Thursday, December 31, 2020

Top Pulls of 2020: Honorable Mention

 Man, did we collectors who are in it for the love of cards have to be selective or what, this year?!  "Deliberate" was the name of the game when opening product in 2020.  Decisions had to be made, and they had to be wise.  So much has been written about the card (mark) explosion that I can't really add any insight on the situation.  Don't worry, things will change once people can spend their money on other things.  I still contend that when people are able to go to concerts and music festivals featuring artists who aren't complete asshats, the bubble will burst.  Luckily, I was able to make some card purchases pre-pandemic, when prices for wax were reasonable.  

It was a hard decision to select my top five this year, as there were a good number of very good cards, but few were transcendent.  Let's check out the ones that fell just short of making the cut.

Cards: 2018 Topps WWE Then Now Forever #178 Shinsuke Nakamura AUTO (12/99) and #162 Ricochet AUTO (69/99)

From: Hobby Boxes

 In a different year, these might have made the list, but unfortunately WWE has been bungling their treatment of two guys who should be can't miss superstars.  The amount of talent on these two card is staggering, but Nakamura is stuck in a "Tell 'em Steve-Dave" role in his tag team with Cesaro, and Ricochet is on Raw, which I don't really watch anymore.  I hear he was part of the Hurt Business storyline, but kind of got shoved aside once they got over.  What a waste.  These should be much higher, as these are the first autos I have of either guy.  Let's chalk it up to the no-audience struggles WWE has been having, and have high hopes that they get better pushes in 2021.

Card: 2018 Topps WWE Legends #A-JS Jake "The Snake" Roberts AUTO Silver Parallel (47/50)
From: Hobby Box
While I already pulled a Jake auto as part of last year's mind-blowing box, another one I opened in January had a better card in it, but not as good of a supporting cast.  This signature is on-card and, more importantly, contains his nickname.  We're living in a world where the WWE is not, creatively, at least, the top wrestling company, and where I saw Jake live on my television as recently as last night.  AEW is truly spoiling us.  It was really hard not to have this one in the top five proper, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Stay tuned for more great pulls coming soon!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Pre-Opened Packs #3: 1990-91 NHL Hockey

I've probably opened no more than a single pack of hockey cards in my life, and since I'm technically not opening it, that statistic remains the same.  Let's tear in.
184 Tony Hrkac
This guy I know from his time on the Admirals.  He was our best player for a few years in the mid-'90s, and then returned just in time to help Milwaukee to the 2003-04 AHL Championship.
14 Kevin Stevens
191 Jeff Brown
25 John Byce
Interesting Star Rookie logo, focused on goalies.
44 Mark Messier
Best card in the pack, easily.
251 Tomas Sandstrom
295 Curtis Leschyshyn
106 Shawn Chambers
Look at all that beautiful green on the ice. Too bad the NHL will never produce such an aesthetically pleasing image again.
361 Drake Berehowsky
Never heard of this guy, and the Toronto sweater doesn't fill me confidence.  Let me check on this.
Okay, looks like a had a pretty long career, and is now coaching for Orlando in the ECHL.  At least I got to learn that the most unfortunately-named team in pro sports might be the Florida Everblades

245 Eric Weinrich
369 Gord Dineen
372 Brian MacLellan
And we close with a Calgary Flame.  Why not, eh?

One added pack bonus, there's a Longs Drugs sticker on the back.  It appears that most of these stores were bought out by CVS in 2008, but there are still some originals around.  A west coast operation, I have never been to one.  Holla in the comments if you can speak to the quality of Longs Drugs.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Pre-Opened Packs #1 (and #2) 1991 Pro Set Yo! MTV Raps (and ???)

If you follow me on Twitter (@THORZUL), you may have seen some of the fallout from the Large Flat Rate USPS box of cards that I bought back in November.  I have already just about tripled my money on the box after selling a hard-to-find Pat Tabler card.  He of blonde mullet was not the only treasure to be found inside, as the seller also included several random packs of cards, all of which have already been opened.  None of the packs are likely to have some high-dollar card inside, so any cherry picking can be forgiven.  I'll be treating them as new packs, "opening" and sharing them here, and hopefully we can uncover something fun.
First pack, 1991 Pro Set Yo! MTV Raps:
 99 Young MC
Not a bad start.  "Bust a Move" was a middle school classic, and I'm not even going to search to find what he's done since then. 
144 Vanilla Ice
Wait a minute.  Vanilla Ice is (technically) a rapper, but this card is from a different set, 1991 Pro Set MusiCards Super Stars.  What's going on here?
More MusiCards, #140 Luther Vandross, #113 Boogie Down Productions, #99 Tina Turner
Looks like someone played the ol' switcheroo.  I need to be careful with these packs moving forward.
134 Run-D.M.C., 109 Bell Biv Devoe, 2 Eric Clapton
 First stinker in the pack with Clapton, whose crap views became well known earlier this year.
4 Bell Biv Devoe, 16 Bob Marley
These two round out the pack, bringing the total to two Yo! cards, and eight MusiCards.
Kind of a strange situation, but understandable.  

Luckily, there is also an opened pack of MusiCards, so let's see if we can find our missing rappers.
13 De La Soul, 26 EPMD, 89 Vanilla Ice, 88 Vanilla Ice, 86 Vanilla Ice
As expected, these are all Yo! MTV Raps cards, not MusiCards.  Pro Set was really putting all of their eggs in one basket with Mr. Van Winkle.  At least I got a card of maybe my third favorite hip-hop group of all time, De La Soul.
75 Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud, 76 Ted Demme, 10 Boogie Down Productions, 65 Public Enemy, 57 M.C. Hammer
Ted Demme (as producer of the MTV show) is an unusual choice, but gets a (shortened) lifetime pass for Beautiful Girls.  Also good to see Flav peeking in, and more KRS-One.

So, it looks like that makes twelve total Raps cards to the eight MusiCards.  There's one more Yo! pack in the pile, which I'll save for another time.  If the pack hold to form, we will find the two missing Super Stars to go along with eight more Yo! cards, but I'm not really expecting everything to even out.  We'll find out in another post.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 24

December 24, 2020:
1970 Topps #365 Zoilo Versalles
With a new year just around the corner, maybe we all have a thing or two we could learn from Zoilo here.  He looks a bit unsure, and definitely has his guard up.  Try to hover somewhere between healthily skeptical and cautiously optimistic.  We do not know what the future has in store for us, but all of us who have made it this far have proven that we can handle anything.
My advice: Give yourself one thing per day to look forward to.  
Just keep plugging along, you are doing a great job.

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happiness in whatever holiday you choose to celebrate.  I also want to give a special thanks to @porterman20 for retweeting darn near every post this Card-vent, and to Fuji, who left a comment on darn near every Card-vent post.  It really means a lot to me.

Keep your eyes on this space.  The plan is to keep going strong through the end of December with a new feature called "Pre-Opened Packs," and once the calendar changes you'll get to see the top pulls of the year.  Maybe one of them won't be a wrestling card.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 23

December 23, 2020:
1995 Flair Marvel Annual #35 Legacy Virus

The X-Men constitute a significant blind spot in my comic book knowledge, but I do know this: Donald Trump's legacy will always and forever be his phantasmagorically inept handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.  History will inevitably bind his name to this 21st-century plague, and it will eventually carry his name, his brand.  It became apparent on November 8, 2016 that he wanted no part of the job of President, he just wanted to win a contest.  A contest that was on television.  And because of this, untold thousands of more deaths occurred, and will continue to occur, in this country.
History will reveal.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 22

December 22, 2020:
2008-09 Topps #166 John Stockton 1958-59 Variation
The 2020-21 basketball season is upon us, guys.  Games started tonight.  Nets beat the Warriors, and it looks like the Clippers are going to come out on top against the Lakers.  Whatever.
Just LOOK AT HIM on this card.  Awesome warm-up, classic logo, and just a hint of the sexy chest peeking out.  That's what basketball is all about: Showing off parts of our bodies that we are uncomfortable with.   As for me, I always rocked it Georgetown-style, T-shirt under the jersey.  We Corpus Christi Cougars were never far from the middle of the pack, but we looked good doing it.  Covering up is what makes an unself-conscious, though less-successful basketball team.

Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 21

December 21, 2020:
1992 CMA Country Gold #34 Willie Nelson
I get the feeling that we're all collectively afraid to exhale before making it to the end of 2020 and crossing a few days of 2021 off the calendar.  The popular conceit at the moment is that next year couldn't possibly be worse than this one, but could it be that some of us are headed toward the new year with too much confidence?  I mean, last night I watched a commercial during a WWE show that had wrestlers beating up a cartoon, anthropomorphized 2020.  Might it be somewhat haughty to depict Roman Reigns Superman punching, Seth Rollins curb stomping, and Nia Jax body slamming an oozing, fart-stinking 2020 onto a garbage can?  It feels like we might be tempting the gods of 2021 for behaving in such a fashion.

What I propose is this.  Let us not overplay our hand.  Let's get a couple of weeks into 2021, and if no national tragedies (aside from the ongoing one) occur, then we can breath our sigh of relief.  I'm calling it the Willie Nelson Doctrine.  If you groggily wake up on January first to the news that Willie Nelson has passed away unexpectedly in the wee hours, we're all fucked.  However, every day that Willie makes it gives us a three percent rise in the probability that the upcoming year will be a vast improvement.  This gives us about three months to gauge our status as a human race.  You may have a really bad day in late April, things may feel like they're crashing down around you, but you can take comfort in the fact that Willie Nelson is alive and kicking.  Let Willie be the barometer of our species.  To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, "A world with Willie Nelson is a fine place, and worth fighting for."

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 20

December 20, 2020:
1993 Pacific NPSL #90 Dan Stebbins
Dan Stebbins and I attended the same high school in Milwaukee, but not at the same time.  We played the same sport, and we were once captains of the same team, me in 1996 and Stebbins about ten years before that.  He actually took his squad to the state championship playoff one year, a monumental achievement for an inner-city Milwaukee school.
If you're a soccer fan, you'd probably have to live in Milwaukee to have heard of him, but there may be some in the Miami area who remember Dan.  He played for a number of teams in this area, including the indoor Wave, and the outdoor Rampage, whom he helped to an A-League championship in 1997.  The year after that he got a nice long look in MLS with the expansion Miami Fusion.  He scored six goals that year, but was released after the season ended.  The Fusion, too, were not long for the league, getting contracted immediately after their 2001 Supporters' Shield-winning campaign.  Miami would not see another top-flight team until this past MLS season, with Inter Miami CF making their debut.
He may not be a household name, but I think it's pretty cool to have once captained the same team as a professional athlete.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 19

 December 19, 2020:
1989 Pro Set #334 Niko Noga

Well, we made it to the point in December when we start playing Saturday NFL games.  Allow me a moment to connect the card above to the late-'80s toy phenomenon known as Micro Machines.
I had a friend around the time this set was released who had a pretty sizable Micro Machines collection.  I myself was never much into them; I probably only had one four-pack of Indy cars and that was more than enough.  But this kid had all kinds of stuff, including a slew of those little playsets that were interconnectable.  If I remember correctly, these were little squares about 6 inches on each side, and each one was a different part of a community.  You could connect the car wash to the dump to the parking garage and so on.  My friend must have had at least twenty of these, all assembled together to make an entire city.  When I would go to his house, we would play pretty much nothing but sports, but those things were always there in his bedroom.
Anyway, one day at school he starts talking about something, and somehow brings up that there's a little spider making his home in the Micro Machines village.  Probably a daddy longlegs, I'm guessing.  But here's the kicker: He named the spider.  Better than that, he named it Niko.  After Niko Noga.  I don't know what made him do this, but it was likely connected to collecting cards and seeing this guy with the funny name.  I do know that Noga also had a sticker in the 1989 Panini album, which a bunch of the guys in my class were also collecting.
So, we salute you, Niko Noka, wherever you are.  I hope you were able to become an underwater welder after your football career was over, like it says you wanted to do on the back of this card.  If not, maybe you could try to go for a run in the WWE as part of a Roman Reigns storyline.

Friday, December 18, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 18

December 18, 2020:
1991 Brockum RockCards #42 Angus Young
Biggest balls of them all, indeed.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 17

December 17, 2020:
1981 Donruss #201 Rick Waits
Rick Waits.

Rick Waits for you down in the basement.
Rick Waits for you under your bed.

Rick Waits for you just when you've let down your guard.

Rick Waits 'hind your favorite sled.
Rick Waits for you out in the workshop.

Rick Waits for you by the old oak.

Rick Waits and he thinks about what he might do.

Rick Waits while you're out for a smoke.
Rick Waits for you in the gazebo.

Rick Waits for you down by the dock.

Rick Waits where you might never ever suspect him.

Oh my goodness, he's holding his-!

Rick Waits.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 16

 December 16, 2020:
2005 Inkworks Alias #P1 Season 4 Promo Card

The list will be embarrassingly long once all is said and done, but boy, did I lean in hard to watching TV this year.  My movie watching output was equal to that of a standard year, but once Coronavirus hit, I was Captain Television.  Most of what I watched was whatever was available on Amazon Prime.  I have access to most of the major streaming services, minus HBO, but for whatever reason, Amazon is my fallback option.  I watch the stupidest shit on there.  You say there's a show that was originally just YouTube clips that a middle-aged British guy made to document his navigation of a narrowboat through the canals of the English countryside?  Sign me up!  Or how about a middling police procedural set in Melbourne, Australia?  Let's go!  Two thirty-ish Latino dudes go to flea markets and try to acquire Mario lunchboxes and Sega Master System games and shit?  Hook it up to my veins!
The one show I may have leaned into the hardest, though, was ABC's Alias.  I had watched the first season a couple of years ago, and being home with nothing to do this spring was the perfect impetus to jump back into the series.  Over time, I acquired the rest of the DVD sets (all five seasons), and made my way through seasons 2-4.  In the middle of my binge, Amazon actually acquired the rights to stream Alias on Prime, but I stuck with the discs.  Season 5 may have to wait until Christmas Break, but I look forward to a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 15

 December 15, 2020:
1993 Topps #617 Craig Lefferts
Man, I don't know.  I don't think I've ever seen a guy on a card looking like he's this eager to tell you about his model train set-up.  
Don't make eye contact, and if you do, don't accept his invite.  You'd learn more about Lionel in those four hours than any normal man could bear.  Careful.

Monday, December 14, 2020

2020 Card-vent Calendar: December 14

 December 14, 2020:
1975 Topps Good Times #4
This card has a lot of fresh ideas on it that today's card companies could learn from:
-Mild cursing
-Speech balloons
-People getting put in their place
-John Amos's majestic sides
Seriously, though, wouldn't it be fun to be able to collect a sports card set that makes light of the conflict that exists on the playing field?  Call it Topps Trash Talk, a 180-card multi-sport set where each card has a funny cartoon version of an on-field controversy from the previous season.  Picture it: 
-LeBron stepping over Draymond during the 2016 Finals - "How do these nuts taste?"
-Kawhi's buzzer-beater against the Sixers - "I called four bounces. HORSE!"
-2012 NL Wild Card Braves/Cardinals Infield Fly Botch - "What the FUCK?!?!?!?!"
The list could go on and on.  I mean, yeah, each year 10% of the cards in each set would be making fun of Kirk Cousins, but we have to go in expecting that.  Sign me up to oversee this project, Topps/Panini/Whoever.

Trade Me Anything XIV: #6

 A particularly weighty package arrived from David in San Diego, so I'm figuring there's some new reading material on the way.  To the library!

#U-242 Ty France
#CPC-43 1985 Topps 35th Anniversary Chrome Trent Grisham

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (2001)
Books like these remind me of my uncle Bob who died a couple of years ago.  He had shelves full of sports books like these.  My cousin and I would take one off the shelf and ask him a random fact from it:
"Who led the American League in RBIs in 1943?"
"Rudy York."
Stuff like that.  Books like these were the Internet before the Internet.
1988 Fleer Brewers Lot

Some new Brewers cards
Always nice to have a new one for the Braun binder.

The Book Catapult Bookmark

Seed Packets - Black Beauty Eggplant and Georgia Collards
I will have to check the guides to see if the inhospitable Wisconsin climate will allow for these to grow.
Odell Brewing Co. Coaster
My next-door neighbor works for a few different breweries, and I think this may be one of them.  I know he does work for Cigar City (Tampa) and Boulder Beer (Colo.)  I will give Odell a try next time I see it.

Miljenko "Mike" Grgich Pin
This is one of the strangest items I've ever received here.  Grgich is still alive and kicking, making wine in northern California.  Here's to hoping he makes it until April 1, 2023 to celebrate his 100th.

Thanks for the stuff, David, and enjoy your cards!