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. 

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Monday, June 10, 2024

A long overdue post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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