So, I had an idea…

So, I had an idea…

Cards

So, I had an idea…

What if I could automate a gallery?

Matt “Doc” Perry, Somewhere on that 3rd rock from the Sun

February 15th, 2019

I love solving problems (even non-existent first world ones) with technology.

I had taken a look at the woefully out of date pages on my site the other day. I hadn’t update a needs/wants list since 2015, I hadn’t updated a trade-bait cards list since 2012. It was pretty sad. What’s the old saying? “The cobblers children have no shoes”? Well, the web guy doesn’t have time to update his own site. I’ve built 4 sites in two months so far in 2019, but I can’t seem to find the time to update a list.

So, I had a thought. What would be the easiest way to have something, essentially, update itself with minimal interaction and effort? What if I could create a gallery of Trade-worthy cards using a few off-the-shelf plugins and scripts?

Well, I gave it a try.

cards.docholoday.com

I need to say up front that this is a TEST of the technology, not a full blown implementation.

Here’s the jist. On the server, within a defined “gallery” folder, I’ve created 30 sub folders. One for each Major League Baseball team. In those, I drop scans of cards. I’ve made the scans with a photoshop action that crops, resizes and saves anything I have in my “marquee” tool. I have the tool set on a fixed size (2.5x3.5). I scan an entire scanner bed of cards, click once on the card, click the action button, and done. Saving with a useful name is about the longest part of it. Then I use an FTP program to just drop them into the 30 folders.

That’s it. No editing pages to update galleries, no painful WordPress short codes to change. Heck, theres not even “pages” technically.

So, with this little experiment, I took a handful of cards I had sitting around (not and exhaustive inventory of everything I have) and tried it out. It seems to work pretty well.

More cards load as you scroll on the “all” category. It’s sortable by teams if you have a specific interest. The images open larger in a lightbox.

And I feel like all I did was drop files into a folder.

Again, this was just a test. A theory. Since it seems to be working, I have a feeling I’ll be porting it back to this site and integrating it here. Until then, please check it out and let me know what you think. I can answer any questions about it as well for those of you that have WordPress blogs as well.

Later.

2019 Topps Series 1

2019 Topps Series 1

Cards

2019 Topps Series 1

This checklist is a raging dumpster fire.

Matt “Doc” Perry, Somewhere on that 3rd rock from the Sun

February 13th, 2019

I should say upfront, there’s nothing really “wrong” with Topps flagship this year.

The design is fine, it’s simple enough, although I did notice a few things here and there that kind of bugged me. There’s room for nice photos, the horizontal variations are good, they’re not overly and obviously photoshopped and processed. My main complaint this year is the checklist. I feel like it’s complete and utter garbage. I also feel like the Red Sox and Yankees and Braves (oddly) are given undue amounts of focus and inserts. It might seem weird that I’m complaining about too many Red Sox cards, but yeah, that’s where we’re at with this set. I can’t speak for other team collectors so I’m only speaking for Red Sox fans here, but look at this garbage…

3 Eduardo Nunez – WS HL
13 David Price
23 J.D. Martinez – LL
28 Boston’s Boys
50 Mookie Betts
54 Rick Porcello
76 J.D. Martinez – WS HL
77 J.D. Martinez
160 Fenway Park
167 Xander Bogaerts
179 Jackie Bradley Jr.
228 Rafael Devers
262 Mitch Moreland
275 Steve Pearce – WS HL
312 Mookie Betts – LL
314 David Price – WS HL

There’s the “base” checklist. J.D. Martinez 3 times. Mookie Betts 3 times (if you could the “Boston Boys” insert). David Price twice. A throwaway “Fenway Park” card. Let’s cut that down to just players…

Eduardo Nunez, David Price, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Rick Porcello, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Rafael Devers, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce.

That’s 10. Not 17. 7 extra cards with little to no purpose. “But wait, those are celebration cards for the World Series!” you cry. Are they? Are they really? They sure look a lot like base cards with a logo slapped on it. J.D. Martinez’s card for instance, has him batting, pre-swing. His World Series card? Dropping the bat post-swing and a WS logo in the corner.

The base cards aren’t even really my problem. I’m ok with 10-17 of them. I would have liked fewer repeats, but I’d be willing to live with it if it weren’t for the damn inserts in this cluster of a product.

  • There are SEVEN (of the 10) base cards with SP photo variations.
  • There are NINETEEN “150 Years of Baseball” inserts
  • There are SIX “1984” cards, because we haven’t beaten that to death yet?
  • There are FIVE “Grapefruit League” inserts, because no one remembers Ted Williams so we’ll remind you he played in the minors?
  • There are FIVE “Greatness Returns” inserts, because inserts.
  • There are FIVE completely pointless “Iconic Card Reprints”, because why try something new when we can put in reprints?
  • There are SIX “Stars of the Game” inserts.

THAT’S 70 CARDS!!!!!

I haven’t even counted parallels, relics, autographs or manufactured crap. Seventy freaking base and insert cards is nuts. Completely bonkers.

You know who I feel bad for? The Yankees. (I hope I never have to type that sentence ever again). They have, and I’m not exagerating, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN cards that I would consider a base or insert card. Holy crap. There are 37 Gleyber Torres cards alone, mostly due to a special insert set just for him.

At this point, I have to honestly wonder what the product managers at Topps were thinking. Were they lacking material and didn’t want to make a “small” set so they over compensated? Were they inspired by the “150 Years” anniversary and got carried away? Were they trying to make the product more interesting because it’s always a weak seller and people usually wait for Series 2/Update to spend more on chasing rookies?

I have no answers for any of that, except to say that I’m personally not falling for it this year. This will the first year in my 8 years back in the hobby that I will refuse to collect a master team set. I’ve got my 17 base cards, which I’m fine with, and if anyone wants to dump pointless inserts at me, I’d take them, but I’m not going to go out of my way to find, pay for or collect any of the additional 50+ cards.

I just can’t get behind this idea that they needed to over saturate the product with cards no one will ever card about. Do we want minor league cards of people that have retired and/or died? Babe Ruth, according to Baseball Reference (https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=ruth–002geo) was on, but never played a game for, two “International League” teams in 1914. By all accounts, he went strait to Boston in 1914 and played 5 games. So, for Topps, that means he should get a “Grapefruit League Greats” card? For a league that didn’t technically exist? He was in Baltimore and Providence RI. That’s not exactly south Florida!

I just don’t think this product was well thought out. Normally I’m super excited about the return of baseball, the start of spring training, etc, but I found myself staring at the boxes in Target over the weekend and I just couldn’t buy any of it. I had read the checklist ahead of time. There’s not a single other card (rookie or star player) from the larger set that I would want. I suppose I’m just not going to buy any this year, which is a shame, because my love for baseball is stronger than ever. With the retail exclusives continuing to be a problem and checklists like these, I can see this being a very lean year for my card buying.

Again, I don’t have a problem with the design, I think it’s fine. It’s certainly better than a few of the previous years, last year especially.

I actually took a swing at the design (for customs) and it was fairly strait forward. I’ll do a breakdown of the layout and the fonts at some point. Until then, these are probably the only Series 1 scans I’ll be making…

2018 In Review

2018 In Review

Personal

2018 In Review

Where on earth did the year go?

Matt “Doc” Perry, Somewhere on that 3rd rock from the Sun

December 21st, 2018

I don’t even know where to start…

Usually I’m pretty good with words. However in 2018 they apparently escaped me entirely. I guess that makes sense, there was quite a lot going on.

The majority of the year focused on repairing the house, which I’m sure I’ve beaten to death by now as a topic of conversation. Although we moved in over the forth of July, it wasn’t until August and September that it really came together as a home. Art is up on the walls, things are painted, knickknacks are back on shelves. Everything has settled back in nicely and we’re looking forward to taking a break of everything for the holidays. No, not everything is back to 100%, there’s still lots of boxes in the garage, but we made a good dent and we’re happy with the progress.

Not art studio yet, but I have carved out a little place to do some paintings. Mostly abstract stuff, but it’s fun to dabble in. Might as well do something with the art school education other than enjoy the mountain of debt.

Yes. It’s a pour painting. The Diet Coke or Art. I don’t care, it’s fun.

Why have one monitor when you could have three!

Work has been going ok. I’ve transitioned from a 90% creative position to, literally, IT Sys-Admin and Tech Support. I’m doing stuff that I really never would have thought I’d be doing. I’m managing AD users and an Exchange server, I’m running SQL queries and exporting accounting databases, I’m setting up VMs to run specific servers for specific tasks, I’m checking the corporate spam filters and firewall traffic. It’s kinda crazy. I don’t think I’m really qualified to be doing any of these things, but I’ve always been a quick learner, and I’m at least familiar with most of it. I just don’t have the specific degrees. I guess that doesn’t really matter at this point. Wherever my career ends up going, experience counts for the most important parts, at least in my opinion.

They did finally manage to fix my office. I’m not sure I really told that story. The nutshell version is that it’s on the top floor of a small office building and the roof collapsed… into MY office specifically. Lucky me. Everything was ruined except for a few things under the desks, which luckily included my Synology NAS and Mac Pro. So, I took all that home the minute there was a “home” to take it back to. I’ve been working from here every since. They finished the repairs about three weeks ago, and besides the new carpet smell, it seems to be back to the way it was.

I did get my tasks essentially tripled this year as well. We have two guys leaving (in an already small team), so everyone gets to step up and take on larger rolls, myself included. The job security feels nice, but I’ve yet to see the added, umm, “compensation” for all the hard work. Luckily it’s review time and my boss is actually a really awesome guy, so I’m not too worried.

Health wise it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster of a year. I was pretty beat (mentally and physically) at the start of the year, floods and stress will do that to a person. Then the summer was better, I was feeling pretty good, getting back to everything. Then this fall I had a bit of a scare. I landed in the ER one night having trouble breathing. Long story short, I’ve had to change a lot of things about my life and the way I eat and exercise. Fun fact, getting older sucks. Also, just as a pro tip, from someone who’s had to find this out way too late, go figure out your family history of medical problems. Do that NOW. Then have your doctor start checking for that stuff.

The upside is that it’s now under control and I’ve made such a crazy change in diet that I’ve lost 30-40lbs since only October and I’m feeling considerably better. Apparently, if you don’t eat junk, and have a salad, you might not die early! Who knew?!

I’m actually kinda proud of myself for this one. I haven’t had a carb or a refined sugar in three months. Cold turkey. I could give up sweets and soda without a problem. I did that over night. Bread on the other hand, I really love bread. That’s been the hardest. Well, that and tortillas, which are basically bread, but with an accent.

I can however, continue my BBQ ways. That’s got me through quite a few “I don’t want to have another effing salad” moments. I’m thinking about doing a competition this spring with an old friend.

Getting better. Practice makes perfect.

New. Favorite. Shirt.

Then we come to the baseball portion of our post. How about those Red Sox? I’m not going to lie, there were a few times I thought the bullpen was a raging dumpster fire, but it’s really hard to find fault with 108 wins, and a really solid post-season run.

They were really just incredibly fun to watch this year. I’m going to be selfish for a minute, but I really needed that pick-me-up. It felt good. When I had a crappy day, or something was going wrong with the house, I knew I could put the game on and relax.

The mood was different from the other recent championships too. 2004 was destiny, plain and simple. 2007 was just a solidly built team. 2013 felt like angry “revenge” baseball to prove a point or get back at shitty terrorists.

2017 was, as far as I can tell, just really really fun.

Mookie was as advertised, Benny had a solid year-two, and J.D.Martinez proved himself to be a ridiculous hitter and an incredible clubhouse presence by helping some of the younger guys throughout the season. Sale was amazing, and the rest of the rotation too. I’m excited to have guys like Eovaldi back as well. Should be fun to watch again next year.

Last but not least, baseball cards. I’m not sure where to begin. I picked some up (surprise!). I didn’t scan most of them. I bought the usual team sets and a few assorted hits on ebay. I didn’t really go crazy this year, other things were more important. I didn’t abandon the hobby by any means, but let’s just say that it really helped the 2018 was a boring year in cards, in general. I just wasn’t impressed with 95% of the products this year. I even bought a very limited amount of Gypsy Queen.

I also couldn’t find half the “exclusive” bullshit products. Target exclusive this, Walmart exclusive that. Bullshit. The distribution is so terrible that Topps should be ashamed to be using the same companies year after year. I’m not exactly rolling in cash, so I’m not buying cases of anything (ever), but it seems like that’s the only way to find about half of the hobby these days. That and their stupid online only crap, which I refuse to buy into. I did make one exception and bought a “Holt hits the cycle” Topps Now card, but I bought it for $0.99 on ebay, on the secondary market.

There was one bright spot in the boring wasteland of cards this year. I teased it on twitter, and I’m teasing it again now (see image), but Panini Chronicles was a massive success in my book. The designs, borrowed from Panini’s other products (football, soccer, etc) as well as a few baseball and unique designs made the box (and subsequent blasters) a real joy to open. The variety was outstanding. I got dozens of really nice rookie cards for the top talent in the league, and well, what can I say about the hits…

I’m doing a proper post, with scans of everything from the box, probably after new years, but this was easily my best personal pull in history.

Oh my…

I think that about wraps it up. I’d apologize for not blogging enough this year, and I do miss the interaction with people, but things just got crazy and needed to be taken care of. I know I speak for everyone around here when I say we’re really wishing that 2019 would be a normal, boring, regular sort of year. No changes in jobs, no car wrecks, no floods, no sickness. Maybe a vacation at some point? People still take those right? That would be nice.

Anyway, I hope everyone has an awesome Christmas, and a safe New Year. Sláinte!

Crazy Summer

Crazy Summer

PERSONAL

Crazy Summer

I don’t even know anymore…

Matt “Doc” Perry, Creative Geek, Texas

September 7th, 2018

As I sit here, at my desk, in my house, I think about how easy those words are to type, but a year after Hurricane Harvey, how hard they were to actually make a reality again. Last week was the one year anniversary of when our home flooded. I can still remember to torrential downpour of rain that blanketed the roof all day and all night. There was hardly any wind, the electricity stayed on (for the most part), and we were glued to the local TV weather report. We were watching Channel 11 (KHOU) as the TV station flooded and THEY evacuated, which was an ultra-surreal moment.

At the time I was comparing it to one of those Sci-Fi movies where you hear the “news coverage” in the background of the aliens landing and then suddenly there’s screams followed by nothing but static. You see that in a movie and you’re thinking “that’s crazy, the news wouldn’t just go off the air like that, that’s cheesy”. Then it happens in real life and that little voice in the back of your brain, the irony-center, starts screaming at you to pack up your crap and run.

The mad scramble to put stuff on on tables and in closets is what I remember most from the actually night it started. The amazing “tetris” zen that comes over you when you’re trying to stack your entire existence onto a dinning room table, or as high in a closet as you can put things.

I’ve covered what happened next already. The Cajun Navy boat ride. The dump truck journey across town. The shelter. The helpless feeling.

Then the recovery, and the help we received, and the love we felt. That’s still very real a year later.

Throughout the entire repair process, even when stuff was going all pear-shaped with contractors, when things weren’t working out, when things were delayed, we always had people willing to help. Especially towards the end, when it was coming down to the wire.

The moving back in was a mix of glorious triumph and back-breaking labor. Contractors had delayed and delayed and kept pushing things off. We drew a hard line and said that the 4th of July is our drop-dead date. We were moving in. We scheduled the movers for that Friday (the 6th). As of the 5th, they electricians, the plumbers and the painters were still all not finished. They were painting my living room until 4pm on the 5th. At 5pm I had a friend come help me and we put down laminate flooring until 1am. The movers came at 8am.

Since then it’s been a weird mix of finishing little things (like weather stripping and door thresholds, and unpacking as best we can. It’s taken most of the summer and we’ve only just put a good dent into it. We’ve unpacked about half, but also reduced down quite a bit, and donated most of what we don’t plan on using going forward.

I’m sure it’ll be months until the final boxes go away, but we’re comfortably moved in and unpacked enough that we’re really not missing much. Except the crockpot. I still can’t find the damn crockpot, lol.

Cards

As for cards, there’s really not a ton to say about 2018. I didn’t have anywhere to put them for most of it, so I just didn’t buy any. Don’t get me wrong, I ordered a couple team sets here and there, but I cut way back on ebay and comc orders and hadn’t bought a retail blaster until Optic this month. Sam brought me a couple nice cards the couple times we got to hang out this summer. A really sweet 2017 Museum Collect Rick Porcello tri-relic and an awesome 2006 Papelbon/Breslow duel auto he said he found for $2 somewhere and couldn’t pass up. He also brought me the two photo variation SSPs from 2017 Flagship, Ted Williams fishing and a Mookie All-Star game photo variation. I’d scan them, but the scanner is at my office, which also flooded, which is an entirely other insane story for another time.

As far as major sets go, 2018 was pretty disappointing. Not because I missed out on a set, but because I didn’t really want them in the first place. Maybe it was my overall mood for most of the year, but I just wasn’t in a happy place collecting-wise. When you get right down to it, I just had more important stuff to do.

Flagship is, well, flagship. Heritage was boring except for the inclusion of the B&W “deckle edge” photos, Donruss took a step backward from it’s high-point of reinvention last year and even Diamond Kings was kind of washed out and boring. Stadium club looked nice but I literally never found any. Bowman Platinum was a WM exclusive again and so I never found any of that either. Ginter is “meh”, Bowman is “meh”, and Chrome just came out but 4 cards per pack has always been downright insulting.

The real highlight, for me at least, was Gypsy Queen. I like the design, and the inserts were top-notch this year, but I just didn’t have the funds to try and put a whole set together. So, I got the teamset complete and I’m pretty happy with that. I wouldn’t pass up the chance to build it (anyone have like 400 dupes?), but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Games

I did try and keep my sanity with a little digital entertainment this year. I picked up a tiny handful of games for the PS4. I bought God of War and The Show 2018. The Show is an unmitigated disaster and I’m quite honestly done with the franchise. They managed to ruin something basic like a baseball game in the same way Call of Duty has slowly ruined the FPS genre. Micro-transactions, points, coins, DLC, features locked away behind achievements and GRIND to get even little things. Unholy amounts of grinding for levels and games and unlocks. In The Show it’s all about the “Diamond Dynasty” mode and unlocking cards for players to use on your team. Oh, did you want to use Nolan Ryan as a pitcher? That’s take 4000 strikeouts and 500 games as a lesser pitcher, just so you can unlock him. I’m sorry, maybe I’m more “casual” gamer now, but that’s just not going to happy.

God of War on the other hand, was probably the best game I’ve played in years. Complete story, not too many mindless quests, plenty of game area to explore, awesome characters, breath-taking graphics. It was a complete gem and the best $20 I’ve spent in forever (found it on sale somewhere).

I also played Destiny 2 for all of an hour and was very happy it was given away for free this month and not something people are having to spend money on. Wow, has Bungie ever fallen. It’s that bad.

Art

The plan for the “art studio garage” is working it’s way toward reality. As I mentioned above, we’re about half-way unpacked. The rest of those boxes are sitting in prime studio space, so we’re planning a massive garage sale for later this month or early October. Hopefully with a combination of that and more donating/purging stuff we don’t need, I can be putting together a working studio by the end of the year. I’m really really looking forward to it, not just as a goal, but as a creative outlet. Working IT this past year has been interesting, but my heart will still always lean towards creative endeavors.

The end goal is to really make a push into using the creative space for the things we enjoy doing and using extra money from things like custom cards or cut vinyl or photography or painting to fuel the things we’ve always wanted to do as a family. If I can have fun and support my family with a little side-business, then it’s all worth it.

I’ve played around with a few customs as well, just to keep myself busy. Nothing really noteworthy for the moment, but a couple re-do’s of products this year that were a little weak, and a couple fun takes on classics. I’m sure I’ll show those off at some point.

I don’t really have too much else. Just a busy, crazy summer. Just glad to be home.

I’ll just leave this here…