Monday, February 28, 2011

Mabeus... Mabeus Not

This card made its way to me via White Sox Cards in a trade for some Frank Thomas Promotional Sample Cards.

2006 Topps '52 Rookies #52S-CM Chris Mabeus AUTO

It's generally not a good sign if your first MLB appearance is the same date as you last MLB appearance. Chris ended his career with an ERA over 20, which is a shame. Guys like him should get a chance to work off a few points, maybe in exchange for community service. Man a concession stand each night of a three game series, knock a point off the career ERA. Something like that. It's not a sign of a bad player, just a guy who didn't get much of a chance to show his stuff.

Chris's name is actually a nice anagram for a character in a series of German expressionist films by Fritz Lang, Doctor Mabuse. I'm only versed in Lang as far as theory goes. I own a public domain copy of Metropolis, but have refused to watch it for several years after vastly improved versions have been released. Someday.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Show Me Your Cups: Part II

"This is what democracy looks like!"

Man, the posts have been sparse this week, mostly related to non-sporting issues in my life. There have been a couple of trips to Madison to be on the correct side of history, as well as a bunch of after-school activities. On Monday I got to see Tom Morello (who, incidentally, had a few cards in Upper Deck's 2008 Football Heroes set), and last Friday I stood a few feet away from Jesse Jackson as he marched to the state capitol. The photo above is courtesy of Mrs. Thorzul, my partner in witnessing history.

Today, though, it's time to take a break from all of this "politics slop" and show off a couple more collectible cups.

First up is the only Packers cup in my cupboard. It's not technically from a stadium, but falls within the spirit of the rules. As you might be able to tell, this once held a McDonald's beverage, and it featured Donald Driver, newly-crowned Super Bowl champion. I don't know for sure if this is from this year or last year, but it's something I'd like to hold on to for ever after this season's success. I also once owned a regionally-distributed McDonald's cup like this featuring LeBron James. The Mickey D's High School All-American Game was being played in Milwaukee that year, and LeBron had been an MVP of a previous year. I actually sold it on eBay for a few bucks, so that worked out well.

Today's other cup features the Klement's Racing Sausages. A few years old now (Chorizo-less, I might add), this cup depicts the famous race around its circumference. Bringing up the rear are the Polish Sausage and Bratwurst (for whom I always cheer)...

...and the Hot Dog coasts to victory with a two-length (or width, I guess) lead over the Italian.

Hot Dog is crowned the winner, and I have to say he seems pretty stoked about it. Or maybe he's happy he's so delicious.

These ain't the last of my cups. Stay tuned.

Oh, and here's Mad Guru's late assignment. The dog excuse and such.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Face of (Donnie) Baseball: An Mmmmmmmm... Cards Special Report

Was I alone being confused as to what exactly Don Mattingly looked like in the late-1980s?

It seems like an odd question, sure, but let me lay it all out for you. I first dipped my toe into this hobby with a few packs of 1986 Topps, then took the plunge in 1987. Becoming a collector at this time meant missing out on the Don Mattingly hype of 1984. No matter what I read about him, his early cards were unaffordable, practically unattainable. I lacked the cable variety of television, which might have beamed him into my home on a more regular basis. My Brewers were in the Yankees' AL East, but they were not the juggernaut of the present time. All I had to go on, really, were baseball cards and the very remote chance he would show up in the local newspaper. I knew he was supposed to be some sort of baseball deity, but I lacked one true element of recognition: What did he really look like?

Let us consult the primary sources (if you don't mind going all 6th grade research project on this). While I probably didn't own his 1986 Topps card, I do remember his '87 issue. On this card, Don was pictured in long shot, at the plate, back straight and waiting for the pitch. Classic pose, yet dull. His '87 All-Star card, however, made him look like he had just spent a night in jail. His eyes are squinty, his hair is peeking out from under his cap, his moustache is going in all directions, and he's leaning forward ever-so-slightly, as if to communicate that he may vomit on the photographer's shoes at a moment's notice. Was this the hero others were raving about? Not in my book.

Allow me to present exhibit C, Mattingly's 1990 Post #1. On this cereal issue, an un-logoed Don has seemed to have gotten himself straightened out. The 'stache is neatly trimmed, and there's a focus that seemed to be lacking back in '87. Yes, I've skipped over a few years of cards, but they are of little consequence, because I didn't have them as a reference point, or at least I don't remember them. This Post card is the real deal, the very one I pulled out of a box of Alpha-Bits or something. Was this the look of a hero?

Gaaaaah, who in the world is this guy? Where is the facial hair? Is this even the same man? This in Mattingly's 1987 Ralston Purina #5, another card I've held onto for nearly 25 years. What happened to the steely-eyed gaze? Who is this man? He has the look of a divorced mom's boyfriend, the type who will stick around just long enough to gain the trust of a possible future stepson, but who will ultimately bail at the first sign of trouble. Yes, he has a 1984 Pontiac Firebird, but he also sits at the breakfast table in his underwear on Saturday mornings. You're not sure how much to respect him, because your mom gets on his case if she thinks he oversteps his disciplinary bounds. Is this what a hero looks like?

To this day, I'm never surprised when Mattingly's image appears on my television screen. For all I know, he could look like anything, and I'd accept it. Don Mattingly, you truly are the chameleon of the hobby, and we salute you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Doctored Cards: '58 Edition

Last pickup from the February 6th show, I promise.
Along with a nice gaggle of super-cheap '59s, I found this poor little Gizmo that begged me to come home with me.

1958 Topps #303 Neil Chrisley

Good-NESS, that previous owner really, really wanted Chrisley to play for the Mets. All of the Mets designations remind me of many of the Joker splash images I've seen in various comics and other related paraphernalia.

Turns out, Neil (officially, Barbra O'Neil Chrisley) never played a game for the Mets. Thank heavens for Baseball Reference providing the guidance to find where the "Mets" doctoring originated. The Transactions section reads as such:
October 16, 1961: Purchased by the New York Mets from the Milwaukee Braves.
April 2, 1962: Returned to the Milwaukee Braves by the New York Mets following previous purchase.

So, the Mets brought Chrisley back to Milwaukee, forward thinking enough to have saved the receipt. I wonder if New York got a full cash refund, or if they were only awarded in-store credit.

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Has Probably Been Done Before, But...




The two minis above came from the quarter box I mentioned in yesterday's post. And is it just me, or do black bordered minis featuring celestial bodies look totally freaking awesome?!?!
Take a peep at the '09 Ginter Milky Way card I had previously had in my collection. The blackness of space truly extends beyond the edges of this card.

Jack Horkheimer would be proud.

Keep... looking up!

Pull the Trigger 2.6

Okay, I guess the '70s basketball cards weren't enough to entice someone to claim these cards. Maybe you're more into hot soccer chicks.

1994 Upper Deck World Cup Mia Hamm Rookie

This would make a nice addition to any collection, whether you like soccer or not. If you need an Nomar for a set you're building, this can hold the spot until you acquire it.

For $50.00, you can have this Mia Hamm card, plus:
1971-72 Topps Basketball Lot of 3

1994 Classic #100 Alex Rodriguez

2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Lot

2012 Topps Golden Moments Die-Cut #GMDC-85 Nelson Cruz

1961 Topps #145 Bob Buhl
2008 Topps Stadium Club Evan Longoria Gold Proof #/50

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tales From the Quarter Box Part I: Corrected Error Madness

You read that right: I've been rummaging through the quarter box this time. Actually, I had to visit the local mall-based card shop to pick of some card infrastructure last weekend, top loaders and penny sleeves and such. Before I grabbed the necessities, I took a quick spin through some 5,000-count 25-cent boxes, adding about $2.00 to my total. I know what you're thinking, "high roller," am I right?
In this small lot I got a few 2010 A&G National Animals that I needed, one weird oddball card that you won't be seeing for quite a while, and the beauty seen below.

1984 Doruss #1 Robin Yount Diamond Kings

Back in December, I discussed the existence of two distinct sets of 1984 Diamond Kings. The first (and what some readers helped me understand was the more common, as well) set of Diamond Kings, erroneously credit "Perez-Steel Galleries" as the artists behind these portraits, with "Steel" (which should be spelled "Steele") being the mistake. As you can see on this side-by-side shot, with the new quarter box card on the right, and the one I already owned on the left, the difference is pretty easy to spot. I now have the rarer version, the corrected "Steele" version, in my collection.

With some additional input from readers, I've learned that the corrected versions were placed only in factory sets, making them rarer than the errors. So there you have it, the first Tale From the Quarter Box. Thanks to whoever busted up that factory set to send this card hurtling my way through the cosmos. No, really, I think fate had something to do with it. When I approached the quarter boxes, one of the rows of cards had a gap opened in the middle of the row, with this card facing the front. Not sure if I would even have dug through them had this not been the case.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tales From the Dime Box Part III: '72s and Heavy Dudes

Here's the final batch of ten-cent cards, fresh from the oven.

1972 Topps #117 Cleo James
The front of this one is a little gummy, but should that relegate it to the dime box?
According to the cartoon on the reverse, Cleo's hobby is table tennis. I've not investigated this fully, but I'm willing to bet the timeline would match up for the era in which Forrest Gump was representing our country in ping pong. Maybe Cleo was that guy at the VA hospital who asked, "Gump, how can you watch that stupid shit?"

1972 Topps #18 Juan Pizarro
Too bad the only '72s in the dime box were Cubs. At least this card helped me learn more about baseball. Juan Pizarro was on the Hall of Fame ballot only once, in 1980. He received no votes as Al Kaline and Duke Snider were given the nod. Amazingly, nine other players not elected on that ballot would make the Hall in a subsequent year. This number hit 11 the next year. In the 1990s, the average number of players who would make it in a subsequent year was 4.5. In the 1980s, the average was 6.9, but the first half of the '80s it was more similar to the 1990s at 4.4, and in the second half of the '80s it was 9.4 players per year. I don't think we can trust the 2000s data yet, for some players haven't been on the ballot for long enough, but it looks to be hovering around 5 as well, perhaps even lower. Not exactly sure what this data suggests, other than a confluence of several great players being necessary to make an era great.

As I may have mentioned before, for the days leading up to the Super Bowl, I was using my Facebook page as a Packers card showcase. This show, as you may recall, was the morning of Super Bowl Sunday, and while I never got the chance to post these before the game, I wanted to honor a few of the unsung (or, perhaps, "lesser sung") players on the team, guys that don't get all that many cards made of them. I found a small lot of these in the dime box, all samples from the 2007 Wauwatosa Police Department.
First, we have Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. These guys are Packer lifers who finally got their ring. I actually feel happiest for Donald Driver for finally getting his, but these fellas aren't far behind. Tauscher is doubly awesome as a home-grown Wisconsinite and a Badger to boot. (Even his IR status cannot diminish his presence.)

Another couple of big dudes protecting the state's most valuable natural resource, Aaron Rodgers, also get a rare trading card. Scott Wells and Daryn Colledge were also both drafted by Green Bay and help establish the nucleus of the offensive line.

Okay, it's gut check time with this one. Over the last three seasons, lines in the sand were drawn. In Wisconsin, you were either a Packer fan or a Brett Favre fan. In my mind, there was absolutely no way you could have been both. One of the most stressful days of football I've ever witnessed was the night of last year's NFC Championship game. To me, there was just no way you could consider yourself a Packer fan if you were rooting for Favre in that game. That's not to say that those people were wrong; however, they couldn't have it both ways. It may have taken a few years to sort itself out, but in the end the true Packer fans were rewarded. There may have been Favre fans rooting hard for the Pack in SB XLV, but I can't see how they could have enjoyed it as much as the faithful.
Simply put: Ted was right.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Cavalvade of Cups

The homework has been turned in and graded. I asked you to show me your cups, and everyone who responded is getting an "A." Well done, class.

(On a serious note, I"d appreciate any words of support you can give for public school educators. Right now Wisconsin is going through a monumental challenge to the bargaining rights of union workers. Our fascist governor, Scott Walker, is imposing draconian budget cuts that will harm the state's children. I'm not going to pretend that the protests I've been a part of are all about "saving the children." If fascist governor Walker's bill passes tonight, or early the next morning, a serious blow has been dealt to public workers all over America, and a terrible message about public service will be sent. If you have ever driven on streets that have been cleared of snow, if your garbage gets picked up on a regular basis, if you've sent a child to a public school, or if you've felt the security that comes with knowing criminals are kept behind bars under the watch of union guards, then your life has been made better by a public employee. And if you're a Wisconsin resident reading this, make a point to thank a teacher. It looks like we'll be bearing the brunt of our state's economic crisis, a relatively small number of individuals shouldering the load for all citizens.)

Here's a look at the assignments:
-TheBrooklynMet has a cup from just about everywhere

-Ike's Cards proves that a great logo and color scheme make for great-looking cups

-Manupatches & Chrome Scratches reps Nebraska cuppage

-The Call of Cardboard wants to show you his Sox and Sidewinders (among others)

-Orioles Card "O" the Day has a few, you guessed it, Orioles cups

-Blue Heaven has a ton of beverage receptacles

Thanks to everyone who participated. I'll be back at a later date with some more cups of my own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thorzul's Millions Have Arrived!

Yesterday a familiar sight arrived in my mailbox, courtesy of the Topps Company, New Castle, DE. That's right, my Million Card Giveaway requested cards are in my hands.
Without buying a ton of Topps last year, I did manage to acquire a small handful of codes. I won a few packs of Topps in a contest, and I got a few code cards in my yearly box of Update. Through some shrewd trading, I turned these into six vintage (pre-1981, to me) Topps baseball cards. Let's have a look-see.

1. 1955 Topps #45 Hank Sauer
By a wide margin, this was the card more traders wanted to get their hands on than any other. Sauer was the 1952 NL MVP, and an All-Star in 1950 and 1952. He is also currently tied for 139th place on the all-time career home runs list, alongside Del Ennis and Bob Johnson with 288. Current players Aramiz Ramirez and Magglio Ordóñez are each one home run ahead of Sauer, and free agent Garret Anderson is trailing him by one. With two HRs last year and no team currently picking him up, Anderson may not get to pass Sauer.

2. 1955 Topps #30 Vic Power
This was another one the MCG trolls wanted to get their greasy mitts on, but I wouldn't let them. This card, like the Sauer, has a few fuzzy corners, but is in overall great shape. I have to say I am pleased with the condition of the cards I received. Here's the most interesting fact about Power (aside from the story of his name, too long to go into here), copied straight from Wikipedia:
He is one of only five batters, through August 2009, to have hit both a leadoff and walkoff home run in the same game (having done so in 1957), the others being Billy Hamilton (1893), Darin Erstad (2000), Reed Johnson (2003), and Ian Kinsler (2009).

1956 Topps #129 Jake Martin
Whoa, that is a heckuva 95/5 border there!
The batting helmet is dorky, but cool in an Olerudish sort of way, and one of the cartoons on the back shows Paul Charles Martin (where did he get "Jake" from?) training to become a minister in the off-season.

1965 Topps #417 Ed Brinkman
No blue ink signature on this one, as the Topps stock photo seemed to suggest, but I wasn't really expecting one anyways. Nice card.

1972 Topps # 29 Bill Bonham
This is supposedly the "A" variant of this card. A "B" variant also exists, with the major difference being the green (instead of yellow) coloration on the underside of the "C" and "S" in "CUBS." Very happy with the shape this card is in.

1979 Topps #104 Johnny Oates
This was the card that was in my virtual collection for the shortest time. I had just completed my 1982 Topps set via other means, so my Tommy John card was quietly asked to leave. Luckily, someone really wanted that John, offering me the Oates in return. And that's why it's mine now.

I still have a 1980 Randy Stein and a 1982 Tim Foli in my collection, which can be yours with any trade offer. No offer refused!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tales From the Dime Box Part II: Numbered Goodness

If someone asks if you are a god, you say, "YES!"

Concurrently, if someone puts serial numbered cards in a dime box, you say, "SOLD!"
(Okay, this may not apply to EVERY serial numbered card, but when they go down to 10 copies, regardless of the set, you hit that.)

The first bunch was a pair of 2010 Topps Gold parallels. One is a Logan Andrusek, the other a Travis Snider. Numbered cards are always nice throw-ins for trades. My numbered card binder is usually a revolving door set-up whose contents change from week to week.

Although Manny Ramirez is on his quest to become public enemy number one in the eyes of every single team, picking up one of his cards, even a Moments & Milestones, numbered to 25 is a good idea.

The same can be said for these examples of Miguel Cabrera and Matt Holliday, each numbered to 10 copies. As an added bonus, these parallels actually look good. Meaningless, but still cool looking.

If you think my argument thus far has been bullshit, allow me one final attempt to convince you. Shiny Heritage, no matter what, needs to come home with you if all it's costing you is a thin dime. Case closed.

More Ten-Cent Adventures are on the way. See you in thirty! (Actually, it'll be a lot sooner than that.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Topps Asian Dragon Sexy Lady Hobby Box

Every so often I search for the phrase "hobby box" on eBay to see what pops up. Sometimes a box has flown under the radar and looks like it might sell for super cheap. Other times, "hobby box" turns up stuff I wasn't really looking for.

Or was I????

I think I've got the big idea that will get Topps out of its standard Flagship, Heritage, Bowman, Chrome, Triple Threads, Tribute, Sterling thoughtless zombie procession of products. Right around the All-Star Break, Topps should be releasing its adults-only eastern-themed baseball product: 2011 Topps Asian Dragon Sexy Lady.

Let me go on the record by saying I don't want the Prince Fielder card from this year's set.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ohio State: Faux Good

Today's Wisconsin-Ohio State basketball game just ended, and I feel the need to express something that's been on my mind intermittently over the last few months.

Faux fur.

Faux pas.

Faux leather.

Faux good.

When I was in college, a very good friend of mine pointed out a girl during class and said two incredible words to me: "Faux attractive."
This was a girl who was doing everything in her power to make herself visually appealing. She had the puffy North Face coat so common to girls with low self-esteem at that time. She had a certain amount of makeup on, not an ungodly amount, but enough to notice. Her hair was done up in a tousled, in-a-hurry sort of way that obviously took 45 minutes to do. She was everything a "Cocks" baseball cap wearing frat boy could ever want, but she wasn't fooling the two of us. In other words: Faux attractive.

Ohio State's 2010-2011 basketball team is that girl. Soon after they reached the number one ranking in the wake of several superior teams losing in the first half of the season, I began to see what others couldn't. I spotted the pants Ohio State was wearing with the word "Juicy" on the butt. I caught the gleam of the frosted lipstick they tried to pull off. I inferred the team's undisclosed eating disorder. Ohio State, I instinctively knew, was not worthy to be called the top team in the land. Ohio State is a talented enough team with a lot of victories, but compared to the big dogs of college basketball, they are faux good.

This is not to say my Badgers are better than them, but a bit of perspective is necessary. While I'm no Duke supporter by any means, I think that's the type of team you have to look at this year if you're looking for a championship template. A better example might be Kansas. Heck, Pitt would mop the floor with them. I'm not going to pretend to be able to predict this year's Final Four, but I will say that OSU doesn't belong.

In the interest of fairness, I want to take a look at each Big Ten school in the major sports (football and basketball) and deliver a gut reaction assessment of the program, looking at the last 20 years or so.

Ohio State: Faux good.
Wisconsin: Good, but never going to be truly great.
Michigan: Classic, always a threat to be good. They will wake up soon.
Michigan State: Often good, but annoying as shit.
Iowa: Confused, pretends to be good on occasion.
Indiana: Good, only if sweaters are involved.
Purdue: Stuck in that sunken floor.
Illinois: Sometimes good, but not really in the Illinois part of Illinois. Closer to Kentucky.
Northwestern: Smart, but horrible.
Penn State: Best years behind them, with terrible eyesight.
Minnesota: Awful, just awful. Ugliest colors in sports.

The Big Ten, sadly to say, just isn't that strong of a conference any more, and Ohio State's competition needs to be taken into account.

All hate mail comments can be directed to Bo Ryan, c/o Thorzul Will Rule.

Tales From the Dime Box Part I: Tradesies Fodder

The calm before last Sunday's Super Bowl storm was the Serb Hall card show, which I've already started writing about. Today, we'll finally return to some of the loot from that show by premiering what I'm calling "Tales From the Dime Box." Provided you can find a quiet corner with a 5,000-count box of ten-cent cards, good finds can be made at a card show. An away-from-the-main-corridors location is key here. Nothing is worse than repeated brushings up against your backside by a bevy of collectors with questionable grooming habits. Stay away from the main drag, show some patience, and a few treasures might be yours to take home. Here's the first little batch of what I got.

Here's a 2007 Upper Deck Legendary Cuts card of Stan Musial. I didn't feel like printing out my want lists, so I was flying without a navigator for this show. The Cuts set is getting pretty close to completion, and my instinct was correct this time, as I still needed this card. I also decided on a Willie Stargell, but that one turned out to be a double.

Dime boxes are great places to get a speculative trade started. I've been closely following the Trade Stacks offered up by Nachos Grande. It's a great idea, and I would jump at making a trade if I saw anything I needed. I know he's going after the Fleer Greats insert sets, so I picked up this Tom Seaver on spec. Turns out he already had it, but that's okay, it'll just go into my collection.

I picked these Frank Thomas promotional samples with Steve from White Sox Cards in mind. If you need either one, just holler and they're yours.

Going after errors isn't really one of my practices, but if I collect a player, I certainly wouldn't mind getting my hands on some sort of variation or mistake of a card. This 2008 Goudey Prince Fielder caught my eye. From my recollection, the Fielder card I already had in my binder didn't strike me as being this red in hue. It interested me enough to spare ten pennies for it.

Sure enough, when I got home and pulled out my original copy, you can easily see the difference in shading. Someone at Upper Deck got all magenta happy and took a good time too far. The backs of these are identical, the standard green print. My guess is that this was done to make O.J. seem more guilty.

More Tales From the Dime Box to look forward to, kiddies. I'll keep you posted.