some yellow flowers anytime. 

I also planted some sunflowers back in March when I thought the afternoon rainshowers would start, and really the only one that survived was one in the middle of my flower box in the back. 
Hopefully it will grow pretty big and I can at least get some seeds from it. I've planted a few other things and put some squirrel repelling pellets down. I just hope the rain doesn't keep them from working. Hopefully we will just get a ton of rain and my flowers will look great and not get blown over after the storm goes through. I hope it just ends up being a small storm with minimal damage in it's path. 
The stuff that is really complicating the next few weeks is that my wife's Aunt, Uncle, and one of her cousins and her fiance here. Her aunt and uncle aren't that bad, but the 2 cousins drive me nuts. Her aunt and uncle are going to be here for 2 weeks starting today, and fortunately for me, her cousin and her fiance are only going to be here from Thursday to Monday. If I can milk a fake headache for a day, drink some alcohol before they come, I might just be able to get through the week with a little energy left. I've probably posted about it before, but they just always expect us to do things with them, and I really just want to go home and relax after work. I'm working the next 4 days, and the last thing I want to do is make food for 10 people, and then entertain people. They always expect to do things at our house, and just never want to leave. Anyone else have relatives like this?  I think Karen's brother and his wife and 3 kids are going to be spending a few days at our house as well, so I'll have all of them there when I get home, too. I'm just not ready for it.
On top of that, Karen's headaches have been really bad, so we went up to Shands in Gainesville today to get a spinal tap. They measured her opening pressure, and it is supposed to be between 10 and 15, and hers was 32. Her neurosurgeon called a few hours ago and wants to do surgery on Monday. Not sure if it's on the shunt in her back or head, but probably exploratory. She kind of wants to put it off until the family is gone and her work is slower, but I really hope she just gets it Monday. That will kind of give the family a reason NOT to come, and maybe all of us can relax. I love my wife, but it's just hard caring for her after surgery, trying to convince her not to do anything and follow the doctors orders on resting. Preparing food for us and Kyler has got a lot easier now that Kyler is a little older, so that won't be as bad. I'm not getting my hopes up for this surgery, but maybe they will find something and fix it. It would be amazing to be a normal American family where if we have a date night planned that it actually happens and we don't have to worry about her headaches being to bad, where she can go to work every day and not have to force herself to go in even if she doesn't feel well, or just something simple like not expecting to go to church by myself because a headache is bad in the morning. So many things I took for granted when we first got married. 
I hate posting all kinds of stuff about operations, but I want my readers to know the guy behind the cards, as well as the cards. 
Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Trades and acquisitions

 In my last post, I promised some cards from a few trades, as well as some ones I picked up from my LCS in Orange City, and today I won't disappoint. 

First up are some cards sent to me from Dennis of Too Many Verlander fame. Dennis sent me a nice assortment of Rays, a Favorite Player guy, and some Griffey's for Kyler. 
All of the Rays save for the regular Topps Perspectives Longoria insert were new to me, which is surprising, seeing as how I am on about 6 binders of Rays cards since I put in the loose cards last month. Kyler loved the Griffey's, and loved how the '92 Upper Deck Hologram was 'shiny' and the Chrome insert 'looked like a rainbow'. I guess he takes after his Dad. The Carlos Pena between the Longo Diamond King and '92 Topps Griffey was a lone Tiger card from a set that I had never heard of from 2005 called Topps Hot Button Baseball. I collected pretty hard-core around that time, but it must've been released towards the tail end of 2005, and I remember trying to save money a little bit to try to save so I could move to Alabama in 2006 (I did). It pained me not to buy more packs of '05 Topps Fan Favorites, '05 Topps Total, '06 Topps, and '06 Topps Heritage back then. Good thing for blogs. The guy from my Favorite Player collection was the first card, a Jason Frasor autograph which Dennis picked up at a show. Thanks, Dennis for the cool new cards!  I'll be on the lookout for more Verlander parallels/Detroit guys.

The other package I got was one from Dimebox Nick. I had hoped to meet up with Nick in Chicago, but it didn't pan out, so we did the trade the old-fashioned way, involving the post office. 
Nick sent me a ton of Rays, as you can see here, 99% ones that I needed. I have always been a Topps-heavy guy, so stuff like Fleer, Upper Deck, and non-flagship Topps stuff is always good stuff to send me, as is Bowman, and just about anything from 2012-2015. I am getting closer to finishing off some of those earlier Rays sets, such as '98 Pacific Online and '99 Fleer Tradition. 
As I said earlier, anything from around '12-'15 I probably don't have, especially stuff like Allen & Ginter, as well as Bowman. The Longo and Price from those respective sets were needs, as were all of the rest of the cards on this page. The '19 Topps Holiday Morton finished the team set for me. I'm bringing the '20 Leaf Wander Franco, and the '20 Stadium Club Meadows to the Rays game on Sunday, and I'll update if I get them signed. 

Nick hooked me up with some really new Rays, as you can see with the '21 Bowman's. I added a few more with that group break, like a Shane Baz and Blake Snell, and a Chrome Wander Franco, but I forgot to take pictures. Most of these will be going to the game as well. 
Nick also sent me some Tigers. I love the '73 Coleman. I got to see him many times when he was a coach for the Lakeland Tigers. One of his old cards said he liked to golf, so I asked him one time if he hit a hole in one. He replied "A few". I asked him what it felt like. He said "Exhilerating", but it was in a kind of monotone voice. The whole thing was rather funny to me. The Mike Heath card is a Topps Tiffany card. Has anyone ever finished a Topps Tiffany set? I think I have 2 1989 Topps Tiffany Tigers. 
Next up are some reprint Topps sets from the '90's, and some mid to late '90's ones. On the back of the Bazooka Chad Curtis, the fortune says that Chad would steal 60 bases, but would be the only Tiger to steal one that year. It seemed kind of funny to me, as the Tigers didn't really have speedsters back then, but I believe Milt Cuyler was still with the team, Danny Bautista wasn't fast, but I'm sure he could've stolen one, Todd Steverson and Shannon Penn would've had a shot, and last but not least, Travis Fryman was on the team. Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, and Kirk Gibson were old, and Cecil Fielder ran like Cecil Fielder, but certainly that first group would've given them a steal or two in 1996. 
The Steve Sparks is autographed. I got his autograph at a Tigers Spring Training one time at a table before a game, and someone was talking about his knuckleball, and I told him he should hold his pen with his knuckles and give a knuckle autograph. He played along and said maybe he should. I wonder if this one was a 'knucklegraph'?  A number of these guys I remember from when I went to Spring Training and minor league games in Lakeland, including Kevin Hooper, Ryan Perry, and Wade Gaynor. Good times. 
We finish it off with newer Tigers, and guys I collect like Joey Gathright, Aubrey Huff, Elliot Johnson, Bubba Trammell, Ryan Yarbrough (a guy from my hometown Lakeland who I believe will be pitching on Sunday), and Ben Zobrist. 

Thanks Dennis and Nick for the great trade packages. 

As for the card shop, I figured I would find more stuff, but only 2 pictures worth of cards to show you.
That's the 2021 Topps Series 2 pack I got. Nothing really for me except for the Chris Sale, so if you seen anything that looks good, let me know. The first card in the post got out of order, I'll probably take that to the game on Sunday. Was surprised to find a '77 Topps card in the .50 cent box, but I got it since it was a Tigers guy. The Stat Tracker card was a double, unfortunately. 

I did a little worse on doubles with the Rays, with the JJ Goss and Seth Johnson cards both being dupes. The Tony Gwynn card is an insert from '96 Ultra, and I kind of remember those cards being pretty hot when they came out. I figured I could maybe use that as trade bait. The Hayes card could be a nice rookie to have if he stays hot. While I don't really 'collect' Vogelbach, I have been able to pull a number of his refractors at card shops, and I just put them in my refractor binders. The mascot cards I will give to Kyler, unless resident Mariner Moose-puller Adam from Infield Fly Rule wants the Moose one. The Flaherty and '20 Turkey Reds will probably head over to Kerry from Cards on Cards at some point. I can't stand Grienke, but this card will head over to Johnny from Cards from the Quarry for his Sunday Trade Bait posts. The last 3 guys are ones I collect, and I picked up an Ichiro for Kyler that he was really excited about. 
Speaking of Cards for the Quarry, Johnny still is looking for one or two people to sign up to do his Chain Mail box where you basically pay 15 bucks to go through a ton of cards and replace them with stuff you don't care for. As soon as the last spots are filled, the box should be headed out. 

Hopefully Sunday will be a nice game and a Rays win. I'm sure I'll have a post to follow soon after.

Thanks for taking the time to read my latest post.