Wednesday, March 14, 2018

RIP Cincinnati Gardens 1949-2018

Just a quick post tonight ...

I've mentioned in this space before about my love of the Cincinnati Gardens, the dilapidated old arena in the Bond Hill section of Cincinnati. When the building eventually outlived its usefulness, it was purchased by the Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati to be demolished. That sale pretty much signaled the death of the old arena. 

Earlier this winter, the contract was signed with a local demolition company to begin the process of razing the old building, over a year after the Cincinnati Rollergirls, the arena's last official tenant, left. The demolition process started with some of the outbuildings and annexes, the arena's signage was removed and donated to the American Sign Museum, and the bas relief sculptures on the front of the building were removed and preserved as well.

All that was left was time. And now, time is up as the wrecking ball has found the old arena. 

I would attempt to write a eulogy for the arena but my words wouldn't be able to do justice to the place. However, local writer and photographer Ronny Salerno, author of the fabulous Queen City Discovery blog, was granted access to the arena one last time for a photo shoot. Earlier today, he wrote and posted a perfect eulogy to the Gardens with some amazing pictures he shot along the way.

If you are so inclined, I encourage you to go check out the article, if nothing else, for the pictures of the arena he took while he was there.

Rest in peace Cincinnati Gardens. You will be missed.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Late Season Hockey Breaks


It's hard to believe that hockey season is almost over and baseball opening day is coming up fast. Unfortunately for me, that means that hockey cards will soon be in short supply again both at card shows and on retail shelves. I've been stockpiling a few hockey things recently. I've also got this leftover tin of 2017-18 Series 1 and a blaster box of O-Pee-Chee that I've been sitting on since Christmas. I might as well go ahead and bust into both. I won't be going pack by pack but I'll show some highlights from both the tin and the OPC blaster.

As I busted the Series 1 tin, I took photos of each pack. This pack held probably my best pull ever from retail hockey ... the Nico Hischier young guns card. I was on the lookout for it and kept seeing it for 25-30 dollars online. I told myself I wouldn't drop that much money on a single card and lo and behold, I didn't have to. Also, with this particular pack, I got my first Vegas Golden Knights card.

Mats Zuccarello is a red foil parallel version of the Shining Stars insert series, and I'll be honest, not something I was expecting. This was probably the second best pack of the tin as there were also cards for P.K. Subban, Henrik Zetterberg, Andrei Vasilevsky (who could be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this year) a really cool Kari Lehtonen card, and a nice horizontal of Pavel Zacha. That reminds me, I really hope the Devils can make the playoffs this year.

I mentioned the Shining Stars red parallel the last pack and in this pack, I pulled a standard Shining Stars card, this time of Jakub Voracek. I also got another card I was hoping for, that being the Marc-Andre Fleury Golden Knights card. He's had a tremendous year and is a really big reason the Knights are doing as well as they are doing.

Each tin also comes with a box topper. I was lucky enough for mine to be of Vladimir Tarasenko from the Winter Classic held in St. Louis. I haven't officially added Tarasenko to my list of players I collect but I think I'll do that at some point.

Moving on to the O-Pee-Chee blaster now. I really like the O-Pee-Chee cards but the one issue I have with them is that they come out so early in season, that by this point in the year, they're outdated. However, I did manage to find a few neat cards out of the batch, such as these. Nash is now with the Bruins, Panarin is still in Columbus as of last check, and the hockey card gods must really want me to collect Tarasenko.

Two cards for my Ben Bishop and Cory Schnieder collections. Braden Holtby is another player I've considered adding to my official player collection list.

Speaking of players on my official player collection list, it was nice to see these two get cards in the O-Pee-Chee set. The Doan card I guess could be considered a "sunset card" as I don't think he got a card in the regular issue Upper Deck set this year. Jagr did get a card in the main set this year as a member of the Flames. That's one I need to add to my most wanted list.

I got six of these retro style cards in the blaster, which equates to one every other pack since there were 12 packs in the box.

I also got these two mini's out of the box, which I wasn't expecting. Laine is a black border parallel of some sort, perhaps foil?

These are definitely foil parallels. The deal with the Henrik Lundqvist card is that you can put together a complete 52-card deck of playing cards with those style inserts. Now, I didn't know that there were foil versions of these so that's super cool. That's a card that I'll definitely slide into a penny sleeve in the hockey box to protect.

So that's some highlights from some late season breaks of early in the season products. Of these, I think I liked the O-Pee-Chee blaster better than I did the Upper Deck tin, mainly because I like the design better and this year's Upper Deck design isn't the best, but nothing can really beat the Nico Hischier pull though.

Friday, March 9, 2018

You've Got Mail #81: Johnny's Trading Spot

Racing and NASCAR never really have been big in my household. I remember growing up and watching some races with my dad here and there on Sundays and know the notable drivers and legends but I couldn't tell you who won the most races in 1985 nor do I know who won Daytona in any given year. However, I will still turn on a race every now and then, just out of curiosity more than anything. 

If I can find some fun cards to add to my racing collection, I will and when Johnny at Johnny's Trading Spot mentioned he picked these up from a show but had no use for them, I left a comment and snagged them up. Right away, I noticed a pattern with a lot of these cards that Johnny sent over, the majority of them are promo cards. Sometimes it noticeable, sometimes it isn't, like with these cards. Just by looking at these, you wouldn't know they are promo cards but they are, at least the Upper Deck card is, the other one I'm not too sure about.

Just to prove that these are, in fact, promo cards, I scanned in the back of them. The only one in this batch that isn't a promo is the Larry McReynolds card from the MAXX 1993 set. MAXX 93, that sort of sounds like the name of a soft rock station.

There was always something I liked about Kyle Petty and I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the way his car was painted? I'm not sure but I never could put my finger on it. Anyway, these Kyle Petty cards (and the Bobby Labonte card on the top) are labeled "prototype" on the back, I guess the word "promo" was too good for Action Packed. I'm guessing these are preview cards for the set that year. I'm not sure what the Mark Martin Press Pass VIP card would be issued for either but I definitely dig how it looks.

I appreciate Johnny sending these my way, they are definitely some great and neat additions to my racing card collection. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Getting Things Organized

While I was on my blogging hiatus back in the fall and early winter, one of my goals before the baby was born was to finally get my collection organized in a decent manner. The fact that it wasn't organized completely drove me nuts. I tried binders but that got too expensive having to buy pages and the binder itself. Finally, I finally just said "forget this" and I bought five 3200 count boxes to go with one I already had from the card shop. Over the course of two weeks, I emptied the binders organized the cards by team, and started loading them into the boxes. As you can see by the picture above, I filled up all five.

I took a bunch of top loaders I had laying around and used them as dividers. I bought a pack of cheap index cards to use as labels and I cut them to fit in the top loaders. Once I finished sorting everything, I labeled the boxes on the front as to what's in them. I'm pretty pleased with the way I turned out, although I've got one extra 3200 count box and in order to get some extra room, I'm going to split the teams up into American and National League and have two boxes for each league. 

For my Reds cards, I sorted them by decade (80s, 90s, etc.) into their own box for easy sorting and the ability to quickly go through them at a later date to pull out duplicates and cards for my player collections, which might get put into a binder at a later date.

For my non-baseball cards (hockey, football, wrestling, etc.), I managed to get them all into one box with room to spare. The hockey cards are again split up by team, football are split by Bengals and "other", wrestling and UFC cards have their own row, and miscellaneous stuff has some space as well.

Here's my trade box. It's a 1600 count shoebox style box. Again, I used top loaders and index cards for dividers. Although you can't see it, underneath each person's name is a brief summary of what they collect so I can quickly reference it without getting out my master list. The empty space in the box is usually occupied by a Ziploc bag that has cut up binder pages in it that I use for PWEs and a print out of my "trader address book" with everyone's addresses.

That's the majority of my collection organized. There's a few more minor things I have to work on such as sorting and paging up some sets and going through the handful of cards I have in storage in the garage. I'm really happy that I was able to get everything organized mostly and there is a semblance of order with everything..

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Multi-Player Mayhem: 1990 Fleer #640

Back in my return post in mid-January, I mentioned I came up with some new ideas for blog posts as one of my goals is to come up with more creative posts using cards I already have in my collection, as opposed to going out and buying things to blog about all the time. As I was doing some sorting and organizing during my hiatus last winter I came across a bunch of cards with multiple players on them and I thought to myself "what can I do with these?", then it dawned on me that I could easily get blog posts out of them. 

So here's a new thing I'm calling "multi-player mayhem", which is where I check out the careers of each player shown on a multi-player card. This will be the first post in said series. 

This is card #640 in the 1990 Fleer set, a major league prospects card featuring Rudy Seanez and Colin Charland.

Rudy Seanez carved out a 17-year career in the majors for a number of different teams. He debuted for the Indians in 1989 and through three seasons with them, appeared in 34 games with a 6.75 ERA. He sat out the 1992 season due to injury and showed back up with San Diego in 1993 for three games and the the Dodgers for the 1994 and 1995 seasons. After the 1995 season, he disappeared and didn't resurface in the majors until 1998 with the Braves. In four seasons with the Braves, Seanez had probably the four best years of his career, going 12-6 in 125 games with a 3.30 ERA in that span. In August of 2001, the Braves sent him to the Padres for a player to be named later. From that season on until his last appearance in 2008, he was a bit of a nomad, playing for the Padres (three times), Rangers, Red Sox (twice), Royals, Marlins, Dodgers, and finally the Phillies in 2008.

Colin Charland never played in the majors and, according to the Trading Card DB website, this is his only major league issue card. He spent 1986-1989 in the Angels minor league system, getting as high as the Triple A Edmonton Trappers in 1989. His best season in that span looks to have been 1988 with Single A Palm Springs where he went 17-5 with a 2.51 ERA in 27 starts and 204 IP. In 1991, he showed up in the Indians minor league system after being acquired by the team the previous year in a trade that sent Scott Bailes to California. He reached Triple A again in 1993 with Charlotte in the Indians system and Vancouver in the Angels system, but I can't seem to find any record anywhere of how he wound up in the Angels system again. Interesting side note though, he holds the Dallas Baptist University record for most strikeouts in a single season with 127 in 1986.

Of the two players on this card, it looks like Seanez had the better career spending 17 years in the majors, mostly under the radar. 

So, that's it for this first entry of the "Multi-Player Mayhem" series. It's still a little rough around the edges but for a first effort, it's not too terrible. Most of the info I found on these players was from Baseball Reference but I also used Retrosheet, Wikipedia, and the DBU Athletics website to pull info from. Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Wednesday Night Hockey

Last night was one of the rare times I got to actually go out after work. A bunch of us from our office got together and managed to score a group rate for the Cyclones game. While a bunch of people expressed interest initially, only about 15 of us bothered to put money towards tickets. However, we still had a good time.

We had pretty good seats, fifth row up, just to the left of the benches. Aside from group of idiotic and drunken frat boy morons in front of me, who were already drunker than skunks on their tenth $1 beer before the game started and were more concerned about how many times they got on the jumbotron that what was happening on the ice, it was a good time. The above picture was shot during warmups, right when I got there.

Our opponents on this night were the South Carolina Stingrays, who are second in the ECHL south division and one of the better teams in the league. Through the first two periods, the Cyclones didn't get much going and were outshot 16-6 and were down 1-0. The third period though is where things really heated up with penalties about for roughing and even a game misconduct on the Cyclones winger Justin Vaive. Amidst all the chaos, the Clones did manage to tie it up and then won it in just over three minutes in overtime.

Not only was it dollar beer night, which meant Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life cans for a buck a piece, it was also a giveaway night. The Cyclones don't have trading cards (believe me, I've asked) but instead tonight, we got playing cards.

The regular cards are nothing special, just the standard suites on every playing card deck. The kings, queens, jacks, and jokers are what makes this unique though. Every king card is Twister, the queen cards are Puckchop, the jacks are local morning radio host and PA announcer J.D., and the jokers are play-by-play announcer Fitz, who calls the games online.

In case you're wondering, here's what the backs looked like. It was another fun night down at the rink and I probably won't be able to get down to another game the rest of the season since there's only a handful of home games left, but hey, at least I managed to make it to two games this year.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Retail Repack Adventures #15

So last Sunday morning I was minding my own business watching TV and then, out of nowhere, boom, the power goes out. Most times, when my power goes out, it's only out for a few minutes and then comes back. Not this time. I reported the outage and got a text update back saying the estimated time for restoration is two hours from when I reported it (so roughly noon). I figured what better way to keep myself occupied than by organizing some cards and tearing into a repack.

Since the power was out, I had to take pictures of everything using my phone. While I've never been all that great at taking pictures of cards, I think I found a good way to do it. I took pictures for some other posts coming up soon and they turned out well enough that I might have a new preferred way to show off cards as scanning can be rather tedious, especially when there's a lot to do, and it means I have to hole up in the bedroom away from everyone. Anyway, I digress. Here's the contents of the repack and it looks oddly familiar, packs and all, as if it was a clone from the previous repack. There's two packs of the TeenyMates, two of the Panini Draft Picks, a Babe Ruth pack, and 2016 Topps Heritage, plus a 50-card bonanza.

First up, the TeenyMates packs. I looked over the back of the packs before opening and it mentioned glow in the dark figures. So guess what came out of the very first pack? Yep, a glow in the dark figure which I'll admit is pretty cool. I kinda like these little dudes but let's see what else is contained within.

Now the highlights from the 50-card mini box. Much like the other box, it started off with a Toys R' Us purple parallel, this time of Aroldis Chapman. Also, bonus points for the throwback uniform. 

A few 2016 Topps Red Sox cards of David Ortiz and David Price from the team set. 

And a few randoms from the mass of 89 Topps that made up about a third of the box. I'll admit, it was kind of neat getting a card of Terry Francona when he was playing for the Indians, long before he was managing them. Also, check out Oddibe's custom warmup jacket.

The contents of the two packs of the Panini Draft Picks. I'll keep exactly two of these, Nick Howard and Justus Sheffield. The rest will find their way into either the trade box or Goodwill donation bag. I didn't bother with the Babe Ruth pack as it has been set aside, unopened, for a new home.

Finally, the 9-card Heritage pack. The best card here is the Rod Carew flashbacks insert but the most colorful is definitely the Erick Aybar card.

This repack definitely felt like a dud, the same exact packs as the last repack, only a handful of redeeming cards from the 50-card mini box, but the TeenyMates figures were pretty cool at least. As for the power outage, it turns out it was caused by a squirrel that somehow found it's way into a relay box.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

April 9, 1994

You may have noticed a change around the blog recently, mainly in the background photo. I forget where I found the picture above (I think it was on Twitter) but when I saw it, I thought it was really neat. It's a view of inside old Riverfront Stadium, the place where I saw my first live baseball game. I liked the photo so much that I ended up making it the background of my laptop as well, along with a few other devices I use mainly because every time I see it, it bring back a warm feeling of nostalgia and being a kid again. 

A few days ago, I had the thought to see if I was able to find the game or the day on which this picture was taken. Since I couldn't make out any of the players on the field, I had to look other places in the picture for help. First, I noticed that those in the stands had rain gear and ponchos on. That's my first clue, the weather.

Here's a zoomed in portion of the photo focusing on the scoreboard. This is where I had to look to get most of my clues. First, look at the time on the clock. It reads 1:12, therefore telling me this is a day game. Next, look at the records of the pitchers, each one reads 0-0. Another clue is who the pitchers actually are. I know it's terribly hard to read (believe me, I did the best I could to enhance it) but the board to the left of the NBC5 sign reads "Starting Pitchers Smiley vs. Schilling". That's the biggest clue. So far, I've deciphered that it's an early season day game against the Phillies where it was raining. That should be plenty good enough to start some digging on Baseball Reference.

Oh, in case you are wondering, the text on the other scoreboard reads:
City of Cincinnati municipal code prohibits smoking in all seating areas, in restrooms, while in concession stand lines, and in all other posted "no smoking" locations. Stadium guests wishing to smoke may feel free to do so on any of the stadium concourses.

Once on Baseball Reference, I cross checked the years where John Smiley pitched for the Reds and Curt Schilling pitched for the Phillies. Smiley was with the Reds from 1993-1997 and Schilling threw for the Phillies from 1992-2000. Ok, so I know to look in Reds results from 1993-1997.

There's a nice little function on Baseball Reference where you can click the team abbreviation (example "CIN" for Cincinnati) next to a particular year and it will pull up the team page from that season. From there, if you click the "Schedule & Results" section, it will give you the results from every game that particular team played that year along with the box score. 

I just went year by year. I clicked 1993 first, nothing there. The Reds didn't play the Phillies at home that year until May 31. Ok, so I moved on to 1994. And wait, what's this?

Look at Saturday, April 9. The opponent matches up (Phillies), the starting pitchers match up (Smiley and Schilling), time of day matches up (day). I think we have a winner. The last thing to check is the weather at the bottom of the box score:

Bingo! The field condition was "wet" and it was overcast! There it is, this picture was taken on Saturday, April 9, 1994! Just for the heck of it, here's the rest of the box score from that day.

It's nice to see as well that the Reds won that day 2-1. That was their second win in a row as they had also bested the Phillies the prior night in extra innings. The Reds would continue on and ended up with a six-game winning streak, the first of three six-game winning streaks they would have that year. But, as everyone knows, the season abruptly ended in August with the players strike that cancelled the post season and lingered on into the beginnings of the 1995 season. Seeing this photo though, from a game so early in the season, really makes you wonder if the players knew what would lie ahead of them in that oh so troubled season.