Monday, June 27, 2016

1987 Mike Schmidt Odd-ball cards

Fellow blogger and Facebook friend Baseball Dad, saw a comment I made on Facebook a few weeks ago that I wished I owned a Jeanmar Gomez Phillies card. Gomez, at the time had 14 saves and led the NL in saves. Mr. Baseball Dad (known as Jack to his friends) said he'd send me one. I got a nice package of Phillies cards from him the other day. Not only did he send me the Gomez Topps Heritage card but a few other items. As much as I liked getting the Gomez card, this was my favorite thing in the envelope, a Mike Schmidt card I didn't have.

1987 Ralston Purina Collectors' Edition #14 Mike Schmidt

According to tradingcarddb.com, there are 81 Mike Schmidt trading cards or other items (like coins or disks) available. from 1987. 81! Well, now I have 28. Thanks Jack!

Here are a few other Mike Schmidt odd-ball cards from 1987.

1987 Donruss Pop-Up #17 Mike Schmidt

These came with packs of Donruss All-Star cards.

1987 Fleer Record Setters #35 Mike Schmidt

This was one of several 44-card Fleer sets produced in 1987 that were available at drug and department stores. They came in a box like a box of playing cards. This set was available only at Eckerd Drug Stores. I found a complete boxed set at a card store in 2009 for 2 bucks.

1987 Boardwalk and Baseball #1 Mike Schmidt

These cards were produced for the opening of an amusement park in Florida called “Boardwalk and Baseball” as a 33-card boxed set. I got this one in a trade with a fellow blogger, Cardboard Junkie.

1987 Woolworth #8 Mike Schmidt

Like Fleer, Topps also produced small boxed sets (these had 33 cards) available in retail outfits. This card also came from Cardboard Junkie. And finally,

1987 M&M's #3 Mike Schmidt

You've probably noticed that some of these cards don't have logos. That's because they didn't have a license from Major League Baseball. This card was produced by Mike Schectner Associates (MSA) who produced many such sets in the 1980s and 1990s. I got this in my 2010 Summer Clearance Trade.




Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 Topps Archives Father and Son

I bought a blaster and a couple of loose packs of Topps Archives. I pulled 3 of the Father-Son cards.  And I like all three of them.

First off we have the Griffeys, Ken and Ken Jr.

I believe that there are several cards featuring Ken and Ken Jr. This is one of the earlier ones that I have.


Then there are the Boones, Bob and Bret.

These cards are based on a subset from 1985 Topps. But that wasn't the only year that Topps produced father-son cards. I have this card from 1976 featuring Bob and his dad Ray.


I'm also happy to have then 1978 Bob Boon card used in the Topps Archives card.



Finally there are the Franconas, Tito and Terry.

I have this card from the 1985 set.

Tito played for a lot of different teams in his 15 years in the majors (1956-1970), touching down with the Phillies for 27 games in 1967, just long enough to appear in the 1967 Topps set as a Phillie,

Terry was the manager of the Phillies in 1997-2000.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Movie Review - X-Men: Apocalypse

This movie is about Egyptians; crumbling pyramids; people running in panic; a guy who shoots red destruction-beams from his eyes; a guy, with a long pointed tail, who can disappear in a puff of smoke; a woman who is sometimes normal looking, sometimes naked and blue with scales and sometimes blue with scales but wearing a flight suit; another woman who can shoot lightening bolts from her fingers; an ancient guy (who is apparently Apocalypse) who can do anything he wants but wants more power and also wants to destroy the world so that whoever survives can worship him; another guy who hangs in the air while spectacular special effects whirl around him; and how Professor Xavier loses his hair. Whew.

This is the third movie in the second series of X-Men movies. As one of the characters (Jean Gray played by Sansa Stark from "Game of Thrones") says, "The third movie of a franchise is always the worst".

Oh, and Wolverine makes a brief appearance, having apparently been captured by the US military. After being rescued by Jean Gray, Cyclops (who, by the way, actually has two eyes) and Night Crawler (the guy with the pointed tail) runs off into the woods without saying a word. I guess this was to remind you of the character since Fox is planning a new Wolverine movie.

Would it be a spoiler if I told you that Apocalypse is defeated?  The last time he was beaten it was by Egyptians with spears. This time he's up against The Beast, Cyclops, Dr. Xavier, Jean Gray (why doesn't she have a snappy superhero name?), Night Crawler,  Quicksilver, and other oddly named and powerful young adults. And good always trumps evil.

The movie is also about the seemingly endless conflict between Dr. Xavier and Magneto. I don't know if I can stand hearing the doc comment another time on his knowing that Magneto has some good in him. If it wasn't clear in the other 5 movies, it's apparent now that Magneto has no good in him. Just moments when he thinks to himself, "OK, I guess this is a bit much, even for me". In this movie, Magneto is directly responsible for vast destruction around the world and the probable death of millions of people. Is there any coming back from that? Apparently because cock-eyed optimist Dr. Xavier once again says "I knew that there was some good in you".

We've seen just about every other Marvel movie so we figured we had to see this one as well. There was some good points (some humor and Olivia Munn's costume) and of, course, the special effects were spectacular (but that's expected nowadays), but I would rank this pretty far down in the list of my favorite Marvel movies.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Club - May 2015 Reading List

Only 6 books read this month. I'm never gonna make that 100-books read in 2016 goal.  Dang. Anyway, some interesting stuff this month.

This was a free Kindle book I got through BookBub.com. It was OK. There's a project going on in deep space to cause a star to explode. I'm not clear on the stated purpose of the project but the secret purpose is to open a gateway, for the those supporting the project, to new star systems for colonization. But the chief of the project, the only guy who really understands how it's supposed to work, has been kidnapped by another star power, which opposes the project, and injected with nanobots which will make him destroy the project. Oh, and the star is sentient. Lots of science fiction concepts thrown in here. It is apparently the first book of a series. It was entertaining but not enough to make me want to read any more in the series.

I like Neal Stephenson but had put off reading this for a few years, mainly due to the length. But I decided to tackle it (another reason I'm not going to reach 100 books is that I keep picking up books that have 800 plus pages like this one). The title is pronounced Seven Eves which took me awhile to figure out. I liked the premise. All of a sudden, for reasons nobody figures out, the moon explodes. At first it's a novelty, the seven pieces of the moon orbiting together (an early, but false, idea of what the title meant). But after some calculations, smart people figure that within a year or two, the pieces would grind down and start to rain down on the earth, turning the surface of the planet into molten slag and killing everyone. So countries band together to expand the ancient International Space Station, so it can support a population large enough to ensure that mankind can recolonize the earth when it cools down in 5,000 years. The book was part human interest story, part graduate course in orbital mechanics and part management principles. The human interest part was pretty good, but the other stuff, perhaps as much as 2/3 of the 837 pages, was pretty dry.

I'm not a big reader of celebrity autobiographies (even though I read Dick Van Dykes' last month). I saw this in my library bookstore and remembered seeing Short plugging the book on a late night talk show. I think Short is a pretty funny guy but he can be hard to take sometimes. His act consists of a stable of characters he really gets into with costumes and make-up. Some of his characters I don't like much. I enjoyed the book. it was very inside-Hollywood. He's about my age so, even though he's Canadian, he and I share a lot of common influences. In my 20's my crowd was very into the first couple of iterations of "Saturday Night Live". Short was a bit late to that crowd but he, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroid, John Belushi, etc. all worked together on various project that I mostly liked. So it was interesting to see how that whole scene evolved.

 This book takes place on a small island off the coast of Washington state. It's 1954 and a local fisherman has been found dead, drowned and caught in his own fishing net at sea. But he'd also been hit in the head hard enough to crush is skull. Suspicion falls on a local American-born Japanese fisherman, who gets arrested for the murder. The novel uses the trial as a device to tell the various stories of the people involved and the complicated interactions between them over the past 20-30 years. This includes the WWII interment of the Japanese, who had been living on the island for over 50 years; the experiences of islanders in the war; the fragile economy of the island, depending on strawberry farming and fishing; and a relationship between a teenage Japanese girl and a teenage white boy from before the war. There was a 1995 movie made from the book which I haven't been able to find. I highly recommend this book.

This is the first, excellent novel, of a long series about private detective Elvis Cole and his mysterious partner Joe Pike. Good hard-boiled detective fiction if you like that sort of thing. I had read the latest book in the series and liked it. Amazon reviewers didn't think it was Crais' best work but I enjoyed it enough to start the series from the beginning.

I'm kinda of addicted to Jack Reacher books, even though that pretty much read the same. The slight difference is plot and the situations Reacher gets into just keep me coming back for more. But Jack may be ready to settle down. He suffers a concussion early in the book when a guy hits him in the head harder than he remembered ever being hit. He refuses to accept that he's been damaged in any way, putting himself and the people he's trying to help in danger. At the end of the book he acknowledges his error and agrees to hang around awhile with the inevitable female attraction. By the way, the bad guys in this are probably the nastiest bad guys Lee Child has ever come up with.

Monday, May 16, 2016

My 98,000th trading card

I got my 97,000 card in February.  Another 1,000 down.  I'm calling this my 98,000th trading card but I would guess that more than 95% of them are baseball cards.

I'm currently working on the blaster and 2 Bowman value packs I bought last week. I give you Edwin Encarnacion, Bowman #93.





Look at all those empty seats. This is the 53rd 2016 Bowman card I've handled. I don't like the backs any better than I did on the first card.

Honestly, I'm trying to buy fewer cards this year so this may be the last bragging post in awhile.



Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Bowman - First Look

Blogging has been sporadic and will probably remain so for awhile. But I got some 2016 Bowman and had to spout off.

As usual, Bowman is split between 150 base cards and 150 Prospect cards. Each pack also contains 2-3 Chrome Prospect cards and the occasional insert. This will be a tough set to complete by buying packs. Out of a 10-card pack, at most 5 cards will be base cards.

Here's what they look like.

The card fronts are pretty nice. They are very similar to last year's cards but easier to read. 2016 Topps went to minimum foil; Bowman went with no foil. The player name, team logo and player position all are easy to see. The logo background is in a team color. Why they chose blue (a very minor part of the Phillies uni) for the logo background is beyond me. There is a blue parallel but I don't think that's what this is. The card is a bit busier than I like. For example, all that construction on the top and upper right corner could be done away with, in my opinion.

The black strip on the bottom, between the team logo and player position has the team name spelled out. It's almost completely unreadable.

I like the fronts but the backs are a hot mess. Let's list the problems: 1) the color contrast of the card number against the background, combined with the small font makes the card number very difficult to read on most cards; 2) All of the type fonts are too small, the bio info, in particular, is impossible. Why go through the trouble of writing stuff and then make is so hard to read; 3) The diagonal lines make the back hard to look at, it's hard to find the player name, team, position, etc., because your eyes are pulled away to the upper right and all the information is in the upper left. Did Topps pick up some 1980's Donruss designers?

The background colors are in the team colors and a nice pastel version of the colors, the only thing about the back that is acceptable.

I bought a couple of value packs which come with some yellow parallel cards. I've got 6 of them and they're all prospect cards. I can kill two birds here and show you a parallel card and a Prospect card. And an Astros card as well.

I think I like the Prospect card design more than the base cards but still too busy. I like the name at the bottom rather than on the side. You can see by looking at this why I think that Franco cards isn't a blue parallel. Not enough blue in it.

The backs are the same as the base cards, not worth showing another one.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Panini Diamond Kings - the extras

I featured the base cards of 2016 Panini Diamond Kings yesterday. Today I'm going to cover the inserts and parallels.

Before I start, let me note, that there are over 100 different parallel, inserts, and parallel to inserts, relics and auto cards in this set. Good luck.

There was a different insert or parallel in each of the seven packs from the blaster I bought. Here's a red framed parallel.

The early 2000's Diamond King sets were known for these, and I think those were among the first cards to use frames. I've always liked the concept. According to baseballcardpedia.com, these red framed cards are supposed to be numbered to 99. Mine isn't numbered at all.





I'm getting a bit tired of mini cards but the design of the front is outstanding. I would absolutely love this set if the full-sized base cards looked like this.

Of the ton of inserts, there are only five which do not involve some sort of relic, auto, or serial number. I got one of each. The base set does not have any foil but all of these do, but it's pretty low key.




Aficionado was a weird one-off set that Pinnacle (now owned by Panini) produced in the mid-1990s. This card has nothing in common with that set except the name. I like the front and, in fact, I'd have liked this to have been the design for the base cards. The backs are nearly the same as the base with a rectangular frame instead of an oval one.




 This is a pretty unattractive card with more microscopic text on the back.




Perez attempts to put out a stadium fire with a Gatorade bucket. Is this card supposed to be in the style of expressionism? I'm not an art critic and the Wikipedia article, while interesting, didn't help. Maybe it's just meant to display the player's expressions? It is certainly colorful.




 Another not very attractive card.




Another insert that I'd rather have been the base set.

Did you notice that I got card number 12 from each of these inserts?