Monday, October 31, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hidden Gems 9: Outer Space

I've mentioned in the past my nerdiness for NASA and other spacey things. From my love of Star Wars, to my frequent (though, it's been far too long) trips to Adler Planetarium, through to my need to get back to Kennedy Space Center, anything related to science fiction (and science fact) has stoked a fire within.

Any movie with a setting of space or distant galaxies hits the list of "wanna see". Toys with space themes like astronauts and NASA vehicles always make me pick them off the peg to examine, and sometimes purchase. I followed all the shuttle missions. There's even a subdivision Elk Grove Village with streets named after some Apollo astronauts. I get a smile on my face if I happen to drive by.

Even Nixon man crushed them.

There is so much to love about a card like this. Framing, as always, is the start. Except for a small part of Guillen's right foot, his entire body is in frame. as is all but a few pixels of his bat. Then let's talk the rainbow of color. Green at the bottom, tan comes next, followed by the light blue of the inside of the dugout, the edge of that broken with a bright royal blue, lastly fading in to the red of the seats. Factor in the crisp gray uniform, and this is a feast for the eyes. And we cannot forget that expression. Jose grunting as he tears out of the batter's box, launching his bat to the heavens as he tries to leg out a single.

It's easy to call Divinyls a one hit wonder. In the US, they really only had the one major charting single about self love, hitting #4. But in their home land of Australia, Divinyls scored plenty of top 50 hits and every album released but one charted 25 or higher. Today would have been lead singer Chrissy Amphlett's 58th birthday. As they say, "the good die young", and in Chrissy this is quite true. Her song writing talent was immense, and she owned audiences at concerts and in music videos with her stage presence and overwhelming sexuality. If Freddie Mercury was female, he would be Chrissy. Boys In Town, I Touch Myself, Pleasure and Pain, and the prophetic Good Die Young are amazing. But there is a reason the Australasian Performing Right Association named "Science Fiction" one of the top 30 Australian songs of all time.

Monday, October 24, 2016

...fizz....crackle......Why I....buzzzzzz...pop.....hate the......hiss....Cubs

Now, before Dime Boxes, Wrigley Wax, Wrigley Roster Jenga, Waitin' til Next Year and any other Cub fans jump for the "Unfollow" button, I ask for a little leeway in this post. Let me get to what I mean by the title. But before that, a little blog update.

The rest of the title is the impression of radio static. As you may be aware (or not), my posting has dropped off dramatically. I am not one to post daily like Night Owl or some of the other bloggers we are accustomed to. I post when I am able, or feel up for it. But for me, it's a lot of the first (being able) and a far amount of the second (feeling up to it) for the lack of posts recently. For those that know, don't know or forgot, my wife does have Parkinson's. We are on year 18 now. She resigned her job at the start of June. She is a teacher and that was the end of the school year, but the past couple years have been rough. It's not the therapy. She is still damn smart in what she does and has a natural ability to reach kids and get their speech and language improved at an accelerated rate. It's more the ability behind the wheel and walking.

With the surgery she had three years back, the management of the tremors is still going strong. From taking 600mg of pills daily to maybe get 2 hours of calm body parts to only needing 12.5mg (half a pill) for full calmness is wonderful. But quarter million dollar brain surgeries do not help balance. That's been getting worse and worse, and it's no longer safe for her to hold a job with a commute and walking. One drawback of me working from home? Hearing her walk up and expecting her to move to the front room, but hearing a large crash instead. Fortunately, no major injuries - just minor bumps. I fear it's a ticking time bomb before she catches the corner of a table, or goes head first through the drywall.

Surprising, we applied for SS disability and were approved on the first attempt (sorry Jeff). Okay....thank you government, and this is looking a gift horse in the mouth, but the approval amount is about one third to one half her previous take home pay. So it's nice to get some income, and she may try some work from home therapy options to get a little supplemental cash, but we are basically a 1.3 incoming family. But the bills don't change.

So I have been earning more income as an Uber driver. Yes, if you are in the Naperville or Orland area (I decide how I feel that day), or maybe even downtown Chicago if I happen to get a rider that takes me that direction, you might get to ride in my Pruis. I picked Uber for a few reasons. One, it was easier to join that Lyft. That's not to say I won't join the Lyft platform soon. It's just that with Uber, they have many more locations to get your vehicle inspected before being approved to drive. With Lyft, there are just a couple, and the appointment hours suck in regard to my regular job. Second, I needed something fairly easy. Nothing back breaking or physically demanding. Driving fits that. Third, I make my hours. Maybe I am gung ho to drive at noon, but don't feel like it come 5pm. I stay home. Here's something I bet you didn't know about me: I'm not much of a people person.

No shit.
So as a driver, I tend to be quiet. If the person wants to talk, I will. But otherwise, I let them play on their phone. I get them from point A to point B, and after they jump out, I hope another request comes in quickly. I shoot for about $250 a week, but I am going to step it up and try to get about $350. Hey - if anyone thinks they want to join Uber, I would love to give you a reference code for a few extra bucks in my pocket. I'll even use some of my referral bonus to get you something special.

Anyway - that's where I have been. Add my night and weekend driving along with very rough days at work (we had a MAJOR outage a week ago where I took over 400 calls on a day I would normally take 30-35), and I'm either busy at my desk, driving my car or sleeping. Little time for much else. I owe so many of you so much. I have envelopes that need postage, cards that need to go into envelopes, stacks to organize, a messy desk..... Overwhelming falls short to describe it all. But thanks to those that have send me cards recently. You are not forgotten, just too far down a too long list.

Ok - you have read this far. Thanks. Now, why do I hate the Cubs? Why the hell not?

I wasted time to hear that?
But seriously. From the Uber driving, as well as people I know, I get asked why I am not happy for the Cubs success to this point, and why I just can't be happy for them or cheer them on. Let me explain why I don't, and why I won't. For starters, you need to understand the dynamic that is Chicago. I think those that are New York fans, and maybe people out west too, though probably not so much in regard to Dodgers/Angels. If I am wrong, a fan of either LA team, feel free to speak up in the comments. But for those that have not lived here, there is a vast difference between the fans of the Cubs and the fans of the White Sox. I'll will do my best to speak from the middle, so you Cubs fans, do not take anything as an attack on you personally. Lot of generalization going to happen. Comiskey Park is located in Armour Square, but most people think it is in Bridgeport since Bridgeport is just the west of the tracks beside the park. Wrigley sits within Wrigleyville, though technically, the borough is Lake View. Just south of Sox ball park was the location of the Union Stockyards. You also tended to find far more manufacturing south of the Loop. North of the Loop, that was more residential. So the White Sox have always been considered a far more blue collar team than the Cubs, when you look at location. Being born south side, blue collar, it's my nature to be drawn to a club that had my values. I'm a liberal, too.

In fact, take a look at the ownership of the Cubs and the White Sox. I contend that the owners tend to be more white collar on the Cubs side and blue collar on the Sox, though I will give you that Reinsdorf and Einhorn can be white collar. Also, the direction of the Cubs in regard to their media drive and some other club decisions made them a more expensive club, so in later years, that would be a factor.

But why such an unwavering hatred towards the city brothers in blue. For starters, it's just DNA. You pick your club, and the other 28+ are the clubs you hate. For those that claim to root for two teams in the same sport, I'm calling you out as a liar. Sorry, but you cannot be a real fan of more than one team in a sport. Proof? Ok - Let's make up two teams. The Tulsa Candy Bars and the Nome Cavities. You love them both, you say. Root them both on, you say. Ok - interleague play week and Nome has a three game series at Tulsa's ball field. Who do you cheer for? "Oh, I would be happy no matter who won." Bullsh*t. Cuz I'll step it up. World Series time and it's Tulsa vs. Nome. Trust me. Deep in your heart, you like one a little better than the other. That, my friend, is the team you like. Because no matter how crappy your team has been, and my White Sox have has some lean years since 2005, I would never cheer against them to lose and I will still be excited come April 2017. Simple rule of thumb in Chicago: if someone says they are both a Cubs and White Sox fan, they are a Cubs fan.

"But we rooted for you in 2005. You should cheer for us this year." I have heard that a dozen times at least. Let me help you out should you ever hear that, whether you are a Sox fan or any other team. First, thanks, but we didn't ask you. There is no rule that says you have to cheer on another team in a championship. You may like one over the other, but you don't cheer that team on with intent to get favor in the future. Second, don't be a band wagon fan. Think about it. Do you really want a Sox fan, who has hated your club his whole life, to suddenly just cheer you on? Hell no. If I couldn't be on your side from day 1, don't let me in the club. Nothing is worse than being a true fan, suffering through years, decades even centuries of futility, to have some jackass show up and be the "biggest fan". That person is a jerk, and should be treated as such.

"We haven't won anything is so long. We deserve this". Actually, no. No one deserves anything. You earn it. And up until this year, you haven't. Did you finish the best team in MLB in 2016. You did. Did you earn that best team in MLB in 2016 moniker? Yup. Did you earn the National League Pennant? Hell yes. All total, you need 11 wins to get the hardware. No one hands you 11 wins. Earn each one of them.

"But they are another Chicago team. You should be rooting them on". No. Think of it this way. Let's say the Packers moved to Chicago. Or the Red Wings. Let's have the University of Michigan get transplanted down the street from Ohio State. How about the Los Angeles Celtics? San Francisco Dodgers? New York Red Sox? Montreal Bruins? Any of those happen, and the new club goes through a drought. Thirty, forty, fifty years of more of bad seasons and ever so close successes. And they finally put it together and a playing for all the coins. Who in their right mind would automatically cheer on a hated rival just because they are part of your city now? And if you think rivalry is big here, turn on NBCSN and catch the North London Derby, Manchester Derby. Merseyside Derby or any other. Comiskey and Wrigley are about 10 miles apart. Tottenham and Arsenal (North London Derby) play in stadiums less than 5 miles apart. The fight song played at a Michigan/Ohio State game sounds like "Kumbya" compared to the North London Derby.

I want to tell you Cubs fan - It's not personal. I would only hate you if you were an obnoxious jerk. Just like I would hate any other obnoxious jerk no matter the emblem on their cap. Even in script Sox. The full dislike on the Cubs is really the fault of the Chicago media. I can tell you the exact date when the Cubs really stuck in my craw. Opening Day, 2006. Months before that date, there were far too many Chicago baseball fans that never saw a champion crowned from our home city. It was 87 years for the south side and 97 for the north. But we go coast to coast, earn the parade and the banner in the ball park October 26, 2005. Flash forward to Opening Day. The media go to the parks for the usual this and that first game reporting, but I noticed something. Even though the opening dates were 5 days apart, far more attention was paid at Sheffield and Addison than down at 35th and Shields. Close to 9 centuries without a champion, and the Chicago media felt the club that finished with a .488 win percentage, 21 games out of first were much more important than the club that finally broke the losing streak of the city. "Will the Cubs end their drought like the Sox did last year?" I don't think trading Juan Pierre for minor leaguers and signing Jacque Jones was the answer.

So ultimately, it's not the fault of the Cub fans. It's the nature of who I am, along with the loving, preferential treatment of the worst team in baseball (pre 2016) that cemented how I feel. And yes, I will be cheering on Cleveland. If I have to eat crow, I will. But I'm okay with that.

Let's ends with two autographs for the 2005 Project.

Cliff Politte was a solid setup reliever in 2005. I sent the only card I had and he was wise enough to sign the back since the front is a sea of dark. Uribe played 2nd, but good luck finding any White Sox autographs of him. But this card from Tier One was too hard to pass on for under $5. If I find a replacement, then it will be upgraded.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Top of the morning...

My work week starts at 7am. I'm logged into the system and ready to provide quality service to the customers that contact us for help with a smile on my face, a spring in my step and sweetness in my voice.

Being up that early does not mean I am a morning person. It's the opposite. It may appear that way since I've been doing this schedule a good 15 years, and my weekends I tend to be up early, but that is simply automatic conditioning. I am very much a night person. I think better later in the day and prefer afternoon and evening hours. Back in the day I would pull all night Age of Empires battles online with some friends.

Wololo indeed!
Tim from the awesome I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning seems to be the opposite of me. Either that, or a fan of Apocalypse Now. What I am is a fan of the cards he mailed to me recently. I little bit of everything.

I am now a Carlos Lee supercollector. Please contain your jealousy. How did Lee flame out so fast?

Three for the bunting binder. As awesome, and missed, that the Expos uniforms are, they look totally awful on that Classic card. Looking at it now makes my brain hurt.

Pacific. 'Nuf said.

Some great additions to the player collections. I have been avoiding Ebay for the sepia Eaton, and that one card alone made every other card in the envelope a bonus. All these are new for each binder. That particular year of Topps fines scans like hell. You can see the same year in the Carlos image above. Far nicer in person.

Wonderful colors. I can say I have never pulled a purple parallel as I never buy cards from my Toys R Us. At least not cards at regular price. The Shark is an image variation. It's more a reminder of what a bust he was in 2015 for the White Sox.

YAY!!!! Hockey is back in one hour. That Savard card is just before he was sent to the Habs for Chelios. He still got his name on the Cup while in Montreal, so. And the Ultra of Roenick. The background is like they tried to fake a Sportflics or Kellogg's look on the card without the plastic. It doesn't work when you can tell by his skates that Roenick is circling at the boards.

Lastly, how about some help for the Stadium Club build from last year, and some sweet relics? That Paulie is numbered to 150 and is actually a patch, so part of a number more than likely. Thanks so much for the cards, Tim.

And now my day is just starting out.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Throwback Thursday - 10.06.2016

Every Thursday, I post a card showing a ballplayer wearing a throwback uniform from my collection. Hopefully, he will be wearing it well, with proper pants blousing. The picture may be from the front of the card, or the back. Enjoy the uniforms from years past.

Mike Leake - 2010 Topps Series 2 - Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Slashing prices.... on vintage

Remember Crazy Eddie?

Pictured: not actually Eddie
For those who have been under a rock, Crazy Eddie was an electronics store in New York, and in the commercials was a DJ portraying Eddie and he's slashing prices and beating all deals. You know the drill. I  remember when cable was first out nationwide, seeing his commercials if I flipped past the WWOR channel. According to Wikipedia, the real Crazy Eddie did some serious criminal stuff, fled the country but ultimately came back to pay his dues in jail. He just died a month ago, in fact.

For the recent Orland show, the spirit of Fast Eddie was apparent. Quantity wise, I grabbed dang near as much cardboard that was pre 1980 as post. And I could have gone insane with my spending if I didn't get overly selective and have my want lists a cell phone away.

Only 40 years into building the complete 1977 Topps release. I found 4 cards I needed - two yellow and two orange. I should bite the bullet and finish this off via COMC, but I'll wait until the National next year. Hey - ya never know what you might find at the National.

I'm at booth 127

Found nine more for my 1964 build, which puts me franctions of a percentage point over 70% complete. If I recall, that gorgeous condition McCover/Wagner set me back 50 cents. Robin was a quarter maybe, or a dime. You can see the pen marks on Frank Howard. Someone just had to remember this was from the '64 set. It's ok. Quality is fine when the cost is a dime.

Fourteen miscuts were found. Not sure if any are better than a 2nd year parallelogram card of Carlton Fisk. Lowell Palmer and his shades play the position of "pitch" for the Phillies. And I thought that was what Europe plays their football games on.

Vintage bunts!!!! These were all needed. I think Geronimo is using that bat Kirby Puckett was hugging on his 1993 Topps. The angle of the photo makes that thing huge. The George Banks appears they used the same image, just shopped the position of his arm and put a ball in his hand. The Kellogg's at the top is Ron Hunt. Yeah - exactly. Luckily, Wikipedia tells us he holds the record for most hit by pitch in a single season (since 1900) with 50. He's third in career hit by pitch with 243. However, he did it with 3000 less at bats that Baylor in 2nd and 5000 less AB than the leader Biggio.

Lots of Sox. I am sure I grabbed a few I didn't need, like 3 1971 Wilbur Wood cards. Yup - 3. Anybody need one? But I killed a lot of the mid 60's needs. That '59 series is probably the worst condition wise, besides the pen marks noting the year you see on the Al Lopez. Again - condition don't mind when the cost is a dime (or two).

And not just baseball vintage for cheap prices. I could have destroyed my budget with the amount of easly 70's Topps and OPC in the 5 for a buck box. Grabbed what I enjoyed, though. Like some vintage Topps of defunct teams like the Seals and the Scouts. Found a couple Atlanta Flames too. No Rockies, though. And my Blackhawks box got some needed help with a dozen or so vintage finds. I will take any and all Maggie's when you price them under a quarter. Pappin scored the Cup clinching goal for the Leafs in 1967. Bill White was paired with Pat "Whitey" Stapleton in the early 70's, becoming one of the best pair of blue liners in the league at that time.

The find of the day, though, was this gem.

The cost? A buck. Someone offers you a card of Casey Stengel for a dollar, you shut your mouth and take out your wallet.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The show of shows: modern edition

Ok - before I get to the spoils from my last card shop trip, let's close out this contest I have. Again - some really great entries. Everyone is a winner in my eyes, and you can be sure I'll send a little bit of something to each person. But only one is voted on by you, the fans.

So we ended up with quite the close race to the top. But when all is said and done, AJ at Lost Collector wins the stack of autos and relics. Congrats to all that entered. AJ, I should get your winnings out next week.

So if you have been reading the blogs, Dimebox Nick, Tony Burbs and myself all hit the Orland Park card show. Tony had limited time and was not able to find Nick and myself, and I arrived late, but Nick and I did some major damage at some cheap sellers (if you see Nick's two posts I linked), which also seem to be the same place Tony spent his wedding cake budget on.

But honey, people LOVE Twinkies.
As we are separate collectors, my haul was different than Nick or Tony, but quite amazing as well, in my eyes. Let's show off the cards I added to my boxes from the more current releases. Tomorrow (or so), we'll hit the yummy vintage. One group I won't be scanning is the White Sox series 2 cards I needed. Needless to say, that is complete.

History of the Game is one of those great insert sets I forget about since it's buried in a box with the rest of the 2010 set. I think Night Owl finished it recently. But there were 5 I pulled from a dime box. I don't have a list, so I'm not sure how many of the 5 I need, but I will put this set in its rightful place in some pages and figure out the cards I still need.

Panini's fun, quirky, one off release of Hometown Heroes has FAR TOO MANY insert sets. Again, I have no list, but when 16 of these showed up in the same dime box, it's worth the chance of how many I will never. A couple of the City Hall inserts were gold border too. Not sure why you would need to parallel an insert, but Panini.

With my "Collect All the Ginter" mentality, one thing you may see missing from my A&G wants in the yearly large insert set that Topps has put in the set since 2010. I really need to get a list of what I need for those, so 29 that I found for a thin dime each - more taking of chances. That sketch card of the Big Unit was one of two sketch cards I found from the 2008 set. The other being Longoria.

Now here are some insert sets I actually have on my Want lists. I love me some Golden Age. Thank goodness Panini killed it in favor of crap like Optic and their weekly football set. Rare to find any Golden age base at a card show, so inserts are like the baby of Bigfoot and a Yetti. Finding 14 of them at a dime per is a hell of a deal, with many of these going for a couple bucks on COMC. The DeLong Gum were hard pulls. I found 5, so I paid two quarters for them. The five would have cost me $22.17 at the current lowest price on COMC.

Last we have 18 cards from the 2012 and 2013 release of Cooperstown, another set with a lot of inserts and that I am SOOOOO happy Panini basically killed (high end set in 2014 & 2015 and it looks gone for this year). The worst part about these cards from the dime box was the number I already cleared off my wants. I only ended up with 16. I could have had close to double that. Oh well - gift horse/mouth.

So there's the start of the sorting. We'll get to the vintage soon, hitting both baseball and hockey.