Monday, March 28, 2022

2021 Topps Series Two Big Blaster Break!

It's time to open another one of these! I know. I just opened a 2022 blaster. Why am I going back in time? Well, because that's what I had sitting around to open. So there. Again, I'm guessing that these aren't called "big blasters" but I don't know what else to call them. So, that's what I'm going with. You know what the cards look like, but not what I got this time!

Let's see how it went!

Once again, here's the box showcasing the motorcycle stunt man.

See? It really is one of the bigger blasters.

Packed in such a weird way.

A shot of Chris Sale will all the computer graphics threatening to attack him. Maybe that's how he broke his rib.

Number 36 will always have a special place on this blog.

When I opened the 2022 blaster, I mentioned that I didn't mind the insert sets being throwback designs. I think they're much better/cleaner than most of the insert designs and themes that might be used otherwise. I'm perfectly happy with this different looking Dalbec RC. I don't need an overdone "Smoke and Fire" theme or whatever garbage they come up with. It would just be nice if they mixed up the designs a bit. With 70 to choose from, you think they could have lots of variety.

Nice action shot here.

Chavis holding at second. A different sort of action shot. Not batting, not fielding, not running...but still action.

Not the best shot of Houck here. 

Much better photo for a RC. And, a great example of using past designs. Honestly, if every year there was an insert set showcasing the 20th, 40th, and 60th anniversary sets I think that would be great. Let archives use the 10th, 30th, 50th, and 70th. Then there would always be variety and players wouldn't be repeated on designs as much.

Bogaerts defying gravity. How can you not extend a guy who can fly?

Glad he's back. Excited to see what role he fills on the team.

Love this celebration shot.

See? This is great. Ortiz on a '94 design. I have no problems with this. Not sure Topps has used this design very much either. It's the third retro design of the box, and I'm not tired of them at all.

Speaking of players whose role I'm excited to see...will Barnes be back to all-star form?

So, there you have the results. 

What do you think?

Friday, March 25, 2022

Emma Gibney Visits Section 36!

Steve Smith Photography
Section 36 had another visitor! 
Emma Gibney is passionate about suicide prevention, a talented speaker, and the current Miss Worcester County's Outstanding Teen. I was so excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Emma Gibney visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Worcester County’s Outstanding Teen crown?

How did I celebrate winning the MWCOT crown? That's a really good question. I'm actually still quite in shock from my win. I have only started in the Miss America Organization about 7 months ago but the first thing I did to celebrate this amazing accomplishment was go out to dinner with my family after. It was kind of crazy to actually go to a restaurant and get stares and wonder why everyone was looking at me remembering that I had a crown on my head but I kept it on the whole time. 

Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as MWCOT?

A goal that I would love to be able to accomplish during my time as MWCOT would be to bring awareness to my Social Impact Initiative. By going into as many schools as possible and promoting "Suicide Prevention: Erasing the Stigma". I would love to show other teenagers like myself the importance of taking care of your mental health and all the reasons to stay!

What has been the biggest surprise about your time as MWCOT?

So although I’ve only been MWCOT for a very short amount of time there have already been some surprises on the way by having the amazing opportunity of being able to go out into the community and be hands on with the community and its members. It's shown me that there are many things to be done with my social impact and many other things. It has opened my eyes to all that I can do for the time that I have this title.

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Suicide Prevention: Erasing the Stigma”?

I selected my Social Impact Initiative entitled "Suicide Prevention: Erasing the Stigma” becuase of my close relation to the topic. Sadly a few years ago I lost my cousin to suicide, and being on the other end of that news and being the family member and feeling; and knowing that something like this could be prevented with the right knowledge and the right education on the topic of mental health and its importance to take care of your mind is vital and thats why I chose this topic because knowing that even if my SII can help just one person feel less alone then my job as a titleholder has been fulfilled. 

What do you enjoy most about performing your talent on stage?

Something that I enjoy most about performing my talent is actually something that comes after I perform it. My favorite part is the amount of people that come up to me after and express to me how much they needed my poem or how it deeply connected to them and how it was in some ways inspiring. Because that is why I get up on the stage and face my fears, in hope that I can connect with the audience. 

How would you complete the sentence, “I get great satisfaction when ___”?

I would finish the sentence "I get great satisfaction when.... I help others". Volunteerism and community service are both two really vital aspects in the MAO and so helping someone not only is helping them and the community but it makes me feel good about myself and the things that I am doing.

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

If I could be a Disney character for a whole week I would choose to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Not only do I believe that I deeply connect with her personally, we both share a love for reading and gaining as much knowledge as possible. In addition, I would like to say a kind heart, but I feel like she represents everything the organization and a Miss America's Outstanding Teen or Miss America should be. She is kind, smart, witty and extremely independent.  

If you had an extra ticket to see a WooSox game, who would you take with you? Why?

If I had an extra ticket to a WooSox game I would take my dad. My dad loves everything sports and even though he doesn't know much about tennis, the sport that I play, you will see him at every single one of my matches without fail, and always trying to give pointers. He's my best friend and that's why I believe that I would take him.

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

Steve Smith Photography
An activity or feature that I would love to experience would be throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game. I have always seen other people doing it on TV and I think that it would be such a cool thing to experience. 


Agreed, that would be an amazing experience!

As usual, I want to thank Emma for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish Emma luck when she competes for Miss Massachusetts' Outstanding Teen! It would be fantastic to have the another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Emma during her journey as MWCOT. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on.

Thanks again Emma, and good luck!

Monday, March 21, 2022

2022 Topps Blaster!

 I finally got my hands on one of these, so of course just had to open it and share. 

Here's what the box looks like. 

And the packs. I can't decide if I like the fact that the "patch" card isn't in its own pack anymore...or if I dislike it...or if I don't care.

But here it is. I will say that I like the look of the card. Wonder if there's a number 36 out these somewhere.

The first Red Sox card if 2022! What do I think of the design? I'm a fan. I like that we're sticking with the full borders. And even though the sweeping line design still has a "modern" feel, it seems less "computery" if that's a word. I love that I can read the player name again. I could use a touch more color...but overall I like it a lot.

Nice action shot of Duran here. Hope to see big things from him.

For all the people who complain about all the insert sets being recycled old designs...I'd take another 1952 style card over this. 

Or this. I mean, "Stars of MLB"? That's what people were longing for?

Another rookie card. I feel like the cropping is better this year. I don't feel like I'm standing too close to the player on this card.

Even this card of Mr. Shaw here. It's close, but not uncomfortably close. 

A fun, somewhat different, shot of Renfroe here. The yellow jersey is still overwhelming, especially with the added socks, but it's a nice picture. Looking in the background, looks like everyone else is already in position. Wonder why he's leaving the dugout so late.

So, there you have it. Not a bad collection of Sox cards., I think I'll enjoy collecting them this year.

How did your box go?

Friday, March 18, 2022

Tori Brooks Visits Section 36!

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Tori Brooks is passionate about Empowerment, a talented dancer, and the current Miss Sacramento County. I was so excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Tori Brooks visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Sacramento County crown?

I celebrated the only way I know how and that is with a churro donut and ice cream surrounded by my loved ones.

What portion of the Miss California competition are you most nervous about?

When I think of being nervous about Miss California, I envision what part of the competition is most important to me and that is representing my county. I hope to showcase the culture, people and Sacramento spirit to the best of my ability while on and off the stage. 

What has been the most pleasant surprise about your time as Miss Sacramento County?

The most pleasant surprise of becoming Miss Sacramento County has been meeting and networking with all the lovely individuals that support this program. Their vision for a future filled with successful, goal and service-oriented women are the pillars of this program, and I am blessed that I can work with them.

How did you select your social impact, “GEM - Growing, Empowering and Motivating”?

I decided to create GEM after having the privilege of serving alongside domestic violence and trafficking victims at my local women’s shelter. I saw a need for change and awareness and made GEM to reconnect these survivors with their inner beauty and resources to aid in their recovery.  

As a talented dancer, what do you enjoy most about performing on stage?

What I enjoy most about performing on stage is being able to engage my audience in something that makes them smile. Polynesian dance is a unique gift that lets me give back to my community and build on my skills as a dancer. 

You’re currently a Physician Assistant Student at UC Davis Betty Irene School of Nursing. What drew you to that field?

The greater focus on patient care and quality of care is what drew me to my career. I have a passion for service and this field allows me to nurture my intellectual side while also providing patients with care they feel comfortable with. 

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

Mulan is one of my favorite Disney characters and I would love to walk in her shoes for a week. My reasoning is that she isn’t afraid of being different or uncomfortable if it means fighting what she believes in, and I aim to be a representative of that every day.

If you had an extra ticket to see a Yankees - Athletics game, who would you take with you? Why?

I would take my mother to thank her for all the sacrifices she has made to help me succeed. The Yankee’s game would be a perfect way for me to show her my gratitude and share my love of baseball.

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

If I could pick any aspect of a baseball game to be involved in, it would be to watch the game with the players from their dugout. As a previous softball player, the most exhilarating part of the game was being surrounded by my team’s energy and focus while the game was underway. It would be incredible to experience that with a professional team.


Agreed, that would be an amazing experience!

As usual, I want to thank Tori for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish Tori luck when she competes for Miss California! It would be fantastic to have the first Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

I'm sure you'd like to follow along with Tori during her journey as Miss Sacramento County. You should be sure to check out her title's Instagram account. It's a great way to keep track of everything she has going on.

Thanks again Tori, and good luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Check Out My Mailday!

About a month ago, I decided it was finally time to request another shipment from COMC. The shipping times had started to be reasonable again, and my pile of cards I wanted was growing into a handful. So, I pulled the trigger on a small stack. The baseball ones can be seen below. Let's have a look, shall we?

1989 Donruss Ken Griffey Jr. Here's a card I had back in the day. Heck, I'm guessing I had two or three at one point. All made their way out of my collection. I started to think that I really should have one. If only for the memories. It's also the sort of card a good collection should have. It's not the '89 Upper Deck, but it's a recognizable RC of an all-time great. This card ended up being in worse condition than I imagined it would be. But, that's OK. It's probably not much worse than the ones I used to have.

1985 Topps Roger Clemens. I never had one of these cards before, but always wished I did. Figured I should fix that issue now. I also have that side project I'm working on collecting paying days cards of every member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, which Roger is in. (Of course, I'll never complete the project on my budget.) Obviously, I have plenty of other cards from his playing days. But, the rookie seems like the best to include.

1967 Topps Dick Williams. Another addition to the HOF collection. This, obviously, isn't his rookie card. But, if I had to pick a year to represent, 1967 seems like the natural choice.

1959 Topps Pete Runnels. Another addition to the Hall of Fame Collection. And, another good example of the reason behind the project. It's my first 1959 Topps. So, I'm able to have a purpose for picking one up as opposed to a random common. 

1955 Bowman Frank Sullivan. You guessed it. Pretty sure this is my first 1955 Bowman card. Love adding the variety.

1964 Topps Dick Radatz. Pretty sure I already have a 1964 Topps. But, a Radatz rookie is a 1962 high number. Way more than I'm going to pay for the Monster. So, I liked the look of the 1964.


1964 Topps Tony Conigliaro. Now I defintiely already have a 1964 Topps. But how could I pass on a Tony C rookie?

1964 Fleer Ted Williams w/ Tom Yawkey. Now, the tricky part of the project. Executives like Tom Yawkey don't have a lot of cards. Especially while they were active in the roles that earned them the nod. So, I jumped at the chance when I realized Yawkey was on this card. Once again, this is a set I always wanted a card from. But, the "good" cards tend to be expensive, and the others are nothing to get excited about. This project gave me a good reason to give the set a try. I'm glad I did.

So, there we go. That's my latest shipment from COMC. The baseball ones, at least. It's been a great way to work on this project and add some fun cards to my collection.

Can't wait for the next shipment.

Which card is your favorite?

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Best Number of Playoff Teams Is...

With the new CBA for baseball ending the lockout and apparently adding playoff teams, this is suddenly a relevant question. Just how many playoff teams should you have?

The correct answer?


It's that simple. The best playoff system is to not have a playoff system. It's such an obvious answer that there's literally no argument against it.  

Of course, it's not exactly that easy. Because it actually depends on the answer to the question, "Why do we have playoffs in the first place?" If your answer to that question is "to determine the best team of the year", then you don't need any playoffs. After 162 games, if you haven't figured that out by now you're just not paying attention. So why on earth would you need more games? All playoff games do it give the inferior team a chance to win the series. If after a 162-game season one team is five games behind another team...why would you want a playoff series to give the losing team another chance? What purpose would that serve? We've already determined the best team.

Now, if your answer is "To create excitement and sell tickets and tv contracts"...well...then you still don't want any playoff teams. At least not how they're currently constructed. 

If you're thinking, "I want more money and excitement", then why limit the teams at all? Bring excitement and money to all the teams.

Or, at least all the ones that deserve it. 

I've asked the question before, but what if baseball had two champions? There's the 162-game champion and then a new equally important "tournament champion". "What is this tournament?", you ask. Well, I don't have all the details yet. But, Im thinking a midseason timeframe. July perhaps. It would be a 28 team tournament. Which 28? The top 28 teams from the previous season. On July 1, those 28 teams would be ranked based on the current year's standings. (Or, perhaps after 80 team games or something to make it even.) The top two ranked teams would get a first round bye. If my math is right, then the other 26 teams would then be seeded according to that same record and start a single game elimination tournament over the next week or so to determine the champion. A "July Madness" if you will. What does this tournament do? For one thing it punishes the true "tankers" from the previous year. They miss out on the excitement...and the revenue. It also lets every team get involved. Think the Mets could make a run with deGrom and Scherzer? How about any non-playoff team with a top ace. With the excitement of the single game, they all have a chance. But, it still rewards the better regular season team...both with entry to the tournament and with the seeding.

You'd also think the tournament could get a decent TV contract to help incentivize everyone to make this happen.  

Obviously there are some kinks. A couple off the top of my head...With rain, my guess is that these would all need to be played in dome/roof stadiums. Also, with pitching rotations, I'd like to space it out so the top two teams could have their ace pitch the finals, and somehow not make it as easy for the other teams. Not quite sure how to schedule that, though. But, those are minor adjustments. 

You also have to get the teams to buy into the fact that it's an "equal" championship and they need to play to win. This isn't a weeklong exhibition to rest their stars. It's just as important as they playoffs are now. But, once that's settled, I think this'll work.

You reward the best team with a championship, and you award one to the tournament champion too. Reward skill, but still have excitement and cash flow.

Everyone wins!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Margaret Carpenter-Dove Visits Section 36

Section 36 had another visitor! 
Margaret Carpenter-Dove is passionate about volunteering, a talented dancer, and the current Miss Shoreline. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Margaret Carpenter-Dove visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Shoreline crown?

I didn’t celebrate my win yet because my pageant director awarded me the [at-large] title since I did well last year, although I didn’t win a local. There weren’t too many locals held due to COVID. Shoreline wasn’t one of them so I was awarded that title. Anyway I’m celebrating my win on March 20th when all the at large titleholders get their crowns and sashes. So I’m just celebrating it with everyone else who gets a crown and sash.

What portion of the Miss Connecticut competition are you most excited about?

My favorite portions are talent and social impact! 

What is something that Sapna Raghavan is doing as Miss Connecticut that you would want to emulate? 

What I desire to do that Sapna is doing is to basically help the performing arts through diversity. I desire to help people of all sorts of minorities receive volunteer opportunities!

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Volunteer in 5”?

I selected my social impact” volunteer in 5 “ because it only takes 5 moments to decide to volunteer no matter who you are. Your sexuality, disability, gender, race, culture, religion et cetera shouldn't prevent you. Society sets stereotypes for organizations and you shouldn’t allow it to define you! I don’t let my slight disabilities or sexuality define me. I'm more than capable of doing the job! I just say I’m 99% neurotypical 1% disabled, which is the truth. If life were easy we wouldn’t have to deal with putting black and white barriers on any minority. What we  have to offer as far as community service is beyond amazing and I desire to change it so every person is able to and learn to do so! It only takes 5 moments to say yes and if you take advice and actually listen then 5 moments to decide yes will do the trick to do so!

As a talented dancer, what do you enjoy most about performing on stage?

What I enjoy most about performing on stage is just being in high energy and feeling my own energy. I don't necessarily pay attention to crowd energy, I just do it for my pure enjoyment !

How would you complete the sentence, “I get great satisfaction when ___”?

I get great satisfaction when I’m happy and doing my best. 


If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would choose Minnie Mouse because she’s very animated!

If you had an extra ticket to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, would you find someone to go with you?

If I got a ticket for the opposite side of the stadium and I was cheering on the Miami Marlins then yes! Sorry to disappoint you, just being honest. Gotta love Miami and Tampa teams!

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

If I were to experience it would be actually getting the chance to volunteer with challenger leagues with IDD.


I'm sure that would be wonderful!

As usual, I want to thank Margaret for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I also want to wish Margaret luck when she competes for Miss Connecticut! It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 Forever wear that crown.

Thanks again Margaret, and good luck!

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