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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

An Amazing Friend and 1/1's galore

Years ago when I met my wife, I was quickly introduced to her friend Lauren - who was married to a guy named Matt. Matt and I became quick friends, as we carried a similar passion: BASEBALL. And I kind of take credit for his getting back into the collecting game, although he had a history of it.

Anyways, Matt runs the fine blog DocHoloday. His passion in digital design, baseball and custom card making came together together recently, despite the ravages of Hurricane Harvey. Not to mention the absolute uncooperative nature of a certain custom card maker who refused to be even a little bit helpful in sharing the ins-and-outs of custom card making. Luckily, Matt is a smart and inventive guy and figured out the secrets of printing the cards and final presentation on his own through trial and error (and a bit of luck). You can see his whole process and recommendations on his blog, as he isn't quite so secretive or a jerk about it. He wants people to share in the fun, if they have a desire to do so, rather than hoard knowledge. Ok, I'll step off my soapbox now and show off some cards...

All of the cards have this placard on the back:
Pretty cool!
This is a full 5 x 7 that will probably travel with me to a signing opportunity at some point, then get framed! Next up, my two favorite 2B-men of all time!
The top two are a standard and a "diamond sparkle" variation! In the middle row is the ultra-rare Mascot variation, SP Action variation and then the standard card! Finally, the Biggios... wow, that's a standard card and then a SUPERFRACTOR variation next to it!

Finally, we have Nolan, Carlos and Bregman!
That Superfractor Nolan Gypsy Queen is even more beautiful in hand. Sorry, I screwed up and cut the scan off too far on the left side of this photo, makes it look mis-cut when they aren't!

Matt, thanks so much for these beautiful cards. I'm sure you'll see them again soon when the next TriStar show hits Houston and I bring them for autographs!

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Using Trump to Trade Up!

Recently, I was able to sell the 1/1 Donald Trump card that I had pulled. With it, I pulled off a massive trade with Tyler over at the twitter account @inc_ty. Along with some cash and a bunch of Team USA autographs, I was able to haul in this massive collection of hits!
ALTUVE!!!!! A sweeeeet frame auto from Allen & Ginter! Love the Musgrove autos, I know he has a bunch lately, so if any of you are looking to offload them, let me know. I'll gladly take them! Love the 5 swatch Springer relic. David Paulino spent most of the year suspended for PED's. Hoping he's just as promising a prospect when he returns next year, and if so I have some decent RC autos of his now!
This was a purchase with the remaining funds! Bregman RC graded auto for under $85? Sure. I have a feeling Alex is going to develop into a true superstar and we'll basically have All-stars at 3/4 of the infield positions for the next few years. Speaking of Bregman, below is the final piece of the trade reference above:
I know it may be hard to tell, but that's the Majestic laundry tag poking through the die-cut last name. 1/1 laundry tag out of National Treasures! SCORE! And they even got the photo done in a way that doesn't make it super obvious that they don't have the MLB license. Great job Panini.

Well, it was cool owning the Trump, but I'm much happier this this stack of loot!

Hopefully tomorrow I will get another post up, with a BUNCH of 1/1 cards that I recently obtained. Yes, I'm teasing a post, sue me...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Big News - Going Big Time

Hey everyone! I've got big news. I've joined up with a new card shop in Colorado Springs - The Iron Lion Collectibles. They will be offering sports cards as well as comics, MTG and all kinds of pop culture stuff. How do I fit in? Well, I'll be their official ONLINE BREAKER and blogger. We have started a new Facebook group - The Iron Lion Breakers. We will be doing live personal box breaks, draft breaks, and case breaks all via Facebook Live.

Currently we are working on getting the inventory and supplies ready to go, but I would anticipate we'll start breaking shortly after Thanksgiving. The store in Colorado Springs should open around this time as well, if any of you are in the area!

If you're active on Facebook, I would really appreciate you stopping by and asking to join the group. I plan on being live a few hours a night, 3 or 4 times a week. With all purchases shipping out the next day. Let me know if you have any questions!


Saturday, November 4, 2017

My Thoughts on an Astros WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP

Well, well, well... I'm sure you all are highly disappointed that you didn't get twice daily blog posts from me (minimum) on my emotional state over the past two weeks. Honestly, there are things you all just don't need to see, and my fragile emotions, heartburn, stomach upheaval and more over the course of the playoffs just really shouldn't be public knowledge. My wife, the dear blessed soul, is the only one who should have to put up with this and that's only because there are VOWS involved. But I would be remiss to just pass over this glorious topic: The Houston Astros are World Series Champions. (I almost started crying, again, typing that last sentence). One second, I'm verklempt, talk among yourselves... here's a topic: a chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea... discuss... ok, moving on...

And not only that, they did it in one of the most amazing World Series ever played. I'm 37, I've paid attention to and been able to watch probably the past 27 World Series at a level of awareness and understanding to be able to somewhat rank them in my head. I won't go through all 27 because, well, there are people paid good money to do that and I don't see any checks coming from the Dimwit Brigade. But I will say, with some admitted bias, that this 7-game series ranks as the best series of my lifetime, and I would say should rank in the top 5 of series across all of history. Two heavyweight teams, slugging it out over a full 7 games, back and forth. It had drama, and controversy, and a beautiful non-heart-attack-inducing finish. I couldn't have handled it if it was another Closer-Vs-Star-Hitter finish like Blue Jays-Phillies. Game 7 not being a nail biter is probably the difference between me typing this and the Hotwit having to get on here and tell y'all I'm hospitalized. There was more than once during the ALCS and WS where I literally could not sleep because my heart was pounding and my heartburn was killing me. Maybe the next time we make a playoff run it won't be as stressful, but I don't see how fans of teams who are more regularly in contention do it. I slept until almost 9:30 this morning, and I'm generally up by 5:30. My body is catching up on sleep and rest it's missed over the past two weeks and I can't imagine how crushed I'd be if we hadn't pulled it out. Totally worth it.

The ALDS: The Red Sox. I'll be honest, I didn't think this series would be much of a problem. Sale was faltering down the stretch as it was, and Boston was pretty much a perfect match up for our offense and pitching. Game three was an eye opener, but the boys got back on track and wrapped it up in 4. I feel for my Boston fan friends, that is a team with some talent but it seems to me like they are putting together a puzzle with pieces from several different puzzles and can't figure out why they don't fit together to make a pretty picture. Boston is on the edge of either building to a real contender or completely falling apart. Luckily for them, they stole Alex Cora from our staff to try and get it together. I think they'll be alright.

The ALCS: The Yankees. Good god, I dreaded this series whether we played the Yanks or the Indians. Both of them weren't the greatest of match-ups for us, but I did feel we had a slighter better chance against the Yanks. Again, amazing series and I love the fact that the home team took home each and every game. But definitely didn't like the feeling of being down 3-2. I also don't think my wife appreciated the cussing and screaming at Joe Buck either - but I will say that even she noticed the hard bias against the Astros from the media in this Series. She doesn't follow baseball super close, but she paid attention a LOT during the playoffs and between the MLB crew and Joe, she caught on to how HARD they were pushing to try and MAKE Aaron Judge be amazing. He's a three outcome hitter, and if you make a mistake he will drill it - hard and long and most likely over the fence. But he obviously can be struck out. I still don't understand why ANY pitcher would give him a fastball. Low and away breaking pitches... over... and over... and over... Get them close enough to the strike zone and the kid can't lay off. Anyways, I digress. The series coming back to Houston... man, doesn't that seem like 6 months ago... with each "majestic" Judge HR, there seemed to be the mundane Astros offense doing it's job. It took us 7 but we go through the Boston/NY juggernaut and into just our second World Series.

The WORLD FREAKIN' SERIES: I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe this team met/exceeded expectations and got to the promise land. Yes, the Verlander acquisition was HUGE and I truly believe that had it not happened, we'd be sitting here talking about the Yankees and Dodgers - with the Dodgers winning in 5 or 6. Verlander didn't win a game in the WS, but he was a difference maker in the field and in that clubhouse. (And no I don't care that he went to Italy to marry Kate rather than go to the parade). Game 1 was exactly what I thought it would be. A game that came down to Dallas making two bad pitches, and Kershaw only making 1 bad pitch. It was a GREAT game. Game 2, now that was a classic. Marwin somehow hitting that homerun in the 9th. And then Altuve & Correa going back-to-back... the Dodgers coming back for 2 more... and then Springer's HR that won it. Game 3 was our first look at Darvish in Dodger Blue, and I couldn't have been happier sending him to an early shower.

Game 4... I start a new paragraph here because this was the first game I went to in the World Series. The Hotwit was all in for getting tickets and I found a couple on Stubhub in my range. Turns out we were two rows from the very top of the stadium but it was still awesome: I was at a game in the WORLD SERIES. Now, it didn't end well for us. Most of the game was a pitcher's duel and then Ken Giles decided he was done having "control". It was a great experience, a bucket list item, as I didn't have a chance to go to the World Series in 2005.

So we moved on to Game 5, one that I felt would be pivotal in determining who was end up with the title. And my hopes were not high - with Kershaw on the mound, I felt we were in for a repeat of game 1. Two innings in, it wasn't looking good. In a 4-0 hole. Then our offense came to life and tied it up. And then Dallas gave up three more. And we came back and tied it again. Then Springer misplayed a ball he shouldn't have dove for. Then he tied it with a mammoth shot of his own. Back and forth with HRs and worn out bullpens. Again, a heavyweight slugfest. This was Holyfield and Tyson landing hay makers. I knew it would come down to who got the last AB, and with it being in Houston, I felt pretty good. Bregman with the HUGE single to score Fisher. Crowd goes nuts. Houston goes crazy - we have a 3-2 lead. But we have to go back to LA and win another.

Game 6... so the Hotwit and I start a conversation Monday around lunch time. Can we get to LA for game 6? Should we? Well, we DO have these credit card points racking up... and we DO have a "rainy day" account that we can borrow from... and tickets for game 6, FIELD LEVEL, are cheaper than the game 4 tickets I bought. Next thing I know, after a whirlwind day of travel, I'm sitting in my seats in Dodger Stadium. I actually got interviewed by the Houston Chronicle too! We are picture #4 if you're curious... But alas, this game didn't go very well for the Houston squad either. Justin Verlander pitched remarkably well. It just happened that Rich Hill and the Dodger bullpen pitched better. Springer got his solo homerun, but that was all we could muster. If you had told me in advance that Justin would go 6 and give up only 2 runs, I'd have bet you a lot of money we win that game. But it wasn't meant to be. As much as I would have loved to, we just couldn't stay for game 7. And after seeing some of the Dodger fans react to winning game 6, I don't know if I'd have felt real safe at game 7 anyways, win or lose.

So, game 7... magnificent pitching by our Astros staff. Most notably Charlie Morton. Can you believe that the 4 most important innings of the entire season were pitched by Charlie Morton???? A guy that people scoffed at when we handed him 2 years and $14 million? A guy many thought should have gotten a minor league deal based on his performance (or lack thereof) with the Phillies last season. A guy with major injury history. This was redemption. This was Charlie going out and pitching the game of his life. 4 innings against that vaunted (if not deflated) Dodger line-up. Wow. George may have gotten the series MVP, but Charlie was amazing throughout the series and pitched remarkably well. Not bad for a guy slotted in the #4 or #5 spot going into Spring Training. I should also touch on the offense. They rocked Yu Darvish again. And I saw an article highlighting Eduardo Perez's take, that Darvish may have been tipping his pitches. And if he was, good job for our guys figuring it out and bad job on the Dodgers for not noticing it as well and correcting it. Either way, if you basically tell the hitters what you're about to throw, it's really hard to get them out. It was a bit of a boring game after we put up a 5 spot and our pitching showed they weren't going to open the door to let the Dodgers back in. Those last three outs. It was amazing. Standing in my parent's living room in Houston. Throwing my arms up in the air. Feeling the wave of emotion flow over me. They had done it. They did it for Houston. They won. The Houston Astros had something that no one could take away. A trophy. A championship. It is our first. And hopefully not our last.

Before I go... I'll address the whole Yuli Gurriel controversy. I won't gloss over it, but I will say that my feelings on it are conflicting. Should he have done it, absolutely not. Should he be vilified and made out to be some kind of walking monster, absolutely not. The media kept saying it was "targeted" and an "attack". I don't see it that way at all. He wasn't on the front step of the dugout, yelling at Darvish, pointing at him, etc. He was in a place where he thought he was out of sight and out of mind. He was relating a story to teammates who possibly couldn't understand him really well, and in the language he is accustomed to in his homeland. This is a story that would have never caught local or national attention in another era. But we live in a world dominated by social media, and an ever disappearing line between private and public life. Biased or not, I don't believe Yuli is some kind of racist monster. I think he made a poor choice in the way he communicated, had a big lack of situational awareness and is going to pay a hefty price for it. And he'll learn from it. I think we all need to look no further than Yu Darvish's statement on the matter. We aren't perfect. Yu isn't. Yuli isn't. The sooner we all learn to get off our social media soap boxes (yes, I see the irony), the better of we'll be. If EVERY person's most private mistake were to become a matter of public record and social commentary, I believe we'd all want to pull the veil back over our lives and disappear. So, Yuli will be suspended for 5 games next season. Obviously the Dodgers fans wanted a stiffer penalty, but the CBA would never allow it - and the appeals process would last well into the off season. There was no way he would be suspended for a game in the World Series. He's a good guy and been a good teammate. He's not a villain.

Alright, I'm down off my soapbox. The World Series was all I hoped it would be. And I made it through without my first heart attack. Win/win.