Exit, Pursued By A Bear

I’ve put this off for a long time…

Sadly this will be my final post for The Wax Fantastic! You probably saw this coming for some time but I just wanted to go and make it all official!

When I first started this blog off just over two years ago it was with the lofty aim of uniting UK-based sports card collectors. Along the way I’d like to think we’ve got some way to achieving that somewhat ambitious and over-sized goal.

I say ‘we’ as it’s certainly not something that I’ve been solely responsible for. Over time I’ve met dozens of of like-minded collectors, both here and overseas, and I’d like to think that we’ve made some huge strides in bringing together our somewhat fragmented collecting community here in the UK.

I’ve also been blessed to have made several new friends through this blog – contact via the wonders of Social Media, or even in person, has meant that I’ve been able to reach out and share in the anecdotal lives of numerous other card collectors. Building relationships in this way has simply highlighted what a great community we’re all part of. The levels of trust, honesty and integrity that I’ve come across on my travels have had an incredible impact on me over the last couple of years, and I’m proud to have been accepted into this community; accepted as one of you!

However I’ve now decided to move on from baseball cards.

Over the last 12 months my interest has slowly waned in the modern baseball card and what it stands for. I no longer see any innovation in what Topps is producing. The same products seem to get released year after year with nothing more than a fresh lick of paint and a couple of extra bells and whistles. If we do get ‘new’ products more often than not they’re of the over-priced, high-end variety… Out of reach for those of us with the more modest of card budgets.

It’s easy to blame this stagnation on the exclusive licence agreement that Topps has with MLB, and many will. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward to bash Topps over the perceived state of the hobby, but to what end? Back in 2010 Topps stated that their aim was to bring kids back to the hobby – I’ve never seen nor heard of any evidence of where this has happened. The most ‘innovative’ of the products that Topps has given us recently is Topps Bunt. Thousands love the idea of digitized card collections and flocked to it in droves. Personally I thought it was all a pile of shit, but that’s just me 🙂

I like a lot of what Panini has done with baseball cards but feel they are shackled by a lack of licence with MLB. Without that in place I don’t feel that collectors will ever truly embrace Panini as a baseball card manufacturer. That might be why their business model has taken them down the route of an exclusive licence with the NBA and the NFL.

However please don’t misunderstand. I still think that Topps produce some beautiful looking cards. It isn’t all about the ‘evils’ of Topps and the current state of the hobby. Other factors such as increased overseas shipping costs from the US and a general lack of disposable funds have both played their part in this decision to leave the hobby right now.

One day I may well come back, but if I do I feel that I’ll only be looking at cards and products that were released prior to 1980. Old cards still grab my attention and who knows when I might dip my toe once more into the waters of vintage card collecting?

So for now I’m gone. Stick a fork in me, turn me over… I’m done!

All that remains is to thank you all for your support. Your comments, critiques, honesty and good humour will be something that I’ll treasure for a long time.

The Wax Fantastic will still live on as a blog! It still gets around 30-40 views a day and there’s still a lot of interest in some of my old posts around the pitfalls global shipping and dealing with eBay. I just won’t be posting anymore.

The Twitter account – @TheWaxFantastic – will also still be active but I’ll probably end up deleting that in due course. 598 followers as well! Who’d have thought it?!

I won’t be leaving the world of blogging completely though. I’ve had too much of a good time putting voice to my inane ramblings over the months, and I have too many interests that occupy my thoughts on a daily basis, that I still wanted to share some stuff with anyone out there that’s prepared to listen. And with that in mind my new blog was born…

Andy’s Big Blog O’Stuff 

I’ll be covering pretty much anything from popular culture – films, books, TV, games, sports, and so on, and so on! Hell, we might even squeeze in some baseball cards from time to time – stranger things have happened 🙂

So if you feel like dropping by to shoot the breeze, chew the fat and crack the wise then click on the above link and hit the follow button (top right at the moment, until it no doubt moves). I’ve not posted anything just yet, and the design format may well change, but you’ll get a notification through each time I put up something new.

So it’s goodbye from The Wax Fantastic for now! If anyone arrives here looking for details on UK-based card collectors then please head on over the the Yahoo Group that’s looked after my good friend, Glenn Codere. Here’s the link – UK Sports Cards

I’ll still be stopping round there occasionally, just tell Glenn I sent you 🙂

My new Twitter account is @50ShadesOfBates

Give me a follow and I’ll follow you back!!

Take care all and thanks for the ride. It’s been a blast!

Best

Andy

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A Death in the Family

I awoke a little earlier than usual this morning. Checking the time on my phone, perched on the cabinet next to my bed, it read 5.20am. My alarm wasn’t due to go off until 6.30am so I prepared myself for another hour of shut-eye.

I noticed a ‘greater-than-usual’ number of notifications from the various sports apps that I have installed, and figuring there would be something interesting about Game 5 of last nights World Series I clicked on one of the links. It took couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust to the small writing on the overly luminous screen; a couple of seconds to focus on the headline that greated me via The Bleacher Report – Cards’ Oscar Taveras, 22 Dies in Car Crash

It’s now over 12 hours later and I’m still trying to process the news that accompanied that headline, still trying to get my head around the fact that a young ballplayer and number one prospect for my favourite baseball team wouldn’t be putting on his jersey and running out with the rest of his teammates next spring.

I always find it an odd feeling when trying to process the death of someone in the public eye, particularly when it’s someone whom you feel you have a connection to, however small or tenuous it might be. I didn’t know the guy – have no real reason to truly mourn his death in the same way I would someone close to me – yet for some unknown reason I still felt an oddly profound sense of loss.

Oscar Taveras died in a car crash yesterday afternoon (Sunday) in his home country of the Dominican Republic. Another passanger, identified as his girlfriend Edilia Arvelo, also died in the accident. They were 22 and 18 years old, respectively!

I’ve had the misfortune of seeing a picture of the wreckage, and to be blunt, it was a fucking mess!!

Social media exploded with the news during Game 5 of the Giants-Royals World Series and the rumours were soon verified by Major League Baseball, the St Louis Cardinals and various other sources. It was Giants’ catcher Buster Posey who perhaps summed it up best when he said “I heard about it in the fourth and had a sinking feeling in my gut. My first thought was, this game is not that important”!!

I’ve been a Cardinal fan for the last 13 years but I only became aware of Taveras a couple of years ago when I turned my baseball card collecting interests to the world of prospects. I even posted about him in February of last year – Prospect Watch: Oscar Taveras.

When a young sportsman like Taveras is taken from us far too early you will often be deluged with words like ‘potential’, ‘promising’, unrealised’… but a tragedy such as this goes far beyond sports. Something like this no longer stands as a baseball story, instead it becomes a very human story!

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny issued an incredibly moving statement this morning that better sums up anything I could ever say about the untimely death of his young outfielder –

“I was asked last night to give some words regarding the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, but I just simply couldn’t.

“First of all, it felt like a bad dream that could not be real, and when reality kicked in, my words didn’t even seem to make sense. To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement. To talk about the potential of his abilities seemed to be untimely. All I wanted to do was get the guys together and be with our baseball family. I know the hurt that comes along with buying into the brotherhood of a baseball team. That hurt is just as powerful as the joys that come with this life. Not to say it is even close to the depth of pain his true family is going through, but the pain itself is just as real. The ache is deep because the relationships were deep, and forged through time and trials.

“To the many fans who have already reached out with condolences, and to the many more who are in mourning, thank you for taking these players in, like they are one of your own. This level of care is what sets our fans apart.

“In my opinion, the word “love” is the most misused, and misunderstood word in the English language. It is not popular for men to use this word, and even less popular for athletes. But, there is not a more accurate word for how a group of men share a deep and genuine concern for each other. We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar.”

When I first came across the name of Oscar Taveras I promised myself that I’d follow his career as closely as I possibly could. This young man was the future of my favourite baseball team, after all.

I was excited when he made his major league debut on May 31st 2014; cheered when his first official major league hit was a home run over the right field wall at Busch Stadium off the Giants’ Yusmeiro Petit; suffered the ups and down during his rookie season as he struggled to find his stroke against the upper echelons of MLB pitching; got frustrated when he was benched for extended periods as he failed to find his feet and live up to the lofty expectations that were imposed upon him by almost everyone who had an interest in seeing what Oscar could do in baseball. I even treated myself to a wry smile as he smacked pinch-hit home run (once more against the Giants) in a 5-4 Cardinals win in Game 2 of this years NLCS. That was on October 12th 2014.

Two weeks later he was dead. That home run was the final hit of his career.

It saddens me that we’ll never get to see Oscar Taveras power the Cardinals to the World Series; it saddens me that we’ll never get to see the talent on display that made him one of the top rated prospects across the whole of baseball over the last few years; and it saddens me that baseball will no longer be graced by one of the biggest and brightest smiles in its long and storied history.

Rest In Peace

Oscar Francisco Taveras

1992-2014

Oscar-Taveras