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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Podcasts

Just in case you may have missed it, Sal over at Puck Junk and I have been doing a weekly podcast where we discuss hockey and hockey cards.  A lot of content has been devoted to the playoffs and such but each episode we try to review either a newer set, and oldie but a goodie, or BOTH.

I put a link to them at the top of the blog on the left hand side if anyone is interested in listening.  At this point, we are up to 5.

Give them a listen.  Most are around a half hour.  Leave a constructive comment or two. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Stat Wars

A long time ago in my living room far, far away I sat and watched a hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.  It was a regular season game on the Deuce (which should tell you how long ago it was) and I was only semi-interested in what was transpiring on the ice since the Pens were losing.  I don't remember exactly what else I was doing other than blankly staring at a space on the wall, when I heard the announcer quip some statistic that caught my attention.

This was long before TiVO and well before the ability to pause and rewind live television, but I distinctly remember him saying that the Rangers were 6-0 while leading after two periods on the road after a previous home loss.  Let me say this one again...the Rangers were 6-0...while leading after two periods...on the road...after having previously lost a home game.  The first thing out of my mouth, directed toward the television screen, with no one else in the room to hear my disdain, was "Why the [expletive deleted] would anyone in the [expletive deleted] world care to know something as [expletive deleted] ridiculous as that statistic?"

And thus began my love/hate relationship with today's statistical nonsensitude.  I am not naive to think that the study of statistics, as we know it, has evolved to this point for no reason.  There is a reason, a good one.  But there is a difference between actual readable performance statistics and what I like to call "situationally ironic stats".  Let me explain.

I understand the necessity for teams in all sports to be able to analyze their players and team performance on much more than a 1s and 0s platform (a la Billy Beane).  In hockey for example, the stat for goals, assists, and plus-minus (which many non-hockey people don't really understand) aren't complete at telling the whole story of what happens during a game.  The analysis of possession statistics can help coaches to develop a more intricate game plan, helping to create additional chances and opportunities on the ice that their predecessors decades ago may not have had at their disposal.  Things like Corsi stats which includes puck possession statistics or Fenwick numbers which are similar but don't include shot blocking are all very interesting for the stat monger fans that will argue with you ad nausea about things and literally make you move your seat at the bar.

But for the casual fan and even a long time hockey fan like me, these are fluff numbers that are for the coaches, the scouts, and even the players themselves to understand.  Not me.  That is why I shy away from and more often than not, turn off my brain and go to my happy place when these numbers start dancing across the TV screens, the Twitter feeds, or the occasional print media.  In other words, I understand it, but I don't particularly care to pay attention.

The absolute worst though, are the anecdotes like the one previously mentioned that I call situationally ironic stats.  These are meant to keep your attention.  They are meant for the shock factor, to keep you watching just to see if they come true.  In today's world of social media, these are the perfect tidbits of information to get you to click through.  The computer nerds (and I use that term affectionately) from high school that wanted to be involved with sports but just couldn't get past the awkwardness of it all finally have their IN.  These guys can sit in front of a computer with situational game play analysis software that has evolved substantially over the years with algorithms designed to spit out any number of results depending on what variables are entered.  These guys just need internet access and a teleprompter and all the useless numbers get thrown at us with each passing moment.

If you have never watched a televised NHL game on NBC or NBCSports networks, then you may not be familiar with the overabundance of canon fodder that comes from Mike Emerick's mouth.  He recites these types of circumstantial half-truths at least six times a game, maybe more.  The playoff broadcasts are even worse.

Another great example that occurred during Game 2 of the SCF. Sportsnet Stats tweeted...

"No team in Stanley Cup Final history has lost back-to-back home games when leading each contest after 2 periods."

So logically speaking, despite leading after 2 periods, either both games were wins or at least one of these games was a loss.  Therefore a lead really means nothing because you still have a 50/50 shot at pulling out a victory.  Thanks.  That is helpful.

I was further reminded of how long ago this phenomenon started last evening when my sons decided to watch the classic baseball movie, Little Big League.  For those that have never seen it, it's from 1994, a more innocent time in baseball.  It focuses on young Billy, all of 12 years old, and his adventures as the owner/manager of the Minnesota Twins.  The previous owner, his grandfather, passed away and left the team to him in his will.  After firing the hated team manager and appointing himself to the helm, he eventually leads the team down the road to a playoff opportunity, winning everyones hearts along the way. (see, innocent).  Their radio announcer, Wally Holland, at one point in the movie gives the pinnacle of all inane stats...

"He's eight for 13 this year...against left-handers...in night games...played above the Mason Dixon Line."  

Indeed.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Trades. Now's The Time For Trades.

I'm bored and in a collecting funk.  So LET'S TRADE.

I'm looking to get some trades going around here.  I know I have traded with some of you before and there was a time where I was probably not a very good trade partner.  In fact there are probably some of you out there that I still owe cards to.  But I'm now sitting on so much product that I have no where to put things anymore.  What better way of moving it than through trades.

By now everyone knows what I collect.  No?  Really?  Well if you don't here is a list...

Teams:  
      Pittsburgh Penguins (early 90s stuff is not needed unless it's oddball)
      Pittsburgh Steelers
      Pittsburgh Pirates (if it's from 1987-1991 I probably already have too many)

Players:  
      Hockey:   Jaromir Jagr,  Mario Lemieux,  Bill Guerin,  Eric Tangradi
      Football:  Rod Woodson,  Jerome Bettis

Other Projects:
      Ball State University Alumni (players that played for BSU or are featured in BSU gear)
      Pittsburgh Penguin Autographed cards (check my other blog for what I already have)

I am looking to get rid of a ton of hockey product.  Most of my collection is divided into either players or teams.  Inserts from the last 5 years are divided by brand.  I have singles from the mid 1980s through today.  If you need commons to complete sets, let me know or just send me your lists.  Also, I have about 600 cards listed on Collector's Revolution.  If you go on my inventory and see anything you would like to trade for instead of buy, let me know and I can see what I can do.

I do have some football but nothing recent and really nothing huge.  Most of my football is divided into teams but I do have some player albums with singles.  If you have someone in mind, a set you are trying to finish from the last 10 years or so or a team you collect, let me know.

As far as baseball goes, I do have a sprinkling of some stuff from the last 10 years or so but again, nothing super huge like refractor/auto/jersey stuff.  Baseball is mostly in boxes by sets but back in the late 2000s I sorted a couple monster boxes by player.  The majority are guys from the 1980s and 1990s but there may be a few recent guys separated out.  If you have needs from any of the Topps or Bowman sets from the last 6 years, send me a list and I will look.

Basketball...I don't collect basketball cards but over the years I have accumulated some because of many collections I have purchased.  Because of that I have two 5000 count boxes of basketball cards, mostly from the early to mid 2000s with some mix of early 1990s.  I know nothing about them nor do I care to.  If you have a team you like or a player, let me know and I can reluctantly go through them.

Ready?

Set?

Go!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Blog Isn't Dead. It's Just Sleepy

That's right, kids.  The blog isn't dead.  It's just a very sleepy, sleepy place.  Why?  Well I have found quite a few other means of communicating with many people out there in the card universe.

First, there is Twitter.  I am fairly active on Twitter, reading all the 140 character goodness that is published daily, hourly, even minutely (put it in Websters) by all my collector friends, dealers, writers, and sports personalities that I follow.  You can usually find me on there at some point for a few moments each day commenting, favoriting, and reTweeting.

Then, there is the new venture, the Puck Junk Podcast.  Sal Barry and I have been putting on a podcast on a weekly basis covering everything NHL and hockey card related.  Why?  Well, above all else, it's fun.  Sal and I have had many conversations over the years about things that turn into memorable moments so we finally started to document some of those conversations.  What better way that with audio?  Secondly, there isn't much out there that is hockey centered and focuses on the musings of two hockey fans with no real broadcasting experience and lots of opinions.  Lots.  I mean lots.  Podcast #4 is available now  on Soundcloud if you haven't already given it a listen.  It's still a work in progress but if you have 30 minutes, I could think of worse ways to spend it.

But, I guess the moral of this story is, the blog will be back to partially semi-regular, if not actually semi-regular posts soon.  I just need to stop procrastinating my posts for so long.  I just went through my post log and I found 26 "DRAFT" versions of posts that never got published.  All of them with content.  I don't know if it's a general unhappiness with what I write or just laziness.  I'll probably go with laziness.

And that's all I have to say about that.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Podcast. Yes, you heard me. PODCAST!

Since i pretty much hang out on Twitter almost exclusively, there have been very few blog posts. I should remedy that and I'm truly working on it. So what better way to fix my general laziness to blogging than to start another project.

Yes, kids. Your friendly DFG had entered the world of the Podcast. But don't fear.  I'm not entering it alone.  My partner in cardboard crime is along for the ride (more like he's driving the train). Sal from Puck Junk and I have started a, hopefully, weekly podcast devoted to our love of the hobby, hockey cards, and anything else we care to blather on about.

Our first episode has been posted for your listening pleasure. Feel free to leave comments, hopefully constructive. Save your flames for the bbq grill. Oh and I know my voice sounds like I took the Ice Bucket Challenge without removing the bucket. I'm working on that. First episode rust, we'll call it.

http://puckjunk.com/2015/05/12/puck-junk-podcast-1-may-12-2015/

Monday, February 2, 2015

Overreacting? Nah. Just Cleaning The Blogroll

So after the deflating loss by the Seahawks in the Superbowl yesterday (See that!  See what I did there?), I thought I would begin my day by purging my blogroll

over there < <<<<<<<< <

 of any and all blogs that made mention of the Cheatriots winning the game, deserving to win, congratulating them, or praising their ability to fight hard and come away with the victory.  Then I realized there would be basically nothing left.

So instead, it's time for some cleaning.  I have decided to go through the roll and purge all of the forgotten blogs, the ones relegated to the milk cartons of the internet.  I have also begun my search for some new reading and will be adding blogs at a feverish pace. 

If you have a blog that would like to be here, let me know.  It can be card related, hockey related, sports related, or ... well that's pretty much it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

State of the Blog Address

Despite being a lazy, worthless hobby blogger, I still manage to keep about 30 people amused each day.  Yes those are my unique hits every day.  Despite new content since the summer.  I'm still getting about 225-300 page views a week.  It's crazy.  I'm guessing it's because of my finely tuned blog roll over there on the left. 

I should really start blogging again.  It was therapeutic and helped relieve stress, which I have much of.  For those wondering where I have been, and for those that haven't, here's a recap...


====Been working as hard as I can with my new start-up job.  We are almost 2 years in and everything is going good but it can always be better.  The guys I work with are the best in this business and our philosophy is one I wholeheartedly believe in.  In this short time, we have built ourselves around almost 200 clients, representing over 700 properties.  More clients means more stability and that's my goal.

====Baseball.  Baseball.  And more baseball.  The kids were in spring season and also fall this year.  They both did really well in the spring.  That was the last year for both of them in their respective leagues.  My oldest moved up from Minors to the Majors in the fall.  My youngest moved up from Rookie to Instructional.  However, the weather didn't cooperate much for the fall, which is why the last games finally happened in the middle of October.  At one point we were having 3-4 games a week between the two boys to cover make-up games.  Plus there was still a tournament for both leagues.  But seeing my kids play is priceless and I would give up everything just to be a part of it.  Turns out I have two pretty consistently accurate pitchers on my hands and two guys that love to be part of the game.  

====I got married last week...October 24th to be exact.  Those "new" relationships take a lot of work sometimes but mine just happens naturally.  It helps that she has almost the same affinity for small pieces of cardboard.  I got to marry my best friend and quite possibly my soul mate.  I never thought I would ever get married again.  Life just happens this way sometimes. 

==== I couldn't wait for the NHL season to start.  But what happened to my enthusiasm?  Despite the great start by my Penguins and the hopeful season ahead, Comcast once again failed me by first, promising free Center Ice previews for the month of October and not delivering...at all!  Not one stinking game, despite the constant advertising for it.  Second, they have rearranged scheduled programming from the beginning of the season, bumping games and opting instead to show rebroadcasts on some channels.  Good thing I have the Pens App on my phone.  And third, well, I just can't take anymore awful announcing on the games that do get televised.  The nationally broadcast games on NBC are just bad.  They really are.  I get lucky some nights with simulcast HNC games on the NHL Network but those are few and far between.  Maybe the second half will get better.

====Was uber excited for the NFL season.  Then it started.  What happened to defense?  I mean seriously?  Where is it?  45+ points per game is certainly exciting to some but I like smash mouth football.  The league has taken the defense out of the game and castrated them.  You get 15 yard penalties for even thinking of making a tackle this season.  I guy touches your arm as a common gesture during a conversation and it's a spot foul.  It's really pathetic.  This isn't my fathers football league, I understand that, but it isn't even mine either.  And the Steelers?  Ugh.  Other than a couple games, they have been atrocious compared to previous seasons.  At least watching RedZone on Sundays is still quite entertaining.

====This is the first year I have bailed 100% completely on fantasy sports (unless you count Topps Bunt).  I just wasn't into it this year.  I thought that I could be a better fan and watch for the joy not because I had some vested interest in the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. the Miami Dolphins.  But alas, I miss it.  I miss stats.  I miss caring about players I hate.  I miss the trash talking.  And it's going to hurt at the end of the season when I don't get my $250-$400 that I have won for the last 10 years.

====Cards have honestly bored me to death lately.  Part of the reason is that I just can't find the time to get organized.  When I think about my collection, I feel like that guy right over there.  Beat up, bloodied, and hurt.  I have a card room.  Upstairs in my home.  It could be amazing.  But it isn't.  It's the bane of my existence.  Cards everywhere.  Unsorted boxes and piles of stuff lying around...It's sad really.  There is just too much and despite my efforts to scale down (If anyone was wondering, I sold the Card Garage...well about 85% of it at least).  I am more than happy to sell or trade most of what I don't want.  The problem lies in the fact that I don't really know what that stuff is. 

So I'm looking for a jumpstart.  Something to unearth the beast that slumbers inside me.  So far, the hockey releases have been less than what I expected.  MVP disappointed me (what a shock).  I wanted something more from Artifacts.  I still haven't bought any O-Pee-Chee and I'm hoping the Upper Deck flagship brings me out of my funk.  There is a show coming up in November in Chicago that I usually attend every year.  Maybe that will release the Kraken?  Maybe. 

====Along the same lines as the last comment, I haven't even touched much by the way of cards.  I have had no reason to.  But I actually just responded to 3 Zistle trades last night, which is a good start I guess.  The more interactive I am with all the blogs and card sites I have used, the more active I will get back into my collection.  As for selling stuff, I really wish my Collector's Revolution inventory would move better but I just can't figure out how to master the art of social media (which seems to be the catalyst for the larger volume sellers).  I still do pretty good on COMC though considering I have yet to invest a dime.   

http://www.sixfivenine.us
====Music takes up a lot of my free time.  My band, 6ix 5ive 9ine has been playing out a lot more frequently the last few months and the response from the crowds has been great.  It will be interesting to see what 2015 brings for us.  My wedding, that I mentioned earlier, even took place at one of our gigs.  It was epic.

On weekends I am not spending with my kids, there is usually something planned.  Whether it is a gig, practice time, or rehearsal, being in the band and making things work takes up a lot of time.  But is definitely worth it (of course not financially since I'm no where near quitting my day job).  We have toiled around for a long time and to finally get to play for people over the last few years is a blessing.  I love my band mates (which is good since I married one of them).

That's about it.  Boredom, laziness, being busy...you know, the usual distractions from card collecting have kept me from the blog.  But I'm still not going anywhere.  I'm not closed for business and the blog will still be here for all you faithful that, if nothing else, use this as a jump point to read the great stuff from all the non-lazy, non-bored, bloggers out there in the world.