Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 5 Pulls of 2007 #5

Now that it's New Year's Eve, it's time to set aside our petty differences, look past the color of one's skin, and reflect on the great pulls, both retail and hobby, that one has made over the course of 2007. While most media outlets favor lists in multiples of 10, I'm going to stop at 5. Did I pull more than five great cards over the past year? Not really, but this year was a learning experience, a series of 365 days that firmly planted me back into the hobby I had abandoned around 1994. In retrospect, it was one of the smartest things I had ever done.

Speaking of smart things, here are my top 5 moments of 2007:
5. Reaching my goal of working out for 1,000 minutes during the month of October. Sure, I tried and failed in August and September (coming heart-breakingly close), but my body looks like it's eighteen again.
4. Completing the 2007 Topps Heritage set. Those short prints were a bastard, but I finally made it.
3. Buying a Wii before the hype got to it.
2. Renting a flat that, at the time of signing, looked like hell, but turned out to be gorgeous.
1. Getting engaged. The date is set, the hall is rented, the tux is fitted.

Enough with the Lifetime Network B.S., let's talk cards.

The fifth best pull of 2007...

Card: 2007 Topps Updates and Highlights #SQ1 Poley Walnuts
From: Hobby Box

While others have been hating on this card and this set, I probably had the most fun with the U&H out of anything else this year. Finally there was a Generation Now that didn't immediately turn into eBay bait (Prince Fielder), the subsets were cool, the red backs led to the creation of Trade Me Anything, and I finally got a chase card. So what if it was one that was ridiculed?

To be painfully honest, I wasn't even the one to open the pack with this card in it. It was the woman. Every once in a while, despite a lack of real enthusiasm in "carding," as she calls it, she asks to open a couple of packs. I'm pretty sure her words were "What the heck is this?" when this little nut-eater appeared. Good for her. Actually, she's pretty great when it comes to going to card shows with me. (And as probably the only attractive woman in the whole hall, she has a certain knack for talking the price of cards down, which is nice.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Lynch-mas!

December 25, 2007:
1987 Topps #697 Ed Lynch

Last night I saved Christmas from being stolen away from every boy and girl from the clutches of an inhuman monster.

"Maybe baseball," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."

"Maybe baseball...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then? Wrigleyville they say, 

That the Lynch's small chin folds Grew three sizes that day!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 24

December 24, 2007:
1996 Upper Deck Collector's Choice MVP #M36 Yancey Thigpen

At long last, all of the doors are open, the Card-vent Calendar is complete. This card celebrates another Christmas Eve miracle, one that occurred on December 24, 1995.

On this date, I was a junior in high school, working a part-time job at an independent drug store near my house. The place had probably thirty employees, all of whom were subject to the same tradition: ALL employees work on Christmas Eve. The general manager was the type of guy who didn't want to answer questions about why so-and-so got the day off when someone else couldn't, so the entire work force was present. The only problem was that there wasn't much to do. Sure, he bought us pizza each year, but the rest of the night you walked around the store trying to look busy, sneaking peeks at the clock every 39 seconds or so, agonizing over the slow march to 9 o'clock.

The year 1995 was a special Christmas Eve, however. The Packers were hosting Pittsburgh needing a win to take the NFC Central division crown. With nothing else to do, most of the male workers (plus a few of the women, too) huddled around a radio to listen to the play-by-play of Jim Irwin and Max McGee. Anyways, I'm sure everyone knows about Yancey Thigpen's last-minute sure-thing touchdown drop on 4th down that gave the Packers the division. My less-than-ideal working conditions ensured that I didn't see the play. This might have been a good thing; perhaps I avoided having a heart attack at an unusually early age.

That's my Christmas Eve story. I hope everyone gets what they want tomorrow. Force the visions of sugar plums out of your dreams to make way for images of hobby boxes, blasters, and one-of-ones.

The breakneck pace of this blog doesn't slow with the end of the Card-vent Calendar. Tomorrow I have a special visitor planned, who you'll not want to miss. Plus I'll be counting down my top 5 pulls of 2007 during the week surrounding the January first. See you then!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 23

December 23, 2007:
1995 Skybox Impact #48 Herman Moore

Okay, the Packers lost to the Bears for the second time this season today, but it's alright. All of those fucking pieces of shit wearing orange and a-color-that's-not-quite-black will be tuning in to watch a real football team this January. The Bears are so pathetic, they can't even get me angry the same way the Vikings can.

That aside, I thought it was time to pay tribute to an opponent from the past worth a huge measure of respect. That team from Chicago? As Walter from The Big Lebowski to eloquently put it, "This is not a worthy adversary." Instead I'm talking about Detroit Lions wide receiver Herman Moore. Highly underrated, this was a guy who twice a year made me wish he was on my team. Sure, it would have been utopian fantasy for someone like Barry Sanders to have been on the Packers, but that was never going to happen. With Moore, though, he was just far enough under the radar that you could picture him in the green and gold. The man's hands were like magnets, yet he was rarely mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, or even Tim Brown. Apparently four straight Pro Bowls was not enough.

This card is great because is shows him breaking away from one of the founding members of the NFL All-Douchebag Team, Terrell Buckley. Yes, Terrell Buckley, the self-proclaimed "Greatest Athlete of the Second Half of the Twentieth Century."

"Favre...deep to Moore...TOUCHDOWN!!" That's fantasy football.

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 22

December 22, 2007:
1989 Pro Set #391 Brian Bosworth

This being one of the last precious Sundays during which a half-dozen or more NFL footballs are aloft at any given moment, let's pay tribute to years past.

Apparently, there was a time when this look was actually cool. While Bosworth went on to star in such cinematic masterpieces as Stone Cold, he really should have taken the supporting role in Ghostbusters as Gozer------> "Aim for the flat top!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 21

December 21. 2007:
1982 K-Mart #44 Pete Rose

I do not know why I have this card. Similarly, I do not know why someone would buy a box (pack) of Sport Kings for more than $300.

This card celebrates Rose's breaking of Stan Musial's National League record of 3,630 hits. This card celebrates steroid use.

I have little left to say, so I'll leave you with a something to ponder. Despite similar inventories, why is Target so fun to shop at, yet K-Mart is so depressing?

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 20

December 20, 2007:
1987 Topps WWF Wrestling #65 Scare Tactics

Today's card is the stuff fourth grade dreams are made of.

Picture this: A blacktop playground, the yellow paint marking the boundaries of a four-square game, and a baseball glove. No ropes, no rules, all action.

For the better part of a month, my friends and I would do battle in the squared circle of our imaginations between 10:00 and 10:15 every day. Tag-team matchups were scheduled for each recess, when we would mimic the spandex-clad heroes brought to us over the airwaves on Sunday mornings and select Saturday nights. Jeremiah A. and I took to the ring as Demolition, possibly the most horrifying tag team of all time. We would square off against the Mega-Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage), portrayed by Greg L. and Jay G. On occasion Matt M. would act as manager for one of the teams, running on the outer portion of our "ring", hitting one of the combatants with the ringside bell (actually a baseball glove).

Seeing as we were students at a Catholic school, the practice of "fighting" was frowned upon, and the four of us warriors were given detentions (the first of two I would receive in my life, the other being for playing football too close to the teachers cars in the parking lot).

Let's take a close look at this card. The pants-shitting scariness of the pre-match garb has little to no parallel in the wrestling world. Sure, the Legion of Doom had their shoulder pads outfitted with spikes, and the Undertaker had that whole vacant stare thing, but who would want to find themselves face to face with Ax and Smash looking like they just got done filming an S&M snuff film? Certainly not the Killer Bees! Nor the Rougeaus, nor the Can-Am connection! And forget about Strike Force, the yellow-clad Conquistadors, and even the British Bulldogs! These two would haunt you till you die with a giant, spreading pee stain.

"Bring out the Gimp." "The Gimp's sleepin'." No, the Gimp is most definitely not sleeping, he's got his face painted and he wants to put you in a suplex before he elbow drops you!

Apparently Topps copy writers were not paid by the word. Have you ever seen such large font on the back of any card (not counting the 1990 BO card)? Thank you Captain Ovbious.

Tonight, I dream of Mr. Fuji's magic dust.

"Here comes the Ax,
Here comes the Smash-er
We're Demolition
A walking disaster."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 19

December 19, 2007:
1980 Topps #491 Steve Mura

For any of you who are curious, the brand of rum from the aforementioned mixed drink is Sailor Jerry. Not the highest quality, to be sure, but passable and on sale, complete with a picture of a hula girl and the tattoo artist namesake's mini-bio.

Today's card is nowhere near the complexity of the bottle of rum's design, but it is as dear to me any any others I own.

When you hear the word "babysitter," what kind of person do you picture? Eighth grade girl, right? Wrong. For a short time, I was lucky enough to be babysat by a guy named Chad Mack, probably the coolest high school kid of all time. When other kids had to put up with their babysitters' nail polish and seventeen magazines, mine brought over his baseball cards.


Being a considerable number of years older than me, he owned cards that were a variety and age that I had no knowledge of. For me, time may as well have begun in 1986 (or the year 5 A.D. -- After Donruss), because I was in possession of very little product or information before this year. Sure, my friend slipped me a 1985 Topps Milt May (who he claimed died shortly thereafter, but to my knowledge, he's still alive) and the Gary Pettis that's actually his little brother, but artifacts other than these were hard to come by. That's before I met Steve Mura.

I distinctly remember Chad's shoebox full of cards he brought over one night. There were a few old Topps sticker albums and a bunch of cards. The one double he selected was this card, the one that taught me that the hobby had a history.

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 18

December 18, 2007:
1997 Wizard Magazine Iron Man Stand-Up

Tomorrow is the last day of school before we have to return again on January 3, so I have chose an Iron Man Stand-Up card, highly evocative of the 1964 Topps Stand Up set. What's the connection, you ask? Well, for those of you uninitiated into the Marvel lore (with which I posses only a passing familiarity; I'm a DC man through anfdthrough), Iron Man is the creation of Tony Stark, alcoholic millionaire. The thought of 12 days off is cause for briefly becoming an imbiber on the scale of a Tony Stark. Since all tomorrow really calls for is a stack of Christmas-themed coloring pages as high as an intermediate hurdle, Polar Express in DVD format, and early afternoon Pizza Hut delivery, tonight's schedule includes several rum and Cokes. (Which will make tonight's second post a bold adventure.)

Here's the back side of the Iron Man, which should give you a better idea of how to fold this monstrosity, as well as the card's color scheme (which, chromey as it is, didn't come through very well in the scan).

Anyone reading this is welcome to drink along with me. Post your drink of choice in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 17

December 17, 2007: 1988 Starting Lineup B.J. Surhoff

Although the last post centered around the hate I've been feeling towards the world for the last 48 hours or so, this next one is a little more cheerful. Not too long ago, I won an eBay auction for a couple of Robin Yount Starting Lineup figurines for a very reasonable price. As a Yount completist, I simply had to have these (the 1988 and 1990 versions, for those wondering). I actually owned the 1989 Yount when I was younger, and it got played with, of course, but my favorite to use to do battle with my He-Man guys and G.I. Joes was B.J. Surhoff.

The cool thing about his figure was his defensive rendering. Surhoff was depicted with his back to the plate, mask in hand, glove high and ready to catch a sky-high pop up. Although the shoulder stripes were always misaligned on the jersey when the following pose was used, I always liked to display my Surhoff with his glove down at his side and the catchers mask above his head ready to snag the ball. For a ten-year-old, that' about as sophisticated as humor can get.

Here's my other B.J. Surhoff story. It was probably 1990 or 1991 or so. The collector's high of seeing B.J., an actual Brewer, touted as a Future Star in the 1987 Topps set had worn off long ago. Yet for some reason my brother, probably seven years of age at the time, really wanted that rookie. We walked down to Stadium Sports Cards on Fond du Lac Avenue on Milwaukee's northwest side, we find the card is a binder full of Brewers, and he blurts out to the dealer, "My brother says this card is 50 cents." The dealer promptly licked his chops and sold it for the quoted price, probably well above book value at that time. There's a special moment this long-ago dealer will experience in purgatory where the balance very well may tip in favor of eternal damnation based on this incident.

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 16

December 16, 2007: 2006 Topps Wacky Packages Series ? #4 Spite

Have you ever gotten behind on a real Advent calendar and had to work your way through like sixteen pieces of chocolate? Of course you haven't; those calendars are right at the top of the morning to-do list, sandwiched between the morning pee and the thorough cursing of your job. That's what I need to do this week, however, and hopefully the quality of the work doesn't suffer.

Appropriately enough, I opened today's Card-vent calendar door to reveal not a player, not a team, but an emotion. Here are the reasons I feel spiteful today:
1. Yesterday's trip to the Apple store resulted in a repair order that should take the better part of a week, leaving me with the fiancee's computer. It's kind of like when you would go to a friend's house, play in the snow, and have to wear a pair of his pants later on because yours were sopping wet. They did the job, but you felt strange that your junk was in an altogether new environment.

2. Fantasy football ended poorly. After fifteen weeks of riding Tom Brady to victory, every single one of my players turned in close to a season-low point total.

3. Some whack job emailed me, telling me I was making baby Jesus cry because I was selling a Wii for slightly above cost on the internet. (If there's enough interest, I can post the entire exchange on this here forum. It's entertaining to say the least.)

Optimistically, I can avoid spending the rest of the week fuming. Thursday looks pretty good as I scheduled my third grade class for a trip to the zoo, and Friday looks downright glorious: As the day before Christmas...ahem...Winter Break, you're basically expected to do fuck-all in school. There will also be pizza.

Leave a comment as to whether or not you want to read the barrage of emails from the whacko.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sorry for the Delay

I've suffered a major computer catastrophe, preventing me from posting anything good over the lasy couple of days. Hopefully I can improvise tomorrow with the return of the Card-vent Calendar.

By the way, is this something people are liking? I'm interested to hear what readers think about it in general.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 15

December 15, 2007:
1991 Topps #371 Jeff Montgomery

Sixteen years have passed, and you'd think that in that span of time, Jeff here would have been able to live down this card.

Sorry, Jeff Montgomery. The spirit of Christmas calls for making fun of others who took pictures less fortunate.

To celebrate, I've crafted a delightful song. It goes to the tune of "Won't You Be My Neighbor," the theme song to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

It's a beautiful day in this baseball park,
A beautiful day for a visor.
Would you wear mine?
Could you wear mine?...

I've always wanted to be a pitcher, just like you.
I've always wanted to own a bright yellow

Let's jam to some tunes on this beautiful day.
It's a five-man rotation, we might as well say:
Would you wear mine?
Could you wear mine?
Won't you wear my visor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you wear my visor?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 14

December 14, 2007:
1993 Donruss #695 Greg Briley

You might not be able to tell right now, mid-game, but Greg Briley wants you. I've got nine inches of holiday loving, and it's got your name on it.

Why do I wear number 1? It's not just a uniform designation, it's a declaration of lifestyle. Greg never comes in second. Never.

And let's be clear: It's never been about Junior's sloppy seconds. No, it was the other way around. Ken got the Mariners groupies that I tossed to the side.

On the diamond, I'm all business. Post-game? You better watch your step.

Oh yeah, I see you. Greg Briley is turned on. You see that look in my eye. You make Greg Briley want you to stroke it. What's that? You think the dugout lacks the privacy this act deserves? got Tino Martinez on lookout duty. Dave Valle had a coupon for whipped cream. Greg Briley thinks things through.

Aw, no baby, don't run away!

Looks like Greg Briley is gonna stroke it tonight.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 13

December 13, 2007:
1990 Fleer #635 Super Star Specials Kirby Puckett/Bo Jackson

Alright, it looks like it's time for a break from the silly football cards. Whoever constructed this calendar finally saw fit to put a good card behind one of the doors.
I've probably gotten this card in a pack five or six times in my life, and it's always a treat. In an artistic sense, I think it's the interplay of color between Kirby and Bo's uniforms. The home-and-home combination is one seen only on All-Star weekend, and the experience is only enhanced by the fact that these were two of the most exciting players to watch. In an era of ubiquitous fantasy sports leagues, this is my ultimate fantasy team-up.

Tomorrow's card promises to be the best of the season. Why December 14th? I just don't want to save it for a date closer to Christmas when nobody is online. This will be one for the ages.

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 12

Drat, a day behind in the calendar again! Time to get opening those little doors, and all I can see is a plush sweatshirt and a head of well-groomed hair. Let's see who it is.
December 12, 2007
1991 Pro Line Portraits #115 Bill Belichick

Awww, all I got is a crummy coach card. Embarassingly enough, I own the complete set of these cards. I think I remember it being VERY CHEAP to buy a box of it, and that's the language I was speaking when all I had in the way of income was some paper route money.
Belichick's sweater is lovely, but this is actually one of the most subdued of the checklist. Three words sum up this set:
(Hopefully I'll get to open a door with one of these behind it later on.)

Even though the only purpose of this set was to sell officially licensed NFL merchandise, you get some good facts on the back. Now I know that there was an eight-year-old breaking down film for Navy. Ummm...I guess that explains all those many, many national championships they had back in the 1960s.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1981 Fleer Mini-Tournament Results

After much deliberation, a winner has finally been chosen for the 1981 Fleer Mini-Tournament. Since the voting ended in a somewhat pathetic 2-2 tie, I, as commissioner of the BCS (Baseball Card Symposium) must cast the final vote. On the basis of a tight, waterproof curl, hair most likely to evoke thoughts of topiary gardening, and a winning smile, I crown this year's winner, Al Holland.

Let's show Al what he's won:

I must thank reader and co-Pack-A-Day blogger dayf for spending what must have been an inordinate amount of time crafting the championship trophy. As an aside, shortly after showing this teriffic Photoshop job to my teaching partner, she promptly went out and purchased a bunch of miniature Wooly Willy toys as rewards for students who turned all of their homework in. sadly, none of them had the background picture of Al Holland. Congratulations Al, you'v earned it!

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 11

Today's post arrives early because today was declared a SNOW DAY!!! Teachers such as myself live for days like today.

December 11, 2007:
1993 Wild Card #1 Surprise Card

What this set has going for it is a cool logo, something that looks like it would fit in with the design concept of an indoor soccer team or an NFL Europe franchise. This card was found in an old binder full of football cards from the 1990s, stuff like Pro Set and really bad Pinnacle cards. Somehow, I forgot to redeem this offer, pretty out of character for a kid such as myself who loved to send in empty Topps sticker packets for stickers of my choice.

Technically, this offer isn't really expired, since there is no promotion end date given. Still, I don't think an attempt to send this in would result in much more than a "Return to Sender" sent courtesy of a third-rate Cincinnati beauty school, or perhaps a company that manufactures the little metal pieces used on the tops of dental floss containers to tear the floss.

Does anyone know what I could have gotten for turning this card in?

By the way, I hope to announce the long-overdue winner of the 1981 Fleer Mini-Tournament today, so stay posted!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 10

December 10, 2007:
1991 Topps Football #497 Reuben Davis

Lord only knows what I had against this guy to deface his card in such a fashion. Maybe turning 13 transformed me into some sort of rebel with a cause, and poor Reuben Davis bore the brunt of my teen aggression. Let's review the damage.

1. Reuben swallowed a small humanoid, who is currently trying to escape from his chamber of horrors via Reuben's oral cavity. His cries for help go unanswered as he will inevitably slip back into the maw of this great Sarlaac.

2. Reuben's obvious declaration of gastrointestinal discomfort.

3. The foot comes off the accelerator a bit here as Reuben is allowed to upgrade his uniform to include Legion of Doom-esque shoulder spikes. Perhaps such an allowance would have given early-1990s Buccaneer teams a fighting chance.

4. The Pièce de résistance, Davis receives a Black and Decker shot to the occipital lobe...

...with a drill bit long enough to penetrate the frontal lobe, with small amounts of brain material forcibly excavated.

Davis, having actually sustained such an injury, would suffer from lapses in working memory, motor control, and judgment. The occipital lobe damage would have most likely rendered Davis blind. Even were his vision not completely compromised, Reuben would have been unable to distinguish between colors. That would have made telling team jerseys apart. Theoretically, I just effectively ended this man's career.

Card-vent Calendar, Dec. 9

A day behind again, so I'll play catch-up tonight.

December 9, 2007:
2003 Star Wars Trading Cards Game -- Chief Bast

To commemorate the 2007 Fantasy Football season, during which I lucked out enough to snag Tom Brady in the fourth round, let's do a comparison between Brady and one of Darth Vader's underlings, Chief Bast.

Brady: Name starts with letter "B"
Bast: Name starts with letter "B"
Brady: Wears a radio-equipped helmet to work
Bast: Wears a short-brimmed hat to work
Brady: Boss communicates via headset
Bast: Boss communicates via labored breathing
Brady: Went undefeated until...?
Bast: Went undefeated until Luke Skywalker
Brady: Associates with Jabar Gaffney
Bast: Associates with Jabba the Hutt
Brady: Positively ruthless
Bast: Positively ruthless

While I don't play any cards games like these, I do admire Bast's sideburn growth. Even though the saga took place in a galaxy far, far away, the 1970s still managed to influence fashion trends.