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Friday, May 28, 2010

Box Break - - 2009-10 Upper Deck Ice

Each and every year (up till now) I have always tried to pick up at least one box of SP, SPx, and UD Ice.  This year was no different.  I stopped in to my LCS the other day and what do I see on the shelf but 4 shiny new boxes of 2009-10 Upper Deck Ice.  Now, I will admit, I haven't read or seen much about these yet this year but they have become a staple of my collection since returning to the hobby full time a few years ago.  Could I have paid less for this?  Yes.  But what would the fun be in that.

I can't say that I have ever been blessed by the extreme short prints or the highly sought after rookies in any of these boxes I have bought.  In fact, except for a year or two of actually pulling the base set in one box, I really hadn't had much to cheer about.  Don't get me wrong, I do like the card design.  Last years and this years both offer a raised textured feel that is like rink ice after a full period of hard nosed hockey.  I also like the Ice Premieres Rookie cards and their acetate surface as well as 4 tiered serial numbering.  The GU swatch and patch cards have always been traditionally larger than the standard releases as well.

So let's see what we should find in here:

4 Rookie Cards/Box
1 Signature Card/Box
2 Memorabilia Cards/Box

As I mentioned, the rookie cards are tiered in four serial numbered categories.  Tier 1 is out of 99 and those fall about 1 per case.  Tier 2 is numbered out of 499.  Tier 3 is out of 999.  Tier 4 is out of 1999.  The Glacial Graphs and Rinkside Signings are always nice looking and are usually on-card which is great.  These fall about 1 per case.  There are also Frozen Foursomes which feature, yes, you guess it, four swatches of players.  These are numbered out of 5.

There are various other inserts and auto/swatch parallels featuring some of this years rookie class and stars of yesterday and today.  So without further adieu, I give you my box break.

2009-10 Upper Deck Ice
5 cards/pack
20 packs/box

So even I can do the basic math to figure out there should be 100 cards in here.  My box actually yielded 102 cards.  Here are some of the base card designs...

As you can probably tell, I stole this shot from the Bay because I was too lazy to scan any of the base cards.  They are very colorful and have patterns that match the uniforms of each player.  They also have that traditional Ice textured pattern as I mentioned earlier.  I ended up with no doubles and 6 cards shy of a 100 card base set.  Not bad for one box but a 6 card pack instead of 5 could have prevented that.

The see-thru Ice Premieres Acetate cards fell like this...

Matt Climie 448/1999 Tier 4

Davis Drewiske 1348/1999 Tier 4

Matt Pelech 702/999 Tier 3

Ilkka Pikkarainen 1100/1999 Tier 4

Luca Caputi 462/499 Tier 2

At 4 per box, I pulled an extra one.  That explains the 102 cards, well at least one of them anyway.  I was happy about the Caputi but then I remembered that awesome trade that sent him to Toronto for Ponikarovsky (hind-sight is always 20/20).  It is a nice card nonetheless and will fit right into my Penguin collection.

The Memorabilia cards were:

Ryan Getzlaf Frozen Fabrics

Drew Doughty Fresh Threads

Not a bad selection for the 2 GU cards.  It could have been much, much worse based on the checklist.  I was glad the Getzlaf was not a white swatch.  I already have one of his with a white jersey.  It would have been nice to get a purple swatch on the Doughty instead of black, though.

And last but not least, the 1 signature card per box that I pulled.  I was saving the best for last because I really have nothing to say about this card.  I checked the list of signature cards available in the set and I had some high hopes for what could have come out of here.  Instead...I end up with this abortion of a card:

I never laughed so hard about pulling a card in my entire life.  Everyone in the shop was shocked that this was even included in there since most people assumed these were only in Series II.  The shop owner was kind of upset too because obviously pulling something good in his shop leads to repeat buys.  The other hockey guy that was in there at the time backed off one of the other boxes after he saw this.   I just can't believe Upper Deck decided to throw these throughout their entire line of products.  And then, they have the audacity to count them as the projected hits.  I'm sorry to all the figure skating fans out there but this is completely uncalled for.  Good thing I have a sense of humor.

So I am about 90% sure that this will be the last box of Ice I ever purchase.  Ever.  EVER!

If anyone has any of the base cards I need, hit me up.  They are listed on my set needs page.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

(Almost) Box Break - - 2009-10 In The Game Between The Pipes

Okay, so as I go into my LCS one fine day, I notice the Between the Pipes on the shelf and had to have it.  I love the ITG releases and this was the next one that I had yet to bust.  But where were the boxes?

The day before, another hockey collector bought two boxes and the last one was opened to sell packs.  I was mortified.  How could they not save one for me?  Was I not worthy?  Actually I hadn't been in to the shop in almost a month so I didn't expect there to be much.  So upon checking the box, I realized there were 11 of the 18 packs left so I snatched them up.

I am not going to do a traditional review here because it's been done a ton for this set.  You can check out some other reviews and product images over here...

or here...

or here...

Since I didn't open a full box and only had 11 packs, I wasn't sure that I would pull any of the potential 8 hits that could have been in the box.  So after sitting down at the "trading table" in the shop, I began my busting journey.  For the sake of drooling over all of what I pulled, let me just show the two that I was quite happy with.

Three packs in and out popped this:

2009-10 ITG Between The Pipes Greats of the Game Goaliegraph Ed Johnston

This is definitely a keeper.  I almost jumped out of my chair when I saw this one.  I know it's a Bruins card but Ed Johnston is part of the architectural team that helped build the Penguins franchise.  He was the GM when Mario Lemieux was drafted in the first round back in 1984.  He is also one of the reasons the Pens were able to get Ron Francis and Ulf Samuellson although he was on the other side of the fence as a GM for the Whalers (he also gets blamed for them moving to Carolina but that's another story).  Ed has been with the Pens off and on since 1983, 24 years in fact.  Although he wasn't with the teams for their cup years in 91 and 92, he finally had his name put on the cup in 2009 as he is the Senior Advisor for Hockey Operations.

Two packs later, we get this:

2009-10 ITG Between The Pipes Origins Gerry Cheevers Goalie Pad

This is the first memorabilia card that I have ever pulled that wasn't a jersey or patch.  This is a piece of the leg blocker pad (no, I don't know which leg).  I do have one stick card of Bill Guerin but I purchased that and didn't pull it from a pack.  Of course, I was excited to see this.  The card looks amazing in my opinion.  The scan doesn't do it justice (that is so cliche'd but true).  The design is so simple yet very impactful, using the grey and yellow hues on the background tie the before and after shots together nicely.  I have to say that I could have pulled a better card for my PC but this one is still sweet.  I haven't decided if it is going to have a permanent home in my collection yet or not so if anyone might be interested and willing to trade for something similar that would fit better in my Pittsburgh collection, I'm all ears.

Also, I plan on trying to put at least the base set of this together so if you may have doubles or ones that you don't need, I'm listening.

Some Cool Pickups from Sports Card Kids

I can't say that I remember exactly who turned me onto this site or not.  If it was you, then I say thank you.  For those of you that don't know, Sports Card Kids is fairly new to the online card retail world, having gone live back in December of 2009.  What I like the most about thier site is the fact that it is a completely different kind of online retailer.

To quote their own site, the are "dedicated to bringing the fun back to the hobby that we all love."  What's not to love about that statement?  What originally drew my attention was the fact that they offer collectors lots of entertaining contests and drawings that feature loads of prizes.  Each month (sometimes more than once) there are image scramble contests, pack guessing contests, and random drawings based on purchases.  Since entering these contests, I think I have won a half dozen or so free cards and various packs that have yielded some nice additions to my collection.

While certainly not the biggest dealer online, they do maintain an inventory well over 10,000 singles in each sport, including the big four as well as NASCAR, wrestling, and MMA.  They don't have wax which is a little disappointing but I am usually only looking for singles when I shop online anyway.  I will admit, you can probably find better prices for some of what they offer but I think the idea here is to create the card shop atmosphere in a cyber-universe.  The games are entertaining and sometimes challenging and the interactivity of the site is great.  I am more than willing to spend a little extra when I feel I am getting more back.  Plus, thus far, the customer service has been unflappable.   

So the other day, I finally decided to test the waters on a purchase and pick up a few diamonds in the rough.  I thought I would share a few.

2008 Mayo Regular Mini and "Yale" Back Mini Lamarr Woodley
(for my Steeler's PC)

2005-06 Beehive Matted Matrials Ryan Miller Jersey

2008 Donruss Americana Sports Legends Pierre Pilote Jersey

2008 Donruss Americana Sports Legends Autograph Alex Delvecchio
(It's a sticker auto but who cares.  It's a HOFer)

UD Game Jersey Dave "Tiger" Williams
(I don't remember what year this is because most of them look the same.  This has to be either a piece of a Leaf jersey or possibly part of a Hartford jersey.  The Canucks didn't get their blue in their jersey's until way after Tiger retired.  I don't know, it's a mystery.)

2007 Allen & Ginter Jersey Relic Adam LaRoche
(for my ever expanding Pirates PC)

2009 Bowman White Parallel Lamarr Woodley
(Again, for my Steeler's PC but I almost have the rainbow of these now.  I think I am missing two.)

I also picked up a few more serial numbered Pirates, the Lemieux I posted about in my Random Penguin Card this week, and a Max Talbot Parkhurst Rookie.  All this was less than $20 with shipping included.  I priced the same (well mostly the same) cards on COMC and they were over $30 without the shipping.  I didn't look at Sportlots because, quite frankly, I find it annoying to try and navigate and the fact that you can only search by three years at a time is irritating.  So I would recommend this to anyone looking for singles.  If not for purchasing, definitely check out the contests.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Well Thought Out Yet Completely Random Penguin Card of the Week

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Retro Mario Lemieux

So it is pretty easy to throw up a Mario Lemieux card and call it quits.  Most of his stuff speaks for itself as it should.  But this one is different.  There are a lot of posts about cards that never were.  This one is like a fantasy card that actually came true, but many years after the fact.

The Retro parallel set in 2008-09 OPC is designed exactly after the 1979-80 set.  Yes, the same set the featured the rookie card of the top player of the last 30 years that finishes ahead of Super Mario in many categories.  The Wayne Gretzky rookie is one of the most sought after cards in the hockey card world, especially in decent condition.  Graded version of it sell in the thousands of dollars and I would be happy with even a "3" just to say I own one.

But, alas, I don't.  Instead, I have my favorite player of all time in a mock up of one of the best hockey sets.  This is what it might have looked like, had he actually been a rookie in the 1978-79 season.  Although we would have to change the uniform to the white, tri-colored collar, with the Columbian and navy blue and black accent stripes.  1980 was the first year for the Black & Gold but this would be a shot from 78-79.  And the logo would have to go back to the skating penguin over the triangle instead of that "corporate created" crap they had after the cups.

As for the card design, I think Upper Deck did a great job with this Retro set by duplicating the back and front of the cards almost perfectly.  This would be an awesome set to chase if not for the fact that it is near 500 cards.  But with this addition to my collection, I now have all the Pens retro base parallels (I said base because there is a Rainbow version as well).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Music Related Post - RIP Paul Gray

There is an old addage that deaths tend to occur in 3's.  I have never been big on superstitions and the like but in my own life, this has been pretty evident.  It seems it is no different in the Rock world either.  First Peter Steele, then Ronnie James Dio, now Paul Gray.

For those of you not familiar, Paul Gray, or #2 as he was known in the band, was the bass player for Slipknot.  Whether you were a fan or not of the music, there was no denying the fact that Paul was a phenomenal musician and bass player.

On Monday, Paul's body was found by an employee at the Towne Place Suites in Urbandale, Iowa.  Police have said there was no evidence of foul play but an autopsy would be performed along with toxicology testing.  At this point it is not sure if drugs were involved, considering Paul's unfortunate history of drug abuse.  He had been clean and sober for the last two years and was happily married with a child on the way (not sure if his kid was born yet).

I will never forget when I first heard Slipknot.  I had just graduated college and we had the bright idea that we should move to Las Vegas to get jobs.  After arriving there, I spent some time teaching in the Clark County School District.  On weekends (and weekdays for that matter) there was always something to do and some event going on.  A friend of mine and I always used to spend Friday afternoons at the CD store checking out all the "new releases".  I say that because we only ever bought from the used bins because you could get 4-5 for the price of one new.  They used to have a New Artist Listening Station set up where you could actually hear, for the most part, anything you asked them to put on. 

While leafing through some of the new stuff, I came across this album with a bunch of guys in clown masks and bondage getups and, of course, had to have a listen.  Ever since I first saw KISS and Alice Cooper, the theatrical rock bands have always been some of my favorites.  The music sounded monstrously huge and like nothing I had ever heard before.  The percussion was loud, heavy and with enough bombast to blow your speakers.  I remember thinking, "Ahhh, no wonder they are so angry.  They are from Iowa."  And yet, the songs had melody, progression, and were not ridiculously over the top like some other metal bands at the time.  Once I heard them, I was a fan. 

I had gotten to see Slipknot three times in my life as part of some festival shows and those were some of the craziest shows I have ever been to.  I was actually kind of excited to see when it was announced that Paul had joined the group HAIL, which consisted of Tim Ripper Owens, Dave Ellefson, Paul Bostaph and Andreas Kisser.  Paul was going to take Ellefson's spot since Dave rejoined Megadeth.  That lineup of metal superstars was sure to put out some killer music.  Unfortunately everyone will have to travel on without him.

The below video is part one of a series of videos called Behind the Artist. Paul explains how he got into music, became a bass player, and started the ball rolling on the formation of Slipknot.  You can find the other parts to the video on YouTube if you are interested.

RIP Paul, you will be missed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Steeler Monday

This week I realized that as I go through more and more cards of present and former players of my favorite teams, I tend to focus on the negative side of things.  I always have the memories of when a guy dropped a pass, or missed a check, or let in a goal from the blue line, or struck out, or missed a throw at home, or fumbled, or...well you get the idea.  Despite all the great memories I have had being a Pittsburgh sports fan, the negativity always trickles in to put a damper on things.  That's why I have decided that starting today, I am going to keep doing things the same way I always have.

Negativity breeds productivity; productivity breeds victory.  I don't know if I just made that up or not but it makes perfect sense.  The doom and gloom attitude has always been a source of motivation and success for me since it always seem to make me want more.  The more I want, the harder I work.  The harder I work, the better I get.  The better I get, the more I succeed.  You see the logic here?  Some would argue that all negativity leads to depression and defeat and that may be true for some.  But in sports, isn't it the team that lost always the one with that chip that motivates and pushes them to try harder so they can get over that hurdle?

Okay so now I am rambling.  Getting to the Random Steeler card for this week, we feature probably one of the biggest draft busts (so far) in the last 8 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  If not the worst ever, at least in my mind (and he will have to do circus-like feats of an inhuman proportions to prove me otherwise) he joins the ranks of Huey Richardson, Tim Worley, Troy Edwards and a host of other unmentionables. 

Of course I am talking about none other than Wide Receiver extrordinaire,

Limas Sweed.

The University of Texas star wide receiver was picked with the 22nd overall selection in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft.  After two full seasons in the NFL, Limas has caught a grand total of 7 passes for 69 yards.  Notice I said CAUGHT a total of...instead of "had thrown to him".  That list would be much larger but unfortunately most of those ended up on the turf or in the hands of the opposing team.  .

Sweed's career with the Steelers became an even bigger mystery when at one point last year, Sweed was placed on the IR with an undisclosed injury, and not heard from again.  Rumors spread about his focus and committment to football but the Steelers and for the most part, the fans, stuck by him.  Then Sweed tore his left Achilles' tendon during the team's minicamp earlier this month.  Not good for a player already skating that thin line.  He immediately had surgery to repair the tear and the team placed him on the reserved/injured list, subsequently ending his 2010 season even before training camp.

The killer part is the cash impact.  With an already strained salary cap, the Steelers now seemingly wasted $1.5 million in the rookie signing bonus and another $680,000 over the past two years in salary.  With his current pay for 2010 at $470,000, the Black & Gold will be on the hook for $2.66 million by the end of the season.  That's a ton of moolah for a guy with 7 catches. 

So as I sit here with baited anticipation for the 2010 season to begin, it looks like Sweed will be lost for the year and have no chance to prove he can live up to expectations.  I haven't given up on him completely yet but unfortunately for him, if he doesn't make an effort to train hard and rehab that injury, his days with the Steelers could be over.  His only chance of making a roster spot as a spectator is going to depend on his desire and drive to still play football.  If it were me, I would be everywhere the team is, studying the playbook, observing all the practices, and basically taking every possible opportunity I had to stay visible.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Results

I bet everyone thought with a title like that, this would be some review of the Hawks/Sharks game.  Well it isn't.

Although I would like to say congratulations to the Blackhawks, their organization, and fans.  If there is any team left in this playoffs, they are certainly a team that deserves a win.  I just wish I could cheer for them.  I said wish.  Not gonna happen.  I'm pulling for the Habs.  If not for the fact that it would be a miracle, I am anxious to see if Montreal will burn to the ground in a fiery victory riot.

This post is about the Topps Million Card Giveaway and my attempt at trading away some of what I had in my inventory.  I had three polls up for a few days so that I could be steered in the right direction for trades.  It appears that the results are in and I am bound to what the readers have decided.

First up was the 1987 Kirby Puckett.  The mob has spoken and the verdict...Keep it.  Apparently the offers that were made were not good enough to sway anyone to trade this one away.  So, consider all Puckett trade offers DECLINED.

Next was the 1987 Mike Pagliarulo.  Now, this wasn't a very difficult decision to make but it was one of the only other cards that had multiple offers.  The unanimous decision was to deal this one for a 1986 Tom Seaver.  Consider it done.

Finally, we had a 1960 Bobby Thomson.  I had multiple trade offers for this one, including a trade for a 1958 Gino Cimoli with an invisible bat, that was very tempting.  However, I left it up to the readers and surprisingly, the final decision was to go with a different option.  Play At the Plate gave me another option by offering up three vintage Pirate cards including a team card.  How could I pass that up.

So off I went to make my trades.  Here was the result.

Server Error!!  I tried 8 times with the same result.  I even logged off and logged back in.  Same result.  I even opened IE instead of Firefox to see if that made a difference.  SAME RESULT!!  What a gipp!!

I will not sleep until I figure this out.  Okay maybe I will sleep, but I won't rest until I figure this out.  Well, actually I am resting, but I will not...well I will not do anymore trading until I figure this out.  Yeah, that's it.


I logged in this morning just to see if this thing was just acting freaky yesterday.  When I clicked on the Trade tab, there was nothing there.  So, of course, my first reaction is the whole thing went nuts but after checking my inventory, all the cards are mysteriously there.  Weird.