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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Razz..a mataz

I have been moderately active in the hobby blogging community for the last six years now and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of information I learn about this hobby on a daily basis.

Take, for example, the latest "controversy" that popped up in many of the trading forums over the last couple weeks.  Breakers.TV for those of you not familiar, is a website devoted to live streaming what they call the "hobby shop experience".  Essentially it's a platform to video broadcast your box and case breaks and it all happens 24/7.  I first found Breakers a few years ago when someone I knew was hosting a group break to be done live.  It was fun sometimes to watch, knowing it was happening in real time.

But that's not what has the collecting community drawing the Mason-Dixon line in the sand.  It's what has inevitably come of the case breaking and group breaking community that they are debating.  The fine line between running a break for fun and running break for profit.  It's the money making scheme that is resulting in individuals sitting back and making $100s if not $1000s in one night off of what the community calls, RAZZES

For those that don't know, a Razz is another name for a raffle.  Most people are familiar with a raffle.  You buy a ticket, numbers are called, you win or you lose.  It's a pretty simple concept.  But a Razz takes it to a new level in a collecting world.  People tired of busting $100+ boxes, $1000 cases, and not getting anywhere remotely close to their money back are up in arms, trying to sort out ways they can recoup their return.  Why not raffle off the hits?  It could get people to purchase a "high book value" card for pennies on the dollar but also get some cash back into the breakers hands.  It makes sense to me.

Well the spirit of the Razz has been taken to a different level by many breakers out there where they run their own channels for breakers to Razz off the hits that are not desired.  Other group break hosts are seeking out the Razz(ers) too, in order to fill the unfilled spots in their breaks.  These "hosts" as they are called then sit back and wait for things to get pulled, basically advertise what is available and then sell off the spots to the Razz for that HIT (many times receiving free spots as compensation or taking a percentage of the pot).  If they win the card themselves, the majority of the time the card gets Re-razzed for additional money.

I think you all get the idea but if not, here's an example.  Say you have a $100 card you don't want.  You want to offer it up for sale without paying E-fee prices and have no other audience or outlet to do so.  In walks me, the HOST, and I agree to get it in front of my audience of collectors which consists of a few hundred regulars.  I then put up the Razz, offering 12 spots at, let's say, $10 each.  I immediately fill the spots, run the Random.org sorter, and viola!  Your card is gone and you made $100-110.  What's that you say?  Those numbers don't compute.  Well you forgot to take my 10-20% commission for selling your card.
You see, hosting Razzes has become a business.  It's making select people that know how to do it well some large incomes.  So large, in fact, that they are apparently starting to be watched by "the powers that be".

In this case, it was the operators of Breakers.TV, who issued a statement saying that Razzes will no longer be hosted on any of their channels.  It also may get the attention of Paypal since most payments are made as gifts and sometimes multiple spot payments are made by the same people during the same day.  Gift payments are not regulated by Paypal and not subject to certain fees.  But abusive of that service is supposed to be monitored and there have been occasions where it has been. 

In my opinion, the problem isn't with the raffles themselves.  They aren't much different than having a random group break.  You pay for a spot or two, you get assigned a team, and you may or may not get a card.  The problem is with people becoming greedy.  Razzed items are being submitted via text messaging now with the host putting the phone up to the camera.  The hosts are collecting money for essentially doing nothing.  Money is changing hands via Paypal and the cash is the only thing being raffled, not cards.  It's gotten a bit out of hand.  That's what has people upset and has caused the issues.

Like I said, I'm all for raffling off your cards.  Some say it's gambling and maybe it is.  But like any good thing, a few select people are going to find ways to exploit it.  And that's what has happened here.  I'm not trying to stir the pot or start more controversy but I would like to hear people's opinions.  Have you heard of Razzes?  Have you participated?  Comment below.

  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Redemption Song: For My Son!

For those of you that follow my Twitter account, you probably already saw this one earlier.  But for those that don't...what's wrong with you?  Just kidding.  Let me explain.

I generally try to involve my children (I have two of them) in my hobby as much as possible.  I wasn't exposed to this hobby by another adult.  It was by kids my own age with similar likes and interests.  These days, it just doesn't work like that.  Kids don't do a lot of collecting on their own and are more interested in other hobbies.  Nonetheless, I get them involved by showing them what drove me into the hobby in the first place...that connection between the cardboard and real life.  Whether it's the game photos, stats on the back, write ups about the player, or simply putting things in order by name, number, position, etc., there are engaging ways to get kids into collecting.

But that's a totally different subject for another time.

I took the boys with me to a card show in Chicago a few months back (November to be exact) and they both got to split a hobby box of Topps Football.  The excitement of them splitting the box, choosing which packs to open and then battling out who got the best cards in each pack was priceless.  But one of the packs that my youngest son opened contained the all too familiar Blue Topps Card with the word "CONGRATULATIONS" across the top.  Yes, he pulled a redemption.

How do you explain a redemtion to a six year old?  Well you don't.  We are saving that for another post as well.

This one was different though.  It was for an Uncut Sheet.  I hadn't seen these pop up at the time but wondered just what that entailed.  Regardless, as I always do, I gave him a choice.  Would he like to sell it and see what he could get for it or redeem it and see if he gets the item.  His choice was to redeem.

Fast forward through months of waiting, every other weekend being questioned as to whether it arrived yet, and watching his disappointment as we checked the status online only to see that it was still in process.  Today in the mail.  It arrived.  And it was HUGE!!!  Huge enough that it had to be signed for.  Huge enough that it almost towers over Mr. D (which isn't saying much since he is six after all).  Without further adieu...

BEHOLD...

  
Thank you, Topps for actually sending this.  While I was pretty sure it would get here someday, there was that brief moment of doubt where I thought it just might not ever arrive.  You have made this little guy very happy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Filling The Spaces

I just received a package from the great white North.  It was kind of an expected package since I was told it would be on the way.  Ryan from Cardboard Connection put a call out on Twitter to anyone that would like some extra 2013-14 Titanium Hockey that he had lying around.  Being sucked into yet another set I will probably never complete, I obliged. 

A few days later, a giant yellow envelop was curiously greeting me out of my mailbox.  I say curiously because the package was so large that it didn't fit in the mailbox at all.  The mail-type-person simply rested a corner in the top of the slot so that 85% of it was sticking out, ready to plunge to it's death five feet below.  Luckily it didn't because a plethora of wonders awaited me when I opened it.

Not only did Mr. Cracknell give me a handful of needed Titanium (which I didn't take a photo of or scan, nor do I have my list posted), but there was a whole host of other items from my set needs list.  Like these:


Cards from the 2011-12 O-Pee-Chee set and the 2012-13 O-Pee-Chee set.  

And these...

Those are the shiny, shiny 2013-14 Prizm cards on top as well as 2013-14 Score

And then there were some of these...


Some 2011-12 Victory rookies that for some reason I still needed.  Yes. Your eyes don't decieve you.  Those are 2011 Topps Baseball base cards that I still need.  That helped but I still need more if anyone out there wants to help a brutha out. 

I don't know how many cards in all there were but it was a lot.  Thank you so very much Ryan.  I appreciate every piece of that cardboard gold!!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Redesign

Those of you that frequent the page may have noticed by now that there have been a few changes to the blog.  I have been tinkering with a redesign idea for a while now.  The site has been active since the summer of 2009 and I was just getting tired of the same old layout.  I was considering switching over to Wordpress but I thought I would still give Blogger a chance and keep the page on here for now.

I changed my banner at the top of the page to reflect, if nothing else, my player PC representation.  I also changed the logo a bit to incorporate more of a Black & Yellow theme.  I removed a few things on the side panels and changed the background.  I'm still messing with stuff so if you see any drastic changes over the next few weeks, don't be alarmed.  It's only me being indecisive on things.

I'm also trying to get it to function more responsively to mobile.  I find myself using the site functions more and more on my Galaxy 4 than I ever have before.

If you like the site design, drop me a line and let me know.  If you don't like it, drop me a line and let me know (then go to....nevermind).  I welcome all feedback.  If you are looking for fresher content, head over to the Dogfaced Daily Blogroll over there on the side panel, which is still pretty functional.  If you have a blog that isn't listed and should be, let me know and I will add it.  You'd be surprised how much traffic I get with people just looking for a jumping point for blogs.

If you want to see other stuff I write, feel free to check out my Penguins Autograph Project Blog as well.  I try to post at least once a week my acquisitions for my attempt at one of every Penguin player autograph.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All's Quiet In Toronto. But Everywhere Else In The NHL...Complete Craziness (updated)

(This is a frequently updated post that had stuff added and subtracted from it all day.  Live blogging is hard. Updates from the original were all in Red.)

Today is the day, kiddies.  It's the NHL Trade Deadline and all the hockey world is a buzz over what has already transpired pre-deadline and what will happen today.  So far, nothing has transpired in the wee hours of the morning but the bulk of the action generally doesn't start until 10 AM-ish.

The biggest question marks are still out there. One of the biggest is what will happen with Martin Brodeur?  


Brodeur's legend is already set.  His impact on hockey will be heard by generations to come and his legacy is almost assuredly set for the Hall of Fame.  So why, then, would the Devils unload him?  Because Marty isn't Marty anymore.  He is actually one of the worst goalies statistically this year.  He is toward the bottom in most categories and even though he is still squeezing out wins, that has more to do with the offense than his play making ability.  He says he wants a shot at another Cup but the likelihood of him getting significant ice-time with any of the contenders out there is slim.  There are actually rumors that Pittsburgh would be interested at the right price, ensuring Fleury had an able backup in case of another playoff meltdown.  I don't see it but we are talking about Ray Shero here.  He never ceases to amaze.

So what has happened thus far?  


Yesterday Vancouver unloaded Roberto Luongo back home to Florida in exchange for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.  Roberto was in shock as his interviews have shown, Vancouver fans were in shock as their team seems to be imploding, and I think even Florida was in shock they were able to pull this off.  Even though the Canucks were interested in dealing Lu last year, I don't think anyone ever thought it would happen.  Florida is trying to build a winning team and now they have a top tier goaltender to backstop them into a playoff position (Tim Thomas was hardly that piece).  They have tons of young talent and a budding defensive corp that could surprise people very shortly.



On February 28th, the blockbuster trade exploded the NHL world when the Buffalo Sabres unloaded their franchise goalie, Ryan Miller and team captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for a bag of rusty nails and a couple draft picks.  I kid but almost.  The Sabres get Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, William Carrier, and a 1st rounder next year and a 3rd rounder in 2016.  There have been serious criticizm on both sides regarding this trade.  St. Louis gave up a lot to get Miller and some question whether it was worth it.  I say yes.  The Blues need a little extra between the pipes.  Halak was not that guy.  In fact, he isn't even the guy in Buffalo apparently since he is still on the trading block after moving to the Sabres less than a week ago.  It will be interesting to see if the Blues found that piece they are going to need to boost themselves deep into the playoffs.

We've also seen Martin Erat and John Mitchell join Phoenix from Washington in exchange for Rostislav Klesla and Chris Brown.  The Coyotes also unloaded David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois to Chicago for a draft pick.  Viktor Fasth moved from the Ducks to the Oilers in exchange for a draft pick.  This was a move done to replace the enigma, Ilya Bryzgalov who was sent to the Wild.  The Ducks also unloaded Dustin Penner to the Capitals and picked up Stephane Robidas from Dallas.  The Blackhawks, in addition to adding the guys already mentioned, also unloaded Brandon Pirri to Florida and picked up Brian Connelly from the Wild in exchange for Brad Winchester.

Who's Next?

The biggest guys on the board all have the potential to make an impact if they get dealt today.  Let's see who's left.

Thomas Vanek - LW - NY Islanders
Vanek goes to Montreal!  Wow!!  That's big for the Habs.  No one was even talking about the Canadiens as a potential team.  The Habs gave up a 2nd round pick and prospect Sebastien Collberg.

Matt Moulson - LW - Buffalo
Moulson and Cody McCormick are both heading to Minnesota in exchange for Torrey Mitchell and an undisclosed draft pick.

Ryan Kesler - C/RW - Vancouver

Ryan Callahan - RW - NY Rangers
Callahan was sent packing to the Lightning in exchange for Martin St. Louis, in addition to giving up a 1st in 2015, and a 2nd in 2016.  If the Rangers get to the finals, the 2nd round becomes a 1st.  If Callahan resigns with Tampa, the Rangers will get a compensatory draft pick.

Mike Cammalerri - LW/C - Calgary
NOT BEING TRADED???

Ales Hemsky - RW - Edmonton
Hemsky is heading to Ottawa for a couple of draft picks.  Reports early are a 1st round pick and a 3rd rounder.  The Oilers are retaining half of Hemsky's salary for the season.

Martin Brodeur - G - New Jersey
NOT BEING TRADED

Marian Gaborik - LW/RW - Columbus
Go west young (or not so young) man.  Gaborik gets a boost by being traded to the LA Kings in exchange for Matt Fratin, a 2nd rounder and a 3rd rounder.

Alex Edler - D - Vancouver

Christian Ehrhoff - D - Sabres

Nick Schultz - D - Edmonton
Nick is going to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  This frees up some money in Edmonton and moves along a player that arguably lost a couple steps.  This also helps Columbus fill a few injury holes.

Ray Whitney - LW - Dallas

David Legwand - C - Nashville
He played his entire career in Nashville but being a UFA did him in.  He waived his "no-trade-clause" and Detroit picks him up to help fill in the injury spaces in the Motor City.  They give up Patrick Eaves, a "prospect", and a 3rd rounder.

Evander Kane - LW - Winnipeg

Tim Thomas - G - Florida
Thomas is packing his bags for Dallas.  So much for a Luongo/Thomas goaltending duo.  Not sure what Dallas is thinking here other than just getting some experience.  Or maybe Mark Recchi is trying to create Boston South.

Dan Boyle - D - San Jose

Dustin Brown - LW - Los Angeles

Andrej Meszaros - D - Philadelphia
Meszaros is shipping up to Boston.  They gave up a 3rd rounder in 2014 to get him.  This should help with Seidenberg out for the season.

Jordan Eberle - RW - Edmonton

Tomas Fleischmann - RW/LW - Florida



Lee Stempniak - F - Calgary
The Penguins picked up Lee Stempniak in exchange for a 3rd rounder in this years' draft.  Lee brings more scoring ability to the bottom lines and gives the Pens a boost coming down the stretch. 

Jaromir Jagr - RW - New Jersey

Dmitry Kulikov - D - Florida

Martin St. Louis - RW - Tampa Bay
St. Louis was sent packing to the Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a 1st in 2015, and a 2nd in 2016.  If the Rangers get to the finals, the 2nd round becomes a 1st.  If Callahan resigns, the Rangers will get a compensatory draft pick.

Kyle Palmieri - RW - Anaheim

Andrew Ladd - LW - Winnipeg

Brad Boyes - F - Florida
Boyes agreed to terms with the Panthers to stay another two seasons.  He's officially off the board.

PA Parenteau - RW - Colorado


Marcel Goc - C - Florida
The Penguins made their first move by acquiring Marcel Goc from the Panthers.  They give up a 3rd and a 5th rounder to get Goc.  With a solid top 6, it makes me wonder what the plan is here.  Is this just solidifying the bottom two lines...is this a smoke screen for something bigger??

Drew Stafford - LW - Buffalo


Chris Phillips - D - Ottawa
Chris signs a two-year extension to stay with Ottawa.

Jason Spezza - C - Ottawa

Paul Stastny - C - Colorado

Tuomo Ruutu - F - Carolina
The New Jersey Devils pick up Tuomo Ruutu from Carolina to compliment a group of aging NHLers.  Andrei Loktionov goes to Carolina along with a conditional 3rd rounder in the 2017 draft.

Cam Ward - G - Carolina

Nail Yakupov - RW - Edmonton 

And many, many more.  Of these 36 guys I listed, I would not at all be surprised to see 20 of them moved before the deadline hits. Morning skates are going to be an interesting thing to watch this morning.

In Other Moves


**Raphael Diaz heads to the Rangers to help boost a defense that needs some depth.  They only gave up a 5th rounder to get him.  

**Corey Potter is heading from Edmonton to Boston.  Their defensive woes are getting patched up quickly in Boston.  They picked up Potter from waivers.

**Jaroslav Halak moves for the second time in a week as Buffalo continues to clean house and sends him to the Washington Capitals along with a 3rd rounder in 2015.  The Caps apparently have given up Michel Neuvirth and d-man Rotislav Klesla.

**Colorado picked up goalie Reto Berra from Calgary for a draft pick


**Cory Conacher goes to Buffalo off the waiver wire.

**YOUNG PROSPECT TRADE:  Brayden McNabb and Jonathan Parker go from Buffalo to Los Angeles along with two 2nd round picks in exchange for Hudson Fasching and Nicholas Deslaurier.

**Devan Dubnyk goes to Montreal in exchange for future considerations.  I guess Carey Price is more hurt then we thought.