Sunday, March 27, 2016

Why I'm stuck buying $1 packs

I live Connecticut.  If you're a baseball fan, don't come here.  We've got nothing for you.  Heck... if you're a professional sports fan in general, don't come here.  We scare away teams away like the plague.  

Hartford Whalers - gone :(

Norwich Navigators (NYY AA baseball team) - left... they went to Trenton, NJ.

They spawned the Connecticut Defenders in their place (SF AA baseball club)... oh, but they're gone too flying down with the other Squirrels to Richmond, VA.

New Britain Rock Cats (MIN AA baseball club) - the Twins didn't like us.  They went down to Chattanooga and became the Lookouts.

Well, the Rockies decided to move their AA affiliate up here last year with the departure of Minnesota's prospects.  Perhaps they can actually stand the cold.  They built a new stadium in downtown Hartford and are now going to be known as the Yard Goats.  Should be interesting to see how long that lasts.

I must say... over the years, Connecticut has done a pretty decent job with their logos.

All we've got on a consistent basis is the perennial excellence of UConn basketball.  Actually, now that I think about it, our college sports in general are quite excellent.  Yale usually has a top tier hockey squad and they usually win the national championship in some random other sport every year.  This year it just so happened to be squash.  Shhhh... I'm conveniently ignoring college football.  UConn did go to the Fiesta Bowl once... ewww.

All of this sporting inconsistency probably makes it hard for card shops to thrive up here.  Whenever I have to go somewhere a bit out of the way, I've recently gotten in the habit of throwing the words "baseball card" into my GPS and seeing if anything pops up.  We've got quite a few indoor shopping malls that usually have baseball card kiosks (or something to that effect) that charge exorbitant prices because their rent is probably through the roof, so those always show up.  But I'm looking for those independent Mom and Pop shops that might have singles or the like.  In all my time, I've found a few, but most of them only sell wax and then trinkets/jerseys/ect.  It makes me a bit sad, but I deal.

I went to one of these stores the other day to pick up a bunch of tobacco sized toploaders.  I also picked up a few dollar packs that he had out because why not.  I had never seen either of these sets before.  Here's what I got:

The first packs I got were two 1998 Skybox Dugout Axcess packs.  I'm not sure why I decided to get two... other than the fact that the box they were housed in looked pretty cool.  I can't find a picture online, but basically the box turned into and elaborate display case for the packs.  I enjoyed it.  Well done Skybox of old, your cheap antics pulled me in.

As far as the cards themselves, they are extremely thin.  We're talking thinner than your typical deck of playing cards.  In fact, if you hold one of these cards by their corner, the card almost doesn't have enough rigidity to hold its own weight.  It's very close.  Surprisingly, this didn't bother me all that much... a little, yes, but not too much.

What did bother me is the fact that these cards immediately reminded me of 2016 Topps flagship.  We've got a full bleed card that tried to do funky things with the corners.  Throw in the fact that the card focuses on the player and the background is completely blurred out, and we've got 2016 Topps in a nutshell!  

Whatever Skybox tried to do with the corners of these cards leaves something to be desired.  While it works okay on some (Nomar simply looks framed by a strange off-brown), it's completely distracting in others (scroll back up to that Tony Clark).

I did pull a pretty nice Larry whose corners aren't too distracting, so I'm happy with that.

Both packs came with two of these game inserts.  I think the set is only 30 cards, so they must be everywhere if they're this common.  Pretty boring.

I also got one of each of these Frequent Flyer inserts in both packs (seeded 1:4 I believe).  While neither of the players featured here really strike my fancy, I do kinda like the creativity with this set design.  The back of these cards (which I forgot to scan) actually look a bit like a boarding pass which is kinda cool.

These two are actually simply a part of the base set.  Skybox's own take of doing rookies differently... meh.

More "base cards" simply extended into the high numbers.  I doubt they were even sort printed or anything.  The trivia card makes me want to vomit, but I think I'd like the 7th Inning Sketch cards if they all looked similar to this one.  I really like it when card companies touch up photos to make it look like they were actually drawn (Hey... that's Allen & Ginter!).

The other dollar pack I opened was 1999 Topps Stars.  The pack claimed to have 6 cards in it.  I'm pretty sure I got shorted one unless the checklist counts as an actual card.  Well, there's your design.  Pretty unflattering.

This is a boring insert.  Horray!

This is a gimmicky base card featuring TWO STARS.  Woah!  You can either get 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 star cards.  Don't let them fool you, they're all the same (just cropped differently). 

I did somehow happen to find an Atlanta Braves hotpack which made the pack a glorious success.  I don't think there's any significance to the Topps Stars insignias being different colors (bronze vs. silver), but who knows... late 90's cards are a nightmare.  Let me know if you know!

Meanwhile, go enjoy Easter dinner with your family!  That's what I'm about to do!

Khristós Anésti!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Once Upon a Sanchez...

CAUTION: The below tale contains fallacies beyond belief.  Blame Night Owl.

Once upon a time, there was a Sanchez.

A very Freddy Sanchez.  This particular Sanchez was born and raised in Denmark.  At birth he was known as Friedrich von Steuben, a descendant of great Prussian kings of ages past.  His father, being obsessed with his ancestry, told him countless stories of the great deeds of their family including one about some dude that killed Count Gerhard, completely destroying one line of their family in the process.

Friedrich's mother, on the other hand, was quite different.  She grew up admiring the United States and all of its culture and wealth.  In 1945, she actually met Dwight Eisenhower when she went down to Germany to help with relief efforts there.

As she grew older, she became enamored with the American game of baseball.  Though she barely knew the rules, she was sometimes able to obtain copies of radio broadcasts that were done in America.  She enjoyed trying to find paintings or pictures of players of the pre-war era like Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson.

Every now and then, she would attempt to teach her son Friedrich how to throw a ball, or even try to duplicate what it would be like to hit.  Friedrich simply wasn't interested.  He much preferred twiddling his thumbs and listening to classical music.

When Friedrich was 9, his father was viciously attacked by a Harpy Eagle while working on a cargo ship transporting drawn pictures of stick figures (what was then considered modern art).


He later died of his wounds because he could not receive adequate medical care at sea.  Harangel (yep... that was really her name) was heartbroken and decided that they needed to pack up and move.  Where else would she go except to the joyous land of America!

When they got to Ellis Island, it was determined that Lady Liberty did not approve of their surname.  von Steuben was not only un-American, but also didn't seem to make sense because the Americans could not decipher why there was a space in the middle of their name.  They were given the "option" of changing their surname to Sanchez or Young.  Harangel chose Sanchez, mostly because she didn't want to disrespect the name of a baseball legend.

Harangel became ecstatic that she could now watch the game of baseball in person.  She continued to try and get Friedrich into the game, but he wanted no part.  He continued to be a loner, constantly twiddling his thumbs and eventually getting quite large... too large for his own good.  Other kids would make fun of him for being slow, plodding around the schoolyard everyday in search of other thumbs to twiddle.

One particular day, Friedrich was plodding home from school, minding his own business, when a dog started barking at him. This was not just any old little yippy dog.  No sir.  This was a big, old, fat, mean, slobbery, wild, nasty American Bulldog.  And he was loose.

Friedrich was terrified.  He started to try plodding faster.  The bulldog thought this was great fun and started plodding after Friedrich.  What ensued was a glorious race between two very clunky looking mammals running as fast as possible.  Friedrich didn't win.

All 125 pounds of American Bulldog went pummeling into Friedrich's legs.  The huge dog would've slobbered all over him had it not been for another kid that was walking in the other direction.  The kid  noticed Friedrich and started calling out to the dog and taunting it.  He began yelling and running around and eventually the dog started chasing him instead.  

This kid was fast.

The dog began chasing him but never caught him.  After minutes of running in circles, the dog eventually collapsed in a heap completely exhausted and out of breath.  The kid walked over to Friedrich and introduced himself.

Ichiro lifted the kid up and helped him get home.

Eventually Friedrich changed his ways, got in shape, and started playing the game of baseball.  He ended being really good at it and eventually made the major leagues with his best friend Ichiro.  His mother was incredibly proud of her son and ended up adopting the bulldog out of gratitude.  When the dog finally passed on, she decided she didn't like all the slobber and got a husky instead.


Clearly my mind is going absolutely bonkers.  I blame March Madness and all the prep work I've been having to do.  In any case, all these cards were received from Night Owl who sent me a very generous package of Ginter needs.  He also included two more cards that I didn't want to throw into the story.

This card is not numbered.  It's some kind of SSP base card from the 2008 Ginter set.  I have no idea how rare they were, but I do know that I never pulled one in any of the '08 Ginter that I opened.  It's been on my want list for a while, and I'm glad I can cross it off.

Greg also sent me an actual OWL card.  His pride and joy.  In my collection!  It helped that I needed it to complete the set and Greg had an extra.

Thanks for the great trade NO!