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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Jersey Off My Back

2008-09 Artifacts Treasured Swatches "Mr. Hockey" 

Ahhh, Jersey Cards...

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Premier Triple Remnants Dale Hawerchuk

After opening a couple boxes recently, I really started thinking about the value of the perceived "hits" that are included as part of the release.  I generally am not a "hit" chaser.  I don't meticulously pack search or toss the base cards in favor of the "hits".  I'm mostly a player collector and set builder.  But I still like when I pull jersey's, especially when it's a player I collect.  I like to rub my finger across the swatch and try to figure out what part of the jersey it came from.  But they don't always look good or feel good, and when you pay $100+ for a box of cards, a jersey card that could yield $5-10 if you're lucky on the secondary market probably won't leave a very good taste in your mouth. 

2008-09 In The Game Between The Pipes Origins Gerry Cheevers (blocker pad)

The introduction of the small piece of material into trading cards has long been a staple of the industry, dating back to when Upper Deck started putting the tiny swatches into cards in 1996 (I think Press Pass actually started the phenomenon with their NASCAR sets prior to that but look where that got them).  I don't know the exact date that they started appearing in hockey cards but I'm guessing late 90s-early 00s, at least that's when I first became aware of them.


2010-11 SPA Future Watch Limited Auto Patch Eric Tangradi

Memorabilia appearing in sports card releases were once a HUGE part of the industry.  These little "pieces of the game" were a rare find and highly sought after by collectors.  They became so overwhelmingly popular that they started appearing in every release issued, by every manufacturer, every year.  You can see where I'm going with this.  More demand spawned more supply and thus a by-product of their own popularity, their value went into decline.  Nowadays, you can go into many sports card shops or to sports shows and find thousands of these abandoned in boxes with price tags well under $5 (there is a dealer I see sometimes at the larger Chicago shows with $1, $2, and $5 jersey boxes).

2010-11 In The Game Heroes and Prospects Subway
Super Series Jersey Silver Jonathan Huberdeau

Why?  Well I blame three things; oversupply, lack of creativity on design, and lack of trust in their authenticity.

2011-12 Artifacts Tundra Tendems Dual Fight Strap 
Marc-Andre Fleury & Kristopher Letang 


2012-13 Artifacts Tundra Trios Fight Straps 
Joe Thornton/Brenden Morrow/Patrice Bergeron 

As I mentioned earlier, more demand spawned more supply.  Manufacturers saw the popularity surge and began chopping up every piece of memorabilia they could get their hands on.  Jerseys? Cut em.  Pants?  Cut em.  Gloves, hats, pads, bats, sticks, skates, cleats, balls, helmets, towels, warm-ups, nets, photos, checks??  Cut em ALL!  There's no telling how many pieces of history have been mutilated in order to satiate an industry demand since the late 90s.  I don't know a single collector that would even want to know either.  I'm much more familiar with the hockey card market and I can say that I've seen some items by some manufacturers for early era hockey players that come from paychecks, letter correspondence, and other memorabilia, trimmed to fit cards.  While many of them look cool, it is scary to think about what had to be destroyed to get to that point.

2010-11 Upper Deck Game Jersey Kristpher Letang

As the manufacturers overloaded their products, they began to get lazy.  No more was there thought put into a card design.  Player photos were sometimes abandoned in favor of swatch real estate.  Even the material swatches and patches themselves became overly focused on single color or even just plain white...PWS is a hobby term used quite often now.  In recent years, the higher end sets and more premium cards feature better looking pieces of material with multiple colors and stitching present on the card.  But the industry is by far dominated by "hits" in boxes that contain players that don't actually play, aren't exactly household names, and are just plain boring.

2006-07 O-Pee-Chee Swatches Daniel Alfredsson

Which brings me to my last point.  Authenticating memorabilia has become a very contentious part of the hobby.  The over abundance of fraudulent items that hit the market every year is staggering.  I don't think we have gone six months in the last ten years without hearing about a large dealer, vendor, or supplier being investigated by the FBI and many ending up serving jail time.  Unless you physically remove the item from the subject, cut it yourself, or watch them sign it, there is no definitive way to prove it's real.  Manufacturers have always listed their proof of authenticity on the backs of memorabilia cards but while the industry used to be much more upfront about the origins of their items, they've gradually declined in their details to the point of many saying "here's a piece of something used (or touched) by someone at some point".  I'm being facetious of course but it's getting bad.

2010-11 In The Game Enshrined Complete Package Tim Horton


This isn't one that I mentioned earlier that I opened but take for example a box of Upper Deck Black Diamond from last year.  Prices are close to about $200 for a box/pack that features five cards.  Yes you read that correctly...5 cards plus one bonus Exquisite card.  Basic math isn't my strong suit but six cards for $200 comes out to $33.33 per card.  Considering there are still 50 base cards to contend with and no guarantee that all the cards will be "hits"...the gamble is high.  In real life sales of individual cards start at about 39 cents for base cards and go up from there. 

39 cents!!  For a $200 product?  Nope.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Working On Some Sets

We made a stop at our local card shop the other day between kids basketball games and actually spent some time sifting through hockey singles.  Yes, that right.  I said hockey singles.  As in, the LCS, which is located in the United States, outside of Chicago, had singles of hockey cards...for sale...and not as part of a huge collection.  It's true that odds are usually better to find a unicorn in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, instead of hockey singles, but I digress.

In all, we grabbed about 94 cards that covered set needs, player collection needs, and some other interesting collection adds.

Just thought I would share some of what we found.


First, shockingly there was a significant pile of 2009-10 Champ's cards, mostly the minis.  This was the second year Upper Deck released the Champ's set and I think it was the best version.  These aren't found very often.  Even at shows that I've attended where there are actually dealers with significant amounts of hockey cards available, these are no where to be found other than the blue base cards.  Full boxes/cases have even somewhat dried up on the secondary market unless you want to pay about $100/box plus $10-30 shipping to get some.  But at this point, most of those boxes are duplicates for me.  So when I saw these, the list came out and off we went. 

I need quite a few of them still as I have been trying to build the base set including all the minis, as well as 1-100 in blue, green, red, and yellow (yellow animal variation too but that's a huge undertaking).  I have a few sitting in my COMC account waiting to be shipped but even after that, there are a lot that I need.  If you have any of these lying around that you don't need, check my setlist page and see if you may be able to help. 



We also found some of last years 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee base cards that we needed.  I have incomplete sets of O-Pee-Chee dating from 2006-07 thru this years set.  It's much easier to find full boxes of these but unfortunately, the last three that I have picked up have yielded nothing but duplicates.  In fact, even the high numbers in one of the boxes were all dupes. 

Also included here is a hodgepodge of Score, Black Diamond, Victory, and Prizm that knocked off a few needs. 



Trilogy singles are rare to find as well but for some reason, today was our lucky day.  The picture doesn't help much here but there was a significant pile of these.  You don't get many in a box, definitely not enough to polish off a base set.  Even two boxes (which we opened that year) didn't get us a base set.  We are just a few cards shy now.

Also in the picture are a few Young Guns from various years and a couple Rookie Anthology cards I still needed for some reason.  I can never remember if these are 2011 or 2012?



Finally, a few other interesting items we found.  Going back to the Champ's for a second, there were three colored back variations in the mix.  I don't actively pursue these but if I can find them either by accident or on purpose, I generally snatch them up for the right price.  Here we have one each of a Red (Mike Bossy), Green (Alexandre Burrows), and Blue (Frazer McLaren RC) back variation.

Also in the photo is a Brent Sopel 2010-11 Victory Black Variation card. The Blacks were next to impossible to pull from Victory, falling about 1:720 packs.  The rookies are even harder to come by.  Just check out the resale market on Ebay for these and you will see what I'm talking about.  An intro product by Upper Deck with the lowest price point, virtually worthless base cards, and the Black Parallels garner a buck or two just for commons.  I don't actively pursue these but if I find them, why not?   



As always...
CHECK MY SETLIST PAGE AND LETS DO SOME TRADING!

Monday, January 29, 2018

End Of An Era



The writing has been on the wall quite a while for Jaromir Jagr's resurrected NHL career.  Yesterday officially marked the end of Jagr's time with his latest team, the Calgary Flames, as they moved him to the waiver wire.  He cleared waivers today and the hardest working hockey player is now heading back to the KHL.  He plans to play for the team that he has been owner of since 2011 (ala Mario Lemieux, maybe?), HC Kladno.  It just so happens that Kladno is also his hometown.

Many people know that Jagr is one of my player's that I collect and have since I was a kid.  Back when Jagr was drafted by the Penguins in the first round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, there were high hopes for him as a prospect in the Pittsburgh system.  Everyone knew he was good but I'm not sure that everybody expected his initial 57 points in 80 games.  He never looked back.   

Now, 24 seasons and nine teams later, he is heading back to the KHL for the second time.  He spent three seasons back there in the later stages of Phase 1 of his career, joining the Avangard Omsk team in Russia when the NHL was locked out in 2004.  Returning in 2011 to play for the Flyers, he made his "farewell tour" around the NHL almost an annual thing, playing for six teams in eight seasons.   

But the player that endeared me was the 11-season Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  As a fully aware and engaged hockey fan, I grew up with Jagr.  His posters graced the walls of my room (I can remember at least two different Starline ones).  The first Pens jersey that I had, that was actually not a hand-me-down, was his.   I had numerous magazines that he was featured on.  My favorite t-shirt I owned had a caricature of him with his long flowing locks.  He was the epitome of cool, nightly displaying his talent and skill all while sporting the sweetest hair.  I even tried to grow my hair out just like his...it was close (at least in my mind). 

All good things come to an end and it was apparent this year as injuries plagued the 45 year old, soon-to-be HOFer.  There is still a chance he can get picked up by another team but at this point, I'm not sure there are teams out there looking to spend money on aged player just to add leadership to a locker room.  Because that is what it would be at this point.  Unfortunately, it seems time has finally caught up to Jagr and where he was once a force to be reckoned with on the ice, the NHL game has gotten faster and passed him by. 

A first ballot HOFer for sure, his career stats speak for themselves.  I'll leave you all with some info to marvel over.



  • Games played - - 1,733  3rd All Time
  • Goals - - 766  3rd All Time (behind Howe and Gretzky)
  • Assists - - 1,155  5th All Time
  • Total Points - - 1,921  2nd All Time (only Gretzky is ahead)
  • Game Winning Goals - - 135  1st All Time
  • 10 Time All Star
  • 5 Time Art Ross Trophy Winner
  • Hart Trophy Winner
  • Masterton Trophy Winner
  • 3 Time Ted Lindsay Award Winner
  • 2 Time Stanley Cup Champion
  • Voted one of the NHL's 100 Greatest Players of All Time.  


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Stormfront Has Officially Arrived In Pittsburgh

I had a fairly long post prepared about the disappointment that has boiled over in Pittsburgh. The Steelers escorted themselves out of the playoffs despite probably being the better team.  Unfortunately they certainly weren't that day and it was Jacksonville that moved on (to be later knocked off by the Cheatr...I mean, Patriots).  The Penguins have been on a yo-yo ride all season due to a variety of factors.  I still think they will be ok come playoff time but lots of people are already in panic mode and it isn't even the All Star break yet.  But my biggest issue was with the Pirates. 

As I said, I had a long post...HAD.  It never posted and when I tried several times to force it to post, it simply sat there and stared back at me in contempt.  Error message after error message ensued.  So I decided I would revisit it and post again later.  Well...Blogger decided that it was not in the cards and somehow deleted the bulk of the body of text I wrote and left me with the outline I had first saved.  This left me with some time to reflect on my ire.  My conclusion...my anger isn't displaced as a fan.  I understand why they did what they did however I don't condone it.   

First and foremost, in my honest opinion, overall the Pirates ownership is garbage.  Absolute smelly, stinky garbage. There is no excuse for how they run this team and absolutely no reason they don't try to spend to the max every year.  When you have one of the best stadiums in MLB and one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports, why do you waste your resources?  I'll tell you why.  It's not about winning.  It never was.  It is about one thing, and only one thing...money.

Fans have already begun a petition to force Bob Nutting to sell the team.  They have almost 60,000 signatures as I write this (mine being one of them).  Of course this is just an act of defiance that's not going to force any owner into selling their cash cow but it is definitely a representation of how angry they have made Pirates fans at their complete disregard or care for what it takes to run a successful franchise in today's game.  It's a wonder fans don't just grab the pitchforks and torches on their way to a public hanging.  As most of you reading this already know, Nutting traded away the Pirates' best pitcher in Gerritt Cole and the teams' face of the franchise in Andrew McCutchen.  Not only that, they waited to do it until now, when all that is out there is an uber-soft trade market with nothing but prospects and future-potential maybe's.  It's sad really, and keeps getting worse the more you delve into the actual dollars the team has in payroll, operating costs, and overall value.

Despite being a big fan, I can get over the Cole trade since pitchers are a highly volatile commodity and are traded like Halloween candy.  We have many, many pitching prospects coming up through the system and with any luck, two or three may be in the rotation on a regular basis soon.  However, I probably will never get over getting rid of Cutch.  The guy lives, eats, and breathes Pittsburgh.  He has done more for the community than almost any other athlete in the history of Pittsburgh sports.  The guy was Pittsburgh and wanted to be for the rest of his career.  But Pirates ownership, despite claiming they want to get better, did what they needed to do to stop that.  McCutchen is now forced to say goodbye to his home, the only team he has ever played for, and head out west to the same team we allowed Barry Bonds to go to centuries ago, and where Cutch will finally get a shot at a title.  San Franciso has a plan to win.  Pittsburgh doesn't.

Now Josh Harrison is even saying he should be traded since the team has obviously thrown in the towel on this year, next year, and maybe future years to come.  It's a rowboat made out of a screen door.  The ship is sinking and sinking fast.  Ownership has lost the trust of the fans, the trust of the players, and the trust of the city.  Barring a hot start at the beginning of the 2018 season, I don't see fans losing much of their frustrations anytime soon. 




Wednesday, January 10, 2018

NHL All Star Game Now The NHL Some Star Game

Over the years the NHL All Star game has grown to become a weekend long event featuring alumni games, celebrity games, skills competitions and many other events. But despite the pomp, it's been gradually losing it's luster with many hockey fans and a lot of that has to do with that fact that there is not a lot of "real" hockey that takes place.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters after releasing the team captains over the weekend. I will just say this...as much of a fan I am of some of these guys and as much as I enjoy watching them play, some players honestly have no business on this list.  NHL rules require all the teams be represented but that will inevitably remove some of the best players in the divisions.  You'll probably read similar opinions out there as well because, at least this year, there seems to be more omissions.

Here are the lists as they stand today...


Atlantic Division Team
Auston Matthews
Steven Stamkos TEAM CAPTAIN
Nikita Kucherov
Brad Marchand
Jack Eichel
Sasha Barkov
Mike Green (D)
Erik Karlsson (D)
Victor Hedman (D)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)
Carey Price (G)

Let's start with the Atlantic, or as I like to call them, Tampa Bay Lite.  In their defense, the game is being held in Tampa this year and traditionally the ballot gets stuffed with local "heros".  But come on.  There are other teams in the Atlantic other than Tampa (I know the standings don't make that clear though).  Barkov was chosen because you had to have a Panther but I would probably have picked Huberdeau instead.  And why not Morgan Reilly?  Carey Price is only there because who else do you pick from Montreal?  Last I checked, Kovalev retired.  At least Matthews and Eichel should give a little bit of non-electric offensive flavor to the team


Metro Division Team
Alex Ovechkin TEAM CAPTAIN
Taylor Hall
Josh Bailey
John Tavares
Sidney Crosby
Claude Giroux
Noah Hanifin (D)
Kris Letang (D)
Seth Jones (D)
Henrik Lundqvist (G)
Braden Holtby (G)

I don't even want to comment about the Metro team...but I will.  That lineup is so mistake ridden from a "best of the best" standpoint.  Where in the world is Carmen San D...Kessel?  Seriously, this guy gets no respect.  EVER!  Phil has 18 goals and 29 points in 44 games this season so far (that's 11th in the league by the way).  He is one of the only reasons, offensively, that the Pens haven't fallen off the grid completely.  Get Crosby out of there.  I get that he's the league poster-boy but his season has been less than AS worthy and he will be the first to tell you as much if you ask. Not only that, he hates the ASG.  Every time he gets picked, he bails for one reason or another. Chalk it up to another snub in a long line of snubs for Phil.

What in the world is Letang doing on that list?.  He should have been there some other years he was skipped over, but certainly not this year.  Why not Ghost?  Where is John Carlson?  I hate the Caps and even I know he is a better D-man this year.  I would have even went with Zach Werenski over Letang...or anyone else.  Hanafin?  No.  Also what about Bob? Bobrovsky and his Vezina should be here.  I could go on, but I won't because it's too bothersome.


Central Division Team
Patrick Kane
Blake Wheeler
Brayden Schenn
Eric Staal
Nathan MacKinnon
Tyler Seguin
PK Subban (D) TEAM CAPTAIN
John Klingberg (D)
Alex Pietrangelo (D)
Connor Hellebuyck (G)
Pekka Rinne (G)

The Central Division team is missing one player of note in my opinion.  St. Louis' forward rep is Brayden Schenn, who is having a great year, but my money would have definitely been on Vlad Tarasenko.  The guy is amazing to watch play the game.  Every time he touches the puck, something phenomenal is most likely about to happen.  Plus, he's much better suited for the skills competition.  


Pacific Division Team
Connor McDavid TEAM CAPTAIN
James Neal
Rickard Rakell
Brock Boeser
Anze Kopitar
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D)
Drew Doughty (D)
Brent Burns (D)
Marc-Andre Fleury (G)
Jonathan Quick (G)

Finally, the Pacific Division team is somewhat of a mystery to me.  As much of a Fleury fan I am and the fact that he is on the upstart Vegas Golden Knights that are barnstorming the league and not just with beginners luck, why is he on the list?  Because the league wanted him to be, that's why.  I'm fine with that but he has been injured the majority of the season and until recently, hasn't been in the lineup since the first week of the season.  12 games deserves an AS nod? All apologies to Flower but either Marty Jones in San Jose or Gibby in Anaheim would have been much better choices.  

The Pac has the only rookie, too.  Vancouver's Brock Boeser is definitely deserving of the nod too.  But really, this team is a bit of a dud overall if you ask me.  

The game will be held January 28th at Amalie Arena in Tampa and aired on NBC.  I'll be watching out of obligation as a hockey fan (and secretly hoping for some injury replacements) but I will most definitely be more interested in the skills competition the day before.  More on that later.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Box Break Frustration

While at my LCS the other day, I decided we needed something to open in addition to all the singles we picked up.  From what was on the shelf, I went with 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee Hockey since I still have quite a few on that list to knock off and it's usually a fun product to open.  Two Octobers ago, we picked up a box of this. 

I wrote about it here...

So fast forward 15 months.  Change card shops (since the first box came from Baseball Card Exchange, also one of my LCS's), most likely distributors as well, obviously different shipments, and definitely different cases and we have a new, shiny box of O-Pee-Chee. 

I generally choose boxes based on the box bottom cards on the back.  For anyone not familiar, Upper Deck generally uses the O-Pee-Chee release to go retro, back to the old days of Topps and O-Pee-Chee by placing cards on the bottom of the boxes (so don't throw away your empties).  If I have the four-card panel already, I will generally choose a different combination.  If I happen to have all the panel combinations (there are usually only four or five each year), I'll most likely get one with a Penguin player. 

Well I chose wrong.

This entire box, if you can believe it, was filled with doubles.  In fact, not only were the base cards almost all dupes from the previous box, the inserts were as well.  Even most of the high number short prints were duplicates.  In all, there were 10 cards I needed.  10!  That's it.

How does this happen?  Well, it's simple.  My luck ran out.

I have opened plenty of product over the years and can't remember a time where I opened basically the same box twice...with the same base cards AND inserts.  Has anyone else had this happen where both the base cards and inserts were all identical in boxes?  I'd like to hear about it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

LCS Gems

We had a few moments to kill this weekend and stopped by one of my local card shops that I hadn't been to in quite a while. More Fun Sports Cards in Dyer, IN has been my shop du jour for many, many years. I've spent a couple dollars in there since they moved the store to that location. I've written about their shop before as it's the type of shop most collector's wish they had. There is always a nice selection of all the major sports boxes, a huge variety of singles, quarter boxes, supplies, memorabilia, and a place to sit and hang out. Plus, with the collectors' that come in and out, the conversation is usually a lively one .

Anywhoo...as I said, we stopped in there (we as in myself and my wife [yes, she not only condones cardboard but actively participates]) this weekend. It was a fruitful adventure once again as we were able to score a large pile of Upper Deck Young Guns for various sets I have been working on. We sifted through a large box of hockey rookies the owner recently acquired and were able to find a total of 68 Young Guns cards from 2005-06 through 2016-17. Shockingly enough, I didn't get destroyed on a price either considering they all were not "common" scrub rookie cards.

If you have ever looked at my set needs page, you have seen that I am working on a lot of sets, including all the Upper Deck flagship hockey sets going back quite a few years. The highly coveted, short-printed Young Guns are always the hardest to come by, at only six per hobby box and even less in retail. COMC has made this a bit easier over the last few years, especially since Upper Deck ePack allows your "hits" to be added to your account. The competition and virtual flooding of the actual market has made many of the lesser rookies very cheap. These can also be obtained sometimes at card shows too but that's never a guarantee (since I don't live in Canada).

Figured I'd share a bit of this score since it's the largest chunk I have made toward completing any of these sets in a long, long time.  

Here are a few pics of the entire haul...




In my opinion, some of the key guys in the stack...


Jack Johnson and Nicklas Backstrom


Kyle Palmieri and Victor Hedman


Leon Draisaitl and Justin Faulk


Brayden Point and Jesse Puljujarvi