Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More Group Break Packs! 4 Bonus Packs to be Precise!

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

I recorded this video yesterday but I thought I'd post it today so that those of you who are still home would have something to watch before the evening festivities commence.

Enjoy the bonus packs group break participants!  I'll have more of the "real" stuff in the upcoming days!

The Group Break Begins in Earnest: 2013 Panini Triple Play Box (Part 1)

It's finally time to start ripping the various boxes open in the final group break for 2014.  I've been waiting a long time for the break to fill (and in that time I managed to rip a few of the bonus packs)...but now that the break is all filled up it's time to get to the main event.

I decided to start with the box with the most cards - 2013 Panini Triple Play.  I've never actually opened a pack of the stuff, let alone an entire box so I didn't know exactly what to expect.  All things considered, I was mostly pleased with the first eight packs.  

What did we get?  Well, you'll have to watch the video...or I suppose you could look at some of the scans for the main highlights.  Your choice!

We'll begin by looking a small sampling of base cards just so everyone knows what the product looks like.

The set is definitely stylized, and as such, probably not for everyone.  However, I have to admit that even during the course of the opening the eight packs the style grew on me - and the cards feel good in hand.

Moving onto the inserts, each pack (so far) holds a sticker card.

I have no idea why some of the stickers are blue while the others are red.  I also don't like the fact that we pulled duplicates (Strasburg) but what can you do?  I still need to figure out which team pile Chris Perez belongs to as well.

Next up, some of the rarer inserts.

We pulled a bunch of tattoos (Jeter, Posey, Kemp, and Darvish) as well as one eye black card (Verlander).  I'm a sucker for "weird" inserts like this - probably why I always loved Collector's Choice as a kid...so for me, these are nice additions!

Heading back to the realm of "normal" inserts, we found three All-Star cards.

I like the look of the All-Star cards - but again, the stylized look of the set isn't for everyone.

Our last couple of inserts found so far include two Baseball 101 cards.

Since the Baseball 101 cards don't have any teams attached to them, the cards will be randomly added to team piles at the end of the break.  I like the knuckleball card more than the outfield card but I think Panini did a good job with this insert idea!

And finally, the last insert we found in the first eight packs was this kinda cool, kinda weird card about eating hot dogs at the ballpark.

Just like with the Baseball 101, this card will be randomed off at the end since it too has no team name attached to it.  The back of the card does give a shout out to Chevy though - I wonder if there was some sort of paid product placement there?

So what do you think of the Panini Triple Play box so far?  I hope everyone likes the cards - they are certainly unique as compared to most of what Topps has been putting out over the last few years!  There will be more group break goodies to come, stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Cards from my Brother: A Whopper of a Want List Whittling!

I didn't get a lot of baseball cards for Christmas this year - in fact, I had only one box of unopened cards - but I did get a nice pile of cards from my brother full of cards from my want list.  My brother took the time to go to my blog and pull out a big stack of cards for me...and so let's see what Christmas goodies I ended up with!

First up, the largest stack which is 2013 Topps Chrome.  I actually received a box of 2013 Topps Chrome for Christmas last year which made me decide to try and collect the whole set.  Who knew that over a year later I'd still be missing so many cards?

Well, my old 2013 Topps Chrome looked like this before my brother got a hold of it...

...and now?  Well, it's almost all gone!

That's a huge chunk gone!  Getting a set's worth of needs down to a single line on my want list is always a feat in and of itself.  To do so in one swoop from five lines to only one line's worth of wants?  Amazing!

That alone would have been an awesome Christmas present, but my brother wasn't done yet!

Next up on the chopping block?

2014 Topps Allen & Ginter's!

The A&G set is always one of my favorite sets of the year - but this year's set has proven quite difficult to finish off.  I've struggled with the base set, I've struggled with the minis, and I've struggled with the regular sized insert cards.

Thanks to my brother, I can now (finally!!!) say that my base set is complete - the final card needed?  Mr. Jason Castro of the Houston Astros.

It's not even a short print...but tracking down card #251 proved to be impossible until my brother stepped up to the proverbial plate!

Of course, he wasn't done with Ginter with that one base card.  Nope, not even close!

He finished off the last two cards that I needed for my Air Supremacy insert set...

...and the final Festivals & Fairs card that I was missing too!

He also tracked down the final two Fields of Yore cards that I needed which included this gorgeous Cleveland Municipal Stadium card!

One Natural Wonder card that I was missing?

No longer!

Alphabetically, the next Ginter insert set to feel my brother's wrath was the Pastime's Pastimes set.  My brother didn't quite finish it off be he did give me seven of the ten cards that I was missing!

The last Ginter set to be completed was the World's Capitals set.  I was still missing Moscow and Ottawa but now both are safely tucked in my binder!

I can't express how awesome it feels to have so many of the Allen & Ginter's insert sets complete now!  And, of course, it's all thanks to my brother.  But before I get too mushy or sentimental, I need to show off even more cards.

That's right.  In addition to the 2013 Topps Chrome and the 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter's, my brother also did some damage to a third set on my want list:  2014 Topps Heritage.

He gave me the final three non-short prints that I needed for my set.

And, even better, he found NINE short prints for me which included a really nice Joey Votto!

Many, many thanks brother!  I couldn't have hand picked a much better selection of cards - or sets to complete!!  My Allen & Ginter's binder is especially happy - but those Heritage short prints were super appreciated as well!  As for anyone else, if you happen to have anything I need, shoot me an email and hopefully we can work something out!

Contest!! Get Your Brand New Mini Cards for Good Guessing!



In case you missed it, I posted a contest the other day that is still open.  I have had a few people enter but I know there are plenty of others out there that might like their own "high numbers" set of custom mini cards by my buddy Ryan.  This is the newest batch for his set (which you may recall is based on the 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter's design).

That red box is only there for the contest!
Go here to join - all it takes is some good guessing!


Another Group Break Bonus Pack! 22 More Cards Join the Break!

Today's group break post is another one of the bonus pack throw-ins.  I'm still working on getting the best possible video quality before jumping into our four main boxes of the break!  That said, cards are cards - so take a look to see who you may have ended up with!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Group Break Begins! Three Packs to Rip - on Video No Less

I'm still working out the kinks on recording video pack rips since I want to make sure to get the Stadium Club box and the two Topps TEK boxes on video when I rip those.

For my first attempt, I took a pair of the 2010 Upper Deck bonus packs and used YouTube's built in video recorder.

 Personally, I think the quality is unacceptable on the above video - part of that is probably my crappy laptop and its crappy video camera but I think the real issue is YouTube's software.  Maybe there is some way to get it in a higher definition...but I couldn't figure it out.  I had recorded this video a few days ago as more of an experiment than anything else - BUT all the cards you see in the video are going into their respective team's piles!

The second video is a short one and it's for the one included pack of Topps Chipz.


I did that video my usual way which is to say that I used software on my computer to record the video then waited about an hour or so for the the video to upload to YouTube.  The quality still isn't great (and it seems looking back that things were better before I turned on the extra light).

All that said, the first method is substantially quicker - the second method seems slightly better in terms of quality.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments or, if you prefer, via email.

I do know that I had asked for a tripod for Christmas for my digital camera (which would give me what I hope is a better way to record videos) but when I opened the box the tripod was missing a key piece.  When we went to return it to the store for a new one they were all out of stock...

So for this break anyhow, I think it's either the YouTube built in recorder or my laptop's camera.  Maybe I can figure out a way to use my digital camera and some sort of rickety, hodgepodge tripod idea...there are still a few other bonus packs for me to experiment with before we get to the actual boxes everyone came here for!

PS:  If you missed the CONTEST that I posted this morning, be sure to check that out too!

The Munnatawket Custom Mini Set Grows Some More! (Details Here and a CONTEST!)

As almost everyone who has traded me knows, I have a friend Ryan who makes an awesome custom mini set based on the 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter's card design.  Ryan recently mailed me a new batch of his custom cards including brand new cards numbered 79-90 in the set!
The red box?  You'll see why I put it there in a moment!

That's right, his custom set currently stands at 90 cards...actually 91 cards if you count card #0 (and most of you who have been lucky enough to get one of card #0 from Ryan or myself most certainly count Miss Kate Upton in our sets)!

Anyhow, in an effort to tease out the new portion of the custom set a bit - here are a few hints for the 12 new cards.  The hints will help you with the contest (all details below)!

1.  One of the 12 is a non-baseball player.  It's a golfer not named Tiger Woods.
2.  In the 11 new baseball player cards, there are ten different teams represented.  Thus, two teams get a pair of cards.
3.  One of those teams with a pair of new customs?  The Phillies.  The other is a team that seems to only win World Series on even numbered years.
4.  Some of the best rookies this year?  Probably part of the 12 new cards - at least two of the hottest, non-Yankee American League rookies this year!
5.  There is a Yankee.  Of course there is a Yankee.  Even a fake Topps set needs to have Yankee overload!
6.  No Reds :-(
7.  The AL Central gets two cards.  The NL Central only gets one.
8.  The AL East gets two cards, the NL East also gets two (both for the same team).
9.  The AL West gets two new cards, the NL West gets two as well (again, both for the same team).
10.  There is one legend player in the new batch.  He played for an NL East team.
11.  One player, who was recently signed by a new team (he's shown as a member of his old team) had his trade announced via a series of dots and dashes on Twitter.
12.  There are two players named Jose in the newest batch of cards.
13.  Finally, to help you get 'em all - here are the letters you need in order to get the initials of every person's first and last name (in alphabetical order) (including the golfer):  A A A C F G H J J J J M M M M M P P R R S S S T
14.  Ok, one more hint - use the image below to help you...it's made up of parts of seven of the twelve cards!

Here's the contest:

The first person to leave a comment on this blog with ALL TWELVE people correctly identified will get a full "high series set" of the 12 custom minis mailed to them by me.  There are a bunch of hints above - so while this seems like a tough task I think it's doable!  If no one correctly identifies all 12, I will mail the prize to the person who gets the most names correct.  Only one entry per person - ties go to the person that comments FIRST!!

This contest will close on Friday, January 2 at midnight EST.

In addition to the new high numbered cards (and new cards are always great when the set is as awesome as Ryan's set happens to be), Ryan also included a few "updated" versions of cards.  There were three in total - two I noticed and a third Ryan had to bring to my attention since I'm not always the most observant!

Anyhow, for those that might be interested, the three newest cards with a variation version are:
Giancarlo Stanton

Manny Machado

Yoenis Cespedes

I think the Cespedes is my favorite change - I'm a sucker for uniform changes!

Those three cards are all part of the lower numbered set though so unfortunately they won't help you much with the contest!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Barry Larkin Collection 324: 1994 Select - #7

Barry Larkin
Year:  1994
Brand:  Select
Card number:  7

What a difference a year makes.  The Score Select set from 1993 is a set that I've contemplated trying to complete!  The 1994 set?  Not so much.  In fact, I would say this is one of the uglier designs of any set pre-1995.  I don't care for the vertical last name on either the front or back.  The front is even worse since it features the player's first name offset at the top of the card.  Then you get a red-hued image plus a full color image...and a random triangle.  The entire front is way too busy!

The back is just about as bad - especially since the statistics and written blurb are so difficult to read.  Couple that with no team logos anywhere to be found and a somewhat tricky to read card number and you have a set that's probably best forgotten.  I am happy to have the Barry Larkin from the set though...after all, it's not so bad that I have to turn down a Larkin card!

Group Break Sign-Ups! Let's FILL THE BREAK!

My latest and greatest group break is all ready to begin - but I still have SIX slots remaining.  Each slot is guaranteed at least one hit (either from the group break boxes or from my personal collection) AND a full small flat rate box filled with cards (and perhaps other team related goodies) for the chosen team slot.  All that for only $30 shipped which should make this a really good deal!!  Please go here to sign-up!

  • Baltimore Orioles 
  • Chicago Cubs 
  • Cleveland Indians 
  • Houston Astros 
  • Milwaukee Brewers & Arizona Diamondbacks 
  • Oakland Athletics 

In addition, since I'm desperate to sell off a few of these slots.  I will do a combined price of $50 for any TWO of the above slots or $75 for any THREE of the above slots.  Want all six slots?  $100 gets it done.  Anyone that opts for one of the combined slot, reduced price options will have their cards mailed in (most likely) a single, larger flat rate box just to I can save a bit on shipping.  Sign up here!

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Caitlin from Yankees & Jays)

Welcome to "Better Know a Blogger" Theme Week (week 4!) 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):  Caitlin Jennings
2. Your blog website:  Yankees and Jays
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?  
Player/set. I like to collect that way because there are certain players I like and I like the accomplishment of a complete set.
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
 Make collation better. 
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
My Core Four binders
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?  
2012 Topps Tim Hudson #58
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
2009 Upper Deck SPX Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon Dual Jersey Card #WM2-RP
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?
Card companies should make less inserts and parallels.  
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 student and I plan to major in criminology
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
 Vancouver, B.C. The mountains were spectacular
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.  
Skating at Victoria Park
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
Bowling!
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
I love baseball!
As always, a big thank you to our latest volunteer in my ongoing Better Know a Blogger series!  Caitlin is relatively new to the blogging scene so I was happy to have her participate!  She may have had some short answers, but that's ok!  I've heard nothing but good things about Vancouver, B.C. - it's definitely a place that I'd love to visit sometime!

Now that we are into our fourth week of Better Know a Blogger, I can report that we are nearing the end of the series.  I know that I still have five more to go (plus my own entry).  If anyone else is still interested in participating, feel free to send me an email and I can mail you the questionnaire!  Otherwise, this feature will be finished up within a week or so!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Delivery Time! A Surprise Christmas Gift from Bleedin' Brown & Gold

Over the years, if there's one thing that I've learned about my fellow baseball card bloggers it is that by and large the entire blogging community is exceedingly generous!  Case in point:  Duff from Bleedin' Brown & Gold.

As a surprise gesture, Duff sent me a Christmas card complete with an unopened LEGO Minifigure pack.

It was a total surprise as he and I hadn't even traded this year (according to my records anyhow).  To be thought of over a year after a trade last occurred?  Well, that's pretty awesome if you ask me!

Even more awesome is getting something LEGO related to open - and the minifigure pack hit the spot for sure!  Who'd I get?  None other than the LEGO rocker!

Many, many thanks Duff!  And a belated Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year) as well - not just to Duff but to all my readers!

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (JayBee Anama from bdj610's Topps Baseball Card Blog)

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):  JayBee Anama aka bdj610
2. Your blog website:  bdj610’sTopps Baseball Card Blog  and  SportsCard Blogroll
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?
I am a Topps Baseball Card Set collector. I tried the other ways of collecting (player, team – Cubs) and the fact I was missing numbers in between made me want to collect every single card in the set. 
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
As a set collector, I wish Topps would go back to adding more players in the sets, like the third-string catcher and the mop up reliever. With Topps expanding their set to 700 cards for the first time since 2006, I am hoping that this will happen. But there are 750 players on the field on a given day. Someone will still be excluded or certain teams will not be decently represented (by that I mean certain position players might be missing).
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
My most recent favorite part of my collection would be the binder that has the both of 2010 Cards Your Mother Threw Out/2011 Topps 60 Years of Topps reprint sets. The SP ones with the card backs, not the regular insert cards. It took quite a while to complete both sets. But it was a fun, albeit expensive, challenge.
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?  
My favorite card in my collection is a 1992 Topps Jose Tolentino #541. It was the final card I needed to complete the 1992 Topps set, the first one I was able to complete from scratch (without having to buy a factory set). It took months just to find this one card. I even had the micro card before it, and putting the micro card in the binder as temporary filler bugged me. It was like the guy was mocking me. It was a great day indeed when I finally found the card at a card shop.
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
A toss-up between the 1989 Topps Ryne Sandberg #360 and the 1988 Topps Ryne Sandberg #10. Both cards are great, and it would be hard to choose, but either one is fine.  Both are beautiful cards of my favorite player growing up.
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? 
I’m probably one of the few who don’t really complain too much about Topps when it comes to creativity (hello, see name of blog…I love the stuff they put out). I mean, they try to come up with something unique. Many times, the bad ideas tend to outweigh the good ones, but not for lack of trying. Bringing back MLB Debut, which features every player who made his debut during a specific season, would be great as it would give many players a piece of cardboard immortality, even if he only appears in one MLB game in his entire career. 
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 the specialty foods industry, and have been most of the past 16 years (there was a sixteen month period where I was unemployed/working temp gigs). I work with salespeople and help maintain item lists and price lists for items they sell to their key accounts. It’s mostly computer work, and I look at spreadsheets all day, but I enjoy the work, and the occasional free samples are great (especially when it’s seafood). 
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
Portland, OR. I went to Portland in 2010 for work, and I was in love with the environment. Mount Hood is beautiful from a distance, and everywhere you turned, the view was fantastic. Cleanest city I’ve ever seen, very serious about the environment. One of these years, I will have to take the family.
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.  
Chicago is a food lover’s paradise. From deep dish pizzas to the hotdogs and Italian beef sandwiches, there is no shortage of places that serve them in this area. If I had to pick a favorite food, I’d go with dim sum in Chinatown. If you’ve never been to a dim sum restaurant, it’s a great experience. It’s basically small courses of Chinese dishes (dumplings, rolls, soups, chicken feet) that are served by wait staff that travel around the restaurant with little carts and you can choose your food from the carts instead of just ordering off a menu. Best places would be Furama, Phoenix Restaurant, or MingHin.
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
I am a big baseball fan (looking forward to 2015 with both Cubs and White Sox re-tooling), and love learning about the game, and its history. The same applies to baseball cards. Other hobbies include reading, spending time with family, computers, and I get out and walk outside from time to time. I am trying my best to cook a bit more at home after years of eating out and it’s been fun trying new things.
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
 My family has been in the bakery business for the longest time. My grandmother owned and operated one of the largest bakeries in the Philippines, and my parents have done the same here in Chicago. 
Once again, I must start with a hearty "thank you" to JayBeen Anama for answering the call to be featured in my Better Know a Blogger series!  JayBee's answers were great to me since so many of the involved food!  I've never been to a dim sum restaurant but it sounds awesome to me!  After doing so many of these Better Know a Blogger posts, I want to map everyone's favorite dining spots and then plan a trip around the country (or better yet, around the world)!  I think that would be a lot of fun - and maybe I could even meet up with some of the featured bloggers on my way.

Barring that expensive travel plan, I guess the second best option is to simply enjoy the series of posts for what it is - namely, a window into what makes each blogger unique!  In JayBee's case, I would say the answer to the question about what Topps could do to improve collecting was spot on:  "With Topps expanding their set to 700 cards for the first time since 2006, I am hoping that this will happen. But there are 750 players on the field on a given day. Someone will still be excluded or certain teams will not be decently represented."  I think that might be the reason why Topps Total is seemingly so popular - but for me, I'd simply like to see a more even team representation in ALL of Topps' sets, not just basic sets like their flagship brand.  

I know more equal team representation would make selling group break slots a lot easier...speaking of which, my final group break for 2014 (including Topps Stadium Club and Topps TEK from this year) is now open.  There are only a few slots remaining - and every slot is guaranteed a hit either from the boxes or else out of my personal collection!  Jump in now and claim one of the few remaining teams, won't you?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Delivery Time! Trade with Mark from Collector's Crack

Mark (from Collector's Crack) and I have traded a number of times - and like most of our trades, the latest swap is a perfect example as to why I love bartering with Mark.  Our trades almost always hit on two of my collections:  Baseball Cards and LEGO figures!

This trade actually happened at the end of November/early December and Mark has been much more on the ball in terms of posting his side of things.  Despite my slowness in posting, I'm equally grateful to Mark - so let's take a look.

We begin with the baseball cards - these were actually throw-ins since this trade was instigated by LEGO figures (more on those in a moment).  Anyhow, Mark had a Votto relic for me (which is new to my collection).

In addition, he sent me a Mat Latos card...

To be fair, Latos was still a Red when Mark sent the cards...now 'ol Mat is off to Miami to toil for the Marlins.  I liked Mat Latos a lot though so I'm sad to see him leave the Reds...and I fear the Reds are going to be awful this year which makes losing one of their better players that much more painful.

I must also scan this gorgeous green bordered Devin Mesoraco card.

I didn't buy any of this year's Topps cards so I missed out on the green bordered parallels...but man, these are nice!!

Now, to the main part of the trade:  LEGO figures!

Mark had a couple of the Series 12 figures that I still needed - and I had a couple for him so this was a quick, painless trade!

I now have all but one of the Series 12 figures (the only one missing is the Hun Warrior).  I also have a bunch of extras from Series 12 if anyone out there has either the Hun Warrior or one of the many figures that I'm still missing from earlier series.

For those that are interested, here is my full line-up of the 15 (out of 16) figures from Series 12 that I own...

...and from the other direction.

Thanks for the great trade, Mark!  And, as always, if anyone else would like to trade be sure to check out my want lists (baseball cards or LEGO) and make me an offer!

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Matt from Cardboard Conundrum)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday!  Today, we return to our regularly scheduled posting...namely the continuation of the popular Better Know a Blogger!

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):  Matt Pederson
2. Your blog website:  Cardboard Conundrum & Not Pulled From Packs
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way?
Mainly a player collector. I have a pretty decent Sidney Crosby collection, which unfortunately for me, is an expensive collection to keep up with. I also buy hobby boxes pretty regularly, and try complete the occasional set, but my set-building tendencies aren’t quite what they used to be. Lately, though, I’ve gotten much more into autographed memorabilia, like pucks, balls, bats, sticks, helmets, and anything else that I can proudly display on a shelf
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
I just want them to try, or at least try and make us think that they try. Really, it’s small things, like making sure that a sticker autograph doesn’t get cut off when the sticker is peeled and affixed to the card, or making sure that a rare patch card isn’t a boring one-color piece. It’s just small things like that, but those things can greatly diminish a card’s value.
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
My favorite items are the items that have a story. Most of those have to do with in-person autograph appearances or TTMs, but the fact that I put more work into it besides opening up a pack makes them extra sentimental to me.
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?  
Absolutely.

For me, it’s my 1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg rookie card. I started following the Cubs in 1989, and picked Ryno as my favorite player. When I first got big into collecting in the early ‘90s, it was a $25 card, which was a lot for an 11-year-old to afford. When I ended up purchasing the card a few years ago, it only cost me about 10 bucks, but it represents me acquiring my very first “white whale.”
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
My 1955 Topps Ernie Banks.

Not only is it a second-year card of “Mr. Cub,” but it’s a card that my dad gave to me as a Christmas present from his very own “boyhood collection. It is a pretty great card to begin with, but the sentimental attachment makes it extra special.
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?  
For me and my own collecting goals, it’s a matter of a better quality of hits. If I spend $100 bucks on a box, and get two jersey cards and an autograph of a relief pitcher who won’t be heard of in two years, there isn’t much value to it. I know there are prospectors out there, but that doesn’t really do it for me. I’d rather pull one autograph of an MLB veteran than three of rookies who may or may not ever make it past that season.
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 as a process technician at a sugar factory, which I really enjoy. I work 12-hour shifts, which gives me a total of 14 days off on a 28-day rotation, not to mention great pay and benefits. It isn’t quite what I had in mind when I was getting my journalism degree at Sam Houston State University, but it gives me good benefits and allows me to provide for my family, so I’m a happy guy.
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
My wife & I went on our honeymoon in Hawaii, and that was really something else. We went snorkeling, swimming, and biked down an inactive volcano. We also just drove around and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. It really makes you completely away from your life at home and allows to to forget all about your day-to-day issues and just enjoy your time with each other.
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.  
As far as local attractions go, baseball related, Fargo is the home of Roger Maris, as well as the Roger Maris Museum and the annual Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament.  We also have a minor league baseball team, the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, and a USHL hockey team, the Fargo Force. Oh yeah, there’s also the NDSU Bison, who are three-time Division 1-FCS National Champions.
12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?
Dude, I can’t afford any other hobbies.  
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
I’m a dad, which is pretty cool, but apparently, I can’t produce Y chromosomes, as I have three girls. They are age 6, 3, and 2 months, and are pretty awesome, apart from that whole let’s-make-sure-daddy-doesn’t-get-any-sleep thing. I like having girls, but I am dreading the day that I eventually have to sacrifice my man cave, in order for one of the girls to have her own room.
As always, a big thank you to the latest blogger to be featured in my Better Know a Blogger series!  Matt had a lot of great answers but I have to say that my favorite was his retort to my other hobbies question...  "Dude, I can't afford any other hobbies."  That seems to fit me in terms of how I feel right now...especially with Christmas just passing!

I found Matt's job at the sugar factory pretty cool - you don't hear about jobs like that much in north central Pennsylvania!  I also agreed with Matt's assessment of Hawaii.  I had the good fortune of visiting that state once (only for three days though).  I loved every minute there - minus the rather high prices on pretty much everything.  It's so beautiful, and pleasant temperatures...and the snorkeling!  My first time doing that and I loved it!

Thanks for participating Matt - and yes, for those that are wondering there are still a few more Better Know a Blogger editions to come!  We are nearing the end of the volunteers though...so enjoy the final few episodes!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Nachos Grande family to you and yours!  For a bit of festive cheer, here's my puppy using her newest Christmas toy as a pillow...

I'll be back tomorrow with the next edition of Better Know a Blogger but for now it's time to better know my own family!

Merry Christmas all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve! (Catch up on Better Know a Blogger)!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  I know many of you are probably planning to spend today (and especially tonight) with family and other loved ones...which means the blogs will probably be sort of quiet.

However, for those who might not be celebrating today - or perhaps not celebrating quite yet, I would invite you to take a look here to see all of my Better Know a Blogger entries so far this year.  The series has been a tremendous hit - and yes, there are still a few more bloggers to be highlighted after Christmas is over!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Theme Week: Better Know a Blogger (Stealing Home )

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):  Stealing Home
2. Your blog website:  All Trade Bait, All the Time
3. What kind of collector do you consider yourself (team collector, player collector, set collector, etc.). Why do you collect that way? 
First and foremost, I’m a Dodger collector. The individual Dodgers I collect are too many to mention here, but if you drop by my site, you can see my list there. I also collect legendary and HOF players from other teams as well. Finally, I absolutely love collecting vintage cardboard in general. 
4. In your opinion, what could the major card companies (Topps, Panini, etc.) do to make your style of collecting better for you?
First off: Topps, please stop recycling the same tired photos of past greats. I love tribute cards, but c’mon, Duke Snider took more than two photos in his career. I would like to see less luxury product, and more bang for my buck in traditional packs. Kudos to the card companies for using some great photography. 
5. What is your favorite part of your collection?  This could be one specific item, or a binder of cards, etc.
My favorite part is equally divided between my two top binders – one is strictly Dodgers, the other is everybody else. I love to flip through those binders which contain my favorite cards. When I page through them, I feel I’m looking at a history of baseball, and a history of our hobby. 
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?
Way too many favorites to try and narrow it to one. But if I must, it’s a shot of a guy in a wheelchair.

It’s the ’59 Topps Roy Campanella Symbol of Courage tribute card. I hunted this card for years, trying to find a copy in good condition, and that I could afford. Finally, I got it.  
7. If you were forced to part with your entire collection except for one card, which card would you keep?
That would be the lucky pull that the guys from Crackin’ Wax pulled for me in a group break. They pulled a Topps Archives Sandy Koufax autograph. Really, it was a redemption card, which I then redeemed for my first and only on-card Koufax auto. At first, I planned to flip it for some quick cashola, but I wanted to live with it for a while. It’s now sat in my collection for over a year, and I don’t think that baby is going anywhere. 
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?  
Lots of my fellow collectors like oddball photos on cards. How about a set, or a parallel set of players in something outside of the usual posed or action photos? Getting doused by Gatorade, or signing autos, goofing off in the dugout, etc. 
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?  
Right out of college, I took a summer teaching job and never left the profession – until recently.  I taught for 15 years, and ended up as a university professor (yay!) and administrator (boo!) who ran an ESL department for 5 years.  Unfortunately, due to the recession, I have to reinvent myself yet again. I’m now trying to stretch my wings as a writer and an online entrepreneur. Time will tell how that all works out. 
10. What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?  Why?  
My previous university sent me on a recruiting trip to Taiwan back in 2009. I was there for 10 days and I LOVED it! What a beautiful island full of cool people. I almost didn’t want to return. Hawaii is a clooooooose second. 
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 love Mexican food in general, and huge burritos in particular. Nothing beats the original “Manuel’s special” at El Tepeyac in E.L.A, my old stomping grounds. You may have seen the place on Guy Fieri or Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows. 

12. Do you have any other hobbies besides card collecting?  
I love playing poker with my buddies. We’ve got a poker group that has been playing once a month for 12 years! We’re playing this Saturday! I also love sampling new craft beers. You’ll be seeing some kind of fusion of these things in my upcoming entreprenurial pursuits. 
13. Tell me something interesting about yourself (that we haven’t covered in the first twelve questions).
I previously mentioned becoming a teacher after college, but I didn’t study teaching. I studied art. In my 20’s I was a promising, up-and-coming artist in the L.A. art scene. My love was abstract painting, but I also worked with installations, photography and other art collaborations. I was considered one of the top 100 Chicano artists in the country! (Toot Toot!) 
As always, a huge thanks to Stealing Home for being the latest person to be spotlighted in my ongoing Better Know a Blogger theme week (which has turned into a theme month)!  Although Stealing Home isn't a teacher any longer, we can still chalk up yet another teacher in our blogging community!  

Moving on to SH's answers, I think the choice of one card to keep was cool - how often does one acquire their favorite card in a group break?  As someone who hosts group breaks, I always like when that happens for people in my break...good stuff!  The Roy Campanella card is pretty neat as well, I actually have never seen that card before so I learned something new!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Stealing Home's love of Mexican food.  My wife and I go on Mexican cooking kicks every now and then...and after seeing that massive burrito, I'm ready to start another one of those kicks!

Since tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and then the day after Christmas Day, I figure most people won't be reading the blogs so much so in fairness to my other Better Know a Blogger participants, I will NOT be posting a BKaB post for the next two days.  Don't worry, I'll still post something if all goes well, just not a theme week post.  

Merry Christmas everyone! 

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!!