Saturday, August 31, 2019

Five Fun Halloween Things to Do Right Now

Image from Google Search
A lot of people claim that the most wonderful time of year is the Christmas season. I can see why, it's very picturesque, families are gathered together, there are giant Christmas trees and decorations everywhere, and all the other items that come along with the Holiday season.

That's all fine and good.

For me, the most wonderful time of the year is the Halloween season!

It's the time of year where fun is in the air at all times. Spooky and creepy decor adorns the seasonal aisles, everything you can think of seems to get a pumpkin spice treatment, farm markets become destination attractions for hayrides and pumpkin patches, the nighttime features all manner of haunted attractions coming out of the woodwork and horror movies on TV. Plus the nights get cooler which means perfect time hangout around a campfire and tell spooky stories.

For me, the spooky season starts on September 1st and runs all the way through October 31st. From now until then, I'll be mixing in some Halloween and fall related posts along with the usual fare. Tomorrow will be featuring some Topps Fright Flicks cards.

Now, with it being still partly the summer and all, some stores may not have their spooky selections out yet, but to pass the time, here's five fun Halloween-y things you can do right now!

Image credit: Wikipedia

1) Read a scary book. I've been getting back into reading a lot over this year and I've read quite my share of books ... everything from Harry Potter to 19th century baseball. The books I've enjoyed reading the most though are horror novels. There's all kinds of good horror books and novels out there, you just have to know where to look. Classic Stephen King like Carrie, The Shining, or Pet Sematary are good places to start. So take some time, stop by your local library, and grab a book.

2) Play an online Halloween Game. This is simple but effective. There's a site I found online called Halloween Mountain and it has a handful of weird games to get you in the Halloween mood. I dare you to spend less than 30 minutes here playing these games and they're very addictive very fast.

Image credit: Wikipedia

3) Watch something spooky. October is the prime time for horror movies on TV, especially with AMC TV's "Fearfest" during the second half of the month. But you don't need to go down the horror movie rabbit hole to enjoy something with a bit of Halloween flair. If movies are your thing, there are the Goosebumps films with Jack Black, the old Addams Family movies from the 90s, and one of my favorites Sleepy Hollow from 1999. If TV is more your style, don't forget It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, any of the Bob's Burgers Halloween themed episodes, and there's also a fun Halloween themed episode from The Cleveland Show where Junior is dressed up like a giant pancake.

Image from Amazon

4) Do some Halloween activities. My six year old son has a bunch of coloring books. A lot of them are not Halloween themed but that kind of leads me to my point. Go the books section at your local Target, Walmart, or Meijer and find yourself some Halloween coloring books. It might seem a little awkward to purchase some kids coloring books for yourself but believe me when I tell you, not only will it get you into the Halloween spirit right away, it will also relieve some stress. Better yet, download and print free coloring sheets from the internet! Don't forget the crayons!

Image credit: Tumblr

5) Take a spooky road trip. The leaves may not be changing colors just yet but still I encourage you to take a Halloween road trip. Before you go out driving though, you have to stop and get your favorite fall beverage (I'm talking to you pumpkin spice latte) to accompany you. Then, go out and explore. Drive through and around areas you're not familiar with, take roads through giant stalks of corn, drive through little towns in the middle of nowhere, stop and walk a weird nature trail through strange woods. Just make sure you don't get stuck somewhere and end up dealing with the Children of the Corn.

From now until Halloween is over, I'm going to try to stuff myself with as much Halloween cheer as possible. If it comes in the form of spooky trading cards, Reese's peanut butter pumpkins, plastic trick-or-treat pails, cartoon witches, horror movies, or corn mazes, then so be it!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

83 From 82

83 from 82. That's a pretty simple math question right? Well, the answer would be (-1) that's because 83 things cannot be taken from 82 different things. Example: If you had 82 different baseball cards and you tried to take 83 of them away, you couldn't. You could take 82 from 82 and be left with nothing. But that extra card? Hmmm...

I can however take 83 from 82 a different way. That being 83 cards from 1982 which is what I discovered when sorting the mega-haul box. I've got 83 cards from 1982. Let's see if I can take 83 from 82 that way. I might even try to keep a running tally.

These two make up the only two 1982 Fleer cards in the box. Early Fleer cards may not be all that great in terms of design but I think they make up for some of that in terms of odd photography. Look at the background of the Rowland Office card. It's definitely Veterans Stadium but something is off about the picture. Why is it tilted?

Running tally: 83 - 2 = 81

Nine cards of the 1982 Donruss variety. More fun photography as well. We've got Greg Luzinski in the old White Sox softball uniforms, Jose Morales right under him posting at what appears to be Spring Training, and Burt Hooton preparing to heave a pitch towards home. Speaking of Luzinski and the Chicago uniform, there's also the appearance of some old-school powder blue road threads from the Rangers and Braves.

Also, someone clearly was not a fan of something on the back of the Luzinski card. Maybe they were trying to scratch out the Phillies stats? Not sure.

Running tally: 81 - 9 = 72

Now comes the bulk of the cards ... 1982 Topps. If my math is right, there should be eight scans of nine. Jeff Reardon headlines this first group. There's also a pretty cool Mariners team leader card. That reminds me, I probably should get back into reviewing some of the multi-player cards I have.

Running tally: 72 - 9 = 63

Ron Hassey and Jim Clancy on the next batch here. But the real star here is the Danny Ainge card. His last regular issue baseball cards came in the 1982 sets and he'd left MLB after the 1981 season so this card could be considered a "sunset" card. We all know what happened next. He debuted in the NBA in December of 1981 and played 14 seasons for Boston, Sacramento, and Phoenix. He also coached Phoenix for four seasons after he retired and led them to the playoffs 3 of those 4 seasons.

Running tally: 63 - 9 = 54

Lots of good stuff in this batch ... Dave Parker, Bruce Sutter, Danny Darwin, and Bill Buckner just to name a few. But look on the bottom left. I spy a Lee Smith rookie card. I wasn't expecting to find that in a pile of random 82 Topps cards.

Running tally: 54 - 9 = 45

Not much happening here unless Joe Lefebvre's garish Padres uniform counts.

Running tally: 45 - 9 = 36

Rick Sutcliffe and Alan Trammell highlight this nine. Denny Lewallyn looks confused and Wayne Garland could be a stand in for my friend's dad. Did anyone else remember Alan Trammell managing the Tigers from 2003-2005? I'd completely forgotten about that. 

Running tally: 36 - 9 = 27

A much better group here. I love seeing Twins cards from the late 70s/early 80s just because I'm completely unfamiliar with them during that time frame.  The Expos cards here are pretty cool too. My favorite though has to be Al Oliver at the bat rack.

Running tally: 27 - 9 = 18

We're getting to the home stretch now. Some pretty notable names with Doug Flynn, Oscar Gamble, Rick Monday, and Lou Whitaker here. Flynn is currently a studio analyst and fill-in radio announcer for the Reds. I probably should've paired Whitaker and Trammell together in the scans but oh well.

Running tally: 18 - 9 = 9

And our last group of nine includes two former major league managers. Jerry Narron managed the Rangers and Reds in the 2000s. His best season in Cincinnati came with the 2006 squad where they finished a surprising third in the NL Central. I'm kind of drawn to Jim Tracy cards since he's a local guy (Hamilton, Ohio). Tracy managed the Dodgers, Pirates, and Rockies during his run from 2001-2012. 2008 was the only year he didn't manage in the bigs during that time.

Running tally: 9 - 9 = 0

So there you have it. I've successfully shown how 83 can be taken from 82 without any negative numbers involved at all. Not bad for a guy who got a "C" in high school algebra.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Going Through the Archives - 2019 Edition

It's that time, Archives is out.

I'll admit, I didn't like last years product. The designs weren't exactly my favorites and I found the cards just sort of generally boring. Plus, there were unnecessary reprints and Sandlot cards. I didn't mind the Sandlot cards, just not my thing.

Anyway, this year Archives returns with 1958, 1975, and 1993. I grabbed two jumbo packs and a blaster. I'm not going to go through things pack by pack as that would take way too long. I will say that the jumbo packs had nearly the exact same collation. Nearly half of the second pack was dupes of the first one, with cards in the exact same order. That was the same issue with last year where the some packs from the blasters were nearly identical. Now, that could've been luck of the draw as I grabbed a pack from the back and the front but I doubt it. I came across one pack in the blaster that had several of the same cards in the same order from the jumbo packs. That's definitely something that needs to be improved on.

Anyway, collation issues aside, let's see what I got.

I'll start with the 58s. One thing I never really did like about the original 1958 set is that the background is just a standard color. That's not to say I don't like the set in general, it's just not something I'm drawn to. Anyway, these are my favorites of the 58s included. I do like the fact that it's a healthy mix of retired greats and current stars. Pretty happy to get a Larry Doby card as well.

The only Reds card from either the blaster or jumbos, that being of Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. Even though the Reds playoff chances at this point are nearly shot, they've still improved a lot from the past few seasons. Iglesias this year has done his role well 26 saves out of 30 chances but his ERA needs some work at 4.16.

1975 is next. I love the color schemes of these cards, especially how bright the Andrelton Simmons card is. I do have a few 75s in my duplicate stack that are already earmarked for Night Owl.

Since I had more old school players than new players, I decided to split the 75s up. The backgrounds on these seem a bit off, especially the ones with in stadium photos. Maybe they were intentionally faded? Regardless, I still like them. Also, when was the last time you saw a Tigers pitcher Hal Newhouser card in a Topps product? Not only that, but he's shown with a bat.

The last set featured was 1993. I've always liked the 1993 Topps set as it's one of my favorites from childhood. I got several guys in Yount, Piazza, Brett, and Raines that definitely feel at home on a 1993 design. One minor nitpick is that maybe the Expos colors should be red and blue, other than that, I like these a lot.

Current guys. Carlos Santana seems really happy to be back in Cleveland after a one year sojourn to Philadelphia. They definitely hit the 1993 Draft Picks design perfectly with the Rowdy Tellez card.

Horizontal cards. Some good shots here. With the aforementioned collation issues, I think I would up with two or three of the Trea Turner card.

More Hall of Famers. With the 1993 cards, it seems as if cards of old-timerslike the Gehrig card have gone through the colorization process. To me, I think that definitely adds to the card. That also leads me into my two favorite cards I pulled...

First, we have this absolutely brilliant looking Johnny Mize card. Everything about this is great, the image, the background, the color of the picture, and the design fits perfectly. 

But my favorite base card I pulled is this truly magnificent looking Bobby Doerr card. It's a beautiful picture of Doerr admiring a hit but the background it was does it for me. This looks like a practice game of some kind on a makeshift field with the bleachers and the giant skyscraper in the background. Plus, Doerr himself looks like he's kind of jumping out of the picture. This to me just seems like something Norman Rockwell would've put together and it's absolutely stunning. Probably my pick for card of the year so far.

Now come the inserts. First these Future Star cards with Michael Kopech and Alex Rodriguez. This design was featured in 1994 Topps (a set I really enjoy). Nice to see that set get some recognition.

All-Star selection cards. I like these but I think they would fare better with some vintage stock.

Some more miscellaneous inserts. My "hit" of the break, if you want to call it that, is the Hunter Dozier blue parallel. The Kyle Hendricks card is a 1975 mini variety, and despite the Ichiro being a reprint, it makes sense as Topps is paying tribute to his career with these cards.

My favorite of the inserts though has to be these Topps Magazine cards. I never read any Topps Magazine as a kid but I'm discovering it now through old oddball cards from the magazine I'm getting in trades and through cards like this. I would like to go back and see if I can maybe find some old issues somewhere.

Overall, aside from the collation issues I mentioned, I really like this year Archives offering. It's a heck of a lot better than last year and I managed to pull two outright amazing base cards. While I did feel like a lost six bucks on a jumbo pack that was nearly all dupes, I'd say I definitely got a lot of fun and enjoyment out of this.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Well Traveled Envelope Arrives in Ohio

So there's a thing going around right now amongst the blogs called the "Well Traveled Envelope". The gist of the whole deal is to re-use the same envelope and the supplies contained within as many times as humanly possible. There's also an ongoing log and note to fill out as well. I was lucky enough to have been selected by Chris of "The Collector" blog as the next recipient of the envelope.

When I opened the envelope, this was the first card I saw. After that, I knew things were going to be good because it's not every day that your open a bubble mailer and find a Renata Galasso Warren Spahn card starting back at you. 

Here's some 1984 Topps I can put towards the set build. Frank Robinson was canned by the Giants 106 games into the 1984 season with an awful 42-64 record. 

Some 2019 Diamond Kings and my first Carl Hubbell card. The Al Simmons I think might be a duplicate as I'm pretty sure it came out of a pack that I ripped a few months back. 

The package was also littered with team collections on the baseball side ... Reds and Expos most notably. I've never seen this Gary Carter card and it's got to be definitely one of my favorites now. I think I've mentioned this before but I really like 1992 Pinnacle. It's got to be the black borders though.

More Expos with the bottom row featuring some 1994 Fleer. About a week or so ago as I write this, the 25th anniversary of the 1994-95 baseball strike just passed which many argue effectively doomed baseball in Montreal. I believe that 1994 Expos team would've made it to the World Series had it been played that year as that was possibly the best team they ever had in Montreal.

Some Reds cards now and we've got some super shiny ones to start with. Blandino hasn't played a single game for the club this year after appearing in 69 games last year as a utility infielder. The Suarez card is one of the refractor variety

Nice mix of cards here, including a somewhat early Joey Votto card. I'm admittedly horrible at placing the year on Bowman cards. The most interesting card to me here is Scott Feldman. It falls into both the "short term stops" variety and the "sunset cards" variety. Feldman pitched the 2017 with the Reds going 7-7 over 21 starts including Opening Day of 2017. His last start for the Reds (and final MLB appearance in general) was August 17, 2017.

Another fun batch of cards. I love it when Topps includes manager cards in the Archives sets. I think they're just fun additions to the checklist. The Scooter Gennett card is pretty neat but again, I'm horrible at placing the year on Bowman cards.

Baseball wasn't all that Chris included in the well-traveled envelope. He also hit me with a bunch of new hockey cards. All five of these Marty's are new to my collection. I particularly like the "hockey heroes" and the shiny Leaf card on the left.

Some cool new Devils cards. I can't place the Travis Zajac card but it looks like it's from a throwback set of some kind. Scott Stevens and Patrik Elias were part of the awesome Devils teams of the early 2000s. The Devils this season should be fun to watch with the addition of P.K. Subban and Jack Hughes.

Oooh! Shiny Coyotes including a really neat card of Oliver Ekmann-Larsson. Speaking of fun teams, with the Coyotes dealing for Phil Kessel, and him joining Oli, Clayton Keller, and Derek Stepan on offense, that should be quite the team to keep an eye on.

By far my favorite hockey cards in the batch were these old school O-Pee-Chee cards. I'm not too familiar with John Anderson but Blaine Stoughton I know because he's a former Cincinnati Stingers player. 

I appreciate Chris including me in the Well Traveled Envelope challenge. My next mission is to figure out who I'm sending it to next and to dig out cards for said individual. However, it might be a bit before I get to that as I'm working roughly 65 hours this week between two jobs. Should I not fall over from exhaustion by the end of the week, it'll be on it's way to the next recipient soon.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Contest Cards from the Trading Spot

Recently Johnny's Trading Spot ran a contest as part of his blog anniversary and the first ten people to comment won a prize of some sort. Not long after, a small bubble mailer from John landed in my mailbox. I was expecting the typical assortment of Reds cards but when I opened it I was shocked to see two baggies full of vintage hockey!

The blue border 1979-80 Topps cards should instantly be recognizable for the Wayne Gretzky RC. While there wasn't a Gretzky card included, there were some commons from the set, including some old school teams that don't exist anymore. I messed up on scanning this, I should've kept the teams somewhat together but anyway, I've now got cards from Colorado Rockies NHL team, something I didn't have before!

These are from the 1977-78 Topps set and have a somewhat close resemblance to their 1977 cousins in baseball with the way the player name, team name, etc. written at the bottom. Again, more Rockies cards. The Rockies at this point were in their second season in Denver, having moved after only two seasons in Kansas City (that reminds me...I need to work on getting some KC Scouts cards).

By far the most notable name in this batch though is Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Gainey. He spent 16 years with the Canadiens. His accolades include being a six-time All-Star, four-time winner of the Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) and finished in the top-ten of Selke Trophy voting an additional five times, also won a Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL playoffs MVP, and won the Stanley Cup five times (four straight from 1976-1979 and again in 1986). Newer fans will remember him as the last coach of the North Stars and subsequently the first coach of the Dallas Stars. He also came back and coach Montreal for two seasons in the mid-2000s.

No such luck with Hall of Famers in this next batch but there is longtime Red Wings goalie Jim Rutherford and Penguins center Syl Apps (son of early NHL player Syl Apps), and the hair of Dennis Ververgaert.

The oldest cards included in the package was this quartet from the 1973-74 Topps set. The Gilles Meloche card I think is a duplicate but I'll need to check my hockey binder to be sure. Obviously, someone didn't like the fact that Reggie Leach was traded to the Flyers in 1974. Two seasons after the trade, Leach won the Conn Smythe.

The final batch features cards from the 1980-81 set. On top, we have three North Stars, including two former seals in Al MacAdam and Gilles Meloche. I should note that MacAdam was part of the trade which landed the Flyers the aforementioned Reggie Leach. I really dig the colorful design on these cards. They're just fun to look at. 

A few interesting cards to note here. First, the card on the right center. Yes, it's that Joel Quenneville. The former Blackhawks and now Panthers coach. I had zero clue he ever played for the Rockies. Also in this batch, there's Hall of Famers Marcel Dionne and Michel Goulet and the Guy Chouinard card is a first year Calgary Flames card as the Flames moved from Atlanta to Calgary in the summer of 1980.

Thanks to John for running the contest and for all the cool old hockey cards. I'll have to see what I have to send over as a "thank you".