About The Shlabotnik Report

I've been collecting baseball cards since 1974, and I'm on a quest to rediscover the collection hidden within my accumulation.

Contrast And Compare: Six Cards From Three Decades

Running through some Topps cards and their variations-of-sorts, as an admittedly last-minute post.

Doug Ault had a cup of coffee with the Rangers in 1976, got selected by the Blue Jays in the expansion draft, and shared a rookie infielders card with Rich Dauer, Orlando Gonzalez and Phil Mankowski.

Because he was a first-year Blue Jay, O-Pee-Chee gave him his own card.

Ault hit two homers in the Jays’ first game, was a regular with the team and made the Topps All-Star Rookie Team.  He wouldn’t repeat the success he had in his first year and was done in the Majors after 1980.


In 1980, Omar Moreno was coming off two seasons of leading the N.L. in steals.

That got him into the 1980 Burger King Pinch Hit & Run set in the “Run” category and a different photo was used… but he’s still pictured with a bat instead of running. Go figure.

In 1980 Moreno got a career-high 96 stolen bases… but would finish one behind Montreal’s Ron LeFlore who had 97. In 1981 he’d finish second to a different Expo, Tim Raines.


In 2013 Doug Fister went 14-9, 3.67 for the Tigers, surprising people by breaking out when he was 29 years old.
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After that season, the Tigers traded him to the Nationals for Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi and Robbie Ray. Since Opening Day gets released after Topps Series 1, a different photo of Fister was photoshopped into a Nats uniform.

Fister went 16-6, 2.41 in that first season with the Nats, but has been inconsistent since then and is currently with the Red Sox. The argument could be made that the best player in that trade was Robbie Ray, who was an all-star this year for the Diamondbacks. He was traded to Arizona in the three-team trade that sent Didi Gregorius to the Yankees.

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Four Steelers From 1964 Philadelphia Football

In observance of the start of the NFL season, I decided to share four recently-acquired Steelers cards from the 1964 Philadelphia Gum NFL set. I can’t tell you much about the four-year run of Philadelphia as the official trading card of the NFL, other than that I really like the “less is more” design used for each of the four years, and I particularly like the large cartoons on the back of the 1964 cards… so I’m featuring the fronts and the backs of today’s cards.

One thing I find interesting about the cartoons is that even though the drawings are not true caricatures, the “cartoon players” are in Steelers uniforms and wearing the number worn by the featured player.


Lou Michaels was a kicker AND a defensive lineman for the Steelers.  Gotta love that.  CommishBob might not love Lou Michaels because he – Lou, not Bob – missed two field goals in the Colts’ loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

Myron Pottios played for the Steelers, Rams & Redskins and was named to three Pro Bowls.

Gary Ballman’s 2949 receiving yards as a Steeler still ranks 17th on the all-time Steeler list (above Dwight Stone, Franco Harris and Antwaan Randle El, among others)

Mike Sandusky was an All-American in both Football and Wrestling.  He played 9 years for the Steelers and made one Pro Bowl.


I”m not really sure what’s going on in this cartoon…  Is that supposed to be a military draft physical? What’s with the woman? Is she a nurse? I feel like I’m missing some sort of cultural shorthand here… or that they changed the trivia question after the cartoonist was done.

Saturday Side Trip: Track #9 From The Beatles FrankenAlbums

As many of you know by now, I’m applying the “FrankenSet” concept to Beatles albums and creating a Beatles FrankenAlbum containing the (subjectively) best song for each track number. I also have a “covers album” in the works, and voting on the Shlabotnik Report’s readers’ FrankenAlbum, and images from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” card set… like this one:

Recapping the voting from last week… “Strawberry Fields Forever” won a decisive victory, and for the first time my track matches the voting.

Here’s where we stand after eight tracks:

My FrankenAlbum:

  1. Help
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. And I Love Her
  6. I Am The Walrus
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever

Your FrankenAlbum:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Something
  3. I’m Only Sleeping
  4. Medley: Nowhere Man / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. Medley: And I Love Her / I’ll Follow The Sun / Think For Yourself / Octopus’s Garden
  6. Medley: I Am The Walrus / Let It Be
  7. Here Comes The Sun
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever

My Favorite Covers FrankenAlbum:

  1. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
  2. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
  3. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Hooters
  4. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” by Fats Domino
  5. “Sexy Sadie” by Phish
  6. “Tell Me Why” by The Beach Boys
  7. “She Said She Said” by Gov’t Mule
  8. “Porque (Because)” by Grupo Fantasma

If you want to see the prior posts, you can click on the “Beatles FrankenAlbum” link at the bottom of this post.

As before, I’m seeding the tracks in alphabetical order (highest vs. lowest, second-highest vs. second-lowest, etc.)

White-Album Play-In Round:
“Martha My Dear” (Disk 1) vs. “Honey Pie” (Disk 2)
The White Album is essentially four solo albums combined together, but Paul really pushed the musical boundaries of what makes a Beatles track.  In the case of “Honey Pie”, I’m not sure it belongs on a Beatles album.  I’ll go with the song Paul wrote about his sheepdog instead.
WINNER: “Martha My Dear”


Round One

“And Your Bird Can Sing” (Revolver) vs. “You Never Give Me Your Money” (Abbey Road)
Both of these songs are among my favorite “deep cuts”. I think that “Bird” got cemented into my subconscious as the title music for the syndicated version of the cheaply-made Beatles TV cartoons of the 1960’s, while “Money” is really several song fragments fused together into a killer track.

“Bird” is kind of like the Steely Dan song “Reeling In The Years” in that in both cases it’s not so much the song as it is the awesome guitar work.  I expected to go into this selecting “Bird”, but when I listened to the tracks back to back, I found myself gravitating towards “Money”
WINNER: “You Never Give Me Your Money”

“Girl” (Rubber Soul) vs. “Words Of Love” (Beatles For Sale)
When I was in college I enjoyed antagonizing my friend Scott with my joking interpretation of “Girl”. Scott insisted that it was a song of longing over the titular girl, but I teased him by miming a long drag on a joint whenever John made his wistful intake of breath… at which point Scott would get annoyed and insist that it wasn’t a “drug song”.  Like I said, it was a joke at the time, but over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that, joking or not, I was much closer to John Lennon’s intentions than Scott was.
WINNER: “Girl”

“Hold Me TIght” (With The Beatles) vs. “When I’m Sixty-Four” (Sgt. Pepper)
I like “Hold Me Tight”, but it’s as close as the Beatles come to a filler track. As for “Sixty-Four”, I can’t but help wondering how many people named their children “Vera, Chuck and Dave”. You know *somebody* must have.
WINNER: “When I’m Sixty-Four”

“I’ll Cry Instead” (A Hard Day’s Night) vs. “Penny Lane” (Magical Mystery Tour)
In prior posts I made comments about songs being “overplayed”, but I feel that I should elaborate on what I mean by that.  Being played a lot really wasn’t the problem with those songs….

Have you ever gone on a vacation of a week or more with a very good friend and then by the end you’re ready to kill each other? That’s how it is with me and certain songs… it’s not that I don’t love them, but after repeated exposure they really just need to get the hell away from me for a while.  There are entire albums that are like that for me:  “Dark Side Of The Moon”, “Aqualung”, “Rumors”, there are a couple of others.

Right now for me, Penny Lane is an “Ill-advised long trip with a friend”… but I won’t pretend that it’s not a much better song than “I’ll Cry Instead”.
WINNER: “Penny Lane”

“It’s Only Love” (Help) vs. “P.S. I Love You” (Please Please Me)
I really like the “Live On The BBC” album that got released in 1994, but when the follow-up, “On Air”, was released in 2013, it was largely “been there, done that” for me. One of the few exceptions was “P.S. I Love You”, which I found I enjoyed more than the studio version. It really benefits from the live-in-studio performance.  Either way, it doesn’t stand up to a middle-period love song from John.
WINNER: “It’s Only Love”

“Martha My Dear” (White Album) vs. “One After 909” (Let It Be)
The bridge of “Martha My Dear” – “Take a good look around you…” – saves the song from being overly sentimental. “One After 909” was an early unreleased song that the Beatles dusted off for the sessions which would end up on “Let It Be”.  “One After 909” is by no means a great song, but they seem to have fun playing it and perhaps comes closest to that project’s original intent to “get back” to being a band instead of a bunch of very very good studio musicians. That alone is good enough for me.
WINNER: “One After 909”


Round 2
“You Never Give Me Your Money” vs. “One After 909”
Oh, that magic feeling… Nowhere to go.
WINNER: “You Never Give Me Your Money”

“Girl” vs. “It’s Only Love”
WINNER: “Girl”

“When I’m Sixty-Four” vs. “Penny Lane”
Having Penny Lane and the other Magical Mystery Tour “Side 2” tracks in this FrankenAlbum is something of a cheat, given that The Beatles had nothing to do with the track selection. “Magical Mystery Tour” was released as a double EP in the UK, but in the US Capitol Records expanded it to a full album by adding five songs from singles released earlier that year (1967). When the time came in the late 1980’s to issue the CD’s, they used the original UK albums’ track listings except for Magical Mystery Tour which used the US format.
WINNER: “Penny Lane”


Championship round: “You Never Give Me Your Money” vs. “Girl” vs. “Penny Lane”
My brain tells me I should go with the biggie biggie song “Penny Lane” or at least with the “1962-1966”-worthy “Girl”…. but my gut says to follow the Money. Truth be told, I’m wondering how this would’ve turned out had I chosen “And Your Bird Can Sing” in the first round… but I’m not going back and re-doing these..
WINNER: You Never Give Me Your Money


Cover Version Frankenalbum

I’ll Cry Instead – Billy Joel
This was released in 1983 as a B-Side to the “An Innocent Man” single, and was, I believe, intended as a John Lennon tribute.  It’s a very Beatles-esque cover, but it’s also not a carbon copy of the original… plus I don’t know a whole lot of covers for the tracks covered this week, so Billy wins.

 

And now it’s time for the voting… but just so you’re aware there’s a bonus video at the bottom.


Bonus Material

I took guitar lessons as a kid, but my slow learning curve overwhelmed my patience and I quit… but I still love watching people play. I just get fascinated by the fingerwork and how they get certain sounds out of the instrument and so on. While researching this post, I ran across a series of videos by someone called “Rock With Bock” who does a bunch of Beatles tracks without vocals, but the camera is solely on the instruments and not on the musician.

This is not a completely flawless performance, but it’s fascinating stuff.  I spent far too much time watching his videos this morning.

A Couple From 2016 Topps Archives Snapshots

It was about this time last year that Topps released their online-only Archives Snapshots set. I haven’t heard anything about there being a 2017 version, which is something of a shame just because the 2016 set seemed like a starting point for something good. I didn’t buy any directly from Topps, but I bought a few through COMC.

This Oscar Gamble is easily my favorite from the set, partially because it’s 1970’s Oscar Gamble…

…but mainly because it’s the same photo that was used on Gamble’s 1974 card, and I love anything to do with 1974 Topps. Here’s a comparison of the two:

The way that 21st Century Topps cropped the photo off-center and cropping out part of Gamble’s hands makes me think they really wanted to keep that weird shadow in the lower right out of the Archives Snapshot card.

This B.J. Surhoff card may not be the most exciting photo, especially when compared to Oscar Gamble, but I love me some Surhoff so this was eagerly sought out for my collection.

Finally, to round out the two-card Mets team set (along with Michael Conforto which I’d featured before), here’s a lovely Jacob deGrom:

For the record, here’s the Conforto… I featured this card back in January.

There are still a couple of cards from this set that I’d like to pick up (Cal Ripken leaps to mind), but I really was hoping that there’d be another set this year that would build on last year’s… Maybe it’s been delayed because Topps is feverishly working on how many cards of Aaron Judge they can work into it.

More 1975 Customs: Mets Scattered On The Four Winds

Once again, I’m doing some 1975 customs as a “proof of concept” for a project I’ve got going on this winter. This time around, I’m featuring players who started the season with the Mets but are now elsewhere.

Before we get into the customs, here’s a bit of trivia I picked up watching a nationally-televised Mets game (FS1, I think… maybe ESPN):
How many players from this year’s opening day starting lineup are currently on the Mets active roster?

While you think about that, here are the customs along with the transactions in chronological order:

July 27th; Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for Drew Smith.

July 31st; Addison Reed to the Boston Red Sox for Jamie Callahan (who just got called up) and two minor leaguers

August 9th; Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians for a minor leaguer

August 12th; Neil Walker to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later

August 19th; Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a PTBNL (which a day later became Jacob Rhame, also a September call-up)

August 19th; Rene Rivera claimed on waivers by the Chicago Cubs

Answer to the trivia: Two of the nine Mets from the opening day starting lineup are currently active and with the Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes.

Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard are on the DL and the other five players are shown above (with the exception of reliever Addison Reed, of course).

Random Team Review: 1974 Topps Texas Rangers

After moving from Washington to Dallas for the 1972 season, the Texas Rangers lost 100 and 105 games in their first two seasons.  In 1974 the team turned it around and went 84-76, finishing in second place in the A.L. West, 5.0 games behind the eventual World Champion Oakland A’s.

The Rangers were managed by Billy Martin, who took over late in 1973 after being fired by the Detroit Tigers.

Despite his success in 1974, Martin didn’t last through the 1975 season, the third time in his managerial career he went from fiery to fired.

Billy Martin wins this team’s “Notable Airbrushing” award;  you can see that he’s actually wearing a Tigers jersey.

BEST PITCHER
Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins went 14-16, 3.89 as a 30-year-old with the Cubs in 1973.  The Cubs traded him to Texas for then-minor-leaguer Bill Madlock and Vic Harris.  Fergie reacted by going 25-12, 2.82.

Jenkins finished 2nd to Catfish Hunter in Cy Young Voting and 5th in A.L. MVP voting.  He’d fall back off again in 1975 and would get traded to the Red Sox after that season.

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
No arguments against Jeff Burroughs as the team’s best offensive player.  I’d mentioned that Fergie Jenkins was 5th in MVP voting?  Well, Burroughs was the MVP.

Burroughs lead the league with 118 RBI and batted .301 with 33 doubles, 2 triples and 25 homers.

BEST ROOKIE
Well, this is more “Best Rookie Story” than “Best Rookie”.  David Clyde was a Texas high school pitching phenomenon who was drafted first overall by the Rangers and went straight into the majors to pitch for a team desperate for a box office draw.

While he pitched an 8 K 1-hitter in his debut, he was inconsistent in his career and you can’t help but wonder how his career would’ve played out if he were allowed to develop in the minors.

BEST PLAYER NOT ON A 1974 CARD
It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized how award-winning the Rangers were in 1974.  Mike Hargrove was the 1974 A.L. Rookie of the Year (George Brett was 3rd in voting) and, as you can see, got a little Topps trophy on his 1975 card.

In his rookie season, Hargrove batted .323 with 57 runs and  66 RBI

BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO
No deliberating on this one… this card is easily my favorite in this team set.

Check this out… on August 30, 1974 Dave Nelson walked to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second while Cesar Tovar was at bat, stole third while Jeff Burroughs was at bat and then stole home while Mike Hargrove was at bat.  At the end of the inning the Rangers had scored one run on no hits and no errors.

BEST CARTOON
This is from Jim Shellenback’s card:

BEST NAME
Jim Gogolewski  (Yes, the top left corner is missing… looks like I should upgrade this card)

“BEFORE HE WAS WHO HE WAS” GUY
Current Phillies manager Pete Mackanin’s rookie card came after he appeared in 44 games in 1973.  He’d only appear in two games in 1974 and would get traded to the Expos after the season.

This card features Mackanin’s only cardboard with the Rangers, Manny Trillo’s only card with the A’s, and John Gamble’s only card, period (he appeared in 13 career games, all before this card came out) .

Dave Chalk appeared on a bunch of cards with the Angels… the spoilsport.

MOST CONSISTENT (IN A WAY) PITCHER
Jim Bibby won 19 games in 1974… and lost 19 games as well.  41 starts, 38 decisions, 11 complete games, 2 shutouts.

Bibby was originally signed by the Mets but went to the Cardinals in a 1971 8-player trade which included such luminaries as Art Shamsky, Jim Beauchamp and Chuck Taylor.  Bibby served in Vietnam, no-hit the A’s in 1973, was part of a trade which brought Gaylord Perry from Cleveland to Texas, and started Games 4 and 7 for the Pirates in the 1979 World Series (getting a no-decision in both games).

Bibby’s brother Henry played in the NBA from 1972 to 1981 and his nephew Mike (Henry’s son) played in the NBA from 1998 to 2012.

Saturday Side Trip: Track #8 From The Beatles FrankenAlbums

As many of you know by now, I’m applying the “FrankenSet” concept to Beatles albums and creating a Beatles FrankenAlbum containing the (subjectively) best song for each track number. I also have a “covers album” in the works, and voting on the Shlabotnik Report’s readers’ FrankenAlbum, and images from the 1993 River Group “The Beatles Collection” card set… like this one:

Recapping the voting from last week… George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun” narrowly beat out George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

Here’s where we stand after seven tracks:

My FrankenAlbum:

  1. Help
  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
  4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. And I Love Her
  6. I Am The Walrus
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love

Your FrankenAlbum:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Something
  3. I’m Only Sleeping
  4. Medley: Nowhere Man / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  5. Medley: And I Love Her / I’ll Follow The Sun / Think For Yourself / Octopus’s Garden
  6. Medley: I Am The Walrus / Let It Be
  7. Here Comes The Sun

My Favorite Covers FrankenAlbum:

  1. “Come Together” by Aerosmith
  2. “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
  3. “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Hooters
  4. “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” by Fats Domino
  5. “Sexy Sadie” by Phish
  6. “Tell Me Why” by The Beach Boys
  7. “She Said She Said” by Gov’t Mule

If you want to see the prior posts, you can click on the “Beatles FrankenAlbum” link at the bottom of this post.

As before, I’m seeding the tracks in alphabetical order (highest vs. lowest, second-highest vs. second-lowest, etc.) OK, let’s start off the tournament…

White-Album Play-In Round:
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (Disk 1) vs. “Revolution 1” (Disk 2)
“Happiness” is sort of a preview of Side 2 of Abbey Road in that it’s a pastiche of different song bits combined into a song.

For those of you who only know one version of “Revolution”, that’s the single version. “Revolution 1” is the same song, a bit more acoustic, slowed down and with a few “Shoo-be-doo-wops” thrown in for good measure. The video for “Revolution” is a combination of both versions; it’s largely the same as the single version, but with the “Shoo-be-doo-wops” and “Don’t you know that you can’t count me out (in)” of the album version.

Ah, what the heck, here’s the video:

“Revolution 9” is another thing entirely; we’ll address that when the time comes.
WINNER: “Revolution 1”


Round One:

“Any Time At All” (A Hard Day’s Night) vs. “Roll Over Beethoven” (With The Beatles)
WINNER: “Roll Over Beethoven”

“Because” (Abbey Road) vs. “Revolution 1” (White Album)
I’ve said before that my favorite period of Beatledom is the Help / Rubber Soul / Revolver triumvirate…. But Side 2 of Abbey Road is right up there as well.  “Because” has the harmonies, but what I find interesting is that there’s synthesizer on there – at the time a very expensive instrument – and the Beatles use it in a way where it doesn’t sound dated today.
WINNER: “Because”

“Eight Days A Week” (Beatles For Sale) vs. “Within You, Without You” (Sgt. Pepper)
I really like the “Love” album’s mash-up of “Within You, Without You” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”.  This has nothing to do with the matter at hand, but I just figured I’d mention it.
WINNER: Eight Days A Week

“Act Naturally” (Help) vs. “What Goes On” (Rubber Soul)
Ooh, this is a challenge for me. I’m not a huge Ringo fan, especially country-fried Ringo. I’ll go with “What Goes On” because it’s an original instead of a cover.
WINNER: “What Goes On”

“I’ve Got A Feeling” (Let It Be) vs. “Good Day Sunshine” (Revolver)
Today’s British English lesson:  “I’ve Got A Feeling” includes the lines “Everybody had a good year, everybody let their hair down, everybody pulled their socks up, everybody put their foot down”.

According to the Cambridge Online Dictionary, to “pull your socks up” means “to make an effort to improve your work or behaviour because it is not good enough”, and they give the example “He’s going to have to pull his socks up if he wants to stay in the team.”

The dictionary lists it as “UK Informal”, but I’ve known my friend from South Africa to use this phrase.
WINNER: “I’ve Got A Feeling”

“Strawberry Fields Forever” (Magical Mystery Tour) vs. “Love Me Do” (Please Please Me)
Whether you prefer “I buried Paul” or “cranberry sauce”, I’ve got to go with Strawberry Fields Forever.
WINNER: “Strawberry Fields Forever”


Round Two:
“Roll Over Beethoven” vs. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
WINNER: “Strawberry Fields Forever”

“Because” vs. “I’ve Got A Feeling”
A tough decision was involved, but y’know… I’ve got a feeling.
WINNER: “I’ve Got A Feeling”

“Eight Days A Week” vs. “What Goes On”
Under a different tournament seeding, “What Goes On” would not have gotten this far.
WINNER: “Eight Days A Week”


Championship round: “Strawberry Fields Forever” vs. “I’ve Got A Feeling” vs. “Eight Days A Week”
I love all three songs in this championship round in different ways;  Because of the vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, I think I’m going to go Strawberry.
WINNER: “Strawberry Fields Forever”


Cover Version FrankenAlbum

This week’s pick is not only a good version of “Because”, it’s a very interesting version (and a relatively recent one at that).

“Porque” (Because) by Grupo Fantasma

And now it’s voting time!