Retro Review – All Roads Lead To Saturday

As a married man who is a father of two girls aged 10 and 3, I don’t have many days all to myself. Some of that is out of necessity but some of it is because I miss them when they are not home for too long. The thought of peace and quiet is always alluring in theory but when it gets too peaceful and too quiet, I can start to feel a little out of place. That’s more of a recent phenomenon because I have long been a fan of stillness. But things have a way of changing over time and I guess that’s where I’m at. Even my writing time is not as quiet as you would imagine with 2 kids vying for daddy’s attention.

Today was quiet. I have been alone since I woke up as the kids are spending the weekend at grandma’s and Mrs. Dub is attending a women’s conference all day. Though, I haven’t really been “alone” as you’ll soon see. By normal standards, today has been rather uneventful but I somehow thought it would be the perfect day to write about; go figure. I’ve done quite a bit with my free time and most of it has been what I would normally do on any other Saturday. But flying solo has made things more noticeable, if that makes sense. I’m usually running from one destination to the next while trying to coordinate with my wife about what the kids are going to do, trying to keep her sanity in mind and also providing the kids with some excitement on their big non-school day. The only person I had to coordinate with today was myself!

The day started early. I was up at 7 and getting ready for an 8 o’clock basketball game with my 1st grade basketball team, the Typhoon. For the last 7 Saturday’s, I’ve gotten up at 7 to coach these awesome kids and it has been an amazing experience. I’ve coached sports for a variety of age levels over the last 20 years; baseball, basketball, football and even soccer. It truly is one of my passions aside from writing and collecting. I love seeing the confidence that can be built in a kid by a simple game. And I especially love being a part of a game that can bring us all together, regardless of social status, race or who our parents are. Look at this picture; this is true happiness on the faces of boys playing a game with their friends on a Saturday morning. We moved to 7-0 with our win today and we have one week left.

After basketball, it was time for another Saturday ritual; breakfast at Pearly’s. If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram, you’ve seen my Saturday breakfast posts from this local landmark. This is my usual – steak biscuit, cheese grits, hash brown casserole and diet Dr. Pepper. This meal can sustain me until supper time on Saturday and I usually have to have a pretty serious excuse for not making it to Pearly’s. It’s blurring between ritual and superstition at this point. I’m pretty sure that all of the Georgia losses over the last few years has been because I didn’t make it in on game day. This place is hopping on Saturday mornings with a packed inside and cars wrapped all the way around the building in the drive-thru. Several of the waitresses know me by name and some even know what I order. I call that a good thing!

The next part of this Saturday was my trip to the LCS in Warner Robins. Because I had the day to myself, I had all the time in the world to make my trek up I-75 to the land of wax. The trip is 90 miles one way so I use that time to catch up on podcasts I may have missed during the week. I have a pretty heavy rotation so I actually enjoy that ride time! The usual suspects are the Fatpacks, That Sportscard Show, DawgNation Daily, Lemme Get That Podagraph and Nightmare on Film Street. I have a few that I’ve rotated in like Up and Vanished and Atlanta Monster as well. I don’t even listen to the radio anymore because podcasts have taken over my listening time!

Upon arrival, my first stop is always the junk wax turnstile. This is where I pick up all the sweet boxes for my retro reviews. We’ll cover one of those in a minute. The turnstile is drying up a little and Charlie commented that he has to work on restocking it. It doesn’t help that I buy up multiple boxes each month. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for some good deals on a couple of mid 80’s boxes if any of you have an inside track. I am also hoping to cover a 70’s box soon, which would be around the time I was born but still worth the visit.

It’s not all junk wax for me when I go to the shop because 1) I’m addicted to the YouTube hangouts when I break boxes with the Dub Gang and 2) I usually do a new product review for Bags Unlimited each week. This week I picked up an old faithful and a new release. The old faithful is my running favorite, 2017 Optic and the new release is Panini Patches and Plates. You can check out the YouTube break here if you missed the hangout and be on the lookout in the next week or so for the review of Plates and Patches.

But before I review something new, I will do my favorite rip and review something old. This week’s review is 1989 Topps Traded Baseball! I picked this up for $9.95 and the cards were in really good condition in the box. I have mentioned here before that I am a sucker for the 89 Topps bubble letter font and design. This was also the year I started collecting so I ripped a ton of wax then. There was one notable omission from the base set and the only place to find him was in this update. More on him at the end. But first, here are some others that were in the update set, with a few I forgot about.

Jim Abbott was a highly touted rookie in 1989. Part of that was his pitching ability but another part of his fanfare came from his amazing ability to make it to the major league level as a pitcher with only one hand. Most people know the story of Jim Abbott but if you don’t, check This out!

I can’t really figure this card out. This is a pitcher, wearing glasses, with eyeblack. What am I missing?

Jesse Barfield was a member of the Canadian version of the Bash Brothers with George Bell until he landed in the Bronx in 1989.

Julio Franco spent the first part of his career with the Phillies and Indians before spending most of the 90’s with Texas. I think he was 53 in this photo.

Flash was a guy that I really collected hard in ’89. I played softball many years later with a guy who played minor league ball with Gordon. I’ve always been a big fan!

Ricky was originally Ricky in Oakland, then became Ricky in New York but by 1989, Ricky was Ricky in Oakland again. See what I did there?

The Big Unit didn’t make the base set but was one of a few Mariners rookies who made the update set. This is my favorite Randy Johnson RC.

Eddie Murray played 21 seasons but only 3 in LA. He hit .330 with 26 home runs in 1990 so still had plenty left in the tank.

You can rest assured that this guy is going to show up in my next “Dated Rookie” column.

Here is an inclusion I forgot about in ’89. Now that I see this card, I can easily visualize his ’89 base card in the Astros uniform. He switched teams but didn’t even have to leave the state.

Another rookie that wasn’t included in any of the base sets of 1989 was Deion. He was in the Fleer Update and Donruss “The Rookies”, in addition to this card.

If I had only known in 1989 that Lonnie Smith was 2 years away from making me cry in front of a TV, I may have torn this card up. But then again, thanks to that baserunning flub, I have a semi-writing career. Who knew?

Another Mariner RC in ’89 was the slick fielding Omar Vizquel. He’s vastly underrated in the hobby but was as solid a Major League Baseball player as you’ll find.

If you’ll go back and read that “Dated Rookie” link above, you’ll find the ’89 Rookie of the Year, Jerome Walton. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Jerome!

Ken Griffey was traded to the Reds in 1988 so I’m not entirely sure how he landed in the ’89 Update set but I am intrigued.

Though Ken Griffey was included , the Griff that drove this set was Jr. He was included in the Fleer, Donruss and Upper Deck base sets but somehow Topps missed him that year. He is probably one of the biggest oversights in set history. The Mariners were stacked in the early 90’s with Unit, Vizquel, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Jr. They were really fun to watch!

I’m sure you sometimes wonder if there is anything I don’t like from the 80’s and 90’s. Trust me, there are and I have a few of those on the horizon. This set is not one of those. What’s not to love about this set? The awesome ’89 Topps Design is top notch. There are great rookies included with Randy Johnson, Deion, Vizquel and Jr. There is even a veteran SUPER star with Nolan Ryan. And all of this can be had for less than $10! It gets an easy “5” from Dub!

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?

Retro Review – The Art of the Comeback

I’ve never been what you would call, “an artist”. I know that there are many forms of art like painting/drawing, singing, acting, playing music, photography and even writing. But I don’t even consider my self a writer beyond the little blog I have and that doesn’t exactly make me a pro. I enjoy writing but I am no Cracknell. I write about personal experiences and just try to be myself. There is no formal training, no major practice and really no expectations that this will ever be more than what it is. I go where the blog posts take me and I am amazed and thankful for any additional opportunity that comes my way. I never really set out to do this when I was a kid but I guess I did show signs of it at certain points along the way.

I remember writing scary stories as a kid (5th, 6th, 7th grade maybe) and I based them loosely on characters like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. I wasn’t very original but my mind was pretty active and I could come up with some stories that could fill three or four pages of notebook paper. My horror career obviously never took off and I really never even let a lot of people read it. It was then that I tried to do some illustration with my story-telling and realized that I wouldn’t be wowing anybody with those skills. I am 40 now and just to give you an idea, I tried to draw Jason just tonight and this is what it looked like. I stared at a photo and drew this and you might think my kids drew it if I hadn’t told you. The only thing I was ever able to accomplish was the 80’s “S” and it was the first initial of my last name so I thought I was pretty cool.

My brother, Chase, could draw a lot better than me. He drew the storefront of an auto parts place one time and I still have it hanging on the inside of my armoire. Yes, I am still using a piece of furniture that I had when I was 15. It is now where I store a lot of my baseball card paraphernalia. I have some old boxes of junk wax in there, along with autographs, patches and 8X10’s that I don’t have in the storage boxes in the closet. But every time I open that armoire, I see that drawing fastened to the back of the door with electrical tape. I don’t know why I still have it but I do. He’s gone on to be a lot more artistic than me in adulthood and his job is essentially based on precision and design, so his skills carried over.

I tried to be a musician one time as well. I was in a band when I was 22 years old that was called “Local Noise”, which my wife absolutely hated. She hated the name, not the band. I was the singer and I could occasionally play some rhythm chords on the guitar but never really learned that much. We played alternative covers that included, “If You Could Only See” by Tonic, “All the Small Things” by Blink 182, “Low” by Cracker and “It’s Been a While” by Staind, among others. We played a couple of garage parties and got one nice paying gig at a local bar in my home town. We tore it up that Saturday night but that’s as far as the musical train ever took me. We had some “creative differences” within the band and we just never got anything going. It was fun though.

Now my cousin, Michael, is in a real band. He plays the guitar and does things that I can only dream of being able to do. They are called Chasing Victory and they formed in 2001. He and his group of high school friends formed the band and just started playing locally. After 3 years of hard work, they would eventually release three albums that are available on iTunes today. Those albums are “A Not So Tragic Cover Up” (2004), “I Call This Abandonment” (2005) and their most accomplished album (according to me), “Fiends” (2007). They also toured during those years and played almost 300 shows per year throughout the US and Canada. They appeared with Underoath, Acceptance, August Burns Red, Emery, May Day Parade and many others. They were featured on several collaboration albums over the years as well.

Around 2007, the bandmates started getting married and planning families and decided to break up. They were pretty well established at that point on the “Screamo” scene and it was a sad thought that they were done. Of course, they were just growing up and the next stage of life was calling but they had legitimate talent and were very popular with their peers and fans. Fortunately, they would remain friends over the years and they never let the talent die because they have continued to do various musical projects over the years. While not quite like the worldwide albums and nationwide tours from the mid 2000’s, they never really lost their fan base. To prove that, they were named by AP Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Bands We Wish Never Broke Up” and “Most Influential Band” last year by the lead singer of Bring Me The Horizon, Oli Sykes.

Now, in 2018, they are about to step out into the public spotlight again. They have been working on an album for the last year and I have had the privilege of hearing some occasional sampling and raw recordings ahead of the album being released on February 9, 2018. The album is called “Friends, Vol 1” and is an alliteration of the last album title in 2007, “Fiends”. The album title is powerful because, according to Michael, “No matter what, we have always remained the best of friends; even through the lowest of the lows that you experience while touring, and also the highs. We named it Friends because of the profound impact we have had on each other’s lives.” Even after a 10 year layoff, they sound like they haven’t missed a beat. They recently released the album’s second single, “Kenosis”, and you can check it out HERE. As the title suggests, the plan is for Vol. 1 to be the first in a series that would be released over time. They might even hit some live shows this year. Go follow their FaceBook page for all of their information.

Of course, before we move forward, I would be remiss if I didn’t link the greatest song they ever recorded! Find it HERE!!

So I’ve tried art, music and now writing but I’m still not an “artist” per se. I do love the arts though and have always wanted to be good at all of those things. My wife has been taking some art classes lately and she is really good. At least someone in my house can do something artistic! As usual, at this point you may be asking how this is going to tie in to sports cards but you should know by now that I always bring it back full circle. While I was trying to learn to draw as a kid, there was somebody else out there that was doing it a lot better than me. I have expressed my love for sketch cards many times here and 1991 Pro-Vision is probably my favorite single insert of all time. But as for a set, I don’t think 1991 Score will ever be topped as it relates to inserts and sketch cards; at least for me. While I loved ’91 Pro-Vision, I really didn’t like the base set so finding those inserts came with a price. I definitely enjoyed the base design of ’91 Score more than Fleer so the sketch cards were a bonus.

A box of 1991 Score weighs about a ton. There are 36 packs with 16 player cards and 1 magic motion card per box. The packs are the sweet old school baggies that Score made famous in the late 80’s. The box was split into 2 series’ much like some other sets in 1991. I have a box of Series 1 thanks to my good friend Steve (@waxpack916). He picked this box up for me at his LCS, along with another wax box that will be ripped and reviewed at some point in the near future. Let’s start cracking these little baggies and see if we can find some awesome artwork from 1991. By today’s standards, this box could only have been made more exciting if there were 1/1 artist proofs within.

The fronts of the cards came in 4 colorful designs; Blue, Aqua, White and Black. We’ll cover the fronts in a minute. As for the backs, they were a bit busy. The cards covered every year of a player’s career so players like Nolan Ryan and Joe Carter had tiny stat lines. Where they could, they would fit some written information about the player.

Here are the notable catchers from Series 1. One of the catchers had the unusual designation of C-CF. He would later become a Hall of Fame Second Baseman as well! How many catchers would you guess had the capability to play CF? I always liked the Carlton Fisk card as well because he was in the throwback White Sox uniform and the card had the black design.

The infielders include some of the best players in Junk Wax history! Every one of these players were studs in their own way. The odd man in this section is Dave Justice. While he did play 1B as a minor leaguer and some as a rookie, he played over 100 games in RF this particular season but still didn’t earn that designation on his card.

Speaking of outfielders, look at this collection! The Sosa was another favorite of mine (again in the throwback). Damn I miss the late 80’s and early 90’s!

Every collector likely remembers Pedro Martinez. My buddy Shane (@ShaneSalmonson) has Pedro as his PC player. But in the early 90’s he wasn’t even the best pitcher in his family. Ramon started his career as an ace but Pedro would eventually pass him and Ramon’s career would level off. The trio from Atlanta leveled off at about 20 wins per season!

There were a ton of prospect cards in Series 1. There were some recognizable names like Karl Rhodes, Mickey Morandini and Brian McRae. But the stud in 1991 was Phil Plantier! He was hovering near Judge-Mania territory!

The best rookie in the entire set is in Series 2; Chipper Jones. But there are some names that were highly collectible in ’91. Carl Everett, Rondell White and Alex Fernandez were hot names but the player who had the best career was Mike “Moose” Mussina.

Now we find ourselves in the best part of the checklist; the inserts!! The first cards found were the “Highlight” cards. I REALLY loved the blue dazzle lights in the background. This Bo Jackson was a centerpiece in my binder for a while.

Next up is the “Master Blaster”. These are very 90’s! The Master Blaster series covered big time hitters and used red strobes in the background.

The “Rifleman” was the next group. These were players with cannon’s for arms. Obviously, these used green strobes in the background and another Bo is always a welcome addition.

“K-Man” covered the pitchers who were dominant on the mound in 1990. Here we have that Ramon Martinez guy again. I pulled Bobby Witt but would have liked to have had the other Rangers K-Man.

Finally, the cards we have all been waiting for; All-Star’s! These were sweet artist sketch cards with “big head” designs. While not the same type of feel as the Pro-Vision cards, these were very high on my list of wants in 1991. My favorite was always the Ken Griffey Jr.

Last but not least, we have the “Dream Team” insert. This was another favorite of mine in the early 90’s. I only pulled one from this box but it was a great one; Jose Canseco. These were really classy and each card had a unique shot of the super star.

This set remains one of my favorite overall sets for a few reasons. First, the colorful designs in the base set looked really good and were more appealing than those tried in 1988. Next, every insert card in the set was unique and collectible to me. I liked some better than others but I liked them all. Finally, the All-Star cards are second only to Pro-Vision during that time on my rankings of sketch cards. I liked these better than ’90 and ’91 Diamond Kings to be honest. The box was $10 and the only drawback is that the rookie class was not as stellar as some of the other years. But that small blemish will not deter me from giving this set a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter. I really like ’91 Score and would love for the current Score sets to include some of these cool inserts. I was saddened when Chasing Victory called it quits but they are making a comeback 10 years later. What say you Score??

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?