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?

2 thoughts on “Retro Review – The Art of the Comeback”

  1. That Cecil Fielder All-Star was a great card. Fielder came out of nowhere in 1990, and there were so few Tigers cards of “Big Daddy” at the time.
    He was the guy that I tried to get every card of from 1990-96, then, in mid season of ’96 He was traded to the Yankees, and it really didn’t matter if I got his cards again.

    Great job Dub!

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