The Collector

Collecting means something different to a lot of people. It can involve multiple goals, many different techniques, countless motivating factors and it lives on a sliding scale of importance. Ultimately, we all have the same hobby but we just go about it differently from one another in most cases. More often than not, collecting is instilled in us at an early age and both our childhood and our environment play a major role in our development within the hobby as adults. There are a lot of reasons/factors that formed the way I collect today. Some are tangible and some are just second nature at this point; but they all have helped me evolve into who I am today.

Let’s start with this very important truth; There is no wrong way to collect (except searching)! Always collect what/who you want to collect and don’t give a second thought to what other people think about it. If you want to collect only basketball cards with players in blue jerseys that are in the motion of a jump shot; Knock yourself out! Who am I (or anyone else) to tell you that it is weird or somehow not the right way to go about collecting? Collecting is supposed to make you happy or help you step away from your daily struggles and if you don’t do it your way, you are wasting that opportunity.

Let me go over some of the factors that brought me here and tell you what collecting is to me. Again, some of these are tangible lessons learned while some are just experiences that I return to when I’m sorting. In any event, they are what make the hobby fun for me still today. And by definition, a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” These are the things that molded me and brought me pleasure over my life, as it relates to the world of cardboard. Maybe by the end of this, you will recognize some of the things that have made you the collector you are today.

Collecting to me as a kid was sitting in my floor and making an all-star team out of the good players in the packs I ripped. Sometimes, the team wasn’t made up completely of real life all-stars. As a kid, I was lucky to squeeze 2-3 packs out of a trip to Wal-Mart with my parents. While that may have been all I got, I sincerely mean that I was lucky because those trips were priceless. My 3 packs of Donruss may have resulted in me having Jerry Browne or Albert Hall on those all-star teams I formed. I would read the stats on the back to help me finalize the team and home runs or average usually won the tie breakers. I laid the cards out in the baseball field layout and that would be my team. I decided to rip a couple packs of ’89 Donruss just for this piece so I could put together an all-star team to picture. What do you think of this team? The bad part is my infield is weak but I had to pick between Glenn Davis and Mark Grace at 1st!

As touched on above, collecting was reading card backs. That is how I learned about players who didn’t play for the Braves or Cubs. I was able to watch those two teams every day because of the national television stations they were on. When they played the Pirates or the Astros, I could usually look out for Glenn Davis or Andy Van Slyke because I had read up on their stats on card backs. I studied the cards front and back and I liked players because of what I learned about them. A great follow on Twitter is @sportcardbacks because he will share some of the more interesting card backs from the “old days”, which happen to be right in my childhood collecting days. Even now, in 2018, I just learned that Glenn Davis’ home was Columbus, Ga!

All-Star and MVP Cards used to mean something. In a world where relics and autographs were unheard of, we spent our time trying to chase down insert cards. While all sets varied with the exact insert sets they had to offer, almost all of them had some form of a “best of the best” subset. Donruss had MVP’s, Score had the All-Star sketches, Topps had the Bold All-Star Cards and so on. Collecting big names was how you filled your binder pages and loaded up on trade bait. Those cards are in dime boxes at card shows now. Back then, they were the cards in the glass cases!

I learned how to collect because of RBI Baseball and the time I spent playing against my uncle’s on that game. RBI 3 even allowed you to play with teams that won pennants during the 80’s. I could play with the 1985 Royals and it made me want to collect George Brett. Sometimes, I would be the ’84 Tigers and I would go searching for “Sweet” Lou Whitaker or “Never Fret” Chet Lemon. I learned about baseball players from two key sources; cards and RBI Baseball. And I took every opportunity to intertwine those two hobbies of mine. My love for Jose Canseco was actually born on RBI 3 and the fact that he was a hobby superstar only made it stronger.

Collecting was reading up on cards in the Beckett magazine. I had a unique way of opening packs in 1989 and 1990 that was totally dependent on me having a Beckett magazine handy. I bought the mag each month so that never was a big problem. I would open my packs with the backs of the cards facing up and would slide each card just enough to reveal only the card number for the next one. I would go to my Beckett and find the number in the price guide and my excitement would be dependent on whether it was listed or not. If it was listed, I knew it was going to be worth .15 or more and if it wasn’t, I knew it was a common. Excitement was really high when those cards turned out to be Jr. or Gary Sheffield or Ricky Jordan. Those were $1.00 plus cards and worth more than what the actual pack cost. If Beckett had published a History or Spanish book that I enjoyed as much as their price guide, I probably would have been valedictorian of my class!

Collecting was sitting in the lunch room of my high school before homeroom and comparing hits with my buddies. I hit a 1990 Donruss Diamond King Ken Griffey Jr and was the talk of the class one morning. You were somehow better than everyone else on the days you had the big hit. I remember the ’89 Bo Jackson baseball/football card, ’90 Score Frank Thomas, ’90 Upper Deck John Olerud and ’91 Stadium Club Phil Plantier as some of the bigger cards I showed off in that lunchroom. I never beat David and his Andre Dawson Elite but I had some pretty good pulls back in the day.

I enjoy going through a box of old cards, even if it’s loaded with Tommy Herr or Franklin Stubbs, because it takes me back to my youth. Even though it’s called “Junk Wax”, I have never considered those cards junk. I have a few boxes that I’ll go through every year and I already know what cards are there but I will sort them in a different way just to have an excuse to go through them again. I’ll do it with ’91 Fleer, ’85 Topps or ’89 Upper Deck; I don’t have any bias against cardboard. I may not like some of the designs, like ’90 Donruss, but that doesn’t mean I’m trashing those cards. I don’t trash cards at all to be honest. I pass them down or send them to other collectors if they aren’t going to stay in my collection. One reason is that you just never know when a particular card value may rebound. But more importantly, the cards just mean too much to me.

I enjoy autographs, patches, printing plates, serial numbers, graded cards, and just about any other modern day frill you can think of. But I’ll never forget my roots and I’ll never get too far from home. I’ll never choose a pack of 2017 Contenders over a pack of 1987 Fleer. I’m being 100% honest when I type that. For my enjoyment, I would rather have a Bo Jackson rookie than a DeShaun Watson rookie. I know that values are different and I could make more money on eBay and there is more demand for Watson; I get all of that. But that’s not why I’m in this game. Would I sell a Watson to make money? There’s no question about that. But do you know what I would do with at least a portion of that money? I’d go buy a box of 1987 Fleer! The cards I sell don’t make me rich and they won’t pay my bills, but they will help me buy more cards to support my Hobby. That’s my stance on buying and selling. I’m probably in the minority but I’d usually rather give the card to someone who would like it in their collection.

Now, if we’re talking about money cards, I have no problem flipping those to buy more cards. Again, everybody collects different and I don’t think any less of anyone who does it different from what I do. I’ve periodically sold on eBay and Twitter and have no problem with others that do so more often. That’s definitely an important sector of the community because I do buy from time to time. I just don’t see dollar signs when I open product anymore. I did when I was a kid but they were literally $1.00 signs. The tireless hunt for the 1:1’s or the star autographs can both drive you mad and break the bank. That’s part of why I still delve so much in the junk wax era. I pay a reasonable price for what I consider to be good cards and I’m not driven by money at any point during the transaction. It’s not a business to me. It can be, and is, to some; and there is zero wrong with that, but it isn’t me.

Finally, and this might be the most important aspect of collecting to me; it gives me a different purpose, tangible goals and an excuse. Let me explain. I have been married for 17 years, have 2 kids (Age 10 & 3) and have worked at the same job for 20 years. Every day I wake up, I know what my purpose is. I have built the life I have now because it is the life I wanted. I married my high school sweetheart, we have beautiful kids and I’m stable in my career. Isn’t that the American Dream? But as with most other people, it is hard sometimes to live a systematic life without sometimes feeling like a robot. That’s where this hobby comes in. I am constantly challenged by cards; whether it’s finding an old classic, reviewing a new product or trying to complete a project. “Every pack is different”, so to speak.

I am able to be the kid that never grew up when I’m sorting cards. I’m able to mentally sit in my old bedroom and watch the neon dance on the front of 1990 Topps just like I did when I was 13. And the key; there is no pressure. I have pressure in every other aspect of my life; the family, bills, the job. There is absolutely no weight that comes with ripping and sorting. It’s a freeing experience for me and is one of the few things in my life that can immediately lift weight off of my shoulders. And because it does that for me emotionally, it gives me the perfect excuse to be that kid that still wants it to be 1989.

Collecting cards truly means that much to me. It is as close to being a religious experience as you can get without actually having a religious experience. It touches me in a real, palpable sense but the hobby also has emotional, spiritual and therapeutic components to it. Cards are a complete sensory experience for me. I can obviously feel the cards but I can usually smell the card and tell you if it is Topps, Fleer, Donruss, etc. I can envision the setting I was in the first time I pulled a particular card. I can taste the horrible gum that still exists in residue form on my old cards. And the sound of a wax pack being opened is one of the sweetest sounds a 40 year old card addict can hear.

I know what you’re thinking right now. You can’t imagine that the act of collecting sports cards could ever be this important to a person’s life. I’m telling you unequivocally that it is. I love this hobby and I want to spread the feeling that I have to every collector I meet. I don’t care what you collect or how you collect; as long as you collect, you are part of the family!

J-Dub

The Power Of Random Memories

Sometimes life can come at you pretty fast. It’s easy to get bogged down in our day to day lives and take everything around us for granted. We constantly want time to go by too fast. We are ready for the work day to be over, we are ready to go to bed, we are ready for an event a week or month in the future, we are ready for our vacation, we are ready for Christmas! Being ready and anxious for things though means that we are certainly not living in the present like we should be. But life has a way of reminding you sometimes that you have to slow down and appreciate what is in front of you today rather than what the future might bring.

Focusing on the now helps me remember that while I am always ready for the work day to be over, I do have a job to be thankful for. I am fortunate that I have been coming to the same job for the last 20 years and I know my co-workers and I know my customers. I don’t have to learn a new trade and I don’t have to lie in bed at night wondering where my next meal will come from. For that, I am truly thankful. My job has given me the ability to enjoy life and have events to look forward to. Sure, sometimes I get bogged down and only think about having to be there and not being able to spend those moments doing something fun and exciting. But hey, it could always be worse.

When I get home from work, I find myself longing for sleep. I am tired and my mind is ready to shut off. But before I go to bed, I usually have supper to plan, laundry to navigate and kids to help with homework and give baths to. What I often forget when I have my eye on that late night crawl into my cool bed in my dark bedroom, are the people around me that I am doing these chores for. I focus too heavily on the work sometimes and not the reason for the work. My wife has been a part of my life for over 20 years and I never want to lose the desire to do anything for her. I never want to take her for granted. And while I look forward to growing old with her, I’m not ready to be old yet! Wishing away today just makes that happen sooner.

My kids are my life and even though it can be stressful, I don’t know where I would be today without them. While I wish there were some things they could do on their own, like getting a snack out of the refrigerator or turning the bath water on, I am not ready for them to grow up either. It’s easy to miss the moments when I am folding laundry and Georgia wants to help and folds clothes that I have to refold. It’s easy to miss the positives when I have to stop what I’m doing to try and remember 5th Grade math rules with Bailey. The positive is that she still needs my help and comes to me when she can’t do things on her own. That won’t always be the case. You have to take the hard work that comes with having the good times and sometimes that is difficult.

Wishing for my vacation time will fast forward my life 4 full months! I’ll miss Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter and even Bailey’s birthday if all I can focus on are those 5 days of freedom from work where we might travel somewhere fun to enjoy ourselves. Wishing for Christmas Day makes me lose the fun of the weeks leading up to Christmas when we pick out a tree, wrap presents, navigate the world of Elf on the Shelf and watch all the fun holiday classics on TV. Everything you rush to in the future makes you lose time today. That’s just the bottom line. I don’t know how to deal with that just yet but I am going to figure it out.

One thing I have figured out is how to look back on yesterday and find the great times that I had and may have taken for granted at the time. I am a self proclaimed expert when it comes to living in the past and remembering the “good ole days.” I remember even the smallest of meaningless moments when I get my mind set on exploring old events. There are some major parts I may misremember or leave out but it’s the strange small details that I seem to remember that make some of these moments a blast to relive through my blog. I might even get a year wrong but I’m likely going to remember the shirt I was wearing or the music in the background. I guess I’m sort of random like that.

Remembering those good times makes me appreciate the life I have lived so far. I have been very fortunate to have great family and friends that have provided for great memories that have been building blocks over the years. I have made mistakes and I have memories of those as well. But all of the memories I carry with me every day of my life have helped me accept and appreciate that no matter what tomorrow brings, I have lived a great life up until today. I hope to say the same tomorrow.

Memories are what sustain me and I love it. I remember the time me and Coop stayed up all night playing Nintendo and in a fit of disappointment, he flailed his arms and brought down a shelf of photos and decor in my living room, waking my mother at 3 am. I can’t think of a time throughout middle and high school that didn’t include my cousins Coop, Trent, Corey or Jared either. I was blessed with some really cool cousins growing up. Me and Coop would play basketball at his house until one of us scored 100 points and we would start all over again. Coop’s family also had a place at Fort Gaines with us so we spent a lot of time together their too. We almost flipped a golf cart there and I did push him off the back of it once and he broke his wrist.

I spent time at Trent’s watching Arnold movies like Total Recall and Predator. My favorite movie was Aliens at one point and I remember watching it with him and my Aunt Nancy for the first time. I always got my scary movie fix at their house!

Corey, Jared and I would play sports in the yard during the day and on Nintendo at night. When it comes to random memories, I specifically remember staying up late one night and sorting baseball cards while Corey and I listened to “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor on a loop. We would talk about cards and girls while we listened to those cheesy popular songs of the 90’s. I also remember endless ping pong tournaments and RBI Baseball battles!

I remember going through a cheese biscuit phase when I was a kid. I’m not talking about something fancy like Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster either. This was the canned Pillsbury biscuits I would bake and when they were just getting ready, I’d pop the top and throw a piece of American cheese on them and let it melt. I would eat the entire 10 biscuit can! That was nowhere near the weirdest food phase either. Does anyone remember gummy peaches? They were peach flavored gummies in a ring shape and they were delicious. Well, I would dip those in Frito Lay Jalapeno Dip from time to time. Yeah, peach gummy candy dipped in jalapeno cheese dip….mmmmmm.

What is fun about the gummy jalapeno memory is that it is always tied to some event that happened at my friend Michael’s (Munt) house where we were usually playing pool or wiffle ball or Shaq Fu on SNES. Munt was one of my best friends and he hung out with us at the Video Superstore and we always tried out the new releases before they hit the shelves. Shaq Fu was a classic; as was Lightning Jack and Little Big League. No matter what we had going on, we had a great time together. The only time I ever got crossways with Munt was that time he and Hickey played basketball against me and Brewer in my backyard. He had scored a few times and I stuck my leg out a little too far when he made a move around me one time and we had words. The game ended without really ending and that really is the only time I can ever remember he and I having words. Sorry about that one Munt.

Of course, Brewer and I were best friends too growing up and we have a lot of great memories. I’ve written before about the viewing of “Night of the Living Dead” (MY VERY FIRST POST) and the time we went to the cemetery and were told the story of Annabelle. But we also scared the pants off of unsuspecting trick or treaters several years by hiding in trees and bushes when they came up to his front porch to get candy. We stayed up all night at each others houses making stupid videos long before YouTube was invented. We even had a fake talk show in which I would mimic one of our teachers as the host and he would portray various people from school that I would interview. We recorded pranks we would play on our friends if they made the mistake of being the first person to fall asleep at these all-nighters. We actually could get ruthless with each other at times. But we had a great time!

There was my friendship with Josh in Middle School where we spent almost all of our time together! Whether it was watching free movies from the library at my house after school or riding his motorcycle and fishing at his house on the weekend. We spent time at the radio station that his stepdad worked at, I watched scary movies at his house that I wasn’t able to watch at my own and I even played “Bloody Mary” for the first time on a dark and scary night at his place. Josh and I went our separate ways at one point in High School and he left this earth far too soon but I think of him quite often.

Then there was my buddy David from high school and we have plenty of memories too. He had a 9-hole mini golf game that we would set up throughout his house and compete with each other for the title of greatest mini golfer. We were always competing! We played home run derby with ping pong balls and tennis rackets, tennis balls and wooden bats and any other combination we could think of. We were also competitive with sports cards. I remember him pulling the Elite Andre Dawson and wanting to be happy for him but really being as jealous as I had ever been about a baseball card. He was also a Minnesota guy so he had a lot of MN trinkets around his room that made me want that ’91 World Series more than anything. Just like the Dawson Elite, David won that competition as well. David is one of the friends from growing up that still collects and we text each other photos of our recent purchases from time to time. I guess we are still competing!

But thinking about all these friends and memories has gotten me feeling super nostalgic and I decided to pull out one of my old “memory card boxes” and sort through some of my old football favorites. I guess while I am being random, I can go through some random cards and try to remember what made me hang on to these otherwise cheap cards in 2017. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; value is in the eye of the collector and I wouldn’t trade these cards for the world today. They are very meaningful to me even now and during times like this when life has thrown its curveball and made me put things into perspective, there are no better reminders of the good times than these rustic and weathered pieces of cardboard.

I always liked Marcus Allen and thought he was underrated (if that’s possible) in my generation because of him being tied to Bo in the Raiders backfield. He is the first player by alphabet in my “don’t toss” pile.

Biscuit was another player that I thought was somewhat underrated. He was well known but he got lost sometimes on a team with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith. This was always one of my favorites.

Another Raider, Tim Brown was one of my favorite wide receivers of the 80’s-90’s, which I’ve covered here many times before. When I think of Brown, this is the card that always comes to mind.

QB Eagles was the man! I remember sitting in my room all by myself and trying to rush for 500 yards in a game with him on TSB. This is the first of several ’91 Upper Deck entries.

You probably knew I would have to include a Pro Vision. This Irvin was always a trip to me. His shadow was the Lombardi Trophy and that horse in the background was a little over the top. But again, it was Pro Vision and they were really taking a turn in ’93 to the psychedelic side.

I don’t believe I have ever put a Bo card to the side when sorting for it to be put in the common box. I hold these in the highest regard whenever I pull them. And this ’91 Upper Deck was always a great photo to me.

1991 Score had some great art cards in both football and baseball. I’m going to rip some baseball soon to enjoy those but this Marino has been in my collection since the day I pulled it in ’91.

This may be my favorite football card of all time. This card takes me back to 1990 every time I see it and I have so many fond memories. I have to figure out a way to tell Mrs. Dub that I want to be buried with this card.

I didn’t know much about Okoye before TSB but when I found out about him, I went to my card box and started trying to find a card of him. This is the first card I found and it’s been in my keeper box ever since.

Sweetness was winding down his career by the time I really started collecting football cards. This was the first card I ever pulled of him and I always thought it was one of the more classy ProLine cards, which was par for the course for Payton.

This card was from the latter days of my childhood collecting but I loved Action Packed and Jerry Rice. I have a TON of Jerry Rice cards but this is one of my favorites.

Have I mentioned before that I loved Andre Rison when I was a kid? How strange that one of the cards I have in my “untouchable” box is a card that doesn’t even feature Rison on the card. Classic error card!

This was ’91 Pro Set and the set from the previous year is when I really fell in love with sketch cards. But this Barry Sanders has always been a highlight of my collection. It has so much detail from the jersey to the lines on his face. This is such a great card to me!

More love for ’91 Upper Deck. Deion was decked out in his gloves, towel, armbands earrings and bandana for this photo. I remember the “You Gotta Believe” slogan and this card is representative of my early passion of the Falcons.

This is a latter 90’s card but it’s one of my favorite sets from that timeframe. Fleer Metal Universe was awesome in 1998 because we had never seen anything like it. I bought a ton of this and they still look good to me.

More great photography from ’91 Upper Deck; this time of Derrick Thomas. Even though DT was a Bammer, I was a huge fan. I remember a clip from the early 90’s VHS classic, NFL Rocks, where Marty Schottenheimer has a heart to heart with him about keeping focus in an overtime game. What a great video. If you haven’t seen it, the whole thing is on YouTube HERE and I’d recommend giving it a look.

Thurman Thomas was such a great back. I really wish Buffalo had won at least one of those Super Bowls in the early 90’s because these guys deserved it. As for Wild Cards, they didn’t have as solid a run as the Bills but I have an unusually high amount of these cards sitting around from my early collecting days.

I just pulled one of these a few days ago in my ’89 box break but this particular card has been in my old school box for a long time as it was one of the first trade hauls from when I was a kid. I don’t remember what I Traded to get it but I really love this card.

I’ve mentioned Fred Washington on the blog before, I think from my ’90 Topps post. This card was always striking to me because of his jersey and the photo but when I found out he was killed in an automobile accident his rookie season, I held onto this card. It’s still in my old box some 27 years later and he is but a distant memory to most NFL fans.

Well, this card has convinced me that I need to pick up a box of ’91 Upper Deck for a Retro Review. I know that Stadium Club is known for photography and ’89 Upper Deck Baseball is the king in UD history but these cards look so great! This set is really good and I’m going to make a point of trying to build it in 2018.

We never know what tomorrow will bring us. We never know if we will even get tomorrow. But we always have yesterday to look back on and find the good times that sustained us. We are who we are because of these memories, for better or worse. Time doesn’t have to change who we are unless we want it to. I personally don’t. I want to always be that kid that admired Walter Payton and tried to be Barry Sanders in the front yard and ran for 3,000 yards with Bo on TSB. I’m sure that while the Bills players would tell you they’d love to have a Super Bowl ring, the early 90’s was still a great time to be a Bill. The early 90’s was a great time for me to be Dub too because of the friends, family and hobbies I had. Some of the friends have changed, my cousins have started their own families and we’ve grown apart but the hobbies will never change for me.

I mean this with all sincerity. As long as I’m able to collect cards, I’m going to do it. As long as 80’s and 90’s cards are available for public consumption (which may be a while based on production), I’m going to focus my efforts there. Junk Wax is only “junk” in name and every card has a story for me when I see it for the first time in years. Life can be challenging and unpredictable but we all have to find that one thing that makes it simple and painless. For me, that one thing is cardboard from my childhood. Looking through this box from when I was a kid is like watching a movie or reading a book about my life. The cardboard tells stories of laughter, fun and even sad times if you just slow down and listen. I know this is all a little deep for a blog post on football cards but when you come face to face with your fatal flaw (Thanks Ma for that one), you start to think in deeper terms and you try to find meaning in the experiences you’ve had. The meaning for me has come to light and I plan to immerse myself in those experiences as often as possible.

I appreciate you giving me a voice and taking an interest in these experiences. I’ve written for myself for years and finding out that there are those that enjoy reading is one of the great blessings I’ve received in 2017. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

J-Dub

Cheese Puffs with Phoebe Cates

As I put more years behind me, I know I have experienced a metamorphosis both physically and mentally. The physical part hasn’t been so great, as I am about 50 lbs. heavier than I was as a senior in high school. There has been a steady increase in that category since age 30 at a rate of about 5 lbs. per year. I have gone from being able to eat a full box of oatmeal crème pies to only being able to eat one a week if I want to keep from feeling terrible about my choices. I also know that my hair has thinned on my head and the hair in my beard has gotten progressively grayer over the last few years. My face is starting to show more lines (I like to call it character) and my back just can’t handle the rigors of basketball and softball like the days of yore.

From a mental standpoint, the changes can sometimes seem less dramatic but I know that they are just as prevalent. For one, I do seem to worry less about things that are out of my control. I have more perspective now than I did when I was a spry young adult. I also don’t get so wrapped up in some of the nuances that life can challenge you with and try to focus more on the important stuff. That is a work in progress but I know that I am on more solid ground at 40. I have a better idea of what is important to me and my family at this age and don’t have as much time for the less important stuff. I have also seen and heard a lot over my life so I’m not as naïve or surprised by things anymore. That doesn’t mean that wild moments don’t exist; it just means that I am less surprised or shocked by them now. I think all of that is a part of maturing mentally.

But one of the key downsides to aging for your mental state is that your memories start to slip. Part of that is age but part of that is today’s society as well. We live in an age where we need to be entertained 24/7 or we get bored and want to pull our hair out. Because we have sensory (and information) overload from Twitter, FaceBook, or any of the other “have it now” tools, we move from one highlight to the next and don’t really take in the full experience anymore. This has a way of affecting the way we remember things, as moments are less of what we create and more of what is created for us. I know, I’m not a fancy psychologist or anything but I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Take for instance, movies. When I was a kid, the only way to see a movie was to go to the theater, get your parents to take you to the video store or catch it when it was on TV. Every time I bring up “video store”, I shed a lone tear in memoriam. So when you watched a movie, you have this experience of going to the video store, scouring the shelves, reading the back of cases and checking it out. You then had one or two days to watch the movie and get it back to the store before you were charged more money. So that meant you would grab a snack, turn the lights down and actually watch a movie from start to finish. It was a movie watching experience and it created memories; even if they are now just anecdotal callbacks to your youth.

Now, we pop on Netflix or our phones and watch a movie over a several day span when the mood strikes us. Or we’ll watch a 15 episode season in one night, which has a way of diluting the event as well. It isn’t about the movie or show anymore as much as it is about filling time or being someone who also saw the hot thing that every one is talking about on Twitter. There are spoilers now. And if you don’t want the spoiler, stay off social media or you will be berated for not seeing it yet. And by being subjected to the spoiler, you would have somehow gotten what you deserved. It’s about being first to see it and having the most sensible fan theory or whatever the kids are calling it now.

This is just an example of a bigger issue. This could be expanded to music, politics, sports and yes, even hobbies. We have forgotten what life was like when we had to appreciate the little things. We have forgotten the little things altogether. Maybe those things didn’t mean as much as we thought. Or maybe we have overrated things today. Either way, we have forgotten the small things and only remembered the major songs, movies, foods and toys from our youth. But there was more! Believe me when I say that “Saved by the Bell” wasn’t the only Saturday morning teen show on the tube. And “Tecmo Super Bowl”, “Super Mario” and “Contra” weren’t the only video games we played. And “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” aren’t the only horror movies the 80’s had to offer!

With that outline in place, and by keeping the context of this blog post light and fluffy, let’s look at some of the things that have been lapped by other pop culture icons but were still great when they were around. Then, strangely enough, this will tie into baseball cards. Because in the end, isn’t that what this is all about anyway? Consider this a list of forgotten/underrated/overlooked favorites according to Dub. I’m here to bring awareness to the masses.

Minute Maid Juice Bars
Everybody my age remembers the bomb pop and the push up and pop-ice that we had as kids. But why have we forgotten about the Minute Maid Juice Bars? These were magical small frozen treats that were fruity delicious and they were available at all of my school snack bars. The tops were oddly shaped triangles that morphed into a different facing triangle at the bottom. Does that make sense? You show me someone who didn’t like those and I’ll show you someone who is living life wrong. They are still around but I showed them to my daughter the last time we were at Publix and she thought I was nuts. We have to make the Minute Maid Juice Bar great again but I think the hashtag #MMMJBGA would be too cumbersome!

Cheese Puffs
While we are at it, let’s bring back another classic snack that is grossly underrated today; the Cheese Puff! I personally am a fan of any cheese puff but my friend CJ swears by the local grocery store brand puff. He doesn’t like frills in his cheese puffs. He just wants air and cheese! You can have your Doritos and Ruffles and I’ll take the Cheese Puffs all day. Again, they still make them and they are popular in pockets but they are definitely more of a kid snack. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

Silver Bullet
I have spoken about “Silver Bullet” before in one of my articles about 1985 Fleer. What’s not to love about this 80’s horror movie? It was a Stephen King adaptation that starred Gary Busey and Corey Haim and was about a preacher that turned into a werewolf. I mean, that sounds like pure gold to me. There is even a part in the film where they are playing poker and using baseball cards as cash; “You can’t bet managers.” This one does not get mentioned with some of the greats from the 80’s because we had to make room for all the new crap we are watching, like “Annabelle”. Chucky would run circles around “Annabelle” by the way.

Halloween III
This one is more about being underrated than forgotten. I have even been a critic of the film but only in the context that it was in the middle of the Halloween franchise. Had this been a standalone film that was never associated with the Michael Myers line of films, this would have gotten much more praise. The film is really quite good for a mid 80’s horror flick but when it didn’t have Myers, fans wrote it off. It is only remembered now as a movie that was drastically out of place.

Maximum Overdrive/Who Made Who
Here is where we cross over from movies to music and the segue couldn’t be more perfect. “Maximum Overdrive” was another Stephen King adaptation that starred Emilio Estevez. Electronics came to life, cars drove themselves and lawn mowers attacked their owners. All of this was to the soundtrack of AC/DC! One of the theme songs in the movie was “Who Made Who” and is one of their best in my mind. They will always be remembered for “Hells Bells”, “Shook Me All Night Long” and “Thunderstruck” but damnit, “Who Made Who” is a great song and should get more recognition when AC/DC comes up in conversation today. I’m betting 9 out of 10 hipsters that wear AC/DC Retro Shirts today don’t know that song.

Everclear
I’m talking about the band, not the liquor. People know about Green Day or Gin Blossoms or Bush but how many of those people name Everclear as an influential band from the 90’s? I know you have heard the song “Santa Monica” but you have probably heard a laundry list of their other songs and didn’t even know it was them. They pumped out gems like “Father of Mine”, “Wonderful”, “Everything to Everyone” and “Learning How to Smile” and we aren’t even scratching the surface here. Kids today think they know what music is but if you don’t have Everclear in your catalogue (on iTunes) then you really are missing a major contributor to the 90’s garage band scene.

California Dreams
How many of you remember this gem? Not enough, because “Saved By The Bell” has taken over your memories and that is the only high school teen show you have room for anymore. This was also about a group of teenagers but this group formed a band that would have slaughtered Zack Morris’ “Friends Forever” routine. Granted, it was not as good as SBTB and Kelly Packard was no Kelly Kapowski but it deserves to have its place in our memories!

You Can’t Do That On Television
Before Nickelodeon went full on bore-fest with Dora, iCarly and Victorious, they were pumping out quality programming that included Ren & Stimpy, Double Dare and Mr. Wizard. One of the best shows in my memory though is “You Can’t Do That On Television”. This was a teenage sketch comedy that originally aired in Canada before moving to a more international audience. This is where slime was created. This was also where we were first introduced to Alanis Morisette and Christine “Moose” McGlade. It was funny, irreverent and corny at times but I really miss that show.

StarTropics
StarTropics was one of the most underrated and thus forgotten NES games of my youth. It was a strategy game very much like Legend of Zelda but was based on archaeology, science, space and oceanography. We’re talking extraterrestrials, speaking parrots and singing dolphins here. The game even came with a physical letter that you had to dip in water to reveal a code to continue gameplay when prompted. The only downside of the game is that it was before the internet so when I lost that letter, I couldn’t play it a second time through because none of my friends had the game and there was nowhere to go to find that code again. You could also throw RC Pro Am and ExciteBike as forgotten gems from my youth as well.

Barbara Crampton
As a teen, I liked horror movies and I liked chicks! And one of the hottest horror movie chicks ever was Barbara Crampton. She was famous for “Re-Animator” but was in others like “Puppet Master”, “The Beyond” and “Chopping Mall.” She’s been in more recent films like “We Are Still Here” and “Beyond The Gates” and still has that mojo. Sure, people remember Jamie Lee Curtis and Danielle Harris but Barbara Crampton is a true Scream Queen that should be more recognized today.

Phoebe Cates
Here is another actress that was pretty well known in the 80’s with movies like “Gremlins”, “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Drop Dead Fred”. But she was most well known for her amazing performance in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” She was drop dead gorgeous but has been relatively absent from our minds since the mid 90’s. We must not forget Phoebe Cates! I cannot and will not allow that to happen to our society. A society without Phoebe Cates is not a society I want to be a part of. Too much?

So that brings us to baseball cards. I’ve used all of these examples to set up my list of players from when I was a kid that are grossly underrated or forgotten in the hobby today. Maybe this was a flimsy setup but I enjoyed putting this list together. Collectors today will occasionally jump on an old cheap box and ask me what they should be looking for. The short answer is always the same; Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Nolan Ryan. But yes, just like the list above, there is more to the 80’s baseball card scene than those hot names that everybody remembers. There are some high quality players to be found in 80’s wax that may not break the bank on eBay but certainly should have a more prominent spot in our collection when we pull their cards.

The list is by no means comprehensive but these are some of the bigger names I look for when ripping old wax. These are non-hall of fame players that probably aren’t as obvious to today’s collectors as they are to the old guard like @oriolesrise, @JunkWaxTwins, @OffHiatusBBC and @ShaneKatz73. These are players that we loved to put in our binders and were usually trade centerpieces when we wanted to pick up those Jr’s and Canseco’s.

Ruben Sierra
Sierra spent some great years with the Texas Rangers and I remember seeking him out in the late 80’s. He had 4 seasons with 100+ RBI and 17 seasons with double digit home runs. Seven of those seasons produced 20+ bombs. His best season was in 1989 when he hit .306 with 29 HR, 119 RBI and 13 triples. He was a 4x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner and is in the Rangers Hall of Fame.

Vince Coleman
Coleman didn’t have the all around numbers like Sierra but he was a beast on the base path. He played 13 seasons and finished with 752 career stolen bases. He had 3 seasons with 100+, 7 seasons with 50+ and was a 6x SB leader. He hit for a mediocre average over his career at .264 and only mustered up 28 career bombs. But damn, he was fast!

Shawon Dunston
This was more of a personal favorite of mine than anything. He had so-so numbers over his career in which he hit for a .269 average with 150 HR and 212 SB. He did have 5 seasons with 20+ steals and was a 3x All-Star. I really enjoyed watching him play.

Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell was a real beast! He played 13 seasons and racked up 234 career home runs, which averaged out to 31 per 162 games. He also averaged 101 RBI per 162 games and had a career .284 average. In 1989, he won the NL MVP with a .291 batting average, 47 HR and 125 RBI. He was also a 2x All-Star and Silver Slugger Award Winner.

Jay Buhner
Buhner played 15 seasons and tallied 310 home runs and 965 RBI. Those aren’t HOF numbers but they are dang good as it averaged out to 34 HR/106 RBI per 162 games. He did strike out a lot and only hit .254 over his career but he made up for it with an All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove in ’96 and he’s in the Mariners HOF.

Benito Santiago
Santiago was one of the first catchers I really paid attention to. Alomar Jr. was a hot rookie but I really liked Santiago. He played 20 years and mashed 217 HR and amassed 920 RBI. He also collected 91 SB over his career, which is nothing to sneeze at for a catcher. He was a 5x All-Star, NLCS MVP (2002), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 4x Silver Slugger Winner and the 1987 NL ROY. He was and still is highly collectible for me. He is also a member of the San Diego Padres HOF.

Eric Davis
This may have been the easiest one for me when compiling this list. Davis was beloved by fans in Cincinnati and around the country. He was a likeable player and I enjoyed watching him play. He played 17 seasons and hit 282 HR and 934 RBI which averaged out to 28/93 per 162 games over his career. He also had 349 SB for an average of 35 per 162 games. He had a massive 80 steals in 1986 and 50 in 1985. He was also a 2x All-Star, World Series Champ (’90), 3x Gold Glove Winner, 2x Silver Slugger Award Winner, Roberto Clemente Award Winner and is a member of the Reds HOF. Former teammate Paul O’Neill said that Davis was the “Best Everything” he had ever seen play.

Mike Greenwell
Greenwell played 12 seasons and averaged 17 home runs, 10 SB and a .303 batting average per 162 games. He was a 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger Award Winner and is a member of the Red Sox HOF.

Ellis Burks
Greenwell’s teammate, Ellis Burks, is another stud I search for in the Junk Wax sets I rip. Burks played 18 seasons and hit 352 HR and knocked in 1,206 runs. This came out to an average of 29/98 per 162 games over his career. He also had 84 SB, hit for a career .291 avg and hit over .300 a total of 6 times in his career. He was a lock for the Red Sox HOF with these stats and his 2x All-Star, Gold Glove and 2x Silver Slugger Award.

Mark Grace
Grace has had his share of off-field troubles since he retired but he was a very good player during his career. He played 16 seasons and hit 173 HR and 1,146 RBI. He also won 4 Gold Gloves and went to the All-Star game 2 times. He had 9 seasons with a batting average over .300 and finished his career with a .303 average.

Chris Sabo
I’m not going to lie; some of this was about the goggles. Chris Sabo is such a nostalgic player for me because of how unique his cards were. His stats weren’t bad either though as he hit 116 HR and knocked in 426 runs over a 9 year career. He was a 3x All-Star and the NL ROY in 1988 on his way to being inducted into the Reds HOF. The goggles made him fast too as he swiped 120 career SB’s, averaging 21 per 162 games.

Andres Gallaraga
One of the reasons I like collecting Gallaraga is the Expos uniform he is found in on his 80’s cards. He was a Brave for a while too but I believe that the best looking uniform ever belonged to the Montreal Expos. He played 19 seasons and hit 399 HR, collected 1,452 RBI and swiped 128 bases while keeping a career batting average of .288. He was a 5x All-Star, 2x Gold Glover, 2x Silver Slugger, NL Batting Champ in ’93 and NL Home Run Leader in ’96. He was known for his power but he really was a 5-Tool Player for many years.

Will Clark
Clark has a few PC guys out there so this one is not a middle of the road player. Clark played 15 years and had a career batting average of .303 while hitting 284 HR and 1,205 RBI. He also was a 6x All-Star, NLCS MVP (’89), 2x Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner. He hit over .300 for 10 out of 15 total seasons. Will “The Thrill” was amazing at the plate.

Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” is the one player on this list that should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. He played 19 years and hit 493 home runs, falling just 7 shy of the magical “500” number. He also hit for average with a career number of .284. He was a 5x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 2x Home Run Leader and hit over .300 during 6 of his seasons. Please tell me why a player with 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, a World Series Ring (’95) and these other accolades is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty!

Dave Stewart
The first pitcher on the list is a 3x World Series Champ with a career 168-129 win-loss record. The key for me with Stewart was what he did during my collecting heyday. From 1987-1990, he won 20+ games every season and finished his career with 1,741 K’s and a 3.95 ERA. He was the 1989 WS MVP and a 2x ALCS MVP. He also threw a no-hitter in 1990. He doesn’t have the numbers for the HOF but he was a very good pitcher when I started collecting.

Jose Rijo
This is not just because I pulled his auto in a recent box of Archives Postseason Signature Series. Like Dave Stewart, Rijo was a stud in the league when I started collecting. He had a career 116-91 record over 14 years but won 14+ from 90-93 and was the WS MVP in 1990. He finished with 1,600 K’s and is a member of the Reds HOF.

Bret Saberhagen
The final pitcher on my list is Saberhagen. He played 16 seasons and finished his career with a 167-117 win-loss record. He had a stellar 3.34 career ERA and struck out 1,715 batters, averaging 151 per 162 games. His best season was 1989 when he went 23-6 with 12 complete games and finished with a 2.16 ERA. He tallied 193 K’s that season. He finished his career as a 3x All-Star, World Series Champ (’85), World Series MVP (’85), 2x AL Cy Young Award, Gold Glove Winner (’89), MLB Wins Leader (’89), AL ERA Leader (’89) and pitched a no-hitter in 1991. It’s no surprise that he is a member of the Kansas City Royals HOF.

For the collectors that ask me who I look for when I rip open those classic junk wax boxes, this is your answer. There are others that are personal favorites of mine that may not have had numbers this good but these are all studs you can find in late 80’s products that make the relatively low cost very much worth it. These are also players that are highly collectible with their team collectors as well. So while Kelly Kapowski was #1 in the late 80’s, I don’t think I would have been complaining if Phoebe Cates gave me a call back then. In that same regard, while Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Canseco were the big catches in the card world, I would complain about pulling any of these guys either. It’s easy to forget about players, songs or movies that we aren’t constantly reminded of today but that doesn’t mean they aren’t classics and worthy of our attention. Get out there and find some of these 80’s legends

J-Dub

Turkey, Dressing and High Fructose Gum!

Thanksgiving is a time to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and enjoy the friends and family we have in our lives. It’s also a time for football. My Thanksgiving schedule has been pretty set for the last several years with lunch at my aunt’s house with my mom’s side of the family and then dinner at my mother-in-law’s house with the wife’s family. We also have a breakfast with my dad’s side of the family but we don’t always make it home in time for those. I am not a punctual person and neither is my wife. We spend the day stuffing our faces with great homemade food, watching football, hanging out with family, watching football, eating again and then watching a little more football. It’s the main basic tenants of life if you think about it; food, family and football!

I also try to take the opportunity to really think about what it is I’m thankful for. That may be a cliché but that is what the day is about, right? I don’t normally make a big production out of it but it is a day where I take stock in where I am versus where I was a year before. Physically, that is in front of the TV watching football but mentally and spiritually, I look for ways I’ve grown over the past 365 days. Sometimes I am not very proud of the internal inventory I take but I can always learn from the time I spend reviewing the past. It’s the one day where we try not to take things for granted. It’s also as good a time as any for me to put the things I am most thankful for in writing. Did I mention that there was football as well?

The first one is easy; my family. Starting with my wife, she has loved me for over 20 years of our lives and has put up with more than any woman should have to. She entertains the hobbies I refuse to grow out of such as sports cards, video games and horror movies. She even acts like she’s a little interested from time to time but I know that it’s all just for my satisfaction. She goes to football games and hard rock concerts, watches the kids while I play softball, keeps everybody occupied while I’m screaming at the Dawgs on TV and lets me spend several nights a week staring into a laptop writing about cards. We have been through ups and downs but far more ups and our marriage only gets stronger as time passes.

I am thankful for my two beautiful daughters; Bailey and Georgia. Bailey is turning into a little lady that is more responsible than I was at 10. She cares about people, cares about her family and knows right from wrong. She listens about like I did at 10 but I guess she had to get some traits from her father, huh? She loves everything that I love and always wants to spend time with Daddy and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Georgia is a ball of fire at 3 but I have found myself including her in some of my favorite things lately and she is handling it all well. She likes Pearly’s for breakfast on the weekend, she likes going to the card shop (even if it’s to buy a toy) and when it’s time to go to bed, she wants to snuggle Daddy. I am blessed beyond measure with the girls in my life.

My mom and dad have always been supportive of me and they still work hard today to make sure their two boys have everything they need in their lives. They taught me how to make a marriage work, how to build a career and work hard and to believe in myself when I feel like the world is against me. My mom is one of the keys in me getting my blog started as she invested in me and my efforts to get everything in place. My dad taught me how to be a man and what was really important in life. I am thankful that I have wonderful parents that are still together 40+ years after they were married. I am even thankful that they had another son so I could have a brother to pick on early in life and reach out to later in life.

I can’t name all the friends and family that I am thankful for but I am deeply indebted to their support and friendship. I have friends that collect with me, that play softball and basketball with me, that live and die with the Dawgs with me, that go fishing with me, that drink a beer and laugh til we cry with me, and that would be there in my darkest hour for me, no matter the cost. I am extremely fortunate to have friends that I just met a couple of weeks ago while also having friends from elementary school that I haven’t physically seen in over 15 years. They are still my friends and we still share our lives with each other on social media and through occasional text messages. I am very fortunate to have avoided rubbing a lot of people the wrong way for the last 40 years. I have had very little personal conflict with others and that is a rarity today.

I am thankful for the people in my life that I have looked up to and also the few people in life that have looked up to me. The former list is longer than the latter but I take my role very seriously as a teammate, coach, blogger, co-worker, father, husband and friend. I have been fortunate to see life from many different perspectives over the years whether it be through the interactions with someone wanting to start a business, someone trying to save their business, someone starting a marriage, someone who’s marriage is falling apart, someone who has everything, someone who has lost it all, a 75 year old who has lived their life to the fullest, a 15 year old who hasn’t even begun to live and just about everything in between. I am truly blessed to have walked the path I have. That doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else but I am thankful to have the experiences I have.

I am thankful for you, the person reading this blog post. I wrote for myself for a long time and never thought people would be interested in reading it. Surprisingly, I have found that not to be the case. Somehow, someway, I have found an audience to entertain with my musings on sports cards, dumb movies, niche music and the inane events in my life when I was 13 years old. I am truly thankful for that. This has become such an important part of my life and the people I interact with here have become such important people. I have found that there is an entire group of people that share the same thoughts and experiences as I do but I would have never known about or been able to reach those people without the blog. The blog would not have been successful without you reading and sharing. I’m looking at you Kin Kinsley!

On a much lighter note, I am thankful for Taco Bell, Netflix, Harvest Moon, Miller Light, Diet Dr. Pepper (sometimes with Crown), Steak Biscuits, Chili, Fries, Reese’s, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Deftones, Starset, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Kirby Smart, Kelly Kapowski, Tecmo Super Bowl, Night of the Living Dead, my LCS, Junk Wax and Beckett. There is more but these are some of the things that help me make it through each day. And as long as Taco Bell continues to make new innovative foods like a chicken nugget quesadilla, they will have my support!

So let’s tie this in to sports cards…..and football. I mentioned above that I am thankful for junk wax. But there are so many individual sets I am thankful for under that umbrella. This is one such set. 1988 Topps Football means a lot to my collection. It is the home of the Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth Super Rookies. It is the home of the Eric Dickerson and Joe Montana All-Pro’s. It has a clean, old school design that screams 1980’s but trendy at the same time. The set is colorful but not overdone. The wax pack designs are legendary in football. And there is gum; 30 year old high fructose gum!

Because this was a bit of a special occasion, I went directly to Baseball Card Exchange for this box. For those who don’t know, BBCE authenticates unopened boxes and you know you are getting something that is legit and not searched. It’s really the safest way to buy junk wax boxes but it does come at a little higher cost. I don’t use it for my ’89 Topps or ’90 Fleer boxes but if I am ripping something that is considered a little higher tier junk wax, I’ll pay a little extra. And yes, I consider ’88 Topps Football to be a little more premium than some others from that era. Hopefully, you will agree by the end of this rip.

First, the wrapper is a classic. I love the late 80’s line of Topps football wrappers as they all had pretty much the same design but they had different colors from year to year.

The design on the card was very Topps-like but ’88 felt a little more colorful than usual for me. The white border was accented by variations of the team colors around the photo. No better card to showcase that than this Steve Grogan, right Scott?

Each pack had a “glossy” 1,000 Yard Club Card that featured a running back or receiver that eclipsed 1,000 yards at some point in their career. There are a lot of stud names here but Eric Dickerson was the best on the ground and Jerry Rice the best through the air, in my opinion. I always liked Mike Quick too for some reason.

Before we move on from the 1,000 Yard Club, I thought some of you Error Collectors would appreciate this Curt Warner. Do you see it?

The Quarterbacks were some of the legendary players from the 80’s. We have Brady and Rodgers now but I think the talent was spread more evenly across the league back in the day. Steve Young was a backup at the time. Point out a backup right now that you think could have a Steve Young type career.

There were a couple of Hall of Fame running backs that were about to hit the NFL but weren’t quite ready for this set. Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith would be rookies in ’89 and ’90, making some of these guys forgotten men. But when you see these players in the context of ’88 Topps, you realize how good they really were. I’ve already mentioned Dickerson as one of the best but Roger Craig, Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier and Herschel Walker were no slouches. And Neal Anderson, Earnest Byner, Joe Morris and Keith Byars were all very good NFL running backs.

When you see the Wide Receivers, you should start to notice a trend. I am including the best players from ’88 in each section and so far the Redskins have been all over this piece. Doug Williams was in QB’s and George Rogers in RB’s. But they had the best trio of starting wide receivers in the NFL in 1987-88 with Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. It’s really no wonder why the Redskins won Super Bowl XXII.

The Tight End section is slim like always but these guys were all studs. Aside from Todd Christiansen’s hair, what’s not to love here?

Defensive Linemen were pretty dadgum tough in the 80’s! Charles Mann represented the Super Bowl Champs but the Bears had a dominant front that included Mongo McMichael, The Fridge and Richard Dent. Bruce Smith and Howie Long were just hitting their stride.

If the Redskins dominated the WR category and the Bears ruled the defensive line, then the Saints were the team to beat at Linebacker. This group was really, really good with Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling. They just didn’t have quite enough offense to compete. Let’s not overlook “LT” in this set either!

These were my favorite defensive backs from the late 80’s. I have always loved Darrell Green cards and Ronnie Lott is a true legend. Joey Browner was an interception machine but could also drop the hammer on receivers as well. Fred Marion led the Pats in both tackles and interceptions in 1987.

This group of Super Rookies is missing a few studs that will be showcased in a moment but there are several players here that had very serviceable NFL careers. Ricky Nattiel was a good receiver for John Elway and Alonzo Highsmith carried the rock for Warren Moon, keeping defenses honest. Henry Thomas, Shane Conlan and Johnny Holland were all good defensive players and Jerome Brown was close to dominant in Philly with Reggie White. Brown lost his life at a very young age and didn’t get to rise to his full potential.

The Record Breakers in this set were Steve Largent, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Largent set the NFL record for receptions in a career with 752 by the end of 1987. Joe Montana set the mark for consecutive pass completions with 22 over a two game span against the Browns and Green Bay. Finally, Jerry Rice hauled in 18 touchdown passes in 1987, breaking the previous record held by Mark Clayton from 1984. He also had a TD catch in 13 straight games, another record.

Now we get to the good stuff! Not only was this set loaded with NFL Legends of the late 80’s and some key rookies; there is also a record breaker card for Walter Payton. He set a record for most rushing touchdowns in a career in 1987 with 110. He also held the mark for most career rushing yards at 16,779. Anytime I can add an original Walter Payton to my collection, I’m as happy as can be!

Let’s take a look at the best rookies from the 1988. The first is Vinny Testaverde, who had a very solid career over a staggering 21 seasons. He also won the Heisman Trophy in 1986.

Next we have Christian Okoye, “The Nigerian Nightmare”! Okoye punished defenders over 6 seasons, rushing for over 1,000 yards twice. He was the ultimate short yardage back but had enough speed to break off some big runs from time to time as well. Okoye is one of my all-time favorite players!

One of the really big rookies in 1988 was Brian “The Boz” Bosworth from Oklahoma. The Boz was bigger than life and was a superstar on and off the field. He was a ferocious defender who had amazing athletic talent. Unfortunately, once he got to the NFL, he met a man who was more ferocious than he was.

That man was Vincent Edward Jackson, better known as “Bo”. The former Heisman winner at Auburn was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but never signed due to a rift that started with the Bucs causing Bo to break an NCAA rule and be deemed ineligible for his senior baseball season. Bo has always alleged that it was some sort of sabotage on behalf of Tampa Bay to railroad his baseball career. In response, Bo refused to sign with the Bucs and went to Major League Baseball where he started an All-Star career in Kansas City. He did come back to the NFL as a 7th Round Pick by the Los Angeles Raiders and the rest is history.

This set is nearing 30 years old and I believe it still holds up amazingly well. I still really like the design. I like the “Super Rookie” moniker and the rookie class is very good. From the wax pack to the 1,000 Yard Club subset to the base cards of NFL legends, there is a lot to like about this set. Topps Football in the late 80’s is often overlooked by collectors of today but I really don’t understand why. There were some very good rookies from 1987-1990 that included Randall Cunningham, Bo, Okoye, Boz, Aikman, Deion, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Those are some legitimate names when it comes to NFL greats and their rookie cards are readily available at about $25 per box. I give 1988 Topps a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter because there are very few flaws that I can find. The checklist spans from Walter Payton to Bo Jackson and that covers a lot of NFL Stars. I get why people want autographs and serial numbered cards today but I am very thankful that junk wax is still accessible and I can explore cards of true NFL heroes from my youth for a relatively cheap price.

So there; among all of the other things I am thankful for today, I remain thankful for wax packs, high fructose gum, Bo Jackson, Christian Okoye, Mike Quick and even Steve Grogan. I will never allow trends or money dictate what I like about sports cards. I’ll buy new products and I’ll hope for big name autographs but I’ll always come back to my roots when I want to sit and enjoy the cardboard!

J-Dub

Retro Review – Facing My Collecting Demons

I’m going to open up a little for this one. I may be putting myself out there but the actual card set I’m sorting tonight has put me in that sort of mood. You see, I’ve always been a bit meticulous. I’ve always needed things to be “just so” to be comfortable. I have gone through different stages of OCD throughout my life that have ranged from mildly annoying to borderline debilitating. Anxiety can be a soul crusher at times and I am most extreme in my OCD when my tension is running high. Anxiety can heighten all of your senses I suppose but this is one of the most straightforward and frustrating for me. I won’t dive headlong into psychoanalysis and how your brain can distort reality at times, but I will focus on the OCD part for this one.

I don’t really know when it began but I do remember many times that it has taken a prominent place in my psyche. The mild annoyances are simple enough for the average person to understand. Did I turn off the oven? Did I lock the front door on my way out? Did I unplug the iron before leaving the house? I think we all have those thoughts on some level. But when I am in a hectic state, those are real stressors too. I remember leaving for vacation with my wife early in our marriage and the thought of me leaving the oven on intruded my thoughts an hour and a half into the drive for this week long trip. I tried for a few miles to reconcile my movements before I left the house. I spent a few miles on the road debating whether to even bring it up to my wife. Ultimately, I caved and I drove the 3 hour round trip from where we were back home and back to where we were. Guess what? The oven wasn’t on.

When my first daughter was born, I had a ritual that kept me up for an extra 60 minutes every night. I have always been tied to the #5 for several reasons, including that being the number of Ron Gant. But I use “5” for many of my OCD tendencies and the number has become engrained in me over time. When my daughter would go to bed at an early age, I would have to go listen to her breathe. Again, I don’t think that is so out of the ordinary. But I had to hear her breathe in 5 times, out 5 times and I had to see her chest expand with air 5 times. If those things didn’t happen in the right order, I had to start over. Try watching someone sleep, whether they are 2 or 82, and let me know how many consecutive normal breaths they take. It is rarely 5 without some sort of movement or rollover or delayed exhale. I tried to cheat sometimes and just go with 5 of any of the things I was looking for but I would only lie in bed for about 2-3 minutes and I was back in her room counting again.

I still twist the doorknob 5 times at night to make sure it’s locked but I promise that I am miles ahead of where I used to be. I once had to tighten the doorknob on what felt like a quarterly basis because I pulled on it so much, it would get loose. I would not only check the oven, I would place my hand on the burners for a 5 second count to convince myself that no matter what my eyes saw, the oven wasn’t hot. Guess how many times I would hit the lock button on my truck and hear the horn? My neighbors had to hate me at some point or another for that. I’ve gotten better with this over time as well and I only make sure I hear it honk once before going about my business.

It has invaded work as well. I went through a spell where I didn’t leave voicemails because I had no way of going back and listening to them to make sure it was coherent. I would read emails over and over before hitting send to make sure I was conveying what I wanted to say and not saying something I shouldn’t. I recounted interactions with my customers over and over in my head to make sure that they went how I intended for them to go. A person that struggles with OCD also has a hard time believing in what they are doing. The mind is already twisting things up and making you second guess yourself so when you toss in the added pressure of trying to grow a career and provide for your family, the stress increases 10 fold.

It has affected me in sports too. I like to think that I have fun little superstitious quirks but I know that they are more than that. When I play softball, I am the last one out of the dugout, I wear the same batting gloves throughout a season (even if that means I’m missing some glove fingers), I never let the bats cross while leaning on the fence in the dugout and I certainly never cross the diamond between the pitcher and catcher. I wear the same shirt for all UGA games and I eat breakfast at the same place on Saturday’s during the season. Taking it even further, if we lose, I don’t wear that shirt again all season.

The hardest part is that I think that all of this actually matters. I think that if I don’t count to 5 while twisting the doorknob, it won’t be locked. I think that if I don’t check on the oven, the house will burn down. I think that if I don’t have my steak biscuit and hashbrown casserole, Jake Fromm will have a bad day. I think that if I just blindly send emails and leave voice messages without the deep analyzing I do that I’ll turn into Andrew Dice Clay on a customer’s phone. And yes, I think the universe will somehow rob the other 100,000 UGA fans at Sanford Stadium of a victory because I chose to wear a different shirt than the weekend before.

So what does this have to do with sports cards? Let me see if I can connect the dots for you. As a meticulous, regimented person, I have certain ways I sort and keep checklists for the various sets I am working on. I know that I have gotten better as I’ve aged in this regard too because I started the 1991 Topps project earlier in 2017. I would have never been able to handle such a project with variations, glow backs, bold backs, errors and the like with my OCD tendencies still a big part of my life. That set would have driven me CRAZY! I would have given up a couple boxes in because I would be lying in bed at night wide awake wondering if I had missed a Doug Drabek error or a Chipper Jones glow back. I’m telling you, it would have sent me into a neurotic collecting state.I know this about ’91 Topps because another set is guilty of pushing me to the brink of madness from my early days. It has always been one of my favorite sets but I gave up on building it a long time ago because of the uniqueness the checklist and its errors present. 1990 Pro Set is a set built for true madmen. It takes a certain kind of collector to dedicate themselves to collecting the entire checklist while memorizing all of the errors. There are some really big, well known errors in the set but damn near every card has some sort of uncorrected error that you need to familiarize yourself with if you are going to master it.

Let me make this clear; I love the set, the design and the players available. I love the Emmitt Smith rookie, the Andre Rison multiple inserts into the base set and the fact that Santa Claus makes an appearance. I love the Super Bowl inserts, the art cards and the Pro Bowl cards that can be found throughout. This set has one of my all-time favorite rookies that didn’t pan out in football; Percy Snow. I just hate the fact that I will never be able to fully understand the set. I hate that it got the best of me 20 years ago. I hate that it has taken me this long to write about because it somehow represents a failure on my set collecting resume. But yeah, I love the set.So here I am; a once vulnerable collector that now stands with confidence built through countless hours of sorting 1991 Topps Baseball. I have the confidence to try and tackle a set that previously left me confused and out of sorts. I have a box of Series I and II sitting before me and I am going to patiently rip each pack and study the cards before me. I am going to give this my best effort. I know that ultimate success will take time. I know that there will be moments of uncertainty and self doubt. But I refuse to be defeated by a 27 year old piece of “Junk Wax” Cardboard. I am entering the sorting ring with 1990 Pro Set and only one of us will walk out of it.The package is one that I’ll never forget. The plastic baggy was a change from the wax pack but not a revolutionary change like the ’89 Upper Deck foil. 1989 Pro Set and Score started this packaging in football but 1988 Score Baseball introduced these little flimsy bags to the hobby. For what it’s worth, the bags were harder to tamper with than the wax packs so it was based on improvement in theory.

The cards were colorful and fun for football sets. Topps had been the only player in the game until 1989 when Pro Set and Score joined the fray. In 1990, Pro Set improved upon the colorful ’89 set by giving the collector even more team oriented flare. The top and bottom borders for the set were in a team color and a secondary border carried the secondary color of the team. The Vikings had purple and yellow, the Raiders had silver and black and the Falcons had red and black. I absolutely love the Falcons cards I PC from the set.

Where this set gets wild is the error cards. Pro Set went absolutely nuts in 1990 and the number of errors/variations rival that of the ’91 Topps baseball set. Just like its baseball counterpart, this set has its own website/blog dedicated to the many oddities that can be found. I’ve embedded it HERE so you can check it out if the mood strikes you. When I go through the errors that I found at the end of this post, I will use their STAR rating to identify scarcity. The scale they use is from zero stars to four stars, with four being the hardest to find. I didn’t get bogged down in all of the zero star errors for this post but they will certainly take another several weeks to parse.

First, let’s just start with the set itself and go through some of the fun pulls. For anything in 1990, I feel like the best way to sort is to consider Super Tecmo Bowl. While all of these players may not have been household names, they were all pretty instrumental in my Tecmo passion.

Coaches

The NFL was loaded in 1990 with Hall of Fame and Superstar coaches. This was actually Jimmy Johnson’s first year in the pro’s but Landry, Ditka, Parcells, Reeves, Shula and the others were big names then and now. I actually bumped into Marv Levy on my honeymoon almost 17 years ago in a grocery store in Williamsburg, VA. I told my wife, “THAT’S MARV LEVY!” and she said, “Who?” It was almost the shortest marriage in history.

Quarterbacks

The 49er’s had two future Hall of Fame QB’s in 1990 with Joe Montana and Steve Young, who appeared in Series II. There was also QB Bills, QB Browns and QB Eagles from Tecmo. And if you have any Warren Moon’s laying around that you aren’t collecting, send them to ole Dub.

Running Backs

Any checklist that includes Bo and Barry is A-OK with me! But this one also has Ickey Woods, Roger Craig, Marcus Allen, Thurman Thomas and Christian Okoye. Dave Meggett was one of the most underrated backs on Tecmo and Vai Sikahema was hands down, the best return man on the game.

Wide Receivers

So many of today’s collectors either forget about Sterling Sharpe or don’t realize just how good he was. He was as good as all of these guys (except maybe Rice) in 1990. Michael Irvin was on his way to making a name for himself while Art Monk was winding down his career.

Front Seven

For my money, it doesn’t get any better than these names. All of these players were playing at the same time and would have made The Redzone Channel a lot more riveting if it had been around. I don’t think anybody could block these guys even in 2017.

Defensive Backs

This is one of my favorite Prime Time cards ever. The red and silver from Series I was really good looking. William White and Joey Browner were ball hawking safeties that made life miserable for everybody who played against me on Tecmo. But the best Tecmo player in this stack is none other than David Fulcher. This guy was an absolute beast!

Steve Grogan

This is for my buddy Scott Berger!

Super Bowl XXIV

I honestly don’t remember this card from the 1990 set. This was in the design of the 1989 Pro Set but was in Series I of 1990.

Payne Stewart

I remember LOVING this card in 1990. I only ever pulled a couple but it felt like a huge get. How many golfers were found in football sets?

Fred Washington

I specifically remember Washington from the Score set first because of his purple TCU jersey. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident 11 games into his rookie season and never got to fully live out his dream. I don’t know why I remember this player so much but I always think of him when I’m ripping ’90 Pro Set or Score.

Don Beebe

I share this card for one reason only. How many of you know what happened right after this Felix Wright hit? Click HERE to find out!

Jeff George

I think Jeff George may have had something to do with me saying my first cuss word back when I was a kid. Thankfully, we traded him for Andre Rison and that worked out for us. But in 1990, this was one of the cards to have in this set. The one on the right is from Series I and the left is from Series II. Both cards had the number #669 though. I told you, this is an odd set.

Andre Ware

Another stud QB in this draft class was Andre Ware, the Heisman Winner. I think Gregg Jefferies ’89 Topps when I see this card today.

Emmitt Smith

The rookie of all rookies in 1990. This is THE card to own from this set!

Percy Snow

If Percy Snow had lasted more than a handful of seasons, I can promise you that I would have had a Snow PC. I really liked Percy and Tecmo had a lot to do with it. I love all of his rookie cards and was very pleased to pull each in Series I and II.

Andre Rison

Here is the card that ’90 Pro Set is remembered for by many collectors. The Rison on the far right was the standard card that was pulled in Series I. Then, Series II reprinted the same card with the explanation on the back that it was missing the Trade Banner and there would be an update set for cards #’d 753-780 and the corrected version would be in there. The card on the far left is the Series II card with Rison in his Falcons jersey. I pulled all three of these!

The Update Set

I have this set unopened but it does include the Rison correction and a Fred Washington “In Memoriam” card.

The Inserts

The two main insert sets in 1990 Pro Set were the Super Bowl Hero and Super Bowl Commemorative cards. You know I am a sucker for artist cards so these remain awesome for me.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the error cards that were a little scarcer than the average in Pro Set. Again, the star beside it reveals the actual scarcity with one star being least and four stars being most scarce. I didn’t pull any four star errors but I did get a three star. This is where even a borderline OCD collector can lose it. Some of these errors are so minor; you would never know what you were looking for without a guide.

Card #63 – Rickey Dixon – One Star – No background information found on the back. I have included another card so you can see where the background info would normally be.

Card #132 – Jon Hand – Two Stars – This is one of the errors that you have to pull out the magnifying glass for. Notice the faint black line on his chest and hip? That makes this an error version.

Card #198 – Wade Wilson – Three Stars – I still don’t know if this is the exact version I think it is. One of the versions has a red blob in the upper right of the card and this looks very much like a red blob.

Card #218 Pat Swilling – One Star – The jagged stat line is almost undetectable to the naked eye but it is there!

Card #260 – Timm Rosenbach – Two Stars – There is a version with a complete N in his last name and one that is not complete. I’ll let you decide.

Card #431 – Michael Haynes – Two Stars – Look very closely and you will see that a hair (or something) was on the printing plate when this card went through. Apparently they caught it and printed correct versions as well. A HAIR!!

Card #460 – Eric Ball – One Star – The bottom of “RECEIVING” is cut off. I know, right?

Card #461 – James Brooks – Two Stars – Another hair is to blame for this one. Must have been a hairy print run!

Card #658 – Rickey Reynolds – Two Stars – The bottom stat line on the card has a break in it. I zoomed in for you but these aren’t exactly easy to spot.

This set has a lot to offer for the serious collector. If you are someone who likes a challenge, likes looking for minor variations and likes early 90’s football, you really can’t go wrong. It’s not an easy set to sort because of those minor variations and can really make you question your sanity at times. I enjoy a challenge but my old eyes can’t pick up all the nuances of these errors like they used to. I am forced to use guides and glasses to find some of the mistakes but it was honestly fun this time around. It wasn’t easy putting the set down each night because it was really hard to find a good stopping point. I also did have faint thoughts of Fred Marion’s belt error and the Santa Claus insert as I was lying in bed at night trying to doze off. I’ve come a long way but I’m not quite where I want to be when it comes to switching my mind off when I have to. This set won’t help that condition either. But the set gets a solid “4” from me on the Dub-O-Meter. I couldn’t give it a 5 because the cards are a little thin, condition is spotty at best and many of the big name rookies flopped. But I also couldn’t give it a 3 because it is a lot of fun, Percy Snow has two rookies, Andre Rison has three cards and Emmitt Smith has a sweet rookie. Many of you have seen 1990 Pro Set a thousand times but if you haven’t seen it in a while, I urge you to check it out again. Its dirt cheap so while you may lose sleep over the many variations; your wallet should sleep like a baby!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?



What’s The Deal With Shipping?

Let me start by saying that I am no authority on this subject. I am just a concerned citizen who has shipped and received many cards over the last few years. I have seen a troubling trend over the last few months on eBay that we have to talk about. I don’t like being the preachy kind when it comes to collecting and the hobby in general. But trading, buying and selling are a major part of the hobby and shipping is crucial to those aspects. Sure, I’ve made my share of mistakes over the years but I have found a general balance when it comes to shipping; whether a sale, a giveaway or just a surprise mail day. I hope that you will take a constructive view of my thoughts and share yours if you think they are more efficient.

Some of you may be asking, “Is it really necessary to have this conversation in this day and age?” To those that think shipping just comes naturally and isn’t as hard as it sounds, I am going to share four shipping disasters that have been discussed just in the last 7 days on Twitter. I see shipping nightmares all the time but I received my own last week and couldn’t believe my eyes. After making mine available for thoughts, I had others come forward with horror stories as well. So it does seem as if this conversation is necessary at this point. Is it a fun conversation to have? Probably not if you are one of the offenders of the shipping code. Some of you guys are old pros at shipping so this is more for your concurrence or further advice than instruction. But, I legitimately receive messages on a routine basis asking for advice on shipping certain things so for some of you, this may be educational. In any event, I will try to make it entertaining.

Case #1
I purchased a card on eBay last week. The card wasn’t overly expensive but it was an autographed card #’d to 29 and one I was very happy to make a part of my PC. Shipping on this purchase was free so I didn’t expect an elaborate bubble mailer with insurance and tracking. But I did expect at least an envelope. What I got instead was the packing slip wrapped around the card (in a case) and taped around the edges. My envelope was a piece of printer paper and was shipped from California to Georgia. The card made it safely but I was floored by the effort, or lack thereof.

Case #2
One of my Twitter buds, @hoot_cards, shared an experience in which he received an eBay purchase with the shipping label taped around a piece of cardboard; very poorly, I might add. The shipping cost less than the amount of tape that was used in this instance and I still can’t figure out what the seller had in mind as he “packaged” this up. Just look at the picture and try to figure it out for yourself.

Case #3
Twitter bud @bobbyblanco1 has a similar story to mine. The difference is that he bought an Andrew Benintendi Contenders Autograph #’d to 15. This was a bit more expensive than the one I just bought. His was also shipped in a “paper” envelope but he didn’t get fancy printer paper like I did. He got the old high school ruled paper with blue lines. Yes, an Andrew Benintendi #’d to 15 autograph was shipped in a piece of notebook paper! You can’t make this stuff up!

Case #4
Another Twitter bud, @YabeSportsCards shared a photo of a shipment that his friend @cardfanatic620 received. The envelope wasn’t the issue this time but the way the cards were prepared for shipment is something I see more and more these days. The card he purchased was in a toploader but that was sandwiched between two unprotected cards (Matt Ryan and Greg Olsen) which were taped over the toploader. Granted, the seller at least used painters tape but he taped 2 star players to the toploader to protect the main card.

I have given you four real world examples of shipping practices that are being used in our hobby today. All of these cases are recent and from credible sources. I wish they weren’t true but I have seen enough issues in the last few years to know that they are all too real. My goal with this post is to break down the different ways you can ship a card. There are cheap and expensive ways to ship, depending on the type of transaction you are completing but they are all safe for the card and your shipment receiver should be pleased. This does not take into account any issues with the shipment itself; like being lost or tampered with en route. I have had a few of those instances as well and there is nothing that could have been done to avoid them. They were the result of dishonesty and shenanigans.

First, let’s talk about the shipping methods I find appropriate for each transaction. This can differ from person to person but this is what works for me. Value involved is always a factor too. I generally don’t send a card over $50 in anything short of a bubble mailer. Likewise, I usually don’t ever ship a 1-3 base PC cards above PWE (Plain White Envelope) unless requested or I charge for the shipping.

Giveaways – If I am giving away cards that are less than 6-7 in quantity, I am using the PWE method. I expect no more than that if I am receiving something similar.

Trades – Depending on the transaction, I usually try to square away with the trade partner the shipping method we will use. If it is a preemptive trade and I received a bubble mailer, I am sending back in a bubble. If I get a PWE, I am sending back in a PWE. Usually trades don’t include shipping costs but you don’t want to be the one that skimps. I have had it happen on my end when we didn’t discuss it and I was embarrassed.

Surprise Mail Days – These will depend on the items being sent. Again, a couple of cards will go in a PWE but if I am shipping multiple autographs or relics, I am going with a bubble mailer.

Sales – If I am charging shipping, my buyer is getting the standard First Class Paypal shipping with tracking and a bubble mailer. If you charge for shipping, make sure you are actually paying to ship something. Be upfront about what something costs and let the shipping in fact cover shipping.

Now that we have covered some of the basic reasons you are shipping to begin with, let’s cover the “Tools of the Trade”. These are generally all you will ever need to ship cards and 8×10’s. If you are shipping helmets or a jersey, you need to find the appropriate tools for those trades.

Security Envelopes (4 ½ x 9 ½) – These are perfect for PWE mailings and cost about $3.50 for 125 at Wal-Mart.

Stamps – For PWE, you are generally going to need a .49 cent stamp and a .21 cent stamp because the envelopes are not “machinable” with a toploader inside. Two regular stamps are fine but you can save a little by purchasing a book of the “additional ounce” stamps.

Bubble Mailer (4 x 7) – These are perfect for a stack of toploaded cards or a graded card. You can pick these up for $4 for a pack of 10 at Wally World.

Bubble Mailer (6 x 9) – I use these when I send out multiple packs or a larger quantity of cards. These are about the same price as the 4 x 7.

Bubble Mailer (8 ½ x 11) – These are perfect for 8×10’s or magazines that are being sent. These run about $1.50 for 2.

Toploaders – The size will depend on what type of card you are using but always use a toploader when you are shipping cards. Even if you only use one with multiple cards, make sure you have something sturdy with the cards. These are about $2.95 for 25 at my LCS.

Team Bags – The team bag totally eliminates the need for scotch tape. Using scotch tape on a toploader is akin to taking up 2 parking spaces or putting ketchup on a fancy steak (I’m talking to you @TheSportsJim). You just don’t do any of these things! Ever! You can get 100 of these for about $3.25.

Card Sleeves – As crucial as the toploader, a card sleeve is an added layer of protection for the surface of the card. These are practically free at my LCS as I can get 100 for .95 cents.

Dummy Cards – These are actually free if you collect Panini cards because they come in every other pack. I use these for protection on the outside of a toploader instead of Matt Ryan and Greg Olsen.

Cardboard – Any type of cardboard will do. I use shipping flaps, box sides, etc. Cardboard is very useful when shipping 8 x 10’s and magazines. They can also help some cards from sliding during shipment if necessary.

Scotch Shipping Tape – This is ONLY for the use of taping shipping labels to the bubble mailer or sealing them. This is NEVER used inside the envelope or on the toploader.

Painters Tape – This is the only tape that should be used on toploaders or to hold two dummy cards together. For the love of the hobby, please!

Printer Paper – Not only do I use printer paper for my shipping labels. I also use printer paper to wrap my cards that go in a PWE as I will outline later.

Scissors – You can’t really accomplish the task of shipping without scissors at some point. I know that may seem like a no brainer item but I am trying to list everything practical that you will need.

I think that covers the “Tools of the Trade” but if I missed something, feel free to comment below. Next up, we’ll get down to the brass tacks of shipping. I’ll cover each method I use in card shipping and have attached a short video for each, showing each step. Again, this is probably too far in the weeds for you savvy veterans but I am trying to help the new guys or the guys that just don’t know they’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. Key word here is “help”. I am not here to berate or make fun of anyone for how they ship. I don’t do it right all the time but I don’t have very many shipping complaints either.

PWE – This is a pretty simple process. I load my cards in card sleeves, put at least one card in a toploader and then load them all in a team bag. The team bag gets taped to a piece of printer paper (with painters tape) and then the paper gets tri-folded around the card. It gets loaded in the PWE and it’s ready to be shipped. I tape it to the printer paper to keep it from sliding during shipping. I also write “Please Do Not Bend” in the bottom left corner of the envelope. Watch me load a PWE shipment here!

Bubble Mailer (4 x 7) – When shipping an autographed card or more expensive cards, I use this method. This is even simpler than the PWE method but I see it messed up quite often. Again, always put the card in a sleeve and toploader unless you have the card in a One Touch. If you use a team bag, there is really no need for tape. If a One Touch, you can load those into two team bags coming from both ends of the magnetic case and use painters tape to secure. The card doesn’t have much room to slide in a 4 x 7 and if it’s packaged right, I don’t worry about that part of it. I always seal the bubble mailer with the shipping tape for an added seal. You can also slide a dummy card in the team bag if you want an added layer of protection in keeping the card from flexing. Graded cards usually get shipped inside the bags they come in from Beckett or PSA.  Watch me load a bubble mailer shipment here!

Bubble Mailer (8 ½ x 11) – When shipping a magazine or 8×10, I try my best to find a toploader for them. You have to ship an autographed item in a toploader and those can be found online or at your LCS. I use the added protection of cardboard on either side of the toploader to keep these items from flexing. They generally fit right into this bubble mailer with no room for movement once the cardboard is added. I tape each side of the cardboard with the painters tape to keep the item inside the cardboard protection throughout the shipping process. Again, I tape my bubble mailer closed with the shipping tape for good measure. Watch me load an 8×10 here!

Miscellaneous

  • I use insurance for any cards over $100. This amount may differ from person to person. If a buyer requests it, I will use it for any value.
  • When shipping packs, I use an appropriate sized bubble mailer and try to secure the packs with additional cardboard to avoid using any sort of tape for those that like to keep the packs once they have been ripped.
  • Communication is the key to any transaction. Make sure you are up front about how you are shipping and make sure you accommodate buyers whenever possible.
  • The 300, 400, 500, etc count boxes found at your LCS are best for shipping larger quantities of cards. You can use packing peanuts, bubble wrap or shredded paper for filler. Tape the boxes at all openings and you can put a shipping label right on the box.
  • I’m begging you, DO NOT TAPE A TOPLOADER WITH SCOTCH TAPE!
  • Lastly, if you mess up, own it and make it right. You can refund the buyer a small amount for the shipping malfunction or you can offer a full refund with the return of the item. Again, communication is the key!

Hopefully, this has been of some assistance to those of you that are new to the hobby or who have struggled with shipping. The key to trading and selling is to provide the recipient with the item in the same condition as when it left your hands whenever possible. As mentioned above, you can’t control incidents that happen during the shipping process but if you package your items correctly, they will be able to survive the normal glitches that can be expected from time to time. I have found that I am much more willing to continue trading and buying from those that ship correctly. It doesn’t matter how cheap the shipping is or how nice the item is, if I don’t have faith in the shipping, I am not going for the item. Please feel free to comment below on some methods you have found that works for you or let me know if I hit on something you hadn’t thought about.

J-Dub

The Dark Period

There is a song that takes me back to the prime of my life every time I hear it.  When I hear this song, I remember being 18 and riding the strip at Panama City Beach with my friends.  I have it on my iTunes playlist but I go through phases where all I want to hear is Deftones or Thrice or Starset and it gets lost in the 200+ songs that live there.  It rolled around this morning and I put it on repeat a couple of times because it’s just soothing to my soul when I hear it.  I’m sure you have certain songs that travel right through your ears and into the limbic system of your brain to put you in a different frame of mind.  Or is it just me?  Anyway, this particular song is “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins.  The Pumpkins were my favorite band in high school before the Deftones came along.  They are still in my all time top 3 and “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” is one of the greatest albums ever!Smashing Pumpkins – 1979

The odd part of the memory of this particular part of my life is that it doesn’t include sports cards.  As Eric Norton so eloquently calls it when asking collectors on the Beckett Radio Podcast for their backstory in the hobby, it was my “dark period”.  Everyone in my age range has one.  Mine was from 1994 until around 2002.  I do remember picking up some football cards in 1998 because I have a bunch of Manning, Moss and Ricky Williams rookies but that was a short time frame.  And believe it or not, the cards I bought in ’98 were because of a girl.  That’s odd because the “girl” is usually the primary reason for the dark period to begin with.  But I actually dated a girl one time that liked ripping football cards.  The hobby side of me enjoyed those times but the relationship side is happy that we moved on.My dark period began in 1994 with the baseball strike.  It was really a perfect storm that led to me walking away from the hobby for a while.  For a 17 year old baseball fan, my mind had not evolved to the point of understanding salary caps, arbitration and antitrust legislation.  For me, it was greed, plain and simple.  I wanted baseball in my life and it wasn’t there.  I remember thinking that I would have played Major League Baseball for free and these owners and players were fighting over millions.  To complicate matters, one of the players at the forefront of this was a player on my home team, Tom Glavine, the President of the Player’s Union.  Unfortunately, he was the face I remember most often when thinking about the back and forth of the strike.  At the time, I partially blamed him, which may have been unfair.  There was blame to be passed around no doubt, but I put too much of it on him.The 1994 season was shaping up to be historic.  That’s easy to say some 23 years later but there were some major things happening.  The Montreal Expos were 74-40 at the time the strike happened and were 6 games ahead of the Braves.  That would have either been a great end to the season for the Expos or the Braves would have made an awesome comeback and won the East.  Either would have been considered wins in my book because the Expos were fun to watch.  The ’94 Strike has been credited with being a part of the eventual downfall of the Expos.  They sold off players after ’94 and attendance dropped.  They would never recover and could not get funding to build a new stadium.  MLB would eventually purchase the Expos in 2002 and then move them to Washington for the 2005 season.Tony Gwynn was hitting .394 with only 8 weeks left in the season.  Matt Williams was on a mathematical pace to break Roger Maris’ home run record.  The strike also cost Don Mattingly a chance at the postseason as the Yankees were 70-43 and 6 1/2 games up on the Orioles.  Up until that point, he had been kept out of the postseason.  He finally made it in 1995 but the team was not considered as good as in 1994.  He would retire at the end of ’95 and the Yanks would beat the Braves for the ’96 World Series title.  That was painful for me as a Braves fan but imagine how Donnie Baseball felt.By far one of the strangest results of the ’94 strike was a trade involving Dave Winfield and filet mignon.  While playing for the Twins in 1994, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians just after the strike began for a player to be named later.  Because the ’94 season ended early, Winfield didn’t play any games in Cleveland that year and the player to be named was never named.  To settle the trade, the Indians and Twins executives went out for dinner and Cleveland picked up the tab.  That’s probably the cheapest any team has ever bought a 3,000 hit, Hall of Famer.  I wonder how many calls were made after this story surfaced that requested Wade Boggs for a few lobster dinners!So the strike had me backing away from the hobby but there were other reasons that kept me away.  The Summer of ’94 is also when I started dating my future wife.  When we started dating, I didn’t care about baseball cards, Clerks or Tecmo Super Bowl for a while.  A hot chick can have that effect on a man.  My day was consumed with thoughts of my new girlfriend.  We went to different schools in our town and I would call her from a pay phone in our lunchroom cafeteria and she would stand by a pay phone outside her lunchroom waiting for the call.  Let that sink in for a moment young people…..a pay phone!  If I missed her, my afternoon was shot.  After school, I would drive by to see if she had left yet and then would ride around town hoping to bump into her.  No cell phone in those days and we couldn’t talk until we both got home.This relationship continued until 1997 and my cards stayed locked away in the closet during that whole time.  When we broke up, I was 20 and was galavanting all over the place hanging with friends and just being a dumb kid.  I was playing basketball, working, going to Huddle House at 2am and taking spur of the moment road trips with my buddies.  We did look at cards from time to time but it definitely didn’t classify as a hobby.  As I mentioned above, I did dip my toes back in the water in ’98 and dropped some coin on football products but I still didn’t go back to baseball yet.  I loved the Topps and Score boxes that could be found at Wal-Mart at the time and I would buy them every time I took a trip.  I still like that Topps set and it had some really cool inserts like Hidden Gems that are still pretty nice looking today.  The rookie class was awesome; Manning, Leaf, Hines Ward, Randy Moss, Fred Taylor, Ahman Green and Charles Woodson.  Even though I started picking these back up, I still wasn’t diving back into the hobby again.Part of my hesitation was still from the strike, some of it was from life just catching up with me during my young adult years and the rest was just the sheer mass production that was happening in the mid 90’s.  As a 20 year old, I was really starting to consider value in the cards and I wasn’t really finding it anymore.  The late 90’s were filled with products that I just couldn’t keep up with.  There were things like Zenith, Collectors Choice, Fleer Metal, Fleer Traditions, Pacific, Aurora and 20 different Pinnacle offshoots.  Supply had certainly met and passed demand and I didn’t want any part of the glutton of cards.  I still loved sports but couldn’t justify spending my fun money on sports cards that were worth .50 cents.  There were certainly some valuable cards to be found but I wasn’t in a stage of life to be searching.After spinning my wheels through young adulthood, my path led me back to my original girlfriend from 1994 and we would go on to get married in 2001.  When we got married, we moved away from our hometown (about 40 minutes) and we made Sunday the day we would go back and see our parents.  On Sunday’s, we would watch NASCAR at my parents house and we all had our favorite drivers.  I’ve been a Tony Stewart guy since 1999, my dad was Dale Earnhardt (and Jr.) all the way, my mom liked the LaBonte brothers and my wife liked Dale Jarrett and Sterling Marlin.  Those Sunday experiences soon got me into NASCAR collectibles like die cast cars and racing cards when I could find them.  We had a spare bedroom in our duplex at the time that was full of NASCAR memorabilia.  That led to me pulling out my old cards from the late 80’s and early 90’s.Once I started looking through my old cards, the feelings of nostalgia came rushing over me and that was when it truly sunk in that I wasn’t a kid anymore.  I was married, had a 9 to 5 and only went back “home” once a week.  It also made me understand the “growing up conundrum”.  All kids want to grow up and be adults while most adults want to go back to when they were kids.  When you become an adult, you spend your time worrying about bills, health, kids and work so you forget what it was like to only worry about beating a video game or pulling a Ken Griffey Jr. in your pack of ’89 Donruss.  Nobody told me that when I became an adult, my days would be consumed with worry and responsibility.  If I had known that, I would’ve stayed 14.These worries and responsibilities are all relative to your age and situation.  They always seem heavy and you look for times in your life when the worry wasn’t such a big deal.  When it rains, I’m not going to tell my 10 year old daughter not to fret because she can’t play outside because I know that was devastating for me at that age.  But I do know that she will have bigger concerns one day.  I just don’t want her to have them yet.  I know that worry and stress evolves over time and I’ve learned that you have to combat them by any means necessary.  For me, that has become sports cards once again.  I guess it’s the circle of life to some degree.  When I was a kid, you could give me a few packs of ’90 Fleer and I was as happy as a clam.  Understanding that the cards were a source of happiness when I was young, I decided to fight off adulthood by buying cards again.  And it’s worked into my 40th year of life.In fact, I’m going stronger than ever now and I’m still buying 1990 Fleer!  I buy other stuff too but I’ll never stray from my roots.  I would rather have an ’88 Topps Jose Canseco than a 2017 Mike Trout.  That may not make sense to some people but that’s the way I operate.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy a 2017 Trout.  It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to have an Aaron Judge autograph.  But the true happiness of collecting for me comes from living in the moments from when I was a kid.  Unless Doc Brown comes along with a Delorean and Huey Lewis and the News, this is as close as I’ll get to those years.  So I’ll keep ripping “Junk Wax”, as it’s labeled.  I’ll keep collecting Fleer stickers and ’89 Bowman wrappers and ’90 Upper Deck holograms.  Who knows, I might pull a Donruss Elite along the way or that Juan Gonzalez reverse negative we all remember.  But whatever I pull, it will be memorable and will remind me of the days before my “dark period.”

J-Dub

Pack Searching For Integrity

If you’ve been a collector for any reasonable amount of time, you’ve heard the term “pack searcher.”  If you’re lucky, you’ve never seen one in action but if you buy at Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart or any of the other general retailers where packs are available, you’ve no doubt been a victim of their shenanigans.  I say shenanigans, because technically, it’s not a criminal act but neither is adultery or flipping off a cop but everyone knows it’s wrong.  Am I comparing pack searching to adultery or giving a cop the finger?  That may seem like a stretch to some but yeah, I guess I put it somewhere in the middle of that scale.  It definitely falls under the category of “you should know better” as my granddaddy used to tell me.  I’ll try to explain why here but I’m sure this will be met with resistance from those that shall not be named.

In my experience on Twitter, Facebook and in real life, I would guess that pack searchers make up a small percentage of the hobby.  Of course, there may be some that are afraid to admit that they engage in such practices.  I can tell you that they make up zero percent of “collectors” because I don’t consider them a part of the collecting family that I’m in.  They may claim to be but we all have people who claim to be a part of our family that we deny.  The entire scheme is bad but what makes it even worse is the deflection and decree of innocence when confronted.  It’s amazing that anyone could not see the harm it does to the hobby or the moral dishonesty.

You may be asking what pack searching actually is because I do have people who read my blog for non card reasons.  Perhaps it’s my eloquence or charm, I don’t know.  As you are likely aware, the retailers above have small sections for card collectors where you can buy “retail” packs.   Retail boxes typically have less “hits” (autos/relics/plates/etc) but they are also cheaper to buy.  The act of pack searching is when an individual manhandles each of the packs to search out the packs that have the hits in them.   Most of the time, the hits aren’t even for them as they will go and list the packs on eBay as “hot packs” that are guaranteed to contain a hit.  So in essence, they are buying a $2.99 retail pack and flipping it on eBay for considerably more.   Those that do open typically will list the hit on eBay for sale to also recover the funds for the pack plus their net profit.You may be saying to yourself that this doesn’t sound all that bad.  Perhaps you’re thinking that there are just some savvy individuals who have found a loophole in the system to make a few extra bucks.   The first issue is that it is a loophole to begin with.  Loophole by definition is “an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules” which would lend itself to being against the intention of the rules.  Therein lies the first issue.  Card companies have been trying to combat this for years with different tamper proof pack designs, fake cardboard fillers in packs and hanger boxes.  But card companies aren’t able to stop this practice on their own.Card Companies are trying to innovate and provide collectors with new products such as prime relics, coins, cut signatures and the like.  But what that ultimately means is that packs that hold these cards are going to be of a little different size.  I personally don’t have a problem with a person picking a thick pack out of the box with the hopes that it’s a hit because it could always be a dummy card.  It’s the extremes that people go to that cross the line.   People bring in tiny scales to weigh each pack and will buy the ones that are out of place.  They will bring in magnets to try and uncover coin cards or plates.  The first question you should ask yourself when determining if what you’re doing is wrong is whether or not you have to take scales and magnets into the retailer to make sure you get the right ones.For those that are less experienced, or in some cases more familiar with the product, they will grope the pack like a prom date at midnight.   They slide the cards around in the packs, look through the cellophane and even bend the cards to see how flexible the packs are when compared to each other.   The obvious problem here is that the cards can become damaged during this process, ruining the pack for future purchase.   The other problem is you look like a weirdo in public but that doesn’t seem to bother some people.  I suppose that’s a personal choice.Another big part of this involves the reason people purchase retail to begin with.  Most times, if you have the resources and a local card shop, you are buying hobby and pack searching doesn’t fly at any reputable LCS.   However, the number of card shops has reduced tremendously over the years while retail stores have continued to pop up everywhere and thrive.  If you don’t have an LCS, odds are you are within close proximity to Target or Wal-Mart so retail may be your only geographical option.  Also, as mentioned above, retail packs are generally cheaper than hobby because the packs have much wider ratios of pulling hits.  So if it’s an off pay week or times have gotten slim, it’s easier to drop $2.99 per pack as opposed to $4.99 per pack.   Sometimes buying retail is strictly an economical decision and there’s nothing wrong with that.What this means is that a large part of the collecting world is dependent on retailers to provide packs for their hobby desires.  And buying retail packs deserves to be just as random and optimistic of an experience as buying hobby, even if your chances are lower that you’ll pull a hit.  A hit should be a surprise and a unique experience, not one that can be compromised by a magnet and a micrometer.  I don’t know how else to say it other than, it’s just not right.   I know that sounds like pops telling kids to turn down their music but I know that a vast majority of the collecting community feels this way or either I’ve been lied to for years.When a pack searcher learns the retail stores schedule of putting out product, they will arrive just when boxes hit the shelves, clean out the hits and leave the base packs for the general public.  A big part of the general public I am referring to includes children.   I know searchers think that is a copout for those of us against it but I have experienced it myself.   My daughter collects cards but she doesn’t get to spend $40 at the hobby shop.   She usually has $5-$10 to spend at Wal-Mart.  Every time we walk up to the aisle and I see the packs all turned over or totally out of sorts, I have to try and temper her expectations of pulling something nice because it’s likely gone. She likes autographs and patch cards as much as I do but I can’t afford two hobby shop addictions.Now we get to a real tough position of trying to figure out how to combat this issue.  Because as the searchers say, it’s not illegal whether I think it should be or not.  I personally think it is a form of stealing but one of my favorite sayings is, “we justify the things we like.”  Some people may be against sex on TV but they love “The Bachelor”, which is pretty much people making out with each other to get a guy or girl.  Some people may not like violence in video games but love horror movies.  We can all justify the things we like as not being that bad.  And that’s what happens with a pack searcher.  Because there isn’t a written law against it, then it’s ok to do.   I believe that if the intent of the card company is to go to great lengths to randomize their product with tamper proof packaging, dummy cards and blasters, then compromising that is in fact wrong.   Counting cards in a casino is not illegal but it’s highly frowned upon and will get you banned. Why? Because counting cards gives you an unfair advantage.

So what needs to happen?

• Card companies need to continue to experiment and innovate their packaging to combat this issue.  They have taken steps but there is more that can be done.   Perhaps there is a way to make all packs the same width and same weight?  Maybe there could be larger card stock dummies put on the top and bottom of the packs?  They have figured out a way to put a piece of a football helmet in a card so I believe this could be done.

• Stores could adopt internal policies to discourage pack searching.  This may not be high on their priority list but this could also be done.  Many stores have policies that aren’t necessarily related to whether something is legal or not but whether or not it’s good for their customers.  If a place can tell you that you can’t have a drink in the store, they can prohibit pack searching as a store policy.

• Buyers should stop purchasing hot packs off of eBay.  Buying hot packs may not be as condemned in the hobby as pack searching itself but it surely contributes to the searching itself.  It’s Econ 101 – Supply and Demand.

Well, that’s my piece on card searching.   I unequivocally think it’s wrong and it’s not what’s intended in the hobby.  I don’t feel this way because I can’t search packs.  It doesn’t take a genius to bend, weigh or measure packs.  It’s just not something I think is appropriate for people who value the hobby they are involved in.  I keep going back to this word but it is truly “compromising” the integrity of collecting.   And if you are one of those people who just thinks, “It’s just baseball/football cards, what integrity is involved” then you won’t really understand my point of view.  And it’s totally fine to disagree with me just as those who have disagreed with me before because you’re right, it’s not illegal.  People have argued over morals for thousands of years and that will continue so I guess that’s where this discussion lies for now.   People who do it will always find a way to justify it and the people who care about the hobby itself will always wonder why it continues.  Consider me in the latter camp.

J-Dub

Home State Heartbreak

So I’ve finally reached a point where I think I can write about this but I’m even going to veil the subject in a more global discussion about my home teams in general. I’m a sports nut and I live in Georgia. Historically, that has been the equivalent of being a snow skiing fanatic in Florida. We have a 1980 National Title in Athens and a 1995 World Series in Atlanta. Other than that, bupkis. I’m not going back to some obscure 1923 title that may or may not be claimed somewhere to find something else. I’m also not a Georgia Tech fan so I’m not including anything they may have done, though I’m not bashing either. I will do that closer to football season. All my home teams have some red in them; Bulldogs, Braves, Hawks and Falcons. They also have a long history of, in the words of the Great Lewis Grizzard, tearing out your heart and stomping that sucker flat. So, how ‘bout that Super Bowl 51?Atlanta Falcons – Well, the Falcons have zero championships in their history. We (and yes, I’m using “We” throughout this piece) have 13 playoff appearances since 1966 and 2 conference championships. The first conference championship was in 1998 when we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Minnesota with the great Gary Anderson missing his first field goal of the year and the even greater Morten Anderson connecting on his. We would finish the regular season at 14-2 that year but were still the #2 seed. Those Great Lakers deserved that defeat as payback for what happened in 1991, which we’ll get to shortly. But the Falcons giveth, and the Falcons taketh away. We went on to get drummed by future Hall of Famer John Elway and the Denver Broncos 34-19.Then we had to endure the Michael Vick era with its teases and near misses. We’d fall to the Eagles in our next bid at a trip to the Super Bowl in 2004. We followed up with 8-8 and 7-9 the following years, respectively. Then Bobby Petrino came in and made his mess. We followed the next few years with an occasional playoff appearance and even clinched the #1 seed in the 2010 playoffs. But we would go on to get lambasted by Green Bay, 48-21 in the NFC Divisional. This was the worst loss by a #1 seed in divisional playoff game history and the second worst playoff loss by a #1 seed period. 2011 brought a playoff loss at the hands of the Giants. 2012 saw us clinch the #1 seed again and we picked up our only playoff win in the Mike Smith Era (2008-2014). The playoffs looked promising at halftime of the NFC Championship vs the 49er’s with a score of 24-14 in our favor. We coughed that up and lost 28-24.Then we hit the doldrums with a 4-12 season in 2013. We did a reverse Braves and went from 1st to Worst. 2014 was much of the same. After a coaching change to Dan Quinn in 2015, we would return to a .500 season but showed promise along the way. In 2016, the Falcons lit the world on fire on offense but still showed inexperience on defense until the second half of the season. We would finish with an 11-5 record and a first round bye. Then, despite trepidation from the fan base because of all the previous misery, we went on to take down the two hottest opponents in the NFC, Seattle and Green Bay. We held a 21-3 lead at halftime over the New England Patriots. We increased that lead to 28-3 in the third quarter. Even this old hardened Falcon fans heart started to soften. And then the unthinkable happened. Conservative play calling and horrendous defense lead to a complete collapse and we lost 34-28. Many people will give Tom Brady credit for that win but not me, and I’m not anti Tom Brady. We gave that one up! We gave him the opportunity to do what he did. Without some horrible decisions in the second half, he doesn’t have that window. Just an abysmal display and one I fear has the opportunity to carryover to 2017 like a bad Goldschlager hangover.Atlanta Braves – The Falcons aren’t alone in providing misery for the fan base but the Braves did give us one of those elusive championships in 1995. Granted, the Braves gave us a magical 14 consecutive Division Championship streak which is unmatched to this point. The problem with the Braves always came in the postseason. In that streak of 14 consecutive division titles, we have 4 NL pennants to show for it. And of those 4 NL pennants, we have one World Series ring. That means that we won the NL 28.5% of the time we made the playoffs and we won the World Series 7% of the time we made the playoffs and 25% of the time we won the National League. And like the Falcons, its how we lost that drives me the craziest. I will touch on it but you can read all about Lonnie Smith by clicking here.The Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee in 1966. From 1966 to 1991, we had a total of 2 division titles. That’s 2 divisional titles in 25 years. This doesn’t even scratch the surface on how bad the teams actually were during most of that span. We’re not talking about barely missing the playoffs in the 80’s. We’re talking about a .494 winning percentage in 84, .407 in 85, .447 in 86, .429 in 87, .338 in 88 and .394 in 89. Yes, Donruss was not the worst thing you could be called in 1988. But things were about to turn around with another Atlanta coaching change. This time, Bobby Cox was brought in during the middle of 1990. 1990 still finished as an abysmal season and resulted in the trade of Dale Murphy, an icon in Atlanta.But in 1991, we started to see fresh faces John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery start to do work on the mound while Ron Gant, David Justice and Terry Pendleton carried the torch at the plate. The Worst to First season was completed on the last day of the regular season when the Braves clipped the Dodgers by one game. After defeating the Pirates in 7 games, the Great Lakers would drive a dagger in our hearts in the 91 World Series, which is still considered one of the best ever. My hatred for Kent Hrbek after his cowardly display of pulling Ron Gant off of 1st base and Dan Gladden for his grittiness shifted to Lonnie Smith at the conclusion of Game 7 that saw John Smoltz and Jack Morris duel for 9 scoreless innings. The Twins were able to muster a run in extra innings to win the series. We would’ve never been in that position had Lonnie Smith just ran the bases in the 8th inning. It’s been 26 years and I still get heartburn thinking about that!1992 saw another 7 game series with Pittsburgh in the NLCS with the defining moment in Braves history occurring in the 9th inning with a 3 run rally and Sid Bream lugging his piano around the bases to slide just ahead of Spanky LaValliere’s tag. We would lose in the World Series again, this time to the Toronto Blue Jays and Kelly Freakin Gruber! In 1995, we actually won the World Series I thought we should’ve lost. We took down the Cleveland Indians, who had won 100 games (10 more than the Braves.) The Indians were loaded too with Eddie Murray, Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle. Go figure, we beat the Indians but lost to Gene Larkin and Greg Gagne. The rest is history as we would go on to win 10 more consecutive division titles and zero World Series.The Atlanta Hawks – This one will actually be short. The Hawks have been in Atlanta since 1968 and have 5 division titles and zero conference titles. We’ve seen some great (some good) players in Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Kevin Willis, Dikembe Mutombo, Pete Marivich, Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Lenny Wilkins and Moses Malone. We had some close calls like in 2015 when we had the best record in the East or in 2008 when we took down the Heat in the playoffs, only to lose to the Cavs in the next round. There really isn’t much to say about the Hawks other than we’re better than we used to be but not as good as the best in the conference. I will still sit down and take in the game every time they are on TV though because I love them!Georgia Bulldogs – I’ve talked about The Life of A Dawg at this link but to round this out, we can give a synopsis of that life here as well. The National Title in my lifetime was in 1980 when I was 3. We had a running back by the name of Herschel Walker that may still be the best college football player to ever play. Since then, we spent a lot of time up until the early 2000’s winning 8 games a season. In the early 2000’s we started finding success under Mark Richt and won two early SEC titles in his tenure (2002, 2005). We also won the East 6 times during his tenure. We came painstakingly close to the big dance though a couple of times and it has me all in the pepto still today.First there was 2007 where we finished the season ranked #3 in the coaches poll and #2 in the AP after blasting Hawaii 41-10. If there had been a playoff that year, who knows what would’ve happened. We didn’t even get to play in the SEC Championship because we lost to TN that year and finished 11-2. This was the same record as Tennessee but we lost to them head to head. We even beat the Mighty Bammers in overtime that year. We peaked at the wrong time after stumbling out of the gate.Speaking of the Bammers, our nearest miss came in 2012. This one ranks right up there with Kyle Shanahan’s mishaps and Lonnie Smith’s blunders. After an 11-1 regular season, we faced off with #1 Bama in the SEC Championship. We gave them all we had! We held the lead with 3:15 left in the game before AJ McCarron connected with Amari Cooper for a 44 yard score to take a 32-28 lead. We weren’t done though as the gutsy Aaron Murray led a last minute charge from our own 15 yard line with 1 minute left an no timeouts. A pass completion to Arthur Lynch took us to the 8 with 9 seconds to play. Instead of clocking it and getting a clean shot at the end zone, Richt (Bobo) decided to push the defense and ran a play. That play wound up being a tipped pass that was caught at the 5 in bounds by Chris Conley, allowing the clock to run out. I don’t blame Conley to this day because he was doing what football players are taught to do. This one was on the play callers shoulders much like the Falcons Super Bowl bid. Bama then got the easy task of playing Manti Teo’s girlfriend in the national title. ARRRGGGHHH!!I have spent a lot of my sports life with my face buried in my hands in the prayer position on my living room floor. It’s been exacerbating at times. It’s been mind numbing, exhausting and miserable. There have been high points no doubt. There was the Mikey Henderson catch in OT to beat Auburn. There was the Morten kick. There was Sid’s slide. There was the Hobnail Boot. But I can name many more times that it didn’t work out. And when it doesn’t work out, it’s unbelievable. The Prayer at Jordan-Hare in 2013, the Lonnie Smith bumble in 1991, the Navorro Bowman interception in 2012, Aaron Rodgers in 2010, Joe Carter in 1992, and finally, Kyle Shanahan in 2016. There are plenty of other franchises that have their share of misery but now that Cleveland has their basketball championship (plus Ohio State), I don’t know that there is a more tortured fan base than that of the state of Georgia. I could be wrong and if I am, I’m sure I’ll hear about it. But chances are, you can find a championship with one of your major professional or college teams that make the pain a little more bearable. Again, this isn’t just about championships. This is as much about opportunities not seized or games lost. There have been a lot of jokes made at my expense but I will always bleed for the State of Georgia and her sports. One day, that will all pay off. One Day.

J-Dub

Pet Peeves – Collector’s Edition

You may have skimmed through my previous pet peeves post and understand where I’m going with this one.  For those who haven’t, I’ll lay out some basics up front.  As with my previous pet peeve post, I’m not calling anyone individually out, although I do point a finger at some companies.  These are things that rub me the wrong way in my daily walk through collecting.  Some of it is part deception on seller’s parts, some is manufacturer greed and some is just nonsense in general.  I imagine that as you go through this list, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement because you’ve likely dealt with these issues yourself.  You may even have your own story about one of these.  This is meant in fun and hopefully you’ll get a good chuckle out of it.eBay 1/1 – This one is pretty widely booed amongst my acquaintances.  When somebody posts an eBay 1/1, I look in my collection, praying that I find what they’re selling so I can list it and it won’t be 1/1 anymore.  I could put my personalized Joey Shiver ’87 Topps up on eBay and call it a 1/1 but it’s not bringing any more cash.  Maybe you’ll find a sucker out there that doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do, but it’s not going to be me.  I went to my LCS this morning and I saw a ton of “LCS 1/1’s.”  Maybe they should start putting that on their stickers!  Listen, it’s either a 1/1 or it isn’t.  It’s not eBay 1/1, Twitter 1/1 or Facebook 1/1.  Just stop it!Advertisement of “Gem Mint Condition” – This is another eBay style gimmick that gets me riled.  You may be selling a card in very good condition but don’t tell me it’s Gem Mint unless it’s graded.  And please don’t say it like this, “Gem Mint???”  I don’t know, you’re the one selling it and you’re asking me?  How about we just be honest with each other and say, “Hey, as far as I can tell, this card is in very good condition.  No visible blemishes, corners and surface looks good, centering is nice.”  The Fatpacks just talked about the difficulty of grading on their last podcast.  Please don’t try to sell me a Gem Mint Condition, eBay 1/1 with your 98.2% seller rating.  I’m not buying it based on that description, I’m buying it because I want the card.  I’m probably not buying it at all with that rating.Hits stated as Autos OR Memorabilia – Here’s one that’s on the company.  New products always state their odds of hits in the box.  2 autos/1 mem per box – 1 auto/2 mems per box.  You get it.  But when they state 3 autos or mems per box, I know I’m getting 1 auto and 2 mems.  If it says 1 auto or mem, I’m getting a mem.  Maybe it’s just my luck but I’ve never pulled 3 autos out of a box that said OR.  And don’t even get me started on Allen & Ginter!  I really like the product but in that one you get 3 hits but they could be – Autographs, Relics, Originals, Book Cards, Cut Signatures, Rip Cards or Ancient Rome Relics featuring real Roman coins.  You get all that?  I bought 4 boxes last year and I shite you not, I got 1 auto and 11 relics.  Just tell me what’s in the box and let’s move on!  If I pull an auto, great.  But don’t feed me these false hopes.Pack Searchers – We’re all familiar.  You get hobby at a card shop or online and you get retail at Target or Wal Mart.  Hobby is always better because they have more hits and good shop owners don’t let their customers search.  But this pack searching is the lowest of the low and if these were in any type of order, this would be peeve numero uno.  There are YouTube videos dedicated to outing these scumbags.  What makes them even worse is when they act like they’re doing nothing wrong.  Card companies have done a lot to try and combat it with their packaging but there are real dedicated toolbags out there that find a way.  They feel all of the packs in Wal Mart, bringing in scales and tiny magnets, all in hopes of finding that one pack that is a little different than the others.  I’m fine if you can eyeball a pack and see a difference but when you bring in your searching kit, you can get bent.  Next time you go to Target, look at an open box of cards and you’ll see that the entire inventory has been rifled through.  That’s the universal mating call of the pack searcher.  They’ve ruined retail for the general public.  Thanks asshatsHot Packs – Pack searching brings me directly to the hot pack.  This is the fruits of the pack searcher.  I’ll never understand how someone can advertise a pack of cards as “guaranteed to contain a red parallel serial numbered out of 50.”  You are doing some serious pack negotiating if you’re seeing that in a pack.  If you can see all of that, don’t you think I know you can see if it’s Mike Trout or Chris Johnson?  Are you going to sell the Mike Trout in a hot pack or are you going to open that bad boy and sell the single?  Exactly.  Back to my stated odds section above, if you see someone advertise a hot pack that is guaranteed to contain an auto or mem, trust me, it’s not an auto!  I won’t even get started on the effects these searchers and hot packs have on the youth of our hobby.  Let’s just say it ain’t good!  I can’t keep talking about this or I’m going to lose it.


License Exclusivity – Let’s go back to some company issues.  This one is justbeyond my comprehension.  As most collectors are aware, Topps has the exclusive license to produce MLB trading cards.  Panini has the exclusive license to produce NFL trading cards.  I’ve said before, I’m a Donruss guy from back in the day.  I still love Donruss designs today.  But thanks to Topps and their MLB exclusivity, I only get Donruss cards with blank jerseys or bad photos that hide team names.  The 2017 design is one of my favorites ever from Donruss but it’s marred by the lack of being a licensed product.  I’m not just anti Topps on this either as you’ll see with my next peeve.  The fact that Panini has the exclusive license for football is just asinine.  What major sport should have trading cards without an option for Topps?  Nada.  Topps at least doesn’t plow through the NFL season with blank jersey’s and helmets but I do miss the company variety in football.  I loved Topps Museum, even though I rarely bought it by the box.  And Valor and Fire were cool designed products as well.  Who is this exclusivity helping besides the company itself?  Not the collector.  Not the open market.  Not the innovation of the hobby.  We’ve got to figure this out guys.  There is room for Topps, Donruss and Upper Deck in the major sports.  Give us a choice.100 Panini Products – Ok, when I say give us choice, this is not what I mean.  Again, I’m a Panini guy so this one pains me to write.  Panini released 40 basic card products in football this year.  You read that right, 40!  Origins, Prizm, Unparalled, Impeccable, Contenders, Classics, Draft Prizm, National Treasures, Spectra, Select, Rookies & Stars, Donruss, Prestige, Preferred, Playoff, Playbook…..see where this is headed?  I just named 16 – that’s not even half.  There are 52 weeks in a year and 20 weeks in a football season.  That’s almost a product a week during a calendar year and it’s 2 a week for a football season.  Good luck if you are an old school set collector.  You just have to pick a product or two and stick with it.  I can’t even keep up with the releases anymore.  This has to stop or it’s going to end very poorly for my favorite brand.  I don’t want to see that but it’s coming.  Spend more time on less products and you won’t have to charge $725 for a box of 8 cards.  With all those producers, how many stickers are floating around Panini with autographs at this point?

1990 Donruss – There’s really not much to say that hasn’t already been said about this abysmal set.  Same can be said for ’91 Fleer.  Although, for both products, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when these designs were pitched to the execs.  Who signed off on these?  I’d really like to be privy to those conversations.Non-Drafted Autos – This is not intended for the “prospect” autos.  I am talking specifically about players who weren’t drafted, aren’t getting picked up and are on practice squads before the sets even come out.  There’s no point in advertising a box with 5 or 6 autos in it if 4 of the autos are Shane Drango, Nando De Colo, Levi Norwood and Jeremy Pargo.  You’re probably asking, “Who?”  To which I respond, “Exactly.”  Baseball is the least guilty of this travesty but they do like to throw in a ton of rookie relief pitchers in their autograph selection.  So that may as well be considered the equivalent of an offensive lineman or D League player.  Don’t beef up your autograph numbers with guys who wind up in the dime box.  Of course, some prospects hit and some never pan out but some are mediocre from the jump and the card companies know that as much as anybody.Fake Numbers on Rookies – This actually goes back to the Rookie Premier set that used to be produced.  That “fake number” is usually Double 0.  Some products still use it as Panini Origins from 2016 comes to mind.  I get that the companies bring these rookies in for photos, autos and whatnot, but that 00 is so generic.  Now, consider this – you pull a one color patch of a rookie from one of the many products from 2016.  If that patch is from these 00 jersey’s, what a ripoff that is!  I’d prefer the companies just use a picture from draft day or a photo not in the jersey altogether.  Do they not airbrush anymore?  I found out as I was wrapping this post up, my pal @sportcardcollec is not a fan either!Bad Autographs – Here’s one that’s on the player.   While I understand there are a lot of signings these days, the players have either gotten lazy or they’re not very creative with their signatures.  If it’s the result of too many signings, all this carpal tunnel syndrome is prompting players to shorten their signatures to something ridiculous.  One that comes to mind is Xavier Rhodes.  I have an autographed card that I pulled in a pack and it’s signed, “XR.”  Really?  I actually did get lucky and pull that auto but it’s “XR?”  If it’s lack of creativity, take some lessons from Taywon Taylor and jazz this thing up!  Players, your autograph is highly sought after.  Take the time to make it look good!  At least make it reasonably legible.One Color Patches – My biggest issue with these is that I have zero faith that this clothing I’m looking at is a piece of actual jersey.  I’ll take your word for it with your guarantees but a one color patch is the equivalent of the initials autograph.  See my above on fake numbers and you see the issue.Taping Toploaders – Here’s one for the shippers.  I’ve brought it up before but it bears repeating.  When you tape a toploader, you essentially take away from its future usage.  It’s always going to have that sticky film on it and it’s effectively useless unless I’ve got some dupes that aren’t for viewing any more.  Please don’t tape your toploaders shut when mailing products.  Shipping is something that often gets too little attention but it’s something to leaves an impression with your buyer.  I prefer to wrap my cards in paper or put them in the clear bags to avoid tape on the holders.Redemption Substitutions – Back to the companies.  Redemptions alone are pretty frustrating.  First, it means that I’ve got to wait from the card that I actually bought today.  One of my astute tweeps, @gatorpk321 had a good take on this a few weeks  ago.  The card companies don’t take an I.O.U. from us when we buy so why are we taking them from us when we rip the packs?  But even worse than the redemption is the redemption substitution. Sometimes these I.O.U.’s don’t materialize in the form of the actual card we’re promised.  The company then makes their own determination of “similar value”.  I’ve stated before, collecting for me is not as tied to dollar value as much as interest.  I pulled a 2013 Topps Archives William “Refrigerator” Perry auto a couple of years ago.  Being an 80’s-90’s guy, I was ecstatic!    After a looong wait, I finally got a letter in the mail from Topps with a Jarvis Landry auto and a “bonus” Joe Adams auto.  Wait, what??  First, Joe Adams is not even in the league!  Any other time, Jarvis Landry would be a welcome addition but in the place of The Fridge?  I can’t even describe the letdown.

Well, that’s my initial list but I know there are others.  I’m already planning a part 2 But I need your help.  Tell me what your pet peeve is and if we have it in common, I’ll add it to the list for Part 2.  The hobby is a wonderful pastime but there are certain aspects that make me scratch my head and wonder what’s going on.  We can have fun with it in a post like this but I know it really gets under everyone’s skin and drives us mad.  So, what’s your pet peeve??

J-Dub