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?