Search This Blog

Friday, August 28, 2009

Big Mailday - - Lots of card goodness!!

Well after a royally f'd up day at work, I was pleasantly surprised to find 5...yes, I said 5 packages in my mailbox. I couldn't believe it. Three were from the Bay and the other two were recent trades I had partaken (is that a word?) in.

A couple were in PWE's (Plain White Envelopes) of which I despise. Fortunatly, nothing happened to the cards in the envelopes but the potential for disaster is there. Two others were in nicely packed bubble mailers (my preference). The last one was a 400ct. box that cost over $9 to ship so you know it was packed full of sweet, sweet cardboardy goodness.

First, the trades:

Anyone remember these? I used to have a pile of these things when I was many years younger. I remember buying the candy bars (well they weren't bars, they were...buns) and thinking that they tasted less than desireable. However, the Lemieux cards were well worth it. I can't believe there are people out there that still had these. Well now they don't...I do!!

I also picked up a Parkhurst Emerald Ice card for my new Bill Guerin collection.
I can't believe how young he looks on this picture. I think he may even still have all his teeth on this one. I believe he was 22 or 23 when this was taken. A far cry from when he takes the ice this season at 39. Greybeard's rule!!

--To Be Continued...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Preseason makes me happy and angry

The NFL preseason always makes me happy because it is the only time of year that you get to see some of the talent that the Steelers will relegate to the practice squad or simply cut. It is also the one time of year that pisses me off to no end because all the games are meaningless unless you are trying to make the team and the threat of injury to key players is 10x greater than in the regular season because of the inexperience of the players on the field.

Once again, the Steelers have injuries that could carry over into the regular season. Big Ben is down with a "foot" injury. You can only speculate as to what happened after Max Starks stepped on him in practice. Some reports say foot, others say ankle, I even saw one that said his knee. The Achilles reports scare me a bit but the fact that he was standing the entire time on the sidelines during the Washington game made me think otherwise. Either way, it is still a little bothersome to know that our main QB is down for awhile.

Speaking of QBs, Dennis Dixon also went down with a shoulder injury and will miss the rest of the preseason. He didn't have much of a chance to replace Charlie as the #2 but he was the solid #3 and he has a rocket for an arm. I was hoping to see some "trickery" with him in the offense but I guess that will have to wait for the season.

Mendenhall averaged over 5 yards/carry so that was encouraging. Stefan Logan was a missle on special teams, racking up yards that I haven't seen since Woodson ran back kicks. He is also like 5' 6" and disappears once he hits the sidelines. Most impressive, at least for me, was the play of Ziggy. He had 2 sacks, 3 solo tackles, and an assist. At this rate, he will be a beast on defense once he develops.

I have some card trades brewing and will be getting some Steeler goodness soon so that I can start posting my collection. It should be interesting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mid-Afternoon Ramblings

I can't say that I have a whole lot to say right now other than the fact that I am soooooo amazingly happy that football season is back. That lull of time between when the Stanley Cup Finals ends and Training Camp begins is excruciating. I watched so much football between the NFL network and other local stations that I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Just a few thoughts...

- - My Steelers looked pretty decent at home against AZ on Thursday. Not much from the starters but the prospects and hopefulls were very impressive. I hope there are spots for Frank "The Tank" and Redman. Those guys were beasts.

- - Was I the only one that thought Donald Brown, the running back for Indy, looked scary good?

- - The Bears still suck, The Bears still suck, The Bears still suck, The Bears still suck. They really really really really really really suck. Yes the Bears, stil, suck. (Everyone sing along).

- - Jay Glazer...go away!

- - Ladell Betts with a wardrobe malfunction. Wishful thinking??

- - I'm not even commenting on Vick to the Eagles. It speaks for itself and further entrenches my disdain for the other PA team.

- - How long before an NFL team signs Usain Bolt to a special teams contract? He would need two contracts; one for him and one for his ego. I'm looking your way Dallas.

That's all for now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Box Break - 2009-10 Upper Deck Victory (Blaster)

I couldn't resist this one. I had to get my hands on some fresh 09/10 Hockey. The first release out this year is Upper Deck Victory. Walmart's shelves were jammed with them.

11 Packs/Blaster
6 Cards/Pack
Box Guarantees: 1 Oversize Card, 1:2 Victory Rookies or Star Inserts (basically 1 per pack)
200 card base set (250 Total)

I pulled 54 base (no doubles) which is 22% of the set

Rookies (6):

Mike Santorelli #205
Byron Bitz #212
Luca Caputi #225
Jesse Joensuu #232
Andrew McDonald #240
Mike McKenna #243

Parallels (1): Brandon Sutter Gold #38 (avg. 1:36 packs)

Inserts (5): Game Breakers - Brad Boyes, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal; Stars Of The Game - Marian Hossa, Marty Turco

Oversize Card (1):

Luke Schenn


The first cards of the year are always exciting, even if they are from the UD Victory product. Victory has, over the past few years, had a standard "run of the mill" type design that has not varied much from year to year. The same goes for 09/10. This year features a lot more white space, if that was even possible. The borders are even more expansive than last year, with the images centered on the card and a more rounded feel to the edge. The insert sets feature the standard Victory Game Breakers and Stars of the Game, which showcase the top players on each team. The Victory Rookies feature many of the guys that played at the end of 08/09 and the design of the card is an improvement over last year, in my opinion.

I would give the set itself a 6/10. The box...maybe a 5 1/2/10, possibly a 6 because I like these cards but definitely better than a 5.

Upper Deck vs. Topps, Part 8

Upper Deck fired back at the Topps deal with MLB by signing an exclusive right with the NCAA licensing group. This means that every card release that features college players in their respective school's uniforms will be on an Upper Deck product.

Here is the link to the article

I don't think this is good for anyone involved. Nor is it good for collectors. In fact, it is not even good for business. Competition keeps people in check, it makes them produce quality products at an affordable price so that the general target market will keep coming back. It is basic fundamental economics. I have said it before already that there is nothing good about exclusitivity rights so I am not going to expound on it again.

I will predict however, that Panini, Press Pass, Sage, and any other brand that features predominantly collegiate based releases will ultimately suffer. Or, they will just become some of the greatest airbrushings since Playboy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Box Break - MJ Holding Co. Memorabilia Box (Football)

I have bought a few of these over the past couple years in both Hockey and Football and overall, I have been pretty satisfied. If you don't know, some retailers carry a box that claims 16 packs and 2 memorabilia cards inside for under $20. Many of these have yeilded me more than two jersey cards. In fact, a hockey box I purchased from Meijer a few months back had the two promised jersey cards (they are packed seperately, and 2 packs had other jersey cards and one had an auto.

I decided to pick another one up today, only this time it was a football box.

The box contained the following packs:

1 '08 Donruss Threads
1 '08 Press Pass
3 '06 Aspire
2 '07 Topps
1 '08 Playoff Absolute Memorobilia
1 '08 Stadium Club
2 '06 Topps
1 '06 Sage Hit
1 '06 Upper Deck
1 '05 Playoff Honors
1 '07 Upper Deck

There was also a huge pack inside that I had never seen before. It was a TriStar Hidden Treasures foil pack that said it contained 1 BCCG graded 9 or higher football card. Of course, this got me thinking what kind of awesomness could be nestled inside this pack. The labeling had all sorts of wonderful cards from the 40's and 50's. It also had illustrations of memorabilia pieces and autographs of some of the greatest players to ever put on a football helmet. It also was to contain a $10 coupon for grading, which basically equates to 1 free grade. This was going to be good!!

The tension was too much, I couldn't wait. I ripped open this one first. I saw the oversized plastic slab as I tore into the mylar foil. As I pulled it from the pack my anticipation level was at a fevered pitch and then....

Drew Bledsoe 1995 Fleer Pro-Vision graded 10? What the...? Was this it? A .25 cent card? Who grades a $.25 card? This has to be a mistake. Yeah, that's it. A mistake. Where is the note in here telling me I won something bigger?...

No note...

No grading coupon for that matter...

I think a little bit of me died today. Hopefully I will do better with the five other boxes I bought. God, I have a problem.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My collections...

I don't think I ever formally introduced my collections to the world.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, it is a given that I am a Pittsburgh sports fan. My personal collection is comprised of both Steelers and Penguins cards.

My Pirates collection has been stagnate since about 1996 when I stopped collecting baseball. I held onto the Pirates, thinking that someday they would return to their status as an elite National League team. I think the Cubs will win a series before the Pirates ever get back to form. The philosophy in Pittsburgh seems to be that there is no sense in spending money on a baseball team when you have two other perfectly good sports teams to compete with.

My Steelers collection is on version 3 as it is the third attempt at building a substantial collection. The first time was sold off back in 1993 after deciding to stop collecting football. The second time came after the 1995 Super Bowl debacle. The current incarnation was only started in 2004 with the draft class featuring Big Ben. I wish I could make a substantial impact to this but most of the bloggers/forum traders/dealers that I work with seem to keep their Steeler cards for their own collections.

My Penguins collection has been accumulated over the past 20 years. I have small player collections of some of my favorite past Pens including Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Joe Mullen, Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi, Tom Barrasso, and Phil Bourque. I have some larger collections of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, the best 1-2 Punch in all of Hockey for about 12 years. Over the last few years, I have developed a small cluster of cards from some of the current greats like Malkin, Crosby, Staal, Fleury, Letang, and Gonchar.

I keep reading on others blogs about these "packages" that they receive from readers. How does that whole thing work and how do I get in on it?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An interesting take on "goonery"

Yeah, I made that word up but it is fitting for this topic. I was perusing some other blogs this morning and found one over at "Here Come The Bruins" that was very interesting. With the inductions into the hall of fame this year, they have taken it a step further by creating their own hall...the Hockey Hall of Hell.

Check out the article

This is a place reserved for the goons of the league and it got me thinking about all the players that I loved to hate when I was growing up. That list includes pretty much everyone who played on the teams in the old Patrick division against my beloved Pens.

Many people feel that the enforcer position is a thing of the past and that with the rule changes, there is no need to "goon it up" on the ice. I disagree because with the open ice play, there is more opportunity for star players to be destroyed in open ice. Protection and "message sending" is some of the most entertaining hockey, in my opinion. Now I am not defending random fighting for no reason. However, as part of a very physically and mentally draining game, I think it is part of what makes hockey great.

Any thoughts?...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Box Break - - 2001-02 Upper Deck Victory Hockey

Why you ask? Well, it was on the shelf, it was staring at me, and it was under 10 bucks. Plus, I don't think I have any 01-02 Victory in my collection. So, without further adieu, here is my latest junk wax break.

36 Packs/Box
10 Cards/Pack
Box Guarantees: Mr. Hockey's Greats subset cards average 1/pack
Includes Victory Gold Inserts, Mr. Hockey's Greats subset
440 Card Base Set (13 Update Rookies not included)

I pulled 344/440 (78%) cards in the base set with no doubles (2 extra cards)

Rookies (23):
Gregg Naumenko, B.Tapper/J.Vigier/D.Snyder, M. Murray/R. Fata/R. Petrovicky, Y.Babenko/R.Shearer, Steve Gainey, J.Williams/M.Kuznetsov, J.Shelley/M.Spanhel/R.Klesla, A.Podkonicky/R.Thompson, T.Scott/A.Lilja, Pascal Dupuis, M. Matteucci/D.Gustafson, Francis Belanger, P.Dagenais/M.Jefferson, Juraj Kolnik, P.Smrek/J.Ulmer/V.Yeremeyev, Joel Kwiatkowski, Maxime Ouellet, David Cullen, Tibb/Croz/Hedberg, M.Kiprusoff/M.Samuelsson, J.Obsut RC/M.Van Ryn, T.Ziegler RC/D.Afanasenkov, A.Ponikarovsky/J.Farkas, K.Beech/M.Pettinger

Gold Parallels (18):
Steve Rucchin, Ron Francis, Brain Boucher, Keith Tkachuk, Ron Tugnutt, Doug Weight, Alexei Zhitnik, Manny Legace, Joe Sakic, Randy McKay, Chris Osgood, Mike Dunham, John LeClair, Mariusz Czerkawski, Jeremy Roenick, Andrei Zyuzin, Robyn Regehr, Patrick Roy

First off, there is a glossy finish on both sides of the cards that makes them stick together. It also makes it very difficult to sort through them like "normal". It is almost like a wax coating. The cards have a clean design on the front and have the typical stat lists and small write ups, much like Topps/OPC releases. It was nice to get no doubles out of an Upper Deck product. I like these cards from an aesthetics standpoint. The gold cards look just like the 99-00 Topps/OPC release and are only gold because of the border foil, stamped or otherwise. Unfortunately, there is really nothing to gain here monetarily without the Update Rookies. Overall, I give the box a 5/10 and the set a 6/10. Fun to break.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More on the Topps fall out

I am not a baseball card collector any longer and haven't been actively collecting since around 1996. However, I have kept up with baseball cards and what was being produced since then and have a pretty good working knowledge of the hobby. That being said, I am sad to see the MLB rights going to a single company for production of their products.

Being a hockey collector, this has been an issue for a few years now with Upper Decks exclusitivity rights with the NHL and NHLPA. With the vast selection of product every year in hockey, you don't have to look far to notice that the UD hologram logo is stamped on all of them. Same goes for basketball now, with Panini inking their respective name on all NBA products.

This creates two problems in my mind:

1. The product becomes bland and stale. Like many of my fellow bloggers, I enjoy a unique card design, something with flair, something different, something that makes me want to own everything in that product. UD had a few moments here and there but overall, has created a hockey product devoid of anything unique and full of staying power. With Topps already being inferior in terms of design and product layout, I only see misery for collectors in the baseball realm for the future.

2. There is no competition, therefore, no reason to live up to expectations. Without another player in the market, Topps will have carte blanche on how to produce the cards. Eisner has even said he is trying to get the kids back in the hobby, which I am all for, but at what cost? Sacrificing quality for marketability is counterproductive.

I am sure everyone has an opinion on this. A few of my fellow bloggers takes on the situation can be found below. Check them out and voice your opinions.

Topps exclusive rights to baseball cards

Here is the article from the NY Times this morning. I have no comment at this point.

August 6, 2009
Topps Gets Exclusive Deal With Baseball, Landing a Blow to Upper Deck
The Topps Company will become the exclusive trading card maker of Major League Baseball next year in a multiyear deal that appears to seriously hurt Upper Deck, its primary competitor in the once-vibrant business.

By dropping Upper Deck, M.L.B. hopes that Topps, under Michael D. Eisner, the former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, can invigorate card collecting, especially with young fans. The league also believes that one cardmaker can end the confusion of competitors selling multiple card series in hobby shops and big-box stores.

“This is redirecting the entire category toward kids,” said Eisner, who acquired the company in 2007. “Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”

Upper Deck refused to address the Topps deal, which is to be announced Thursday. A spokesman for Upper Deck, based in Carlsbad, Calif., said only that it renewed its trading card license with the Major League Baseball Players Association last month and would keep producing cards. While the union license gives Upper Deck the right to use player likenesses, it will no longer have the rights to team logos and trademarks.

The union did not respond to requests for comment.

The old-line Topps, with roots in Brooklyn and its headquarters in downtown Manhattan, is associated with the stiff stick of chewing gum that once appeared in each pack. It is historically linked to children trading and flipping cards, and to the clatter created by inserting the little pieces of cardboard in the spokes of bicycle wheels.

In the 1980s, as collecting cards for fun turned into the more adult pursuit of investing in cards for profit, Topps faced a corps of rivals like Fleer, Donruss, Leaf, Score and, most significantly, the innovative Upper Deck.

Now, baseball has decided it needs only Topps.

“There is a greater chance of organizing the marketplace with a singular partner,” said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president for business at Major League Baseball. “It’s a business that’s critically important to our mission, to make players icons to kids.”

The business has shrunk drastically since the mid-1990s. T. S. O’Connell, the editor of Sports Collectors Digest, estimated that it was one-fifth the size it was before the 1994-95 players strike.

“As draconian as it sounds,” to give Topps the exclusive license, O’Connell said, “there could be pluses to it. I’m not wishing Upper Deck out of the picture, but it’s difficult for the market to support the significant number of cards that are produced every year. You could see some stability coming out of this.”

Since Eisner’s privately held Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn, a private equity company, acquired Topps, it has introduced 3-D cards, the ToppsTown trading and collecting Web site, and the Topps Attax game to appeal to young card enthusiasts and to develop new ones.

“We’re going to be very aggressive in letting retailers, kids and hobbyists know that we are the card that represents it all,” Eisner said.

Making Topps the official trading card of baseball follows M.L.B.’s business model. It has, for example, an official car (Chevrolet), credit card (MasterCard), soft drink (Pepsi) and cap (New Era). For that reason, Brosnan said, baseball does not believe there are antitrust implications in entering a similar deal with Topps.

Typically, an exclusive license is more expensive to the company than a nonexclusive arrangement.

Brosnan said that a recent federal court decision that backed the N.F.L.’s right to make Reebok its exclusive headwear sponsor affirmed baseball’s policy.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the case from American Needle Inc.

Eisner said that Topps’s successful deals as the exclusive soccer cardmaker of the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga had proved that cards could appeal to fans 8 to 13 years old.

“They’re buying them, trading them, the way I did when I was a kid,” said Eisner, a New York Giants baseball fan, who says that, like many men of his generation (he is 67), his mother threw out his collection.

Dennis Gordon, who owns the Baseball Shop in Orleans, Mass., said he was confident that Eisner could alter what he called the “stale” market with the exclusive Topps deal.

“Michael Eisner alone might make it more interesting for kids,” he said. “If he and his people can come up with a new-wave idea, go for it.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Contest at VOTC

If you haven't ever checked out the blog by Rob over at Voice of the Collector you are missing out. Some great musings about the card industry and the state of the hobby can be found over there.

Currently, there is a contest going to win some swag from the National. Head on over and check it out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The National: Recap

Well as everyone already knows, (and if you don't well then you must live under a rock) the National show was last week. It was a disappointment to most of those that I have talked with, although a few nice cards were obtained by many of my fellow bloggers.

I will not bore you with all the details because, as many of you, I did not attend. Cleveland was a bit too far for me this time around and I had no intention of making a long vacation out of it. Not to mention, the autograph signings were way too far from my price range, the dealer specials were non existent, and the manufacturers didn't offer up anything trip worthy in my mind.

My thoughts were correct after talking with some attendees. The consensus was that the atmosphere was very deflated, the attendance was down, and the overall excitement just wasnt' there. I even heard one story about a gentleman being asked to leave the show because he was trying to "haggle" with the dealers on the floor.

All of this prompts me to ask the question..."What happened to card collecting as a hobby?"