A Thing About Image Captions

In the process of frantically wrapping up the year in review/hobby goals stuff overnight, I forgot to talk about a thing I’ve started working on.

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve added more thorough image captions to newer posts on this site (and while I honestly may not get to it all, I have intentions of doing this with my older posts over time, as well). If you haven’t noticed it yet, yes, it’s a thing I’m doing intentionally. This is a work in progress, and one I’m honestly finding to be pretty challenging, but I think it’s worthwhile work, not just for me and my site, but for all of us.

Somehow, I made it decades into my time on the Internet without thinking enough about how my posts, which are occasionally very visual in nature, were severely under-serving visually impaired people. This was a mistake, and I’m sorry that I made it. I’m far from alone in making this mistake, but that doesn’t mean I, or any of us, should just keep making it.

So, recently, I’ve started looking into best practices for captioning images for the visually impaired. This is still a work in progress, without a ton of agreement on a style guide that I’ve been able to find. (If you know of one that’s largely agreed upon, please let me know.)

With that in mind, I’m reading the things I can find on the subject, and am doing my best. On my best days, I’m not great at brevity, so I’m still working on being both concise and descriptive. If you do a lot of this work and have suggestions, please let me know.

If there’s anyone wondering how something like this applies to baseball cards, for instance: I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandfather (my mom’s grandfather), who lived with my mom’s family, and had lost his sight somewhere along the way. He was a big Brooklyn Dodgers fan, but he’d listen to any game on the radio or TV. I don’t know whether he had much exposure to baseball cards, even with younger grand-kids in the house, but given that he was a fan, the information on those cards was just as relevant to him as it is to anyone sighted. If Red Barber and Vin Scully could describe things about the game to him, then I can certainly try my best to do the same for everyone else.

More recently and personally, my eyesight has been deteriorating, most likely as a result of the head injuries I’ve sustained. My last concussion changed my prescription significantly. I can’t read most ingredient lists on food packages, or most card backs, without eyeglasses at this point. (Topps needs to start thinking about big, legible numbers on their cards soon, because their customer base is aging rapidly.) I’ve been pretty fortunate, in that I made it to my 40s without these issues, but it’s still frustrating to lose the ability to do things.

I try not to be a person who only cares about a thing if it’s happening to me, or to someone I know. Above, I noted that I should’ve been doing this work all along, regardless of how well I or anyone else I know can see. Sometimes, these anecdotes help other people understand experiences they may not have had, though, so I’m sharing. In a perfect world, people would do things to help people who need assistance because it’s part of being a decent person and a member of a functioning society. Alas, the world isn’t perfect, and plenty of us aren’t taught to do the right thing on stuff like this (absolutely my experience). So, if me talking about my great-grandfather listening to Dodger games or my not being able to read card backs leads to us making the Internet a better place in some small way, awesome.

This news about captioning also means that this site will transform in some other ways. I’m probably going to opt for shorter posts moving forward, with fewer images. In fairness, the amount of information, especially visual information I’ve included in some of my posts has been excessive at times. (No one *really* needed to see my entire 1971 Topps set, fronts and backs, in a single post.) This may also mean more posts from me, as I’ll be compartmentalizing information a bit more. We’ll see how all of that goes.

In the meantime, if you have thoughts about this subject (and please, be kind, not just to me, but in general), please let me know in the comments, or email me.

My Year in Hobbies 2019: December!

December 2019:

I visited NJ during December, and while I was there, I stopped by Bell Works, the former Bell Labs Holmdel Complex, to see how things had progressed in the few years since I saw it in its very early stages back in 2015. It’s coming along well, as a few restaurants have opened, a number of businesses have moved in, the Holmdel Public Library has a branch, and a bunch of public sitting areas have been installed in the main corridors. I’m enjoying seeing this legendary, historic building be converted into something new that the general public has some access to, and I’m looking forward to seeing where things go from here.

People mill about the front lobby of Bell Works, the former Bell Labs Holmdel Complex in Holmdel, NJ.
People mill about the front lobby of Bell Works, the former Bell Labs Holmdel Complex in Holmdel, NJ. The lobby is beige and graphite, neo-futuristic space encased in glass, designed by Eero Saarinen in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Whether it’s for nostalgia’s sake or because they haven’t gotten around to replacing it yet, the original mustard yellow carpet is still installed in the center sitting area of the lobby.
One corridor of Bell Works in Holmdel, NJ. The ceiling is made of glass panels, allowing light into the space. Along the side of the corridor, offices line the space for 6 floors. Planters are visible in the distance on the ground floor, near sitting areas.
One corridor of Bell Works in Holmdel, NJ. The ceiling is made of glass panels, allowing light into the space. Along the side of the corridor, offices line the space for 6 floors. Planters are visible in the distance on the ground floor, near sitting areas.
Another corridor of Bell Works in Holmdel, NJ, which ends at an entrance with a 6 story glass wall and glass elevators. Artificial turf covers the ground on a sitting/walking area. Along the side of the corridor, offices go up to the 6th floor.
Another corridor of Bell Works in Holmdel, NJ, which ends at an entrance with a 6 story glass wall and glass elevators. Artificial turf covers the ground on a sitting/walking area. Along the side of the corridor, offices go up to the 6th floor.
A 1949 Bowman Carl Furillo baseball card. Carl Furillo, a man with white skin and dark hair, wears a white Brooklyn Dodgers uniform with blue trim and a blue baseball cap with the letter B on the front of it, as well as a dark-colored undershirt. Carl's swinging a baseball bat, though only the hilt of the bat is visible. The card is only in partial color, as it was printed in greyscale with the blue highlights on the uniform, against a red background with beige trim.
A 1949 Bowman Carl Furillo baseball card. Carl Furillo, a man with white skin and dark hair, wears a white Brooklyn Dodgers uniform with blue trim and a blue baseball cap with the letter B on the front of it, as well as a dark-colored undershirt. Carl’s swinging a baseball bat, though only the hilt of the bat is visible. The card is only in partial color, as it was printed in greyscale with the blue highlights on the uniform, against a red background with beige trim.

How’s it going, Carl?

Toward the very end of the year, I found a nice deal on a ’49 Bowman Carl Furillo rookie card. It presents pretty well, and I paid for it near-entirely with COMC sales. Definitely one of the highlights of my Brooklyn Dodgers collection now.

First-run movies watched in December 2019 (2): Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Parasite.

The Star Wars movie was a lot of fun as long as I didn’t think about it at all. I haven’t had a chance to watch it again since I saw it in the theater, but I’m curious as to how it’ll do with me now that I have thought about it, and now that I’ve heard from the maker of every hot take on Earth about what they liked and disliked about it.

Parasite, which was the annual “go to the movies on December 25th” movie for our household, and which we kinda chose on a whim because it was that or Cats (though we still need to see Cats), was stunning. Knocked the wind out of our theater, particularly because it seemed like the patrons were the type of people satirized and attacked in the film. Deserved the hell out of the Best Picture Oscar that it got. Not a perfect film (it’s ambitious, and it doesn’t hit all of its marks), but a great film nonetheless.

And that was 2019.

Back soon, hopefully, for the 2019 wrap-up and 2020 goals post (which will likely be a very different post than it was when I started this series). Thanks for your patience on this series, as it’s taken me forever to get this far.

Hey, look! I’m a sucker! I bought 2020 Topps cards!

tin of 2020 Topps Series One baseball cards, and hanger box of 2020 Topps Heritage baseball cards on a brown table
A green tin of 2020 Topps Series One baseball cards (featuring Vladimir Guerrero Jr., a man with brown skin and blonde dreadlocks, wearing a grey and blue Toronto Blue Jays uniform and holding a baseball bat), and a black hanger box of 2020 Topps Heritage baseball cards (featuring Cody Bellinger, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Manny Machado, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Mike Trout on the cover) sit on a brown table.

It took me weeks on either purchase, but I finally bought some 2020 cards.

By now, you’ve seen ’em all, and they’re really nothing to write home about visually, so I’m not gonna scan ’em. No, really. I can tell you that my Series One gets were much better than my Heritage ones. I got Vlad, Acuna, Paddack, a bunch of other rookies and stars, the Clemente 35th Anniversary card, Greinke and Josh Bell in my Turkey Reds, and 2 Vlad insert set cards in Series One. I got a Don Sutton Baseball Flashbacks insert in the Heritage box. No high numbers, no players I collect, not much in the way of interesting-to-me rookies or stars. The Heritage cards look a *little* better in person, but not that much. The photography’s almost painfully generic, which I’ve seen other people complaining about more than the font issues. I just don’t get how you can take a sure thing like ’71 Topps and screw it up. Biggest disappointment of a Heritage set since 2012 (and that one was just me not liking the base design/card stock), and I got a crappy box of it, to boot.

On the Series One front, if you’re looking for the following inserts, they’re available for trade:

Decade’s Next Kyle Tucker 14
Turkey Red Willson Contreras 19
Turkey Red Justin Verlander 38
Turkey Red Blake Snell 85
Turkey Red Chrome Jacob deGrom 65
Decades’ Best Tony Gwynn 56
Decades’ Best Chrome Phil Niekro 40 (How often has Phil Niekro been on a Chrome card of any kind?)

High priority will be given to anyone offering up these cards from the 2020 Topps 35th Anniversary insert set (not building the set, just want these singles): 8-9, 14, 19-23, 38, 48, 51, 53, 55-56, 61, 64-65, 70, 72-73, 77, 79, 83, 88, 96-98, 100

I probably won’t buy too much more, if any more, of either of these. If you’re looking to get some old cards for some new cards and have a bunch of doubles (or the 35th Anniversary stuff I’m looking for), get ahold of me, and we should be able to do some trades, at least on the Series One. I honestly shouldn’t trade doubles of cards I like for 2020 Heritage. It is REALLY disappointing stuff.

Before anyone asks, I’m keeping the Vlad Jr. tin, to put my weed in or something. (No, I don’t actually smoke weed. I’m an old square. It’d be a cool box to keep your weed in, though, if you do that. Not that I’m recommending that anyone do drugs. You have Hollywood to do that for you, or the TikTok, if you’re one of the youngsters.)

Also, and I don’t think I’m alone here this weekend, but I ran into the 2020 Series One tins in both stores I went to tonight, one of which was a Target, so I’m not sure if they’re as hard-to-get as people tried to make them out to be, initially, and they’re obviously not Walmart exclusives. I didn’t run into any Prizm basketball, though, so that’s probably really sold out everywhere.

UUUUUUUUUUTZ!!!!!!111111

I finally got in on the Utz action yesterday.

A card I wanted!

Some cards I didn’t!

These and, well, maybe a couple of others, are available for trade. (I do have a trade in progress with Bo though, so he gets first crack; UPDATE: Bo will take what’s left over, so feel free to make offers!)

As far as the rest of the Utz checklist goes, I’m looking for:

10 Adam Jones
39 Mookie Betts
45 Max Scherzer
61 David Price
83 Jose Altuve
86 Charlie Blackmon
89 Marcus Stroman

(06/17/19 Update: Thanks to Mark H. for the 3 I’ve crossed out so far.)

…and dassit. I love food issue card sets as much as the next person, but it’s a 100 card checklist of cards that are apparently indistinguishable from flagship aside from different checklist numbers and another brand logo, so unless I get a lot of, like, 90 of them somewhere, I’m out after I get my player collection guys.

SENIORS!!!!!!!!111111111

OK, so…

There’s an indoor flea market near me that I visit sometimes. Not a huge amount of vendor or merch turnover, but they get stuff here and there, so I end up there from time to time. I went on Sunday, and I got some stuff. As people have been making mention of how long my posts have been recently, I’ll break it up into short pieces, and hopefully I’ll remember to make them all.

Before I get into the other stuff, this was the undisputed highlight…

It’s not a tough thing to get, I don’t think, nor is it an expensive one, but it never seemed to be in the same place as my disposable income and I. I’m so happy that I’ve finally got it.

I mean…when I opened the box in the car, and looked at the first card in it, this is who greeted me…

Look at that beautiful bastard. Look at him! Also: woodgrain! Uniforms I haven’t seen much of! But seriously, oh my god it’s a Pete LaCock card I didn’t have.

It continues…

!

(And that’s COMMISSIONER Curt Flood to you!)

!!!!!

ALSO !!!!!

This set is so good, y’all. I have some other Senior League stuff (I think from Pacific’s line, gotta look at/checklist those soon), but it’s not as amazing as this stuff. I’ll go on…

Somebody card Hal McRae, he looks way too young to be there!

My eyes just played tricks on me with this Dennis Leonard card, because of the placement of the league logo. It looks like he’s throwing the baseball in the logo! Also: I still want someone to do a TV series on the ’70s-’80s Royals, told through  what I’d imagine Dennis Leonard’s perspective to be.

WALT!!!!!!!

This card of Easler is straight-up gorgeous.

The Mad Hungarian!

LeFlore!

Vida Blue, workin’ for the Juice!

George Foster in pinstripes!

Jose Cruz, looking as utterly badass as Jose Cruz always looked on cards.

Fergie!

Figueroa!

Fingers! (For those wondering, total HOF count in the set is 4; along with Rollie here and Fergie, Dick Williams and Earl Weaver both have manager cards in the set, too…)

Aikens, before it got really weird. Glad he made it back from it all.

Otis! (Yeah, this is definitely a set to have if you liked the ’70s-’80s Royals teams…)

Spaceman! (He’s still pitching, isn’t he?)

And, saving the best for last on the card fronts…I present to you the 1989 Topps Senior League Tim Stoddard card, without further comment.

The backs are pretty nice for late ’80s Topps (the stock’s Traded Set-ish), with a decent overview of MLB career stuff, and their stats from the Senior League. I used Dock’s stats because 1. he’s Dock 2. knowing what I know of him, I think he’d be happy to have clean and sober pitching stats highlighted for a change, and I’m pretty sure he was doing good on that front by then 3. it was a very Dock Ellis set of stats (struck out a bunch of guys, walked a bunch of guys, the W-L didn’t do him justice, and no one could hit him) and 4. from flipping through the other cards, his ERA beat most of the league’s by 2-3 full runs.

I showed you all a nice sample size of the set, but there’s a ton of goodness in these 132 cards that I didn’t get to. I paid a little less for it than everyone else was paying for single retail packs of Heritage this past weekend. Seek out this set if you don’t have one yet, and enjoy the hell out of it, especially if you have a bunch of love for the guys I highlighted here, and the era they played in.