By Popular Demand (And To Buy Time): My 10-Card Curling Collection

Because there was interest expressed in the comments of my last post – and because I haven’t had the time to scan any of my recently acquired cards – I’m going to share my collection of curling cards…. And yes, there are such things as curling cards, although many of the ones in existence (and all of the ones I own) are part of larger multi-sport sets.

All of these cards have been featured in The Shlabotnik Report at some time or another (so I didn’t have to do any scanning… Yay!) but have never been shown in one place at a time, so I will present them here and share my minimal knowledge of other curling cards out there.

This is strictly a “for funsies” collection, so even though there are curling inserts related to many of these sets (parallels, minis, relics, autographs), I haven’t chased them.


2014 Topps Olympic And Paralympics Hopefuls – base cards

2014 Topps Olympic And Paralympics Hopefuls – inserts
Games of the Olympics

Olympic venues

There are also parallels, relics, autographs and patch cards from this set.  I can’t find any advance notice of a 2018 Topps Olympic And Paralympic Hopefuls set, but I’m hoping that there will be one.

2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions


There are also minis, relics, and autographs from this set.

2014 Upper Deck 25th Anniversary

2015 Leaf Sport Kings (short print)

There are also parallels and minis of this card.


At this point, my collection is likely to stay at 10 cards for a while. As I’ve found out, there are more curling cards than I’d imagined there would be, so I’m probably going to take a step back and figure out where I want to go with this.

For the record, here are the other curling cards I’m aware of… Thanks to Mike of Not Another Baseball Card Blog for telling me about the two Ice Hot International sets!

1921 Liebig Evolution Of Winter Sport – Curling
1929 Churchman’s Cigarettes – #20 – Curling
1932 Sanella Margerine – #21 – Curling
1961 Wheaties Great Moments In Canadian Sport – #24 – Ernie Richardson
1977 Sportscaster Cards – at least 2 different Curling cards
1992 BNA Canadian Winter Olympic Hopefuls (includes men & women curlers)
1992 BNA Canadian Winter Olympics Winners (includes Women’s curling team)
1993 Ice Hot International (Canadian curling set)
1994 Ice Hot International (Canadian curling set)
2009 BBM (Baseball) 2nd Version – First Pitch insert – Mari Motohashi
2015 BBM (Baseball) 2nd Version – First Pitch insert – Sayaka Yoshimura #FP-09
2016 BBM Chess On Ice (Japanese curling box set)

There And Back Again

On Saturday I went to my first sports collectibles show in 9 months… I drove 2.5 hours in the morning, spent the entire afternoon walking a show floor, spent every dollar I had on me and drove 2.5 hours home… 250 miles round trip, $10 admission, about $15 worth of gasoline and a 10-hour chunk out of my day.

HELL YEAH it was worth it!

Naturally, when I got home from the show, I found a box from COMC in my mailbox… Because, you know, feast or famine.

So the good news is that between the show and my COMC order I’ve got over 1,000 new cards spanning seven decades, nine sports and six countries to share with you. Of course, it’s mostly baseball, but still… this stuff is fairly well all over the place.

I’ll give you a quick sample today, but you’ll be seeing more cards as I get organized.

When I counted up the sports, I counted this one as “wrestling”, although I suppose it could be listed as “non-sport” in a couple of ways… this is from the 2017 Topps WWE set, and becomes the only card I own from a wrestling set.

I know nothing about NXT or Cathy Kelley™… yes, her name is trademarked… but I was going through a dimebox and her red dress caught my eye, so I tossed the card on the stack.

I’m pretty sure I don’t need this Ron Cey Hostess card, but there are certain sets where I buy whatever I find in a dime box, regardless of whether I need it or not.

I never saw Johnny Damon when he played for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, but I’ve been to Frawley Stadium to see the Rocks play, and I like these uniforms.

The card – keep in mind this is from 1995 – says he’s “one of the top 10 prospects in the minors according to Baseball Weekly” and “Worships George Brett, Michael Jordan, Kevin Costner, ‘Days Of Our Lives’, ‘Wayne’s World’, Sega games and Cookie Dough ice cream.”

Current-Day Johnny Damon says “Dude, cut me a break, I was 21!”

I bought about 25 of these 2017 Pro Debut cards from one dealer.  My former source of these cards has dried up, so 25 is more than I’ve had from any of the prior two years.

Chance Sisco is an anticipated catching prospect who’s 22 years old, in AAA, and one of the reasons the O’s let Matt Wieters walk.

Finally, here’s a card I got from COMC, and one which puts my Curling collection at a whopping TEN CARDS!  Woo!  Second binder page!  This card is from the 2014 Upper Deck 25th Anniversary set and has been something of a “White Koi” for me;  I was chasing it for a while, but couldn’t find a card at a price I was willing to pay (until now, of course).

Rachel Homan is the skip of the team which ran the table in winning the World Championship earlier this year.

So that’s about it for now. I’m really excited to share some of my purchases, and you’ll be seeing more of these over the next month or two… three… four… Well, there’ll be a certain point where I’ll just stop telling you that the cards I’m showing you came from the July show.

Oh, one other fun thing about this show… it’s on the approach path to a major airport, so there’s always plans flying relatively low overhead… sometimes low enough to read the markings on the plane.

We have clearance, Clarence.  Roger, Roger.  What’s the vector, Victor?

Saturday Side Trip: Track #1 From A Beatles “FrankenAlbum”

This is largely off-topic for this blog, but I’m doing it because it seems like it will be fun.  I’ll throw in some scans of cards from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” set just to keep it somewhat relevant.

Card collectors talk about building “Frankensets” where you fill a binder with cards from assorted sets numbered as if it were the same set;  a card #1 from one set in the first pocket, card #2 from another set in the next pocket, etc.

In a moment of daydreaming, I decided to apply that concept to Beatles albums… To make one 14-track album out of the 12 Beatles Albums by selecting the best first track, the best second track and so on up to 14.  I’d be excluding the post-breakup albums (Anthology, Hollywood Bowl, Love, etc.), the half-soundtrack “Yellow Submarine” album, and the “Past Masters” collections of singles and EP’s.  This admittedly leaves out a lot of great songs (“She Loves You”, “I Feel Fine”, “Day Tripper”, “Paperback Writer”, etc.), but the competition will be fierce enough as it is.

This is clearly an objective exercise, so I’ll tell you up front where my Beatle tastes lie:

  • The period from “Help” to “Revolver” as the absolute pinnacle of Beatledom.
  • Sgt. Pepper is a bit overrated and overplayed.
  • Over time I’ve grown to generally prefer John over Paul… Partially because some of Paul’s bigger songs had a limited (although very large) number of listens in them, and I’ve passed that point for songs like “Yesterday”.

Fear not, there’s also going to be a poll at the end of each post, plus the comments, so that you can let me know what an idiot I am for picking a particular track.  At the end of all this, we’ll have two different FrankenAlbums:  “Yours” and Mine.

I’m going to choose my tracks in a tournament format.  First, I’m going to do a sort of March Madness “Play-in” matchup between the two disks of the “White Album”. After that, I’m matching the tracks up as if they were seeded by release date. So, Track 1 from “Please Please Me” (the first album) goes up against Track 1 from “Let It Be” (the last album);  “With The Beatles” (2nd album) goes up against “Abbey Road”… you get the idea. Then the winner of “Game A” goes up against the winner of “Game F”, “B” against “E” and “C” against “D”.  At the end of that round we’ll have three tracks from which I will pick the “winner”.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s get to today’s matchups. The first track is a tough one, because we’ve got four title tracks in the competition and you know those tracks are going to be big songs.

White Album Play-in Round:
“Back In The USSR” (White Album Disc 1) vs. “Birthday” (White Album Disc 2)
Right off the bat we’ve got two well-known Paul songs. Both songs are worthy, but I’ll go with the slightly-less-fluffy Beach Boys homage/parody.
WINNER:  “Back In The USSR”

First Round:
“I Saw Her Standing There” (Please Please Me) vs. “Two Of Us” (Let It Be).
“Two Of Us” is one of my favorite songs off of the “Let It Be” album, but I can’t in good conscience go against “I Saw Her Standing There”.  One two three FOUR!
WINNER:  “I Saw Her Standing There”

“It Won’t Be Long” (With The Beatles) vs. “Come Together” (Abbey Road)
Very little deliberating on this one.
WINNER:  “Come Together”

“A Hard Day’s Night” (A Hard Day’s Night) vs. “Back In The USSR” (White Album)
In the end, I have to go with The Beatles being The Beatles, and not being The Beach Boys.
WINNER: “A Hard Day’s Night”

“No Reply” (Beatles For Sale) vs. “Magical Mystery Tour” (Magical Mystery Tour)
This was a tighter contest than you might think, but in the end the more famous track wins out.
WINNER: “Magical Mystery Tour”

“Help” (Help) vs. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club’s Band (Sgt. Pepper)
Help is an all-time favorite, whereas Pepper is a song I’ve grown a bit tired of over the years. For many people this would be a hard choice, but not for me.
WINNER: “Help”

““Drive My Car” (Rubber Soul) vs. Taxman (Revolver)
Another tight contest, but I can’t resist the snark and George will need all the wins he can get.
WINNER: “Taxman”

Second Round:
“I Saw Her Standing There” vs. “Taxman”
…But Taxman doesn’t make it past the second round. Both songs have great count-ins, but “I Saw Her…” is more iconic.
WINNER: “I Saw Her Standing There”

“Help” vs. “Come Together”
As I mentioned, middle-period Beatles (Help through Revolver) is king in my book.
WINNER: “Help”

“A Hard Day’s Night” vs. “Magical Mystery Tour”
In a matchup of movie title tracks, Hard Day’s ebullience wins the day.

Championship Round:  “I Saw Her Standing There”; “Help”; “A Hard Day’s Night”
Oy, this is tough… But I’ve got to go with “Help” over the other two…. Especially if we cheat and include the ‘James Bond intro’ that was on the U.S. Album. I know it’s soundtrack music and not anything the Beatles actually performed or desired to be on their album, but I grew up with that intro always leading into “Help” and it’s *my* FrankenAlbum, so there.

And now, here’s your chance to be heard. You may, of course, express your disdain and incredulity over my pick in the comments, and you can vote for your own track.  You have one week to vote (if I’m setting this up correctly) and I’ll share the winner in the next post (which hopefully will be next Saturday, depending on how quickly I can turn these things around).

 

 

How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Marlins?

With the The Miami Marlins will soon have new ownership, and for most people it can’t come soon enough… but once the ownership change becomes official, that’s when the fun starts.

You’d have a hard time finding anyone who thinks that the past 15 years has been anything but a public relations disaster. Floridians hate Loria. Baseball fans hate Loria. When Loria is gone, there will be much rejoicing.

But the thing is that many people hate the Marlins because of Loria and his predecessors (who were not exactly guardians of the public trust themselves). So if you’re the new owners of the team, what do you do to put up a figurative “Under New Management” sign on Marlins Park?

Would you go as far as to change the team name? There’s enough brand recognition in the “Marlins” name that I wouldn’t expect a change, but we are dealing with an extreme situation.

Would you change the team’s logo and uniforms? I didn’t care for the Marlins logo or uniforms when they were unveiled, but they grew on me a bit and I will say that they’re better than the original black & teal uniforms.

But the other side of this is that the uniform also carries a Loria stench with it. He is the one who drove all the art-y changes involving the Marlins, from the uniforms to the garish Home Run sculpture. Keep in mind that licensing rules and obligations makes any change to a team’s visual branding like doing a one-eighty in a cruise ship, but if it were me, I would start the ball rolling immediately and get as much fan input as possible.

I don’t know how the fanbase feels about “Billy The Marlin”…

Me, I think he’s creepy as hell and if I were the new owner, Billy would be the first one out the door.

On the field… Job #1 is keeping Giancarlo Stanton happy. He is the face of the team, he is your primary on-field asset in terms of play and marketability.

Enough of my spitballing…

What would you do if you bought the Marlins?

Random Team Review: 1980 Topps Cleveland Indians

The 1980 Cleveland Indians had a 79-81 record and finished 6th in the AL East ahead of the 4th year Blue Jays (67-95).  Finishing a couple of games under .500 *and* in 6th place says a lot about how strong the AL East was (and how many bad teams were in the AL West).

The Indians were a young team, with a starting lineup which featured three 25-year-olds and nobody over the age of 31.

Best Offensive Player:
This was a tough call because there were several players who had very good seasons, but nobody who truly dominated offensively. I finally let Baseball Reference’s 1980 Cleveland Indians page make the decision for me; they have Toby Harrah as the top player with a 4.4 WAR.

Harrah played 160 games at third, batted .267 with 100 runs scored and 72 RBI.

The only candidate for “Best Offensive Player” who doesn’t get featured elsewhere in this post is Jorge Orta, who was the team’s representative at the All-Star game.

Best Pitcher:
Len Barker went 19-12 with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.336 WHIP.  He also lead the league with 187 strikeouts.

Best Name:
Andre Thornton missed 1980 due to a knee injury, but he’s got the best name on the team.

Best Nickname and Best Full Name:
Mike Hargrove used to take forever (relative to the day) to get ready for each pitch, thus earning the nickname “The Human Rain Delay”.

His full name is Dudley Michael Hargrove, and he was also a candidate for best offensive player (.304, 85 RBI, 86 runs)

Favorite Card:
Nothing much to say about this Bo Diaz card, just a nice candid shot.

Best In-Game/Action Shot:
This team set is not full of tremendous action shots, but I like this shot of Duane Kuiper ready for action in Yankee Stadium II.

Best Rookie Card:
Hassey was the starting catcher in 1980, and still batted .318 with 65 RBI.  He was also a candidate for “Best Offensive Player”.

Hassey would play for 14 years with 6 different teams.  He caught two different perfect games (Len Barker in 1981, Dennis Martinez in 1991) and between December, 1985 and July, 1986 he was traded from the Yankees to the White Sox, traded back to the Yankees and then traded back to the White Sox.

Best Cartoon:
The cartoons in 1980 Topps were kinda short on goofy appeal, but I liked this Tom Veryzer cartoon that shows him winning half a trophy.

Best player not on a card:
“Super Joe” Carboneau had a breakout year in 1980, won the A.L. Rookie and captured the attention and imagination of Cleveland.  He was also a candidate for “Best Offensive Player”. This is his rookie card in 1981 Topps:

“Super Joe” batted .289 with 23 homers, 83 RBI, 76 runs, 17 doubles and 2 triples..  Due to back problems his celebrity faded as quickly as it came and he became the early 1980’s cautionary tale towards investing in rookie cards.  In 1981 he batted .210 over 48 games, his numbers dropped further in 1982, and then he was gone from Major League baseball.

Best player pictured with another team:
When I was looking at Baseball Reference’s “Top 12” players from this team, I was surprised to see Miguel Dilone in there with a 3.0 WAR.  As it turns out, Dilone was purchased from the Cubs on May 7th and went on to have a career year.

Dilone batted .341 (3rd in the league), stole 61 bases (also 3rd in the league) and finished tied with Tony Perez for 22nd in the AL MVP voting.

Most Notable Airbrushing:
I was about to write off this category completely and declare that there is no airbrushing at all in this team set… and then I took a closer look at Bobby Cuellar on this card:

Even though he looks to be wearing the same uniform as his card-mates, the logo on his cap looks a bit odd… So I’m going to venture that he’s got an airbrushed cap because he’s wearing the cap of an Indians farm team.

Throwback Uniforms On Throwback Customs: 1978 & 1984

This weekend there have been two different throwback games in the Majors, both throwing back to my weak spot – the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s. What could I do? The temptation was too great… I had to make customs for both games.

On Friday night the Phillies and Padres threw back to 1983 when the Phils were N.L. Champions. Both sets of uniforms had their issues, but looked pretty good overall. I really like the 1984 Fleer design and photos from 1983 would normally go on 1984 cards, so it seemed like a natural to me (and I wasn’t even going to attempt to find TWO throwback photos of a player to use the 1983 Topps design). Unfortunately, neither the Phils nor Pads are stacked with superstars, so I was a bit limited on who I could find pictures of. Even so, I’m happy with what came out of it.

Meanwhile the Rangers and Angels threw back to 1977… I would presume solely because it was 40 years ago. I wouldn’t think the Rangers were commemorating finishing 8 games behind the Royals in ’77 (although they did go 94-68, there was just no catching the 102-60 Royals).

For whatever reason – maybe because powder blue is oh-so-very-seventies – the Rangers wore 1977 Road uniforms last night.

The Angels, being the visiting team, also wore road uniforms, only theirs were grey.

From the clips I’ve seen, it wasn’t bad… unlike the Father’s Day weekend game I attended in Baltimore (you don’t want to get me started on both teams wearing blue when neither one should wear blue), I don’t think there was any problems telling the teams apart. It’s just a bit odd for those of us who lived through the 1970’s (“You are wearing powder blue and yet you are the home team? Illogical. Illogical. Norman, coordinate!”)

Pack Animal: 2004 BBM Rookie Edition (Japanese)

I took a vacation day on Monday, was running some errands and I almost – ALMOST – gave into temptation and stopped at Target or Five Below to buy a repack… then my “inner mom” reminded me that “You’ve got plenty of unopened packs at home!”

As always, Inner Mom was right. Among the packs I have are a bunch of Japanese packs that I bought at The National the last time it was in Baltimore… which was what – 2012? 2013? All along I intended to pace myself with these packs, but to be honest I pace myself way too much with these.

So this pack, as the wrapper says, is the 2004 BBM Rookie Edition…

In this case, “Rookie” implies two things: 1) I’m thinking this pack will be “gaijin-free” (i.e. none of the players will be from outside of Japan), and 2) Rookie-based sets always have their share of busts. Long story short, I’ll be surprised if I know any of these players.

But it’s an unopened pack, which is what I wanted, and it’s Japanese so every card is automatically regarded as “cool” and goes in my Japanese binder.

Here’s the back of the pack…

And… Let’s rip!

First card: Atsushi Fujimoto of the Hanshin Tigers.

Interesting design, I’ll say that much.

When I Googled on Fujimoto’s name, my first hit was a LinkedIn profile — Not an encouraging sign regarding this guy’s baseball fame… but as I’d find out through other sources, he played for the Tigers up until 2009, and then put in a few more years with the Swallows. Wikipedia says he was on the Bronze-medal-winning 2004 Olympic team.

The card back is pretty typically BBM.

Next card… Masaya Shibata of the BlueWave… and a different card design.

Given that he’s wearing a shirt and tie under his jersey, and given that I can’t find out anything about him through my usual internetty searches, I’m guessing this is a sort of “draft pick” card and he never actually played in NPB. Maybe one of my NPB-fluent readers can fill us in on the details.

Since the back is different, I’ll show that as well.

Next up, another possible draft pick card – even the same pose – for Satoshi Yamazaki of the Lions.

My knowledge of Japanese language and culture is what we in the IT trade would categorize as “knowing just enough to be dangerous”… but the first thing I thought of when I saw the raised fist was “Ganbatte!”… but I think that’s more something encouraging one would say to another (i.e. “good luck” or “try your best”) rather than a sort of “battle cry”.

Maybe I’m giving someone in Japan a good chuckle with my “close but no cigar” knowledge of Japanese language and culture. Anyway…

Yamazaki put in four years with the Lions and played in the now-extinct Hawaii Winter Baseball League in 2006.

Ryota Katsuki of the Buffaloes, also with the fist in the air. This is definitely a “thing”.

Katsuki put in 12 seasons with the Buffaloes, BlueWave and Giants. He may still be active, but if he is it’s not in NPB… or the top level of NPB, I’ve never been clear whether the “minor league” teams are considered part of NPB (or to put it in American terms, whether NPB refers to the “Majors” or to “affiliated professional baseball”).

Yoshinori Ogata of the Carp.

A few years ago I got a few Carp games on my local cable, part of some international sports “fill up broadcast time” package. I watched enough that I almost became a Carp fan. I miss those games, they were a lot of fun to watch.

Ogata played from 2004 to 2009, but has no stats from 2006 and 2008, and only one game from 2009. Either he was in the minors, or he was injured, or both.

Another card with the same design as the first one. Ryota Igarashi… Wait a minute, I know this dude… He used to pitch for my New York Mets!

He also pitched a handful of games for the Jays and Yankees in 2012. This card by itself is worth the price of admission. Before coming to the States, Igarashi pitched for the Swallows from 1999 to 2009. After his stint in MLB and AAA baseball, he went back to Japan, signed with the SoftBank Hawks, and is still active. How ’bout that? (The prior sentence is said in my best Mel Allen “This Week In Baseball” voice).

I have more to say about his MLB stint, but I’ll leave it for the end of the post, just to keep from going off on too much of a tangent.

Getting back to the BBM card, I noticed that this card says “1998 Rookie” on the bottom… and I went back and looked at the first card and it says “2001 Rookie”, so this is obviously a subset honoring past rookies, where the shirt-and-tie, fist-in-the-air cards must be the true rookies of the set.

Final card, and it looks insert-y…

The left edge and the “2001 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR” logo are gold foil. Norihiro Akahoshi played for the Tigers from 2001 to 2009, and Wikipedia provides me with some other honors besides Central League ROY… He lead the league in stolen bases from 2001 to 2005, was named to the Central League “Best Nine” from 2003 to 2005 and won 6 Golden Glove awards (if I can count correctly). Wikipedia’s entry sounds like he had to retire after suffering neck and spinal injuries in 2009.

I’ll show the insert card’s back to wrap up the pack.

Before I go, I’d like to touch on Ryota Igarashi and his time with the Mets. I was going to scan one of his cards from his two years with the Mets and was surprised to find that there are none. Nada. Zilch. Bupkus. Bugger-all. Yes, he was a reliever, but he made 79 appearances over two seasons and it doesn’t seem like Topps to completely ignore the opportunity to have a rookie card, even if in the Update set. Perhaps he never signed a contract with Topps.

His Mets career also coincided with my just getting started in custom cards, so I don’t have any customs to share either… but I did save some images from that period, so I’ll use my handy dandy all-purpose 2017 TSR Fauxback design to rectify the situation.