Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hear 'N Aid

Having grown up without cable tv, I was forced to surf between 10 or 11 channels. I was denied the pleasures of MTV and VH1...until now. I have fallen in love with VH1 Classic, probably my 3rd favorite channel, following ESPN and FSN-Wisconsin.
All weekend, they've been showing "80 Hours of the '80s" for the Labor Day holiday weekend, everything from Lita Ford to Metallica, David Bowie to Michael Jackson. My favorite video so far has been this video from the early summer of blows "We Are The World" out of the water.
Ronnie James Dio is my hero...all 5'4'' of him!

Best part of the video? The fact that Michael McKean and Harry Shearer joined the group - better known to most as David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls of "Spinal Tap" - makes this the best metal video ever...well, maybe not as good as Killswitch's video for Dio's "Holy Diver".

Life Before The Strike #11

Today we're going to have a look at a few more interesting cards I found during my rummaging today...

1992 Pinnacle #617 Ryne Sandberg TECH
I'd never seen these cards before, pretty interesting. This one breaks down the proper position for an infield player to field a ground ball.
1. Head up - clearly, the player has to see the ball.
2. Two Hands - something we were taught during our first year of tee ball.
3. Arms relaxed - many times a ground ball may take a funny hop, the arms need to be relaxed to compensate for unexpected ball movement.
4. Knees bent - allows for quicker lateral movement, and conveniently places the glove closer to the ground.
1994 UD Collector's Choice #40 Jack Armstrong
This card is badass for two reasons - A) It incorporates the classic, original teal color the team clearly needs to bring back, and 2) I appreciate any baseball card that illustrates the player's name. For example, any Dennis Cook card should have shown him in his kitchen...or at least pouring some Gatorade for someone in the dugout, or serving up some seeds in the bullpen. The perfect photo was chosen for this card.
1992 Bicycle Major League Baseball Rookies Pat Listach
Former A.L. Rookie of the Year in his most distinguished card of his career...why the Joker, though? I would have made Listach and Karros the Hearts and Diamonds Aces...perhaps that's why I don't design playing cards.
1992 Pinnacle #602 Eric Davis
When I was collecting cards in my younger years, not once did I open a pack of '92 Pinnacle and find a cool as hell Shades card in it. 16 years later, my wish has finally been granted. I hope that box of '92 Pinnacle has some more packs full of Idols or Shades cards left in it...
1995 Topps Stadium Club #343 Jaime Navarro
Not An '82 photo of Yount riding around on a Harley, but this will do for now. If I am correct, there aren't any "Yount-on-a-Harley" or "Yount-on-a-Honda Xr500" cards out there, but there is his Sidelines card from the '92 Pinnacle set of him on a dirt bike. If anyone knows of any card showing Yount on the Harley in '82, please let me know...
On the back of this card they introduce the "Topps Skills Rating System", in which they rate a player's abilities on a scale of 1-10. In Navarro's case, he has a 7.5 Velocity, 7.9 Control, 5.3 in "holding runners", and 7.1 Stamina...even though his ERA coming out of the bullpen was nearly 3 points lower than his ERA as a starter. Perhaps they hadn't perfected their rating system yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life Before The Strike #10

Once again, I am thankful for the information age that we live in. Namely, Al Gore's "Internet". Craigslist is an amazing site. Less beaurocracy than eBay, it's like an up-to-the-minute classified ad for anything and everything. Sometimes when it's slow at work, we'll all jump on craigslist and read aloud really stupid things people are offering for sale, or in the "free" section. On Adam Carolla's morning radio show, they have a weekly segment called "Who the 'F' Sells this 'S" in which they find an ad on craigslist for something really obscure (a collection of 4 blank VHS tapes for $7, for example) and then they call the person. They take this opportunity to perform a "Dr. Phil" session on them, pretty much implying that there are some underlying problems in the person's life, that they would be intent on selling such crap on the site. It usually is pretty funny, and most of the time they do indeed offer to purchase the items from the person.

I have been using he site to find folks interested in getting rid of baseball cards in bulk, for a relatively low price. This morning's research landed me on the doorstep of a uniform/shoe/used clothing/card shop across town...some nice old ladies who recognize the inherent sentimental value of every single baseball card. I had to call them to verify the correctness of their ad...2,400 assorted cards from various years and manufacturers for $20. The kind woman verified that yes, the ad was written correctly.

I won't judge the small gathering of overweight, twenty-something bearded guys in japanese trading card t-shirts that were at the store, sharing cards on the table and involving themselves in card games that involved mythical creatures or hybrid cartoon characters from Japan who have special abilities and odd names, for I am sure there are those who would judge this author for continuing to collect baseball cards into his late twenties.

At any rate, I went through some of the cards this afternoon and picked a few I'd like to share.

1995 Upper Deck Minor League #92 Deshawn Warren
Warren was at one time the top prospect in the Angels organization, eventually finding himself playing in the Brewers farm system his last of 5 seasons in the minors. I was sure this was the lone baseball card of Dwayne Wayne, but in '95 he was already teaching in Tokyo.
1989 Topps #167 Steve Searcy
He was the International League pitcher of the year in the minors, but his major league career didn't amount to much, carrying a 5-year career ERA of 5.38. Having never seen him pitch, I'm sure the scout that found him had to really talk the Detroit brass into his abilities, and...personality.1993 Upper Deck #204 Mike Perez
The wizards at Upper Deck have once again confused the sh*t out of me.
Notice the card in his hand...
...and then zoom out again and look at the whole card...then at the small card again. HOW DID THEY DO THIS?!?!?!?!?!

1989 Topps Big #74 Mike Maddux
Currently the Brewers' pitching coach, I have found myself collecting his cards as of the Topps Big cards were cool.Let's take a look at the back. Not only is he the world's happiest pitcher...

...but he and his brother Greg were rivals...GRRRR...

...aww, he's talking to a baseball. I'm still trying to find the bird, by the way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life Before The Strike #9

Today I opened up the wax box of '90 Fleer is the best pack of the box. Had I opened this pack in 1990, I wouldn't have been as enthusiastic about its results. We all know the saying about hindsight, though...
#518 Randy Johnson
Only his fourth year in the majors, he is shown sporting a rather modest we all know, it would later get out of control.
#420 Ken Griffey
I had to check the back of this card because he looks so much like Jr. in this photo...sort of a mixup of past/present, senior/junior teams-played-for moment...#358 Pascual Perez
#531 Scott Fletcher
#370 Randy Bush
#60 Craig Lefferts
#178 Kevin Hickey

#6 Dennis Eckersley
How do you follow up a season in which you had a 1.56 ERA? By growing a rather respectable mullet, that's how!
#461 Barry Bonds*
Already 3 soon to be "Hall of Famers" in the pack, I smiled when I saw this card...hence the asterisk. Man, he looks so small in this photo. I think the '87 Topps Bonds* card is the most telling, though.
#271 Roger Clemens
Alright, the irony is getting unbearable. How fitting that Bonds* and Clemens would be in the same pack of cards. Thank you Fleer for your wit-filled foresight.
#561 Ken Howell
#444 Mel Hall
#549 Bobby Thigpen
#237 Mike Scott
#400 Jay Howell
#601 Brian Dubois

And of course, the highlight of the '90 Fleer series, the stickers!
...Complete with rather thoughtful instructions, obviously aimed at either the younger, or mentally-challenged market share...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life Before The Strike #8

The only positive thing to come out of the drop-off in baseball card collecting and subsequent closing of every street-corner card shop we grew up with, is that old cards are now affordable and the same people we once purchased our cards from at flea markets and card shows are now looking to unload their boxes of unopened cards. Be it the fact they have little room in the garage or basement, or perhaps "the wife" has insisted they get rid of them, guys like you and me can now purchase cards from our childhood at an excellent price.

Enter today's acquisition of nearly 3,500 cards from unopened wax packs. For a small amount of cash, and a quality '75 rookie card that shall not be named, I was able to make a trade w/ a retired Boeing exec. from east Seattle who is looking to sell off his shares in a card-selling partnership that has since ended, and the proverbial "wife" has insisted he get back some of that initial investment.

Tonight I dove in to the box of 1988 Topps cards...a favorite childhood set of mine, for one reason...(enter the Wayne's World flashback squiggly screen). It's the summer of '88, and it's a hot day in western Wisconsin. My younger brother decides that it'd be a great idea to place all of his brother's baseball cards in a large bucket, and fill that bucket with water.
Needless to say, every single pre-'89 card that I owned at the time was destroyed. Today's acquisition of the '88 wax box helped my brother redeem himself, in that I was able to replace a number of cards I remember having back then.

At any rate, let's get going w/ today's cards. I will share with you the first pack of that box of '88 Topps...which showed us the remnants of the Reagan administration on their packaging.

#717 Jay Baller
Loving the spring training photos that used to grace nearly all of the baseball cards back then. This photo shows us the "personal" side of Jay, complete with Guido chest hair and gold chains...I had to check the back of the card to make sure he wasn't from Jersey.
#70 Roger Clemens
The folks at Topps used to tell us who signed a recent major leaguer...Roger was signed in 1983 by scout Danny Doyle...good to know, Topps.
#522 Bob Patterson
#512 Alex Trevino
#263 Glenn Braggs...ya, Brewers!

#639 Brewers Leaders
I love how these cards used to grace the packs we'd collect. At the time, we hated getting them because they were worth nothing, but looking back, it's something that needs to return. #423 John Smiley
Clearly trying to make up for his name by proving to fans he is to be taken seriously...seriously.
#281 Jerry Hairston
After time, it becomes apparent to a card collector that either A) They are getting old, or B) Their cards are getting old...and sometimes both. Especially true when you get a card of the father of a current major leaguer...
#349 Bob Walk...great name for a pitcher.
#431 Casey Candaele
#145 Bill Madlock
#78 Dan Petry
#397 Jack Clark All Star
#6 Nolan Ryan '87 Record Breakers

#608 Charlie Kerfeld
Not only does he look like a coach in this photo, but he is sporting two wonderful '80s baseball cliches (this with "Wild Thing" Rick Vaughn in mind)...a mullet, and an earing. Lovely.
And of course, the 20-year old piece of bubble gum. Note to readers: do not attempt to chew said gum, said gum will fall apart in reader's mouth and result in a really dry mouth.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life Before The Strike #7

My trade with Capewood arrived today, so let's dig in to some of the highlights...

2008 Topps Chrome Xfractor #11 Yovani Gallardo
This is the cornerstone of the trade, going card-for-card for a Hunter Pence card that he was interested in. Regardless of price-guide value, I still love how cards can mean nothing to one person but a great deal to someone else. I once traded a '93 Triple Play Nicknames #1 Frank Thomas for the inaugural season team set of the Florida the time, my 6th grade Math teacher thought he was ripping me off...but now my cards are worth more than his "Big Hurt".
...And here's the Refractor card of the same set...
2001 Topps Stadium Club #180 Ben Sheets RC
This is my favorite card of the trade - my first Ben Sheets rookie. He led Team USA to a Gold Medal finish at the olympic games in Sydney, pitching a 3-hit, complete game shutout in the gold medal game.
2001 Topps #767 Milwaukee Brewers Team
Pictured is the '00 team, the final team to play at beloved County Stadium. Not a single player in this photo is still with the team, but my favorite is Jamie Navarro. Never of Cy Young material, interesting fact about Navarro: his first career win was lost by 11th inning reliever Mark Knudson, who gave up 6 runs in the inning...Navarro is credited with the first win at the Ballpark in Arlington.
2001 Fleer E-X #77 Geoff Jenkings
Quite an interesting series of far, the thickest card in the trade. This card is constructed in layers, with the Brewers logo printed on the glitter background, and all other pictures printed on the very top layer...pretty neat.
2001 Topps Heritage #272 Jeff D'amico
In 2000, he was contending for the NL ERA title...but needed only a few more innings. However, by gaining the few innings he needed, he gave up enough earned runs to lose the ERA title...he finished 3rd in the standings behind Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson.
Thanks, Capewood, for the trade. If anyone else is interested, just let me know!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Life Before The Strike #6

I recently made a trade with Rick from Oregon. I helped him with his collection, and he helped me with my Brewers collection - past and present players. I'm anxiously awaiting my cards to arrive from my trade with Capewood, so until those arrive...

2004 Topps Cracker Jack #93 Jason Kendall
Love the series, and in my opinion, the single greatest decision the Milwaukee Brewers have made in the past 2 years was signing Jason to a 1-year deal last off-season. Thankfully, a clause in his contract states that should he play 110 games this season (120 so far, and counting) he will automatically be signed for the '09 campaign. Well done, management.
1999 Fleer Ultra #76 Marquis Grissom
I have three baseballs from MLB games in my collection. The first is from a 1987 game in Minneapolis between the Twins and Brewers. During warmups, my father yelled "Hey, Paulie!" to the one and only Paul Molitor, and he threw us a ball. The second is from 1999, again at the Dome in Mpls, and during the Brewers batting practice Grissom hit a homer to the stands in left, just where I was sitting. The third, of course, is an autographed Robin Yount ball.

1999 Just Memorabilia #102 Gabe Kapler
Not his rookie, but pretty close. Love this card with him in a Toledo Mud Hens uniform. Jamie Farr would be quite proud of Gabe in this photo. Another great move by the Brewers to grab him while he was managing in the Red Sox farm system.
1991 Score #248 Rob Deer
A well-known memory from my childhood, Rob Deer was a Brewers staple for me. This card is from his "career" season of '91...not only did he lead the league in strikeouts that year (175, still a record if I think) but he batted below the Mendoza Line, with a season batting average of .179 . What a season, Rob.
1995 Fleer Ultra #65 John Jaha
Tied for #448 on the all-time HR list, Jaha enjoyed a number of seasons with the Brewers, but was often on the DL. By far the ugliest and least popular uniforms in team history, they still conjur up memories of losing seasons, year after year.
1980 Topps #24 Jim Slaton
Jim got the win for game 4 of the '82 World Series...perhaps it was the power of the stache.
1992 Upper Deck #775 Pat Listach RC
I had this card as a kid, and I'm sure it's still buried in stacks of boxes in my parent's basement in Wisconsin. I remember treasuring it, because my folks were so cheap all they bought us was Topps or Donruss, never the expensive Upper Deck cards. Well done, Rick. Great card.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Girl of the Day

Today's featured olympian is 23-year old Tania Cagnotto of Italy.

Tania is an member of the Italian diving team. When she was younger, she was trained as a gymnast, but fell in love witht he pool

She enjoys movies, reading, and modeling...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gotta love advertising...

Just as I do for the Brewers at, I follow the Packers latest news via their local newspaper site, the Green Bay Press-Gazette (.com).

I was reading about how my fantasy football kicker Mason Crosby has the job again for the Pack, and how the defensive pass rush lacks luster, and my attention was suddenly drawn to the right side of the screen at a flashing advertisement. It said "Oval Office"...with what seemed to be a Presidential seal...was the office of the President advertising on my football team's beat reporting website?

Nope...I was surprised to find myself a click away from this...

Thanks alot, Green Bay Press-Gazette. Let's hear it for standards in advertising!! I'm sure you could have contacted Kuehn Printing, Fish Window Cleaning, Nature's Way Tissue Corp, or at least Shefchick Wholesale Supply with the opportunity of advertising on your fine website. Nope. You figured that middle-aged, overweight, beer-drinking Packers fans would prefer an ad from a "gentlemen's club". Crazy folks, you!

Life Before The Strike #5

Found some more interesting cards on the recent trip to the card shop. Let's take another trip down memory lane...

1980 Topps #53 Ben Oglivie
Ben was a key member of the '82 pennant campaign, retired from MLB in '86 and moved to Japan where he played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes for a couple years. Former teammates Dick Davis and Don Money also called Osaka, Japan home.

1981 Topps #151 Packers Team Leaders
Mike Butler would later play for the Tampa Bay Bandits, a team in the now-defunct USFL. They were much more successful than their crosstown NFL counterparts. In the 3 years of the team's existence, they were coached by a one Steve Spurrier...and co-owner of the team was the "Bandit" himself, Burt Reynolds.
1992 Donruss Triple Play #56 B.J. Surhoff
I grew up watching B.J. behind the plate, and have always loved this series of cards. Not only were they "hot", but they were CHEAP! We could buy more packs of these and so in '92 this is the series I have the most cards in...besides the dirt-cheap '92 Topps that were hideous. Those were best used for alterations.

1980 Topps #27 Cleveland Elam
He was Seth MacFarlane's inspiration for the lovable, exploitationably-named character in Family Guy. Well, probably not but in speaking with my father, any veteran of the US Army during the 1970's served with a guy named either A)Cleveland, B)Detroit, or C)Memphis. I think Forrest Gump served with a guy named Cleveland...but he was from Detroit.
1984 Topps #330 Ron Jaworski
"The Polish Rifle" recieved a medal from fellow Pole Pope John Paul II in 1979...for being Polish. All ESPN regulars know him as "Jaws", but I prefer the more colorful nickname myself.
The back of this card follows the old tradition (and one of my favorites) with a fun fact and illustration.
2007 Upper Deck #103 Ryan Longwell
This long-time member of the Packers is second on my "Packers Favorite Kicker" list only to Chris Jacke...only because he doesn't have the same kick-ass haircut as Jacke. Although it made me upset to see him in a Vikings uniform last year, I guess the Vikes have an option for replacing Tarvaris Jackson for the season opener this Quarterback?