Friday, December 31, 2021

Out with '21, in with '22

2021 is ending and 2022 is just around the corner.

While I admit a lot of awesome things happened for me this year, the tragedy of losing a loved one a few days ago really sours all the other good.

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet today and just post a single sketch card by Ken Karl, a legendary sketch artist in the sports and entertainment world.
I set up this amazing sketch card commission back in 2020 and have been patiently waiting a year to show it off for just such an occurance.

Wondering what else is in the vault?
Stick around next year and find out...

Be safe and stay blessed!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

You Got Wash?

My girlfriend Danielle lost a significant member of her family yesterday as her grandmother passed away suddenly from complications with pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

Over the course of the summer her grandparents took us in while we battled the housing market trying to get a house we could call our own home.  

It wasn't easy as we had boxed up our entire lives into a pair of closets and a storage unit, but those few months gave us time to save up for this new house.  We worked hard to get there and are really excited for our new place.

Of course Danielle has many more memories of her grandmother than I will ever have because her grandparents practically help raise her after her parents divorced.  I spent several lunches talking to her grandmother and grandfather over this summer about how they always brought Danielle everywhere they went when she was much younger.  It was fun to hear these stories of what a little trouble maker she was especially with her cousin.

Gram had life down to a series of repetitions that made it easy for her to still do everything for herself and others in her late 80s.  She also had a series of phrases that her sweet caring voice echoed practically daily.

"Help yourself"
That was a phrase I heard six days a week before I left for work.  She would be watching TV, pause it to say goodbye to me and point from her same spot on the couch towards the garage area where she housed snacks and sodas.  There were always tiny bags of chips and a soda ready for me to take on the long hour and half commute before work each day.  Every day I was blessed with the care of a snack for the long road ahead.

I began working 3rd shifts this year for less aggravation at work so when it was 8am and she spotted me in the kitchen she would let out the tiniest little startled gasp "oh. What are you doing up? Don't you have to go to sleep soon?"  This also was almost a daily occurrence.  I would repeat to her the same thing every time. "I'm normally up until about 10 Gram, then I go to sleep. Do you need anything?" "Oh no no. I'm good".  

It wasn't one no.
It was two. 
She wanted me to be very much aware that she didn't need any help and not to disrupt her routine.

But my favorite nearly daily occurrence was the phrase "You got wash?"  I'll be the first to admit it, we got spoiled living there.  You see Gram liked to still be active around the house and that meant keeping a very clean organized house.  The washer and dryer were used daily.  I usually let it build up for a few days then do laundry.  Not Gram though.  She wanted laundry done every 24 hours it seemed.  48 or 72 hours?  That got her itchy to throw something of mine in the washer.  When I would attempt to do it myself she would say, just leave it to which I would reply "I can do it."  This was usually followed by her sense of sarcasm by saying "No no. The machine does all the work. Go go."  

Again, not one.
TWO nos

Stubborn and convincing
Caring and optimistic.

That was Gram.

Typing these words is incredibly hard as I know these memories that I have from briefly living there are just that now; Memories.

I will miss the simple routine she laid out for each day.  After a half mini Portuguese roll it was time to make the bed and watch the news.  I can't believe she's gone so suddenly.

I am blessed to have shared some of these moments with her and I am happy that we got a chance to show her our new house on Christmas Eve before we started moving things over.  She kept telling Danielle and myself "you guys are going to be really happy here" and proclaimed over and over how happy she was about us getting a home that checked off all the boxes for what we wanted in our first home together. 

I'm happy that we got to have Christmas dinner together and share in some laughs and fun times even though we couldn't save the green bean casserole from being an absolute disaster of a dish.

Most importantly I'm happy for the way she helped raise Danielle into being such an amazing and awesome companion that I get to go on this life journey with.  

We will miss you Gram.

I contemplated not showing any cards in this post and was typing up this testament to her just to keep my mind full of all these good memories, but my dad came over today to help paint some interior trim for us and I have to say, even if you aren't religious, God most definitely works in ways that just seem to show HIS presence.

After we closed on the house I said to myself that I wanted to treat myself to a key card for my collection and I had one eBay purchase shipped to my dad's house.  I did this because I wasn't sure if we would finally be moved in or not yet.  When he handed me the bubble mailer it came in and said "you got a package sent to my place yesterday" I had to chuckle when I opened it knowing what was inside.

Of course the first day of Gram being gone I get a package in the mail containing a 1/1 Andrew McCutchen Laundry Tag booklet card.
Yes Gram, I have wash. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Happy (un) Boxing Day

Well guys.  This is it. We are officially moving into our new home today. 

We signed the paperwork earlier last week, got our keys, and have started to move some boxes here and there into the new house yesterday after we were done with some Christmas celebrations.  

It's going to be a long project to get things all set up. 

The last card purchase I had shipped to my dad's happened to be a holiday card which you can see below.

It is the 2021 Wal Mart Holiday Mega Box Santa Hat player worn relic limited to 75 copies. 

I can't wait to set up a table in my man cave basement so I can take pictures of everything and show off all the cool cards and memorabilia I have.

Here is the space that I'm working with in the basement.
As you can see it's a pretty big area and lends itself to a lot of options for how I want to set everything up.

The main basement area will be used as my Cutch Cave.

The former owner's had sectioned off 2 other rooms in the basement which I will also use to display my stuff.  The utility room will be just that, maybe a picture of Jack Lambert missing his teeth, but I don't want to put too much in that area.  The former play room area will be used as my other area for Pittsburgh sports franchises.
What do you all think? 

I'm going to paint everything before I get too involved in setting up the man cave.  I still haven't decided if I want to paint it a Pittsburgh sports theme or just keep it with neutral colors like greys and whites.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Is it Christmas yet?

When I was younger my aunt in California would call us every Christmas Eve and ask "is it Christmas yet?"  This was usually late (8pm or so) and usually lead to the ultimate traditions of setting milk and cookies for Santa, ensuring the stockings were hung, leaving an apple and carrot outside for the reindeer, etc.

I don't have much interaction with my aunt anymore, but every year that it gets closer to Christmas I think of those old phone calls.  

This month I have been showing off some red and green cards and I have a few pairings that could knock your Christmas stockings off.

I want to show off these cards today because they remind me of a funny gift that I received one Christmas from an uncle who has spent his entire life collecting.

Back in the mid 2000s (2003-2005ish?) I was really into the toys from my childhood, specifically Thundercats.  Well, my uncle literally made me cry one year....from laughing at the zany gift he gave me.  

You may recall that I gave up on baseball because of the 1994 strike and that I hadn't attended a baseball game again until 2005.  I told my uncle that I wanted to get back into baseball again, but was so confused with all the card manufacturers and different parallels that were being made at that time.  Boy do those 2005 parallels seem simple compared to,what Topps and Panini are doing now. 

Well on Christmas day 2005 I got a small box with tissue paper and inside was a baseball with a "Lion-O" signature.  Yes, my uncle wrote Lion-O (leader of the 80s cartoon Thundercats) and drew a small paw print on the sweet spot.  Somewhere I think I still have that ball and when I eventually unbox everything from the move, I am sure I will find it again.  Hopefully the signature didn't fade from being in a box for 15 years. 

Card manufacturers have attenpted to make baseballs part of their releases from time to time, the most famous being Sweet Spot signatures. 

Panini used that concept for their 2020 Absolute Baseball product and Cutch was one of the featured signatures.

There were 3 parallels to chase
1/1 Red & Blue stitching
/6 Red
/5 Green

I missed out on the 1/1, but was able to grab both the red and green last year.
I guess it makes sense that the green stitches baseball (/5) would be lower numbered than the red (/6) as I have never seen a baseball with green stitches.
These cards look and feel very much like the Upper Deck Sweet Spot autographs. I have seen many horror stories of those cards fading over time.

What suggestions do you have for displaying the cards while preventing the signature from fading over time?

What are you looking forward to most for Christmas?

Do you have any baseball Christmas memories?

Friday, December 17, 2021

No Way Home

I have done a few writeups on this blog about 🕷 Spider-Man 🕷 in the past.
Spider-Man is always a character I associate with my brother.  

When we were younger he had so many toys from the 90s animated series and displayed them along with the Daily Bugle plaster.  He also had some key first appearances of some of Spider-Man's most famous villains including Punisher, Venom, Scorpion, Carnage, Hobgoblin, and Black Cat. 

Yesterday I bought tickets to see the new movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home for a 5pm showing. Around 4pm I had something come up and had to cancel my tickets.  I likely won't be able to see the movie now until after Christmas because we are cleaning, painting, and moving into the new home. 

To pass what little time I have I thought it would be funny to show off some imagination for how the "nerdy" side of my brain works.

You may recall I showed off some cards featuring shadows back in July when I discussed having watched The Shadow starring Alec Baldwin for the first time in nearly 20 years. 
This is one of the cards I showed off.  

Do you see the image that resembles a shadow of Spider-Man swinging through the Big Apple or is it just me?

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Holiday Tribute

As I was looking through my binders for green and red parallels to show off I discovered a few things:
1) Topps and Panini make a lot of products each year
2) There are quite a few green and red parallels I still need to complete rainbows (2018 Bowman Platinum Green, I'm looking at you)

A pair of high end parallels stood out in my 2018 binder.

Topps Tribute dropped the typical bold parallels from year's past and introduced a version of Topps Tribute we have never seen before.

Enter wood borders made famous from the 1962 and 1987 designs.

This time the cards were given an acetate finish and the bold color parallels were less obvious.
I like this design, but it looks more like an insert set than low numbered parallels from a high end set.

What do you think of the above set design for 2018 Topps Tribute?

Friday, December 10, 2021

Holiday Triple Take

I have begun packing up all my base and serial numbers in anticipation of actually moving next week.  

I've had a lot of fun looking at all these cards hanging out in boxes and I can't wait to finally be able to properly display them all in the near future.  It's going to be awesome to have the Cutch Cave operational.

A pair of cards I came across were these 2020 Topps Triple Threads green (/275) and ruby red (1/1).

With nearly 300 1/1s in the collection, I knew I had some 1/1s in these boxes, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this ruby red as I don't even remember buying it.  

Do you have any green and red parallels in your collection?

Do you want to see more of my green and red parallels this month?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Retail Madness!

First of all, my photography skills with my phone are some of the worse on a blog.  I'm sorry. One of my purchases I plan to get next year is another scanner or some kind of lightbox so I can take better pictures.

One of the few purchases I made over the past few months is a card I have looked to acquire since 2013.

Yup, 2013!
Panini Prizm has always been one of my favorite card releases because of how bold the color parallels are, see below for an example.   

Recently the product has gotten a little silly with nearly 30 different parallels to chase after like lime green donuts, zebra stripes, etc but early Prizm was stunning.

Look at the group of parallels above that I scanned and showed off a few years ago.

Man, do those colors pop!

Pictured above is my latest pickup for the rainbow, a 2013 Target red exclusive coupled with my green retail exclusive. 

I always liked that Topps and Panini would do exclusive parallels to chase with some of the retail stores (Wal Mart, Target, Toys r Us, Meijer, Walgreens, etc).

Do you like the store exclusive parallels?

Despite not being licensed, do you like the Prizm brand?

Do you have any recommendations for taking pictures of baseball cards?

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Simply One of the Best

Last year I showed off a bunch of red & green parallels as I was counting down to Christmas.

While I have been very busy with planning the move and the holidays and work schedule, I do plan to *occasionally* continue that trend this year.

Above is my 2017 Bowman's Best Green and Red refractors of Andrew McCutchen.

The Green is limited to 99 copies.
The Red is limited to 10 copies.

Oddly enough the back mentions Cutch's best game of 2017 as July 30th.
Many players would love to hit 3 HR in a game and getting 2 walks with a great catch will certainly be a memorable game, but I have to believe if you ask Andrew what his best game of 2017 was he would say September 26th.

In that September 26th game Cutch went 4 for 4 with 8 RBI including 2 HR (one being his first Grand Slam). He had that game in his final homestand at PNC Park as a member of the Pirates. 

Would you rather have a game with 3 solo HR and 2 walks 
2 HR, 1 double, and an 8 RBI performance?

Friday, December 3, 2021

Silver and Gold

I am trying to get into the Christmas spirit so in tribute to the Burl Ives song Silver and Gold from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer here are a pair of parallels from 2007 Just Minors Triple Autos.
The cards were not pack inserted, but have been slabbed by Beckett Grading Services. 

They feature sticker autos of Andrew McCutchen, Daniel Moskos, and Steve Pearce. 

The gold is limited to 10 copies and the silver is limited to 25 copies (mine is jersey numbered 22/25).

I may show off some more silver and gold parallels in the future.

What is your favorite claymation movie?

Saturday, November 27, 2021

32 Years In The Making?

If you've followed my blogs over the past decade you are probably aware that I have a deep nostalgia for all things 80s and the early 90s.  Well, there is a sequel that came out this year that has been 32 years in the making.  Well, not literally, but it sure felt like it.  

In 1989, Ghostbusters 2 was released following the huge success of the first film.  

A third movie was never released, but a few cartoon series were.  Fans were left waiting...and waiting....and waiting.

Rumors of a third movie began to surface, but nothing ever came to be due to the real life falling apart with stars Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis.

The franchise is one of my favorite 80s franchises behind Thundercats, Transformers, and Voltron.

What is so cool about the Ghostbusters mythos is that ANYONE can become a Ghostbuster.

I finally got around to watch Ghostbusters: Afterlife.  I won't spoil anything, but I cried.  Not seeping tears running down my eyes like I was 5 years old and Optimus Prime died cried, but 40 year old nerd man crying at the deeper meaning of what this long awaited sequel means. 

Anyway, as stated this film (unlike the 2016 "female Ghostbusters" Answer The Call reboot) follows the canon of the first two films and picks up many years after the 1989 sequel.

Here are my cards with 1989 designs.

2019 Optic released an autograph MVP set to represent the 1989 Donruss MVP design.  Cutch was one of the autograph subjects and there are multiple parallels to chase after.  
I have the Pink Velocity, Gold Vinyl (Superfractor), Green, and base.
All cards are on card autos.
2014 Topps Chrome included a chrome version of a 1989 design of Cutch.  It came in a refractor and superfractor format.
I have both.
There were also Topps Mini diecuts released in 2014 Topps.  Cutch is one of the few who had multiple cards printed both in Series 1 and Series 2.
There was also a VERY thick patch relic die cut card using the 1989 design.  These are numbered to 25 copies and it is one of my favorite relic cards in my collection.
Bowman is Back Refractors used the 1989 Bowman.  Cutch's image is the same as his 2013 Topps Update All Star Card.

Were you a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise?

Do you plan to see the long awaited closure to the trilogy?

What is your favorite memory from 1989?

Friday, November 26, 2021

Black Friday Decoys

Is it just me or has it felt like Black Friday has been going on for a few weeks already?  

It seems like everyone has been having Black Friday deals going on from electronics to furniture to appliances in stores like Kohl's, Target, and Home Depot.

Maybe this has always been the case, but it definitely feels more unique to this year than year's past. 

There are a few things that I will be picking up for the new house today, which I am really excited about. 

Above is the 2016 Panini Black Friday Decoy parallel numvered to 50 copies.

Have you notice a surge of pre Black Friday sales?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Gobble Gobble

Today is a day for giving thanks.

Obviously there are some things that I am thankful for that go without saying.
I am thankful for my health.
I am thankful for my family and friends health.
I am thankful for all that God has blessed me with this year.

There are of course some less obvious things that I am thankful for
I am thankful that very very soon I will have a place to properly display my Cutch Cave.
I am thankful that my commute to work each day will save me 2 hours daily once I move.
I am thankful for Topps releasing autograph cards with turkeys on them because turkeys are awesome.
I am thankful for all the food I am going to consume today.

I am thankful for Ghostbusters: Afterlife finally being released which I will be watching tomorrow.

What are some unique things you are thankful for?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Man! What, a

Yesterday I promised I would show off one of my recent 1/1s I have acquired over the past few months.  

Well here it is, my first Logoman of Cutch in a pinstripe Phillies uniform.
Pretty stoked to add this to the collection as it looks much different than all my other Logoman cards.

The back is typical for what you'd see from a 2021 Topps Museum card.

If MLB was to update the MLB Logoman with a silhouette of a baseball player who should it be?

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Counting Stats?

I hate to say this, but my favorite athlete of all time is getting close to that retirement age.  Far too often we see players retire in their mid 30s.  Very few play until they're in their late 30s or early 40s.  Those that do are often legends and no doubt Hall of Famers.

Again I hate to say this, but I'm not sure there is enough on Cutch's resume to declare a no doubt Hall of Fame nod.

For every Lloyd Waner or Ralph Kiner in the Hall of Fame there are guys like Luis Gonzalez, Steve Garvey, Dale Murphy, Kenny Lofton, and Bernie Williams that never really came close to the Hall of Fame, but had really good career counting stats.

While Cutch certainly has had key moments in his career he never had that one career defining moment, that clutch postseason at bat or that spotlight on him.  Sure he's had the spotlight on him in his early part of his Pittsburgh career, but taking a franchise with 2 decades of losing records into the postseason three years in a row was basically just noticed by the fans of Pittsburgh.  I'm not sure the rest of the nation got a chance to see how special Andrew was to the franchise.  

He was one of the best hitters of the past decade, but largely goes undervalued and under appreciated by the casual fans.

Not to me though (obviously).  

Cutch was and is my favorite athlete ever.  I got back into baseball in 2005 when I attended a Pirates baseball game in Philadelphia.  It was the first time since the 1994 strike shortened season that I attended a baseball game.  

I fell back in love with the game and decided that I would start up a baseball card collection again and researched the Pirates future.  They had just drafted a teenager named Andrew McCutchen and I knew if he ever made it to the majors I would start collecting all of his cards.  I had no idea how difficult that task would become in the parallel era of collecting we are currently experiencing in the hobby.  I also had no idea how much the hobby had changed since 1994 when I gave up on collecting baseball cards.  There were so many rare low numbered cards that I never knew existed.  

I've been told that my player collection has helped inspire others to collect more heavily their favorite players and I'm honored that I have been able to do that.

Someone that inspires others can sometimes be called a luminary.
Andrew McCutchen helps inspire me.

Look closer at this 2021 Topps Luminaries autograph and you'll see why I am being inspired on a daily basis from my favorite baseball player.  

When it comes to my collection I have tried to keep pace with Cutch by having an equal amount of 1/1s to the number of Home Runs hit by Cutch.  They can be printing plates, Superfractors, color parallels (red for Big League Baseball, gold for Topps Now, etc), Logoman patches, sketch cards, etc etc etc...

This Luminaries card has a bold 243 on the front signifying that Cutch has hit 243 homeruns entering the 2021 season.
While this card isn't a 1/1 it does remind me of all the work I need to do to keep pace with Cutch.

Cutch had hit another 27 round trippers over the course of the 2021 season bringing his 270.  

Looks like I've got some serious work to do during the off season as I will need to add 18 more 1/1 cards to the PC prior to Cutch's 2022 debut as I am at 252 one of ones in the collection.

I'll show off one of my more recent 1/1 pickups tomorrow.

Do you keep track of your player collections compared to any of that player's numbers?  

Some examples could be 
Having an Ozzie Smith autograph collection equal to his Jersey number (1)
Having 355 Greg Maddux base cards equal to his career Win Total
Having 73 Barry Bonds insert cards (equal to the historic 2001 season
Having 1,271 Tino Martinez cards equal to his career RBI total 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Congrats to Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper won the NL MVP for the second time in his career.

I like Bryce Harper.

A lot!

I love the way he plays the game
Above are all my Cutch cards that also feature Bryce Harper.  

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Another Runner Up Performance

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  
Isn't that the saying?

I'm not sure if that could be related to Cy Young Awards, but Gerrit Cole has to start feeling like that at this point in his career.

Despite leading the American League in Wins in 2021, it was announced Wednesday night that Gerrit finished second in the Cy Young voting.  

I believe that the "sticky stuff" conversations hurt Gerrit's chances of capturing his first Cy Young award. 

Since 2015 Gerrit has finished in 5th place (2018), 4th place (2015 and 2020) and 2nd place (2019 and 2021).
The 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates were one of my favorite teams to watch and sadly failed to win a single postseason game (eliminated in the Wild Card game).  They had a starting rotation of Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, AJ Burnett, and a resurgent Francisco Liriano.  They also had top pitching prospects like Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Clay Holmes, and Nick Kingham in the minors.  That pitching staff could have become legendary if they reached their ceiling of talent and stayed healthy together.

I really missed that 98 win team and the way the management tore down the position player core within a year and the entire starting rotation in 2015 was gone within 3 years.

One of the most famous pitchers to have an incredible career, but never win a Cy Young award is Nolan Ryan.

Through their Age 30 seasons here is a comparison of Cole vs Ryan
117 Wins
3.20 ERA
1,449 Innings Pitched
1,673 Strikeouts (10.39K/9)
1.12 WHIP
5 top 5 Cy Young Finishes
4 All Star Games

141 Wins
3.06 ERA
2,234 Innings Pitched
2,426 Strikeouts (9.77 K/9)
1.31 WHIP
3 top 5 Cy Young Finishes
4 All Star Games

The all time strikeout king had only SIX top 5 finishes for the Cy Young Award.  His career 4.7BB/9 may be a reason why.  He was always giving up free passes. For comparison sake yet again, Gerrit Cole's BB/9 is only 2.3BB/9 (twice as good as Nolan Ryan).

Do you think Gerrit will eventually win a Cy Young Award in his career?

Do you think Gerrit Cole's career will be tarnished by the spider tack allegations that occurred this past season?