Sunday, November 14, 2021

Teenage angst has paid off well. Now I'm bored and old.

Nirvana released In Utero in September of 1993. It was their third - and final - studio album.

Unplugged In New York was recorded two months later. The album was released posthumously, as lead singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in April 1994 - more than six months before Unplugged debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. 

This card was part of a TCDB trade with Scrubeenie that arrived earlier this week. I sent him six Topps Heritage singles including a Mike Trout league leader card and an Eddie Murray single from 2000 Upper Deck legends in exchange for some 2018 Topps Chrome set fillers, two 1991-92 Upper deck basketball commons, and two cards from 2011 Topps American Pie. It's the only Kurt Cobain trading card aside from the requisite parallels and a couple playing card releases. It's also one of the more expensive American Pie singles on COMC; the cheapest copy is currently listed at nearly $10.

It's easy to look back on a grunge band that lasted five years and call them "overrated'. If you're talking about hype and airplay relative to other bands of the era then, yes, Nirvana were overrated. You can pick apart the substance of the music, but there's no denying the cultural impact of the band and its iconic frontman. Once Kurt Cobain was gone alternative rock slowly faded from the top of the charts, ceding ground to pop and hip-hop. 

While you're unlikely to see a current alternative act bump elbows with Beyonce and Taylor Swift you will see plenty of young adults, teens, and even children wearing Nirvana t-shirts today.

30 years after the release of Nevermind it's become increasingly clear that there will never be another Nirvana. Dave Grohl has carried the legacy of the band (and in some ways rock itself) over to Foo Fighters - a legendary act in their own right. Personally I think Foo Fighters are underrated - though I acknowledge their cultural impact falls far short of Nirvana's. Let me know when "Best of You" or "My Hero" hits 1.3 billion views on YouTube. 

Here's a rough sketch of my essential Nirvana mix CD/playlist
excluding "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as the band did in the Unplugged set list.

  1. "Serve The Servants" (from In Utero)
  2. "Scentless Apprentice" (from In Utero)
  3. "About A Girl"(acoustic) (from Unplugged In New York)
  4. "Come As You Are" (from Nevermind)
  5. "Sappy" (from No Alternative)
  6. "Love Buzz" (From Bleach)
  7. "I Hate Myself And Want To Die" (From The Beavis and Butt-head Experience)
  8. "In Bloom" (from (Nevermind)
  9. "Pennyroyal Tea" (from In Utero)
  10. "Dive" (from Incesticide)
  11. "Breed" (from (Nevermind)
  12. "Lithium" (from (Nevermind)
  13. "You Know You're Right" (from Nirvana greatest hits)
  14. "School" (From Bleach)
  15. "All Apologies" (acoustic) (from Unplugged In New York)
  16. "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" (from In Utero)
  17. "Aneurysm" (from Incesticide)
  18. "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?(acoustic) (from Unplugged In New York)

By the way, here's the other American Pie single from that TCDB trade with Scrubeenie:

I've always been fascinated with the atomic era and the Cold War. In case you're wondering, the Doomsday Clock is currently set at ... oh shit.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Uno.. Dos.. Tres.. Catorce

I've been spending my hobby time attempting to fill sets through TCDB trades - primarily the starter sets Bo sent me in the summer. After several PWE swaps (and a box of series 1) I've got 826 of the 840 cards in the 1993 Upper Deck baseball set. Here's a look at the fourteen cards I'm missing, along with a fact (or opinion) about each player depicted.

#4 Willie Greene

Willie Greene was a first-round pick of the Pirates in 1989. As such, he was included in 1990 Bowman and Score sets - the latter of which misspelled his name on the back. I seemed to recall him having two or three good seasons in the late '90s, but baseball-reference tells me he had one - in 1997.

#70 Derek Lilliquist

Derek Lilliquist was a left-handed reliever for both the AL's Native American-named franchise and the NL's Native American-named team. He is not the only guy named Derek I'm missing from this set. Also, if I'm being precise, he was a starter in Atlanta. And apparently he pitched for the Red Sox in 1995. His only legit trading card that year - and his "sunset card" - was in the 1995 Topps set, before he signed with the Sox.

#102 B.J. Surhoff

B.J. Surhoff was one of the top rookies in 1987 trading card sets. I remember seeing his name pop up in price guides as a kid, long before "prospecting" was a thing. I remember his tenure as an Orioles third baseman - before Cal Ripken moved to the "hot corner". I did not know that he retired as an Oriole in 2005 - at age 41. I also did not know that Surhoff was the 1st overall pick in the 1985 draft because my memory of #1 overall picks starts in '87 with that Griffey kid.

#138 Ken Hill

Ken Hill was the ace of the 1994 Expos team that boasted baseball's best record before the strike ended the season in August. The Cy Young runner-up had 16 wins that season and could have easily reached 20 if the season had been completed. Montreal traded Hill to the Cardinals the following April. He was dealt to the Indians at the '95 trade deadline, and pitched in two World Series contests against Atlanta.

#169 Orel Hershiser

One of my earliest memories as a baseball fan was watching Orel (whose last name was pronounced He-sher-hi-zer by eight-year old me) drag the Dodgers to the World Series and then baffle Oakland's Bash Brothers in the Fall Classic. You probably know all about that, so here's a story from ESPN's Tim Kurkjian:

Many years later, I asked Hershiser about that magical postseason, and wondered if he deviated his schedule or habits from that of the regular season. He said the biggest difference was that in the postseason "I never told anyone publicly where I was going out to dinner because it might end up in the newspaper. I didn't want anyone to know where I might eat. The chef might poison me."

He added that there were times, on the road, where he and his wife would order dinner, but when the meals arrived, they would switch: His wife would eat what he ordered, and he would eat what she ordered. He said he did that just in case the chef had, indeed, tried to poison him.

But that meant your wife would then be poisoned?

Hershiser smiled and said, jokingly, and without malice, "Well, we're divorced now."

#247 John Kruk

The 1993 Phillies were a fun team to watch at the time. It's harder to look back fondly at players like Lenny Dykstra and Curt Schilling, but John Kruk seems to have maintained his affable reputation. The career .300 hitter made his third (and most memorable) All-Star Game appearance in '93 - a moment that Topps featured as a Legends variation 20 years later. This card is actually on its way to me but I'm including it here just in case it doesn't arrive safely from Canada.

#255 Sandy Alomar, Jr.

As someone who collected way too many Topps and Donruss cards in 1989 I certainly remember Sandy's rookie cards. (I was not aware of all the stupid variations at the time.) He kinda-sorta appeared in a Starting Lineup issue before making his big league debut - but his younger brother Roberto was pictured on the card. Sandy was named to six All-Star teams despite playing 100+ games in just four seasons; the fans voted him a starter in 1991 despite non-existent production - even for a catcher.

#260 Joe Orsulak

This is arguably the best photo on a 1993 Upper Deck card I don't have. Joe Orsulak played five seasons in the Orioles' outfield before signing with the Mets in the winter of 1992. He finished his career with the Expos in 1997. I'm assuming Mets fans consider him a free agent bust, though he certainly didn't make Bobby Bonilla money.

#345 George Bell

You might remember George Bell for hitting 47 home runs in his MVP season of 1987, or the 1992 trade that sent him to the south side of Chicago in exchange for some guy named Sosa. I remember George Bell for his 1986 Topps card (which referred to him as Jorge) and the fact that he was the only Blue Jay with his own Starting Lineup figure in 1988 and 1989. Every US-based baseball team had at least four figures.

#352 Roberto Hernandez

Throwback uniform! Roberto Hernandez is pictured wearing the hat (and jersey?) of the Negro League's Chicago American Giants. A first-round pick of the Angels in 1986, he was part of the White Sox' shocking fire sale at the 1997 trade deadline (the Pale Hose were just three games back of Cleveland for the division lead at the time.) Hernandez signed as a free agent with the expansion Devil Rays that winter.

#449 Derek Jeter

This is the only 'top prospect' card I need, though I'd like to upgrade my off-center Derek Wallace card. This Derek didn't quite pan out like Wallace did. The Houston Astros considered drafting Jeter #1 overall in 1992. Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser scouted the kid from Kalamazoo and campaigned for the club to draft him over Phil Nevin. Imagine an infield with Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and this guy?

#486 Barry Bonds

I think Barry is smiling here because he'd just signed a record-breaking contract with the Giants. Bonds was an insufferable asshole long before he began mainlining PEDs. His arrogance in the 1992 NLCS probably cost Pittsburgh the pennant - though it didn't cost him any free agent dollars.

According to Sports Illustrated, “Van Slyke told MLB Network that on the Francisco Cabrera game-winning hit, he motioned to Barry Bonds to move in. Bonds responded by giving him the finger, and the ball ended up landing exactly where Van Slyke said to play.”

Here is the actual footage; it is clear that if Bonds had made the adjustment Van Slyke suggested (moving just a few steps to his left) Bream would’ve been out by a few steps.

#487 Dennis Eckersley

Mariano Rivera is regarded as the greatest closer of all-time - but he never won a Cy Young or MVP Award. Dennis Eckersley won both awards in the same season. He also won more games than Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw have (to date), struck out more batters than Sandy Koufax, and had a higher WAR than CC Sabathia and Juan Marichal. Oh, and he was the subject of a Mike Birbiglia joke. Eck >>> Mo.

#648 Jim Deshaies

No one started more games in the abbreviated 1994 season than Jim Deshaies, who took the mound for the Twins 25 times. This is interesting to me because he also led the league in earned runs (107) and home runs allowed (30). Oh, and his ERA was a whopping 7.39 that season. Why did Tom Kelly keep sending him out there? Also, I never got Chris Berman's "two silhouettes on.." reference. What song is that from?

I'm running out of stamps to ship PWEs and running out of trade matches on TCDB, so I might have to purchase these cards from or Sportlots. Unless anyone reading this has any of these?

Thanks for reading!