Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Order of Cardboard Gods

This is mostly tongue in cheek, but it has its merits.  Plus I am using this as the platform to do some creative writing/thinking that will require your participation (yes, a prize will be awarded if you need motivation).  Kind of a choose your own adventure with puzzles that would hopefully make Dr. Robert Langdon proud.

In the annals of Western Civilization, society has been host to many secret organizations.  Some are conjecture, such as The Illuminati, and some are confirmed like The Freemasons and Yale’s Skull and Bones, but each has one common thread, a secret.  In nearly all Societies, the secret is carefully guarded, rarely spoken, and if written, it is coded and hidden behind a labyrinth of puzzles and metaphors.  Sometimes the secret is revealed to all the society’s members, and other times it is kept from members until they have reached the highest echelon of their Order.

Surely you are confused, and are questioning how is this relevant to 2½ by 3½ inch cardboard?  Until yesterday, I was confused as well, my friend, but the truth has been revealed.  Unbeknownst to us all, if you are reading this post, or have read any writings of the fine sampling of collectors listed to the right, you are a member of a Secret Order, an Order that worships the Cardboard Gods.

Bear with me now.  I understand the wave of emotion overcoming you at this moment.  You question, when did I become a member?  What is the secret?  Who are my fellow brothers and sisters?  Patience my friend, all will be revealed in due time.

Looking back through my collecting years, I have noticed a pattern.  One does not idly find a fellow collector.  No, they are usually ferreted out in a carefully choreographed dance.  In most circles, it is decidedly un-cool to be a 25 to 75 year old person that, in essence, spends exorbitant amounts of money for an essentially worthless piece of cardstock.  As a result, very few people outside of my wife, parents and siblings know I collect cards.

Card collectors are unlike any other adult “order” that willingly participates in a child’s hobby.  Other “orders” wear their society like a badge.  For instance, Star Wars fans are so brazen as to create costumes of their favorite characters to wear in public, and Trekkies have their own language, for Klingon’s sake.  To date, I have yet seen a card collector parading down the street covered in a suit of penny sleeves containing their Cardboard Gods; and our language only consists of unintelligible acronyms like UER, RC, DK, RR, etc.

Thusly, card collectors are typically isolated souls that surreptitiously congregate at bi-monthly/quarterly shows, or find safe haven on the internet.  Undoubtedly, when a non-collector finds out you are a collector, they only ask the questions we dread, “How much is a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey worth?  How much is the 1987 Topps set?  What’s your most expensive card?”  To all of those questions, I philosophically reply “REDACTED.”  This response never goes over well.

Still not convinced, are you?  Well, here is more proof of my encounters with The Order. 

After purchasing a 600 card starter set of 1974 Topps, the seller wanted to meet me at a nearby gas station.  He saw me pull up, and we both quickly exited our vehicles and met at his truck’s tailgate.  I opened the box, saw that roughly 600 cards were present and I handed over my cash.  We just began to talk cards, when a police officer fueling his cruiser walked over and interrupted our discussion on mid-70s Topps.  To the officer, it appeared we had just made a drug deal.  He made me open the box, and I showed him the cards.  His response was more or less that cards are for kids, etc.  You know what I’m saying.  It was a decidedly un-cool moment. 

A second encounter that alerted me to The Order was when I sold my old car last month.  The dealer appraising my car saw a package of vintage cards I had received in trade.  He turned to me and said “Do you collect?”  I cautiously answered “Yes.”  Next he pulled out a piece of paper, wrote down his name and email, and told me that he was into vintage cards and we should trade.  Just then his boss showed up, and the conversation quickly steered away from cards.  We never spoke of it again that day, but we have been working out a trade online.

The final encounter, which happened yesterday, was when I was walking back to my office from the post office.  On the way back, I passed my local brick and mortar, which is usually a ghost town.  However, yesterday, a dapperly dressed man exited carrying a small 50 count case and some 9 pocket sleeves.  I asked him if he got some good ones, and he stopped.  I’m sure he was sizing me up, wondering if I was going to ridicule or if I was truly a collector.  He cautiously said “Yes, got some 1965 Topps for my set.  I’m 90% done.”  I looked them over with him and congratulated him on his findings.  I told him about the card blogosphere and he was dumbfounded.  He was amazed there are “others” and that we are organized.  That is when I finally realized The Order exists.

You still doubt The Order’s existence, don’t you?  Does the blogosphere not convince you?  A loosely organized legion of devoted collectors spread across the entire globe that are all literally linked to one another through varying degrees of separation? 

In addition, allow me to present more proof in the form of aliases.  Night Owl, Collective Troll, Captain Canuck, The Wicked O’, GCRL, Doc T, etc.  Not until one is firmly entrenched in The Order does the facade of such name trickery fall aside, such as when a trade is completed.  At that moment, you have been entrusted with the true identity of a fellow collector, and in some cases given their home address, but one must pay a price.  You must share your name and address. 

Finally, you ask, what is the secret? 

Well, in the words of Joshua, “Shall we play a game?

You didn’t think I would just type the secret, did you?  Remember, it is coded and hidden behind a labyrinth of puzzles and metaphors.

(I’m dry running this adventure through a friend of mine for fine-tuning purposes and to ensure it is not impossible to solve, so Part One of The Code of the Cardboard Gods will begin soon…)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Double Header

After what seemed like a long drought of no baseball, I was lucky enough to go to two games within the span of 5 days.  The first game was the home opener of the Durham Bulls against the Norfolk Tide on April 15th.  The second game was a Monday night game between the Carolina Mudcats and the Tennessee Smokies on April 19th.  Both games were losses, but fun was had by all.  Here are some pictures of the games...

Game 1 - Norfolk Tide at Durham Bulls
 We ditched our right field bleacher seats to sit atop the first come first serve Blue Monster in left field.  Got to enjoy a few beers 30 feet above the left fielder.  Awesome.
 The mascot, Wool E. Bull, landed on the field in a helicopter to bring the AAA Trophy to home plate.

The famous smoking bull was right above our heads.  The eyes gleam red and the nose blows smoke during a Bulls HR.

Game 2 - Tennesee Smokies at Carolina Mudcats

My son enjoying his favorite sport, BAAAAAAASE-BALL!!

 A check-swing strike!

My daughter disagreeing with the 1st Base Ump on the check-swing strike.

I can't wait to get back out to the ballpark, especially now that my son knows Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Tournament Update

Here is the weekly tournament update.  Teams with the best record after 32 games move on to the second round.

The Mets, Padres and Nationals are putting a real scare into some higher seeded teams.  I know Night Owl despises tournaments (or so I think), but I bet he is praying for his Bums to not be the first #1 seed team in history to fall to a #16.

If you want to get in on the action, drop me a line about a trade in the comment box or give me the link to your want lists!

Teams taken: Dodgers, Nationals, Phillies, Twins, Rangers, White Sox and Rays
Teams pending: Braves and Marlins

Doc T

Monday, April 26, 2010

Welcome Home!

It is my pleasure to announce that my Brother-In-Law has safely returned from Afghanistan.  This was his third tour of duty with his previous two being in Iraq.  The 15th Engineer Company was gone for 362 days, and EVERY single one of the soldiers that left last April returned safe and sound this past Saturday.  Thank you God.

I am extremely proud of my BIL, and very thankful for the work that he and his Company did over there.  He worked on the construction of FOB Wolverine and FOB Delaram.  I saw him while he was on leave in December, and he was doing great. 

Last April, just prior to his deployment, he and I drove from Fort Knox to Dayton, Ohio to watch his cousin pitch opening day for the Dayton Dragons, the Single A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.  His cousin is now the staff ace of the High A Lynchburg Hillcats.  

Now that my BIL is back, I can start publicly keeping an eye on his cousin via this blog.  Wade Boggs had fried chicken, Turk Wendell brushed his teeth between innings, and I never spoke of my BIL's cousin in the minor leagues.  Just didn't want to jinx anything.

I'll start up soon on the followings of Matt Fairel.  Does anyone know if he has a card?

Here are a few pictures of his tour and his home coming!

Welcome home Rob!!!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I created this sometime back for PunkRockPaint when he was putting a call out for Wanted Posters.  I sent it to him, and nothing ever materialized (Just like the Old Planter advertisement I did for Thorzul).  Oh well, so I'll post the wanted poster here.

Any guesses as to who this bandit really is?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kicking the Buckett

For Christmas in 1987, my mother got me a subscription to Beckett Magazine.  I was more than thrilled.  I imagine this came about because I had nearly destroyed a Beckett Baseball Card Price Guide I had bought one summer visit with my Grandma in 1987.  Having found the book at a local book shop in a small Indiana town, I felt I now possessed the Holy Grail.

No longer were my cards pictures and stats of my baseball heroes, they were now priced.  They had “value.”  To an 11 year old, whose allowance was raiding the change from my Dad's key bowl, finding out some cards were worth over a dollar, and at worst were worth 5 cents, was like stumbling upon an open armored car.  In essence, the money was mine for the taking.

Trading among friends lost the notion of obtaining your favorite players or teams, it now became the stock market.  I vividly remember us pulling out our price guides to make sure no one was pulling a fast one.  I even remember a kid standing at the only exit to our school, holding up a 100 card stack of 86 Topps.  He’d bark “$2 for 100 cards!,” and inevitably, every day some younger kid would buy them.  That kid must have made a killing, selling 500 cards a week for $10.  I later found out the 100 cards were starless, and that he kept the good ones, sold the “bad” ones and used the money to buy more cards.  Ingenious, if not deceitful, yet truly sad in retrospect.

The innocence of collecting cards was gone.  No one saw Jose’s smirking mug, they saw a big fat $ sign.

I could rail on again about my disdain for what Beckett and Mr. Mint did to the hobby, but I’ve done it before, even if in a hack literary effort.  No, this time, I’m going spelling-Nazi.

Leafing through my last Price Guide from 2002 (which was the only price guide I had since my 1987 version – and the monthly subscription ran out back in 1993), I noticed several annoying UERs, to use their lingo.

Exhibit 1:

Not one, but two within a mere inch of each other.

Exhibit 2:

Japenese – UER.  Way to denigrate an entire nation.

Judging by the number of people who are acknowledged for working on this guide, one would think that spelling would be easy to notice.  It goes to show that if attention to these details can’t be followed, then I’d think the “prices” are wrong, too.

Yeah, I know I'm being picky.

Doc T

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cards on Cards - 1992 Upper Deck Tony Gwynn

Time to unveil a new and probably short lived serial.  It's time for Cards on Cards.  No, not that Cards on Cards...

Every blue moon, we spy a baseball card that has a baseball card on it.  In my experience, it has always been some type of photo trickery of a player holding a card of themselves that is the actual card and going on for infinity.  It's kind of a mind bender, but trickery none the less.

Dan from "The Other World" sent me a stack of Tony Gwynn's completing our Phillies and Stickers trade.  This was an amazing package.  When I opened it and saw the 50 count case, I said to myself that it couldn't all contain Tony Gwynns.  I was wrong.  Besides a few Topps dupes, it was mostly gold that I had never seen before.  I guess it does pay to not collect anything but Topps and then start seeing all that Fleer, Donruss, Leaf and UD had to offer.  

Speaking of Upper Deck, I noticed something rather peculiar on the 1992 UD Gwynn card.  Let's dole this out bit by bit.

First, is the 1991 UD Gwynn All Star Game Card. 

It's a rather bland card of Gwynn signing autos at the Toronto All Star Game.  He looks less than thrilled.  I wonder why?

Now lets move on to the card at hand.

Nothing special here, but let's look at the obverse.

Gwynn is still signing autos, but wait!  He's still unenthusiastic, and if you look at the programs he's signing, they are from the 1991 Toronto All Star Game.  So, same photo shoot as the 1991 UD AS Game card, but from a different angle.

And here is where it get's interesting.  Let's zoom in on the lower left hand corner.

Why, that's a baseball card!  Coming from San Diego, I know that baseball card like the back of my hand.

Time to flip and zoom a little more.

Hmmm.  Blue checkerboard borders.  Red name box.  Blank stare from a should of been first time HOFer.

Why, that's Roberto Alomar! No wonder TG was not so thrilled having to sign an Alomar card!

Way to go Upper Deck.  You successfully incorporated a 1988 Donruss card into your 1992 set.  Now that is some awesome QA/QC.

Doc T

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tournament Update

I am so far following through on my promise to update the tournament on a weekly basis.  It appears that there are some interesting match ups forming, and it is always exciting to see the Pads and Rays (my Padrays) doing decent, if not awesome.

Dan the Sticker Man has entered the fray with his completion of an awesome trade with me.  I will post something in the near future about one of the 49 (good golly) Gwynn's he sent my way.  Looks like I'm going to have to go digging for more Phillies and stickers! 


Nationals (Plunger-hoo) tied with Night Owl (Dodgers) at 6 games a piece.
Cpt. Canucks Braves are holding a 2.5 game lead over the Reds.
Dan's Phillies are up one game on the surprising Pirates.
GCRL's Twins (sorry had to give you to the Twinkies) are up 2.5 over the Indians.
Play at the Plate's Rangers are in a dead heat with the Royals.  Ouch.
Troll's Ray have a 5.5 game lead over WSC's White Sox.

If you want in, post a comment about a trade and what you're looking for, and I'll dig through the boxes some.  Once the trade is complete, you're in the running.

Still waiting on cards from Wicked Ortega, and I Cpt. Canuck, but I'm sure his are lost in customs somewhere.

Need addresses from Fan of Reds sometime, too.

Doc T!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Opening Day - Minor League Style

After going through a drought in 2009, where I had neither the time nor money to attend a baseball game (save for a UVA @ UNC game my bud Plungerhoo took me to), I am heading to the ballpark tonight.

While in Florida back in March, I was fortunate enough to go to the Baltimore Orioles facility in Sarasota, and watch them play a spring training night game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The weather was nasty cold and the game was not like the 1971 World Series.  I could tell then and there the O's were bad.  So bad, the Pirates looked good.  The only Oriole bright spot is Adam Jones.  That kid is awesome, and I hope Wieters blossoms into an awesome C.

Anyways, the game was ho-hum, but my son had a great time!  Just look at that smile.  He cheered for every pitch, for every batter and every run scored.  Jersey colors meant nothing to him.  It was about BASE-BALL, as he says it.

As an aside, while I was less than 10 miles from the scene of The Collective Troll's horrible break-in incident, and I have the ticket stub to prove I was at the ballgame, not stealing 1950s Bowmans!

So tonight is opening night for the Durham Bulls.  I haven't been to a Bulls game since August of 2008, so I'm excited to see the new left field construction.  Having lived in Durham for several years, I ended up becoming a fan of the Rays since 2001.  It was awesome to see all the talent they have now come through Durham.

Now I live out towards the Carolina Mudcats, who are the AA affiliate of the Reds, yet I just can't bring myself to be a fan of another NL team.  Padres forever, and occasionally Pad-Rays.

The Reds situation may change, as my brother-in-law's cousin pitches in the Reds organization for the AA Lynchburg Hillcats.  I'll post more on that later, as I'm waiting for my BIL to return from Afghanistan later this month.  Even non-baseball players have jinxes to worry about.

Eventually, I will also be treated by the Plungerhoo to a minor league game of my choice, since I "trounced" him in a one-on-one NCAA tournament challenge, where the winner got to pick the game and the loser buys.  I picked an Albuquerque Isotopes game, but then I found out travel wasn't included, nor was a week long stay in Chaco Canyon.

I guess I'll have to settle for a Kinston Indians, or enjoy a Coastal Plain League Wilson Tobs or Outerbanks Daredevils game.

Baseball is everywhere if you just take the time to look.  Play ball!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

All of those crosswords and literature books finally paid off for me.  Not too shabby for an engineer who specializes in math.

It's idiomatic, my dear Watson! (with a sprinkle of The Bard).

Rejoice in my winnings...

I will let the one and only PunkRockPaint do the honors of revealing the solution.  An awesome contest worthy of wasting an hour at work.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tournament Contest Update

I will keep the tournament updates coming each Monday...

White Sox Cards has officially entered the fray, as I received a spectacular package from him on Saturday (That's what she said).  The highlight was a 1956 Topps Tom Gorman, plus a boat load of Padres, of which I only had one.  I must say he raised the bar for me, and I will have to go digging into the treasure chest for another trade round.  Kudos my good man.

Anyways, the tourney is well under way.  The Astros are all but dead in the water facing a 5 game up hill battle against the dreaded Giants.  And if it couldn't look worse for Do-ho fans, you're down one game to the Nats.  Ouch.

I received some flak about the Phils being the #2 seed, but as stated previously, the seeding is based on 2009 regular season standings.

If you want in on the fun, all you need to do is complete a trade with me and your entered to win a prize.  I'm still debating on a prize, but it will likely end up being a 600 count box of your favorite team (junk wax not withstanding).

Other random comments on the blog include:

Any more Musial cards?  Nope, just the one in the Gallery.

A subtle rip on the 1976 F. Robinson... Yeah, I know the pose is lame and there is no facsimile signature, but it is damn hard finding decent photos of HOFers at the end of their careers...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mad Props to Royals Scorecards

Thanks for showing me how to bring the dead space to life!

Royals Scorecards is new to the blogosphere, so be sure to go and check out his cool new blog.

Plus, he's just started collecting.  How about we all show him some love Thorzul-style...

Doc T

Monday, April 5, 2010

You've Unknowingly Been Entered in a Contest

Perhaps that has grabbed a handful of people's attention.  Having taken the last month off for a much need baseball break (the blasphemy!), I am back to start a tournament.  I know some of you rail against tournaments, and all they stand for, but hey, I don't have to cover The Cuse for a living.

So, in a similar theme to the Big Dance, I present to you the 2010 Tournament Within a Season contest.  The prize has yet to be determined, but all of those who have completed a trade with me have been entered.

Click to "embiggen"

Certified contestants include:
Dodgers - Night Owl, GCRL (Possibly GCRL to the Twins if desired)
Rangers - Play at the Plate
Nationals - The One and Only Plungerhoo
Rays - Collective Troll (A mercy entry based on the "car"nage of March 5th)

Pending Contestants:
White Sox - WSC
Marlins - The Wicked O
Phillies - Dan the Sticker Man
Braves - Cpt. Canuck

The tournament will function as follows.  The seeds are based on 2009 regular season records.  Each round is broken into 32 games.  Whichever team wins the most games out of those 32 games advances.  Therefore, the first round consists of which team has the better record from Games 1 through 32.  Second round is Games 33 through 64, etc.  Tie breakers are based on best head to head record, then run differential.

I went back a few years, and the finals and champion have been correct, so all you Vegas hounds can follow this tourney to know who to put your stack of '52s on.

If you want in at any time, contact me about a trade.  Just let me know what you're looking for, and I'll try and find it.  I'm up for vintage Topps and any Tony Gwynn's.

Play Ball!
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