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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Pirates Futility Never Ceases To Amaze

[UPDATE:  In the aftermath of this ridiculous firing and the huge backlash from what fan base is left after constant alienation by the franchise, the Pirates are taking the stance that it was for Walbeck's own good because if his talents were going to be utilized to their fullest, there were no positions higher up available with the Bucs organization.  Basically, they were letting him spread his wings and fly away for a better opportunity.  I still call BS but what do I know.]

After posting my elation over securing the #1 pick in next years draft (with a win, nonetheless), it was revealed yesterday that Pirates management has lost their freakin' minds.  It's always two steps forward, a hundred steps back with this club and I don't know why I am surprised.  I also don't know why I bother paying attention anymore when all it does is anger me.

The announcement was that the Pirates club won't be renewing the contract of Altoona manager Matt Walbeck.  Now most of you might be saying, "So what. He's only a Class AA manager."  Well this guy has one of the best reputations as a manager in AA ball and is considered by many to be a candidate for a future job with the MLB team.  Plus, there's the little thing of, oh, winning the Eastern League championship this year.  Or, maybe his fate was sealed by being named the Eastern League Manager Of The Year.

Walbeck's resume now includes 3 league titles and 4 manager of the year awards in the last six seasons, including this last championship which was the first for the Altoona Curve.  That is an accomplishment worth celebrating isn't it?  Do you fire a guy that wins titles?  Do you fire the guy deemed as the best coach in the league?  You do if you are the Pirates.  No one knows the reason for his dismissal and nothing but speculation is available at this point.  Pirates farm team director, Kyle Stark, wouldn't return phone calls from the press asking for an explanation but would only comment over text message that, "We do not comment on internal personnel decisions.  We appreciate Matt's efforts and wish him the best, but felt like it was best to allow him to pursue other opportunities." 

Walbeck has said in the past that he had aspirations to move up and felt he was ready for a job in a higher league.  I'm sure he would welcome the opportunity to go to another league or even, dare I say, a bench job in MLB?  Either way I think his successes will carry along with him. 

So here's my take...The Pirates just made themselves look even worse, if that was humanly possible.  Your franchise has been losing for 18 years straight.  It was just recently revealed that despite the lack of a committment to win you are still profitting.  Your reputation in MLB is that of the leagues "farm" system where they can go and at any time, pick the players they need that you have spent the time and money to develop. 

Walbeck is an asset to an organization committed to winning because that is what he does.  He is also an excellent manager for a minor league team because he understands the process involved in player development better than most.  He has been in the business for almost 20 years and that experience has paid off with championships and individual accolades beyond what most managers dream of. 

This proves that he is obviously not a good fit for the Pirates.  He is a scourge to their mindframe.  He is a positive disease in thier negative environment.  The boat the Pirates have been sailing for years is being rocked by a man devoted to winning and their ingrained expectations of flying under the radar, residing in the basement of baseball and keeping money in the organization and not on the payroll are contrary to his philosophy.  To them, it would seem that Walbeck is a bad fit because he isn't towing the company line and committment to misery.  Maybe he should have been like John Russell.  A 56-102 record gets you a contract extension. 

This move is just another in a long line of losing moments.  There has to be a lot of hard work and effort that goes into it because it can't be easy losing over 100 games in a season.  But, that's what the Pirates do best.  People wonder why I don't freely admit to being a Pirates fan.  I go out of my way sometimes just to not watch them when they are on TV because I know I will just be disappointed.  At least Cubs fans can cling to the "maybe next year" mantra they have become linked with.  A better creed for the Pirates should be "not in my lifetime".

Commence response to Epic Failure!!


Future Hall of Fame Inductee? Jack Butler

There is a new movement/petition circulating the interwebs that I am finally in agreement with.  I was tipped off to this over on One For The Other Thumb, a Steelers blog that I'm sure all of you out there read on a regular basis.  This year, Dick LeBeau finally got his day to shine in Canton followed by many years of petitioning the hall to open their doors to the creator of the Zone Blitz (although his playing career is what earned him this honor).  So maybe this time it will work too.


"Jack Butler was one of the Steelers corners from 1951-1959. In only nine seasons, he made four pro bowls, averaging just under 6 picks a season (grabbing 10 in 1957 alone) at a time when seasons were only 12 games long. So, it's really no surprise that when the Steelers voted their All-Time team for the franchise's 75th Anniversary a few years back, Butler was among the 33 selected (he was also selected to the All-Time team when the Steelers voted at their 50th Anniversary).

He was second on the list in terms of total interceptions when he retired (and is still 24th on the list - with one less INT than Ty Law, who played 15 16-game seasons, and only 10 less than Dick LeBeau - who played 14 mostly 14-game seasons - with 52 total), and was both an NFL Player of the Decade for the 50's as well as one of the Top 300 of all time. He's still #1 in forced turnover percentage per games played, and 42 years ago today(yesterday), the great Johnny Unitas told Jack's son John (right before dropping 41 points on the Steelers) that Jack was the best defensive back he had ever played against.

In addition to his playing career, he then spent the next 46 years scouting NFL players, 44 of those as the Director of BLESTO (Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organziation) - one of the organizations that supported what we know today as simply the NFL combine...

...As you surely know, a lot of the older NFL alumni have gotten overlooked by the hall voters as the years have gone on. Players are eligible five years after the date they retire, but if they aren't elected then or shortly thereafter, they can unfortunately start to slip the minds of the selection committee. Which is, of course, why they need people to remind them of hall-worthy candidates.

And so Jack's children have started a movement to get the voting committee to elect Jack as at the very least a Contributor for his 56-year involvement in professional football. They have set up the site (as well as a Facebook page), which has information on Jack's career, along with a guestbook that they are using as an online petition of sorts to show the voters that fans think Jack should be in the Hall along side all of the other legends." 

Because he played for a bad team, and the Steelers were awful back then, he gets snubbed year after year.  His 827 return yards off INTs tops all other Steelers, including pick machines Mel Blount and Rod Woodson. Plus, he's the only defensive back of the NFL's 1950s All-Decade Team not in Canton. 

It makes you wonder if he had played for a different team, like the Lions, Packers, or Bears if he wouldn't already be in there.  I wonder if this is another example of the "too many Steelers" mentality that has caused many of the Pittsburgh greats to be ignored for so many years.  Just look at the numbers, though.  His stats are very similar to Jack Christiansen if you break them all down and JC was inducted into the Hall in 1970 as a Lion. Now Dick LeBeau is in and he was drafted a year after Christiansen retired, as a Lion.

Jack is considered by many to be one of the greatest defensive backs of all time, but has taken a backseat to many players that cite him as an influence.  So if you feel the same way, help support the cause or at the very least, sign the guestbook and show your support.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roster Cuts Can Only Mean One Thing

The Penguins trimmed their roster down to 30 today which can only mean that the puck is about to drop on the 2010-11 NHL season.

I'm fired up!!  I can't wait!  There are so many questions that are floating about the upcoming season and we are going to get answers to them all real soon.  But, back to the issue at hand.

11 players were sent packing by the Penguins as a result of roster reductions.  In years past, most recently last year, this has been no big deal for Pens management as the crop of young players has been less than stellar.  This year, however, has featured a young, agressive corp group of guys that have done well to make impressions on everyone with the Penguins organization.  I always imagine that I would hate the job of telling these guys they are being sent back to the minors, especially after seeing them perform.  But an issue of picking the best of the best seems like a good issue to have considering the alternative.

So who got their first-class tickets to the Baby Pens?

Forwards:  Chris Conner*, Nick Johnson, Brett Sterling*, Joe Vitale, Tim Wallace*

Defensemen:  Robert Bortuzzo, Corey Potter*, Brian Strait, Steve Wagner*

Goalies:  John Curry*, Brad Thiessen
*Actually, Conner, Curry, Potter, Sterling, Wagner, and Wallace will all go on waivers and if they aren't claimed by noon on Thursday, they will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Conner played for the Pens last year and the year before in limited action due to injuries to core roster guys.  Most recently, he was used in a few games in the playoffs against Ottawa.  I like Connor's style of play but I think his size, at only 5' 8" hurt his chances of securing a spot.  If he clears waivers, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him in a starting lineup.

The only other player that saw any kind of meaningful time in the games I have been able to watch was Brett Sterling.  He was on the line with Crosby most of the time and played with both Crosby and Malkin against the Blue Jackets last weekend.  While Brett seemed like a good fit, I don't think he did enough offensively to show he belongs there permanently and he too has a size issue, being and inch shorter than Conner. 

As for the rest of the forwards, I didn't see anything that stood out enough to change my mind about keeping them. 

As for the defenseman, I am surprised to see the likes of Bortuzzo and Strait go in this first group of cuts considering the noise they have made in camp so far.  The rest of the guys aren't ready yet.  I think the starting defensive pairings have been far from a mystery since the FA signings of Martin and Big Z and the fact that Orpik, Letang, and Goligoski aren't going anywhere.  Simon Despres and Ben Lovejoy are my picks to make the team out of the group that is left.  Although Despres would have to be sent back to WBS to avoid the restricted free agent tag.  Maybe Deryk Engelland or Andrew Hutchinson will dazzle in the final two preseason games.  There just isn't much room to carry extra defenseman under the cap beyond seven guys.

The goalies were no surprise because the Pens already have Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson as solid #1 and #2.  Plus, there so little room in cap space right now that carrying 3 on the roster would have been pointless.  I would expect to see at least a half dozen games by either Curry or Theissen this season as Fleury and Johnson may get their annual "mystery" illnesses.

So at this point, we have 30 guys on the roster (although I think I am missing someone), 18 forwards, 10 defenseman, and 2 goalies.

Here are my predictions for the final roster:

The Locks
Forwards:  Craig Adams, Arron Asham, Mike Comrie, Matt Cooke, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Eric Godard, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Mike Rupp, Jordan Staal, Max Talbot
Defenseman:  Alex Goligoski, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek, Brooks Orpik
Goalie:  Marc-Andre Fleury, Brent Johnson

On The Bubble
Forwards:  Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu, Eric Tangradi
Defensemen:  Deryk Engelland, Ben Lovejoy

Snowball's Chance
Forwards:  Ryan Craig, Casey Pierro-Zabotel
Defensemen:  Simon Despres, Alex Grant

We're #1!! We're #1!! We're #1!!

That's right all you baseball fans out there.  After losing 7 in a row against the Cards, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched the #1 position in Major League Baseball yesterday with a 7-2 win at Busch.  Number #1, you ask?


that is.  Not to take anything away from the Pirates win but the Cardinals had learned earlier in the day that the Reds had already clinched the Central and they were out of the playoffs.

Going into the game, the Pirates were 55-101.  Also battling for the basement and top pick were the Seattle Mariners who also won yesterday, beating the Rangers 3-1.  The Mariners were 60-96.  So by doing the math, all things being equal, they would both end the season in a tie and the tie-breaker is last years standings.  Only the Nats finished worse than the Pirates last year.  So despite another dysmal season (in a long line of 18 straight), there was still a reason not to give up in September.

The strange thing is that despite the permanent residence in the futility column, this will be the first time the Pirates have picked first since 2002.  That year they took the prize pitching prospect, Bryan Bullington.  We all know how well that worked out for them, now don't we?  Four World Champio.....oh, wait, that wasn't the Pirates.  Moving on.  Instead, the Pirates have had a couple #2 picks over the last few years, those being Pedro Alvarez in 2008, who just won the NL Player of the week and Jameson Taillon in 2009, one of the best HS talents that should be a major impact player in the next few years.

The overall top talent for 2011 would appear to be the 3rd baseman from Rice, Anthony Rendon.  I am not going to say he is the undisputed #1 pick because I am the farthest thing from an expert on baseball prospects.  Not to mention the fact that until a few weeks ago, I had no idea who the guy even was.  But in most of the pre-draft rankings created by people much smarter than me, he sits very near, if not on the top of most of those lists.  A little background on Mr. Rendon...

Anthony was the Freshman of the Year in 2009 after batting .388 with 20 homers.  The next year, he followed that up by becoming College Player of the Year for his .394 with 26 homers.  He has quick wrist and hand speed and enough power behind his swing to make him one of the best hitters in the draft class.  Plus, he's not too shabby at third either.  Some have said that if he would have been eligible last year, he might have been a better pick than Bryce Harper.  I'm not sure about that because of his recent bouts with injuries and his surgery to fix a busted ankle but despite all that, he is still ranked pretty high. 

Regardless of who they get, this is probably the biggest overall pool of talent in a draft class in many years.  I just hope for their sake, they make a smart choice when it comes time for their pick.  A team like Pittsburgh, in their current situation, stands to benefit the most from a great draft.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All Good Things Must Come To An End - TMCG

(Look, even Roger is sad to see it go.)

While trolling the blogs for my daily dose of hobby clarity, I happened upon an article over on the Beckett blog talking about the Topps Million Card Giveaway.  Normally I don't read much on the Beckett Blog at all but lately, there have been some interesting articles instead of box breaks that blatently rub it in everyone's face that Beckett receives nothing but rigged boxes.  Many of you may have already been aware of this fact and forgive me if I'm late to the party, but the TMCG is ending in six months time. 

What does this mean for collectors?  Well, it means precisely what I said...The TMCG is ENDING.  Period.  There will be no more trades to be made.  There will be no more cards to have shipped.  There will be no more nifty galleries that feature all the cards in your collection.  Topps just isn't going to support that kind of thing after March 15, 2011. 

Don't believe me?  Check it out for yourself over on their website.  It is in the "Rules" section which I'm sure only 20% of the population actually read.  If you go to section 2 and scroll about halfway down the page, you will find it in big bold letters, all underlined.  Once the deadline hits, that's it.  It's over.  I wonder how many collector's actually knew this?

This isn't really that big of a deal in my case.  I have about 20 cards or so and most of them are pretty much useless to me.  I have no need for any 1987, 1992, or 2006 cards.  I do have a few Pirates of old that may be nice to add to my collection but those will be a long shot.  So in my case, Topps can keep them.  But I know there are hundreds if not thousands of you out there with some nice collections.  I even found a few MCG members with over 1000 cards in their albums.  That is unbelievable considering the amount of packs that would have to be busted to get that many code cards.  Of course, I'm sure most of them were obtained by other means.  But that's besides the point.

I think the bigger picture is how the database will become inaccessible after that point.  How many collector's/bloggers/ebayers have been using their database for their picture hosting?  How many links on blog posts and comments will go dead after March 2011?  It will be interesting to see what effect this has.  At least for those collecting football, you have the new Gridiron Giveaway to hold you over for awhile.  Oh, wait a second.  That one ends on the same day. 

So, how many of you are going to cash out before the deadline?  How many cards are in your collection?  How many cards are you going to try and have shipped?  How many have you already had shipped?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Steeler Monday - - Chuck Wagon Edition

I wondered when this day would come.  Never since I started this blog has there even been an opportunity for this to occur.  But here we are...a Monday after another Steelers trouncing of an opponent, and the Random Steeler is none other than Charlie Batch. 

For anyone living under a rock or out of touch with football, the sheer fact that Batch was playing in the first place plays out like a soap opera.  Ben Roethlisberger is still suspended until week 6 (technically week 5 but that is Pittsburgh's bye week) for conduct unbecoming an NFL player.  Did he kill a person/animal?  No, that would only get a couple games.  Did he go on a drinking binge and decide to get behind the wheel instead of calling the league provided car service thus turning his vehicle into a deadly weapon?  No, that only gets you a 1 quarter benching.  Instead he was accused of sexual misconduct, although no charges were ever brought, he wasn't arrested, nor legal action commenced.  In fact, in the latest alleged incident, the police closed the case (in the first, there was no police case).  But that's not what this post is about.  We are all about Charlie today.

So Big Ben is corralled for at least a few more weeks.  Backup Byron Leftwich was injured in the last pre-season game of the year with a pretty brutal leg injury that caused damage to his MCL.  His return was questionable at best until x-rays came back negative on a complete tear and the prognosis was changed to a MCL sprain and his return to action was 2-3 weeks. 

Next on the depth chart is the untested third year quarterback Dennis Dixon.  Dixon had only started one other game prior to week one of 2010 and was obviously raw.  He played well enough to not lose and the Steelers were 1-0.  Week two came along with high-hopes for Double D and his ability to manage the game but that was quickly squashed when Dixon went down with an injury.  A torn lateral meniscus is the diagnosis with a recovery time of 3-5 weeks.  So the call goes to Charlie Batch, who preserved the Steeler's lead in week 2 en rout to a 9 point victory over the Titans.

Week 3 comes along and Charlie is the only healthy quarterback on the roster (aside from Antwan Randle-El, current #3 receiver).  Batch is like that pickup truck that sits in the garage for months at a time.  It isn't broke down or in disrepair, it's just old and rusty.  It has lots of body damage and is not a pretty site.  But in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, it always starts right up.  It still drives like a champ and though it may not get the gas mileage you want, it gets you where you need to go whenever you need it to. 

Chuck tossed three TD passes in his first start since 2007, leading the Steelers to a 38-13 victory over the Buccaneers.  For only taking a few snaps with the first team offense in the preseason, he played like a poised veteran, which everyone in Steeler Nation already knew he could.  At 35, Charlie showed he still has it, heaving the ball down field 40+ yards on two of the four offensive touchdowns yesterday (both caught by speedster Mike Wallace).  The third aerial TD came on a 9 yard toss to Hines Ward.  In all, Batch lead 4 scoring drives down the field and changed the minds of all the non-believers in the process.  I'm pretty sure this guy still has it.

Now I'm not getting too excited over this win because after all, it was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Of course, going into yesterday's game, they were also 2-0 but with a suspect running game and a less than stellar defensive backfield, it was only a matter of time before someone exploited it.  The Steeler's defense has been playing lights-out football all season thus far and that is a big reason why the offense isn't having to sputter like everyone was expecting.  The real test for Batch is going to come this week in front of the home crowd against arch-rivals the Baltimore Ravens.  If he can play like he did yesterday against the Ravens, I'm not sure I will be too happy switching back to Ben.  We will see. 

I tried to find some Charlie Batch cards to feature in this weeks's RSM but there aren't too many options in a Steeler uni.  In fact, only the three player 2007 Topps Total above resides in my collection.  Beckett's checklist of Batch cards shows he has 1,029 total cards to date with 24 rookie cards, 49 memorabilia cards, and 42 autos.  Narrowing my search reveals that of the 1,029 cards, only 14 of them have him featured as a Pittsburgh Steeler.  That is shocking considering he has been with the team since 2003.  I once considered collecting Chuck's cards until I realized I couldn't stomach having that many Detroit Lions cards in my house, even if they did feature Batch.  But you have to give it to the Pittsburgh-born quarterback; 13 years in the league, 73 games, over 10,000 yards and 60 TDs, almost all in the backup capacity.  That's pretty impressive when you think about it and most guys would have probably faded away long ago.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2009-10 Upper Deck The Cup - A Royal Fail In the Set

This is old news to most of you but I just wanted to put in my 2 cents for what it's worth (probably 2 cents). 

Upper Deck announced that Lebron James will be making an appearance in one of their highly anticipated card releases.  Not a big deal, right?  Well, as we have all talked about ad nausea, Upper Deck doesn't possess a license to print the product that would feature King James.  They hold no authority to offer a card of his likeness sporting an NBA franchise, let alone an autographed one.  So how are they going to pull this off?  It's going in The Cup!! (check out the pack out photos over on the Upper Deck blog, some are great, some not so much).

When I first read about this a month or so ago on another "cards off the grid" kind of site, I was confused, baffled, a little tired, kind of hungry, but mostly confused.  Of course The Cup isn't the first product to mix sports in the same release.  It has been done, time and time again.  But for a premium product like the Cup to inter-twine what I would consider a "novelty" amongst $300-400 per pack/boxes?  This just seems crazy to me.  It's not just Lebron either.  They have Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, too since they are exclusive autograph signers for Upper Deck.  Now I may be blowing this a bit out of proportion since I have yet to see a checklist and don't know if these are the only three non-hockey subjects but to me, this is a feeble attempt at keeping it known to the collecting public that they have the power to issue any release at any time and shove their exclusivity licenses down our throats.  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Despite it's hefty price/card, The Cup is arguably one of the most anticipated sets for the hockey collector's each year.  I however, have been unimpressed by The Cup as a whole and have never bought into the hype.  Admittedly, the price tag is what scares me.  I don't care if all the cards are numbered under 100.  I don't care that each has a signature or swatch/patch on it (or both).  I don't care if there is some infused DNA strand embedded in the card that someday can be extracted and used to clone super-athletes that will take over the world (What? That could happen). To me, I'm about getting the most bang for my buck and getting something that I think will fit in my collection somehow without having to dip into my retirement fund to obtain.  I have to be this way, with a wife and two kids and countless other ventures that exhaust me both mentally and financially.  In my entire collection, I possess three cards out of The Cup sets.  3!  And they are all base cards I ended up with through trades or bulk purchases. 

Premium products like The Cup price many of the "everyday Joe" collector's like me right out of their products because there is really no perceived intrinsic value in participating in a futile practice of obtaining 5-8 cards at $75-100 a piece. Of course, this is one person's opinion and I can see how you can easily find reasons to disagree with me.  And you probably should.

But that's not the point.  The point is why resort to another gimmick, especially in a Uber-Premium product?  The Champions set that was intermingled amongst the Upper Deck releases in 2009-10 starting with Series II and continuing through Champs, SPA, Ice, and SPx was hard enough for most collector's to stomach.  When you are anticipating a decent auto of an NHL superstar, rookie, or even semi-star and end up with a figure skater, something has gone terribly wrong.  But at least the "ice dancers" wear skates.  If I opened a pack of hockey cards that cost me a third of a mortgage payment, I better be getting some hockey awesomeness.  The last thing I want to see is a basketball card. 

There is no need for this kind of foolishness.  Most "targeted" collectors (because let's face it, that's what the audience is, a target) that will plunk down the cabbage to try their luck at pulling something "other worldly" like one of these maybe.... 

(obviously an older image from a few years ago, from

...are not going to care.  But someone should.  Even if I am really digging the Property Of... set that features name plate tags from game used sticks, and the patch work quilt concept on the logo patches that build an even bigger patch (did anyone else notice that last Ovie card was upside down?), it is still not enough for me to forgive an obvious lapse in judgment on the part of the UD team that dreams up these crazy schemes. 

So you don't have a license for another pro sport.  Save the basketball cards for a Legends set or a Signatures set that can showcase your exclusive license bragging fodder.  Don't derail the train that has been keeping hockey collector's salivating for quite a few years.  I guess what I really mean is, Upper Deck...try harder.  You have lost print licensing across the board quicker than I lose my sunglasses on every vacation I have taken over the last 10 years.  Hockey has been your only true strong point since 2004 and you have done it very well.  Stop with the gimmicks.  Stop trying to sneak other products into places they don't belong.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Calling All Bloggers/Traders/Collectors...Are These Your Cards?

Let me open this post by saying...  
There, doesn't everyone feel better now?  It's out there in the open and I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders.  Or, at least I should.  But, I don't because this really bothers me and brings unwelcome stress into my life, which it shouldn't because it's a hobby for Christ-sake.

So as I was hanging some clothes in my closet, I took a moment to look at the three shelves on the top that have become overrun with cards, boxes, binders, etc.  Upon further review, I found 7 or 8 200-count boxes with various piles of cards in sleeves, team bags and just loose in the box.  As I began to go through them, I realized that these were not my cards.  These were the "lost" cards.

"Lost" cards are the ones that you thought you got rid of but really didn't.  They could have been sold, traded away, thrown out by your mom/grandmother/nurse/maid/nanny/spouse/undertaker, or given to someone as a gift.  But whatever the case may be, they were, in your mind, no longer in your possession.  It is one of those overly cliche "out of sight, out of mind" scenarios where I thought I had sent these to their rightful owners but alas, I was only fooling myself into thinking I wasn't a worthless collector who pretends to trade only to turn around and hoard things for himself.  No more, I say.  Today is the day to remedy the situation (or in the next few days, whichever comes first).

But, if any of you still read this here blog thingy, I need your help.  I am having some problems identifying some of these piles of cards.  Doesn't a step to admitting you have a problem involve listing your issues?  Shall I run down the list of what I found?  Sure, why not?  It might be therapeutic.

1. Two stacks of Dallas Cowboys
2. A pile of 2010-11 UD Victory Cards
3. A full 200-count box of Boston Red Sox cards
4. A stack of Toronto Blue Jays
5. A stack of Colorado Rockies
6. A pile of UD Champs hockey from last year
7. A mixed pile of ARod, Jeter, and those annoying Mickey Mantle Topps cards
8. Some various football related cards that make no sense and have no rhyme or reason
9. A pile of OPC Retro cards
10. A tin full of Tampa Bay Lightning cards
11. A mixed stack of 2010 Topps Series II baseball 
12. A mixed stack of 2010 Bowman Chrome from 2010 Bowman baseball

Now, I have already identified the rightful owners of 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, and 10 (1, 2, & 5 should hit the PO tomorrow barring a natural disaster, death, or sudden onslaught of hyper-slothiness).  As for the rest, I am getting to them I swear.

So you are probably by now asking yourself, "Self?  How can I help this troubled blogger?"  That answer, my friends, is simple.  If you think I may have been holding on to either 4, 3, 6, 7, 11 or 12 for you, please let me know.  I try to keep everyone on a pending list until either I send their goodies or I receive something back just to keep score.  Sometimes, which this is obviously one of those times, I remove them prematurely.  I believe that #3 and #12 is in fact a collation of 2 possibly 3 different collectors. 

I am also failing to locate 3 other piles of stuff that I thought I was setting aside, wasn't sure if I sent out to people, but never crossed them off my "pending trade" list.  I believe all of the parties involved with those shenanigans on my part have received emails from me.

So in the best interest of the hobby, the spirit of trading, and my sanity, I am hereby ceasing all trading (not that anyone would notice since I suck at it anyway) until I can resolve these issues, refocus my collection, and reorganize a bit so I have an idea of what I have.  The blog isn't going anywhere, nor am I.  I just want to be fair to everyone I promised stuff to and haven't delivered.  God forbid my actions thus far cause me to begin to become misconstrued as a "fake" blogger and a front to something shady going on.  We wouldn't want that, now would we?

Ready?....Set?.....Start claiming your property!!

(PS. I have had 43 Pageviews (whatever that means) from Luxembourg.  I didn't know there were even 43 people in Luxembourg.  Neat.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cards Off the Grid

I read a lot of sports and collecting blogs. 

A lot. 

No, I don't think you understand...A LOT!!! 

Most of what I read are the random musings of most of the "common" community that we are all somewhat familiar with.  Occasionally, I will find a link, to a link, to a link that leads me down a path I have never traveled and I find a fresh view on something I have yet to experience.  In these rare instances, the entertainment value generally comes from the fact that I get a viewpoint that I haven't experienced.  I may not always agree with the author's vantage point on a subject but it is refreshing nonetheless to read something different.

This morning, during my daily blog "rolling", I happened upon one of those links to a link to a link.  This time, it took me off the proverbial card collecting grid to a site that I really know nothing about. appears to be pretty popular website that generates traffic from all over the place.  I had heard of this site before but never ventured there on my own and until this morning, knew nothing about it.  It appears to me to be an all encompassing "news" magazine style site that focuses on popular culture, fashion, and politics.  So why am I here for baseball cards?

Apparently Salon offers a bloggers hosting section and Penn Collins took to his keyboard and penned an article entitled "2000 Words On Why Your Baseball Card Collection Is Worthless".  Sounds very positive and upbeat, doesn't it?  Well much to your surprise, it isn't.  The majority of the time is spent retelling of how he came to acquire his collection during the mid 80s and then came to part with it after the mid 90s.  Typical story that we have all heard before however, this seems to be coming from an angle of hatred and resentment toward a hobby that he chose to abandon.  I can appreciate a whirlwind of opinions from all walks of life, which is one of the reasons why I read so many blogs.  The only problem I have here is this author seems disinterested in the hobby itself and the culture that surrounds it, and more interested in bashing the industry and anyone who participates in it simply because he failed to pay for his college education with his collection.

My only problem now is that I can't tell if this is a serious focus on his failed experience with our hobby or if this is supposed to be humorous.  I'd advise everyone to give it a read and see what you think.  Is there anyone that shares the same opinion as I do on this one?  Just to give you a preview, the final line of his little diatribe goes "Hope you enjoyed the journey, 'cause the destination sucks". 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons...Recap

Can you smell it?  Smells like football!!  We are finally back to a point in the year where the doldrums of summertime sports dullness (yeah that's a word) subside and the NFL football season gets underway.  Of course I am a big fantasy football player and participate in a number of leagues so I take an interest in almost every game on the schedule.  However, the only games that matter are the ones that involve the black and gold.

Week 1's opponent was the Atlanta Falcons and it took an extra stanza to get the job done.  Both teams rely heavily on the running game to guide them to victory and this was going to prove to be a smash-mouth style game.  All I can say after this one is, Ben who?

Rashard Mendenhall was the big hero in this one with his 50 yard TD run in overtime to propel the Steelers to a 1-0 start for the season.  Mendy had 22 carries for 120 yards and the only TD of the game for either team.  Ward also put up 108 of his own for his 26th career 100 yard game.  As for Double D, he was alright but appeared pretty wobbly at times.  He only had one completion over 50 yards and that was to Mike Wallace and was a beauty.  He finished 18 of 26 for 236 yards with an interception and had several other potential sure picks that were dropped.  Obviously this isn't enough to win every week but it was enough today and he didn't play bad enough to lose.

As for the Steelers defense...THE BEASTS ARE BACK!!  The Defense has bounced back in my opinion from the lackluster performance last year.  The Falcons have a fairly balanced offensive attack and the Steelers were able to counteract most of what they saw.  As for Troy, 4 tackles, an assist and a pick at a critical point in the game to set up a Jeff Reed field goal for the win (he Norwood'ed it though).

Despite my initial concerns for my team, if the Steelers can hold on and play like this for a few more weeks, relying on the running game (Steeler Football) and some aggressive, shut-down defense, I think everything will be fine.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Because I have no time or energy devote to an original, thought provoking post that all my readers have come to know and love (insert cricket chirping sound), I present for your viewing pleasure...

An article that every collector should read regardless of whether you agree with all points or not.  It was posted over on Cardboard Connection by Brett Lewis entitled "Five Quick Fixes That Could Drastically Improve Sports Cards". 

I, for one, think this is dead on, almost.  The fact is, I don't think it goes far enough in highlighting some changes that could be made. I could devote a whole post on more that I would add but now is not the time.  Maybe later.  Just read this for now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Random Thoughts - Catching up with the world

I have been out of touch with the world for more than a week but it seems like much longer.  Have you ever had one of those moments in time where everything else just stops and you become completely emersed in whatever it is that you are doing?  That was me for the past week and a half or more.  So spending this past weekend trying to catch up on things was no easy task.  There has been a lot going on in my narrow-minded world of sports/collecting.  I figured I would take a moment to gather these thoughts.

-----The Steelers didn't name their starting quarterback for week 1 prior to their pre-season game last Thursday.  It was assumed that Byron Leftwich would get the nod over Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch.  That is, until after the game.  Leftwich apparently tore/strained/severed/obliterated his MCL and is going to be out at least 4 weeks.  Question answered...Dixon is going to get the job in Big Ben's absence.  I am kind of excited by this fact since everything I have seen from Double D thus far in both the limited time he played last year and in this pre-season leaves no doubt he can handle the job (despite the 2 picks vs. Denver).  It conjurs up memories of Kordell Stewart (only the "good" Kordell, not the "bad" one he turned into). 

-----Also in Steeler's related news, Big Ben's suspension was reduced to 4 games by Roger Goodell after a meeting with him and the Steelers' Brass on Friday.  What does this mean?  Nothing really.  Everyone but Terry Bradshaw assumed it would result this way and I think the Black & Gold were preparing for this scenario.  As long as Double D (and C-Batch if Dixon blows it) can hold his own for 4 games, everything with the offense should work itself out. 

So in lue of additional time on the bench, Ben was stripped of a share of the Team Captaincy.  That's a slight exaggeration since the job is voted on by teammates but it sure is a indication of his popularity right now in the locker room.  Instead, Hines Ward (no surprise), Heath Miller, James Farrior, and Keyaron Fox (well deserved yet big surprise) get to wear the "C"...if this was hockey.  But it isn't so they will be on the 50 yard line for coin tosses.

-----The Penguins signed forward Mike Comrie to a one-year league minimum $500,000 contract last week.  Is it just me, or is this a bargain-basement blow out score?  I realize Comrie has been relegated to the under 20 goal scoring club for the last few years but that was due to inactivity and "injury".  If anyone can recall this far back, in 2006-07 "Mr. Duff" scored 45 points in 65 games.  Since then, he has been surrounded by, for lack of a better word, sub-par talent in both Edmonton (where he actually played with Billy G) and NY.  Regardless, I think this is a good move by Ray Shero because it gets the Pens a net-crasher that they lost in Guerin.  It also solidifies an even strength power regardless of the line they put him on.  Plus, I can only imagine how many "crowd" shots we are going to see featuring Hillary Duff and her entourage at the Consol Energy Center.

-----The Pirates signed Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, two of the team's top picks in the draft.  This was followed up by the signing of a huge 16 year old prospect from Mexico, Luis Heredia.  Of course, once these players begin to develop and get into some Major League action, it wouldn't surprise me to see them shipped off somewhere for some small-pox infested blankets.  Now that the Nutting Family's spending habits have been revealed for all the world to see, there is no reason to think that they are going to change the habit now. 

Spending on the team is not a priority and until it becomes evident that they are being (mis)managed as a MLB "farm" team, the league won't step in, nor should they because to them, it's a business.  Good businesses make money, bad ones don't.  It's unfortunate for the players on a team that has 0% committment to put a product on the field that can compete and win.  They built a new stadium that holds 38,496 people for regular baseball game, which I believe is still the 2nd smallest in the Major Leagues.  Even still, the average attendance is 20,115 or 52% according to estimated numbers on ESPN's MLB site.  That is basically half the attendance of the top 10 teams in the league. 

Is there anything those top 10 have in common?  Only 68 Division Series appearances, 24 Championship Series appearances, 17 World Series appearances, and 10 World Series victories since the Pirates began their downward spiral.  In the end when the 20,000 faithfulls get up and leave, we will see how frugality of Pecos Bob's decisions have destroyed this team.

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