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.