Monday, August 30, 2010

Dem Caps Be...

Finally, someone guessed the two mystery caps correctly. Reader William (great name, by the way) surmised that the caps belonged to the Florida Marlins and the Washington Nationals, finally nailing the answer with this pseudo-contest's 40,000th guess. The only teams not guessed were the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Colt .45s. Nice job, geniuses.

Perhaps I'm being a little too hard on everyone. The actual game this guessing game most closely resembled was Mastermind, the exercise in elementary combinatorics and the bane of vacuum cleaner operators and barefoot midnight creepers everywhere. However, the likelihood of any of you contestants being sultry Asian contessas or their debonair European playboy opponents being scant, it was a match that was never meant to be.

Holla atcha boy if the image above was from the edition of Mastermind you grew up with. This was hauled out many a rainy day in the Thorzul household. The game board was brown and the code shield was in no way attached to the base. The picture on the box just made you feel sophisticated playing it, like my eight-year-old self should have had a cocktail in hand for the duration of the game.

"Tell your mom she uses too much vermouth."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who Dem Caps???

Earlier this week, I wrote about my travels to Minnesota, and how we stopped along that way to buy some vending machine baseball caps at a small-town gas station. Now, you need to guess which teams I got. To facilitate the guessing, I've included a picture of both caps from the rear perspective.

To enter this fake contest, all you have to do is guess the two teams you believe these caps belong to. The winner gets jack shit, but they will allow this narrative to move towards its inevitable conclusion, saving the baseball card blogging world from heart-wrenching uncertainty.

You can only guess two teams in total. If I start to see that both teams have been guessed, but separately, by different readers, I will divulge a clue. At this point, the contest becomes hilariously easy, and it will come down to whomever can type to fastest. Happy guessing on this pointless exercise in suspense.

And I'm not sure how this image looks on your piece-of-shit computer screen, but on mine they are black and red.

Taking a Beating: A Cautionary eBay Tale

Selling cards on eBay can be a tricky business. Part of the difficulty lies in knowing how much shipping to charge. As a seller myself, I have settled on $2.00 for a single card in a top loader and a padded envelope, a fair price, if we're reaching consensus on the issue. Having a digital scale in your home is also a good idea, for when the weights of items start to increase.

It's funny, then, that I was part of an eBay deal, as a buyer, in which the seller put himself in an upside-down predicament, if we are using the mortgage crisis lingo of the day.

Here's what I bought. Basically, a decent lot of well-loved cards featuring star pitchers who were at their best in the 1970s and early 1980s. Some of this lot was from the Three Manufacturers Era (with that Topps Archives Vida Blue rookies thrown in)...

...and the rest of the cards were from 1973 to 1980. The condition is not great, especially the San Diego Fingers card, but I'm not picky. (There were a few junk-ass Reuss cards from the late-'80s, but I ain't gonna waste your rods and cones on those.)

Here's where the folly emerges. The cards arrived in a tightly packaged box, no larger than a pack of cigarettes, covered in brown paper. This is the stamp the seller bought to ship the cards.

And this is the packing slip that accompanied the cards, and the reason why I bought this lot at all (other than to bolster my miniscule pre-1981 collection).

So, in effect, this seller paid $0.40 to send me that lot of cards (not to mention the eBay fees incurred from the sale, probably a few cents, with PayPal fees on top of that). I don't understand the thought process here, and I kind of actually feel bad for the guy. He has a feedback score greater than 2,000, so he's no novice at this. Each auction states that the first item ships for free, with subsequent items adding $1.00 to shipping. No, not all of his items start at $0.99, but many of them do. I understand the desire not to gouge buyers on shipping, but you have to look out for yourself, right? Wouldn't he have been better off merely throwing these cards away?

And by the way, how is Vida Blue not in the Hall of Fame? And shouldn't Mickey Lolich be considered as a possibility as well? Lolich has the third most strikeouts all-time for a lefty. He peaked at 25.5% in the BBWAA HOF voting, but fell to 5.2% in his final year of eligibility in 1999. And Blue has only garnered as high as 8.7%. Oh, well, such things are not mine to worry over.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jefferson Burdick Elementary

There are a couple of guys, OG bloggers mostly, with whom I have a special, unspoken trading arrangement. Our trades are not exactly a quid-pro-quo with well-defined edges and borders. Rather, when we see fit, we send something to one another, knowing that the favor will be returned somewhere down the road. One of these such packages came from Stale Gum. Let's check out some of the contents.

Some Ginter MINIS...

...a MATTHEWS...

...and a MOLLY.

Also, there were some '09 U&H and these red Topps Unique cards (which I am foolishly collecting).

But perhaps the best among the bunch was this custom sticker, "Jefferson Burdick Has a Posse." Awesome. Now someone just needs to take the next logical step and create an OBEY BURDICK sticker, the likes of which could be plastered all over lightposts and stop signs all across America.

Speaking of Burdick, I actually live in a city that has a K-8 school named Burdick. Unfortunately, it's not named after the Burdick, as far as I know. The official name is A.E. Burdick School. I don't know who A.E. was.

But wouldn't a school devoted to card collecting be great?!?! Perhaps I can get a charter, and I could be the principal and hire all of the best bloggers to teach at it (with full medical and dental, naturally).
Here's a sampling of the course listings.

Advanced Set Building 350 (Tackling the super short prints on a budget.)
Introduction to Pack Busting 101
Archaeology 272 (Buried Relics - The Next Big Thing?)
History 900 (Surveys: Topic - Presidential Cards: How Much is Too Much?)
Junkwax 315 (Unloading that '88 Score: Pros & Cons)

Alls I knows is that Milwaukee gots a shitload of abandoned buildings to house the school, yo.

Thanks, Chris!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Baseball Travels (Part 2 of 3: The Land of 10,000 Re*****)

In what will hopefully be the first and only instance of its kind, I am going to have to go ahead with a bit of self-censorship here. While I usually do my best to hide my loathing of all things Minnesota, sometimes the enormity of the hatred becomes too much to bear. Unfortunately, this comes in direct conflict with my desire to maintain civil domestic relations. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you may remember that my wife is from Minnesota. This entails summer and holiday trips across the border, to a land where the residents cannot for the life of them figure out how to repeal a law forbidding the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

Within this post, I am going to have to censor myself several times through the use of asterisks. This should work well, since most of us will still be able to understand the implied content, while Vikings fans will merely pass over the undecipherable code and focus their energies on sounding out the next word by a trial-and-error series of grunts, sniffs, and alpenhorn-esque bellowings. F****** id****, the whole lot of them.

If you doubt the st***dity of the residents of the state, you may want to consult this very reputable atlas.

Alright, let's get started. While still inside the confines of the Badger State, we stopped to fuel in Lyndon Station, a village with a population of 458 residents and 461 hunting licenses. After making a men's room deposit, I saw a vending machine that I could not resist. My prayers to the Mother of Incarnate MLB Insignia Mary-Catherine had come true. At last, someone found the quickest way to get a dollar out of me. I purchased two caps, but I'm not telling which teams I got until later. You can guess what I got, but even if you guess correctly, you ain't getting shit.

We eventually made it into Minnesota, and I immediately went from being one of the 100,000 or so smartest people in the state to somewhere in the top 5. Based on my ACT score and general ability to think critically and operate a toaster, I now have professor emeritus status at several state universities.

Let's fast forward a bit. I went to the Twins/A's game with the wife's family and several hangers on. The Twins printed several different versions of tickets, but I didn't grab any of the others from my party.

While walking to the stadium, we... aw heck, I'm tired of all this narrative exposition. Just let me show you the pictures of shit.

The view from our seats. My navel, the pitching rubber, and home plate all fell on the same line. I was also in the row directly under the centerfield camera, and had to fight to resist the urge to wreak havoc on the FSN broadcast with a well-hocked loogie.

Out-of-focus statue of Harmon Killebrew, with a complete f****** m***n in the background.

A monument to forced bathroom love.

The one cool thing about Target Field.

The same thing, following the 2-0 victory over Oakland, possibly the most boring game of all-time. Sac fly, meaningless RBI single, in and out in 2:15.

Several times during the night, I was asked what I thought of Target Field. I really didn't have a good answer for anybody, especially they were all looking for a response one would reserve for the Sistine Chapel. It's a stadium like any other. Not much difference between it and any others I have been to. What I should have said was how utterly fucking re****ed the team and the state and its residents must be to have built a stadium without a roof. By the time we got out of the parking garage (don't get me started on that situation), it was pouring fucking rain outside. Had the game had any excitement to speak of and gone a few minutes longer, it would have been rain delay city. From what I've heard, the team has been very fortunate in avoiding rainouts this season, but I have a feeling that will change, considering how shitty April and September can be.

Or, I could have given the ultimate passive-aggresive response to the stadium question: "It's different."

Coming soon: My favorite stadium trip of the summer.

Monday, August 23, 2010


If I didn't already have most of these cards, I would have jumped all over this lot.

Gotta love those Beaves, they're having a heckuva year.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

To Satisfy a Request...

I posted one of the packs from the K-Mart cheapie box on A Pack a Day.

Remember that thing?

The other one will probably follow soon.
You're welcome.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Baseball Travels (Part 1 of 3: Witness to History)

Over the next few days I'll be recounting some tales of baseball games I have attended this summer both far and near. We'll skip around in chronological order, but we'll begin closest to home. Among the handful of games I've gone to at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, this year, one has stood out as having produced an event I am not likely to see again in person.

Here's the ticket. Can you guess the amazing feat that occurred? You may have already forgotten it, if you had even heard at all. An essentially meaningless game between two go-nowhere teams in the middle of August, I don't blame you.

Well, if you haven't gotten it by now, here it is.
In this game, the Arizona Diamondbacks hit four consecutive home runs against Brewer pitcher Dave Bush.

First it was Adam LaRoche...

...then Miguel Montero...

...followed up by Mark Reynolds...

...with the deal sealed by Stephen Drew.

Perfect game? Those are a dime a dozen, a whopping twenty of them throughout baseball history.

Unassisted triple play, thought to be the rarest of feats? Yeah, that's happened fifteen times. That's the equivalent of two solid weeks of a UTP once-per-day with time for a break on Sunday and a quickie behind the boathouse before the final one.

But how many times have players hit home runs back-to-back-to-back-to-back?


Admittedly, it was such a weird thing, without much buildup, that most of the crowd probably wasn't sure it was a record. Myself, I started chatting to the guy down the row from me and neither of us were sure it was a record-tying feat. All I know is that the crowd got restless around the third one and started calling for Bush to be yanked.

Perhaps most interestingly, Bush stayed in the game the whole time. Only three pitchers (along with Paul Foytack, 1963, and Chase Wright, 2007) gave up all four, making it an even rarer occurrence. Bush actually settled down and finished the inning, which was only a four-run inning, to put things in perspective. It just seemed like a lot more seeing the ball leave the field that many times in such a short time span. Gerardo Parra, the next batter after the four, actually hit the ball pretty hard, but it harmlessly fell in for a deep single. In retrospect, I wish he had cranked it out for the fifth in a row.

By the way, what do you think of the photos of cards, as opposed to scans? I'm having scanner troubles (more on that later), which necessitate the photographs. The cards, if you must know, were photographed sitting on one of those TV tray tables that all Americans were issued in the first half of the 2000s. Seriously, have you ever gone to somebody's house who doesn't have these?
Yeah, it's like a ski lodge in here.

About the printer, here's the situation. My parents went away for a week's vaca- HOLD UP-
Alright, here's the real problem. My printer/scanner, an HP F380, which has never given me much trouble, all of a sudden decided it will not scan anymore. But it will print.
Oh, and when hooked up to my wife's laptop (both Macs, by the way), it will print and scan, no problem.
I've uninstalled and reinstalled the software (latest update from HP's website) twice, same thing keeps happening. I've tried adding drivers for this specific model. No deal.
If anyone can help me out on this, I'd appreciate it. I can always call HP customer service, but being on the phone with tech support is one of the few things in life that upset me. Honest help from a sympathetic citizen who speaks English is always the better course of action.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Group Break: Last Two Sweet Spot Tins & Scans

Here are the scans of the Sweet Spot hits.
First the jerseys...

...then the helmet autos...

...after that, the two faded sweet spot signatures...

...the bat barrel and silver signature...

...and the Roberts patch.

Group Break: First Two Sweet Spot Tins

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who Wouldn't Want to Pretend to Be a Brewer?

One magical day, Bill Swift closed his eyes and thought very hard about joining his favorite team...

...only to make it halfway there.

Wishes don't always come true.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stubs - 2001

2001 is a year that will be remembered for the most horrible tragedy to have ever taken place on American soil. My stubs might reflect the national consciousness of the time. Step into my time machine and take a ride all the way back to 2001.

1/2/01 - I'm going to make it a habit on these to show the stub from the first movie I saw that year. I'm guessing most of these will be late-December-released Oscar bait. This year it was Cast Away. No explanation necessary.

4/13/01 - Blow
This is the flimsiest ticket stub for any event ever. It's got less meat to it than a sales receipt. I saw this movie at the University Square 4 theatre, which has since been turned into luxury apartments whose monthly rent, prorated, is higher than my mortgage payment.

4/24/01 - Brewers/Mets
The first game I attended at Miller Park. I did not receive a floppy hat.

5/19/01 - Amores Perros
Minimalist ticket, maximum entertainment. See this movie if you haven't yet.

7/25/01 - The Roots
Great show at The Rave, a mid-sized club in Milwaukee. I felt neither the need to mosh nor to carry anything in.

9/3/01 - American Pie 2
This was the last movie I saw pre-9/11. Apparently, it was still OK to laugh (had that movie been even half as funny as the first one).

9/16/01 - Ghostworld
First movie post-9/11. A comedy with a much darker tone, reflecting the mood of a nation.

11/9/01 - Donnie Darko
Don't let the stub fool you. I played no part in any sort of Indian Movie Festival. This is actually a ticket to Donnie Darko at UW-Milwaukee. I went with my sister. A few rows in front of us a big scary guy got shushed by a small puny guy. The big scary guy took offense and started getting belligerent. Small puny guy exits theatre to get manager. Manager kicks out big scary guy. Audience is thrilled. Jet engine falls into boy's bedroom, causing time rift.

11/10/01 - Pharcyde
Horrible show. Horrible sound.
I'm not sure why someone would have wanted to bring in a camera to this show, but someone would have done nicely for themselves carrying in some earplugs.
Your momma's got an afro... with a chinstrap.

2001... the way it was.

August Group Break: First Box

The 2006 Artifacts box arrived before the Sweet Spot tins, so we'll get this break started.

Pretty nice autograph, but the jersey cards were nothing spectacular.

As soon as the Sweet Spot gets here, I'll bust them and post the video.

Also, a side note to Tunguska: Pay up!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stubs (No More Bubs) - 2000

Well, I guess there will be no more Bubs from here on out. He ran away from his halfway house last night and the word on the street is that he's out selling "whities" from his shopping cart around Hamsterdam. Too bad. But we still have a lot of great ticket stubs to look at.

We're going to take a look at the year 2000 today. During this year I was a junior and senior in college, living in Madison. I had just about no money, so I didn't get to a lot of sporting events. I'm guessing that most of the ones I did attend were on behalf of my family, whom I got to visit a couple of times during the summer and on holidays.

The year actually got off to a quick start, with my first sporting event of the 2000s being a Marquette basketball game on January 2. I think I went to this one with my dad, brother, and uncle.

My research indicates it was a 65-63 victory over Xavier. The 2000 Warriors (NOT Golden Eagles, I don't care what the ticket says) were a bad team that hadn't made the NCAA tournament since 1997 and would not again until 2002. Standouts included John Cliff, Cordell Henry, Brian Wardle, and Oluoma Nnamaka. The roster included a guy named Krunti Hester, who got into two games that year. The players were all Mike Deane recruits, even though it was Tom Crean's first season. Things would get better in a few years after Crean landed a guy you might have heard of... Dwyane Wade.

The first movie I saw that year was Magnolia. Still my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson film.

I got to a Bucks game, but I don't remember anything about it. Basketball Reference tells me it was a 91-84 Bucks loss. We got to the playoffs that year, but were ousted by the Pacers in the first round, three games to two.

There are tons of movie ticket stubs in this envelope, but I'll only show the memorable ones. The Perfect Storm in and of itself was not all that memorable, although highly enjoyable, but I'll always remember it for another reason. Before the movie started, the guy sitting next to my mom dumped his soda all over her. It was as if he had held it directly above her lap and turned the cup upside-down. Needless to say, the night was ruined.

Next is a ticket to what would become my last game at County Stadium. The Phillies beat the Brewers 5-3, with Randy Wolf (now a Brewer, oddly enough) going seven strong innings for the victory. The loss put the Brewers at a record of 34-50, 16.5 games out if first place. Not a great time to be a fan, but no one knew how bad it would get. We were still two years away from our 2002 56-106 finish. I firmly believe that winning is not as sweet for fans of teams like the Yankees, since there isn't that mantle of abject failure lurking beneath the crust of occasional victory.

There was also a Rampage game.

Next time... 2001... or more Wisconsin football tickets?
Check back soon to find out.