Monday, December 22, 2014

Group Break: Topps Stadium Club, Topps High TEK, at Least 1 Hit per Slot and MORE! SIGN UP NOW!

I'd love to get my group break filled up - at last count there were only eight slots remaining.  Go here to sign up!
All included in the break - plus more goodies!!
Atlanta Braves
Baltimore Orioles
Chicago Cubs
Cleveland Indians
Houston Astros
Milwaukee Brewers
Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres & Arizona Diamondbacks

Please think about signing up - and for those that haven't paid yet, please do so!  I hope to begin filming videos in the next couple of days and then ideally start posting them right after Christmas!

An Ode to the Bloggers Among Us (Specifically Jaybarkerfan)

There are a select few individuals who have what I would consider a true blog personality.  For example, Night Owl is definitely a master wordsmith who can turn something as trivial like a "thank you post for cards" into a 2,000 word soliloquy about the wonders of a 1970s something mini.  I'm lucky to get 300 words and a single comment for such ventures.  Another example would be Nick over at Dime Boxes.  He, too, has a way with words and can turn even a rather mundane topic (to me at least) into an interesting read.  I'm definitely jealous of both of their writing talents.

There are also a bunch of bloggers out there who have a trading personality.  Some, like Mark H. are known as great traders with packages that almost always contain vintage-y goodness.  Others, such as Wes (aka JayBarkerFan) are just as generous but with more modern cards!

Today's trade post is courtesy of the aforementioned Wes - for sure one of the most generous bloggers around!  In a fun turn of events, I see that Wes also recently sent Nick a package of cards - I must have been the next in line (for reasons that are about to be obvious).

That's right, Nick got Wes' personal card hand numbered 12/98.  I got the next one in line #13/98.  I'll take it since #13 is one of my "go to numbers" whenever I need to pick a jersey number for some sort of sporting event (which is basically only beer league softball at this point in my life)!

Unfortunately for all of us in the blogosphere, Wes recently announced he was hanging up the proverbial keyboard in terms of keeping up with his blog - but he obviously hasn't quite given up mailing packages out since I was a recent lucky recipient!

In addition to the custom card, Wes included a bunch of assorted Reds' goodies for me.  The highlight, in my opinion, is this "authentic ticket stub" card of Joey Votto which happens to be numbered 010/110 on the reverse side.

The only question I have about this is how do you actually get an authentic ticket stub any more?  Any big league game that I've gone to has always forced me to print my own tickets on computer paper.  That's not much of a keepsake...nor would it look good in a cut card!

Some of the other goodies from Wes include this super shiny Johnny Bench card.

I never buy Topps Tribute / Triple Threads / Other Expensive Set Name Here so whenever I get a card from one of those high-falutin' sets in a trade I get a bit giddy.  The Bench was no exception to me having a case of the happy dance.

Finally, we bring it back around to the low(ish) end of the card spectrum with Bowman Platinum.

That set sounds fancy but I don't think it is...I wouldn't really know though because I avoid all things Bowman 99.9% of the time.  I won't, however, avoid that die-cut card of a Red I've never even heard of (my big beef with Bowman).  I like shiny...and die-cuts...so this is a winner to me (and brand new to my collection)!

Thanks a ton Wes - and you will definitely be missed on the blogs!  I also hope that this post had at least enough substance to hold the jock strap of the better writers out there...maybe someday I'll learn!  There's hope for me yet...

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Commishbob from 5 Tool Collector)

Welcome to "Better Know a Blogger" Theme Week (week 3!) here at Nachos Grande.  A few weeks ago, I put out a call to any interested bloggers to answer a short questionnaire that I had prepared.  The goal of the questionnaire is for all of us to get to better know some of the various personalities on the blogs!  I hope you find this Theme Week as much fun as I did - and hopefully you'll learn something about your fellow bloggers as the week progresses!

1. Your name (or alias):  Bob Andrews aka Commishbob
2. Your blog website:  5 tool collector 
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?  
Wow, first question and I have to provide a ‘cop-out’ answer. I can’t label myself at all. I collect players (Billy Pierce, Brooks Robinson, Mike Cuellar, Johnny Unitas, etc)…. Teams..Orioles, NY Rangers and Baltimore Colts as well as the Houston Cougars. I also collect sets and subsets, mostly subsets of vintage Topps.
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
I never think much about the modern card companies. They could probably do me a favor by no longer issuing recycled cards of players I collect. Like the several different Heritage Pierces based on his ’64 card. Just makes it annoying to chase them.
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
THIS is a very tough question. I’d say my Orioles/Colts/Rangers Media Guide collection. I’ve been looking for a few old Orioles guides for a couple of decades. I have all the Colts guides finally but lack the ’54 and ’56 Orioles’ guides. I also gave consideration to my fantasy football player collection of cards. It’s a huge binder of all the players I’ve had in 35 years of my league. It would be hard to replace.
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?  
1961 Topps Wes Covington. It’s just all around awesome. Great pose, colors, great card. Runner up would be the ’78 Murray rookie. Just a bad ass card.
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
My 1959 Topps Bob Gibson rookie. It’s the only card to survive from my childhood collection. It is literally irreplaceable. 
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?  
Honestly I am anxious to see other folks’ thoughts here because I have been of the opinion that about all the better ideas (and a lot of the lousy ones) have been used… diecuts, rainbows, chrome, plastic, numbered, signed relics…what else is there?
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’m a coach and teacher and have been for 25 years. I was an admirer of my uncle who did the same when I was growing up and he seemed to enjoy it so much. 
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
Cooperstown, New York. The Hall of Fame is fun but probably the best thing about the area is Ostego Lake. The drive around the perimeter of the lake along Highway 80 is fantastic. The view from the south end of the lake, down just a few blocks from the Hall is my favorite of all time. I wish I could retire there.
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.  
I live in Houston now which is a town without any traditions of its own but I grew up in Nutley New Jersey and while there I survived on three staples of my area…Taylor Ham (aka pork roll), Brookdale Soda and Ralph’s Pizza.  Nutley best tradition, at least as far as I was concerned was the annual fireworks show on July 4th at the Park Oval. As a kid it was the coolest night of the year.
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
I play golf and fantasy football (my league has been around for 35 years), collect Baltimore related paper memorabilia, presidential campaign pins and US quarters, and I enjoy photography and reading historical fiction. 
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
1) My sons are named Brooks Robinson Andrews and Jim Palmer Andrews and were featured on Baltimore morning TV, in the Baltimore Sun and in Baseball Weekly when they were born…. Or 2) I was the “all district freshman” baseball player selection but my family moved to Houston and I attended a school that was brand new that fall and still a year away from establishing their baseball program. I played football but never played another inning of competitive baseball. 
As always, a big thank you to our more recent volunteer in my way-more-popular-than-I-ever-imagined Better Know a Blogger series!  This is our third week of what I thought I'd be lucky to get a single week of posts out of...and so far, not a single blogger in the series has disappointed me in his or her answers!  That trend certainly continued with Bob's answers - in fact, he had a number of interesting ideas that are worth mentioning again.

First, Bob's love of the Orioles has to be mentioned when you discover his sons' names!  That's a level of dedication that I don't think I'd ever be able to convince my own wife of should we ever have children!  I found it interesting that Bob is another in a rather long of educators who also blog about baseball cards!  I wonder why the seemingly strong link between the two (you can count me in that number as well)?

As for Bob's other answers, I have to admit that I'm always happy when someone says that I posed a tough question.  I have ZERO interview question practice/skills but I did try to come up with a questionnaire that avoided the typical cliches (favorite team, card, etc.) while simultaneously still being relatively quick to answer - and ideally fun for the rest of us to read!  I think Bob nailed it, by the way, when he said that all of the better ideas (and a lot of the lousy ones) had already been done in regards to baseball card "innovations."  We have seen a few new ideas come out as a result of this Better Know a Blogger series but overall it seems that there isn't a lot of new places for cards to go.

(that still won't stop all of us from giving Topps crap when they re-hash the same idea for the tenth time however)

Finally, we end today's post with Bob's assessment of Cooperstown and the surrounding area.  I had the fortune of visiting Cooperstown for the second time in my life last summer and I would agree with Bob one hundred percent!  I live a few hours south of Cooperstown but my childhood consisted of riding from PA to VT each summer (to visit my grandparents) and a large chunk of that drive is on 80...which means I went nearby Cooperstown probably hundreds of times without ever getting to stop!  I'm not sure if I'd want to retire there (it's awfully grey in the middle of New York State) but I do love the idea of retiring near a lake.  I'm more of a northern Adirondacks guy...or better yet, the Green Mountains near Lake Champlain in Vermont!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Play at the Plate)

Welcome to "Better Know a Blogger" Theme Week (week 3!) here at Nachos Grande.  A few weeks ago, I put out a call to any interested bloggers to answer a short questionnaire that I had prepared.  The goal of the questionnaire is for all of us to get to better know some of the various personalities on the blogs!  I hope you find this Theme Week as much fun as I did - and hopefully you'll learn something about your fellow bloggers as the week progresses!

1. Your name (or alias):  Everyone on the blogs just calls me Play at the Plate
2. Your blog website:  Play at the Plate
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?
 I’m primarily a team collector (Texas Rangers of course).  That really developed after I started blogging because I had access to so many trade partners.  I also collect a few players (Will Clark, Pudge Rodriguez, Joe Mauer) and catchers wearing gear.  Probably my biggest non-Rangers collection at this point is play at the plate cards, which I love.  Many of them can be researched to find the specific game the play occurred in and that’s fun.
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
I’m a little OCD when it comes to my team set.  I want EVERYTHING Rangers they make so all the parallels really kill me.  I like parallels to a degree, but sometimes it’s too much.  
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
Since the Rangers only go back to 1972 (1971 Topps) I collect anything vintage.  Team doesn’t matter.  My favorite part of my collection (since I know question 7 is coming) would be my short stack of 1951 Bowman catchers.  I just love the feel of those older cards.  
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?  
I can’t think of a card like that, but I did once own a game worn pair of Rusty Greer’s pants.  
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
My 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card.  
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?  
Four things would make me happy (to start): 1. I would like to Topps to stop using sticker autos.  If it’s less cost effective, put fewer autos in products.  2.  Hire some photographers to take photos with baseball cards in mind.  3.  I volunteer (for a salary of course) to go to games all over the country, procure game used items from players and document it so relic cards can show a picture of the relic on the back and tell me where it came from.  No more generic crap about the item’s origins.  Lastly, being a fan of catchers, I would LOVE to see game worn catchers mask relics with big hunks of plastic in them. 
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 work in Communications/Global Security for an energy company.  I started working here after I left the Navy in 1994.  I did leave for a couple of years to teach 6th graders, but the benefits were terrible so I came back.  
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
Hands down it was Sydney, Australia.  The people are friendly, the food is amazing and the sights are out of this world.  
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.  
I have a couple.  I love chicken fried steak.  It’s a southern thing I think, but the best I’ve ever had is actually at a Tex-Mex place called Matt’s RanchoMartinez.  The other is a place Fuji would go crazy for.  It’s called Canton First MondayTrade Days.  They have about 7000 vendors and it’s open Thursday-Sunday BEFORE the first Monday of each month.  It’s great for all kinds of stuff. 
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
I have a metal detector that I like to use when time permits (never anymore).   I’m getting very into TeamUSA stuff these days.  I tweet with some of the athletes and about them @bsnider_22.  I do baseball twitter stuff @patpdude.
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
I was in the Navy for 5 ½ years and served on board a fast attack submarine.  
I must begin with a big thank you to Play at the Plate for letting us Better Know a Blogger!  As always, I've found the process to be quite enjoyable (and so did PatP I hope)!  As for his answers, I liked 'em!  

Let's begin with his favorite place to visit, Sydney, Australia.  I was lucky enough to have also visited Sydney...and if you can get past the seemingly never-ending plane ride there, it's awesome down under!  PatP didn't send along any photographs with his answers but here are a few that I took while in Australia.
The most photographed bridge in the world?!

Up close to the "sails" of the Opera Hall

Inside the Opera Hall

I love the water so I take a lot of photos like this when I travel!

Moving on to the baseball answers, I enjoyed PatP's 4 ideas for improving card sets.  I especially like any idea where relic cards become more interesting (and hunks of plastic from catcher's masks would sure beat plain white swatches any day of the week).  I do wonder what the story is with PatP once owning a pair of Rusty Greer's pants...seems like there is a blog post in there somewhere!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't at least comment on the chicken fried steak.  I've had that once in my life and liked it - but I'm sure wherever I had it wasn't really "authentic."  Everyone's food answers make me want to drive around the country (or fly around the world in some cases) and sample the local cuisine!   

Many thanks for volunteering PatP!  And yes, there is another week's worth of Better Know a Blogger on the way!  Stay tuned for more!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Julie from A Cracked Bat)

Before I get to today's Better Know a Blogger, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind you that my group break is still taking sign-ups.  As of last night (when I wrote this post), there are still 11 open slots including some teams that usually prove to be quite popular!  Here's what's available:

  • Atlanta Braves  
  • Baltimore Orioles 
  • Chicago Cubs 
  • Cleveland Indians 
  • Houston Astros 
  • Los Angeles Angels 
  • Los Angeles Dodgers 
  • Milwaukee Brewers 
  • Oakland Athletics 
  • San Diego Padres & Arizona Diamondbacks 
  • Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos 

So go here and sign up, won't you?  It'll be lots of fun!

----

Welcome to "Better Know a Blogger" Theme Week (week 2) here at Nachos Grande.  About a week or so ago, I put out a call to any interested bloggers to answer a short questionnaire that I had prepared.  The goal of the questionnaire is for all of us to get to better know some of the various personalities on the blogs!  I hope you find this Theme Week as much fun as I did - and hopefully you'll learn something about your fellow bloggers as the week progresses!

1. Your name (or alias):  Julie
2. Your blog website:  A Cracked Bat
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?
When I began collecting in ’93, I was compelled to complete a set of every product I purchased.  By mid ’94 I was over it, becoming a player collector rather quickly.  Ripken, Cobb, Berra, Sandberg are a few of my favorite players.  I still enjoy the beauty of a completed and paged set.  I just finished 2014 Panini Classics.  This past year, I began assembling Tigers team sets.
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
Knock it off with all the parallels!   A couple would be great but do we need every color of the rainbow in a refractor version – plus rainbow refractors, die-cut, cracked or otherwise??  
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
My autographed baseballs…but those aren’t cardboard.  I have a growing collection of 1951 Bowman and pre-1960 Topps.  These are my favorites right now.
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?  
 I love my Presidents on cardboard:     2014 Topps Opening Day – Racing Presidents   
Image source:  Julie!

7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
1909-11 T206 Tony Thebo    (PSA 4)
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?  
“Hits” seem to drive the Hobby.  I personally don’t purchase cards for this reason.  I’m attracted to player selection and design.   2014 Panini Classics includes a “Champion” insert.  I think this design (minus the relic) would make an attractive set, featuring older stars and current players.   I’m a sucker for old timers on new cardboard.  
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 worked for the postal service for 15 years.  In 99, I chose to leave for an administrative role within an accounting firm.  Next year, I’ll be moving to Michigan and hope to transfer within the company.  
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
Galveston, TX  - I love the tragic history of the city.  The beaches aren’t beautiful, but the islanders are!
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.  
When I move, I’ll miss the Tex-Mex dishes.   The better restaurants are regionally owned.  The Blue Goose Cantina has my favorite enchiladas.  My favorite steak and salsa spot is here.  On the brighter side, I’ll probably drop 10 pounds in a snap.
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
I enjoy reading, composing, playing guitar and exploring American History – Civil War, in particular.  
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
I have a degree in Comparative Religion which led to my postal career.  I studied what I most loved at the time with no concern as to what I’d actually do with a degree in religion.  Turns out, you teach or preach.  My generation had more opportunities for success without a degree.  I’ve been very fortunate!  
Once again, I must give a big thank you to our latest Better Know a Blogger volunteer, Julie.  I am pleased to say that the turnout for the series has blown my expectations out of the water...and we have another full week of Better Know a Blogger in store for you all next week!  In fact, new people keep requesting to be added to the list!!

Now, let's take a look at some of Julie's answers beginning with the food!  The Blue Goose Cantina looks pretty good to me based on their menu (and they have entire section dedicated to Nachos so how can I say no?!).  The other restaurant, The La Hacienda Ranch also looks kind of neat.  I'd be tempted to try the fish tacos I think.  I made fish tacos myself once...but it turns out neither my wife nor I are huge fans of corn tortillas so the tacos were a bit of a bust.

As for Julie's baseball card answers, I think most of us are in agreement with the notion of parallel overload these days.  It's got to be awful for someone who is a collector of a current player.  Oye!   I found Julie's presidential card answer to be great as well - it certainly fit the bill as to the type of card that I was looking for when I posed that question!

Thanks again for volunteering Julie - and stay tuned for more in the Better Know a Blogger series!