Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Card producing laziness - Part 2

A followup to a post earlier in the year where I highlight instances of when Topps used the same player photo in two different card brands.

Brett Gardner Topps Heritage vs. Topps Allen and Ginter

Enny Romero Topps Archives vs. Topps Allen and Ginter

Shelby Miller Topps The Future Is Now vs. Topps Archives

Eric Hosmer 2013 Topps Chipz vs 2014 Topps Allen and Ginter
I only bought a handful of those Topps Chipz. I haven't seen them this year and wouldn't buy them if I did.

Max Scherzer Topps Heritage vs. Topps Allen and Ginter
Not exactly the same but probably from the same photo session. A card that has multiple players on it usually goes in my database under the name of the first player featured on the card or I might have missed this one.

Frank Robinson Topps Allen and Ginter vs. 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen vs. Topps Heritage Then and Now

Should they be given a pass for reusing photos of retired players? Maybe if the guy played in 1911, but not a modern day player.

Craig Biggio Topps Allen and Ginter vs. 2011 Topps Kimball Champions

Roberto Clemente Topps Allen and Ginter vs. 2003 Bowman Heritage
I had to do a little digging for this one.

Ozzie Smith Topps Archives vs. 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini

Matt Harvey Topps Heritage New Age Performers vs. Topps Allen and Ginter Mini

Jose Iglesias Topps Allen and Ginter Mini vs. 2013 Topps Update Walmart Blue

Miguel Cabrera Topps Stickers vs. Topps Allen and Ginter Mini Black

Matt Harvey Topps Archives vs. 2013 Topps Heritage

Bartolo Colon Bowman vs. Topps Gypsy Queen

Felix Hernandez Topps Archives vs Topps Series 2

Stephen Strasburg Topps Commemorative Team Logo Patch vs 2013 Topps Allen and Ginter

Monday, September 1, 2014

Movie Review - Marty

Here's a pretty good movie from long ago, 1955's "Marty" staring Ernest Borgnine.  We watched it last week on the Turner Classic Movie channel.

Marty is a 34-year-old bachelor, still living with his mother, who works at a butcher shop. His mother and pretty much every old Italian lady that comes into the shop are always on Marty to get married. But Marty knows he isn't much of a catch and is pretty much resigned to being what he is, a butcher. He has some hope of buying the shop from the owner and setting up in business for himself.

On Friday nights he sits around with his buddies at the local taproom, wondering what to do and how they are going to meet girls. One night, Marty and his best pal, Angie (Joe Mantell) go to the neighbor dance hall, hoping to get lucky. A complete stranger walks up to Marty and offers him $5 if he'll dance with the blind date he's trying to ditch. Marty refuses but watches as the guy convinces another guy to do it. But when the other guy meets the girl, he refuses to dance with her and pockets the $5 too. Marty sees that the girl is upset and goes over to her and asks her to dance,

Clara (Betty Blair) isn't the best looking girl in the place but she and Marty hit it off. They leave the hall, walk around, stop for coffee, and just talk and talk. Marty takes him back to his mother's house to get some cigarets and finds his mother out. They talk some more and Clara says she should be getting home. Marty tries to kiss her but she refuses. He's upset but she tells him she'd like to see him again and he takes her home.

That's pretty much the plot. Borgnine and Blair are great. He talks and talks and just can't believe he's met a girl that will listen to him. Blair, mostly listens, but listens actively, smiling and asking him questions about himself. They have some real chemistry. There's some drama the next day, when Marty, under the influence of his Mother, his brother-in-law and his friends doesn't call her like he said he would. But he finally comes to his senses and calls.

The movie won a bunch of awards, including Oscars for Best picture, Best Actor (Borgnine), Best Director (Delbert Mann) and Best Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky).

Nobody would make a movie like this today. It's a quite character study with good acting and really no action. No fist fly, no car chases, really no excitement except what is generated by Marty and Clara's relationship.

It was also interesting to watch from the perspective of nearly 60 years away. The movie was shot in black and white. It takes place in a world that sort of looks modern but the plot relies on the time it was made. How much different the story would have had to be if there were smartphones, FaceBook, and no dance halls to meet in.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Song of the Week - Invitation to the Blues by Tom Waits

I may have featured this song before but, if so, here it is again. It's one of my favorite Waits songs.

Like all the best of Waits' songs, this one tells a story. I like that the video includes the lyrics as Waits can be hard to decipher (especially live) sometimes. Part of his booze-soaked, cigarette burned personality, I suppose.

This song tells the story of a two-bit drifter waiting for a bus in a small town greasy-spoon. While having his coffee he falls in love with the waitress. Or actually he falls in love with the idea of the waitress. She's lovely from her "conk down to her shoes" and he makes up a whole background story for her where she leaves her sugar-daddy husband in Jersey with just her "registration and her shoes". The story is so compelling he decides to stay in town, get a job at the local filling station, and accept her "invitation to the blues". "What the hell do I have to lose"? he muses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Upper Deck Goodwin Champions through the years

Since Upper Deck keeps running out this set (now in it's 5th year) someone other than me must be buying it. I thought I'd do a year-by-year comparison. I'm only going to show a baseball player from each of the sets.

Goodwin Champions was a highly anticipated set in 2009 and it lived up to it's expectations. Upper Deck still had its baseball license. This Bench card is great but really, it was one great card after another.


As near as I can tell, Goodwin Champions was not published in 2010.

After not seeing it in 2010, I never expected to see Goodwin Champions again, but it made a reappearance in 2011. Without a license, Upper Deck was reduced to showing the baseball players in mufti. Still the design was pretty good, if a bit more ornate, and the paintings were pretty good. This is not the best card in the set but I wanted to show it in contrast to the 2009 Bench. Some suit, eh?

The set starts to go downhill in 2012. The paintings aren't as good. The black borders are unattractive and they went from gray card stock to brown, which made the backs harder to read. And I think there fewer baseball players in 2012, which are the cards I'm mostly interested in.

Some improvement in 2013. The paintings aren't any better but the white border is a big improvement in the front design. The proportion of baseball players seems about the same as 2012. And most of the baseball players are doing something related to baseball, like holding a bat. Last year the were all in civilian clothes. The heavy use of black on the back seems to be the start of a trend I don't like.

I won't repeat what I said about what I don't like about this year's set but I'll make three new observations. First, I think the paintings have gotten worse. Does this look like Robin Ventura to you?
Second, I think the proportion of baseball players has gone down. There are way too many hockey players in this year's set. And third, I did not pull a single woman athlete or famous person. The past year's sets always had a good selection of woman. What happened to that?

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions

As far as I'm concerned, the baseball card collecting season is near it's end. I expect to grab a few packs of Topps and Bowman Chrome. In October, Topps is supposed to release another chance at Stadium Club. BaseballCardPedia.com does not show Topps Update anytime this fall. Maybe that's an oversight.

With that preface, here is 2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions. Like Topps Allen & Ginter or Panini Golden Age, it isn't really a baseball card issue. But I buy some every year because it's fun and I like it. I'm not real fond of the design this year. In particalar I don't like the white text on black featured on the back. That works pretty well on white card stock but not so well of brown card stock. The 'wood-paneled' fronts are a bit too dark for my taste.

Except for several flavors of mini cards, there aren't many inserts in the set which aren't either relic cards or autographed cards. Since I only bought a couple of blasters, I didn't expect to see any of those.

#1 Frank Thomas
You can't go wrong starting the set off with 2014 Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Frank was in last year's set also wearing a black shirt with the 'Big Hurt' logo.  See what I mean about the back? Pretty hard to read.

#11 Peyton Manning
You got your football players. Manning is featured with his college team, the Tennessee Volunteers.

#12 Bobby Hull
You got your toothless hockey players. There are a lot of hockey players this year. A mix of Hall of Fame players and newer players.

#40 Elvin Hayes
You got your basketball players. As with the baseball and hockey cards, none of the players are in a recognizable uniform and there are absolutely no logos. Upper Deck has learned their lesson.

#72 Glenn Anderson
 A lot of the hockey players are featured in suits, for some reason.

#81 Bo Jackson

Goodwin Champions hasn't shown Jackson as a baseball player since 2009, before they lost their license.

#98 Kevin Martin
You got your curlers. According to Wikipedia, Martin has been described as the "greatest curler of all time".

#100 Tiger Woods

You got your golfers.

#111 Bobby Clarke
I stopped following hockey in 1980 but was an avid fan of the Philadelphia Flyers all through the 1970s. So it was nice to see one of my Flyer favs, Bobby Clarke in the set. Another great player from that Flyers era, Bill Barber is also in the set (and in my possession).

#163 Pancho Villa
And you got your Mexican revolutionaries. There seem to be a lot less non-sports cards in this year's set. Cards 130-180 are supposed to be short prints. There doesn't seem to be anything to distinguish them from the other cards except that most of them seem a little darker.

#195 Joc Pederson
Cards 181-200 of the set are on-card autos. I was pretty surprised to pull this from a blaster. I didn't know anything about this kid but he's apparently a prized prospect in the Dodgers system. He has 31 home runs and is hitting .300 for Albuquerque this season and is sure to be called up in September.

Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Goudey

Beside the mini cards, the only inserts I pulled were from the 52-card Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Goudey set. I pulled 3 of these. Remember the weird 2009 Upper Deck Goudey set?  Two of the inserts didn't look to bad but the other has the 2009 vibe.