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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Prediction

Well we are here.  It is week 8 in the NFL and it has come down once again to a home game against the New England Cheatriots, I mean Patriots.  At this point in the season, the Pats are 5-1 and have the best record in the AFC.  The Steelers, however, are 5-2, and with a win against the Patriots at Heinz Field, would become the leader atop the AFC.  I'd be the worst Steelers fan in history if I tried to slant this little post down the middle so I'll get this out of the way now...I hate the Patriots; I hate Bill Belichick; I hate Tom Brady.  I've never met any of these people.  I don't know them personally.  Are they nice guys?  Don't know.  Don't care.  I hate them for what they have done over the last 10-12 years to my Steelers.  That should be enough.

I wish I could say this was going to be another easy stroll through the park but I don't think that is the case.  The Pats are 4-1 at Heinz Field.  Yes, I said 4-1.  That means that 80% of the time, they win.  I believe that is the best record for any team not in the AFC North against the Steelers at home since Heinz Field opened in 2001 (of this I am probably incorrect but it sounded good and makes my point).

The Patriots are also 9-2 after a bye week since Belichick took over the team in 1999.  This means that they take the extra time with the week off to prepare and dissect their opposing defense's tendencies so that by the time game day arrives, they have already beaten their opponent in their minds and in the playbook.  Their 8 game, post-bye week win streak proves that. 

Also, Tom Brady is 6-1 against the Steelers.  6-1!!  No other quarterback (again, not in the AFC North) can say that.  He wins at home, on the road, in the playoffs, it doesn't matter.  The guy just has a brain for football and can breakdown a defense like a great field general in battle.  I don't think I would even be as upset if any of these games would have been tightly contested.  But in the last two wins alone, Brady has passed for 749 yards with seven touchdowns.  In all, he has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdown.  And the worst part, he does this from an upright position.  For some reason, the annually top ranked defense has the most problems getting him to the ground or picking off his passes.  He's a surgeon and I hate him.

So, what do the Steelers need for a win?  There is no doubt that New England is going to light up the Steelers' defense.  I'm guessing there will be, once again, a ton of yards and the score to match.  But the difference this year is that Big Ben and the Steelers' offense will do the same thing.  Pittsburgh has moved, slowly, from a run-first type, punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of team to an air-it-out, deep threat, yardage-by-chunks kind of offense.  I'm not saying I like this but it is pretty exciting to watch.  The edge still goes to Tom but not by much, in my opinion.  The real difference has to be in the defense.  The Steelers are better equipped to stop the Patriots than the other way around.  Don't expect to see three TE touchdowns like last year.  And don't expect to see Wes Welker run loose all over Heinz Field. 

So my prediction...Steelers 27 Patriots 24.  It's going to take virtually a flawless game.  And these guys in particular need to step it up and play perfect.

 Yards will be at a premium and Mendy will need to break a few to keep Pittsburgh in this.

Not much more can be said about these two.  Ben has to be perfect.  PERFECT!!  No turnovers.  No stupid sacks.  No throwing the ball up in desperation.  And there is no doubt Troy will be all over the field.

 Sanders will start in place of Hines Ward.  Welcome to the big show.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Box Break - - 2008-09 Upper Deck Series II Hobby Box

I know there are many of you out there that are a lot like me in that the majority of your card spending budget is consumed in some retail establishment or another.  I didn't say all, just the majority.  This means that you seldom, if ever get an opportunity to pick up something with a hobby version.  I say seldom because depending on where you go, there are those rare occasions when the vendor that stocks the trading card aisle has a rogue box from the world of hobby products.

A little while back (ok it was probably a long while back since I have been seemingly too busy or lazy or both to post anything in forever) that very event occured.  On the shelf amongst all the baseball blasters and value boxes was this...

A hobby box of 2008-09 Upper Deck Series II Hockey.  I knew if I was so inclined I could get one of these from my LCS but how could I pass up one that was about $30 cheaper?

As this is Series II of Upper Deck's flagship release, the box collation was expected to be much like Series I.  There are an average of 6 Young Guns rookies per box, 2 GU cards per box, and a whole host of inserts that fall about 1:4 packs.  Also in Series II are the Victory Update cards.  All of the high series Victory cards from their set each year are included 1 per pack in Series II and number 251-350.  Victory Rookies tended to fall about 1:4 packs.  So with two GU and a bunch of inserts, there is also the potential for 12 rookies (6 Young Guns, 6 Victory Rookies).

I realize that most of you have seen these before and probably have thousands of them (like me) so I will spare you the base card scans.  Just know that these are the typical full bleed photos that Upper Deck is known for.  The cards are borderless, with only a silver stripe sectioning off the name plate.  The backs are also nice because they feature an additional player photo (a headshot) as well as stats that cover more than just a year or two in a players career.  Upper Deck always does well with their bread and butter set and hopefully this year's release (2011-12) will continue this same tradition.

So as I said, this box was different.  Funny enough, this became one of the better boxes I have opened this year.  Why?  Well mainly for one reason.  I was able to finally complete my 2008-09 set.  I know that doesn't seem like all that much considering I have broken some very nice boxes over the past 10 months but those last 8 cards for this set were becoming impossible to track down.  It is always a good day when you are able to knock something completely off your set needs list.

Other than that, it was a pretty basic box with a typical collation.  Here is what came out.

This is actually a very nice Rookie Materials card with a two color swatch of Mr. Turris.  I wish I could say that he is tearing up the league at this point in his career but unfortunately, for this year at least, that isn't the case.  Kyle is in a battle with Phoenix management over his contract and has yet to play a single game.  If you believe the rumor mill known as ESPN, apparently he wants out of Phoenix completely.  Coyotes GM Don Maloney has already said that he has no interest in letting him go though.  Basically if he doesn't get a contract signed by December 1 he won't be playing for Phoenix or anyone else this season. 

Here is some guy from the Lightning.  It almost seems like if you aren't named Stamkos or St. Louis, you are an after thought in Tampa.  That's unfortunate because as good of a player as Lecavalier is/was, his play always get overshadowed by Stamkos and his other diminutive teammate.  I guess this would be considered the "other" hit in my box.

I pulled one Tales Of The Cup insert.  Here we have a bearded Doug Weight from his time with Carolina and their Cup win in 2006.  This is a very nice set to collect because it captures that moment that every hockey player dreams of achieving from the time they first strap on a pair of skates.

I pulled two The New Guard inserts.  Here we have Jonathan Toews and Marian Gaborik.  With a set name like New Guard, I would have expected this to be an all goalie set.  But what do I know?

This is from the Favorite Sons insert set.  These are kind of like the Hometown Heroes set from the year before (and year before that I think).  I don't think I am really a fan of these. 

The two above are the Spectacular Saves inserts.  These had potential and feature supposedly spectacular saves made by their respective goalies.  Of course you don't really get much from a still picture.  This would probably be a good idea for one of those new Video Cards that are "all the rage" in the hobby.  It comes across as a much better sell when you can actually see the save in action.  Here we have the now relegated to backup duty Evgeni Nabokov.  He was potentially going to split time with Al Montoya when the year started but I think he has only played in 3 or 4 games thus far.  Also, the now retired Chris Osgood.  Ozzie was a mainstay in net for Detroit for many, many years and retired as Detroit's all time leading goal scorer for goalies (he had 1).  You didn't expect me to list that as a highlight, did you?  Coincidentally, Naby had one too against Vancouver. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't post a few of the Victory high numbers as well.


Nobody really noteworthy in this lot.

 A couple of Gold Parallels including Michael Frolik's Rookie.  Not bad.
I actually pulled a Black Parallel as well.  These are seeded about 1:4000 packs.  That might be an exaggeration but not by much.  A tough pull.  Unfortunately I ended up with Ron Hainsey. 

 Definitely a better selection here with Bogosian and Gillies.  I remember opening a lot of 2008-09 stuff and it seemed like Petr Vrana was in every pack I opened.  No change here.

 Again, nothing to see here.

But wait!  What is this?

I don't know, has anyone ever heard of this guy?  Isn't he good or something?  Too bad this wasn't the actual Young Guns card.

Speaking of which, last but not least, the 6 Young Guns that are "guaranteed" per box.  Nothing really to write home about in this mix.



So 2 GU cards, 6 Young Guns, 12 Victory rookies (including the Stamkos, and the one Gold Parallel), and a Black Victory parallel.  Considering all these and the fact that I polished off a set makes this a great break.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Player Collection

I think I have decided to make it official.  All this despite the fact that he was unable to secure a roster spot this year and the fact that this was the second year in a row where he was unable to do so.  Of course I am speaking of Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi.  He is so close to making the team it is sick.  He is going to have a few shots this year as his size and mobility around the boards makes him an excellent injury fill in.  I just hope he can make the best of them without injury.

So far this year he has one point on an assist for WBS.  That will inevitably increase as the 6'4" 225lb forward can not only bang down low but has a pretty good wrist shot.  We will of course see.

At any rate, I have added him to the side panel along with some scans of the collection thus far.  Positives...he only has about a 130 cards at this point.  Negatives...most of them are either autos, memorabilia, or 1/1s.  If you have anything that I may not have scanned in, let me know and we can trade.  Or as has become customary, you send it to me and then 8 months from now when you have forgotten, I return the favor.  (just kidding, partially).

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Honor Of Monday Night Football

I almost forgot I had these until someone asked me about them the other day. How is it that other people know what I have in my collection and I don't? I'll never figure that out.

I have no opinion either way on whether or not "manu-patches" should exist or not.  I happen to like the way this one looks so I have no problem with it.  I will admit I have seen some pretty ugly ones before but if it looks good, is generally unobtrusive to the design, and brings something to the card, why not?

If I remember correctly, I won this in a raffle on a trading website.  I don't remember which site it was though.  I'm pretty sure it was TradeCardsNow but it could have been The Bench.  No, it was TCN.  It had to be.  In case you can't tell, that is a sticker auto but nonetheless, it's a pretty nice card.  Too bad it wasn't #9.
I would have thrown up my Calvin Johnson 1/1 Sketch card but, alas, I no longer possess that item.  It was sold on the Bay a few weeks back for quite considerably less than I would have liked but more than I was offered when I took it to sell at the National.  Oh, what the heck.  You've all seen it before but here's to old times.

I suppose we should give the Bears some love...I guess.

I don't care if it is virtually worthless.  I love these Rookie Premier photo shoot cards.

He can't spell.  He can't speak in public.  He probably can't read either.  But man, can this guy run back a kick or what?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Waxing Ecstatic

Here's a quick little thing I just saw that I thought I would share.  It's a video that someone emailed to me and I thought it was pretty funny.  If you've already seen it, tough, watch it again.

Troy Polamalu takes a moment to stop by Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum and scare the crap out of people at random.  Good stuff.  I wonder if any Ravens or Browns fans walked up talking smack only to realize it was really him?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Epic Lemieux

How awesome would it have been to pull something like this out of a pack/box of 2010-11 Panini Dominion Hockey? 

Instead, I got one of these...

If you are going to get a consolation prize, this ain't too shabby.  In fact, it's quite epic!! 

Talk amongst yourselves.