Lots to catch up on…

Sorry about that, folks. Life happened again for a minute. I’ve been sick for most of this calendar year, but I seem to finally be getting better, knock wood. I did some things other than play Skyrim for 260 hours this winter (I’m horrified and amused by this number), while I was convalescing. I’ve even managed to leave the house a few times this month, and of course got into plenty of trouble when I did, so let’s examine the trouble I found both from my house and out in the world!

I bought one more single pack of ’18 Topps on one of my Target runs. Anyone need either of these two inserts?

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This may not look like a Holy Grail comic book to some, but this issue of Adventure Comics completed a run of issues 425-490 for me that I’ve been working on since childhood. In that run is every issue of the original Adventure Comics that happened post-Legion of Super-Heroes and post-Supergirl, but pre-the last 13 issues, which were done as reprint digests. There’s all kinds of great stuff in this run: among others, you’ve got Black Orchid, The Spectre, The Creeper, Deadman, Justice Society of America, The New Gods, Dial “H” For Hero, and all three of the gentlemen featured on this cover.

I got it in the damnedest way, too. I’ve been looking very pointedly for this book for a few years (since I realized it was the last one I needed), trying to get it for a price I felt reasonable (some of the bigger online comics dealers wanted a bit too much for it), especially in bins that flea market and comic show dealers had out, and whiffing on that. So, I’m reading a post on a Facebook comic group I’m in where a guy found a pretty early issue of Adventure (in the 30s numbers-wise), and some wise guy chimes in with “I’ve got #476 if anyone wants that”, totally figuring no one cared. I was instant messaging him so fast, it made his head spin. Because he didn’t want to gouge me too much on shipping, and because he had some other comics to unload, I grabbed a couple more from him…

Mmmmm, first Paul Smith X-Men. I don’t hear this from other people too often, but Paul’s probably my favorite X-Men artist. I’m giving thought to trying, very slowly, to put together a run of Uncanny X-Men from as close to #94 and Giant-Size #1 as I can get (my earliest right now is #107, but I’ve got a run from #128-143, and I’ve also got #109 and #121), through to maybe #200, because that would cover the first year I read it as new issues, during which I found that I didn’t enjoy the current book as much as I did issues #175-back. (I’m of the mind that X-Men started to lose its footing right around where most current fans started to love it, which would be post-#200, so I’m kind of an X-Men hipster. If any of you have ever read Uncanny X-Men #177, I would’ve ended the series right before Mystique gets to Nightcrawler.)

I also got this. In another collecting project (and to let y’all know in advance my comics projects usually go way, way more slowly than my card ones have over the past decade) I’m working on all 4 “team-up” books (The Brave And The Bold, DC Comics Presents, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One), because they were really fun comics that I was always drawn to as a kid. Let’s see how Batman ends up hanging out with Black Lightning, before he ended up hanging out with him a lot! Superman and Sgt. Rock? How’s that work? Aunt May and Franklin Richards hanging out with Galactus? Sign me up! The Thing and The Sandman drinking in a bar? SOLD.

2 more games for if I ever finish Skyrim and don’t just decide to start over to beat the game “the right way”. I’ve been hearing about both Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus for close to 2 decades, so I snagged the first reasonably priced used copy of this collection that I could find. I don’t have a PS4 yet, so I can’t play the latest remaster of Shadow of The Colossus yet.

With Syndicate? I played the hell out of the Atari Jaguar version (an idea that probably horrifies people who played it on PC, but I think the 3DO version was probably even more of a nightmare to navigate), and while the reviews haven’t been great for this update, I’ve been curious, and it was $5 new.

From there, I hit a comic and card show, and while I passed on getting a pic and autograph from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (who still looks great, and seemed to be a nice guy, especially to the kids he met), I did scour a bunch of cheapie bins for fun stuff.

These two finished my Top 10 run!

Can you tell that I’m an anthology book junkie?

I’m about two-thirds of the way through a complete All-Star Squadron run now. Earth-2 is also kind of a thing for me.

Onto the cards…

I liked everything I saw from this kid in the postseason. I always hesitate a little to add young, current players to my player collections, but I think he might end up sticking.

Another Dontrelle relic. Cool color scheme. Not the greatest condition, but it was a buck.

#puigyourfriend

If only we’d all known, 5 years ago, that you’d be able to get Puig relics for $2! This is a fun one, too, from those winter cards.

I didn’t get Ricky Steamboat’s auto for $20 (or the $30 pic and auto package combo), but I got a friggin’ Homer Bush autograph for a buck!

Finally gettin’ on the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. board. (Yeah, I know what I said about Bregman, but he’s not second-generation from one of my favorite players of all time.) By most accounts, the kid has a very bright future ahead of him. Let’s hope it works out that way!

From a 5 for a dollar bin? Sure, why not.

Also from the 5 for a dollar bin. Can you believe these monsters vandalized what’s otherwise a pretty decent condition ’71 Topps card? Of course you can. This is available for trade. No, I’m not replacing the Ron Fairly in my set with this one.

Needed this for my ’70 set. To paraphrase Springsteen, it ain’t a beauty, but ‘ey, it’s alright…

I don’t know if I had any Inception baseball before this. Happy to start with a Scherzer.

I am such a sucker for these 2000s legends sets that were really just filler cardboard for autograph chances, but looked pretty nice while doing that. These got me over a third of the way through this one. Especially like Raines, Cey, Santo and Staub in this batch.

And, finally, I got the complete set of these (1991 Comic Images Silver Surfer cards) at my local comic book store. Scanning does absolutely no justice to how insane, psychedelic and 1990s-tastic these cards look, but I’ll show you 3 of my favorites, anyway.

First issue cover!

I still have a very run-down t-shirt with a version of this image on it.

You have to love psychedelic extreme close-ups of Thanos with shiny, shiny teeth.

That’s been my February so far. How’ve you all been?

This Year’s Fantasy Team

So, for the 19th season in a row (I’ve been in ever since Yahoo! bought a site called Sportasy.com, which I’d never even heard of until I did some reading on Wikipedia the other day, and made it Yahoo! Fantasy Sports), and the 16th in a row in this particular league that I created, I’m playing fantasy baseball.

The pictures above are of my 2017 roster. We run a dynasty league, which means we can keep as few or as many players from the previous year’s 25 man roster as we like. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep one player who I’d have really liked to keep, for reasons so much bigger than fantasy baseball or even the actual games, because Jose Fernandez is gone now. That sad event aside, I ended up keeping 22 out of my remaining 24 players this off-season (I won the league last year for the first time since ’09, so my guys were pretty OK), which gave me 3 picks in the draft.

My picks were Clint Frazier, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Yulieski Gurriel. The first two are still prospects. Very good ones, but they’re not making the big leagues right away (Frazier’s closer than Vlad Jr., but he’s still a little ways off). This gave me two extra active roster spots, since we have 2 NA spots in our league for minor leaguers, players on suspensions and such, so it was both forward-thinking and very, very sneaky!

Gurriel, I remember as far back as the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, when he played some very good baseball for the Cuban national team. There was also a guy named Yoandy, or Yoandi Garlobo (I’ve seen it spelled both ways) on that team who was an extraordinary hitter, but as far as I know, he’s still in Cuba, he appears to have retired 4 years ago, and as he turns 40 this year, he’s likely not ever playing in Major League Baseball even if he leaves now. Back to Yuli, he had a long road to America and the majors, but he’s here now, and while practically, he’s already at least 32 years old and third baseman #3 on my team (I’m still trying to lock down a great 3B, though I’ve got hope for Jose Ramirez and Ryon Healy), he’s insurance if one of those guys doesn’t work out, and a guy I like rooting for.

Now, I mentioned the 2 extra roster spots I gained by putting the prospects in the minors. I used them to pick up the best starting pitchers I felt I could get my hands on after the draft. They were Ivan Nova and Robert Gsellman. Gsellman’s more of a risk than Nova, because there’s a lot of competition for the Mets’ 5th rotation spot (knowing the Mets, they’ll make room for him in some snakebitten kinda way), but Nova’s a guy I had good results with in ’16 (but no room on my keeper roster, as he was guy #26, with Trevor Story ending the season on the DL), and someone who’s done good things in camp so far.

I had no luck getting closers in this draft, so I’m either going to punt Saves for this year, or bottom feed as closers falter throughout the season. Hopefully the rest of my team’s good enough to let Kenley Jansen balance an entire category on his shoulders.

Our draft was fun as usual. We had 2 more teams this year than last (some turnover last year, as life happens), including one of our long-timers returning, and Kerry from Cards on Cards (who I’ve traded bubble gum cards a bunch with over the years) joining us. Good turnout, lots of time to catch up (as the draft app auto-drafted our keepers), and there were no real hitches on the tech end.

So, if you’re wondering if there’s a tie-in between this league and my collecting hobbies, there’s a thing I’m considering doing more actively, related to all this fantasy ball stuff. As I’m getting to keep my teams intact from year to year, I’m considering both collecting most of the players on my team more seriously, and doing what I can to fill my fantasy team with players I’d want to collect. I think it’ll be an interesting experiment. I mean, I’ve always tried to keep guys like Mark Buehrle and Adam Dunn on my teams, often well beyond the point where it made for sound game strategy, but I want to see how much synergy I can get going between my fantasy game and my card collection.

Right now, the sticking points would be Albert Pujols (great player, has helped my fantasy teams in 5 different seasons, but not a guy I like to root for; too chummy with Tony LaRussa, who’s kind of awful), Carlos Martinez (terrific pitcher who’s been the workhorse of my staff since I traded for him 2 years ago, but he’s on the Cardinals and I really don’t like the Cardinals, sorry, Kerry, more cards for you at least!), and the amount of fairly hot rookies I’ve got on my roster (those get pricey, and are hard to get people to let go of in trades), but otherwise, I like most of my team, and I think it’ll be fun to trade for more of their cards. So, I may see what I can do about making that a pretty integral part of my game and my collection.