Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sakic Sunday: An emerald in the rough

We can all play Monday morning quarterback and look back on a particular player's week, season or career and muse on how or why a particular event occurred.

Joe Sakic's draft year is no different.  Joe was drafted 15th in the first round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, behind a couple of future superstars that went 1-2 in the draft, Pierre Turgeon and Brendan Shanahan.

Joe wasn't even the first player taken by the Nordiques that year, that distinction went to troubled  defenseman Bryan Fogarty, who was drafted in the #9 position.

It is interesting to look back and see the players that were drafted ahead of Joe Sakic in the first round that year.  There were a few defenseman who played 1000+ games in the NHL (Glen Wesley, Luke Richardson, Stephane Quintal), one goalie who played a little over 100 games (Jimmy Waite), and a couple of forwards who didn't have stellar careers (Dave Archibald, Keith Osborne). 

Several teams missed out on a player who had amassed 138 goals and 293 points in 2 seasons in the Western Hockey League.  I'm sure at 5'11", teams wondered if he would be able to lead an offense over an 80 game schedule. 

Turns out for the Nordiques/Avalanche that Joe was actually an emerald in the rough.

Emerald parallels from the 91-92 and 92-93 Parkhurst sets.

625 goals, 2 Stanley cups and a Hall of Fame berth later, it's really easy to play Monday morning quarterback, isn't it?

All I know is, my Maple Leafs at #7 missed out on a golden opportunity.

Such is life...

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homer Simpson he ain't

28 years = 20 years

The first no-hitter for the Reds in 28 years means that the Pittsburgh Pirates will now go 20 years without a winning season.

No offense to Homer Bailey, but the Pirates last night were no hit by a #4 starter.  

The Pirates were 16 games over .500 as late as August 8th.  Since then, they've compiled a record of 13-34.  In case you were wondering, that's a .277 winning percentage. 

Are the Pirates turning a corner?  In a way, yes they are.  There are still a lot of questions to be answered over the off season again for them...such as:

The Pirates now have a glut of outfield talent, 6 to be exact.  Jones, McCutchen, Marte, Presley, Tabata and Snider.  Do they trade one of those bats to get themselves another proven starting pitcher.

The pitching staff, which was one of the best the first four months, wound up full of bullet holes by the end of August.  They have Burnett and Rodriguez as a solid 1-2 punch, but after that there are a lot of questions.  Karstens can't stay healthy.  J-Mac had a great first half but fell off a cliff the 2nd half.  Erik Bedard was released.  Correia will likely not be resigned.  The kids (Locke, McPherson) may be ready to step in, but they are still pretty green.  The bullpen is still solid but needs a little more depth other than Chad Qualls and Hisanori Takahashi.  The trade of Brad Lincoln turned out to be negative for the Pirates, not because Travis Snider didn't perform, it was because the Pirates lost a swing man who was more valuable than they thought.

There is also the problem of the lack of a true leadoff hitter; a guy who can set the table for McCutchen, Jones and Alvarez.  The catching tandem of Barajas and McKenry will have to be upgraded, and shortstop Clint Barmes may be replaced as well. 

While I still compare this team to the Blue Jays of the early 80's (lots of young talent but very green), there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered in order for the team not to turn the losing streak to 21 years.

One of the promotional commercials that was played a lot during the season was "finish".  Finish the at bat, finish the game, finish the season.  

The Pirates failed to finish the season this year, and if they do so next year, I have a feeling that a lot of Pirates management will be finished. If that happens, we may just see the longest sub .500 streak rocket towards a silver anniversary.  I'd hate to see that, because it was fun to watch Pedro Alvarez this season mature into a full time player, and I'd love to see him carry this team to a playoff spot sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading, Robert

A post for a fellow blogger...

Brian, hope you're doing OK brother....hope to see you back and posting when you're ready

Sorry Spike, but you're out!!
Pat B for PAT-P

Thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, September 28, 2012

Single cards that stand out

When trading, oft times I receive a pile cards that while welcome, there is not a particular card that stands head and shoulders above the rest.  Well, that was different for a couple of recent packages that landed on my door step.

First was a great lot of cards from Nick over at Dime Boxes.  The main portion of the envelope was Blue Jays (of course), but Nick actually sent me one card that stood above all the others...

The blurry baseballs are a little disconcerting

My first card of Jim Thome from another blogger.  No doubt pulled from one of the myriad of dime boxes that Nick frequents, this card becomes the 10th base card in my Jim Thome collection. 

The other card that stood out for me this week was part of the envelope that Max from the Starting Nine blog sent over.  It was the lone hockey card in the envelope, and seeing this instantly got my mind turning.

This guy is the reason I got turned off of one particular sports blog.  The incessant ripping of this guy was beyond anything that should happen to anyone.  Yes, the guy had a rough go of it while he was in Toronto.  (tell me who hasn't over the past 7 seasons).  But to listen to people bash the guy over and over, even long after he had been traded was a little much. 

Seeing this card reminded me that anyone can sit behind a keyboard and a computer monitor and be negative.  I've done it myself on more than 1 occasion, and even sometimes end up regretting the post later on, because of the negativity.

Hopefully the sight of this one card will remind me in the future of one of the reasons I write as often as I do.

I enjoy collecting cards, and I enjoy writing about them.  The world is full of negatives, why should our hobby be one of them.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Canadian English

(Note:  This post, like many others, is meant to poke fun at me, myself and IDo not interpret this to be personal or a shot at anyone other than the author.)

I have always believed in self-deprecation as a form of humour.   If you cannot laugh at yourself, you should not be laughing at others.

I'm sure you've read some of my self deprecating humour before on this very blog.  One of the ways I love to poke fun at myself is the way that I communicate.

I do this at work a lot.  I'll have an account exec, or even someone on the road send me an email or message, I'll respond back to them with the answer that I feel most appropriately solves the problem. Afterwards, I'll get a response back that is totally off the wall.  It is then that I ask one of my esteemed co-workers to take a look at what I wrote to be sure that my words actually made sense.  I'll also jokingly ask them "am I speaking in Canadian English here?"

I worry that what I say is not interpreted properly.  I worry about writing "like I speak", and will re-read posts 3 or 4 times before I am happy with what I have written.  I guess you could probably say I'm a worrier by nature.

What made me think of this was the trade package that I received from Napkin Doon a few days back.  I wrote about the Gypsy Queen cards that he sent me, but he also added a few other goodies in the envelope.

First was a serial numbered Blue Jays card....2001 Topps Gold Label Class 2 Brad Fullmer

Nap also added 3 other serial #'d cards in the envelope.

3 Flair Showcase serial #'d cards, cards that would fit well into the insanity set because they are numbers that I need.

if only they were Topps/Bowman products.....

Now this is not the first set of serial #'d cards that have come my way that weren't from Topps or Bowman.  I've received cards from Upper Deck, Donruss, Playoff, Leaf to name a few other companies.  I've even received cards that were serial #'d above 3000. (Why that is, I'll never know)

Again, the worrier comes back.   Maybe I didn't explain how the set works properly to everyone.

The Canadian English has crept back and has me explaining things bass ackwards.

Maybe the blogosphere is trying to tell me something.  1500 serial #'d cards, 50 per MLB team would still be a hell of an achievement even allowing all cards from all manufacturers into play.

It would allow me to add such cards as the multi colored UD Heroes cards...

It would allow me to add a card of Mark Grace where he looks like he's screaming because someone gave him a hot foot (he has to be pointing down for some reason)

It would allow me to add a card of a guy whom I consider to be one of the best defensive center fielders ever to roam a major league ball park...

No doubt another HR stolen

Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind and let all the various manufacturers be part of the insanity.

After what I've read lately, I'm sure Upper Deck fits the bill perfectly....

Bonne nuit mes amis Canadiens et Americains...oops sorry, that wasn't Canadian English...

Thanks for reading, Robert

Migrating to the dark side...NOT!

As of this writing, we are down to 89 days until Christmas.  For those of you who do celebrate, don't say I didn't remind you come December 24th.

I decided to get a head start on my spending this year, and picked up a couple of sweet cards on eBay.  I will not say who they are for just yet, just in case that person is actually reading this blog.

That person happens to like the Pittsburgh Penguins, so I decided to bid on a couple of auctions for them.

The first card cost me $15...a buy it now for a pretty nice autograph...the scan isn't that great, but IMO I believe I got a pretty good deal.

I don't know what got into me, but I saw this next card and I knew that my intended giftee had to have this card. (Yes, I did buy these before the revelation about the relic can't go back in time unfortunately)

Wonder if we'll see any of these guys play hockey this year?
If I wasn't giving it as a gift, I'd almost be tempted to add it to my own collection.  What was cool is that the seller who I bought this card from added the next card to the!

A nice 'graph from one of the Sutter complaints here!

As much as I'd like to start cheering for the Penguins, there are two reasons that I just can't bring myself to do it.

First, they gave up the blue and white for black and gold....
Second, the guys who call their games on TV...can't stand them....worst pair of announcers in my opinion. 

You will never see me migrate to the dark side that is Penguin hockey....


Thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You'll have to excuse me...I'm still a little slow (the sequel)

If you're one of the insane crazies that reads my blog on a regular basis (and bless your heart if you are), you may remember my post a couple of weeks back ranting against myself about the Allen & Ginter set.

Well, true to my Dumb & Dumber roots, which are greying/graying by the way, I now provide you with the sequel to that post from two weeks ago.

This post will prove to all just how moronic I can be sometimes. 

I received a couple of trade envelopes over the past couple of days, from great people in the land of the blogs who had some Gypsy Queen cards to help with my want list. 

The first scan comes to you courtesy of the one and only Napkin Doon, who sent me a generous helping of GQ, along with a few other cards that are going to be discussed in another post in the coming days.  I'm showing just 9 cards of the package, because you've seen them all over and over....

Nap, thank you for the cards!

The second package comes from blog reader Patrick S.  (Patrick, if you have a blog out there, somewhere, please let me...and the blogosphere know!)  Here is the prerequisite 9 card scan for you.

Patrick, thank you as well!!

As I sat at the computer this evening, checking the cards I received from both of these fine gentlemen off of my excel spreadsheet, I see the number of cards that I need diminish (duh).  I sit here and think to myself...hmm, only 55 cards to go to complete the set, when it dawns on me.

34 of those 55, you guessed it, are the Variation SPs.  So now, for the 2nd year in a row, I've committed myself to collecting a set that has a bunch of SPs that are going to be costly to obtain.  Look to 2011 Heritage for that other miserable exercise that's going to cost a small fortune.

I've been slow to learn that my rash decisions on what sets to put together are biting me in the ass.  Yes, GQ looks good to me, but not stopping to think about what the set is comprised of has set me on a path of spending that is probably not smart.  Don't even get me started on the '64 set I'm building and the high dollar, high numbered cards (that might be the third post in the series).

In order to remind myself in the future to "look before you leap", I'm putting an index card on the wall right above the monitor with a little message.

I have nobody to blame but myself in the future if this card doesn't work....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Still collecting hockey even though there's no hockey

As I perused the card aisle at Wal-Mart on Saturday, one box of cards kept following me as my eyes perused all the choices.  It was as if the box was saying "buy me, buy me".  It was a blaster box of '12-'13 Score hockey.  I picked it up and saw that there was 11 packs with 7 cards in each.  I wasn't too sure about picking it up since I thought that Score was supposed to be a lower end brand, and I thought that 20 bucks was a little too steep.

I decided to take the box over to the price scanner and check, just in case.  It scanned at $9.99.  I grabbed 2 of them. 

I enjoyed ripping both of them open.  For just under 20 bucks, I ripped open 22 packs, and had great fun looking at the cards.  The price point definitely doesn't hurt the budget, and the cards are decent as far as photography and card stock.  (Not great....decent....)

Base set cards are fun, and as mentioned the photography is all right.  Love the whip on the stick of Nick Johnson on the left.  Miikka Kiprusoff looks as if he's going to use his head to stop one of the millions of shots he faces each season.  The Jonathan Quick card on the right features the Stanley Cup logo, which blends in well with the black and white uniform he's sporting.

The inserts harken back to the 90's for score as well, with names such as the franchise and Check-it being used.  The Eddie Giacomin is a "retro" franchise card, and I was 'lucky' enough to pull one in each blaster I bought.    I do, however, like the First Goal insert set, that's something different. 

For those hopelessly addicted to collecting parallels (not me, I would never do anything like that....nope...), Score has included a one per pack gold bordered parallel, along with a much more rarer black parallel.

I can't say for sure, but I believe that the Sven Baertschi is one of the black parallels (maybe someone out there can enlighten me).  The Hot Rookies will at least be reasonable to pick up, as I pulled 6 of them in each of the blasters.  This is in comparison to this years OPC set, in which I've pulled 2 of the high numbered cards in 6 rack packs. 

Score even found time to focus a little on the lighter side of hockey in one of the photos they used.  This card of Patrick Kane so far is my favorite.

I really enjoyed watching Kane done the Clark Kent cape and glasses at the skills competition last year, and got a good chuckle when I pulled this out of one of the packs. 

Nothing earth shattering is going to come out of these packs, but at about 90 cents a pack, I don't expect anything great.  You get a decent product that will not break your bankroll, and yet the packs provide enough entertainment so that you're not left wanting at the end.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blue Jay Monday: Starting Nine minus 3 minus 1

Well, let's just say I was way overdue to post these cards from Max at the Starting Nine blog, and I was even slower noticing a feature of the trade package that may or may not have been intentional.

I've had these cards for a few days now, and have looked over them a few times trying to obtain a little inspiration for a post.

Along comes Blue Jay Monday, and I really don't have any idea what to write.  Then I count the cards.  9 in total.  Makes sense, doesn't it?  I'm going to give Max the benefit of the doubt and say that he placed  9 cards in the envelope on purpose. 

The Blue Jay portion of the envelope which this post is going to feature is 5 cards in total (9-3-1).  2 other posts will cover the 3 (insanity) and the 1 (11-12 OPC hockey) portion of the envelope. 

The first card reminded me that even though you may be a baseball player, you don't have license to put anything you want on your face....what in the world was this guy thinking? 

Curious to see if he's in a different uniform come spring

I'm hoping and praying that Adam Lind regains his confidence, and his hitting stroke.  Adding his bat to the middle of a lineup that features Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion could make this this trio one of the best in the game.

A&G Back...let's hope Adam comes back

Every time I see Brett Lawrie's name at the top of a line up card, I have to keep reminding myself that he was originally a 2nd baseman, not a 3rd baseman.  I just hope that he stays healthy, because his balls to the wall recklessness reminds me of another 3rd sacker the Jays had back in the early 90's, Kelly Gruber.  If Lawrie can stay healthy, and stay in Toronto, he just may be the Canadian star that the Jays have always craved.

Damn chrome cards...almost makes me want to run out and buy a blaster...need discipline!!

Now for two guys that the Jays traded away that they could really use.

When I heard that the Jays had traded Aaron Hill for Kelly Johnson last year, I thought it was a good deal, because it was a straight swap for 2 guys who probably were in need of a change of scenery.  While the defense has been decent, and he's had some pop this year, Kelly Johnson has not been the player that Hill has been for the D-backs.

I definitely missed the boat on the early Ginters....

Just a little tidbit, in the 2 games that Hill hit for the cycle this year, those 6 extra base hits represent 1/6 of the total XBH that Johnson has for the entire season.  I liked Aaron, a scrappy player who now that he's healthy represents probably the 2nd best offensive 2nd baseman in the majors, behind Robinson Cano.

Finally, this guy doesn't need an introduction:

Back in Black

How would this card have looked better?  Picture Roy in the Jays black road uniforms from the mid 00's, and I think that the could would have looked awesome.  None the less, this 2009 Topps black parallel is a great card of one of the best pitchers ever to don the Jays colors.  No doubt though that where he is now, things are funner (t)here

Max, thank you for the Blue Jays goodness....there's a couple of other posts saluting your cards coming...

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sakic Sunday: Relics and the continuation of this pursuit

To be honest, I really do like the look of a lot of the UD products that they have released over the years.  They really did give collectors a solid second choice to Topps products for a long time.  But with the current scandal that is in the news, I really have to wonder if there is a future in the industry for Upper Deck. 

I'm sure that there a lot of people out there that will say "good riddance to bad rubbish", and I don't deny them that thought.  I can't see them continuing on as a licensed company to the NHL after the story I read about the Jeter jerseys.  (If you're not sure what I'm talking this post from Voice of the Collector and find out).

This kind of stuff makes me wonder if any of the Sakic relic cards I own are authentic.

Me being the optimist, I want to believe that these cards are legit, but there is that nagging doubt now that makes me shake my head.  While Joe Sakic cards aren't in the stratosphere of a Gretzky or a Lemieux in terms of price, they are by no means lower tier in terms of cost.  For me to continue to chase a Joe Sakic relic card with this cloud over relic cards is kind of tough.

How about people who have bought packs of Upper Deck's The Cup over the past few years?

While I have never personally bought a pack of their super premium product, nor do I own a relic card of Joe Sakic (or any player for that matter) from The Cup, if you own any of this product, does it make you wonder now as well? 

I know I'm a little focused on this subject lately, but I feel it's for good reason.  In the hockey world, Upper Deck has been a major player for the past several years, and the legitimacy of their relic cards has been called into question. I'm sure that I will think about this a lot more, and wait to see if Upper Deck does release some kind of statement regarding this allegation.  I hope they do, but it's gotta be tough to put a positive spin on this situation.

To be truly honest, I really do want more Joe Sakic relics.  Relics aren't dead to me...

Not yet anyways....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Friday, September 21, 2012


As I said the other day, when I write a post that is inspired by another blog, I try to give credit where it is due.  In this case, credit goes to the Night Owl who wrote earlier today about the faith that he has lost in the trading card companies vis a vis relic cards.  I can definitely say that I can sympathize with him.  I imagine that there are a lot of people that have lost faith in relic cards after what has materialized.

Dare I ask what these Ricky Romero cards are actually cut from?

I do like the design of the Archives card on the left which mimics the '56 Topps release.

Do we actually treat these cards as worthless now?  For a lot of collectors, that may be tough to do, because it goes against the fabric of what collecting has become over the past decade (sorry for the bad pun).

Imagine how card stores/internet dealers may feel because they may have great amounts of money tied up in collections that may all of a sudden be thought of as worthless.

Imagine the game used jerseys featuring players such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and others that were probably bought and sold for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, all of a sudden losing a great deal of their worth because of the events that have come to light.  (Of course this is an assumption I'm making...but I believe these cards will dip in value).

I agree as well with Rob at Voice of the Collector, I believe that the card companies could, and should come out with some kind of statement regarding this whole matter.

My question is, what in the world are they going to say that's going to change anything?  Is it even possible to put a positive spin on this?  I can't see it happening.

It appears as if the collecting world has been misled, and I'm sure that this is not going to go away anytime soon.

It's also funny how things work out sometimes.  As I was reading the Night Owl's post this morning, this song was playing on my iTunes, kind of ironic.  You may remember Kool and the Gang for songs such as Celebration and Cherish, but this tune has a different sound for them.   Hope you enjoy it.

thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I notice the stupidest things sometimes

First off before I get into writing this post, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on my post last night.  The overwhelming support for what I wrote was unexpected to say the least, and very much appreciated on this end. Also, just a quick note to say thank you to Nick as well, I'm glad you enjoyed what I wrote.

OK, now down to business.

It's gotten to the point again where I've sent so many envelopes recently that there are instances where I've actually forgotten what I've sent to certain people.  Case in point, I received in the mail today a very generous envelope from Josh at the Royals and Randoms blog, and for the life of me I cannot remember what I sent him (I'll take a shot it had Royals cards in it....).

Josh sent me some insanity help (yes, that's still going), and a heaping pile of Blue Jays to show off.  I leafed through the cards a couple of times (leafed....NHL....subconscious...sad...) and noticed that quite a few cards had a common theme that I never really noticed before on many cards.

Uniform numbers.

I found 5 examples alone in this package with Carlos Delgado's uniform number placed on the front of the card.

Let's start with a couple of 2003 releases.

Interesting how both shots have Carlos pictured right at the point of contact with the ball.   I like the UD release on the right; I believe that the uniform number actually complements the player's name on the card, unlike the Playoff release on the left, where the uniform number kind of sticks out like a sore thumb (for lack of a better description). 

Exhibit 2:  Fleer Patchworks.  Fleer actually doesn't make the uniform number stand out on this card, it really blends in well with the team name at the top of the card.  It really doesn't need to be there though in my opinion.

This card is actually a salute to the number 25.  If you look close enough, it's a helluva list of players who are wearing 25 at the time.  Palmeiro, Giambi, Thome, Delgado, Glaus, Dmitri Young, Andruw Jones, and some guy named Bonds.  In this case, a good job by Upper Deck.

The Authentix cards were kind of subtle in getting the uniform number of the player on the card, using the seat number.   A little investigating also showed me that the Section number was actually Carlos' batting average from the year before, and the row may or may not have been the number of years that Carlos had been with the Jays (he had played 10 seasons in the bigs, but I'm not positive what the 10 may have stood for).

In some cases, the uniform number works.  In other cases, well it's leaves a little something to be desired. 

I don't know what made the uniform numbers jump out at me like they did in this lot, but like I said, I notice stupid things sometimes.

Josh, thank you for the cards, a great lot indeed!!

Thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Write what you want dammit

I currently follow 225 blogs on Google.  I would estimate I have another 10-15 I follow on Word Press or individual writer's websites.  I would say that all but 2 or 3 of them deal directly with our great hobby of card collecting. 

I read as much of what's written as I can.  There are scores of great writers out there with a passion for what they collect, and it shows in their writing.  Admittedly, there are some blogs that I prefer over others and will go to them first each and every time I log on.  I admonish myself each and every time I see a post for a blog that I haven't read in a few days by saying "you need to read some of his/her posts".

There are times when I don't see somebody post for a few days and I say to myself "I hope they are OK".

There are posts that make me laugh.  There are posts that make me think.  There are posts that make me post.  I do my best when the latter happens to give credit where credit is due.

I'll be damned if I can find one or two other bloggers out there that would even give a damn about the Blue Jays, or the myriad of Chrome colored parallels that I was able to obtain in a trade.

Don't rub your eyes, it's not a Chrome card...

I'll also be damned if I could find another handful of bloggers out there that give two shits about my beloved Maple Leafs, or the latest relic that I was lucky enough to score for a couple of dollars at a card show...

I don't cheer for the Cubs, Dodgers, Astros, Wolverines, Braves, Royals, Phillies, Cardinals, Canadiens, Penguins or the countless other teams that other bloggers write about.  They are not my cup of tea.

I know what you're saying...."what the hell is your point Robert??"  I'm getting to that...

I've read lately on posts that people are worried about other people reading their blogs, and wondering about what they might be saying and if anyone cares.

I say to this only one thing........  write what you want dammit!!

If you see that my blog has hit your website, there's a 99.99% chance that I've read your post right to the very end.  Whether it be a score you pulled from a pack, an opinion about a current topic in the sports world, or a trade post, you can be sure of one thing.

I'm interested, and reading all the way through.  Why?

Because there are a lot of you reading my stuff, and enjoying it.  So I owe it to you I owe you the courtesy of reading what you have to say, no matter how far off topic for me it may be.  I may pull up one little nugget of information about what you, or someone you've dealt with enjoys, collects or even detests, and that little nugget gets stored in the bigger nugget I call a brain.

Experiences and memories are what make this hobby great.  Each of us writing about one of our experiences just may bring back a memory for someone else that they may have buried.  It just may put a smile on someone's never know.

Write what you want don't know who you're going to touch today.

As always...thank you for reading, Robert

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bring on the SPs

Maybe my plan of attack all along was to complete a Heritage set once every two years.  Maybe my subconscious was actually telling me "Robert, you don't really want to collect the 2012 Heritage set because you haven't finished the 2011 set yet".  It could be that I'm trying to maintain some discipline and actually complete some sets before digging into new pursuits.

Whatever the case may be, I was fortunate to come into some short prints from the 2011 Heritage set recently, 9 of them to be exact.  The first three I was able to pick up at the card show 10 days ago

I paid $2 apiece.  I was actually just happy to see some SPs from last years set at the show. 

The other 6 I received in the mail late last week courtesy of Ross from the Design on Deck blog.  Ross's blog is very creative with some very unique designs, a couple of which he has showcased recently with the "Pennant" line, and "Triple Crown Candidates".  It's just my opinion, but Topps could take a lesson from Ross.

On to the cards...

You know you're being taken care of when someone sends you 2 SPs of players from their favorite team.  Ross, thank you for the cards...I still owe you!

If my count is correct, only 40 SPs to go.  I figure I've got 7 months before 2013 Heritage is released to get this completed.

No problem.    Yeah, right....

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, September 17, 2012

Renaissance Man

During my Saturday night rant about the NHL and the current state of affairs there, I started thinking about baseball's strike that ended the 1994 season, and dipped into the 1995 season also.

I thought about the reactions that people had to the cancellation of the World Series, and the players eventual return to the game in April of 1995.  Hostility, anger, and mistrust are 3 of the words that would describe the feelings of both fans, players and owners alike.

There were a lot of people that were turned off of baseball for good.  I'm sure that there are still people who don't bother with the game today.  I can honestly say myself that I went through a period where baseball was not part of the fabric of my existence.

Then came the 1998 season.  The summer of McGwire.  The chase for 61.  I watched more baseball that summer than the previous 5 years combined.  I know I did, because I can remember ESPN being on the TV constantly at my house, McGwire's every at bat shown live for the entire country to see.

That summer was the renaissance of baseball for me.  Years before the scandals and innuendo that has plagued the steroid era, there was the summer of '98, and the feel good story that brought baseball back into the national spotlight.

I watched the video of HR # 62 again today, and marveled at everyone's reaction to the event.  The Cubs infielders all either high fiving McGwire, shaking his hand, or in the case of Scott Servais the Cubs catcher, hugging McGwire before he reached home plate.  The elation of his teammates in the dugout.  The hug that Mark gave his son at home plate.  I was verklempt all over again.

I also know that in any video that you watch of the '98 season, McGwire is definitely not the "skinny kid" that you see in the cards below..

Cards courtesy of various card drafts

You can chastise me, call me names, say whatever you like for my writing about Mark McGwire.  I will never have any qualms about supporting a man who is an admitted steroid user.  Unlike a lot of other guys who used the juice, McGwire has admitted his transgressions and apologized for them.

This brings me back to my disappointment and fear that the NHL is going to lose another season to labor strife.  It took almost 4 years for me to find a renaissance man in baseball, a sport that for me is #2 only behind hockey in terms of passion for the game.

I worry that if there is another season destroyed, that there are a lot of fans who consider hockey as maybe their #2 sport that will need their own version of a renaissance man in order to bring them back to the sport.

Somebody to electrify the game like McGwire did in the summer of '98.

I fear that there may be nobody out there that can do for the NHL what Mark did for MLB.  If that's the case, the NHL may be in more trouble than they think.

Only time will tell.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, September 16, 2012


No, not the torture and bondage kind that you gutter minded people were thinking about...get out of there!!

Discipline is something I sorely lack when it comes to collecting cards.  For a while, I can stay on track and focus on what I'm trying to accomplish, and then there are times when, for lack of a better term, I just fall off the wagon. 

I will say this, for around a month now, I can say that I've been very disciplined in my collecting habits.  I've done my best to stay on point and focus on collecting the sets that I've promised to work on.  The 77s and 64s are a prime example of that.  Those are two sets that I really would like to complete, and they were the major focus of my card show spending last week. 

Sadly, there are sets out there though that I have a weakness for.  Goodness knows if you are trying to stick to a budget, there is only so many sets that you can try to complete at one time.  Go beyond that, and you stretch yourself too thin.

The '73 Topps set is my weakness right now.  I've picked up pieces and parts at card shows in the past, but had no real attempt to start this set....until the card show last weekend.  My vintage guy, like always, has 100 count plastic cases of what you could call "starter sets".  Sure enough, there was a 100 count of '73 Topps there for $8, something I just couldn't resist. 

I looked at a bunch of these cards, and they almost made me wish I was 20 years older.

These guys rocked some of the greatest sets of sideburns known to man.  Of course, the Oakland A's had their own rules for facial hair, so their sideburns were awesome.

Here's 4 more examples of some great sideburns, although a little on the thin side...

I had to check and see if Montgomery's first name was actually Monty.  Sure enough it is.  I still enjoy listening to Ken Singleton do analysis on YES telecasts; that voice is just a smooth as it was 20 years ago when he was on Montreal telecasts.

There were 4 sets of sideburns that I found especially appealing.

How about best set of sideburns on a card of a pitcher who is just posing.  Meet George Culver.

Great thick bushy sideburns...awesome!

How about the best set of sideburns on a pitcher in an action pose.   Meet Don Stanhouse.

He could also win the award for best facial hair on a horizontal card.

Here's another one for you.  How about the best sideburns that are shaved into a spike.  Meet Bob Tolan

Finally, how about the best set of sideburns on a Rookie Card of a guy whose name is a palindrome.   Meet Toby Harrah.

Now that my friends, is one spectacular set of sideburns.  What's pretty neat on the cards that I picked up is that of the 99 unique cards, there were only three cards that featured players with mustaches.  There was not a single hair on any of the chins in the lot.

Maybe I would have been out of place back then, because I've had a goatee now for the better part of the past 27 years.  My chin would have been cold without it back then.

See what happens when you show a lack of discipline in your collecting duties?  You end up posting about facial hair.

Lesson learned.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's 11:59 PM, September 15, 2012

Screen capture courtesy of

Kind of appropriate that the NHL shield appears in black on the homepage.

The deadline is here, and what is the NHL doing to ensure that the fans have something to watch this season?


Screen capture courtesy of

There was absolutely no sense of urgency from the owners to get to the table.  I'm convinced that this lockout was going to happen all along.   The summer did nothing to enhance my belief that there would be hockey this year.  Gary Bettman announced during the Stanley Cup Finals that he was confident that there would be progress during the summer and that a deal would be reached to prevent a lockout.  Bull shit.

I read an article on Yahoo! sports earlier this week in which an agent speculated that this lockout may last 18 months!  I'm so fed up now with the NHL that they could lock the players out for the next 18 years and it wouldn't bother me.   Yes, that is anger talking, but I'm so fed up that part of it is actually the truth.

The league finally gained some steam over the past few years, and has gained market share and revenue way beyond the dreams of anyone involved in the league.  So what do the owners do?  Cry poor and say that there are several teams that are losing money.  Why wasn't this fixed the last time?  Because the owners panicked when the players called their bluff.  The players moved on to other leagues and endeavors, and watched as the fan's opinion of what was happening quickly move to their side.  The owners took a deal that led to "cost certainty", but so many loopholes were in the salary cap structure that the rich teams just wound up outspending the poor teams again, and buried their mistakes in the minors without penalty.

Honestly, yes I am very upset that my favorite sport, my passion since I was a 5 year old boy is being taken away from me again.  Yes, I may cheer for a team that hasn't won a Stanley Cup since 5 months before I was born, but it doesn't matter.  I enjoy watching the Leafs as often as I can.  It's akin to a car wreck on the Interstate, you don't want to look, but you just can't help yourself.

I don't see the sense in a 3rd work stoppage in less than 20 years.  It makes the NHL look bush league. 

This will also be the 3rd work stoppage since Gary Bettman became commissioner.  Here is the NHL's legacy as far as games missed by league due to work stoppages since 1992.

Screen capture courtesy of

MLB's work stoppage in 94-95 cost the sport a World Series, and put a crippling blow to the national pastime that took years for them to dig out of.  The NBA lockouts wiped out a good portion of the 98-99 and 11-12 seasons.

Notice the NFL.  Not one work stoppage in the past 20 years.  It is a juggernaut that is not going to be overtaken any time soon.

The graph shows that none of the other 3 major sports leagues have lost as much time (or money) as the NHL has.   The league is on the verge of another breakdown, largely because the league has expanded/moved into places that it shouldn't have, and trying way too hard to create a fan base that just isn't there.  The league has moved into places where it had absolutely no chance of making any money.  The league has created an environment where taking in a game is way to costly.  The last game that I attended (at least a game that I had to pay for my ticket) was 2 years ago.  The seat I had in the old Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh cost me $105.  I couldn't see the scoreboard without ducking my head.  We weren't even on the lowest level of the arena.  Really?

I hope and I pray that I will see NHL hockey this season, but I fear that I will not.   Again. 

This time, I have a feeling that there will be a lot of fans that will be singing this song to the NHL if this season is lost.

Say good bye, indeed.

Thank you for reading, and God Bless to those people whose families are affected by this insanity of a lockout.