Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Great Day to be a Troll...

One year ago today a baby boy named Atlas Ray was born and your friend The Troll became a Grandpa... Yeah, this time last year the wife and I were in Oklahoma City visiting with my son Zadeh and his awesome other half Holly... Y'all might remember there was a contest involved. I wanted to celebrate getting my 100,000th hit AND the birth of my grandchild. This time last year I was a much better blogger.

I wrote often and had a ton of friends and followers and I wanted to say thanks. We gave away a trio of Hall of Fame cards from 1956 Topps including this card of Al Kaline. I think there were around 150 entries - it was pretty awesome. There will probably be another contest here in Trollville very soon. You see, I have this 1887 Allen and Ginter mini that I am itching to giveaway. I just haven't decided how just yet, but I am open to suggestions... So, happy birthday to you Atlas Ray! You and your Daddy make me SOOO happy!!! Oh... By the way - I am still looking for the 2010 Allen and Ginter Lords of Olympus mini of Atlas... Anybody got a spare???

Today being Atlas' B-Day is more than enough to make today a GREAT day to be a Troll... Today could have been better - the wife and I are on opposite schedules today and I miss her a bit, BUT I did get to see my Father (shown here on Graduation Day with my tall Wife and my short Mom) which is always a treat. It didn't end there either... I decided to stop at the Post Office and I had a surprise package from the Legendary Cardboard Don himself, Senor Wicked Ortega... Wicked and I have both slowed down our collections a bit and we have gone far too long between trades... I have a stack of cards with his name on it that has been growing for months, but I have been SO LAZY with my trading of late... Anyway - A package from the Cardboard Don will make anyone's day and he certainly made my day greater!!! Thanks sooo much Wicked! I will post this trade up soon, I have updated my wantlists - he punished my insert needs for 2010 Topps and 2011 Topps and hooked it up for my Allen and Ginter Frankenset (which I have thankfully been recieving quite a few minis of late...). There were a ton of GREAT cards included, but the one I am gonna show right now is the FINAL Kimball Champion card I needed to finish off 2011 Topps Series 1. I have been begging for card #25 of Vlad Guerrero for months and it is finally safe in the binder. I do seriously plan on posting this trade, but I know my history so I can't resist posting a couple right now... I LOVE the Vintage Legends Cards from 2010 Topps. Ty Cobb styled like 1956 Topps - how cool is that??? I need MANY, but I crossed off a few today... One series that I didn't rip any of, but kinda wish I did is Gypsy Queen. I LOVE the design on every card I have seen so far including my very first mini card of my FAVORITE Rays pitcher, the pride of Lake Wales, Florida - Wade Davis... Thanks again to the Cardboard Don, you rule my friend! Thanks for reading. Much more to come - stay tuned! Oh, I couldn't resist going old school with a photo of my boy Zadeh from Christmas 1996... Speaking of old school... Check out this young Troll trailing Patriots back-up QB Doug Flutie... And then stealing his shoulder pads, ha! Go Rays! Happy Holidays to All!!! troll out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Plagiarizing Thorzul, Fanning Manny, Making Me Sing, Sparkling Cards, A LENGTHY Ramble Troll Style...

(In the event that you don't feel like wasting your time reading the next 4000 or so words - ALL of the non-Rays cards in this post are for trade) So, it has been OVER a month since my last post and that wasn’t a REAL TROLL post. Time HAD been very limited, so I had that as an excuse, but the past 2 nights the wife has been away at work and I have had nothing but time. Last night I stared at a blank screen for a while. I made excuses in my head and put the pressure on myself. As a blogger I have been known to write lengthy posts on a daily basis and every time I go a week without posting I feel like I need to write a LONG post explaining why I haven’t. I have written that post several times (without actually posting it). I have written lengthy drafts thanking all the people who have sent me cards this past month, I have drafts explaining what I plan on posting in the near future, I have drafts of trade bait which try to ignore my absence and I have a draft from last night explaining that I have writers block in over 3000 words. None of these are really blog worthy just yet, but be warned that they may see the light of day.

Truth is this long absence has brought out a degree of writer’s block in me. More a lack of confidence than a block, more of an “I have more sh%t going on in my head than I have time to post it”, but it resonates in a block of sorts when I DO have the time. One thing I have learned about “blogger’s block” is that the best way to cure it is to steal someone else’s ideas, BUT don’t make it too obvious. My lack of time has limited my blog reading, so some days I ONLY get to read the Night Owl and Play at the Plate and since you now know that I can’t steal their ideas. No, I should dig deeper… I scanned my blog roll (which has been reduced from 411 blogs, down to 290) and checked out a couple of my old faves and before too long I picked a blog to snatch content and ideas from. The winner (not really a winner, but…) is Thorzul Will Rule.

I traded with TWR a LONG time ago, but otherwise I don’t know the dude, he isn’t really someone I consider a “blogger buddy”, but I still have been a long time reader of his so I don’t mind plagiarizing him, ha!
The first thing that struck me was his side bar “most wanted” list. I remembered that he was a fan of the Brew Crew (as I am to a far lesser degree) and a few years back when Milwaukee rented CC Sabbathia for the stretch run the Mighty Thorzul set on a mission to collect EVERY card of CC in a Brewers uniform. I have (many times) thought about doing this. I suppose that I was on my way to collecting every card of another CC (Carl Crawford) in a Rays uniform. This was a little harder for two reasons. One, this CC spent 11 seasons in the Rays organization and two, when he abandoned the team chasing the almighty dollar – I did the same thing and listed all of my autographs and printing plates on eBay. I can’t go back and buy all of those back in addition to the thousands of cards I don’t have. I would do better by continuing to wait for someone to step up and buy my CC collection. I do still have over 500 CC cards, at least 50 relics and a few autographs still. Okay, he is out.
I have a few ex-Rays that I collect to a certain extent – Joe Kennedy, Jared Sandberg, Dave Martinez, Dewon Brazelton and Quinton McCracken, but those guys aren’t on the CC Sabbathia level. I need a big name if I am gonna steal that idea. The Rays normally don’t rent players and they don’t sign many big names either. Pat Burrell doesn’t count and even though he did a great job as the Rays closer, I didn’t really like Rafael Soriano that much. I wasn’t glad to see him go, BUT I wasn’t sad to see him leave either. As I was thinking about this I was flipping through cards that I needed to scan (and I have a TON of these) and I came across the most recent stack that the ultra-generous Rod from Padrographs had sent me and this shiny card caught my eye. This might fit the bill perfectly. A BIG NAME player who barely had a cup of coffee in Tampa Bay. A dude who ate female hormones and shot the juice, BUT was still one of the best sluggers to EVER swing the bat.

I liked Manny when he was a member of the powerhouse Cleveland Indians teams of the mid-to-late 1990’s. Their line-ups would make any pitcher shake. Think about facing Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Manny, Jim Thome, Eddie Murray, Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga and Albert Belle…

Damn, that team could hit, but the thing about baseball is great pitching tends to thwart great hitting and the Braves stopped that great hitting in 1995 and in 1997 my team (the Florida Marlins!) stopped them again and the team dismantled. Of course Manny came away okay and he slugged his way back to the World Series with Boston in 2004 and again in 2007.

Now Manny never really impressed me in the World Series. The Marlins had his number in ’97 (he hit .154) and even in ’07 when the Sox ROLLED over the Rockies – Colorado held Manny homerless and kept him to a .250 average. His World Series numbers aren’t too impressive – in 21 games he has a .247 mark with 4 homers and 14 RBI. Yawn. Manny fans could make the argument that he was SO GREAT in the division series and championship series that his teams would have never made the WS, but I am losing perspective here… I will end the Manny postseason discussion by mentioning his 29 postseason homers and his batting average (over .500!) with the Dodgers in 2008.

Yeah, I definitely lost track there… What I was getting at was this – this shiny and awesome Mannywood card that Rod from Padrographs sent me is pretty freaking awesome and it really got me thinking…

Manny is one the greatest sluggers of all time. He drove in 1831 runs over his 17 year career – that puts him in the top-20 of all time and oh yeah, 1 of those runs was driven in for the Rays!!! Yeah, the dude with a .312 career batting average, 548 doubles and 555 career homers was a MESS in Tampa Bay. Even though he only made it into 5 games as a Ray, I must say he let us all down. His 162 game average has him hitting .312 with 39 homers and 128 RBI. For Tampa Bay he had 1 hit and 1 RBI in 17 at-bats. Not pretty. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that his .059 batting average was courtesy of performance enhancing drugs. PATHETIC!!!

He failed a drug test, retired and so ended the Man Ram in Tampa Bay experiment. As a fan I wasn’t thrilled when he signed on with the Rays, but since my love for my team is unconditional I supported their signing of Manny and was totally optimistic about having him in the lineup. Before the season started I started thinking about all the history Manny could have made in a Rays uniform. He was 4 RBIs away from passing Dave Winfield on the All Time list, 6 away from passing Rafael Palmeiro, 7 away from Kid Griffey and just 10 RBI away from passing Ted Williams and moving into #13 on the All Time List!

I started imagining the headlines and envisioning the cards. I started thinking about the Rays facing the Red Sox in the playoffs and Manny dropping a 3-homer game in Boston. Like I said, I wasn’t happy about the signing, but the Rays got him cheap and there was PLENTY of upside. I HATED the steroid era of baseball. Everyone hitting 50 homers totally cheapened the long ball. Barry Bonds and his stupid dangling cross earring made the sport I LOVE into a joke. The record books were re-written, but the numbers had lost their luster. Manny was a part of all that, but I thought of him as a steroid era survivor. I THOUGHT that the juice was behind him and what was left was an aging, but still intimidating slugger who was padding his career numbers and might help Tampa Bay into playing some October baseball in the process. I had really imagined that he would stick around for more than 5 games. I mean did he think that he, of all people, could take PEDs and get away with it?

He did apply for reinstatement last week. I HOPE that he has a better game plan for 2012. I hope he makes it back. I would probably root for him. There aren’t many players still out there that are older than me, so I pretty much root for ALL of the old men out there. So yeah, I would root for Man Ram in 2012, BUT I would prefer for him to NOT return to Tampa Bay. I WOULD like to have some cardboard memories of him as a member of the Rays. Thanks to everyone who has actually read this far – if you did, you know that I am finally at the point where I tie in something I am stealing from the Mighty Thorzul. He became a SUPER COLLECTOR of CC Sabbathia from his time in Milwaukee. I intend to become a SUPER COLLECTOR of Mannywood – a super collector of ALL cards celebrating his 5 games in Tampa Bay. Thanks to Rod of Padrographs I have a head start. I don’t really know how many Rays cards he has, but I know that I must have ALL of them. EXHALE. Finally.
This was meant to be a quick, “I’m back blog-o-sphere” kind of post, but I have managed to ramble out more words than Manny has RBIs AND I’m not even done (yet)!!! On Manny – if he can lay off the juice and come back healthy and be close to half the player he was – he does have a shot to really climb the career lists. At 1831 career RBI he is just 69 ribs away from the 1900 club, a club that has only 10 members, of course if he could manage 169 more ribs he could be a member of the 2000 club. This exclusive fraternity includes just Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Cap Anson. I THINK that if Manny could clean his act up for 2 more semi-productive seasons he could reach 2000 and do it legitimately AND would end his career as a slugging boy scout and could work his way back into the good graces of the BBWA and give himself a shot at Cooperstown. It could happen…
So yeah, I am back… I am back and I am chasing Manny Ramirez cards (of all things). I am still trying to finish a number of sets (want lists are linked on sidebar) and I am still a Rays mega fan. Like many other bloggers I am addicted to the sparkly cards found in 2011 Topps. Basically if you have a Rays card from 2011 that is put out by Topps and it is diamond sparkly OR the color of shiny puke OR good old fashioned gold – I WANT it! I also want blue cards, red cards, sepia cards, canary cards, hope cards and refractors of all kinds… I would really like to finish off the entire team set in each and every variety. I know I won’t be able to, but I am gonna have a blast trying…

Oh, this leads me to another idea I can steal. I am sure a number of blogger’s have set out on this mission, but I think of the Night Owl… He has pledged to seek out EVERY variety that Topps has puked out of this sweet Dee Gordon card.

I intend on doing that same thing with this awesome image (from top of post) of Ben Zobrist… I have his Topps base so far, so I have a long road ahead. Since I haven’t made a real blog post in months, y’all probably don’t realize that after the playoffs this year I have a new favorite Ray. The Rays lost the game and the series against Texas, but Sean Rodriguez established himself as a truly Nitty Gritty player after his home plate collision with Mike Napoli. He WAS safe at the plate. If you don’t remember the play I am talking about, do yourself a favor and click on this link and watch this video, it is AWESOME!!!
Its plays like this that make me want to collect cards of a dude who hit .223 last year… I would LOVE to see a higher average, a few more steals and extra base hits, but this dude has played EVERY position other than pitcher and catcher and totally EARNED that run in the POSTSEASON. THAT is amazing. Period.

I THOUGHT it would spark a rally and a Rays resurgence. I was wrong obviously, but it was still an awesome moment and I became a Sean Rodriguez fan for life. That said, his 2011 Topps card, which shows him erasing former Twin and Ray Delmon Young, is all over my want list. Like Zobrist, I only have the base version of this card, SO ALL PARALLELS ARE WELCOME HERE!!!! I should mention that while I was typing this post I remembered that I had $1.33 in my PayPal account.

I now have 16 cents in it, but I have a 2011 Topps Chrome Refractor (#78) of Sean Rodriguez heading my way. My immediate goal is to fill a page full of parallels (of regular Topps as well as Chrome) for Rodriguez, Zobrist and a mystery third player to be teased in the next paragraph. I would LOVE to add full pages of Desmond Jennings, David Price (who is immortalized in my blog header), Wade Davis (the Pride of Lake Wales, Florida!), Evan Longoria, BJ Upton and everyone else (for that matter) but I want to set realistic and achievable goals. That said, as bad as I want all the Zobs and S-Rods out there, I will gladly take ANY Rays!

There is another player I am gonna super-collector-parallel-obsessively-chase. I have 2 cards of him. The regular base AND the HOPE DIAMOND version. The #ed to 60 variety came from Scott of Smed’s Cards, but y’all are gonna have to wait to see who it is… Don’t let the suspense kill you! Ha!

I do have a few sparkle cards to offer up as trade bait right now. I have 10 liquor (puke) fractors, 5 regular diamonds and a couple of gold parallels. The non-Rays cards splattered through this post are all up for trade. The idea is to get Rays for non-Rays. I figure that by the end of the night I will have all of these cards packed up and ready to go and I will have 15 Rays parallels heading my way… It COULD happen. I stacked 9 out of my 10 puke-fractors on one page. I left one by itself to segue into a bitch about Topps session. I haven’t commented on Topps this year and I am sure it has all been said and said to death, but I will throw in a quick 2 cents…
I think that 2011 Topps Update is the product of the year. The value, the photography, the player selection – it is all top notch. Topps also totally nailed it with the sparkle parallels. Adding shiny cards from series 1 and 2 into the Updates is what makes me pick U and H as product of the year over Series 1 and 2. For 2 bucks a pack and good odds on catching a sparkle parallel, I gobbled up a lot of these packs. Although I haven’t been reading the blogs as much as I used to, I think just about everyone is collecting these things. I have always chased the Topps Gold parallels of my team and favorite players. I have always sought out the black parallels as well, but now there are SO many parallels to collect.

I think it is pretty exciting and pretty awesome and it has me excited and I think that all player and team collectors are into it. I know there are even some ambitious folks trying to build the entire set in puke or diamond. They are crazy, but Topps is selling a lot of packs as a result. With their current monopoly Topps doesn’t have to go all out, but they did and that is a good thing. We can bitch about a lack of products and a lack of options out there, but I for one loved the quality of the available options. Topps, Allen and Ginter, Gypsy Queen, Topps Chrome, Bowman, Bowman Platinum… Yeah, they are ALL Topps products, BUT they are all AWESOME products. Good job Topps. Of course I am gonna follow a compliment with a rip.

I have this same complaint every year it seems, but COLLATION, COLLATION, COLLATION – it SUCKS!!!! I didn’t have the cash to go out and buy a box (which I really wanted to) I just bought a TON of loose packs. Enough loose packs to yield about 600 cards. With a 330 card set, you would imagine I would be pretty close to having a full set. Not even close. At 600 cards I had 450 dupes. Not good. Fortunately there were many generous bloggers who helped me whittle my list down considerably. Still, I ended with too many blocks of dupes like this…

Nothing against Brandon League, but do I really need to fill up a page with him? On top of that I pulled 2 of his puke-fractors and one gold parallel of him… For collation to be my ONLY complaint about their flagship product, well that speaks well of Topps, BUT when you are trying to build a set by buying packs of cards, collation is pretty darn important. Topps HAS me hooked. I bought a 2 dollar pack today and if I had 5 bucks I would have bought a hanger, BUT I am saying this in print for all the world (my 2 loyal readers) to read – IF I pull another card of Brandon League (again, no offense) I am DONE WITH TOPPS for 2011. Done, for serious. I know that to Topps the idea of potentially losing the 20 dollars I MIGHT spend purchasing retail packs of cards over the rest of this year isn’t much of a threat, but…
Oh, back to my plagiarizing of the Mighty Thorzul Will Rule… Last year or sometime a while back he played a game called “Trade Me Anything”. I don’t recall exactly how it worked, but I am stealing that name/title. I have some cards that I will be posting of the trade bait variety. Some new, some old, some complete sets, some action figures, movies, anything baseball related… Basically I need to clear some space out from under the bridge AND I want to add up some new stuff to the collection. I will be posting these items (slowly) and will expect at least 1 card from my want list AND 1 surprise/mystery card of your choice. I think that if people can send me 2 cards that I want or need in exchange for something more bulky will allow me to clear space, but more importantly will give posting fodder that isn’t too overwhelming. I think we have all received mind-blowing trade packages over the years that totally made our day, BUT had sooo much great stuff in them that we just couldn’t post them. That happens way too often and makes me feel really bad, but I THINK I can handle a two-card trade post. I think…

So, stay tuned for this and be ready to “Trade Me Anything”. In the mean time I will attempt to post up the recent awesome and overwhelming packages I have received from Smed’s Cards, Night Owl, Padrographs, $30 A Week Habit, Dawgbones, gosh it is overwhelming just typing their names, ha! Anyway, just stay tuned and get ready to help me get back in the trading game…

Okay, I have officially stolen 2 ideas from Thorzul Will Rule, 1 idea from the Night Owl and I have managed to make a total fan post on Manny Ramirez. Wow, I am exhausted! The typing out 3800+ words wasn’t too bad, but realizing that deep down I am a Manny Ramirez fan, well, that is just tiring…

I don’t know how many times I have said this so far in 2011 (before disappearing off the face of the earth for a month) but I am BACK blog-o-sphere!!!

Oh, another reason for my sparse presence ‘round here… My lovely wife GRADUATED from the University of South Florida (The Bulls baby!) last Saturday! Oh, and she did so with honors, yep she is Summa Cum Laude for real! Congrats wifey!

Una cosa mas… And this is the LAST one of these… You may have noticed an original 1887 Allen and Ginter card on the side bar. It WILL be a contest prize someday soon; I just don’t know what the contest will be. I do know that trading me Rays sparkle parallels won’t hurt yer chances, ha!

Thanks, as always, for reading! Let us do some trading! I will keep on posting 4000 word ramble-fests if someone (anyone) keeps on reading… Okay? Tell yer friends that the Troll is back!

Go Rays! It’s our season in 2012!!!! Troll out.