TLDR: I know that you came here for pictures of cards and they are on the bottom.
Here is a little nugget for you: I hate vacations. It has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t like being around people. It has nothing to do with wanting to stay home. It has everything to do with knowing how I work. I struggle falling asleep in my own bed, and it is impossible to fall asleep in hotel beds. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing but I always found myself stressed out on them. So that had nothing to do with anything, other than to set up that the fact that I took a vacation must have said a lot about how I was feeling.
In June, the pastor wasn’t in at my church. I didn’t realize it at the time but it soon became apparent that all of the heavy lifting at church, and even more so, a ton of minor details needed my attention there. I do a ton there as it is. Anyway, doing all of that made me realize that I needed to get the heck away. So I saw a card show was going on in Anaheim. I have been dying to get back to an Indian casino, and I sorely missed living in Lancaster when the Jethawks were a few blocks from my place. So I set it up. I would head to Lake Elsinore on Friday to hit the Pechanga Indian casino and a Lake Elsinore Storm game, followed by two sports card pit stops fifty miles away from there in Anaheim. As an added benefit, the Storm were playing the Jethawks. I would have gone to an Angels game but they weren’t in town.
I wasn’t sure about doing this but I found a great AirBNB with a private floor for sixty percent less than hotel rates were going for on Independence Day weekend. I was avoiding staying in someone’s home at all cost but it worked out great and when a buddy of mine told me that the people that host usually have things down as they do this a lot, I wasn’t worried. The people I stayed with were amazing and I already miss their dogs.
So I make the hundred plus mile journey, and the vacation is already off to a nice start. Driving long distance wears me out, and I hit a bit of rush hour. I have a bad right knee and driving has been known to bring out its worst. I was sad to leave my pets but I must have been in a good mood if the driving didn’t bug me. I get to the home that I am staying at, and one of their dogs greets me at my car. He looks exactly like my dog but a different color. I get settled, leave all of my stuff their including cards that I bought to trade on Saturday. After ten minutes, I leave to buy a Storm ticket and hit the casino. The Storm ticket was nineteen bucks and I got a padded seat in the second row behind home plate.
Side tangent: yes I did this alone. I needed a break and needed to do things on my terms. If I wanted to stay at the casino for ten minutes, I could. If I wanted to stay for ten hours, I could without worrying. Also, I had three very specific interest and lets be frank, if I took someone they would be miserable at some point. I say this is my first vacation but I have taken vacations with other people; this is MY vacation if you understand that.
I get to the casino and it is crazy in there. Every table is full. Every machine is taken. It reeks of smoke and everyone is fifty years older than me. Did I mention that I hate slot machines because there is no skill involved? Even the empty machines are taken by people who are somehow allowed to play three games at once. I find a poker machine on the opposite end of the casino from where I parked and settle in. I came for the experience and slow play twenty bucks as long as possible; that ends up being ten minutes. I lose interest and go back to the car but had two hours to kill before the game.
So what is one to do when they have two hours to kill in Temecula? Find a card shop. I end up spending ten bucks on base cards I needed to finish of my 2019 Score Football set. They had eighty percent of what I needed. I also spent another ten on new Panthers offensive lineman Greg Little’s autograph. Don’t worry, I didn’t mistakenly grab the former Browns player of the same name. I tried hard making friends with the people there but they had no interest in talking.
‘Do you guys break here?’
‘What is selling here?’
‘Oh, I see that you are doing eBay, what is your eBay name?’
‘What are people fans of in this area?’
This hobby is so full introverts that you make this introvert feel like a social butterfly at times. Whatever. They squeezed me a little on the price of the base cards because they knew that I needed them but I still had a good experience. I will be honest, I would have bought packs if they showed a little gesture of caring about me as a customer or talked to me for longer than one sentence answers.
I get to the ballpark and on the way there, I see that little things like the Walgreens down the street has made their building resemble a baseball stadium. Maybe it is because I was itching to go to a minor league game but I find the stadium amazing. Little things like the sights and sounds of the game were awesome. It is cool how these teams really value to local community and make an effort to connect with them. Yes I came from a few counties over but to see the local city council people get noticed on the field is something that I know that my community would appreciate. Its not just that. When I was in Lancaster, the Jethawks always opened with an exhibition game against a local college team. It is nice to see a team have a give and take with the community instead of what it feels like in the major leagues where you pay a premium and only get to see the best talent. Here, you get the talent who will be in the major leagues plus a place that goes out of your way to make you feel welcome regardless if you are a season ticket holder or someone sitting in the lawn. Another great thing is the promotions they have with local businesses. I know they pay for sponsorships but I have walked out of games with amazing coupons to places that I go to. At my very first minor league game, they gave out frozen yogurt as we were leaving; and I am not talking about coupons.
If you follow me, you may have noticed that something crazy at the ballpark happened. The biggest earthquake in California hit in about the fifth inning. The players didn’t even notice and two pitches went by during the earthquake itself. Unlike the NBA summer league where a game got canceled in the middle of the game, this game went on. Unless it got mentioned on the radio broadcast, no one mentioned it from the team at the stadium. Being a veteran of minor league games, I like how people around you aren’t afraid to get to know you. My section really came together after the quake. Heck, we bonded during it when we asked each other if it was really happening or if the earthquake was in our heads. If an earthquake or anything happened at a Dodgers game, would the people next to you ask if your family is alright after they see you texting them? Heck, would they even be quiet when you are on the phone with people making sure they are alright?
I was thinking about grabbing some funnel cake and cheating on my celiac disease by grabbing some fresh funnel cake but the earthquake killed my appetite. So I guess the earthquake did me a favor in that sense, as my body literally has an allergic reaction with my intestines swelling when I eat gluten because of the disease. The game ended with fireworks and thankfully fireworks that were launched from center field and not from a disaster.
The next day, I wake up and head to Anaheim for a card show. I didn’t buy anything but that was because I was not interested in forcing things. Perhaps if they had dime or dollar boxes. The dealers were nice and they had deals, they just didn’t have deals that suited my personal collection; and if they did then it was from cards they already had. I did give out a few AngryCardCollector stickers though.
My next stop was the Frank and Son collectible show. Oh man, what an utter disaster. There isn’t any parking there so I had to park two blocks away. When I did get in, everything was crammed. I can only imagine how bad it is there when they do signings. About eighty percent of the place is Pokemon or Magic cards. The other twenty percent is sports card dealers who act like they hate people. I tried to get a word in to ask a few people if they had certain things but they didn’t even look at me because they were too busy talking to their friends. It’s like dude, ‘I am making eye contact with you while wearing a Carolina Panthers shirt.’ I clearly am someone who could give you business. I couldn’t even get these guys to look at me. This happened at at least three stalls. If I could go back, I would reward the store owner who asked if he could help me while I was eyeing the Garbage Pail Kids and Ninja Turtles packs that I didn’t buy. I get that the hobby attracts introverts but if you want to make a sale, at least make eye contact with a potential customer. This is why I call out the hobby cronyism so much; is it so hard to treat everyone with respect? That friend you are talking to will be there if you make him wait a minute but will the customer? I get not talking to everyone or not being a people person but even with the guys in Temecula, they at least directed me. There was a ton of people there, I get it but I was one of the people who spent more than five seconds eyeing your product. I didn’t get that here at the places where I wanted to buy cards. My best interaction with a sports card dealer was from a kid who had to be younger than ten years old. Every time a few customers took interest at his table, he said the very basic ‘if you have any questions, ask me.’ Even then, his dad was too busy talking to a friend while he said it. You guys give a ton of grief and say a lot of negative stuff about the youth of today but all I see are kids who are or will make the world a better place; they certainly made it a better place at Frank and Son. How fitting is it that I am talking about a son at a table at Frank and Son?
I did buy two boxes and a couple of Funko’s. The Funko’s were impulse buys but I was on vacation. Of course, both of those were sports ones, Cam Newton and Jose Altuve. Altuve was an impulse but I saw him as a Jethawk so I felt that it was apropos. As a final hurrah, I grabbed a box of 2018 Pro Debut for $60.
That last picture features 2 players that I saw play on Friday in Ryan Vilade and Luis Campusano. The very last pack that I opened from the box yielded a Ryan Vilade relic. I found it very fitting and a nice way to end my vacation.