Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Tribe Called Quest, BBM, SNL, /5, /50, and Alfredo Simon's Old Name

I still have quite a few more cards to post from my last COMC purchase.  Here's a hodgepodge post to get the random stuff and one-off stuff out of the way.  So let's check it out!

First up is a "rookie card" of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the greatest rap groups of all time:
Fuji posted a few of these a while back, and it was cool timing because I had just grabbed this card a few days before.  These guys are on constant rotation on my Spotify playlist, and their album Midnight Marauders is one of my favorites of all time, so it's cool to honor them in cardboard form.  Also RIP Phife Dawg - it's been a hot minute now since he passed, but Phife was a big part of Tribe and so it was a shame to see "The Five Foot Assassin" succumb this year in his battle with diabetes.

Completely changing gears (which will happen a lot in this post), we next have two cards of Jose Lopez from 2015 BBM.  One is a base card and the other is some kind of insert:
Lopez has been in Japan for a few years now, and so once a year I'll check for his BBM cards on COMC or Ebay and they usually are pretty cheap, which is great.  He's back to hitting 20-25 homeruns a year in Japan like he did at his 2009 MLB peak, so it's great to know that Jose is finding success overseas these days.

When I was buying the Tribe card, I decided to look for cards of different celebrities.  I found a bunch of Bill Murray cards in an SNL set, and decided to go all in and just buy a bunch I liked:
Murray was on SNL before my time, so two of the sketches are kind of foreign to me, but the bottom left card references his lounge singer character, who is simply amazing.  I also missed Land Shark, which is the Chevy Chase card in the middle, but my father-in-law loves it and I like Chevy's work like Fletch even if he is a dick in real life.

The four remaining cards are just a nice cross-section of 90's SNL.  Obviously Chris Farley's Chippendales sketch is the classic, but Mike Myers' Lothar of the Hill People, Rob Schneider's Makin' Copies Guy, and Jon Lovitz's Devil are all amazing too.  I used to watch SNL (and Kids in the Hall) after school every single day, so it's cool to have cardboard to put with those memories.

Just a few cards left.  The next two are just nice PC gets, with one being /5 and the other being /50:
Dantzler is the /5, it's a National stamped card (you can see the stamp to the right of his butt).  And then Shantee Orr's card is a gold parallel /50.  Both very nice.

Which leaves us with a card featuring Alfredo Simon's old name - Carlos Cabrera:
Simon had one excellent year in Cincinnati a few years ago, so excellent that he ended up getting traded to the Tigers for Eugenio Suarez.  He then was awful, so awful that he is now back in Cincinnati (though on the DL).  So he's pretty forgettable to most, but my wife and I watched him pitch a few times so I pondered getting an autograph of his.

That would've been it, but I did a little research on him first, and the guy's history is SO SKETCHY.  Here are the weird details:
- I think most people know that Simon supposedly killed a guy once in the Dominican Republic.  If you didn't know, he shot bullets into the air, and the charge was that they landed and killed one guy while wounding his brother at a New Year's Eve party in 2011.  He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but was eventually acquitted.
- Simon was sued for $15 million dollars by a woman in April of 2014 who claimed he raped her.  Charges were never filed, but there's supposedly still a civil suit going on out there.
- Finally, Simon was signed by the Phillies in 1999 as Carlos Cabrera, 21 months younger than Alfredo Simon.  He was in the Phillies organization until 2004, when they realized who he really was, and then they traded him away with Ricky Ledee for Felix Rodriguez.  So...there's that.

Anyways, after all that weirdness I decided I didn't want an autograph.  But I did want one of his pre-name change cards, because that's kind of random.  So now I have one!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ezzard Charles, and a Little Cincinnati History

Since moving to Cincinnati, I've always been amazed with the interesting street names and murals we have around town.  There's a street in my neighborhood called Mad Anthony, and a mural a few miles away for Camp Washington that features, among other things, George Washington in a dress.  

There's countless other examples of neat names and images like these, but one I noticed that has both a street name and a mural is Ezzard Charles, whom I had no knowledge of prior to moving to Cincinnati.  I found out he was a boxer, and that he had some cards to his name, so I decided to grab a few and tell his tale, which is both triumphant and tragic.  

(This is a postcard I grabbed off COMC)

I'll start with the triumphant.  Charles came out of Cincinnati, and was known as "The Cincinnati Cobra" for the way he fought in the ring.  He finished with a career record of 93-25-1, with 58 knockouts, and is perhaps best known for his two battles with Rocky Marciano in the 50's.  Their first match went the full 15 rounds and was decided on points, which was the only time a boxer ever brought Marciano to 15 rounds (Charles lost the match, but many think it could've gone either way).  In the rematch, Charles nearly ended things with a punch that broke Marciano's nose in half and wouldn't stop bleeding, but Charles was knocked out in the 8th, resulting in another Marciano win.  Regardless of the two losses, Charles earned a lot of respect from those matches, as well as his reigns as NBA Heavyweight Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, and wins against Joe Louis, Charley Burley, and Archie Moore.

(This is a sign off I-75 in Cincinnati)

As for the tragedy, Charles beat a man named Sam Baroudi in a fight in 1948, several years into his budding career, in 10 rounds.  Baroudi ended up dying as a result of the injuries that he suffered in the match, and Charles was so distraught that he almost gave up boxing.  He continued on, and obviously had some success with his titles and all, but many in the industry say he was never quite the same Cobra as before, as he lost a bit of his edge following the Baroudi bout.  Charles was still one of the best boxers of all time with that fight, so who's to tell what he could've been without the Baroudi fight in his mind.

(This is a regular trading card I grabbed off COMC)

Later in his carer, Charles faced financial struggles, and so he continued to fight to earn money even after he was out of his peak.  He lost 13 of his last 23 matches, as he was no longer the fighter he once was, and even later in life he ended up being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.  Disabled and without any funds, a fundraiser was held for Charles late in his life, where many of his former opponents came to talk about how great he had been, and Marciano called Charles the bravest man he ever fought.  In the end, Charles died in a nursing home in Chicago at the age of 53.

(This is a photo of his mural in downtown Cincinnati)

Charles' later days were marred with financial woes and sickness, but his legacy as a boxer is one that continued on long after his death.  He was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, and has since been named as one of the best boxers of all-time by multiple publications.  He was even named the #1 light-heavyweight boxer of all time by several sources, showing just how talented Charles truly was as a fighter.

I'm proud to have a few cards of the Cincinnati legend now in my collection, and I'm hopeful his legacy in the sport will never be forgotten.  I'm also hopeful that some day we'll find a way to combat the terrible disease that is ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease.  RIP Ezzard Charles.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

An update on the Hunger Walk, Life, and the progress of my random patch collection

Man, I am just not blogging lately!  I blame a mix of things, but the chief two right now are having a summer job as a courier (I deliver letters 20-30 hours a week) and playing XBox One, specifically the game Overwatch.  So I'm getting paid in the morning and having fun playing XBox with my brothers at night, which is good stuff, but I'm blogging a lot less than I did last Summer.  Such is life I suppose.

Speaking of getting paid, I advertised for that Hunger Walk about a month back, and was fortunate to get contributions from a few people in the card blogging world.  The event itself was a blast - my wife and I are couch potatoes, so it was different to get out and walk around Cincinnati for a good cause.  There were thousands of people there, all starting down around Paul Brown Stadium (where the Bengals play) in Cincinnati.  We then did a three mile trail that went over a bridge, circled a fast food/retail area, and then went back over the bridge.  My wife and I took it pretty leisurely, just enjoying the day and the sights, and ended up finishing in just over an hour.  It definitely made me want to get out there and move more, and I'm hoping to get a better time next year by maybe jogging at least some of it!  So that was neat, and thanks again to those that donated and helped support the local Cincinnati food bank!

So other things have been going on, but I'm still collecting cards in the background too, so I'll finish with some words on that.  I recently made a few COMC shipments, and you'll see those over the rest of the Summer, but for this post I wanted to focus on my awesome patch collection, which is REALLY coming along (Here's a link to the full collection if you want to see it in all of its glory).  It's amazing how many cheap, quality patches you can find on COMC if you're persistent.  For instance, this Dontrelle Willis which was like $2.5:
I mean, LOOK AT THAT PATCH.  The silver is part of it, so it's four colors and four breaks, which is pretty amazing for less than $3. I grabbed a cool Dontrelle patch a while back for like $1.8, but it was only two colors so I resold it.  I'm glad I did, because I think this one is even nicer.

Another guy I wanted a patch of was Tim Salmon.  In the mid-90's I kind of remember him being what Mike Trout is now - a lone All Star surrounded by a team full of meh.  So I've been searching him every now and then for a while, and I finally found a patch that fit my need.  Check it out:
It's just two colors, but that's a freakin' Angel wing patch - which is amazing.  Any time you can find a logo patch for cheap (I think this was in the $4ish range), you definitely have to bite.  I'm finding lots of cool cheap relics of 90's stars like this, and hopefully I'll continue to have good success in the future with other guys like Randy Johnson and Mo Vaughn.

That's it for today, just some life updates and a few nice swatches.  It's time to head back to Overwatch and win some matches!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

No more base Senecas EVER!

It's finally happened.  It took a while, but I was able to find the upper level booster tickets from 2003 Fleer Authentix.  The last non-numbered card I needed for his master set:
See where it says "upper level" in the middle?  My other one said lower level and had a different color.  This one is different!  YESSSSSSSSSSS!

I found it on COMC one was less than $5, and once I double checked to make sure it actually said upper level I snatched it up.  So lucky.

Every card of Seneca's that I still need is /100 or less, most /50 or less.  So here's where it gets really tricky.  But the collection must go on!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five new Seneca Customs from Blowout

These cards were a long time in the making, as both the designer and card builder were going through a lot of life changes in the process of these cards.  They probably took about three weeks to fully design and then building was delayed for like five months due to the guy moving and changing jobs.  But I'm a patient guy, and the cards are amazing, so let's just look at them since they're here now!

The idea for these cards was to put Seneca in a few more "vintage" sets that I like.  Now I know the 1994-2002 era isn't really vintage, but it's cards that were cool to me when I was young, so I liked the idea of getting Seneca in some of those sets.  I also wanted to get more customs of Seneca with his lesser known clubs.  So definitely no Seahawks allowed, and ideally I'd end up with a Packers card, 49ers card, and Saints card (and you'll see I did).

The first one is my favorite given the incredible level of detail on the front and back.  It's kind of a hybrid of 1997 and 1998 ultra, with the 1998 ultra Basketball Gold Medallion front, and looks like this:
These are some great shots of Seneca, and I love the way that the script came out on the front.  I say the card is a hybrid of 1997 and 1998 because 1998 had the career highlights and white shading for the stats, while 1997 didn't have lines differentiating between teams within the stats.  It's great having a card that shows Seneca's entire careers stats, and it's also really neat that the designer added in the fact that Seneca was the first ever African American starting QB for the Packers.  Great card.

The next card is an homage to 1994 Collector's Choice, and after going through several signature colors we settled on the silver signature edition.  Here's the front and back of the Saints card:
We tried red and blue for the signature, but they both looked way too bold and didn't really work out.  The back is more the designer's than the actual sets, but I LOVE it because the stats are so particular.  Thing is, Seneca played only one preseason game for the Saints, and this back mentions not only the stats for that game, but also the date Seneca was cut by the Saints.  That's some impressive attention to detail.

The next card is from one of my all time favorite sets, 1995 Topps.  We went with the Cyberstats parallel, because then it was possible to have fun making up amazing stats:
After a humdrum 2011, Seneca EXPLODED in 2012 with a 92% completion percentage, 62:3 TD:INT ratio, and an additional 8 touchdowns rushing.  In reality, Seneca was a backup who didn't play at all in 2012, but had he played these very well might have been the stats he ended up with.  Obviously.

I'll put the two Browns cards together, with this other card being a nod to 2002 Pacific Adrenaline.  I've always loved the frantic blurriness of these fronts combined with the simplicity of the backs, so it was great to finally get a custom from this set:
Originally the designer messed up the height and weight on the back, and I almost kept it that way as an error card but in the end had him change it.  I also really dig the nod to the Seahawks on the back of the card - it's still a Browns card, but like with a lot of companies you still get that mismatch of uniforms due to it being a better shot for the card overall.

The last card is the 49ers custom.  It's a reference to 1998 Score, and I thin the color scheme goes very well together:
These Score backs have a lot of text going on, and the end result was a nice little writeup of Seneca's entire career.  I kind of like this card as a final card for Seneca, showcasing one of his final jerseys while also summing up what ended up being one heck of a career for the guy.

With these cards, I now have a whopping 14 customs in my Seneca Wallace collection!  It's fun to see what people can whip up while filling team gaps that the major card companies missed, so I'm sure I'll add more as time goes by!