Surprised By A Line Drive Or Three

I bought a lot of Line Drive cards in the early 1990’s, but they were mostly of cards like this one:
1991 Line Drive Charlie Manuel

I never realized that there was anything other than minor league cards sold under the “Line Drive” brand until I stumbled across these cards while shopping on COMC:

1991 Line Drive Tommie Agee
1991 Line Drive Tommie Agee back

I was an active collector in 1991, and I do not remember these cards at all.  Even now, I still don’t know much about this set.  Was it sold in packs?  Was it regional?

1991 Line Drive Davey Johnson

“Fifty cards of retired players, put out by Impel Marketing”.  That’s pretty much all I know about this set.  If you Google on “1991 Line Drive”, most of the hits will be for the minor league sets, with an occasional “Collect-A-Books”  hit thrown in for good measure.

1991 Line Drive Jerry Grote

Does anybody out there remember buying these cards in 1991?

Heartbreaker, Your Time Has Come, Can’t Take Your Evil Ways! Go Away, Heartbreaker…

Duh duh duh duh-nuh-nuh




…So, I’m not too happy with this guy:

2005 Topps Pristine Brian Roberts

My wife has been a dedicated Orioles fan since 1983. During that time, she’s had two favorite players: Cal Ripken and…

2001 Leaf Limited Brian Roberts

She’s been a fan of Brian’s pretty much since he came up;  she still hates Jerry Hairston because back then he was the guy who stood between Brian and a starting job.

She stuck with him through concussions and injuries.  She stuck with him though steroid allegations.  She’s gone through numerous black and orange t-shirts with “ROBERTS 1” on the back.

We entered this offseason knowing that Brian could be gone, but hoping that he’d sign some incentive-laden contract with the Orioles.

I always figured that if he did leave, he’d end up with some team who might benefit from an upgrade and have little to lose… Maybe the Twins or Cubs?

2006 Topps Finest Brian Roberts

But when I saw that negotiations were happening with the Yankees, I said — Well, I try to keep this blog family friendly, so I won’t share what I said.

I wasn’t there when my wife found out, but she told me that she let out a very loud gasp of disbelief.

I mean, it’s one thing to leave Baltimore…

It’s another thing to go to the – pause while I spit on the ground – YANKEES…

It’s even worse to know that, according to some sources, he didn’t even give the Orioles a chance to match the relatively modest contract.

I dunno, maybe this was an unspoken mutual parting.  Maybe the Orioles pulled him aside, wished him well and made it clear that he shouldn’t let the front door hit him on the backside.

All I know is that my wife is very upset and sad… “Heartbroken” may be too strong a word, but I haven’t ruled it out.  Last night I gave her some 2013 Topps Series 2 wax packs to open (because she likes busting some wax now and then) and she pulled this card:

2013 Topps Brian Roberts

Before this happened, she would’ve let out an exuberant yell after pulling a Brian, even if it was a base card;  last night she just looked really dejected and said “It’s not even a good picture of him”.

…and it’s not.  Do we want to know what Bryce Harper is doing to Brian here?

I know baseball is a business.  I know players have to do what’s best for them.

…But come on, dude.  The freakin’ Yankees?

…And it’s not even like you can say he did it for the money.  $2 Million plus incentives?  That’s not “doing it for the money”.

I hope he ends up with a uniform number like 43.

I hope that, if he “has always dreamed of turning two with Jeter”, the two of them are never healthy at the same time.

I hope he realizes that if things go badly, he’s going to hear it from the fans and get mocked on the back page of the NY Post and Daily News.

I hope that the Yankees continue to get old and end up in last place looking up at the first place Orioles.  Yeah, yeah, this is my hope every year, but more so this year.  This year…. it’s personal.


Right, Soooooooo… Where Was I?

Those of you who do all their blog surfing through blogrolls might’ve wondered where I’ve been.  Truth is, I’ve been here but the proverbial “technical difficulties” have kept me from appearing on blogrolls.  I’ve been posting at least once a day for all of November, so if you thought I fell off the face of the earth, you might want to go back and check out what you’ve missed.

I’d like to thank the esteemed Mr. Nachos Grande for his help on the matter.  It looks like pasting documents straight from Word into the post was causing problems.  Why it hadn’t caused similar problems in the previous 2 years I’d been doing the exact same thing is beyond me… I guess things reached critical mass or something.  For now I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the problem’s been sorted out.

Before I move on, let’s pause for a brief image…

1992 Post Cal Ripken

For the past few days, I’ve been spending a heck of a lot of time on card-related activities that didn’t involve touching any cards or writing about them.  Aside from obsessing over my blogroll issues, I’ve also been getting ready for COMC’s Black Friday.  I’ve been updating my wantlists for a day of shopping, and I’ve also been pricing the nearly 500 cards that just entered my inventory.

COMC is encouraging all of it’s sellers to have a sale for this weekend, and I’ll be participating.  They’ll also have shipping without paying the handling charge, give store credit for buying and shipping a minimum amount of purchases, and be giving away Cyber Monday shopping sprees.

Among the cards I’ve just added to my inventory are oddballs like the Cal pictured above, plus vintage cards, parallels and inserts (many from 2013), manupatches, vintage, rookies and pre-rookies, oddballs, 1970′s O-Pee-Chee baseball, 1976 SSPC, hockey, basketball, football, even Donruss Truckin’ cards.  Check it out here, but you might want to wait until Friday to actually start  your shopping.

…and don’t hesitate to make me an offer;  I’ve got 490 cards I priced based on half of book value;  I don’t know if I’ll have a chance before Friday to check for entry mistakes or whether 50% book is reasonable, so… like I said, make an offer.  I’m going to be shopping on Friday, and checking my account regularly over the weekend.

If anybody else is selling on COMC, feel free to leave your seller ID in the comments;  when I can, I always like to buy from people I know.

Pause for a breath and another image…

1971 Topps Gary Gentry

Yesterday at lunch I bought a 100-card repack and went through the cards while sitting in my car, but the cards are sitting on my kitchen table, still in the torn-open plastic shell case.  That’s the kind of week it’s been — I didn’t even get around to pulling out the 1988 Donruss cards and throwing them in the recycling!

I plan to be back to business as usual tomorrow… Maybe I’ll get a chance to make the Ian Kinsler custom to go with the Prince Fielder I posted on Monday.

I hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving and a happy Hannukah.  Drive safe if you’re driving.

My Arm Hurts

My arm has been bothering me lately, and since it’s the arm I “mouse with”, I figure it’s from spending too much time in front of computers.

So today I’m just going to shut up and share some assorted images of cards I bought at a recent show.

1980 Topps Carlton Fisk

1982 Donruss Lenn Sakata

1991 Stadium Club Kevin Elster

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites George Brett

1965 Topps New York Mets

Wrapping Up My 2013 TSR Custom Set And Looking Forward To 2014

Now that the World Series is over, now that Koji Uehara and some guys beat Carlos Beltran and some other guys …which is largely what the World Series ended up being for me…  now that the Postseason is over, we can get on with the business of the offseason…  Manager hirings can get announced, awards can be awarded, free agents can be free and so on.

With all the offseason movement will come my 2nd annual “Hot Stove” custom set, which I previewed back in September… but before we get to that, I need to put my regular “TSR” set to bed for another year and start looking forward to 2014.

2013 TSR #708 - Ben Revere

A lot of the customs I made this year ended up being a case of “Oh, that photo will work really well with my design”. Having the team name at the top and behind the player’s head, bat, glove, etc. made for a theme in and of itself.

2013 TSR #502 Lorenzo Cain

I’m far enough along with next year’s design to know that “Photos which go with the design” won’t be anywhere near as much of a factor next year. That being said, I kinda liked having a theme to the cards I made, and I’d like to carry that forward in some other way.

2013 TSR #715 - Hanley Ramirez

I could always do players from my favorite teams (Mets and Orioles), but I honestly like making at least one card for every team;  I think it makes it more fun for me and for you.

I could also do something along the lines of a “Player Of The Week”, which wouldn’t necessarily be the best player of the week, but more the player about whom I have something to say.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you think!

Speaking of having something to say, I have something to say about the last three customs…

I made this Jim Leyland custom in the middle of  September, mainly to make sure that I had a Tigers custom in my “inventory”.  Little did I know it would be Leyland’s final custom (sniff).

2013 TSR #643 - Jim Leyland

Mrs. Shlabotnik looooooooooves Brian Roberts, and I would be ill-advised to ignore that fact when making customs… especially when he’s going to be a free agent.  I truly hope that he and the Orioles can come to some sort of incentive-laden agreement;  it would be too weird to see Brian in another uniform.

2013 TSR #701 - Brian Roberts

Finally, a sort of tradition I’ve established is to make a custom of “myself” which truly embodies the unique blend of grace, skill and sheer athleticism that I bring to any sport.

2013 TSR #792 - Joe Shlabotnik

…and that’s a wrap for the 2013 TSR set!  I hope you’ve all enjoyed them, and I hope you have a happy and safe Halloween!

Pack Animal! — 2013 Topps Update

A lot of you consider Topps Update to be SSDW – “Same Stuff, Different Wrapper”.  For others it means updated base cards, different subsets and a couple of different inserts.

…And for bloggers, it means a day of not having to think about what to write… and that made the impromptu, hasty trip to Target completely worthwhile.

For those who haven’t seen these in the store yet, this is what the wrapper looks like.
2013 Topps Update Wrapper
Unfortunately, Matt Harvey here is as close as I got to getting a Met, but I did get some Orioles.

Topps likes to load the Update set with rookie cards, like promising Orioles rookie Henry Urrutia.
2013 Topps Update Henry Urrutia
I’ve seen Urrutia play in AA, I’ve seen him play in the majors, and I’m still not sure how to pronounce his last name. Oo-roo-TEE-ah? Oo-ROO-tee-ah? I certainly can’t count on the Orioles announcers, who never met a Latino whose name they didn’t mangle. I tried going to, the official Spanish-language MLB site, but my meager Spanish knowledge – thanks to a former co-worker I know more “bad words” than anything  – prevented me from navigating the site to find out if there should be accent marks over any part of his last name.


Along with rookie cards, we also have rookie debut cards, which allows Topps to get more Rookie Card logos in there… even though I wouldn’t think that anybody considers these to be rookie cards.
2013 Topps Update Gerrit Cole
The “Rookie Debut” text looks black in this scan, but it’s silver foil.

A new insert also seems to focus on rookies…
2013 Topps Update Franchise Forerunners Miller Gibson

There’s also the usual cluttery subsets of All-Stars and Home Run Derby participants. This card confused me briefly because I didn’t see the All-Star logo on the card, but it gets lost in Darvish’s jersey.
2013 Topps Update Yu Darvish AS

You may have heard that the Update series is introducing 1971 Minis rather than extending the 1972 minis of the regular set.
2013 Topps Update 1971 Mini Stan Musial
I will now officially declare that minis have jumped the shark.

I generally don’t care for minis, but last year’s 1987 minis were OK. This year’s 1972 were “meh”, and when I saw this card I declared it “stupid”.

…Out loud, but it’s OK because I was sitting in my car in the Target parking lot.

Something about these minis just diminishes the 1971 design, one of my favorite designs of the 1970’s… and when 1971 Topps are diminished, aren’t we all diminished a little bit?

Yeah, I don’t like minis.

One last thing I ran across in my packs — there are also traded players!
2013 Topps Update Bud Norris
I know!!!!!

Remember when the set was called the “Traded” set?  Yeah, that was awesome…

So, yeah, that pretty much covers what I found.  I also got a couple of parallels, a “Chasing History” insert and a “Making Their Mark” insert, none of which I deemed worthy of scanning.

I’ll be buying more of this, but as is always the case with Topps Update, I’m really just looking for the base cards that do what the wrapper says they do – update the base set.  I want rookies I don’t already have, I want players in new uniforms. I can do without the clutter, except when its for a player I collect.

Joe Bought A Repack, And The Most Interesting Card He Got Was “Blank”…

The subject line should be read in the voice of the late Gene Rayburn, host of “Match Game”, the greatest game show the 1970’s had to offer.

The other morning I was feeling a little down… I’m not even sure why, but I just felt a bit dejected. Nobody was around at lunch, so I ate my sandwich and read a magazine.


That wasn’t working for me and since it was nice outside, I figured maybe I should go for a walk.


So what else was there to do? I drove over to the nearby Target and bought a repack.

Plenty of junk wax, of course. Only one Topps All-Star Glossy…
1989 Topps Glossy Gary Carter
…but if I’m only going to get one, at least it’s Gary Carter as a Met, and a card I needed.

I also got an Oriole knocked off of my very, very large wantlist:
1992 Upper Deck Gregg Olson

I got an autograph! Yay!
2005 Donruss Champions Autograph
This is the second autograph I’ve pulled from a repack in the past couple of months… Neither one was anybody I’m interested in, but I’ll take a signed card over another 1989 Fleer card any day.

As I was thumbing through all the junk wax, I ran across this:
Blank Cardboard #1

A blank piece of cardboard? WTF?

Then I turned it over…
Blank Cardboard #2

EXCELLENT!  A blank-front Dodgers Leaders card! Somebody in Q/A was snoozing on that day in 1989. This one’s definitely going in my 1989 binder!

I had been hoping for a Pirates/A’s World Series, but now my best-case scenario is Cardinals/Tigers… and to be honest, at this point I’m just hoping I don’t have to see the Red Sox & Dodgers, the matchup I least wanted to see.

Fox says they’d like to get they two biggest markets left, Boston vs. Los Angeles.

…or maybe Fox says “Ring-ding-ding-ding-ding-a-ding-a-ding…”

O Broder, What Art Thou?

So I was in Target during lunch yesterday, stocking up my “work pantry”, and I decided to check out the 100-card repacks on the way out. I know these repacks aren’t worth the money I’m putting into them, but they can be a fun diversion… or a Junk Wax Festival. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

My attention was caught by one repack which had this card on the back:
1990 Shanks Rookies Gary Sheffield

I thought “What the devil is that?”

Yeah, right. I really thought “What the @#%&*! is that?”, but I like writing “What the devil…” because it makes me sound like a scientist from a low-budget 1960’s science fiction movie. And there are worse things to be.

“I was a mathematician before I became a bad actor… That number is pi!”
(Let’s see if anyone gets THAT extremely obscure reference)

I kinda like the card, even if it is book-value worthless… as opposed to any other 1990 base card which has a book value only because Beckett has to give it SOME value.  The card sort of has a 1966 Topps bottom and a 1969 Topps circle.

Here’s the back to the esteemed Mr. Sheffield’s card:
1990 Shanks Rookies Sheffield back

“The Shanks Collection”, eh?  All right, if you say so.  I did some Googling on “1990 Shanks Collection” and all I got were some eBay listings.  I think this can be safely classified as a Broder.  You know, it’s been many years that I’ve been using the term “Broder” for an unlicensed-by-anybody card, but I’ve never seen an actual Broder.  Maybe someday…

UpdateBy “actual Broder”, I mean the original Broders, as opposed to cards which fall under the generic term “Broders”.

Wait a second, I hear a truck… Crap, I’ve got to put the recycling out by the curb.  I’ll be right back…

OK, sorry about that.

Well, you’re here and I’m here… Did you want to see what else I got in the repack?

I figure that, on the whole I got 10 dime-b0x needs for my $4, but I did well in terms of cards I actually want.  Here, let me show you…

I got this lovely George Foster Diamond King that’s been on my want list for… Oh, thirty years.

1983 Donruss George Foster DK

George Foster is one of a line of big-name players that the Mets brought in past their prime and who did just fine for the Mets but not anywhere close to the expectations of the fans who foolishly thought the Mets were acquiring a star player in his prime.

Moving right along…

Ahh… The elusive 1984 Donruss!  And it’s Shlabotnik favorite Benny Ayala!

1984 Donruss Benny Ayala

In 1974, Benny hit a homer in his first Major League at bat for the Mets.  This young Mets fan’s expectations of Benny were based on that random occurrence.  Silly me.  Anyway,  Benny had a 10-year career as a 4th outfielder, mainly with the  Orioles.

Jerry Willard!  A player I collect!  Wooooooooo!

1986 Donruss Jerry Willard

I saw Jerry play in the minor leagues, just in case you were wondering why someone would collect Jerry Willard cards.  I saw Jerry when he was in the Phillies system, but he traded to the Indians before he made it to the Majors.  This is why you shouldn’t get hung up on the fact that your local minor league team isn’t affiliated with a team you like… There’s always a decent chance that the guys you’re watching will make it with some other team.

Moving along… “Captain Kirk” McCaskill!  Another player I collect, even if it’s from the tremendously drab 1989 Fleer.

1989 Fleer Kirk McCaskill

I know we were meant to think “pinstripes”, but I’ve always thought “jail cell”.

Attica!  Attica!

Finally, I got this interesting TCMA “Baseball History” card of Jim DePalo.

1979 TCMA Baseball History Jim Depalo

Who is Jim DePalo?  If Baseball America had existed in the 1950’s, he might’ve been on the Yankees’ Top 10 Prospects list.  He peaked at AAA in 1956, going 13-5 for the Denver Bears.  I’m guessing that the TCMA guys found this photo and said “Hey, let’s add it to the set!”

1979 TCMA Baseball History Jim Depalo back

Aw, hell, look at the time!  I spent too much time on this, I’ve got to go shower.

…And thus ends my early morning free-form blog odyssey…  “On the bass:  Derek Smalls, he wrote this…”


No Rhyme Or Reason #1: A Clearinghouse Of Cards, Comments & Questions

My local Walgreen’s had 2012 Topps Series 1 packs on clearance for $0.49 apiece, in case anyone might want to check their own Walgreen’s.  I bought 4 packs for grins, and for my $2 I knocked 4 base cards off my wantlist and got one of last year’s “1987 minis” of Andrew McCutchen… So the ROI wasn’t there for me.  Maybe it will be for you.

1988 Big Baseball John Franco

A few weeks ago I had a baseball game on the TV in the background, and I heard someone mention Barney Jackson DeJesus. Just as I was starting to wonder who the heck Mr. Barney J. DeJesus is, I realized that they were giving the three Cubs coming to bat in the next half-inning: Darwin Barney, Edwin Jackson, David DeJesus.

Are hand-collated sets a thing of the past?  That question occurred to me when I was at a show a couple of weeks ago.  I walked the floor and saw hand-collated sets from 10-20 years ago, but I didn’t see anything more recent.  Has it gotten to the point where the only people interested in sets are the ones who want to build it themselves?

If you ever want to look around the showroom of a car dealer without being bothered by a salesman, tell them “I’m just waiting on my wife, she’s picking her car up from service”.  I did that the other day, and I was waiting on my wife, but I instantly became invisible to the salesmen.  I will keep that little trick in mind for the future.

Has “retail” Pro Debut ever surfaced in a retail store?

You can’t read the last name on this scan, but it’s Manny Machado.
2012 Pro Debut Manny Machado

The San Jose Sharks’ new uniforms are boring.  Not quite as boring as the generic snooze-a-aplooza that the Phoenix Coyote’s wear, but pretty darn close.

More Backs Of 1993 Leaf Cards

Over the past week or two I’ve been focusing my purging/organizing efforts on my Leaf cards. In the process, I found more 1993 Leaf cards, and I’ve got a better idea of where I stand with my new goal of collecting one of each cityscape found on the backs of the cards. We’ve got 4 more cities today…


1993 Leaf back Greg Hibbard


I’ve been to Toronto, so I know this is City Hall.
1993 Leaf back Juan Guzman


1993 Leaf back Cal Eldred


This is part of the National Aquarium in Baltimore… Doesn’t look like an aquarium, does it? If you’re in Baltimore, the Aquarium is definitely worth checking out. If you’re going to check it out, it’s definitely worth buying tickets in advance, even if it’s just a matter of buying tickets for later in the day… The wait can get pretty long on weekends.
1993 Leaf back Glenn Davis