Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Where I've Been/Christmas Kin Part I

There are a few paragraphs of music talk at the beginning of this post.  If that's not your thing, there are indeed cards below, just scroll down and I certainly won't be offended (or even know that you did!)

Well, I inadvertently stepped away from the blog for a little over a week there.  Quite honestly, there has been little to no time for sports cards since I last posted here.  Since my previous post the Sunday before last I've been busy traveling all over New England for work, spending time with family, dealing with an injury that our dog sustained, and attending holiday parties for my job in multiple states, in addition to the normal day-to-day load of responsibility.

Oh, and that's not all.  If you've stopped by here with any frequency over the years you may know this already, but I'm a huge music fan.  It's maybe the only hobby that trumps sports cards for me.  I play the guitar, and have been pretty well obsessed with all aspects of music since very early grade school.  Because of this, I'm an admitted live music/concert junkie.  In fact, earlier this year I posted here on the blog that I caught one of my all-time favorite bands, Radiohead, twice this summer during a vacation from work.  Then, in September, I was fortunate enough to catch another favorite, Pearl Jam, play two shows at Fenway Park.  Well, this past week I capped off one of my greatest years for concerts ever with the third band in my "all-time favorite artists triumvirate"...

...Dave Matthews Band!  I expect to get some flack in the comments from someone, as I know there are a lot of folks who don't care for Dave Matthews for whatever reason.  To each his own, but I think they're one of the most talented groups of musicians that I've ever witnessed play and have been a devoted follower since the mid-'90s or so, really as soon as I reached an age where I branched out and developed my own taste in music.

From just about the moment I got my driver's license in 1998, my friend and I caught every show the band did that was within conceivable driving distance.  This went on for years, through high school and college, and obviously those are very formative years for taste in music and many other things, further entrenching the band among my all-time favorites.

Well, that same friend is still my best friend all these years later, and he now manages a hotel by the casinos in Connecticut.  He managed to get free seats to the Dave Matthews Band concert at Mohegan Sun Arena last Sunday through a business contact, and as you can see from the picture above they were damn amazing seats, too.  In fact, I've seen DMB play probably more than 20 times now, and this might have been the best seat I've personally ever had.

Sitting at work on Monday, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great time I had.  I'd been reading online how many fans feel that the band is really pursuing this year's new album and tour with a renewed vigor that has resulted in some of their best live shows in close to 20 years.  I couldn't agree more.  I found myself looking at the tour schedule (old habits die hard I guess), and it turned out they were playing SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Tuesday.  Well, guess who has an office across the street from that arena, and was already scheduled to be in that office on Tuesday?

There was no way after the amount of fun that I had on Sunday that I was going to be parked a stone's throw from the arena just three hours before the show and not go to this concert.  So, I did something I hadn't done in years and bought a single ticket.  Had a couple beers and some dinner when I got out of work at 5, and had an absolute blast at the concert, this time sitting on the opposite side of the stage, as you can see above.

My work validates my parking when I travel, and my mileage payout for driving to Manchester was more than my ticket set me back, so it was pretty much my second "free" Dave Matthews Band concert in the span of three days.  You can probably piece together what happens next here...

Yeah, there was one last show within reach, this time at TD Garden in downtown Boston Friday night.  Picked up a pair of good seats, made some dinner reservations beforehand and made a date night of it with my wife.  Man was I blown away by how talented these guys still are.  I could watch Carter Beauford drum alone for 2 1/2 hours, they were that good. 

So that is the brief story of how I saw Dave Matthews Band play three times, in three different states, in one week.  I will absolutely see them this summer if they tour this area again, fingers crossed.

Anyway, as you can see, baseball cards just haven't been on my mind (or my calendar) since I wrote here last.

That all changed yesterday though, when I arrived home from work to find an unexpected early Christmas gift in the mail!  My buddy Kin, who writes Bean's Ballcard Blog and is active on Twitter, sent me a fantastic package of cards completely out of the blue, and out of the kindness of his heart.

Inside were a handful of team set bags containing a variety of cards.  I haven't opened them all yet, preferring to stretch these out over a period of days (and a few blog posts).  Tonight I've got the contents of the first team set bag to share with you, and if it's any indication I think this is going to turn out to be a whopper of a surprise package.

This first bag contained a nice mix of both hockey and baseball cards.  First out of the bag were a couple of obscure Boston Bruins Young Guns rookie cards.  Zane McIntyre was a 2010 draft pick by the team, and he's still with the organization today.  He actually made it to the NHL for an 8-game stint in 2016-17, but went a pretty rough 0-4-1 with an GAA close to 4.00.  I love cards of obscure, short-term players though, and this fits the bill.

This one's cool too.  O'Gara was a 2011 draft pick for Boston, after a solid career playing defense for Yale University.  He got into a handful of games with the Bruins over the past couple of seasons, and played in over 20 games for the Rangers after being traded to New York in February.

Along with those Young Guns, I also got this great Artifacts Rookie redemption card of winger Anders Bjork.  Still just 22 years of age, Bjork has already appeared in 50 career games for the Bruins.  This is my very first card of Anders, great stuff!

Kin rounded out the first team set bag with some great additions to my Red Sox collection.  As an example of just how few modern cards I buy these days, not only did I need this base Archives card from two years ago, but it's just my second card from the set (the other being Xander Bogaerts).  I'll never complain about a new Mookie Betts card.

From the glorious 1990s, a Bowman's Best Franchise Best die-cut insert.  Everything was done to the max in the '90s, and so there are multiple versions of this card I discovered.  This is the "Mach 1" version, serial-numbered to 3,000 on the back.  Love it.

Much more rare than the Garciaparra, this Gold Refractor Josh Beckett from 2006 Bowman Chrome is numbered to just /50.  I'm six cards in here, and already I'm blown away by Kin's generosity!

Perhaps the most interesting card in the first section for me was this 2015 Choice New York Penn League card of fan favorite Andrew Benintendi.  This is from his time with the Lowell Spinners, the AA franchise for the Red Sox.  I truly enjoy minor league cards, but had never even seen this Benintendi, this one really brought a smile across my face.

To tie back to the first part of this post, I once saw Wilco play a show at the Lowell Spinners' stadium in Lowell, MA!

I got not one new Mookie Betts card from this first bag, but two!  Actually there was a third, a copy of that recent insert based on the vintage Transogram cards, but I already owned that one so it's been shuffled off to my trade stack.

We'll close it out with a rookie card of 22-year-old World Series champion Rafael Devers!  This is hard to believe, because it's one of the few modern sets I truly enjoy year in and year out, but this is actually the first 2018 Stadium Club card to enter into my collection.

Kin, I can't thank you enough for sending me this fantastic batch of cardboard, but I'm certainly going to try a few more times anyway!

To everyone else, thank you for stopping by, especially after a somewhat lengthy absence by my standards.  I'll try not to make it so long between this and my next post.  Until then!


Hackenbush said...

Great week!

Fuji said...

I went through a Dave Matthews Band phase in the late 90's/early 2000's. An ex was a huge fan, so she'd make me listen to all of his stuff. I ended up liking a bunch of their stuff, but after we broke up I didn't want to listen to them anymore. I have zero feelings for that person, and nothing against their music, but to this day if I hear their songs on the radio... I change the station.

Matt said...

I saw DMB play a few times, long ago when I was in college. When I moved to central Virginia, I found out the band was from Charlottesville VA, which is about 40 minutes from where I live. They've done a few benefit concerts here recently.

SumoMenkoMan said...

I saw them in 1999 in Portland. Great concert!

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