Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Trading Post #36: A Cracked Bat

I'm in the middle of the busiest 30-day period in a very long time. Between early June and early July, I'll have traveled outside the USA for the first time, gone to my company's annual sales conference, taken a road trip to three states I've never seen before, not to mention some very positive developments in my relationship.

That's partially why my only post since May was an Instagram photo from my trip to Austria, but as I am between major events at the moment, I'd like to take the opportunity to keep this blog active.

Returning to my long-running The Trading Post theme, here's a trade package from Julie at A Cracked Bat that I received this spring. Julie has sent me lots of cards this past year, and has been one of my best trading partners. I commented on a long-ago post of hers claiming a Kellogg's 3D mini, which I'll get to later.

2014 Bowman Chrome Dualing Die-Cut Refractors #DDC-SB Eddie Butler / Corey Seager
This isn't the first card from this die-cut set that I've received from Julie. I'm guessing she opened at least some 2014 Bowman, and found another young Rockies pitcher to send my way, as the previous card was of Jonathan Gray. Both Butler and Gray are promising pitchers on the Rockies roster, although Butler's cardmate got a bit more of the write-up on the back.

2005 Topps All-Stars #TAS1 Todd Helton
Topps was going a bit wild with the shiny patterns as recently as 2005, which shows up better on the scan than in person, amazingly. I tell all my trading partners that I love shiny stuff, and though it looks a little juvenile, it will do just fine.

1998 Pacific Omega Online Inserts #28 Larry Walker
This one is even wilder, though it's from Pacific, so that all checks out. Their Pacific Online set from 1998 is fairly well-known, as it's pretty much a Geocities website on a baseball card. However, as I just learned from this trade, they extended that theme to an Omega insert set that same year. They used the same URL, but made the whole thing look a little bit more like a circuit board. Maybe I'm stretching a bit, but I even see some 1994 Finest in this design.

2001 E-X #9 Larry Walker
Here's another one of Walker, although this one is more sparkly than shiny. All these premium Fleer brands may not have sold that well in their day, but they are certainly thicker than recent Topps Archives sets, a topic that's gotten a lot of press in recent weeks. Defgav at Baseball Card Breakdown even did a scientific test of the thickness of various brands with medical-grade equipment.

I don't have any details like that on this E-X card, although I can tell you that Walker's outline is printed with a very subtle outline.

2001 Fleer Premium #101 Todd Hollandsworth
More premium Fleer cards were included, such as this one of Todd Hollandsworth playing the outfield in an unmistakable Wrigley Field. Hollandsworth spent a short time with the Rockies, but is better known as the last of four consecutive Dodgers to win the Rookie of the Year award, his coming in 1996.

1996 Emotion-XL #171 Jason Bates
Jason Bates, on the other hand, spent his entire, though short, career as a Rockie. He got plenty of cards in the post-strike baseball card era, and here's yet another rarely-seen Fleer brand, Emotion-XL. What's so distinctive about it is that it strongly resembles some recent Gypsy Queen parallels, as it has a cloth-like raised paperboard frame.

2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed Blue #59 Wilmer Flores /499
Fleer also put a foil seal on theirs, so that Emotion set would feel right at home to any GQ fans.

2011 Topps Allen and Ginter Hometown Heroes #HH70 Troy Tulowitzki
This has been an unusually Fleer-heavy post, but there was plenty of Topps to be found, like this "Hometown Heroes" insert set from Allen & Ginter. I'm not wild about any of the tobacco-era resurrected brands, but A&G is the one I like the most in that space.

On this card, we learn that Tulowitzki is from Sunnyvale, California, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. In fact, one of the companies I work most closely with in my new role is headquartered there, along with countless other tech companies. The back of this card even mentions that he's from a "tech-heavy" region, surrounded by Santa Clara and San Jose.

I don't know whether the A's franchise will move out of Oakland, but they'd have plenty of local business clients and advertisers if that ends up happening.

2013 Topps Update #US226 Michael Cuddyer
I've always felt like the Topps Update brand has gone pretty heavy on All-Star Game and Home Run Derby cards, but this one of Cuddyer is a near-perfect prediction of where he'd be playing two seasons later. The Mets hosted that year, and Cuddyer may have liked the orange color so much that he wanted to wear it full-time.

1994 Select #145 Eric Young
The giant gold stripe down the center of 1994 Score Select cards doesn't place it among my favorite designs, but this card brings back fond memories. My sister and I watched a lot of Rockies games when we were kids, and Eric Young was one of my sister's favorites. I remember her frequently calling him "Mr. Smiley." One look at this card and you know that's appropriate. Young always brought a great energy to the early Rockies teams, and I'm happy that he's still involved with the organization as a coach.

2013 USA Baseball Champions #15 Frank Thomas
Occasionally, a few non-Rockies cards make it into a package. Frank Thomas was one of the biggest names of my early card collecting days, so it's always nice to get a card of him, even if it's not MLB-licensed.

In reading up on Thomas' Team USA days, I was surprised to learn that he didn't participate in the 1988 Olympics. But if he did, then he would have had a card in 1988 Topps Traded, and we all know that set well enough to know that Thomas didn't appear on a Topps card until two years later.

1980 Kellogg's #55 Joaquin Andjuar
As promised, here's the Kellogg's card that triggered this trade package in the first place. This is my very first card from the Kellogg's brand, and I picked it for those great Astros uniforms of the late-1970s. Jose Altuve had a recent throwback card with a better look at this uniform. I dig almost all of it, except for the uniform number on the pant leg.

They've been through quite a few uniforms since then, with varying degrees of how much orange they include. I feel like the Astros have been aimlessly hunting for an identity for quite some time now, going so far as to switch leagues, a move that still isn't intuitive to me. Almost every time I see them on the out-of-town scoreboard or ESPN ticker, my brain screams "interleague game!"

At least Orbit is back.

Monday, June 8, 2015

#WalletCard overseas

For my first-ever trip out of the United States, my girlfriend and I spent several days in Vienna, Austria!

As many of the souvenirs remind you, there are no kangaroos in Austria. There are, however, many centuries-old buildings, like St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom in German), a central landmark in Vienna's old city, and darn near a thousand years old. I only took one #WalletCard photo while in Vienna, but I thought that would be the best place to do it.

A photo posted by AdamK (@adamk0310) on

It was a really fun trip, and my employer picked up most of the expenses! This was for President's Club, a company-sponsored event held at different location around the world each year. I was fortunate enough to have been voted in by my colleagues, and got to meet about 125 other employees and their guests from around the globe!

We had lots of wine, a tour of the Jewish Quarter, a visit to a Baroque-era cathedral outside the city and a wine tasting in their historic cellar, lots of wandering around on our own seeing the sights, and a stop by the open-air food market (a must for any foodie).

The company events were also fantastic, one of which was a dinner/ball at the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Appropriately for Vienna, we got some amazing musical performances as well, including a 10-year old boy who played Mozart amazingly well and got a well-deserved standing ovation, as well as a short concert from the Vienna Boys' Choir!

It was great to spend the better part of a week in a historic European city with my girlfriend, and we're already thinking about our next overseas trip together, likely to Scotland.

But now that we've returned, I'm getting right back into baseball, as I'll be seeing the Rockies host the Cardinals tonight for my third ballgame of the year. Mr. Girardi might make another appearance in fairly short order.