Sunday, July 14, 2024

Card additions and update

 It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m still going strong. Lots of good has happened lately, so let’s get this post going. 

Let’s do the card stuff first. I’ve been slowly adding new Topps cards to the ‘80’s portion of my collection, and thanks to 2 big additions, I’m pretty close to completing some sets. 

A few weeks ago, I went to my friend Jim’s house. He lives about 5 minutes away from me, and collects St. Louis Cardinals, autographs, and is currently working on the 1963 Topps sets. I didn’t have any ‘63’s for him, but did have some cards of Nick Fortes for him. Nick lives in DeLand in the off-season, and Jim’s wife Paula taught at the elementary school Nick went to. Jim had a box of doubles from the ‘80’s that he let me dig through, and it helped me get get pretty close to finishing some sets. He darn near had complete 1983 and 1984 Topps Traded sets in the doubles box. I came away just missing 2 cards from the ‘84 Traded set (Randy Ready and Dwight Gooden), and 5 from the ‘83 Traded set (Floyd Bannister, Dann Bilardello, Leon Roberts, Darryl Strawbery, and Chris Welsh). The 2 biggies (Strawberry and Gooden) should be easy pickups for me, and I can technically knock 4 cards off of my list and get them cheap if I get the reprints of the cards from the subset in the 2001 Topps Traded set. The others will probably be easy sportlots pickups. 

On Friday, I got to go to Johnny’s Trading Spot headquarters in Ocala and dig through John’s trade boxes. I need to figure out how to get some cards he doesn’t have, because I’m out of Braves he needs, and it’s getting harder to find Chronicles cards he is missing. I had a stack of ‘23 Chronicles for him, and hopefully he found a few he could use. I need to take a trip to my LCS and hit the Braves boxes. 
I dug through some ‘80’s boxes and also had some fun opening a package of Topps cards that he had boxed up for a trade that ended up getting completed without the package being needed. There were about 20 packs of cards wrapped up in newspaper, and it was like unwrapping Christmas presents, and I got some needed cards from the packs. 

I found a number of guys I collect in the boxes. 

There were also a lot of Rays and Tigers. 

But the majority of them were Topps needs. 
1980, 1981. 

‘82, ‘83, ‘84. 
1985, the 1996 needs, 2001. 

A ton of 2003 needs. 
2005, 2006, 2007. 
And some 2012’s to finish it off. 

Many of my Topps sets are very close to being complete thanks to John’s help.  1982 Topps is missing 35 cards. 1985 Topps is 40 cards short. 1981 Topps is missing 20 cards. 2007 Topps is 54 cards short. 
The biggest one he helped on was 1996 Topps. I was maybe 10 cards short before I visited him, and I left missing just one card, #73 John Mabry. Once I get the Mabry card, I will have a complete run of ‘90’s Topps cards and a run of complete Topps and Topps Traded sets from 1986-1999. I have a good chance at extending that run to 1984 if I can get the 189 cards to finish the ‘84 and ‘85 sets. Might not finish it by the end of the year, but the ‘81 and ‘82 sets are darn close, and I can easily pick them up by then. Thanks so much, John, for the additions to my collection. 

I’m looking forward to the coming weeks. Topps Chrome comes out soon, the 2024 Topps complete set is soon after that, and sometime in August 2024 Donruss will be released. 

That’s not the best news either. Karen had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic on Thursday, and they gave me the best news I have had in a few years. She has been in the hospital 3 times this year with breathing problems. Just running out of energy and breath after walking short distances. The hospital would give her antibiotics and release her after a week, but after about a month, she would be ready to go back with the same symptoms. She is about at that point now, but she’s trying to hold out for the next few days. 
The lady she saw at Mayo thinks that she has some kind of infection in her lungs. They want to schedule a broncoscophy to see where the infection is and then treat it with antibiotics. They said to treat the infection, they would put her on antibiotics for close to a month. When we were at the hospital, they wouldn’t do the broncoscophy, and only gave her the antibiotics for a week. I’m hoping we get a call tomorrow and maybe we will get an appointment this week to do all that. 

They also want to do a sleep study on her. Karen gets maybe a hour of sleep a night. Just constantly wakes up and can’t fall asleep or get decent rest. She was on a CPAP before we were married, but with the pressure stuff with her head the CPAP would get her pressure very high so she stopped using it. Mayo wants to measure her pressure when she is sleeping with a CPAP and see if they can get a setting to where she can sleep with it and not have her pressure go high. 

They also want to get her on Dupixent to try to help her asthma. They haven’t even started with her shunt stuff, but getting the asthma and breathing and sleep stuff fixed would be amazing. I have confidence with these doctors and their resources, so I can’t wait to see what happens with this and see what they think about her shunt situation as well. 

Hopefully by the time I post again, I’ll have some sets completed and more health stuff will have answers. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The ‘Topps Rules’

 Around 1994 I had it made. I had a decent sized card collection for a kid my age (11). I kept some of it in a fishing tackle box, and the rest in a shoebox. At some point that year , I got a St. Louis Cardinals book that pictured all of the Topps Cardinals cards from 1952-1988. It was around that time when I decided to put my cards into binders. 

That Topps Cardinals book would shape the way I organized my binders. While it would probably take a few years for my organization habits to be fully formed, the book helped me organize my cards from the first time I put a card in a 9 pocket sleeve. 

As you can see, my book has seen better days. I still have it, as well as a Red Sox one from the same year. I need to get my hands on the Tigers one. 

I will point out some things from the book that shaped my habits and show pictures from the book. 

The book would start out with the year, and then have a write up of how the team did that year. It would then have the team set from that year. It is a little confusing since it isn’t done in yearbook style. You sometimes see cards of guys who didn’t play in the year described in the write up, as they played the year after. Sometimes, players would be described in the write up, but didn’t have a card, as they got traded and were put in their new teams’ book. 

Topps organized the cards alphabetically by last name. This can be rule #1. That is how I organized my cards. I figured if that’s the way Topps would organize them in their book, it was good enough for me, so I have never broken rule #1. 

Rule #2, for team photo cards, they were put at the end of the year. Rule #2 that I follow. 

Rule #3, rookie combo cards were put at the end as well. This is the first rule I break since I put the card with the most prominent players’ last name. 

Rule 4, if a player has a subset card as well as a base card, they are put in numerical order (with the Gibson World Series and base card). It can be confusing sometimes if you get 2 guys with All-Star cards and one has the base card first and the other has the All-Star one first, but I’m ok with it and I follow it. 

Rule #5, horizontal cards are positioned so the left side of the card will be at the bottom of the sleeve it goes into. I follow this rule so closely that I position horizontal cards from other companies that way even if it means that the back will be angled different than the vertical cards in the set. 

Rule #7, Topps puts the Traded set along with the regular set (Dayley is a Traded card). While I follow this rule, Topps appears to break this rule in 1986. 

I guess I need to reorganize my 1985 and 1986 cards. For some reason, Topps put the ‘85 Topps Traded cards in with the ‘86 set.
Todd Worrell got a card in the ‘86 Topps Traded set, and as you can see, the ‘86 Topps Traded cards are strangely missing. 

As we can see, the ‘87 Topps Traded cards are strangely back in the ‘87 Topps set with Lindeman, Magrane, and Pena coming in that set. I would have to say that somebody who currently works for Fanatics probably did the quality control with the book and just dropped the ‘86 Traded cards and stuck the ‘85 ones in the wrong set. Explains everything. 

One final rule, it appears as if Topps doesn’t want any multi-team league leader or rookie cards or checklists put in with your team set. You had better believe that I am going to put them in the team set. I want my team sets representing everything, so if I can put a 4-player Keith Hernandez card in the 1975 Cardinals section of my St. Louis binder, I sure as heck am. 

That’s all of the ‘Topps Rules’. I follow most of them, and the ones I break are for good reason. There are some Donruss team books that are similar that were released in 1988 with extra cards of guys that didn’t get ones in the regular issue, but I didn’t pay too much attention the one time I saw them at a show. I think I only saw Oakland and Red Sox ones, and there just weren’t enough guys I collected on those teams to justify spending the 15 bucks the guy wanted for each book. Donruss didn’t have any subsets besides for Diamond Kings in 1988, so it was really a moot point. 

Has anyone else seen these Topps books or patterned their binders to copy the books?  Do you follow the ‘Topps Rules’ or even care?  I feel like Topps had their eye on the ball with the way they portrayed each set with the way they alphabetized the players, did numerical order for multiple cards of the same player, and how they put team cards in the back. It would be cool if they issued copies of the books now. Only 1 or 2 problems. They would be the size of an old phone book because of inserts. And where in the heck would they place all of the parallels?!

Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Birthday trip

I’ve probably been mentioning the Rays/Cubs game that Karen got me tickets to in every post since April. Well, the game came and went, and it was a great time in spite of some hiccups. 

Originally, Karen was supposed to go with us. That works out great since she drives, plans everything, and all I have to do is show up, sit in the car, and go to the game. About a week before the game, she started getting to where she couldn’t breathe after walking a few feet, and went to the hospital. Basically the same thing she was in for the last 2 times. Fortunately for us, this time instead of pumping her with nebulizers, they did some more extensive blood work in addition. They are some serious things they are testing for, but right now, it appears she may have something that isn’t allowing proteins to metabolize, and they are getting absorbed in wrong places, causing swelling and the trouble breathing. There are some infusions she can be on that help, but I believe we still have some more tests that need to come back and some specialists we need to see. But, she got discharged today, so it’s fingers crossed that she stays healthy for a while. 

With Karen out, I took her van to the game. The biggest problem with her car is that it has one of those keyless remotes and it is an automatic transmission. I enjoy having a key and just clipping it to a belt loop so I know where it is 24/7, and I love shifting gears, especially when I can coast up to a traffic light, have it turn from red to green, kick the car into a lower gear, and take off. 

Kyler and I got to the stadium just fine, and met up with my youngest sister Michelle, brother in law JT, and Niece Natalia. The 3 of them went to the game, but since Karen got me batting practice tickets, I needed someone to watch Kyler while I was on the field, and they were nice enough to come to the game early to do that. 

I got my pass for BP, waited in line, and when they let us in the gate, all they did was pass everyone through a metal detector. I don’t believe they ever scanned the BP pass, or my ticket. We could’ve probably walked around most of the stadium, but we went down to the home plate area and could just walk through a gate onto the field. There was another entrance that came from under the stadium, and that’s where the media people came from. 
I made a sign for the game to help me get some autographs and maybe get on TV. 

I’m sure everyone knows who Randy is. Doug pitched for Tampa from 2003-2006 and now is a broadcaster for them. So I just got on the field and not much was going on, just a few guys doing fielding drills, and a few media guys walk in, and I swore one of them was Doug, but I wasn’t positive enough to go and ask him. That’s on me for not watching many Rays games. It had to have been him because they had the Rays Live pre and postgame show booth right by our seats, and sure enough, Doug was there, and I wasn’t about to bug him while he was up there working. I also believe I saw Jim Deshaies, the Cubs broadcaster down on the field as well. Next time, I’m just going to ask people when I’m pretty sure it was them, because I had a card of Jim as well. 
There was a Little League team with BP passes, and I stood behind them, and it turned out to be a good idea. One of the coaches either had to be a former player or known players pretty well, because he was talking to a number of guys from both teams like he knew them. He talked with Cubs coach Ryan Flaherty for a good 20 minutes, and I believe he said Ryan was his brother in law because Ryan was married to his sister. I was pretty proud at how good I was at matching faces to cards, because I heard the coach call him Ryan, and I matched his card to his face and was able to get Flaherty to sign 2 cards for me. I also matched Jose Caballero’s face to his card, but I did so after he signed and when he came back after hitting, he talked but didn’t sign. Mike Tauchman was another guy I did that to, but he didn’t come over.  
The first guy I got was Jose Siri. After him, some of the Cubs guys started hitting, and the kids on the Little League team kept bugging Christopher Morel, and he came over and signed, and I got a sweet Topps Chrome Sepia-fractor signed. After that, Jason Adam of the Rays signed. He only has a 2023 Rays team issue card that I know of, and I had it and got is signed. He was a really nice guy, btw. 

As you can see from the poster I made, I had probably the greatest thing I could wish for at the game, and got to meet Randy Arozarena and get an autograph. He came over to the team and started signing, and I waited until the end and he signed my 2020 Topps Update Gold rookie card. To get to meet the playoff hero from 2020 who almost got the Rays a World Series trophy was a Rays highlight for me that is pretty close to the top for me. Before the end of BP, I got Josh Lowe for the Rays, and a few more Cubbies like Miguel Amaya, Patrick Wisdom, and Javier Assad. The guy who got Assad before me was kind of an ass. He had got Assad before on the other side of the field, and had come over to the right side when Assad came to talk to someone. I finally figured out who he was and pulled out a card, and the guy in front of me asked Javier if he could sign another card for him because he had smudged it. Javier just gave him a dirty look and reluctantly signed it. It’s guys like that who give adult collectors like me a bad name. I really hope the place wherever that dealer works gets shut down. 

That was the end of autographs at BP for me. Pete Crow-Armstrong signed a good number for the team, but was really just getting kids and skipped me over a few times. I get it. Especially now that I’m a little older. 

Not a bad haul of autographs, especially for being a Major League game and me looking a lot older now. 

The game started off bad. Rays only had 1 hit after like 5 innings. Multiple guys hitting less than .220, with our starting catcher batting .068, going 1 for 2, and still only hitting .080 after the game. Not even Ozzie Smith and all his defensive prowess could make up for hitting that low. 
Me, Kyler, JT, Michelle, and Natalia from l-r. 
JT, Michelle, and Natalia left during the 7th Inning stretch, and once they left, the Rays, who were down 2-0 finally started hitting Justin Steele, and scored 3 runs. Kyler and I went to 2 gift shops in the 8th, and came back to watch the 9th. The Cubs had 1 out and a runner on 1st, and Nico Hoerner hit a screaming liner to SS Taylor Walls, who caught it on a hop, used his glove to throw the ball to second, where they got the out, and then they got the kit at first to end the game. The Cubs fans probably outnumbered the Rays fans 20-1, but that shut them up, and I started pointing to the exits and told them to get on out. 

During the 8th, we stopped at the Rays Authentics store. I had really been wanting to get a piece of game-used turf ever since I saw one at a game a few years ago. The price had went up 5 dollars, but I got one. They also had Series 2 packs, so I got one. 
I had never head of Tristan Gray, but apparently he was a Ray, and is now a Marlin. The Covering the Field inserts must actually have the location of the players hits, since they all look different, but looking at Yelich’s hits, there are a few that look to be outside the foul lines before 1st and 3rd base. How can that be?  Maybe if I would’ve had that PCA card during BP he would’ve signed it since it was new. 

The pieces of turf are pretty big. If I ever get my dream to design a house that has a basement that goes up into a dugout and to a baseball field, maybe I can work this piece of turf into it. If we can ever escape the current living situation, I’ll work it into the man cave at some point. 

The other thing I wanted to get was something with the city connect logo. At first, the theme was a turnoff to me, as I thought players weekend was very lame, and felt city connect was similar. The Padres uniforms didn’t do much to help the feeling. At any rate, the Rays did a great job with the city connect logo and design, and I love the logo with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge incorporated into it, as well as a Ray incorporated as well. The least expensive thing I could find was a Christmas ornament, and it wasn’t a bad price for an ornament. 

After the game, we went to the hotel, then saw my mom the next day, and came back to DeLand. I had a ton of birthday texts and stuff that I finally got to check when we got in, and all in all, it was one of the better birthdays in recent memory. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

A long overdue post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Fun filled day of driving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

New cards and a package from Too Many Verlanders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, May 16, 2024

2001 Royal Rookies memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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