Sunday, August 31, 2014

Song of the Week - Invitation to the Blues by Tom Waits

I may have featured this song before but, if so, here it is again. It's one of my favorite Waits songs.

Like all the best of Waits' songs, this one tells a story. I like that the video includes the lyrics as Waits can be hard to decipher (especially live) sometimes. Part of his booze-soaked, cigarette burned personality, I suppose.

This song tells the story of a two-bit drifter waiting for a bus in a small town greasy-spoon. While having his coffee he falls in love with the waitress. Or actually he falls in love with the idea of the waitress. She's lovely from her "conk down to her shoes" and he makes up a whole background story for her where she leaves her sugar-daddy husband in Jersey with just her "registration and her shoes". The story is so compelling he decides to stay in town, get a job at the local filling station, and accept her "invitation to the blues". "What the hell do I have to lose"? he muses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Upper Deck Goodwin Champions through the years

Since Upper Deck keeps running out this set (now in it's 5th year) someone other than me must be buying it. I thought I'd do a year-by-year comparison. I'm only going to show a baseball player from each of the sets.

Goodwin Champions was a highly anticipated set in 2009 and it lived up to it's expectations. Upper Deck still had its baseball license. This Bench card is great but really, it was one great card after another.


As near as I can tell, Goodwin Champions was not published in 2010.

After not seeing it in 2010, I never expected to see Goodwin Champions again, but it made a reappearance in 2011. Without a license, Upper Deck was reduced to showing the baseball players in mufti. Still the design was pretty good, if a bit more ornate, and the paintings were pretty good. This is not the best card in the set but I wanted to show it in contrast to the 2009 Bench. Some suit, eh?

The set starts to go downhill in 2012. The paintings aren't as good. The black borders are unattractive and they went from gray card stock to brown, which made the backs harder to read. And I think there fewer baseball players in 2012, which are the cards I'm mostly interested in.

Some improvement in 2013. The paintings aren't any better but the white border is a big improvement in the front design. The proportion of baseball players seems about the same as 2012. And most of the baseball players are doing something related to baseball, like holding a bat. Last year the were all in civilian clothes. The heavy use of black on the back seems to be the start of a trend I don't like.

I won't repeat what I said about what I don't like about this year's set but I'll make three new observations. First, I think the paintings have gotten worse. Does this look like Robin Ventura to you?
Second, I think the proportion of baseball players has gone down. There are way too many hockey players in this year's set. And third, I did not pull a single woman athlete or famous person. The past year's sets always had a good selection of woman. What happened to that?

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions

As far as I'm concerned, the baseball card collecting season is near it's end. I expect to grab a few packs of Topps and Bowman Chrome. In October, Topps is supposed to release another chance at Stadium Club. does not show Topps Update anytime this fall. Maybe that's an oversight.

With that preface, here is 2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions. Like Topps Allen & Ginter or Panini Golden Age, it isn't really a baseball card issue. But I buy some every year because it's fun and I like it. I'm not real fond of the design this year. In particalar I don't like the white text on black featured on the back. That works pretty well on white card stock but not so well of brown card stock. The 'wood-paneled' fronts are a bit too dark for my taste.

Except for several flavors of mini cards, there aren't many inserts in the set which aren't either relic cards or autographed cards. Since I only bought a couple of blasters, I didn't expect to see any of those.

#1 Frank Thomas
You can't go wrong starting the set off with 2014 Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Frank was in last year's set also wearing a black shirt with the 'Big Hurt' logo.  See what I mean about the back? Pretty hard to read.

#11 Peyton Manning
You got your football players. Manning is featured with his college team, the Tennessee Volunteers.

#12 Bobby Hull
You got your toothless hockey players. There are a lot of hockey players this year. A mix of Hall of Fame players and newer players.

#40 Elvin Hayes
You got your basketball players. As with the baseball and hockey cards, none of the players are in a recognizable uniform and there are absolutely no logos. Upper Deck has learned their lesson.

#72 Glenn Anderson
 A lot of the hockey players are featured in suits, for some reason.

#81 Bo Jackson

Goodwin Champions hasn't shown Jackson as a baseball player since 2009, before they lost their license.

#98 Kevin Martin
You got your curlers. According to Wikipedia, Martin has been described as the "greatest curler of all time".

#100 Tiger Woods

You got your golfers.

#111 Bobby Clarke
I stopped following hockey in 1980 but was an avid fan of the Philadelphia Flyers all through the 1970s. So it was nice to see one of my Flyer favs, Bobby Clarke in the set. Another great player from that Flyers era, Bill Barber is also in the set (and in my possession).

#163 Pancho Villa
And you got your Mexican revolutionaries. There seem to be a lot less non-sports cards in this year's set. Cards 130-180 are supposed to be short prints. There doesn't seem to be anything to distinguish them from the other cards except that most of them seem a little darker.

#195 Joc Pederson
Cards 181-200 of the set are on-card autos. I was pretty surprised to pull this from a blaster. I didn't know anything about this kid but he's apparently a prized prospect in the Dodgers system. He has 31 home runs and is hitting .300 for Albuquerque this season and is sure to be called up in September.

Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Goudey

Beside the mini cards, the only inserts I pulled were from the 52-card Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Goudey set. I pulled 3 of these. Remember the weird 2009 Upper Deck Goudey set?  Two of the inserts didn't look to bad but the other has the 2009 vibe.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Song of the Week - Golden Twin by Wild Ones

I got this song from a Minnesota Public Radio podcast. I don't know anything about them. Wikipedia has nothing. They do have a Facebook page,, which tells me they are from Portland OR and this is their first album, apparently made under trying conditions.

I like the song, it's catchy and I love the lead singer, Danielle Sullivan's voice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baseball Players Blowing Gum Bubbles

Chewing tobacco seems to be fading from the baseball scene. It's a nasty habit that can lead to mouth cancer. But what are the players to do while waiting around in the dugout? How about chewing gum instead?

2005 Flair #26 Chipper Jones
Chipper relaxes in the on-deck circle with his favorite chew.

1998 Pinnacle Inside #26 Jeff Bagwell
Come on, Jeff, is that the best you can do?

2000 Ultra #41 Billy Wagner
Billy was always an intense competitor as can be seen here.

1992 Upper Deck #620 Bill Swift
Bill looks so sad here, like the chewing gum is the only thing holding him together.

2009 Topps #497 Cling Hurdle
Clint thoughtfully blows a bubble while trying to decide when he should pull the pitcher.

1989 Upper Deck #742 Steve Finley
All good bubbles come to an end. Steve is glad he didn't get that stuck on his bat.

1992 Upper Deck #772 Archi Cianfrocco
Rookies blow bubbles while riding the bench waiting for their chance to show what they can do.

1992 O-Pee-Chee Premier #146
Baseball, eye black and gum bubbles.

1998 Upper Deck #17 Eric Davis
Even grizzled veterans blow.

1994 Stadium Club #535 Cecil Fielder
The biggest bubble of the set. It looks larger than a baseball.

1993 Upper Deck #55 Mariners
There's one in every group.

1995 Pinnacle #128 Ken Griffey Jr.
Saving the best for last. Junior could do most things better than everyone else.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Panini Golden Age inserts

OK, this is my fifth post on 2014 Panini Golden Age. I promise this is the last.

Panini Golden Age '13 National Game
I pulled two of these. I was puzzled by the set as neither of the players I pulled played in either 1913 or 2013. After poking around on Goggle I found that these are based on a 54-card set issued in, you guessed it, 1913.

Panini Golden Age Fan Craze
This is based on yet another old set, a 54-card set from 1906.

Panini Golden Age Headlines

Panini Golden Age Historic Signatures
There were supposed to be 2 hits in the box. This is one of them. I don't know much about basketball, but Gervin is an Hall of Fame player from the late 1970s and early 1980s who played most of his 14-year career with the Spurs.

Panini Golden Age Museum Age Memorabilia
This is the other hit. I know less about boxing than I do about basketball. Spinks is an Olympic gold medalist and former light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion. I see both this and the Gervin card being offered for about $8 on eBay.

Panini Golden Age Newsmakers
Two FDR cards in the box.

Panini Golden Age Star Stamps
There are four stamps on the card.

Monday, August 18, 2014

2014 Panini Mini Cards

Just like Topps Allen & Ginter and Upper Deck's Goodwin Champions, Panini Golden Age has mini cards. The front of the cards looks just like the regular cards. The back features some product, like cigarettes. Instead of just showing them to you, I thought I'd see if these are based on actual cards from the past.  It turns out they are.

Panini Golden Age Mini Croft's Swiss Milk Cocoa
A Google image search turned up this:

The web site said these were issued in 1909 and were attached to bottles of the product.

Panini Golden Age Mini Hindu Brown Back
These also come in a red variant. I got several of each.

These are from the 1909-1911 T206 series of cards. In red and brown! Cork tipped cigarettes. Seems like they'd be hard to smoke.

Panini Golden Age Mini Mono Brand Blue Back
These also come in Green.

The Mono Brand cards are from the 1911 T227 set. I like the combination "Leading Actresses and Base Ball Players".  Goggle didn't turn up any green backs. Two different sources said this was a 25-card set featuring players from the Pacific Coast League. I'm not sure how you get 200 portraits on 25 cards.

Panini Golden Age Mini Smith's Mello-Mint

I only pulled one of these.
This is a 50-card set from 1910 designated E105. They came in a pack of gum.

Well, that was fun.