Wednesday, August 31, 2016

WARNING: This post doesn't have much (if anything) to do with cards...But I hope you will still read it.

First off, let me apologize to those that keep their cardboard blogs separate from "other" things in life, life politics. I do the same, and I enjoy that I can escape to a place that, outside of the occasional cardboard representation of a politician, is free from controversy (at least in terms of politics). For those that do this, I tell you now that this post is about an issue that has sprung up in our society, so if you don't want any part of that (and Lord knows, I certainly don't blame you), please stop reading now. I will most certainly not be offended.

If you wonder why I am posting something along those lines here, let me give a brief explanation. I'm working on my PhD with a plan to go into academia when I am finished. I'm a conservative (that doesn't plan on voting for Trump - I always feel the need to throw in that qualifier), and research has consistently shown that academia is a left-leaning/tilting/in-some-places-falling-over field. That's fine. I have a ton of liberal professors that adhere to the notion that the academy is a place for all ideas to be debated, and as such, they respect me and my beliefs in the same manner that I respect them. That being said, those doing the hiring are often far less forgiving. Hence, I don't feel comfortable posting a lot of political things on Facebook or other social media outlets.

Therefore, you have to put up with this.

Last week, Collin Kaepernick made the news for all the wrong reasons. Though he had sat through the National Anthem the past two weeks, last week the media finally took notice. He was grilled over the decision, which he says is in response to the "oppression of black people" by the police in this country. By standing for the anthem, he claims, he would be ignoring the plight of the oppressed.

I was disappointed by his decision. I feel that most sports venues play the anthem as a way to honor the men and women serving in the armed forces, and they say as much when they ask everyone to stand. As a now-former PR practitioner, I knew that he would get backlash and the reason for his display would either go unnoticed or be trivialized. I was right.

But then I started reading comments about Kaepernick from people of all political ideologies and walks of life. They were hateful and nasty, well beyond what should be considered an appropriate response. Videos began to emerge of people burning his jersey, using extremely foul language directed at him. If anything, the public was doing a good job to reinforce the idea that racism and hate are alive and well in this country.

I asked my cousin - who could be better described as my brother - his thoughts on the situation. He was bothered, mostly by the commentary on police (his brother-in-law, who happens to also be my cousin/brother, is a detective). He felt it was an unfair portrayal of all police. When I asked if he felt disrespected, personally, he couldn't care less.

And that's when I was finally able to put my finger on what was really bothering me from this whole situation: faux-patriotism.

As an American, we all have the right to complain about things. I do it all the time. However, some of us (especially on the right) like to call out others for not acting like a true American patriot. We do it for a host of reasons, but it seems to me the primary reason is to silence those who disagree with us. This really bothers me, as I feel that as a conservative, I am often called a racist and a bigot for the same reason (for the record, I am neither a racist or a bigot).

So, here's my plea. If you're a vet and feel disrespected by Kaepernick's words, then you have every right to feel that way and I think everyone would agree that you have the right to feel that way. However, if you're an armchair patriot who feels he disrespected our veterans, then get your ass off the couch and put your money where your mouth is. Do something besides standing for the National Anthem to show your patriotism. What can you do? Well, let me give you a few places to start. 

Nearly 50,000 veterans are homeless. That is 10% of the entire homeless population in this country. No person should be homeless, especially those that have offered their own lives as sacrifice for the protection of our country. You can help end veteran homelessness by donating or volunteering with local veteran advocate groups. For instance, Lubbock has the Veterans Resource Coordination group. This organization helps homeless vets find a place to live, a job, and any physical or mental health services they may need. Any donation you make to a similar group in your community will surely help someone.

Another way you can help is by becoming an informal advocate for veterans in your community. Be a voice for those who have a hard time speaking for themselves. Let community leaders now that more attention needs to be given to veterans issues.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do, however, is to help end veteran suicide. The veteran suicide rate in the United States is almost 50% higher than other groups. Veterans who commit suicide often need help that they cannot find, either because they don't know where to look or because our Veteran's Affairs system is incredibly inefficient (that's another blog post). There are a host of groups that are working to end veteran suicide. One that I am a fan of is called 22Kill. The organization promotes the "battle buddy" system in civilian life. This puts veterans with their civilian brothers and sisters who will advocate on their behalf. There are other groups that work to end veteran suicide, including the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide, Mission 22, Stop Soldier Suicide and Active Heroes, among others.

There are other ways to help that I haven't mentioned. In all honesty, there are just too many groups to name, all of which would appreciate donations of treasure and time. One of the simplest ways you can help, however, may be to just talk to a vet. If you know a man or woman who served, let them know that if they ever need anything, even if it's just an ear, you will be there. If you see a homeless veteran, offer him or her whatever you can. Share a meal with them. Listen to their story. Perhaps you will think of a way to help them if you do. Just make the effort.

So there you have it. You may feel that Collin Kaepernick's actions are disrespectful toward veterans. But if you only sit on the couch and complain about him - if you don't take action to honor and support those who have sacrificed for your freedoms - are you really any different? Stop saying you are a patriot - prove that you are.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

And The Winner Is.....

The man from Peoria!

Tom, I'm putting together a package for you! It will be in the mail this week!

Thanks to everyone for participating and voting!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

PC Needs Are Getting Harder to Find

First, don't forget to vote for your favorite card room!

My Matt Harrison PC is and has been my primary focus for the last few months, maybe even a year. I've been buying more cards for it than any other. I've done so well in building it, in fact, that the cards I haven't acquired are becoming harder and harder to find.

However, on occasion, one will pop up that I need. Usually, I have to overpay for it to ensure that I get it. Sometimes, though, I can get one for a steal. For instance, I snagged this off eBay last Wednesday:

Though it looks a little orange-ish, this is actually Harry's gold refractor from 2008 Bowman Draft.

Numbered 39 of 50, this is a welcome addition. Now, if I can only find the other low-numbered parallels...

Contest Entrants!!!

After a delay, the contest has officially closed! Thanks to everyone that posted and shared, and thanks to everyone for reading the posts!

I'm glad that I don't have to choose a winner because I don't think I could do it! Here's how the judging will work: below, you will find a link to each card room/man cave that was entered. Take a moment to read each one, then select the room you like the most in the poll that is located on the right-side column. It's that simple! Voting will remain open through Friday, August 26!

Contestants, feel free to link back to this post to encourage your readers to vote for you!

Here are the entries:

Click 'em all and read 'em all! Then make sure you vote!

Thanks again to everyone that participated and read!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Contest Extended!!!!

My trip to my alma mater lasted longer than I expected. As such, I am extending the "show me your card room" contest for a few extra days!

I am accepting entries until noon (Central time) this Wednesday, August 24!!!

All you have to do is create a post showing off your cardboard dojo and then post the link in the comment section here!

That's it! So incredibly simple!

I also have a few more pics to share...Some things I keep in my office. Let's take a look!

I keep a few bobbleheads on my bookshelf in my office. I'm working on acquiring more, though I don't know if I will ever be on Dan's level.

I also display my Dallas Mavericks team-signed ball from (I think) 2013. I can't remember when I got it. And yes, I think America needs American oil. hahahaha

Baseball cards are not the only things I try to collect. I also love music. Here are a few concert posters that I have:

This is a signed gig poster from the rock band Taproot. Taproot has been one of my favorite bands since I was in high school. I finally got to see them around Thanksgiving in 2013. While performing one of my favorite songs ("Mine"), lead singer Stephen Richards took my phone and recorded while he was singing (around the 2:20 mark in the video below). I know some people frown upon recording songs at shows, but when the band and their music has been a serious part of your life, I think it's perfectly fine.

I have a couple more concert posters in my office:

I haven't had an opportunity hang these yet. One is from the Weezer/Panic tour earlier this year. The other is from a Trombone Shorty show that was in Fort Worth last Christmas.

So there it is, go forth and conquer.

MASSIVE EDIT ALERT - I originally posted this right after a 17-hour drive and I was falling asleep while working on it. There were A TON of issues with this post, but I think I have corrected them. Thanks for not making me feel like a moron for the incoherent gibberish that was in this post!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Contest Extension!!!

I'm still on the road, so I am extending my contest until this Wednesday! More details to come!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Surprise From P-Town

I have been too busy to check my mail for most of the week, but I managed to get over to the mailbox today. I was surprised to see a PWE that made its way from Peoria.

Tom, the mind behind Waiting Till Next Year, sent me a card that he pulled from 2016 Topps Chrome:

This is the refractor version of Luke Jackson's rookie card. I have yet to buy a box of Chrome this year, but this card was certainly on my list of cards I wanted from the set!

Thanks Tom!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My "Card Room" is Code for "My Entire Apartment" (And a CONTEST!!!!)

Word on the street is that Jaybarkerfan declared war on Bob Walk The Plank....

With that in mind, I am going to get this post out so I can sit back and watch the battle unfold.

Since joining the cardboard blogging community, I've learned that there are some incredible writers out there. There are also a ton of fascinating posts. Of all the different topics that are featured, one thing I like to read about the most is a blogger's "card room." 

I have joked in the past about having OCD tendencies - I really do have them - so seeing how someone has their collection organized really makes me happy. 

So I've been thinking about how I can get my collection organized. The weeks leading up to my visit to Minneapolis featured very little time at home, much less working on my collection. Today was my first real day to take a break from school and relax, so I decided to start getting organized.

Before I start, however, I want to show you how my "card room" stands at the moment. Rather than being a room, it has pretty much spread to my entire one-bedroom, 800 square-foot apartment. Let's take a look (no judgment!):

This bookshelf was intended to be a temporary storage spot for a few books and some binders until I bought a better bookshelf. I'm kind of a tightass, so I can't yet bring myself to spend a large amount of money on a "proper" bookshelf. You can see my binders on the bottom shelf. The middle and top shelves are holding actual books and a few cards. The top of the bookshelf has quite a few loose cards that need to be logged and sorted into my collection and trade bait. 

This is the corner of my dresser. On it, a ton of loose Bowman. To the right, a small box of unsorted Rangers cardboard on top of my sorting tray...which is full of Rangers cardboard that is in the process of being sorted! Underneath the tray are four 3200 count boxes (which you can't see) that are slowly being sorted as well. Even further to the right (and not in the photo) are my autographed and game-used bats.

Now we move to my one and only closet. The top rack has a few cards that are parts of various collections (Along with some of my Funko Pop! bobbleheads - I know, I'm a nerd)....

On the top rack we have a few of the sets I've decided to keep from my days of trying to build every set that Topps releases (which was a stupid idea)....

Up top, boxes from my Rangers bobbleheads. Below, in the box on the left resides my trade bait. The middle box houses my slabbed cards, and I'm not really sure what is in the box on the right.

Tucked away in one corner of my living room are my Blu-Rays and DVDs. On top are a few of my autographed baseballs. I'm working on a better way to display these, but I haven't found a way that I can afford yet. Remember, I'm a poor graduate student!

Lastly, and perhaps most embarrassingly, is my desk. I have cards all over the place here, all of which need to be logged and put away. This desk is really a mess.

So there you have it. Now you know why I am trying to get organized. The collection is officially an absolute mess. 

But wait, this is all just an intro for a CONTEST!!!!

Here's what I'm asking: Write up a post that features your "card room" and share it with us all! Include some pictures, as I need ideas on how to get organized. Once you've finished your post, paste a link to your post in the comments below! The contest will be open until Monday, August 21, so that gives you 8 days!

Once all links are posted, I will make a post strictly for them. Then I will put all entries into a poll and allow my readers to vote for their favorite post! The voting will be open until Friday, August 26. The person receiving the most votes will win a package of cardboard from me! 

I hope to see a ton of card rooms! LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Joey Gallo PC

2016 Bowman Chrome Top 100 Gold Parallel
2016 Gypsy Queen Base
2016 Gypsy Queen Relic Gold /50
2016 Gypsy Queen Relic Base
2016 Heritage Base SP
2016 Heritage Chrome Black Refractor
2016 Heritage Grainy Front Glossy Back
2016 Topps Series 2 Reverse Negative Parallel

2015 Bowman Chrome Farm's Finest Mini Green Refractor /99
2015 Bowman Chrome Power Players
2015 Bowman Futures Game Relic /25
2015 Bowman Inception Green Auto /99
2015 Bowman Inception Auto Relic
2015 Bowman Inception Inception Auto Base
2015 Heritage High Number Base
2015 Heritage High Number Wood Grain - Glossy Back
2015 Topps Career High Auto
2015 Topps Chrome RC SP
2015 Topps Chrome Update Pulsar Refractor
2015 Topps Heritage '51 Base
2015 Topps Heritage High Number Action Variation
2015 Topps Strata Shadowbox Auto
2015 Topps Update US14
2015 Topps Update Photo Variation
2015 Topps Update US103 Base
2015 Topps Update US103 No Topps Logo

2014 Bowman
2014 Bowman Chrome Bowman Top Prospects Insert Die Cut /99
2014 Bowman Chrome Bowman Top Prospects Insert
2014 Bowman Chrome
2014 Bowman Chrome Refractor
2014 Topps Pro Debut

2013 Bowman Chrome Base Refractor
2013 Bowman Chrome Blue Wave Refractor
2013 Bowman Chrome Black Wave Refractor
2013 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor
2013 Bowman Chrome Cream of the Crop Mini Refractor Blue
2013 Bowman Chrome Rising Through The Ranks Mini Refractor
2013 Bowman Chrome Top 100 Diecut Insert
2013 Bowman Chrome Top 100 Insert
2013 Bowman Platinum Base
2013 Bowman Platinum Refractor Base
2013 Bowman Platinum Refractor Blue
2013 Bowman Platinum Refractor Green
2013 Bowman Platinum Refractor Purple
2013 Bowman Platinum Xfractor
2013 Bowman Platinum Top Prospects Insert
2013 Heritage Minors
2013 Topps Pro Debut Gold

2012 Bowman Draft Chrome Base
2012 Bowman Draft Chrome Base Auto BGS 9/10

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Adding More Pieces to the 1969 Puzzle

Before I left for Minneapolis, I received a card in the mail that is, in my eyes, a significant piece of the 1969 Topps set that I am working on. It isn't a rookie card, it isn't an All Star card, it isn't even a card of a future Hall of Famer (but you can blame that on Bud Selig)...but it is a card that I am excited to have:

I snagged this PSA 4 Pete Rose for my set. I really love this card. I can't really explain why, but I do.

Before I received this card in the mail, I was able to add my first Mickey Mantle to my collection, also part of the 1969 set:

Okay, so it isn't the Mantle from the set (which is the lone remaining card on my 2016 Most Wanted list), but it's a '69 Mantle nonetheless. I'm sure you've noticed that a previous owner used this card the way it was designed to be used. The checked boxes aren't limited to the front, however:

The previous owner also marked the back. A little while back, I posted about the '69 Bob Gibson PSA 1 I added. In that post, I noted that I love the card because it was well-loved. I could imagine a young kid pull the card from a pack. I do the same with this card. A young man working feverishly to collect all of the cards on this checklist and patiently checking off each card as he acquired it. I love the history this card represents.

So there you have it, the newest pieces to my 1969 puzzle. I hope you enjoy the cards as much as I do!

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Quick Complaint

I just got back from Minneapolis (it went great!), and I quickly logged in to update some grades for the class I am teaching. In doing so, I decided to give Twitter a brief look.

Big mistake.

I noticed a tweet chain that Tony, the mind behind the awesome Brewer's cardboard blog Off Hiatus Baseball Cards, was participating in. The participants were discussing the new Topps Now relic card from Ichiro's 3,000 hit game, many of which are selling for $180 - $999, depending on which parallel you are interested in.

The conversation moved from this card specifically to parallels in general, and the common agreement was that parallels are a way for Topps to make an extra dime.

In general, I agree with this. That being said, I am one of those who chases parallels. I do this for multiple reasons: first, I have major OCD and feel the need to collect them all (like they are Pokemon, which I have ZERO desire to collect); and second, I get bored of seeing plain, white-bordered cards. Parallels can "spice up" a collection up an inject some color in what is otherwise a boring set.

Being the a**hole that I am, I decided to play devil's advocate. I interjected and asked what everyone would say to collector's who enjoy parallel chasing or rainbow building. After a few quick exchanges, the person said that parallel chasing is a "stupid mentality that is ruining the hobby."

Now, I often see collector's doing things and paying amounts that I think are just insane. However, I've always felt that if you have the funds, you should do whatever you want to do when it comes to your own collection. Your actions in no way affect me or other collectors, regardless of what people may say. If everyone thinks whatever Topps is doing is a joke or gimmick, then they will stop buying the product (look at Bowman Platinum). However, as long as there are people who want to buy the product, Topps will continue to produce it.

My point is this: just because you don't enjoy or appreciate something Topps is doing doesn't mean that there isn't someone out there that does. Labeling that collector as stupid or saying they are ruining the hobby is silly. We're talking about cardboard here - we all are a bit goofy. 

None of this is to say that Topps doesn't deserve criticism - let's talk about the repetitive use of the same photo, their poor customer service or their extremely slow redemption fulfillment - I'm just saying let's not turn on each other.

I hope everyone is well!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A TTM That Literally Moved Me To Tears (Or, The One Post I Hope You Read)

It's 1:45 in the morning and I just walked into my apartment. The past week and a half has been incredibly tough. Beyond some personal issues, I've been preparing for a research conference in Minneapolis that begins Thursday. I'll be presenting one of my papers, and it's been a bit stressful.

Supposedly, it's good for my career to present at these. I'm not so certain it isn't terrible for my health. But it is what it is.

Anyway, the stress has really been killing me, not just physically, but emotionally as well. I know you don't want to hear a sob story, so I will spare you. As I said, I just walked in the door. But first, I had to stop and check my mail because I knew that a card I ordered arrived earlier. However, when I checked my mailbox, I had something else waiting for me, something that made me instantly start crying...

This is an 8x10 photo of Tom Watson as he crosses Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews a final time. The image was taken in July of 2015. I remember watching it on television and breaking down into tears.

I don't look at athletes as heroes or even role models, for that matter. They're people, just like me...they just happen to be really good at a sport. That's awesome, but not enough to call someone a hero. Don't get me wrong - I still get excited when I'm in the presence of an elite athlete - but I'm not going to encourage my (imaginary) son to try to model his life after him.

However, as with almost everything, there is an exception. Tom Watson is my exception. You see, ever since I can remember, I have watched golf with my grandfather. My father-figure throughout my life, Pap (as I call him) has been instrumental in teaching everything from riding a bike to what it means to be a man, and everything in between. I've been by his side, playing and watching golf since I was three years old. 

Tom Watson is my grandfather's favorite golfer. He has been for as long as I can remember. When we would watch, my grandfather would instruct me to pay attention - "Do see how he addresses the ball? You've got to step up like you've got a pair, like Watson does." "Did you see how he kept his head down all the way through the follow through? You gotta keep yours down, too." I learned how to play watching Watson and my grandfather. 

My grandfather isn't in the greatest health. About four years ago, he had a debilitating stroke and hasn't been able to play since. I still take him out when I'm home - I tell him I need help with my swing, and sometimes I intentionally screw up just so I can get the "old" Pap to come out - and my cousin makes an effort to bring him to our country club's Thursday-night scrambles so he can ride and chat with his old friends. But it isn't the same when he isn't on the course.

We still have Tom Watson, though. We watch (mostly Senior PGA events these days, at least when we're watching Tom) and he still coaches. It reminds me of all those years spent in the summer, all the 6:30 a.m. tee times (to beat the heat). It reminds me of the times I've wanted to throw my 5 iron in the lake, and the times I've seen my grandfather wrap a putter around a tree (no joke - I've seen it at least five times). It reminds me of the times when I would watch my grandfather, idolizing him and wishing...hoping...that I could be half the golfer - and the man - that he is.

For this, Tom Watson is my hero. Not because of anything he has done on the course - which he has done a lot - but because in him, I see my grandfather. These are tears of joy, and I am forever grateful for Mr. Watson for sending them to me.