Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life's A Beach

I have spent the past few weeks cleaning up my classroom, figuring out what I'm going to keep, giving away stuff to teachers and students, throwing away things nobody wanted, and packing fifty-six moving boxes.  I'm not quite finished, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This weekend... I decided to reward myself with food and some fresh air.  There's an amazing bakery in Capitola that my friend and I enjoy, so we piled her dog and her sister's dog into her SUV and headed over the hill.  About forty-five minutes later we were stuffing our faces with yummy bacon quiches, delicious bacon 'n egg croissants, and rich hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream.

I wanted to hit up a skateboard shop after breakfast, but it was too early... so we drove a few miles north into Santa Cruz and walked the dogs near the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.  The weather was beautiful and it was a pleasant reminder of just how lucky I am to live in the Bay Area.

Even Tony had the opportunity to come out, catch some rays, breathe in some fresh air, and check out the beautiful Pacific Ocean.  He hasn't had many photo opportunities lately, but I'll try to remember to take him out next week when I bring the honor students to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Until then... happy Wednesday... go Sharks... and sayonara!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

They Aren't Dolls!

It's hard to believe that it has been fifteen years since the final series of Starting Lineup figures were released back in 2001.  Fifteen years.

I collected these sports figures off and on since they were first produced in 1988 and it seems like only yesterday... I would periodically make trips down to Toys 'R Us and Kaybee Toys to see which figures were hanging on their pegs.

Finding a superstar with mint condition packaging felt like you hit the jackpot, because you didn't have to pay the card shop and collectible store prices.  Some of those figures are now residing in my buddy's garage collecting dust in hopes of one day becoming a valued collectible again.

The others?  Well... in an effort to save space... I began opening them up, taking them out of their packages, and lining them up on my office shelves.  The ones that didn't fit were taken to my classroom and are on display there.

My interest in the actual figures has diminished over time.  They're more of a novelty item these days, but I have become obsessed with collecting the trading cards that accompanied those figures.

I'm in the process of building the 1988 Kenner SLU baseball card set.  There were a total of 124 figures released in the inaugural set... and so far I've managed to grab 120 of them.  The Kent Hrbek is my latest addition.  That leaves me with only needing Buddy Bell, John Franco, Nolan Ryan and Kevin Seitzer.  None of these are considered rare, however for some reason people who own these think they're worth much more than I'm willing to pay.

In addition to the set I'm building, I also have two large binders filled with all of my other Starting Lineup cards.  One of them is dedicated to baseball, while the other contains all of the other sports like basketball, football, and hockey.

Last week KevAlan over at CCW added five new cards to my "other sports" binder.  Four of them featured one of my favorite basketball players of the 90's, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway:

In addition to the cards, he also threw in their respective figures:

Kenner produced a series of figures called Timeless Legends from 1995 to 1998 that included athletes from a variety of sports.  Muhammad Ali was one of three boxers that made the checklist during those years.  Joe Lewis and Sugar Ray Leonard were the other two.  They also produced two individual 12" Ali figures as well as one that featured him with Joe Frazier.

I've always wanted to own the 1998 Timeless Legends Ali... and thanks to KevAlan... I now do:

Collectors who were looking for sports figurines, but wanted something a little different could also collect Corinthian Headliners in the 90's.  

Oversized heads were the trademark of these collectibles.  Most of the ones I've seen are small in size (about 2" tall).  However the McGwire that KevAlan sent is huge.  It's about the same height as your standard bobblehead and it weighs a lot.  He even included the original COA that came with the figure:

Last... but certainly not least... is another Panini Japanese All-Star signature card:

#11 Masai Rokuno

I tried to dig up some information on Mr. Rokuno, but didn't find much.  If any of my fellow Japanese baseball card collectors out there know anything about this guy... please feel free to comment below.

Thanks KevAlan for the nice package of figures and cards.  It's always nice when I'm able to add some new faces to my Kenner SLU binders.  And those figures will be on full display in my new classroom this August.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Shiny Objects and Loud Noises

I have self diagnosed attention deficit disorder.  I'm being serious.  I'm the guy who has a very difficult time focusing on one thing for more than a few minutes.

Part of the problem is that I'll be focusing on something, then I'll see something else and it'll trigger a memory.  Within a few minutes, a variety of things are bouncing around inside of my head... except for the original thing I was thinking about.

It's a good thing teachers use lesson plans.  Without them... I'd probably end up teaching something different to each of my five periods.

The same thing applies to the blog.  A few weeks ago, I attended my first Oakland A's game of the season and had planned on recapping my experience on here.  Unfortunately... I got side tracked and the thought never crossed my mind until this afternoon when I opened up a package from Night Owl and saw this card:

It immediately reminded me of the Oakland A's Hall of Fame mascot race that took place at the game...

Which by the way... happened to be won by the Rickey Henderson mascot.  Normally you'd have a one out of three shot of picking the winner.  However on this particular day, it happened to be the 25th anniversary of Rickey breaking Lou Brock's record... so the majority of the crowd predicted #24 would come from behind and win the race.

Unfortunately... the Athletics didn't win the game.  They lost 2-1 after allowing only two hits to the Houston Astros.  One of those happened to be a leadoff home run by Jose Altuve.  The A's did manage to put together a small rally in the bottom of the 7th when they cut the lead in half, but left runners stranded on the corners to end the inning.

The A's really could have used Danny Valencia's bat that day.  At the time he was right in the middle of his stint on the DL.  He has since returned to the lineup and given the Athletics a nice boost to their offense.

Regardless of the loss... my cousin and I had a great time.  She really came through with some nice seats.  In fact it was the first time in years that I've sat behind home plate, which turned out to be a blessing because it was pretty hot that day and we pretty much spent the entire game in the shade.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've been more of a bleachers kind of guy.  I grew up watching guys like #21 and #42 out in centerfield:

It basically comes down to money.  I'd rather spend $20 on a bleacher seat and have $30 to spend on nachos, sausages, pretzels, and sodas... than spend $50 with a better view of the field.  If you know me well enough, you'd know that I'm still going to drop $30 on beverages and food.

While we're on the topic of money... you won't believe how much we spent on parking that day.  Forty dollars!  Yup.  Forty flippin' dollars.

Some genius thought it was a good idea to have the A's and Golden State Warriors play simultaneously next door to each other.  I'm pretty sure that's the most I've ever spent on parking at a sporting event.

Steve... here are the socks!

Anyways... I better wrap up this post before I get sidetracked anymore and start talking about the accident we saw on the freeway on the drive up or the cool socks they handed out to fans at the game.

Thanks Greg for sending me the awesome Dennis Eckersley card and all of the other cards featured in this post.  I'll get some more Dodgers together for you in the near future... assuming I don't get distracted by shiny objects or loud noises.

Happy Friday and sayonara!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Livin' The Dream

Bases are loaded.  Two outs.  Bottom of the ninth.  Your team is losing by three and you're at the plate facing a two and two count.  The pitcher winds up and delivers...

Isn't this what every little leaguer dreams of?  A walk off grand slam?

When I was a kid... I simulated that scenario in my yard about as often as I  struck out the final batter in the 7th game of the World Series.


Seeing Khris Davis live out my childhood dream last night is easily the highlight of the 2016 Oakland A's season.  Topps even included it on their Topps Now checklist... which I guess means he's officially made it.

To top it off... this is his first official Oakland A's card which means it'll be worth a wee bit more in the long run.  Not really... but I'm an A's fan... so I've got to exaggerate to make myself feel better.

The question is... do I go out and actually purchase this card?  It's only $9.99 with free shipping.  I'm guessing that there aren't a lot of Khris Davis fans out there and the A's aren't exactly a big market team, so this might translate into a fairly low print run.

On the other hand... It's $9.99 for card of a guy who's batting a little over the Mendoza Line and is probably only here in Oakland on a short term basis.

The verdict?  Head over to COMC and drop $9.99 on cards I really want.

First up...

1996 Leaf Signature Series Bronze Auto #NNO

Let's kick things off with another guy who has hit a walk off grand slam.  Unfortunately he did this as a member of the New York Yankees.  Oh well.  At least this card gets me one step closer to completing the team set I'm currently building.  The damage to my wallet?  $3.50.

2015 Topps High Tek Auto #HT-JPK

The other card I grabbed this afternoon was this on-card autograph of Joe Panik for $6.46.  I've been wanting to add an affordable autograph of him to my collection for awhile now.  Back in 2012 my friend and I went to a San Jose Giants game when he was there.  Several people mentioned his name as he had been the Giants first round draft pick the year prior.  That night he went 0 for 3 with a fielding error.  But the name stuck with me until he finally reached the Bigs in 2014.  So far he hasn't hit any walk off grand slams... but he's been pretty solid for them.

Well... that's it for today.  I wanted to write up a post about ESPN's Barry Melrose and his comments about San Jose Sharks fans, but I'll keep things positive and save that for another day.

Happy Wednesday and sayonara!

Monday, May 16, 2016

State of Uncertainty

Part of being an avid baseball fan is picking a favorite player, then cheering for him.  Well... at least that's how I do it.  Since I discovered this hobby... I have always found joy in targeting and collecting cards of that said player.

It started with Rickey Henderson.  Then came Tony Gwynn.  Greg Maddux.  Ichiro Suzuki.  Kurt Suzuki.  But the past few years... I've been left without a bonafide favorite player.  Sure the two Suzukis are still playing, but let's be honest... there hasn't been a lot to cheer about lately... and it doesn't help that neither play for teams I support.

I'm in the process of picking an Oakland Athletic or San Diego Padres player to pass the torch to... but there's not a lot of stability in either of these franchises and the last thing I want to do is pick a short term favorite player.

So where does that leave me?  Well... if there's a bright side to this predicament... it's that I'm able to focus on my all-time favorite players collections.

Last month, I set out to do just that.  Some of you may have already seen my latest Tony Gwynn PC addition.  Today I'm going to show off another key addition... but this time it's not Mr. Padre.

Back in 1987, the Chicago Cubs and David Berg Sausage Company teamed up and produced a twenty-six card set that was handed out to fans on July 29th, 1987.  On the mound that night was a twenty-one year old pitcher who would one day retire as one of the greatest pitchers of his generation:

Unfortunately... Maddux struggled that afternoon giving up six hits and allowing four earned runs in only three innings against the Montreal Expos.  I'm sure Cubs fans would normally be perturbed with their starting pitcher's performance.  Luckily... they were too distracted by these awesome stadium giveaways.

The key card in the set (at least for me) is the rookie card of The Professor.  It's technically not an official rookie card, since it wasn't distributed in packs.  But it's still one of his first cards featuring him as a major leaguer.

I'm a big fan of the simple, yet beautiful design... as well as the action shot that didn't leave Maddux with any cropped off limbs.  Plus the production numbers for this set is probably a fraction of what the card manufacturers produced when they made his other rookie cards.

Another card I picked up was Maddux's first Kenner Starting Lineup card:

These days you can find sealed SLU figures of your favorite players for about the price of a Starbucks beverage.  However a handful of figures have actually held their value over the years.  The 1989 Greg Maddux is one of those pieces.

Hopefully I'll own one of these figures one day.  Until then... this card will have to hold me over.  I found it in an inexpensive eBay lot last month.  Like the stadium giveaway, this card is a well designed oddball issue that features a great action shot.  Too bad they cropped out his right leg

Well that's it for today.  I have a few other Maddux cards I picked up... but I'll share them in another post.

Happy Monday and sayonara!