Monday. The first Monday after the holidays.  The first five day week of work after having two days off each of the last two weeks.  It was tough to get back in the grind today, but I ended up getting a lot accomplished.  I’m hoping the work I did in December will put me in position to have a successful January.  Time will tell, but I know I am working hard to prove that I belong at my new company and can be successful in the dual role I have been asked to handle.  I have a lot to learn, but I have put myself to task to continue to learn and apply the knowledge that I am trying to cram in my brain on a daily basis.

Working on this project and writing about the experience is my release in the evening.  I’m transported to a world of stats, teams, players, accomplishments, rivals, home teams, and everything sports.  Over the last year I have come to realize and embrace the basics things that make me happy: sports, video poker, pinball, baseball cards, being close to the water, comparing my life story to Ted Mosby’s (look him up if you don’t know who I am talking about), and talking to people I don’t know and just listening to their story.  Throw in the occasional beer, Chipotle, and toffee bar and I’m a happy man.  I’ve tried to be even more easy-going  than I already am and not let things get me upset.  I’m human and I still get upset, but why worry about things that are out of my control or the opinions of people that I could care less about what their opinions are.

Through this process I can feel myself aging.  Some would say I am aging too much because I prefer an old man’s empty bar with a loaded jukebox and a free pool table, a bartender that has the next one ready as soon as the first is done, and the occasional cardboard tasting pizza that’s spiced up with the bartenders secret hot sauce.  There’s an old bar that I used to haunt in Baltimore when I needed to get away.  The aforementioned characteristics were all in that corner bar.  I went there when I needed to get away and think.  Some of my most worrisome days were spent in that bar, when I didn’t know where I would turn next to put an application in during a crappy job market.  It was in that bar that I realized I worry too much.  Where was worrying getting me? It was in the end standing in my way and keeping me from succeeding. I admitted to myself that I needed to get back to the basics that made me happy.  Baseball makes me happy. Obsessing over sports stats makes me happy.  Baseball cards make me happy.  Hmm, baseball cards?

I began to notice others on Twitter mentioning that after years away from card collecting that they were getting the itch to start cracking some wax again.  A thirty-something male in a Walmart looking at sports cards…it felt embarrassing.  Then I remembered, what’s it matter what the passers by thought of me spending my own money buying something that makes me happy.  I bought my first pack in years, a pack of vintage looking 2011 Allen & Ginters.  The bug for collecting was crawling beneath the skin.  Weeks went by before I cracked another pack of wax.  A random phone call on a boring Sunday afternoon is what got me officially back in the wax game.  My good college buddy, Scott Forbes, invited me to ride along to the local card shop in Baltimore.  Little did I know it was that trip that would bring a world if happiness back to me, hon.  Speed ahead a few years and here I am…ready to crack some wax and share the hits with you all.  Time to crack some more wax!

Today is the last pack for what I consider the sweet spot area, packs 4-6, for landing an autograph or special insert.  This is just the sweet spot for the left stack, however.  I still have the sweet spot packs for the right side to open in the days to come.

Here is today’s hits:

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Sonny Gray 2013 Bowman Cream Of The Crop Mini Refractor CC-0A4 Rookie Card
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Gold Card- Jered Weaver # 9
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Bowman Chrome Prospect- Jorge Bonifacio #BCP77 & Bowman Prospects- Ronald Guzman #BP74 & Jin De Jhang #BP23
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Base Set- Jake Peavy #70, Tyler Cloyd #130, Dan Uggla #25, Brandon Phillips #109, & Jason Heyward #94

I’m pretty excited to get the Sonny Gray Rookie Mini Refractor card.  I have followed Gray’s career closely and he is on my fantasy team.  Gray had a great first season and he looks like he is the real deal.  I immediately slabbed this card in a holder upon opening the pack.  It wasn’t an autograph card, but in my mind it was close.  The hunt for an autograph continues.  The packs seem to be progressing to better cards. Let’s hope that trend continues.

I want to point out one thing that continues to upset me about Topps products, Chrome card quality.  The Chrome Sonny Gray has what looks to be a scratch from the production line on it.  I see these small scratches all the time on every Topps Chrome product.  There is no reason a card straight from the pack should come damaged, especially for the price we are being asked to pay for them.  You might consider me picky from complaining about small scratches, but as a collector it hurts any possible resale value.  In an industry where corner quality, centering, and surface condition all matter, it’s about time Topps wakes up and starts delivering a higher quality product…commence waiting on hell to freeze over.

In the sports world tonight, the NCAA National Championship is on.  I picked Auburn in the upset, based on the crazy wins they have had already had this season.  I also took the over at 67 points total.  I’m going to need some quick scores to have a prayer in that happening at this point.

Have a great night and thanks for reading.  Until tomorrow, go crack some wax and post your hits for me to see!