Thursday, March 26, 2015

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Tim from I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning)

Welcome back to one of the final entries in my ongoing Better Know a Blogger theme week!  In fact, I believe this is the final entry in the series besides my own answers.  If anyone wants to jump in at the last moment - or if your entry entry was somehow skipped/missed by me - let me know ASAP!  For now though, let's get to know another fellow blogger!

1. Your name (or alias):  Tim B.
2. Your blog website:  I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way? 
I've been a bit of everything during my collecting years(set collector, team/player collector, in-person autograph seeker, rookie/prospect collector, etc). These days though, I'd say that I am mostly a team(s) collector(Yankees, select Rays and Nationals, and Broncos) but I mix in cards dealing with season highlights/playoffs/baseball history. I think this style of collecting suits me best because it maximizes my enjoyment and helps me stay within a reasonable budget.

4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you? 
Well, Topps took a small step with 2015 series 1 by reintroducing the team cards that had been missing for the past few years. I'd like to see them bring back true Season Highlights cards. Instead of making these into checklit cards with a caption describing an event, I'd like to see a devoted card with a more detailed description on the back. As for Panini, I'd love to see them get a full license(I know this is not their decision to make) so I don't have to pick and choose cards that don't look terrible to me without the logos. Much like many others, I'd like to see a drastic reduction in the numbers/types of parallels(hopefully Topps' reduction in series 1 will continue).

5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc. 
I'd have to say the favorite part of my collection is the run of late '90's-early 2000's Topps/Topps Chrome(inc. refractors) Yankees Playoff/World Series Highlights subsets. For at least '99, '00, and '01 I have(am searching for) all of the Yankees highlight cards in base, Chrome, refractor, and in some cases Limited/Employee/HTA versions. I guess it's the early version of collecting the rainbow. It's been a lot of fun hunting them down, and I'm almost done(I think).

6. Most of us have a favorite song that we like for no good reason – heck, it might even be embarrassing.  Do you have a favorite baseball card that might fit that bill?  
The closest thing to a guilty pleasures card that I have is probably the 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco RR. I loved the Bash Brothers when I was growing up and even with all that has happened to Canseco's reputation/popularity I stilll love looking at that horribly awkward rookie card. I mean, he's got a caterpillar crawling on his upper lip, how is that not entertaining?

7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep? 
It's hard to choose. I think it would be a toss-up between my 1962 Topps Roger Maris or my 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente RC. There are interesting stories as to how they came to my collection(both are planned future blog posts). I'd have to say it would be one or the other because of significance they hold to the history of my collecting days(as well as their hobby significance).

8. Many of the blogs (including my own at times) seem to decry Topps’ lack of vision and creativity.  Can you think of something creative that could be done for an upcoming card set?
Since relic cards are not going anywhere anytime soon, I'd like to see a focus on some non-traditional relics. For catchers, maybe include pieces of chest protectors or masks. Revisit fielding and/or batting gloves, hats, batting helmets, and spikes. Plain white/gray jersey swatches and plain splinters of a bat are so common. I think they should explore a little more variety.

9. What is your profession?  How did you end up there?  If you are in school, what do you plan to major in and/or what job do you hope to get after graduating?  
I currently manage a high volume small animal veterinary hospital. I began working in the field a number of years ago and planned to enter NC State veterinary school. That goal was put on the back burner when I learned my wife and I were expecting our first daughter. Here I am a few years later with 2 girls under 5 years old and have changed plans to management so I can stay in the business that I love and actually make a career out of it. There is always time to pursue vet school once my girls are in school, but I didn't feel I could devote the amount of time required to studying, etc and sacrifice seeing my girls grow up.

10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
I'd have to say Hawaii. I have some extended family there, but the real reason it is my favorite would have to be the atmosphere. You can truly be laid back visiting there and there is hiking, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and surfing available to fill your leisure time. I've always been drawn to the ocean, so never being too far from a beach was pretty great too.

11. Many of us have favorite foods or customs that are somewhat local to where we live.  Do you have any such things that you particularly love?  A website link to specific products would be spectacular.  
A true NC specialty is pulled pork barbecue. There are a number of great places that specialize in this, but my favorite is a hole in the wall called Backyard Barbecue Pit. From pulled pork to ribs to brisket, they have it all and it's all incredible. They have traditional southern sides like mac and cheese, collards, Brunswick Stew, and sweet potato caserole as well. I'd include a website link, but they don't have their own site. They were featured on Man vs. Food when they came to Durham, NC though.

12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
Primarily listening to music and spending time with my daughters(and wife).

13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions). 
As a family, we tend to do a decent bit of traveling. As a result, I've been to 8 MLB stadiums and 6 minor league stadiums so far. I know there are others that have been to a lot more, but at least I've got a start. We typically attend 10-15 Durham Bulls home games each season(though we live about 40 minutes from the park, we both work only about 15 minutes from there, so it is our 'home' team).
Tim ended up being featured on my blog on back-to-back days thanks to his awesome trade packages yesterday and now his Better Know a Blogger answers today!  I think I raved enough about Tim's trading prowess yesterday so let's specifically focus on Tim's questionnaire answers today!

First, Tim sounds like a great family man - how can you not respect an answer like "spending time with my daughters and wife" for hobbies other than card collecting.  After all, happy wife, happy life!

In terms of Topps and relic cards, Tim (along with a few others) mentioned some more nontraditional relic choices.  As a lover of Allen & Ginter relics (esp. relics like playing cards, paper airplanes, and pieces of rope), I couldn't agree more!  White and grey swatches are much too boring...at least make the relic piece look interesting!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on Tim's food answer.  I love pork barbecue (even though northcentral PA isn't exactly a hot bed of quality bbq establishments).  I have been through North Carolina a couple of different times (enroute to Florida) but I've never actually made North Carolina a destination.  Knowing all the pork bbq that is there, perhaps I should put that state on my "to visit" list again!

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer my questionnaire Tim!  And, for that mater, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Better Know a Blogger series.  The series was a success way beyond my wildest imagination...and it's sort of sad to see it about to end.  SO - if you want it to keep going, shoot me an email so that I can get the questionnaire out to you!   Once I post my own answers, the Theme Week will officially be closed!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Delivery Time! I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning (and in my mailbox)!

For the past couple of weeks, I was inundated with group break stuff which meant I had to put most of my other trade packages on hold.  Amazingly, during that time I received not one but two different packages from Tim over at I Love the Smell of Cardboard in the Morning.

Today's post pays tribute to both of the packages...and it also is my way of telling Tim that his mailbox will soon be seeing a return package from me show up in it!

First up, the thing that started the entire trade:  Some 2015 Topps base cards.

My 2015 set is coming along nicely...though I'm still looking for quite a few cards.  Tim also sent me one of the Robbed cards for my set - a nice looking Mike Trout card.

Finally, though I'm not actively chasing them, Tim sent me a pair of the purple parallels (Toys-R-Us exclusives I think?).

I will say, the purple cards look quite sharp this year - much nicer than some of the past year's efforts by Topps!  They don't scan great so you'll simply have to trust me that the purple parallels are nice!

In addition to all the 2015 set needs, Tim helped me out with a few of the older sets on my want list as well.  Going back to last year, I am now one card closer to the 2014 Topps Heritage set.

At this rate, I should be done with 2014 Heritage by the time 2022 Heritage is released.  And if you think I'm kidding, recall that I just finished 2007 Heritage a few days ago!

Tim also hooked me up with one of the 300 (or so) short prints from the 2008 Upper Deck Timeline set.

I liked the Timeline set quite a bit when it was released but I have to admit that I'm getting sick of seeing it linger on my want list!  That said, I now only need another ?? cards until the entire set is complete!  Here's what I'm looking for:
2008 Upper Deck Timeline:Base: #300, 308, 336, 341, 345, 356, 361, 363, 366, 373, 374, 375
Next, another set that's been on my want list for awhile - 2009 Upper Deck Goudey.

Tim sent me a nice looking Bob Gibson from the set - this is my first '09 Goudey added to my collection in quite some time...which is another reason why I still keep all those old sets on my want list.  You just never know when someone might discover a card you need!

Finally, it would have been an impressive enough pair of packages from Tim given the above cards - but Tim had one more trio of cards for me that were on my want list.  For those, we go all the way back to 1999!

Those are three of the 1999 Fleer Ultra cards that I still needed - I love most of the Fleer Ultra line so again, I was thrilled to get that much closer to set completion!  I must say that the Prospect card design sure hasn't aged well at all.  Is that Netscape Navigator or some early version of Apple's OS that Fleer used for the basis of the design?!

At this point, you must be thinking that there couldn't be anything else in the packages that Tim sent...but you'd be oh-so-wrong if you actually thought that.  You see, Tim sent a nice assortment of Reds including a pair of pretty cool die-cuts that were new to me.

I like the Griffey Jr. card best - how often do you see a die-cut card in the shape of a number?  It would be great if there were die-cut twos, threes, and fours, as well but I'm guessing since the set is called "We're No. 1" that every card is die-cut in the shape of a one.

Tim also included a small stack of Barry Larkin cards for me which is awesome as I am trying to get  huge collection of my favorite player!  I'm only going to scan one for this post though - you'll have to wait for my Barry Larkin Collection posts to see the rest of 'em!

And that's it:  The final card from the awesome trade packages courtesy of Tim.

Oh.  Wait.

What's that?

I'm still not done?

The best is yet to come in fact?

Oh, well then.

Let's get on with it.

That's right - not only did Tim hit up my want list, my Barry Larkin Collection, and my Reds' collection - he also sent along SIX different "hits" for me to enjoy.

The first two hits were from 2008 Topps (Phillips from Updates & Highlights while Harang was from Series 2).  For some reason, the Harang card is twice as thick as the Phillips card even though they both are the same card design...weird!

Next, a hit that I actually missed the first time I shuffled through the cards - there's a sliver of Austin Kearn's pants embedded in the middle of the card.  The Kearns is also serially numbered 0783/1000...which means either you can get 1000 pieces of cloth out of a single pair of pants or else Kearns must have had to wear shorts for awhile as he sold off all his pants to Fleer.

That leaves us with the final three cards of the post (for real).  First, an Adam Dunn home run medallion card from 2015 Topps.

The Dunn card is extra thick - and heavy!  I like the way Topps worked the Reds' logo into the design of the medallion - certainly nice for a one-per-blaster "relic!"

Next, a card from 2014 Topps Update:

That's a World Series MVP patch card of none other than Johnny Bench.  You have to love getting a card like this - a World Series win for the Reds and a World Series loss for the Yankees (sorry Tim)!

Finally, we get to the one non-Reds hit of the package:

That's a Ken Giffey Jr. card with a bench piece from Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA.

Thanks a TON for all the great cards Tim.  I can only hope that my return package to you offers half the enjoyment that you gave me.  As for everyone else, if you'd like to trade be sure to check out my want list and make an offer!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Barry Larkin Collection 348: 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Special Edition - #200

Barry Larkin
Year:  1995
Brand:  Upper Deck Collector's Choice Special Edition
Card number:  200

The 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Special Edition set features a bright blue border.  The images used on this set are different than the regular Collector's Choice set from 1995 (which means the Collector's Choice sets aren't analogous to Topps Opening Day and Topps - a good thing if you ask me)!

As for the card itself, I love the front image.  It's a somewhat unique angle of a fairly common infield play.  The image on the back of the card isn't quite as good...but it's certainly not one that I will complain about.  I also appreciate that Upper Deck put full career statistics on the back of the card - something that I usually have to give them a lot of grief about!  All things told, this is a sharp card and one of my favorites from 1995!

Building the Larkin Collection! (Thanks Joe!)

A couple of weeks ago, I exchanged a series of emails with fellow Barry Larkin collector Joe.  We agreed to a quick and easy swap of Larkin cards in order to help both our collections out.  Joe mailed first and gifted me with nine brand new Larkins for my collection.
Nine New Larkins:  Awesome!

I wasn't able to provide him with quite as many for his collection...but I was able to give him a few to aid Joe in his quest for 700 unique Larkin cards.

I have to admit that I love collecting sets...but it's almost as much fun to get a slew of brand new Larkins!  I'll (eventually) feature all of the Larkins in their own post as part of my ongoing Barry Larkin Collection.

Speaking of that Collection.  At the moment I have 347 entries...with another 173 cards scanned and ready to be written about (that's not counting any of the nine cards from Joe).  That puts my collection at 529 cards - but I still have to sort all my Larkins from 2001 onward.  Could I possibly have 700 different Barry Larkin cards already?  I think that's probably a stretch but I've got to be somewhat close to that number!

How can I get to that number (and beyond)?  Simple.  By trading.

Lots of trading!

If you have any extra Barry Larkin cards I would love to work out a trade for them!  I'm interesting in ALL Larkins from ALL brands!  Until then, I'll keep (slowly) working my way through the massive backlog of scans that I need to write about...and maybe by the year 2025 I'll be all caught up!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Delivery Time! Remember the Astrodome Remembers Me!

I believe that today marks the beginning of the fifth-to-last week of the semester which means my teaching duties are about to kick into high gear (the end of the spring semester is always a mad rush of things - including writing letters of recommendation...oh so many letters...).

Although I know my work is going to be kicking into a higher gear, it also means that summer might not be so far off...and with that comes plenty of good baseball!  Unfortunately, I still have snow in my backyard so for the moment the only baseball that I get to enjoy is baseball in cardboard form.

Luckily, I have nice blog readers like Bru who send me cards to keep me happy!

Bru saw that I was still working on the 2015 Topps Series 1 base set and sent a couple of cards my way.  Both happened to be NL Central rivals of the Reds...and, unfortunately, both the Brewers and Cardinals appear favored to crush the Reds in 2015.

Bru also sent along one of the "Robbed" insert cards - this one being another Brewer!

Despite the enemy status of the Brew Crew, this is a pretty cool card.  I enjoy defensive themed baseball card insert sets so the Robbed set was a natural fit for my collection!

While I definitely appreciated Bru's kindness in helping me with my 2015 set...he really made my day by including a couple of surprise 2014 Topps Heritage cards that I needed!

That's two short prints - and neither happened to be an NL Central rival team!  I actually kind of like both the Tigers and the Rays so that makes this pair doubly nice!

Finally, Bru offered up a palate cleanser of sorts in the form of a few assorted cards of the "good guys."  This includes a gold parallel of the Reds' newest bullpen member:  Tony Cingrani.

Cingrani couldn't beat out guys like Jason Marquis for a spot in the rotation...not sure what that says about either him or the Reds' management.  Eesh.

Bru also sent along what I think might be my first 1975 Topps mini card (sorry Night Owl, but it's true)!  Starting off my collection with Dave Concepcion is a pretty solid beginning I would say!

Thanks so much for the great mailer full of cards - they made this dreary week much more fun!

Finally, if anyone else would like to trade - be sure to check out my want list and make an offer!