Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Living among young people when you're old


My one sister-in-law, who is older than me, refuses to join Facebook. You may consider this a wise move given that the book of face is overrun with politics, babies and selfies. But that's not the reason why she's not on there.

She's not on there because she's old and resistant. If she knew I was writing about this (or that I called her "old and resistant"), she would be quite upset.

She also refuses to get a cell phone or text or do anything with a computer actually. We younger people laugh about it and lament how she's shutting herself out. There are so many things we could share with her if only she would budge a little.

Then there's part of me that wonders if she's the wise one.

Go with me on this:

In today's world, we are inundated with what young people think is "cool," "wise," "important," "relevant," etc. This has been the way for a long time with advertising, etc. But it's louder than ever today. That's because online sites are well-populated with people under the age of 40. The online world remains a youthful medium even as it's entering its third decade in popular culture.

It didn't used to be like that.

Think of it: Before the age of the internet, if you were above 50, about the only time you would hear young people's views would be when dealing with your children. Or maybe the friends of your children. Or the children of your friends.

That's the only time you were around young people for an extended period of time (I'm excluding teachers from this, and others with jobs in which they deal with youngsters). Adults prior to the 1990s spent most of their life dealing with adult thoughts and mature views. They'd spend their whole day with adults and in the evening watch an adult show on TV. Young people's views were often marginalized in prime time. And a station like MTV could be easily ignored by an adult.

That was the world. And it was like that for a long time. That's the world that my sister-in-law wants.

And you can have it still. Ditch your computer and cell phone. But, today, you must give up an awful lot -- contact with the people you like and love, for one -- to do so.

So, I get myself involved with a world filled with young people and with views and opinions that often don't square with mine. And before you get too deeply into that, a lot of what I'm talking about pertains to baseball cards.


I received my first 2017 Bowman Platinum cards in the mail a few days ago. They were sent to me by The Baseball Card Snob.

I don't like Bowman Platinum much. Sure, it looks nice here, but that's a deceptive scan. In hand, the cards are foilboard (something I think should have been outlawed by now) and the cards are curled.

But I admit I was happy to receive them, even though they are very modern cards that I don't understand.


I have even gone to Walmart in hopes of finding some Bowman Platinum on the store shelves so I could actually buy it.

Here's why: Young people (I'm pretty sure most of them are younger than me) are going nuts for this stuff. If you're on the blogs only, you probably haven't seen it, but get on a younger social medium, like Twitter. My goodness, it's all youngish card people are talking about. Platinum, Judge, Bellinger, Platinum, Judge, Bellinger, Platinum, Platinum, Judge, Judge, Bellinger, More Judge, More Platinum, Judge, Judge, Judge, Platinum!

So I get caught up in it a little but I'm a mature, old adult now and keep myself from getting out of hand.

And then I think, if I wasn't on social media, would I know about Bowman Platinum? Would I know how much Aaron Judge cards are selling for? I suppose it's been mentioned briefly on TV, but that's easy to miss.

And what's the wise position on this?

Is it smarter to know all of the latest, greatest, "young" cards and rookies and the ToppsNow cards and digital apps and all the young opinions on it?

Or is it smarter to go at your own pace, hang out with people your own age and, you know, just collect a bunch of vintage?

Obviously, I still haven't figured that out.

I lean toward the second direction. Mostly because of my age. I see a lot of unnecessary baggage in the latest and greatest and when I'm feeling especially cranky, I can formulate opinions on how the last 10 to 20 to 30 years have ruined the hobby.

But I can't shut myself off completely. I have the need to see what's "new". I still get interested in new ideas and views. Often I think, "oh get it away" the instant I see/hear them. But there is something in me that refuses to be "old." I still feel "young" in many ways.

Perhaps young people would prefer if I just stayed with vintage and didn't bother stumbling into 2017 product. Obviously the old man doesn't get it and all he's going to do is crap all over it.

But you know what they say: hanging around young people keeps you young (I think my grandmother used to say that). And hanging around young cards probably keeps you young, too.

Meanwhile, I'm more comfortable with old cards, so fortunately the Card Snob sent those, too:


A couple of 1981 Fleer, you'll probably see a lot more of this stuff in the near future.

I was watching the Mets the other day and Keith Hernandez was discussing how he liked to talk to players when they reached first base (big surprise). Some players didn't like to talk and one of them was Rick Monday (who later became a broadcaster). Hernandez said one of the only times Monday said anything when he reached first was to say to Hernandez, "Great, Hernandez is at first, guess we all have to hit doubles."


Some 1979 Dodgers. These are in terrific shape. I'll have to see what the upgrading situation is.



Why is Dave Fleming here? I have no idea. But I appreciate random cards.



This Jerry Reuss card is a key one because it's the first time he showed up in a Dodger uniform on a card. I was very happy when I pulled this card.

I collect it all, I think you know: young and old. I may have "old" opinions on plays at the plate, video replay and home run derby, but I balance that with trying to tell people older than me that there are benefits to an online world.

There will be those that say, "collect what you want, why think about it so much?" Sorry, I'm a thinker. There will be others that say, "for too long we younger people had to listen to nothing but old opinions, it's about time there was some balance." And you're right, you've got me on that one.

I'm that guy stuck in the middle. Still trying. Still flailing. Still struggling to understand.

I haven't given up yet.

When will I?

Probably when the blog goes dark.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Finally, something worth ripping


The next-door neighbor is having a new addition built onto the back of her house. You know what that means: just because the workers get up with the cows, everyone else is getting up early, too.

So with the sound of hammers and saws in my head, I showered and dressed and headed out to do some early shopping. My birthday was two days ago, so I was armed with gift cards and ready to do some damage.

Unfortunately, one of those gift cards was for Target.

The Target card aisle the last month or more has been depressing. You'd have to pay me to buy the cards offered there now and that's saying something, particularly in the middle of baseball season.

But I stopped there again and left less than 3 minutes later empty-handed. I decided to give Walmart a try even though it has been just as barren lately.

Then, as I was about to leave that card aisle also with nothing, I spotted hanging in the back of the shelf some 2017 Stadium Club rack packs. I seized one of them both eagerly and warily. The price on the hanger said $9.98. I know Stadium Club is steeply priced, but that seemed more outrageous than usual. "9.98 for 12 cards? That's 83 cents a card!"

I squinted at the tiny type on the hanger and noted it was for some Gypsy Queen thing so it didn't apply to Stadium Club. I hate how half the items in stores don't have prices ON the items. Gee, why would consumers need to see the price of something?

So, I assumed the SC packs weren't $9.98, but still wasn't sure and grabbed just 3 of them instead the whole 5 that were there. When I got to the register, they rang up $5.98, so only 49 cents per card, which is still crazy but at least the way the world works.

I was just excited to finally have something worth ripping. The urge has been unfulfilled for too long.

So let's see the pretty pictures I found in my packs. You know they're gonna be good:

Pack 1


#181 - Nolan Ryan, Rangers

The Rangers are No. 4 on the list of teams I'd like to see Ryan with on a baseball card. Angels or Astros are tied for first, followed by the Mets. Ranger Ryan I equate too much with junk wax. Not that there's a lot wrong with junk wax, I just saw it too much.



#221 - Cal Ripken Jr., Orioles

I did not clean my scanner before scanning these. Bad move. ... Anyway, this card makes me miss old Yankee Stadium and I can't believe I am saying that.



#247 - Gary Sanchez, Yankees

Last year's Aaron Judge. This is a surprise to no one, but as I was watching the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sunday night on ESPN (don't @ me, it was the only game available), I noted Judge's name mentioned 35 times in the first 3 innings. Also, ESPN during those first 3 innings spent the Red Sox's half of the inning talking about Judge -- twice, meaning while the Red Sox were batting, the announcers ignored virtually everything going on during the game to talk about the right fielder, who was just standing.



#153 - Roy Oswalt, Astros

Roy Oswalt was still appearing in Topps products in 2013. I am not nostalgic for Roy Oswalt yet. That would be like being nostalgic for Grumpy Cat.



#241 - Elvis Andrus, Rangers

KNOW YOUR RANGERS INFIELDERS! Andrus is the guy on the left. The guy the Dodgers should have never let go is on the right.



#43 - Jharel Cotton, Athletics

Another former Dodger.



#17 - Didi Gregorius, Yankees, gold parallel

I seem to have a knack for pulling SC gold parallels of Yankees.



#PZ-AP (PLEASE number your inserts!!!!!) - Albert Pujols, Angels, Power Zone insert

I'm on record as saying Stadium Club doesn't need inserts (or parallels). It's a fascinating enough set on its own. But we have to have ways to prevent set collectors from completing sets, so here we are.



#259 - Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Beltre gets to appear in two different Rangers uniforms in Stadium Club.



#297 - Curtis Granderson, Mets

Nice.



#151 - Tim Raines, Expos

Mine.

You ever see a card advertised prior to the set being issued and know you need to have it. Well, here it is. It helps that I've walked the very ground Raines is standing on here.

Oh, and night card. Duh!



#169 - Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

My first thought when I pulled this card was: "I hope this wasn't against the Dodgers."



Pack 2


#32 - Brandon Phillips, Braves

This would have come in handy for my bubble gum-blowing post.



#53 - Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

So who is actually Batman, Rizzo or the guy with the T-shirt? I think you know the answer.



#225 - Yangervis Solarte, Padres

The first card that gives me nothing to say, so let me just show this:


The font used for Stadium Club looks a lot like something Fleer Ultra used between 2005-07. Fortunately, the images are even better than those from Ultra, but this is two straight years of Stadium Club's font riffing off a Fleer product (last year it was 1996 Fleer) and I wish SC would use something more distinctive. Design matters to me, even with a set that has little of it.



#135 - Jameson Taillon, Pirates

Back to greatness.

I read something a few years ago about what men and women are attracted to in terms of photographs. I don't remember what it was for women (if Facebook has any say, it's baby animals and wine). But for men, "scenery" was way up there. I concur and the only thing better than this card is me sitting in PNC Park while holding a beer.


#164 - Kenta Maeda, Dodgers

Yay! A Dodger. ... That's almost a Clayton Kershaw move he's doing.


Here is an example of the card back. Stadium Club's card backs have become generic and boring for awhile, which is sad considering SC had the greatest card backs when it first appeared in 1991. Bring back those rookie card photos!



#140 - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Get the smiles in, sir, before you have to say goodbye to half your teammates.



#184 - Cameron Maybin, Angels, gold parallel

I am made a bit uncomfortable by this photo.



#198 - Ryan Schimpf, Padres



#222 - Miguel Sano, Twins

The All-Star Game is still useful to a guy like me who isn't in the habit of watching Twins or Mariners games. I had no idea until last week that Miguel Sano should be an offensive lineman.



#10 - Danny Santana, Twins

Santana is the guy on the right. I only know this because I saw a Twins fan's card blog yesterday. He tells me the other guy is Jorge Polanco. I assume by what he is wearing and holding that Jorge Polanco is a ballplayer for the Twins.


#4 - Nelson Cruz, Mariners

That is not Cruz's buddy Joe West in the background.



#273 - A.J. Ramos, Marlins

I do not know what a bear's head (is that a bear's head?) has to do with the Marlins, or why a player is wearing it. But throw all that in with the shaving cream pies and a lot of free time and we have dudes with odd ways to define camaraderie.


Pack 3


#285 - Orlando Arcia, Brewers



#168 - Sandy Koufax, Dodgers

It took me a very long time to get Koufax's Stadium Club card last year. Very pleased that it arrived so easily this time.



#6 - Adam Jones, Orioles



#203 - Hernan Perez, Brewers



#110 - Michael Conforto, Mets



#216 - Odubel Herrera, Phillies

Bat flip!


#120 - Jon Lester, Cubs



#30 - Danny Duffy, Royals, orange parallel

These are the only SC parallels that interest me and, of course, they're not easy to pull. The lettering is orange (it didn't scan here) and the photo is sepia-ish. I think it was executed better in the previous two SC sets. Something about that Fleer Ultra font.



#CS-AR - Addison Russell, Cubs, Contact Sheet insert

Remember when people were all giddy about Addison Russell and Pokemon? That shut down awfully quick.



#253 - Evan Longoria, Rays

Evan Longoria playing football in the Astros' park. Because that's what you do in Texas.



#284 - Chase Anderson, Brewers

Three Brewers in this pack. Off-Hiatus Baseball Cards has been alerted.



#56 - Ian Kinsler, Tigers

Ian is very excited that I'm done with this pack rip.


Stadium Club is the same as it's been the last three years. It is consistently one of the best products every year in terms of quality and being interesting. It's not cheap and collecting it can be a bit frustrating (I know from my completion quest in 2015), especially if you're not into the parallels and inserts.

Yet, it is far and away better than the stuff that has been sitting on the Target and Walmart shelves the last month. And, although I'm pretty sure those last 2 rack packs of Stadium Club that I left there are now gone, these packs I opened will keep me stopping by periodically (that and A&G releasing).

I'll never cure myself of the urge to rip.

Monday, July 17, 2017

One thing flagship is doing right


I have yet to complete the Dodgers team set for 2017 Topps flagship.

While others bought a couple of boxes when Series 2 first came out and finished off their team sets that very day, I'm still missing the Kenta Maeda card.

I'm not stressing about it. Even if I don't buy any more Series 2 -- and I don't plan to -- I know it'll arrive at my abode relatively soon. Besides, there is one pleasant side effect to me struggling to complete the team set:

It means the team set -- at least for the Dodgers -- is more complete this year.

In fact, it's been more complete the last two years. Each of the last two years, there have been 28 base Dodgers over Series 1 and Series 2. That is more base cards for the Dodgers in a flagship set in almost 25 years. Not since 1993 when there were 29 Dodgers.

I am one of those team collectors that likes to see as many players from my favorite team represented in the flagship set as possible. It reminds me of trying to collect my team as a kid. And while Topps Total may not be ever coming back, it seems like flagship is heading in the right direction.

I went through and figured out the number of Dodgers in the team set for each year that Topps put out a flagship set since 1952. The numbers for each year ranged from a low of 15 to a high of 37. That may seem like a significant fluctuation, but we're talking about more than 60 years of cards. Topps hovers around the mid-20s most years with only a few extremes.

But let me break it down some more by decade:


1950s

1952: 33
1953: 21
1954: 16
1955: 18
1956: 24
1957: 26
1958: 28
1959: 35

Average number: 25.13

The 35 cards in 1959 in the second highest number for the Dodgers ever. Boosted by the rookie stars subset and a few extras (the Campy "Symbol of Courage" card), the team set ballooned to numbers never before seen.


1960s

1960: 37
1961: 28
1962: 27
1963: 24
1964: 31
1965: 29
1966: 27
1967: 29
1968: 27
1969: 24

Average: 28.3

The 37 cards in 1960 boggles my mind. How many cards were in a pack that year? These were mostly kids working off an allowance buying these cards then. Did anyone finish a team set then? There are also five World Series cards in this set that could be considered Dodger cards, but I didn't count them (nor did I count rookie players who appeared on a card with other non-Dodgers or players on the Dodgers who weren't current, such as many Turn Back The Clock subset cards).



1970s

1970: 27
1971: 24
1972: 31
1973: 23
1974: 26
1975: 26
1976: 27
1977: 23
1978: 27
1979: 29

Average: 26.3

Topps settled into a pattern for the Dodgers in the 1970s with only the very large 1972 set moving above the 30 mark. I remember first trying to complete the team set in 1973 and although 23 is on the small side for the last 60-plus years, it seemed almost impossible to me then.



1980s

1980: 28
1981: 28
1982: 32
1983: 25
1984: 28
1985: 27
1986: 31
1987: 31
1988: 30
1989: 26

Average: 28.6

The average number of Dodgers each year increased, mostly because Topps started issuing extra cards of all-stars during the 1980s. But team sets flourished during the junk wax era. The 31 cards each in 1986 and 1987 is the only time there were at least 30 cards in a Dodger team set in flagship in back-to-back years besides 1959-60. And it's the only time there were at least 30 cards three consecutive years.


1990s

1990: 29
1991: 32
1992: 29
1993: 29
1994: 27
1995: 25
1996: 15
1997: 21
1998: 17
1999: 19

Average: 24.3

The '90s progressed from the last time there were more than 30 cards for the Dodgers (1992) to the paltry totals of the late '90s that hadn't been seen since the 1950s. These were jokes of "team sets," but also a reaction to Topps dealing with various offshoots of its flagship set for the first time.



2000s

2000: 15
2001: 23
2002: 22
2003: 26
2004: 25
2005: 23
2006: 16
2007: 22
2008: 22
2009: 24

Average: 21.8

The lowest average for any decade. Topps slowly increased the number as the decade progressed, but I returned to modern set-collecting in 2006 and couldn't believe I needed just 16 cards to finish the Dodgers set.



2010s

2010: 21
2011: 18
2012: 20
2013: 22
2014: 25
2015: 22
2016: 28
2017: 28

Average: 23.0

Another relatively small average, but at least the decade has been on the increase. Also, unlike a lot of team sets from this decade, as well as the 1990s and 2000s, there isn't a ton of fluff in the 2016 and 2017 team sets -- little repetition of players, etc.

To me that's the best indication that the flagship team sets are returning to the way I remember them during the mid-to-late '70s and early '80s.

Here is the rundown in graphic form:


It's probably difficult to read. If you click on the image, you should be able to see it better.

The top 10 totals for the Dodgers are:

1960: 37
1959: 35
1952: 33
1982: 32
1991: 32
1964: 31
1972: 31
1986: 31
1987: 31
1988: 30

The 2016 and 2017 totals at least make the top 20. Obviously, I would like to see even more Dodgers represented in the flagship set (I realize Update makes up for a lot of that) but this is at least something I can see that's right about the last two years of the set.

Of course, all of these Dodgers from 2016 and 2017 are appearing on designs I don't like at all, which kind of kills the thrill.

But nobody said team collecting has gotten any easier. In fact, since the '90s, it's been crazy difficult, with all the parallels, inserts and variations.

So I find the positives where I can. This is one of them.

(P.S.: This is just one team, your mileage may vary).