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Wax Cracker

Cracking a pack of sports cards a day for 365

An Open Invite to Wax Cracker Readers

A very special invite to Wax Cracker readers from Matt Pirtle, Executive Producer of the California Republic of Baseball Podcast:

Dear Wax Cracker Readers,

My name is Matt Pirtle and I am the Executive Producer of the California Republic of Baseball podcast. I’m very excited to announce that we are getting closer to the launch and the buzz here is building! I am very pleased and we are very fortunate to have Casey and Tommy D with us to share their insight, wisdom, humor, and perspective on all things baseball. Both of these gentleman (and I use the term loosely!) are great people and I am very proud to be working with them on a project that embodies so much passion and joy.

As we prepare for our first round of shows I can say that the baseball fans and communities that we have contacted have been exceptionally open and warm. The reception for the idea of the California Republic of Baseball has been almost overwhelming. The momentum is so strong that I am starting to realize what an amazing amount of fun and opportunity this will be.

The podcast’s primary focus is on the 5 cities in California that are home to major league baseball teams, their stadiums, game day experiences, and their fans. That’s a lot of baseball to talk about! The shows will contain a featured game discussion, social media based Q and A, special interviews, and fan feedback showcasing their game day experiences in words and pictures. We are looking forward to making this as engaging and interactive as possible.

We have set a goal to do 33 weeks of podcast and are expecting to have an April 1st launch with a few fun features to pop up during Spring Training via our California Republic of Baseball YouTube channel starting March 1st. What I find especially exciting is the fact that as of right now 17 of those shows will be “road shows” where we are producing the content for that week’s featured game in that city. As we finalize that schedule we will be announcing the dates via our Twitter account (@CRBpodcast) and here on WaxCracker.com.

With Casey’s history in fantasy baseball and his work here at Wax Cracker, I am comfortable saying that this man has a handle on numbers and statistics. For some of you looking to deepen your understanding of the statistics and strategy side of the game there will be plenty to digest. That being said, I believe baseball isn’t all about numbers.

There is much more to the experience of having a relationship with your team, your stadium, and your city. Tommy is a well of information of all things baseball. With a lifetime of fandom and experiences his perspective on events, people, and ideas are entertaining and enlightening. I have a lot to learn from both of them and after meeting them I believe you will feel the same.

I’ve told Casey that I believe that the genuine energy and humor will be contagious, and the great conversation will inspire your appreciation for and grow your understanding of America’s pastime. It is my hope that you will find the show entertaining as well as educational. It is my hope that you will laugh with us and learn with us. Let me invite you as a fan to come and grow with us. Many different things contribute to the passions and pride of fans and we are looking forward to getting to know you.

As part of our preparation for production I did have the opportunity to get Casey and Tommy together for a baseball themed lunch and took the liberty of recording it specifically to create a sample of their energy, pace and tone. Casey has linked to a 30 minute segment that was completely unscripted and organic and will serve as a great introduction to two people that you will enjoy having as part of your baseball lives. Check us out and let us know what’s on your mind.

Warm Regards,

Matt Pirtle
California Republic of Baseball,Twitter @CRBpodcast

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Click here for a sneak listen into the crew practicing for their upcoming CRB Podcast launch!

California Republic of Baseball Podcast Sneak Peak

As promised late last night, you will find the three segments of our practice taping below. Each California Republic of Baseball logo below will be linked to a segment of the show. We hope you enjoy our first time together behind mics!

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Segment 1
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Segment 2
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Segment 3

Introducing The California Republic of Baseball Podcast: California Is About to Get A Dose of Casey & Tommy D

The time has come to make the announcement I have eluded to in some of my cryptic posts from Petco Park recently.  As with everything else I have written on Wax Cracker thus far, there is a story behind the news. Kick back, grab a beer with me, and join in to share in this huge news for not only Wax Cracker and myself, but for my new California Republic of Baseball Podcast  co-collaborators and good friends, Matt Pirtle and Tommy DiPietro.  The launch of this baseball and sports podcast is so exciting for me that I am shaking as I write this post.  Please stick with me as I pound the keys to share this momentus occasion with you all.

The History, Why a Podcast, & Why With This Cast of Characters?

If you were a reader of WaxCracker.com over the Summer you may remember me referencing the bar in the Gaslamp District of San Diego that I mentioned for having a great collection of baseball artifacts. It just so happened that in that bar over the Summer that I met some of the best baseball minds that I have ever come across. You may remember me mentioning some of these characters in passing…Matt the Cardinals fan, Tommy the Yankees fan, Larry the Athletics fan, and Oscar the Yankees fan.  It was with this cast of characters that I got back into some of the deepest baseball conversation and friendly arguments that I have gotten in in a long time.  It was in those talks that a small snowball eventually turned into an avalanche of baseball excitement.

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How it all started…baseball, beer, camaraderie, and fandom led to the California Republic of Baseball Podcast idea.

Matt, Tommy D, and I spent the Summer talking the nights away over some brews and baseball chatter.  I had a fun run with Matt as his Cardinals and my Orioles made a push for the World Series, especially since I had a bet on that exact matchup, which I had placed in Las Vegas months before meeting Matt. It was a crazy Summer of making new friendships and sharing great moments with fellow sports fans for me.  It was in those conversations that the original idea for the California Republic of Baseball was born.

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Tommy D and I during San Diego Comicon as we enjoyed the costumes and some Orioles and Yankees smack talk between buddies.

As the summer flew by, Matt, Tommy, and I formed a great baseball buddy bond.  Matt and Tommy were kind enough to listen to me as I rambled on about my ideas for Wax Cracker.  They supported me through some rough times that I was going through and helped me forget about my worries as they turned my focus back to baseball. Baseball is my go to when I am feeling down and it always seems to pull me out of any funk that I am in.

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Tommy and I met some crazy people over sports talk with random strangers. This cast of characters were big shots from Subway who happened to be in town for a conference. Tommy and I recounted our favorite boxing memories with them, thus the poses in this picture.

Tommy and I hit it off right away. Well not quite. He’s a Yankees fan and I am an Orioles fan, rightfully we should hate each other. However, once you get to know Tommy you can’t hold against him his poor taste in a baseball team. I quickly learned to put his Yankees fandom behind me and see the wonderful and knowledgeable sports fan and person he is.  We will get more into Tommy’s background as the podcast progresses, but just be forewarned, he is a colorful character from New York.

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Tommy and I in the Omni Club during the Giants v. Padres game. I promised Tommy I would make my way into that exclusive club before summer’s end and I made it with two weeks to spare in the season. Amazing seats with gourmet food right behind home plate at Petco Park.

And then there’s Matt. Matt is the one that helped harness our baseball fever and put the train on the tracks to get the California Republic of Baseball steaming full speed ahead.  Matt approached me over a beer the night before I flew back to the east coast for three weeks over Christmas to see my family and friends.  Matt shared his idea for the CRB, and it sent shivers up my spine. I had been contemplating putting together a podcast to supplement my WaxCracker.com project.  Matt was throwing out to me the exact ideas I was kicking around in my head, and it was super eery to hear him now sharing with me his idea for a podcast concept.  Matt didn’t want a yes or a no from me that night. He wanted me to think it over during my travels.  While I was away he planned to talk things over with Tommy to see if he could bring him onboard to be my cohost on the CRB podcast.  I knew that night I was in, but I promised Matt I would think it over and met him over another brew upon my return. Matt did a ton of work while I was gone to get this project off the ground. I was blown away upon my return to see all that he had already accomplished.

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Matt and I enjoying great time with friends in the Gaslamp District of San Diego over the Summer.

Matt was kind enough to be a sounding board for me all Summer.  I needed someone to talk to and he turned out to be a brother I could turn to for advice. Beyond the baseball and sports talk, Matt and Tommy are great people with strong ethics. I wouldn’t want to be part of a project like this with people that at the very core are not good people. My focus is to have fun with this project and push my sports dream a little further when most may think by now it will never happen. I could care less at this point if I am ever in front of the camera or behind the mic for big time sportscasts. That in the end probably isn’t me anyway, but a project like the California Republic of Baseball already feels like home to me. I am ecstatic to get the chance to talk sports with Matt and Tommy and in turn share our crazy talks with you all.

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Exploring downtown as Matt and I look for a recording home for the CRB Podcast. We had to stop by Tony Gywnn’s statue for good luck.

The aforementioned is why I gave Matt an enthusiastic yes upon my return to San Diego.  Matt, Tommy, and I in our typical fashion met over beers downtown and all agreed that we were going to put out hearts behind making the California Republic of Baseball Podcast the very best it can be.  I won’t go into specifics about the show tonight.  I just want to share with you all that the California Republic of Baseball Podcast will be featured on WaxCracker.com and quite possibly many more sports websites soon as we build the project out.

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Matt acting like a director. This is going to be a crazy baseball season, and this guy thinks he can reign in Tommy and I. Good luck, buddy! Get ready to edit and bleep a lot!
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Exciting times are ahead. Here is to the California Republic of Baseball Podcast with Casey & Tommy D., produced and directed by Matt Pirtle! Matt and I are pictured during our recent visit to the press box at Petco Park.

And with that news, I am proud to share with you all what was originally meant to be a practice taping of the CRB Podcast.  We met recently just to get a sample recorded of how Tommy and I would mesh behind the mics. What came of that meeting was what we feel is sports chemistry right off the bat.  Matt and I talked it over and agreed we shouldn’t can that first sports talk and never use it…and in turn, we are happy to give you a sneak peek into what Matt, Tommy, and I have been pouring our time into recently.  Below you will find a link to the Wax Cracker YouTube channel, where for now you will find the CRB home until we officially launch the podcast in the coming weeks. This link will go live tomorrow 2/3/15. Just click on our logo below tomorrow to be taken to the our sample podcast. I couldn’t hold back this announcement any longer and had to share the news with you all tonight. I hope you all return tomorrow to listen to the sample.

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The California Republic of Baseball is coming to WaxCracker.com and other various sports websites!

It’s an absolute pleasure to break this news on WaxCracker.com. I hope you all will continue to support Wax Cracker and bring your listening ears over to the California Republic of Baseball Podcast when we launch. Look for an article from Matt soon introducing the concept of the CRB and what we plan to talk about this Summer.

Exciting times are ahead my friends!  As always, thank you for reading.

-Casey

Exciting Things Are Happening

Exciting Things Are Happening…stay tuned!

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Pack 311: 2014 Topps Turkey Red Football, Easing Back Into the Cracking

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Pack 311: 2014 Topps Turkey Red Football
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Autograph Hit: Ahmad Dixon Rookie Card

It feels like forever since I have cracked open a pack of cards, and honestly, it has been.  I saw this tempting pack of 2014 Topps Turkey Red while I was running errands recently.  I figured this would be a great pack to kick off my next round of pack cracking here on Wax Cracker since it had a guaranteed autograph hit in it…and not to go without mention, I have a weakness for the Turkey Red line.

It’s great to be back cracking. I have some more packs to open this week in my drive to 365 packs. I’ll be back with more crackings soon!

Wax Cracking to Continue With Multiple Pack Crackings

The main point of my website at the time of launch was to open a pack of sports cards a day for the entire year. In setting Wax Cracker up in this fashion I figured it would force me to make a post every day and keep me writing.  I started this site to get me back into sports writing, something I have enjoyed for many years. I believe I didn’t miss my first post until somewhere in the low 200s. For me, making it over 200 straight days without missing a post was a huge win, and it was a great achievement for me to take the streak that long. As I’ve briefly touched on previously, I went through some major changes in my life in 2014. Life happens and we all have to figured out how to deal with everything that goes on.  I’ve missed multiple post in my quest for opening 365 packs of sports cards.

I’m here tonight, however, to let you all know I will be finishing the 365 pack challenge I’ve held myself to. I know it would have been great to open the 365th pack on New Years Eve, but it didn’t work out that way.  I am currently on Pack 311 in this wax cracking journey.  I have stockpiled some packs and I will be having a large break soon to share all of my hits.  I am also working with Sean from Steel City Collectibles to find a hard hitting pack to crack open as the 365th pack.  Hang in there, I’ll get back to cracking some packs open this week.

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Upcoming packs as I crack my way to the 365th pack milestone.

In other news, I have been excited to have Sterling More and John Von Gunten back up and writing for Wax Cracker.  I want to start sharing some more of Dinur Blum’s live action sports shots, and I will be checking in with Chris Shannon soon to see what he has in the works for shooting live action shots at State College Spikes minor league games this year.  Mix that all in with some player interviews, wax crackings, and other topics I have coming up, and we have some exciting times ahead here on Wax Cracker.

Also, I may be spreading my wing some with an upcoming sports venture. I’m dying to share the news with you all, but I promise to have a post up soon with more details on that.  I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend.  Take care and keep on cracking!

-Casey

John von Drunk – I Screwed This One Up

I will admit that as a kid, I wanted to see Steel. I remember when it came out in theaters, and seeing a big poster for it at my local video store when it was out on VHS. It might sound silly now, but recognize that Shaq was on top of the world at this point. In 1994 he was in the movie Blue Chips and had his own video game (Shaq Fu), and by 1996 starred in Kazaam. He was also successful on the court, going to the playoffs in 1994 and 1995 and winning a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics. He was a sure thing for producers of shitty media to make something instantly marketable. I saw Kazaam in theaters as a kid, and was hyped for Steel even though most of my friends had recognized it as probably not good.

They were right, but I didn’t believe them until I sat down to watch this movie. I again teamed up with my friend Josh because it was his idea to pair this with Steel Reserve. He explained that it as a malt liquor it was technically different from beer. I accepted the challenge so long as he had to suffer with me. We would both regret this move.

Not the bar, that place is cool.
Featured: bad decisions

The movie starts with a solid two minutes of metal pouring behind the opening credits. Surprisingly, no metal music is playing during this time. The first scene is of the Army testing some fancy new weapon that shoots lasers and roman candles at things, melting them. Shaq is in the Army along with Judd Nelson (no really, Judd Nelson), the obvious bad guy. While testing some sonic weapon Judd tries to show off and turns it up too high which causes a piece of wall to fall on Shaq’s love interest. Shaq gets to do the classic “NOOOO” scene as he pulls the wall off her. Judd gets kicked out of the Army and Shaq quits instead of making more weapons because there are no gray areas in this movie.

OOOOOOOOOO
NOOOOOO

Shaq returns to his Grandmother’s house (or aunt’s? Maybe mom’s?) in a rough part of LA to live with her and Ray J (no really, Ray J). Judd Nelson also goes to LA, but to hook up with a gun dealer he knows that uses arcade machines to transport guns. Honestly, not much happens after that. Or maybe it does, because here’s where I screwed up.

You see, when I watch these movies I take notes and time-stamp things that are funny or would make good screenshots. For Captain America and Fantastic Four, I had two and half pages of notes. For this, I had half a page of notes before I stopped writing things down. The last thing I have written is: “@12:30 – Decide on drinking game – 90s fashion”. The rules were simple, any time we saw obviously dated 90s fashion we would have to drink from our 8% ABV plastic bottle of what tasted like beer extracted from a hobo’s stomach. This was a bad idea, as we finished about half of the bottle in the next 5 minutes and were both so drunk that even if the movie made sense and was engaging, we wouldn’t remember it.

Arcade cabinets did not have that much empty space in them.
Won’t someone please think of the children?!

But the movie isn’t engaging, and it doesn’t make sense. Judd’s bad guy crew starts using the gun designs he stole from the Army, Shaq finds out about it and decides to fight back for some reason. He busts his now-crippled girlfriend from a VA hospital and builds a suit of armor with Richard Roundtree (no really, Richard Roundtree) to fight crime. There’s no plot development for at least 30 minutes as both story lines just spin their wheels. Judd is bad and kills some of the bad people he was with because they aren’t bad enough. Shaq works on his armor and tech stuff while his girlfriend adjusts to life in a wheelchair. Finally Shaq takes on the bad guys, runs from the police, and kills Judd Nelson. Or maybe he doesn’t, I honestly can’t remember how it ends.

It's still for sale though!
Remember when rust art was cool? No you don’t, because it never happened.

I don’t black out from drinking, I’m kind of proud of myself for knowing my limits well enough to have avoided that my entire life. This is as close as I’ve ever come. The beer – sorry “malt liquor” – wasn’t crazy strong and I didn’t drink that much of it. But it hit me weird and I knew I was drunk and slurring words. I browned out, I suppose. I remember certain things happening, but not entire details. I remember seeing people when we went out after the movie was over, but I don’t remember what I said to them. I remember something being funny and the plate I had a sandwich on almost falling off the couch, but I don’t remember what it was that was funny. This article would probably have been better if I did.

Thoughts:

  • This was easily the worst movie I have watched so far. It’s one of the worst I have ever seen.
  • There are a few references to Shaq’s basketball career, as he misses three different free throw shots during the film. Just like in real life!
  • Shaq was so big they couldn’t get a stunt double for him. I have no idea how any professional team allowed him to do this under contract.
  • Don’t drink Steel Reserve, it’s not worth it.

Bottom Line: Don’t watch this movie. Don’t drink this beverage. Even if you’re really broke and want to get lit, there are better options out there. Steel Reserve is the sweatpants of liquor and you should have some self-respect, even if you’re just going out to the store to buy milk. I lost the metaphor there at the end, but you get the point.

The bumper sticker says "I Brake for Animals"
Screw this, I’m out of here.

I’ll be back sooner rather than later with a slightly less-shitty movie and much less-shitty drink of choice. As always, feel free to hurl insults at me @captjohnstarr on Twitter or leave a comment below.

Come Together, the Sports/Life Duality

One of the elements of sports that I love is the scope in which it reaches, nations come together, people support each other, and strangers talk about the event(s). And sometimes, we are all touched by the actions and words of someone in the spotlight, like Lou Gehrig’s speech, or Stuart Scott’s words during his ESPY speech. I would be hard pressed to find someone I know who has not been affected by a friend, family member, or coworker who has fought cancer. We all know the hardship it can bring watching a once strong person fall. As many of you who follow sports and social media know by now, Stuart Scott said:

“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live, so live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”

I only wish I was able to eulogize my grandfather in words so insightful; he, too died of stomach cancer. The take-away for me in this speech is the strength of the human spirit, the realization, yet determination to battle that which is seemingly out of one’s control. Some win, and many lose that battle, however the approach to do, all that one can, is remarkable. When my grandfather was dying, and knew his time was near, I hopped a plane and spent his last 2 days doing what we did, watching baseball and gesturing wildly during the highs and lows, like fans do. That time was part of how he lived, and we enjoyed the manner in which he lived, with good spirits and dignity. And when he was too tired, I fought for him.

Sports brings the masses together and when fans across the world can look to, although posthumously, a champion off the field, that is something we can all get together on and realize there are elements in heroes, in those who fight, that cross boundaries and touch us all who have a competitive spirit, in sports, and in life. RIP Stuart Scott, and thank you for your moving words that inspire many.

Pittsburgh’s Best Sandwiches Are Heading to San Diego: I’ll Take That With Double Egg Please!

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Come to Papa! It’s time to celebrate a Ravens playoff victory over the Steelers with a Primanti Brothers sandwich! Next up, taking down the Patriots in Foxboro.

The Crab v. Primanti Brothers Challenge winner has been crowned and it looks like Pittsburgh’s best sandwiches will be heading to San Diego as Sterling More will have to pay up for the Steelers loss last night against the Ravens.  The bet between Sterling More and I made the game even more entertaining to watch, and yes, it was easier for me to watch since my team won.  Thanks for partaking in this bet, Sterling, and I hope we can do it again three times next year!

Pass the napkins, I’m getting ready for a Primanti Brothers sandwich with double egg!

-Casey

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