Let’s start this morning with a new idea I hope we can make a monthly series
On the first of the month, I’d like for readers to share a message about the best thing that happened to them over the previous month. Perhaps you’ve hit a weight loss goal like Screencaps HOFer Diesel who now has a whole new golf swing because of the weight loss. Maybe you landed a new job. Or your travel ball team took what it’s been working on in the “lab” and went out and won a major 12U tournament.
I want readers to be proud of what they’re accomplishing. Take a moment on the first of the month to reflect on what you just accomplished. There’s no need to be super serious all the time with the “Best Thing That Happened To Me” emails.
I’ll go first:
The Best Thing That Happened To Me in February:
- Finally finding a car I wanted to buy — a Toyota Camry with just enough bells and whistles to keep things interesting while driving to the post office to drop off TNML sticker envelopes. Those of you buying cars right now know just how insane it is out there. Luckily, my wife and I agreed on the car and we’re happy.
- I made it a priority to go watch high school basketball games.
I have the bug. Last night, I took my son to see the public school, Perrysburg, play in the D1 district semifinals. My only gripe about the school’s victory was the lack of support out of the student body. We’re talking about a school of 1,600 students and last night the student section might’ve had 15 boys sitting under the basket. The game was played 10 miles from Perrysburg.
And it’s been like this — or worse — for home games. I went to senior night and there might’ve been around the same number of boys who showed up to cheer on their classmates. What am I missing here? Is there general apathy from students for basketball in your town? Ask your kids if it’s not cool to go watch HS basketball games and cheer.
Next up: I’m going to catch a game Thursday night featuring a 6’10 big man headed to Indiana State. Then, Friday, it’s Perrysburg’s district final game. I’m going to need a side hustle to pay for all these high school basketball tickets.
The Instagram Model in line for Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney
• Gerard W. has a story that should increase the time on site for Screencaps:
Thought the Screencaps community would like this story.
A few years ago my wife planned a 6-day trip to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. Needless to say after about day 3 you get a little tired of standing in line for an hour just to get on a 3 minute ride. Well, I’m about to tell a story of an hour wait that was totally worth it.
The line to get on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride starts out as kind of a large funnel. It’s extremely wide and you really can’t see where the actual line forms as people are milling around figuring out where to go. We were walking in and I could see a large group of people just kind of hanging back a little bit. There was a fairly large opening up ahead of them and I couldn’t figure out why the group of people didn’t push closer. (I realized later that this was a church group…) I made eye contact with their “leader” and he gave me the head bob to cut in front of them.
I start making my way past them, as my wife is asking me why we are jumping ahead, when I see her. A beautiful young mom dressed like she is heading to the club. It’s just her and her 8 year oldish daughter. She is an absolute knockout. Lots of cleavage hanging out with spandex bottoms. Totally inappropriate for Disney yet totally awesome! Everyone was avoiding her like the plague.
Once we get settled in line (right next to her) my wife finally notices her and whispers to me “Holy crap can you believe what she is wearing?” I said “Just watch everyone check her out as we go through the line.” Telling that to my wife was the best thing ever. We literally got to watch everyone check her out as we were weaving back in forth to get to the ride. She was only about 5’2 and wearing all black so she didn’t really stick out. It was when you noticed how beautiful she was and what she was wearing that people couldn’t keep their eyes off her.
You wouldn’t believe the lengths that men, women, and children went to get a “peak”. They didn’t want to stare but they couldn’t help but take a look. It was absolutely hilarious. The best was when a wife would nudge a husband to take a look. He would act all surprised when I totally had seen him checking her out a few seconds before. Thankfully our 2 kids were young enough that they had no clue what was going on. That hour wait seemed like 10 minutes. My only regret is that I didn’t strike up a conversation with her. I felt bad as her and her daughter didn’t talk to a single person in that line.
Keep up the great work with Screencaps! My only baseball coach suggestion is to put all the dads on the text thread. The Mom’s will have to “like” “love” “emphasis” every text you send……… Your phone will be dinging non-stop. The dads won’t do that to you.
Baseball coaching advice: How to start Spring Training
I’ve tasked Screencaps dads who’ve been through the coaching ringer to come up with Spring Training advice. I’m looking for how you enter that first practice and how you begin to mold the season. What are the secrets to success? Where do you attack first?
The readers have not disappointed. Remember, we’re focused on the very first day of Spring Training.
• Brandon C. in Pinckney, MI, who has been a huge source of incredible information for many of you beginner coaches, writes:
Number one thing you can do in the early season is repetition of fundamental skills. Basic throwing/catching.. teach a batting stance and get as many swings as you can– tees and soft toss here. and whatever you do, DON’T DO A FULL INFIELD PRACTICE.
For young kids, just standing around as coach hits grounders and watches kids overthrow/underthrow the 1b is just the worst. You can do grounder practice– set up the kids at both SS and 2B positions and put a single kid at 1B & 3B. Hit grounders and then have them throw to the closest base (1B or 3B), then have the kids follow their throws. You get double the repetitions, the kids get more comfortable throwing to a base (and catching at it) and the movement by following their throw gets them more active. Less standing around, more fun, more desire to come back to practice.
If you’re short of tees, here’s a quick fix– get the orange driveway stakes from your local hardware store and duct tape a whiffle ball, tennis ball, or foam softball to the top of the stick (big wad on bottom, slide the ball on, big wad of duct tape on top to prevent it from sliding off. Then just stick the stick in the ground and BAM! new tee for about $5 or less (and the kids will get used to swinging through the ball). If you need to adjust the height for your age, just hacksaw / table saw off the bottom to get something that the majority of your kids can hit from knee to upper thigh height. No chasing balls all around, no waiting for kids to precarious balance the ball on top of a 10-year-old beat up tee from the league, and for $20 you can have an easy-to-store & install station for 4-6 kids to use with high usage & repetitions. And you can assign a parent to just sit on the lawn chair and supervise while you do a more high-activity station drill.
End of practice, make it fun and short (last drill should be something you can do that is 5-10 min long and is high energy/excitement for the kids)– home run derby with foam balls or whiffle balls where they have chase their ball they hit and stand next to it to see who hit it farther, games of pickle with same, practice swinging and run bases as coaches call out single/double/triple/homerun, sliding practice in outfield with tarps.
• Jim M. writes:
Good luck Joe! Because this can be an incredible time and it also can be the most frustrating…(read) parents. All the Manager’s from behind the backstop are going to be telling (yelling) their kid how to bat. Take note of what they say. My team was so relieved when I sat them down in the dugout and asked them if they knew what all the catchphrases they were saying.
My favorite one was “protect the plate”. Omg. Not one kid knew what that meant in the least. And every father said it cause they think they sound like a baseball guy. I became a better coach that day because from them on every time I told them something new I explained what it meant, how it effects the at bat, the game, the runners the next batter etc, etc.
In short, u can run all the drills u want but if kids don’t understand why they should do something they’re just gonna go through the motions, then go home and not care but when they understand why they should do it they will care and understand and that makes the game easier to just play .
I got a lot more but you gonna be in deep,
…again good luck and keep up the good fight, hope that made sense!
• Sean K. writes on the importance of nicknames for kids on the team:
Hey Joe — best of luck to you coaching baseball. I can offer no help since I only coached soccer (and girl’s soccer at that!) as my kids grew up. I WILL say nicknames are ‘a must’ and I am glad you are doing so; even if one or two backfire (a la ‘Pudge’) most kids will carry that nickname and the good memories associated with it for a long time.
Quick story: As you know I handle announcing duties for some of our high school teams, and when my daughters played, I gave everyone nicknames; added smack dab in the middle of their given names during introductions (‘Starting tonight number 5, Mary ‘Atom Bomb’ Ormsby’ and such …)
Anyways, about a year after my youngest daughter finished playing and was at college, she bumped into a fellow female student that went to a rival high school. When my daughter said she went to ‘West Springfield’ the other student said, ‘Oh your school has that crazy guy that gives everyone nicknames and plays that Metallica song (‘Enter Sandman’) at games.’ My daughter then admitted (more than a bit reluctantly, she always points out) that ‘the crazy guy’ is her father. They both had a big laugh over it.
Even better though: the younger sisters of my daughter’s teammates are now playing and one came up to me before a game last season to ask for nicknames: ‘My sisters had one; I want one too — and so do my teammates.’
So regardless of whether play in college or stop playing after rec ball in 7th grade, they’ll keep the nicknames and the memories. That’s the good stuff in my opinion.
Final thoughts: God bless the Marines who stepped up to honor Jim Thompson’s father on his 100th. And I am making a visit to Bill in Colorado’s house a bucket list item: The beer fridge! The bar! Holy smokes that’s awesome!
The Ts are on the run again from INTERPOL
• Mike T. checked in early this morning to report that he and Cindy T. have a new trap house and now they’re holed up in Bologna, Italy where they’re going to eat incredible food and tour the city.
Mike T. writes:
We’ve moved up Italy about two hours to our new home in Bologna, Italy. Quick walking tour this morning through the Quadrilateral District. The Quadrilateral is famous for its restaurants and food shops. Enclosed are a few pictures. The food here is fantastic, however it’s pouring a rain/snow mixture!
Much more to come later.
Card collecting in 2023
Brandon B. in Birmingham asked readers about the state of card collecting and getting back into the hobby and as expected several of the usual suspects are involved in the card game.
• Grant up in Crosby, North Dakota has advice for Brandon…be careful!
Saw the Screencaps topic of the card collecting and thought I’d chime in on the subject. I’ll start off by saying my brother and I collected a lot of cards in the 80’s and 90’s when we were young. We had pretty good collections of all 4 major sports, including Jordan rookie, etc.
When we were off to college in 1999 our family’s house burned down, taking the collections with it. By then I hadn’t been collecting for a few years ahead of that, so I never felt the need to start up collecting again. But then the pandemic hit and with everyone sitting around on their computers some of my friends started buying cards and memorabilia again. We were hanging out at the watering hole discussing it and I decided I wanted to get Don Mattingly’s rookie cards because they were a holy grail to me when I was a little kid.
So sitting right there I decided to go on eBay and buy them in a PSA 9 grade. About a week later I was sitting around and thought about how much I always wanted to open the Billy Ripken F*** Face card in a pack, so I went and bought that in a PSA 9 grade too. At this point I’ve been bit by the card bug and it’s about to escalate. So, once again, a bunch of the same crew hanging out up-town, getting about 3/4ths tight, I declare I’m going to buy all of the rookie cards of every HOF baseball player if his rookie card was in the decade of the 1980’s.
Going to buy everyone of them in a PSA 9 grade. Why do this? I don’t know, but now it has been declared as a mission, so it must be done. Spent a little over a year wheelin’-n-dealin’, enjoying it at times and hating the grind of the mass produced late 80’s cards at other times, but finally achieving the goal to brag to all my friends about (100+ cards). Well, I was done until the “Crime Dog” had to go get voted in, so had to circle back and finish it out again.
Anyway, this is a long rambling story just to warn you that if you go down the rabbit hole, it’s a tough place to get out of, as now I’m on to another card collection goal, which no doubt will lead to another. Proceed with caution fellas!!! You have been warned!
• Speaking of North Dakota, Nate N. from the Crosby, ND crew writes:
Hey Joe, greetings from Crosby, ND. Just wanted to chime in on the topic of collecting sports cards. I’ve been buying sports cards off and on for the last 35 years. A couple winters ago I got all the shoe boxes full of cards from my old closet at my parents’ house and took on the monumental task of getting them all sorted, put into sleeves and binders.
Quite the project, but what more can you do to kill time on a weekend while watching football in the frigid ND winter. Right now, I have approximately 27 three- and four-inch binders filled with all my cards.
Each spring I buy a handful of boxes of the NFL Draft projects and open them with my kids who are 9 and 12. They love opening the packs and putting them in sleeves with me. They get even more excited when we pull an autograph of a top prospect. I don’t expect to make a lot of money off my cards in the future, but it’s something I can do with the kids as a bonding experience.
My kids have also been given specific instructions not to let mom throw the cards away if I die unexpectedly any time soon. Thanks, DBAP and take care.
I guess card collecting is a way to pass the winter in North Dakota. I definitely learned something today.
• Chris in Nebraska has his own advice:
Wanted to chime in for Brandon B. with his question about card collecting. Bet The Board has a really solid weekly segment called CardBoard Chat that is dedicated to the space and they’ve done about 15 episodes. Their first episode dropped on 10/4/22 and it starts off with a good overview and it progresses from there. Might be what Brandon is looking for.
• Duncan N. in Georgia writes:
I got back into card collecting during the pandemic, as did millions of others. I buy a lot of packs, but I also buy individual cards off eBay or other retailers of players I think will be stars. You can’t really buy Patrick Mahomes rookie cards for cheap right now, but you can get some Joe Burrow or Justin Hebert cards for a decent price. Last year my buddy said buy some Julio Rodriguez cards, before the all star game. I grabbed a PSA 10 autographed card. Then he almost won the HR derby and everyone wanted his card and prices went up. As a Yankees fan, I’ve been buying Jasson Ominguez and Anthony Volpe rookie cards.
As far as what brand, that’s mostly personal preference. My kids and I like the Panini chronicle blaster boxes for baseball, we usually get some good RCs I like the prizm and mosaic cards, they are a little different from the typical topps. Bowman makes some nice baseball cards as well. But you have to remember, when you load up ion Fernando Tatis cards like I did, the value can go down just as quickly as it can go up!
• Bill L. in Milwaukee, WI is passionate about this topic:
The Trading Card topic hit home for me…I had collected baseball cards as a kid and my father passed away last fall and we have been cleaning up the house and my son (11 years old) got ahold of my old cards that my mother had luckily not thrown out (she knew better). He is also a hockey player and the “team mom” always provides a goody bag when we go on tournaments and she included hockey cards for this years trips…He was super into them.
Realizing this, I went to YouTube to get educated, as I remember what it was like to rip open packs of cards to see who you got…And Youtube is the place to get educated…need to know how to replace that window motor on that 2005 Honda? Youtube!…Ohh, the days when you had to rely on a manual to figure something out.
Couple of YouTube channels are out there that I have found and I think provide a good assessment and way to look at it (There are obviously lots of guys out there):
1. Scottie B Cards…he actually has a video out today talking about different sets and parallels to collect: https://youtu.be/joIaXF4_mIc
2. One Cent…This guy is in Columbus, OH and focuses on Baseball, but he rates sets as they come out…2023 Topps Series 1 being the latest…he is in depth and very detailed… https://www.youtube.com/@1CentSportsCards
3. Sky B Cards…This guy is the regular guy out there going to Walmart, Target and Meijer to buy retail and rip packs… https://www.youtube.com/@skybcards
4. Sportscard Collector Investor Dealer…This guy has some fun videos where he talks about recent sales in the hobby …. https://www.youtube.com/@collectorinvestordealer
There are new things to the hobby than when we were kids as well…
1. Numbered cards…Panini and Topps and Upper Deck have started to include cards that are serial numbered to 10 or 25 or 199 or 250, etc…The idea being that if you get card 27 of 199 then you have a very unique card in that set 1 of the 199 cards that exist.
2. Memorabilia and Autographed cards…These cards never existed when I was a kid…we had to pull the player we loved and hope that they showed up at a card show and we could wait in line to have them sign the card…Now the card companies include thicker memorabilia cards and autographed cards…These are obviously worth more than a regular card…The trick with the memorabilia cards is to get as many colors in the patch as possible…the desirability of a single color patch is low compared to getting part of a number with 3 colors of the jersey in the patch…On card autographs are worth more than an autograph on a sticker that was placed on the card….the most desired card would be a RPA (Rookie Patch Auto)…you get one of those for a big name rookie, then you found a treasure.
3. Inserts…This is some sort of uniquely designed card that a card company would do for a select list of players in the set…Lot’s of unique inserts in different sets…too many to talk about, but if you get a serial numbered insert that is typically going to be worth a bit more than a base card serial numbered…depending on the player.
4. Different types of issuing of cards…You have Hobby Boxes, Retail Boxes, Blaster Boxes, Mega Boxes, Hanger Boxes, Hanger Packs, First off the Line, etc…The desirability of these is different and the cost is drastically different…The “Hit Rate” (ability to pull a very desirable card) is much higher if you buy a “First off the Line” box, but the liklihood that a peon like us would ever participate in an auction to get one of those is next to zero…Hobby Boxes are usually available at your local hobby store…Retail/Blaster boxes are usually at Target/Meijer…The chances to pull a super desirable card from Retail/Blaster is not high…but the rips can be fun with your kids.
5. Group Breaks…You will find that there are “Breakers” on Youtube…Typically these breaks work in the following fashion…The Youtuber will pull together several boxes of unopened boxes of cards for a particular sport…He/She will then set a price for the “Break”…call it $100, could be more if they include the super high-end sets like “National Treasures” or “Immaculate”…seen breaks for $350…You buy a spot in the “break”…at the beginning of the break they will take all of the names of the folks participating and randomize the order of the folks…they will then take all of the teams and randomize the order…hence participant 1 would be matched with team 1…Usually you will be able to trade with other participants, if you are able to strike a deal…The “Breaker” will then go through all of the packs and you will receive all of the cards from the “Break” for the team that you were assigned…Depending on your price point there is a bunch of risk vs reward…but it is a way to get your hands on a higher-end card.
6. COMC.com … If you are interested in a particular player…Most will go the eBay route…nothing wrong with that…but I found a site called COMC.com which is basically a consignment shop for trading cards…Did you used to collect Garbage Pail Kids? They got them on this site…search by player and look through all the cards available.
7. Find your local trading card shop…these are small businesses in your area and you become a good enough customer and they will start cluing you in on what is coming and maybe a place where you can sell some of the cards that you may not desire, but are valuable.
8. Card shows…I haven’t been to one recently, but I am sure there is one in everyone’s area of the country…tough thing is to walk in there and figure out if you are getting a good deal or not…which is why I have not attended one yet.
9. Grading…This was not a thing when I was a kid…but the thing to do now is to send your cards off for “Grading”…PSA is the largest service out there and if you are lucky enough to pull one of those valuable cards and the edges are good, corners are tight and the centering left/right/top/bottom is spot on…then a card can be sent in for “Grading”…if you get a 10 grade that can take your $10 card to $60/$75…Condition is everything in this hobby if you are looking to “invest” as opposed to just collect.
10. Podcasts…The readers of Screencaps are not throwing around money like the guys on this podcast, but I have found the “Cardboard Chat” podcast to be entertaining because they are talking about higher-end (Thousands of dollars) cards and they get into the history and meaningfulness of sets from prior years…Almost a history lesson…latest episode posted today:
Brianna Ruffalo Appreciation
• Don McC. in Los Angeles wrote to me this morning as I was writing this column:
She’s on fire today Joe!
That’s it. You have enough to read and look at this morning while at work.
Let’s go have a strong day to start the month and remember that there are March Madness games happening for the next 5-6 weeks. Now is the time to act like you paid attention to college basketball all season.
Have an incredible day.
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