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Category: Shohei Ohtani (Page 1 of 2)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Hope #2460

There is a wealth of knowledge in my neighborhood. Retired accountants, bankers, lawyers, brokers, and doctors – men and women. I learn something new every day or benefit from their expertise when they assist the HOA on contract negotiations. They might help save money on insurance, zoning, or investments, for example, to keep our annual costs down. I often wish I had skills like this, but my media background doesn’t necessarily apply. What do I have to offer? 

Sadly, my chief interest and wealth of knowledge these days seems to be baseball cards, for what it’s worth. It’s like going full circle back to childhood and skipping all those years of doing business. In the back of my mind is the hope that I uncover something valuable, but maybe all that matters is that it makes me happy. I keep thinking of my childhood neighbor, who hit me square in the forehead with a rock, requiring stitches. He was a little older and had an impressive assortment of baseball cards and enviable knowledge. As he and his mother came to see me in bed after the accident, they brought me a box of unopened baseball cards as an apology. I’m sure it was the mother’s idea! It took all the pain away and made me want another hit in the head. The baseball cards are long gone but the scar is still there. 

Baseball cards tell a story and finding them like a treasure hunt. I have about ten massive binders of them, carefully organized by team and player. All of them are valuable to me, regardless of condition or worth. They bring back memories and inspire me to learn more about the history of the game. I have several neighbors that feel the same way. I spent yesterday afternoon with one of them, who made it his business. For many years, he was a distributor for Topps, the major brand in baseball cards that has bought out everyone else. They are currently capitalizing on the current resurgence of the hobby, that also extends to all other sports, video games, celebrities, and even Disney

He eventually established his own trading card business, having recently sold it, but keeping an active role while in his 80’s. I wanted to drool when he showed me a recent shipment of classic cards that he bought for resale. We’re headed to a local card show today, but just to look, and not as an exhibitor, as is his norm. He’s off to the National Sports Card Convention in Cleveland next week. I wish I had the mad money to attend and participate, but I continue to get satisfaction on a smaller scale, by hanging with neighbors like this. No different than when I was a kid. 

If I had an extra quarter growing up, I’d hop on my bike and head to the nearby grocery store to buy five packs of cards (5-cents each). All was right in the world, as I’d sit on the curb and open them like a Christmas package. Back then, they also contained a flat, pink, slab of bubble gum, so the scent became associated with the cards, as I’d begin to organize them once I got back home, sometimes putting together All-Star teams. Then, we’d get out the Whiffle ball and bat to play Home Run Derby as our favorite player. I’d imagine myself as Mickey Mantle, until I found a new hero, Sherm Lollar. These days, I’d be Kyle Schwarber or Shohei Ohtani at the plate. 

I’ve been striking out a lot recently while participating in what they call “Card Breaks,” sharing the cost of buying several boxes and paying to keep the cards of the team of your choice. I’m not willing to invest in the higher-priced Dodgers or Yankees, so I tend to stick with the lower-priced White Sox or Cubs. Naturally, all the more desirable autograph and relic cards never seem to come my way. I prefer the random draws, but luck is never in my favor, so I’m still stuck with the less desirables, but content with the Hope. 

Old Sport Shorts: Card Addiction #2455

Despite my better judgement, I keep buying baseball cards. It’s a sad addiction that now seems to be my sole retirement hobby, besides writing about it. I check the Topps Now website daily and recently subscribed to their e-mails, as if I don’t get enough already. I’m also a “Top Fan” of the local Blue Breaks Card Shop and participate in their weekly Hobby RIP Nights. I guess you could say that I now have so many baseball cards that the store owner is starting to display them for me. Most all of my Shohei Ohtani cards (and I’m not even a Dodger’s fan) are stored in a glass case there, hoping for a buyer. 

I am a White Sox fan, and follow the Cubs, but most of those player cards have dropped in value to the point that they are worthless. The Sox are easily the worst team in baseball, having lost their 65th game last night. Tim Anderson, following the trade to Miami, was recently designated for assignment, Jose Abreu, traded to the Astros, is washed-up. Yoan Moncada is injured while stars like Luis Roberts and Eloy Jimenez are hitting .230 – no need to dwell. My extensive collection of Sherm Lollar merchandise is unwanted. The Cubs are in last place in the Central division and all my favorites like Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez are playing for other teams.

Last week, on RIP Night, I traded the Blue Jays for the White Sox. I might have had a valuable Vladimir Guerrero card, instead I got a Tim Anderson, just hours before he was sent back to the minors. This week in “The Break” I drew the Twins and Royals, hoping for Jose Miranda, Bobby Whitt, Jr., or Joe Ryan, players that I really don’t care about. I also can’t explain why I bought a Topps Now Miranda yesterday after he made a historical twelve consecutive hits. I guess I did it for trade bait, but I’ve yet to find anyone to trade. 

I’ve used the word “Break” in reference to baseball cards during several recent posts. Allow me to have an internet “expert” clarify what it means: “Breaking refers to the practice of opening multiple boxes or cases of a product at the same time, and then distributing the cards to a larger group of paying customers. Breakers sell ‘slots’ to their breaks, and customers receive a defined portion of the opened product. In some cases, the customers will pay for a specific team, which entitles them to any card belonging to a player from that team; in other cases, the customer is simply given a randomized allotment.”

Breaking has become a major business within the trading card world. Breakers operate websites and often stream their breaks on social media platforms. For high-stakes breaks, it isn’t uncommon for thousands of people to tune in and watch even though they aren’t paying for a slot or receiving any cards.”

I’ve admittedly experimented with Fanatics sites like Mama Breaks and Black Tie Breaks to try and understand this phenomenon. It reminds me of playing fantasy sports where you pick your players, hoping that they perform well. I never had much luck with that game either, because I get too emotional when I pick my players or teams, like the White Sox and Cubs. It’s all gambling, disguised as a hobby, but I’m addicted. In reality, anyone that I pick is likely to “break” an arm or leg. 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Go Cubs Go! #2541

I’ve been to a lot of Cubs games in my lifetime, most at Wrigley Field but some at Sox Park during the Crosstown Classic. I’ve seen them in Phoenix during Spring Training and during Covid had tickets for games that were cancelled. Most importantly, I watched them win a World Series game in the Wrigley stands thanks to my wife and her ticket contacts. Since that time, I rarely got to see them play, living so far away and without access to tickets. Our retirement from the media business has limited our opportunities to see free concerts and games. However, my wife and I have been on a bit of a road winning streak these last few years. 

We saw them win in San Francisco with the entire family in 2017 and again in 2018 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Finally, in 2021 we all went to Pittsburgh for a 9-0 victory. Last night, it all came to an end in the bottom of the 9th against the Rays at Tropicana Stadium. A walk-off 3-run homer by Brandon Lowe sealed the loss, a first for my son in many years to going to Cubs games, even without me. I was privileged last night to watch the game with “Three Generations of Cub Fans,” including my grandson and my wife who bought us a brick with that inscription, embedded in the walkways around Wrigley Field. My grandson isn’t much of a baseball fan and in fact bought a new Rays cap just before that final blow. My son’s wife and two daughters did not join us, so their Cubs victory streak is still intact. 

I followed some other baseball last night while sitting in the stands, gorging myself on hot dogs, pulled pork nachos, and dip-n-dots. As you can see, not all was lost. We had good family bonding time and a 2-0 lead most of the game. Our area, after a persistent draught, has had a deluge of recent rainfall, while heavy showers made it challenging to get to and from St. Pete. I was glad my son was driving. Too many unknowledgeable neighbors and friends asked if the game was rained-out, not realizing that it is a covered stadium. It made for pleasant, dry and airconditioned conditions. In other MLB action, two of my favorite players, former Cub, Kyle Schwarber had two home runs for the Phillies last night, while Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers also homered. Sadly, my White Sox lost too, their 51st of a season that’s not even half over!

“Take me out to the ballgame,” always makes a game memorable, as we all sang along arm-in-arm. “Root, root, root for the CUBBIES,” drowned out the home-team Rays chant, so a lot of fans went home disappointed thanks to the “L” rather than “W.” There are two games left in the series, but we won’t make the drive again this year, and it will be several more years before the Cubs schedule will allow them to return. Who knows when we’ll see the Cubs play again, but thanks to our Braves Spring Training facility next door, there will be much more baseball in our lives. Go, Cubs, Go!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Admission is Free #2532

I’ve spent the last week reorganizing the Mike Museum. There’s now a small, framed painting of Emmett Kelly, the famous clown, done by my grandmother 50-some-years ago. I’ve also been watching the Bill Walton 30-for-30 documentary, “The Luckiest Guy in the World,” so I got down the Trailblazers basketball, wondering if it had his signature – no. It’s actually from the 2007-2008 season, long after their 1977 ABA Championship. All the Indy 500 memorabilia is back in place after last week’s race brunch. The home office is now a hodge podge of these items that I call “my museum.”

There are actually very few personal things of mine on display. Most are hidden away in binders, but there are a few sales and Toastmasters awards on the shelf, along with some of my dad’s. My pledge father’s Sigma Chi fraternity paddle is hung on the wall next to my wife’s Pi Beta Phi sorority paddle. The brass 1919 National Cash register, a reward from my first job, is not filled with money but rather dog tags, wrist bands, wine corks, playing cards, batteries, bottle openers, and other silly memories. Yes, I’m a hoarder, but everything is somewhat organized. Thousands of ticket stubs are encased behind glass. Books fill the spaces between models and bobbleheads, signed by their authors. A world globe reminds me of our travels. Jerseys, photos, and autographs are framed on the walls, even a Portland Timbers championship scarf carefully hung, plus baseball bats and balls housed in plexiglass cases. All my first-name heroes like Sherm, Reggie, Walter, Yogi, Ernie, Bobby and Babe line the walls and shelves. My favorite teams like the White Sox, Cubs, Hoosiers, Blazers, Ducks, Beavers, Boilers, Bears, and Pacers are all represented around me, as well as the venues where they played such as Comiskey Park and Assembly Hall.

The most important things, however, are mostly in binders, hidden away from view. There are thousands of sports cards, press passes, pennants, pins, photos, clippings, magazines, and posters. To many people this would all be junk, but to me it’s a lifetime. I spend many fulfilling hours keeping this stuff in order, as the museum curator. The Sherm Lollar collection, for example, includes over 300 objects from 1945 to present. It may very well be the largest in the world, but no one probably cares but me. Few people know who he is, and the baseball Hall of Fame has certainly forgotten his catching accomplishments. Today’s sport fans certainly know of Shohei Ohtani. His collection in my museum now includes in excess of 200 baseball cards. “Excess” is probably a good word to describe my hobby and Mike’s Museum, where admission is free. 

Old Sport Shorts: Sell not Accumulate #2524

It’s the middle of May and the start of the WNBA regular season, while the NBA playoffs begin to wind down. The Indiana Fever and Caitlin Clark had a tough debut against the Connecticut Sun, while the Indiana Pacers failed to maintain their winning momentum and fell badly to the Knicks. Shohei Ohtani had another big night at the plate for the Dodgers, while the Cubs lost to the Braves and the Sox split with the Nats. The Phillies and Kyle Schwarber were the first team to 30-wins, while the White Sox joined the Marlins in the 30-loss club. I.U. baseball plays the final series of the regular season against Michigan. Alex Palou won the Indy Grand Prix, in preparation for the upcoming Indy 500. That’s about it for me in the world of sports. 

I just added my 250th item to the Sherm Lollar collection, a couple of more magazine clippings from 1947 and 1962. His #10 White Sox uniform hangs in my office, along with a photo/plague, catcher’s mitt, signed ball, and tribute cups. The rest of the items are organized from 1945-1970 in three big binders, the span of his career as a player, coach, and manager. It may very well be the largest collection of his memorabilia in the world – if anyone cares. I still contend that he should be in Cooperstown, but that includes a long list of worthy candidates. He’s been in my heart since childhood but died of cancer at age 53.

My other collection is baseball cards, also mainly in binders. I did get a bit carried away with my Topps Now purchases of Shohei Ohtani cards. I’ve captured his U.S. career starting with his rookie debut with the Angels and leading up to the more recent Dodgers. He’s wowed us with his pitching and hitting, often compared to Babe Ruth. This year he’s on a quest for .400 and the triple crown, taking a break from pitching after surgery. I’ve amassed about 125 of his cards, captured at various stages of his young career. They are for sale and on display at a local Venice card shop, Blue Breaks, and have even been to Japan in search for a buyer.

I maintain binders full of Cubs and White Sox cards, that follow the careers of Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez, Chris Sale, Joan Moncada, Luis Roberts, Elroy Jiminez, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and the 1959 American League Champion White Sox that began my interest in card collecting. I’m at the point in life now where I’m more in the mood to get rid of things rather than accumulate. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Emmett’s New Home #2520

In the lazy world of retirement, this is the start of a “busy” week. I picked up my son and his wife from their Virginia weeding trip at the airport late on Sunday night, following an afternoon performance by a Venice Symphony trio, and had a nice visit with my sister yesterday. Hopefully, she’ll become a new reader of this blog, primarily interested in my Storyworth category of posts. She drove down from Leesburg Florida, her winter home, and my son treated us for lunch at Chili’s. We exchanged some family heirlooms, our grandfather’s photography photo for my grandmother’s painting of circus clown, Emmett Kelly. (See Post #2438) and (Post #1778). Emmett and his character “Weary Willie” have come home, at least on canvas, to Sarasota/Venice, FL where he performed.

Our new puppy, Fosse, seemed happy to meet her while my wife was substitute teaching. We all then got together in late afternoon for some additional conversation, promising to visit each other next year. I try to check-in on her every Monday, like a good brother, but she made the more personal effort this time.

Today I have active cardio rehab for the first time, outside of the initial paperwork sessions. I’ll come home for lunch and then head to the cardiologist. We hope to get to the bottom of what is causing Charlie Horses in my thigh, blood pressure swings, dizziness, and loss of balance. My GP has already ruled out the inner ear through an MRI, so I’m expecting an Ultrasound examination and a review of my medications. It’s all critical follow-up from open heart surgery sixteen weeks ago.

Afterwards, I may treat myself at the baseball card shop. I have some new Shohei Ohtani baseball cards to add to a collection of over 200 that they are selling for me. Plus, I want to check on the value of some Connor Bedard, Chicago Blackhawk, hockey cards that I would like to trade-in. I’ve promised myself to sell more than buy this year, but I still enjoy opening a fresh pack in treasure-hunt fashion. 

I’ve stayed true to my daily swimming pool workout since walking has become a painful chore. It entails about forty-five minutes of jogging in place, stretching, marching, and step-ups. It’s the best I can do to burn off some calories, since the water resistance seems to put less pressure on my sore thigh. Visits to the chiropractor are part of my schedule this week, along with “Date Night,” a Mazda Miata rally, Bank of America appointment, and an evening with the band Dukes of Brinkley.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Life by the Numbers – Part Two #2434

I Love keeping lists and have kept a diary for the last 25-years, so it’s hard to argue the accuracy of my life data. This history is admittedly all about bragging rights, but a good way to summarize my amazing life at age 72. Hopefully, I can add to my list as time goes on. It is impossible to account for all the fine dining establishments I’ve frequented or all the movies and books that I’ve read. The countdown from a million to zero starts here:


Done at least 1,000,000 lifetime pushups. 

Countless Marriott Points used.

Logged over 16,000 lifetime running miles.

Achieved 5,500+ consecutive running days.

Written over 1000 poems.

Attended over 350 Sporting events.

Purchased 340 Limoges Boxes.

Saw over 300 Concerts.

Own 275 Sherm Lollar related collectables.

Watched over 200 Broadway Musicals.

Weigh 195 pounds. 

Have 210 Shohei Ohtani baseball cards for sale.

Own more than 150 pairs of cuff links.

Visited over 125 wineries and a couple distilleries.

100-Plus Toastmaster Speeches given to earn DTM.

Enjoyed 72 years of life and still counting.

49 States traveled, so far.

37 Baseball Stadiums (including Minor League).

35 Countries*

Moved 32 times.

Snow Skied at 26 Resorts.

27 visits to Disney/Universal.

Over 20 Racetracks.

15 times to Vegas.

11 times to Hawaii.

Sold ads on 10 different radio stations and 4 print publications.

Attended 9 Final Fours and 2 Maui Classics.

Only 9 cars owned, plus a snowmobile and golf cart.

Bought 8 different homes in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Oregon, and Florida.

7 Cruises (5 Ocean 2 River).

Played in 6 different organized sports but not well.

6 Continents*

6 Dogs.

5 times to Italy and France.

4 Cats.

Worked at 3 TV Stations (ran 2)

Wrote 3 Unpublished Novels.

Studied at 3 Colleges to earn Marketing B.S.

3 Grandchildren nearby.

2 Marriages.

2 Marathons.

2 Grade schools.

2 Stepdaughters.

2 Cubs World Series games.

2 White Sox World Series games.

Attended Albion College and Indiana University.

1 College World Series

Pledged 1 Fraternity (Sigma Chi)

1 Son.

0 Super Bowls.

 

*includes 2024 Cross-Atlantic Cruise.

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: In the Cards #2402

I’m on my way to that 2,500th post, a milestone I should reach by the end of the year if sticking firm to my original post a day commitment made upon retirement. However, all things are slowing down as motivation wanes with age. I’m trying to muster enough to find a new challenge in the way of part-time employment. My wife has decided to do some substitute teaching, but I don’t think that’s for me. She’s at least found something that supports a community need. I keep going back to the ballpark and trying to find a place there, but once again we’re out of town for most of Spring Training. The Braves have clinched the best record in baseball and could very well claim another World Series title. They just swept the Cubs and foiled their playoff chances to get there.

I enjoyed The Saint of Second Chances documentary, the story of the Veeck family, former owners of the White Sox. There was great footage regarding the Disco Night disaster at Comiskey Park and lessons learned about stadium promotions that continue to drive crowds to games. The Veeck’s were shameless, creative promoters and heroes in the world of marketing, playing a major role in my radio and TV career. More importantly, the show is a study in perseverance and compassion, as fathers and businessmen. I recommend it highly.

I’m currently watching the Last Kingdom on Netflix in the afternoons at the suggestion of a friend. In the evenings, my wife and I have tuned to the Black Mirror series. It will take a back seat to Date Night at Roessler’s this evening. Tomorrow night I will be at Blue Break’s sports shop here in Venice for a card trading event. The owner, Jonathan Stone, and I will further discuss the sale of my Topps Now Shohei Ohtani baseball card collection. He plans to take it to Japan with him in December to help determine its value and hopefully find a buyer. Is my future in the cards?

Old Sport Shorts: Relevant No More #2391

I’ve only managed 41 posts in the last 90 days, less than once every two days and far from my initial daily retirement commitment. I’m definitely slowing down in old age with little eventful to write about and a lack of motivation. The Georgia Southern vs. Wisconsin football game is apparently more important to the BTN viewers than the IU vs. Louisville match-up. Another slap in the face to Hoosier football, as I’m forced to watch the stats on the app, as was the case with IU soccer last night in their BIG opener against Wisconsin. I didn’t miss much since the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Plus, IU has yet to sign a player for next year in basketball, as top recruits continue to visit the facilities, but no one as yet committed. Am I worried yet? The first of the targets, Jaedan Mustaf, just signed with Georgia Tech.

Shohei Ohtani has just cleaned out his locker in Anaheim and is headed back to Japan- his season over and future in question. I have one more card coming in the mail, touting his stolen base and home run achievements, but injuries have not allowed him to fulfill record expectations. Will he have surgery and land with another team next year? Is his 2023 MVP crown now in jeopardy?

Can the Cubs hang on to the Wildcard and somehow make one last run against the Brewers for the division crown? The Brew Crew has gone 7-3 in the last 10 games while the Cubbies, while I’ve been paying attention, have slipped to 4-6. I should probably shift my allegiance to Milwaukee to put the jinx on them. My fortunes in sports continue to lead to disappointment. The poor play of Da Bears and reduced expectations only adds to this despair. Fantasy team injuries could jeopardize this week’s match-up with “Listed as Questionable,” a team name synonymous with my lack of luck. I need some good news to pick up my spirits that are bogged down with medical concerns and restless nights. 

I had another rough night’s sleep between many trips to the john and fears of my computer/phone being hacked. MonopolyGO continues to be a welcome distraction. This evening I’m spending with a group of satisfied UConn fans, defending NCAA Basketball Champs. It’s been 36-years since I’ve had that glow about me. At least, the Patriots are struggling this year, to keep them somewhat humble. My lineup of teams don’t seem to be relevant anymore!

Retirement is not without Hassles: REally TIREd MENTally #2388

I’ve really tapered off on my writing these past few weeks. I’ve also lost my appetite for TV shows, having wasted so much time streaming series after series. Now, I’m hooked on MonopolyGO, focused on getting to that next level. There must be a better use of my days than stupid video games. Admittedly, life has lost some of its luster with a pending prostrate procedure, heart catheterization appointment, and probable surgery. Any of these medical actions could jeopardize my Running Streak, that now stands at 5,372 days and counting. I thought I was a pretty healthy guy, but 72-years of wear and tear on my body is taking its toll. 

On a positive note, if my running streak ends, I will likely move on to some other addictive activity. Without the worry of injury to end the running, I might take up Pickleball or get back into skiing. Obviously, Florida is not an ideal location for fun in the snow. I was reminded that we are headed to Oakland in December with just a three-hour drive to Tahoe, so I just might consider finally achieving that 70+ Ski Club commitment. There is life beyond running, or so I’m told!

Since I last reported, IU football won its first game, and my son’s fantasy team was victorious in the NFL openers. The Bears and the Colts were not so fortunate. The Cubs, who I admittedly gave up on to start the season, are in strong contention for a Wild Card spot even if they can’t catch the Brewers. The disappointing White Sox have already been eliminated from post season play. 

Shohei Ohtani has not played in over a week, falling behind the Braves’ Greg Olsen in the Home Run Derby. I have built a collection of over 150 Topps Now cards honoring the Ohtani, Babe Ruth-like achievements in the first few years of his career. His pitching season is over with 10-victories, but his claim to AL MVP might be threatened if he misses more games. His career high in homers is 46 and stolen base best is 26, both set in 2021. The Angels franchise HR record is 47 by Troy Glaus. Ohtani was on track to top both of these marks before this recent injury – he’s day-to-day. I have taken the collection to Blue Breaks, the local sport card shop, to get an appraisal on what it might be worth, having invested about $1500 in the project and numerous hours in monitoring the Topps site for purchase opportunities. It’s just another addiction that I’m tiring from!

“Tiring in Retirement” or “REally TIREd MENTally” might be the best descriptions of my recent attitude. As a distraction, we set up another Marriott Vacation Club (or in this case Sheraton) mental-health getaway for the first weekend in January. A group of neighbors will share our 3-bedroom Orlando condo to do Universal Studios, the Kissimmee Mecum Auto Show, and celebrate the New Year, along with a birthday. It will fill that travel gap between Oakland (maybe Tahoe) and our Cross-Atlantic spring cruise, once my medical woes have hopefully been resolved. 

 

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