Search This Blog

Saturday, November 1, 2014

State of the Blog Address

Despite being a lazy, worthless hobby blogger, I still manage to keep about 30 people amused each day.  Yes those are my unique hits every day.  Despite new content since the summer.  I'm still getting about 225-300 page views a week.  It's crazy.  I'm guessing it's because of my finely tuned blog roll over there on the left. 

I should really start blogging again.  It was therapeutic and helped relieve stress, which I have much of.  For those wondering where I have been, and for those that haven't, here's a recap...

====Been working as hard as I can with my new start-up job.  We are almost 2 years in and everything is going good but it can always be better.  The guys I work with are the best in this business and our philosophy is one I wholeheartedly believe in.  In this short time, we have built ourselves around almost 200 clients, representing over 700 properties.  More clients means more stability and that's my goal.

====Baseball.  Baseball.  And more baseball.  The kids were in spring season and also fall this year.  They both did really well in the spring.  That was the last year for both of them in their respective leagues.  My oldest moved up from Minors to the Majors in the fall.  My youngest moved up from Rookie to Instructional.  However, the weather didn't cooperate much for the fall, which is why the last games finally happened in the middle of October.  At one point we were having 3-4 games a week between the two boys to cover make-up games.  Plus there was still a tournament for both leagues.  But seeing my kids play is priceless and I would give up everything just to be a part of it.  Turns out I have two pretty consistently accurate pitchers on my hands and two guys that love to be part of the game.  

====I got married last week...October 24th to be exact.  Those "new" relationships take a lot of work sometimes but mine just happens naturally.  It helps that she has almost the same affinity for small pieces of cardboard.  I got to marry my best friend and quite possibly my soul mate.  I never thought I would ever get married again.  Life just happens this way sometimes. 

==== I couldn't wait for the NHL season to start.  But what happened to my enthusiasm?  Despite the great start by my Penguins and the hopeful season ahead, Comcast once again failed me by first, promising free Center Ice previews for the month of October and not all!  Not one stinking game, despite the constant advertising for it.  Second, they have rearranged scheduled programming from the beginning of the season, bumping games and opting instead to show rebroadcasts on some channels.  Good thing I have the Pens App on my phone.  And third, well, I just can't take anymore awful announcing on the games that do get televised.  The nationally broadcast games on NBC are just bad.  They really are.  I get lucky some nights with simulcast HNC games on the NHL Network but those are few and far between.  Maybe the second half will get better.

====Was uber excited for the NFL season.  Then it started.  What happened to defense?  I mean seriously?  Where is it?  45+ points per game is certainly exciting to some but I like smash mouth football.  The league has taken the defense out of the game and castrated them.  You get 15 yard penalties for even thinking of making a tackle this season.  I guy touches your arm as a common gesture during a conversation and it's a spot foul.  It's really pathetic.  This isn't my fathers football league, I understand that, but it isn't even mine either.  And the Steelers?  Ugh.  Other than a couple games, they have been atrocious compared to previous seasons.  At least watching RedZone on Sundays is still quite entertaining.

====This is the first year I have bailed 100% completely on fantasy sports (unless you count Topps Bunt).  I just wasn't into it this year.  I thought that I could be a better fan and watch for the joy not because I had some vested interest in the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. the Miami Dolphins.  But alas, I miss it.  I miss stats.  I miss caring about players I hate.  I miss the trash talking.  And it's going to hurt at the end of the season when I don't get my $250-$400 that I have won for the last 10 years.

====Cards have honestly bored me to death lately.  Part of the reason is that I just can't find the time to get organized.  When I think about my collection, I feel like that guy right over there.  Beat up, bloodied, and hurt.  I have a card room.  Upstairs in my home.  It could be amazing.  But it isn't.  It's the bane of my existence.  Cards everywhere.  Unsorted boxes and piles of stuff lying around...It's sad really.  There is just too much and despite my efforts to scale down (If anyone was wondering, I sold the Card Garage...well about 85% of it at least).  I am more than happy to sell or trade most of what I don't want.  The problem lies in the fact that I don't really know what that stuff is. 

So I'm looking for a jumpstart.  Something to unearth the beast that slumbers inside me.  So far, the hockey releases have been less than what I expected.  MVP disappointed me (what a shock).  I wanted something more from Artifacts.  I still haven't bought any O-Pee-Chee and I'm hoping the Upper Deck flagship brings me out of my funk.  There is a show coming up in November in Chicago that I usually attend every year.  Maybe that will release the Kraken?  Maybe. 

====Along the same lines as the last comment, I haven't even touched much by the way of cards.  I have had no reason to.  But I actually just responded to 3 Zistle trades last night, which is a good start I guess.  The more interactive I am with all the blogs and card sites I have used, the more active I will get back into my collection.  As for selling stuff, I really wish my Collector's Revolution inventory would move better but I just can't figure out how to master the art of social media (which seems to be the catalyst for the larger volume sellers).  I still do pretty good on COMC though considering I have yet to invest a dime.
====Music takes up a lot of my free time.  My band, 6ix 5ive 9ine has been playing out a lot more frequently the last few months and the response from the crowds has been great.  It will be interesting to see what 2015 brings for us.  My wedding, that I mentioned earlier, even took place at one of our gigs.  It was epic.

On weekends I am not spending with my kids, there is usually something planned.  Whether it is a gig, practice time, or rehearsal, being in the band and making things work takes up a lot of time.  But is definitely worth it (of course not financially since I'm no where near quitting my day job).  We have toiled around for a long time and to finally get to play for people over the last few years is a blessing.  I love my band mates (which is good since I married one of them).

That's about it.  Boredom, laziness, being know, the usual distractions from card collecting have kept me from the blog.  But I'm still not going anywhere.  I'm not closed for business and the blog will still be here for all you faithful that, if nothing else, use this as a jump point to read the great stuff from all the non-lazy, non-bored, bloggers out there in the world.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Changing Of The Guard

What kind of fan would I be if I didn't address the events of yesterday's NHL Free Agent Frenzy?  Not a very good one I'm guessing, because the Penguins as I knew them when I woke up Tuesday morning are a far cry from the Penguins that exist on paper today.

There is a long...well, long is an understatement...let's go with tradition...There is a tradition in Pittsburgh sports that is deeply rooted in the blue-collar town that supports it's teams.  Hard work, gritty, physical, gutsy, call it what you like but the ideals of a primarily working class community have translated to how they expect their sports teams to be.  The Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins have all spent many years (during the era of free agency and salary caps) spending as little as they can for as much as they can.  It's never been about stacking a team with superstars or paying that one big phenomenon $1 billion a season.  It's been about competing at the highest level with rosters that can slug it out with the best of their respective leagues (of course the Pirates are an exception until the last few years but that's a different story).

The argument will be made that some of these Penguin teams have had superstars or currently do (ie. Crosby, Malkin, etc. now and the days of Lemieux, Jagr, Coffey, Francis, Trottier, etc. before) but most of these were obtained through drafting and player development after the fact due to poor finishes the season before.  In many cases, you had players willing to take pay cuts in order to compete on teams they felt would be contenders.  But I'm focusing more on what transpired yesterday in the crazy phenomenon known as the opening day of Free Agency.

The list of Penguins that became a casualty to free agent signings in other cities is astounding to me.  Either this has been the most movement I have seen in recent memory or maybe I have just not been paying attention.  I realize the Pens are cash strapped when it comes to acquiring new talent.  This has much to do with the contracts for the likes of Malkin at $9.5M, Crosby at $8.7M, Letang at $7.25M and Fleury at $5M affecting this years cap.  But with a total salary cap of $69M, some obvious holes in the scoring lines of the roster, and a brand new management team at the helm that's already off to a shaky reception, the Pens walked away from yesterday with about $8.3M left in their pockets and some serious questions left in the minds of their loyal fanbase.

Here are the players that will no longer be suiting up in Pittsburgh after yesterday:

James Neal - - Traded to Nashville
Tanner Glass - - Signed with the NY Rangers
Matt Niskanen - - Signed with the Washington Capitals
Brooks Orpik - - Signed with the Washington Capitals
Jussi Jokinen - - Signed with the Florida Panthers
Deryk Engelland - - Signed with the Calgary Flames
Joe Vitale - - Signed with the Arizona Coyotes
Chris Connor - - Signed with the Washington Capitals

With the exception of maybe Connor and Glass, this is not a list of scrub players or throw-aways by any means.  In fact, you not only have the departure of the number 2 and 3 defensemen but the entire supporting cast of the Malkin line has been dismantled.

Although I was a big James Neal supporter, even when his temper got the best of him, I was not as upset about it as many in Pittsburgh.  I think Neal was a product of his environment and even though he put up some amazing numbers after coming over from Dallas, his production has since declined and he didn't look to be playing on his previous level.  Jokinen bothered me a little but all along, I knew he was just a rental player.  He fits in well with the Florida team he chose to sign with.  The Niskanen deal was inevitable, although highly overrated in my opinion, and I wish him the best of luck.  I don't, however, think he will be putting up the same numbers he did last year in Washington.  Again, like Neal, he was another product of the talent around him and his canon shot from the point flourished because of it.  Of all those guys, I think overall Vitale's services will be missed the most.  You can usually supplant a loss in some of your scoring or get faster guys on the ice.  Vitale wasn't any of those but his face-off skills and penalty killing abilities were top-notch and are something not easily replaceable.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, both these guys found new
homes yesterday, Brooks in Washington and Ryan in
The one I'm most disappointed with is Brooks Orpik.  Orpik has never been anything else but a Penguin.  He was never the guy that was going to be nominated for a Norris Trophy but he was the guy that helped the other guys do it.  He was never the guy that put up tons of points or even assisted in goal scoring, but he was the guy on the back end that made it happen.  Sure he took some questionable penalties and calls over the years but what defenseman worth their contracts doesn't?  I saw Brooks staying with the Pens for his entire career and eventually retiring and joining the club in some type of behind the scenes roll because of the respect he received from his teammates.  Instead, the management changes that have occurred over the last few months soured his outlook on the franchise and the locker room and he began looking for a change.  The market for aging defenseman seemed to me to be slim but his leadership abilities and intelligence of the game was something the Capitals needed and couldn't pass up.  That's why they most likely overpaid for his services for the next 5 years, something the Pens couldn't afford to do.  I know it was nothing personal but somehow I still feel slighted.  

That's how it goes being a fan in free agency times.  When you lose a player to another team, especially a "rival" team with lots of history, it hurts.  You sometimes take it personally.  You feel like you've been betrayed by your friend that you have known all your life.  But then you see the schedule and make note of the first game you will be playing against their new team.  That first shift where they get matched up with their younger, quicker replacement.  They take a shot into the boards or get dekked on a beautiful move toward the goal by their former "best friend" or bunk mate.  It's at that moment, you finally forget they once wore the same color sweater.

More on the future of the team and the new additions later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And Here Are Your Finalists

The NHL Awards are June 24th this year at the Encore Theatre at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  Last I checked, they will be broadcast on the NBCSN and CBC in Canada.

Everyone has their opinions of who should win and why so I figured why not start a discussion.

First up, everyone's favorite award.  The 2013-14 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.  I don't have a horse in this race since the Pens GM is only a few weeks old and the previous one is unemployed.

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens

Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings

Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks

My vote goes for Bergevin because I think he had less to work with and took a team that some people had written off and made them an Eastern Conference finalist by adding names like Briere, Vanek, Parros, and Murray (plus he played for the Penguins once upon a time).  But...since the Kings won the Cup, Lombardi will most likely win this one.

Next up is the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.  Again, I have no horse since my team is currently without a coach because the old one, Dan Bylsma, was relieved of his duties.  He is currently interviewing for one of those expansion teams down south.

Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings

Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche

The obvious choice here would be Mike Babcock considering how he was able to guide that team to it's 23rd consecutive playoff berth despite over 400 man games lost to injury.  With Datsuyk and Zetterberg out for 37 games, he was still able to get that team to perform.  But, my vote is going to go to Jon Cooper because he did more with less I think.  Coming into the NHL as a head coach is rough and many guys can't cut it but after winning the Calder last season in the AHL and focusing this team around a "youth-movement", he was able to guide them to a second place finish and playoff berth, all the while having Stamkos on the shelf for half the season and losing Martin St. Louis at the trade deadline.

The next award is what I would consider the most important.  The Ted Lindsay Award is given to the most outstanding player and is the only award voted on by the players themselves.  To be honored and respected by sportswriters is one thing, but to get that from your peer, teammates, and colleagues is something entirely different.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers

I'm not even discussing this one.  Crosby is my vote.  When you have the #1, 2, and 3 scorers in the league, the obvious pick is #1.

The NHL Foundation Player Award goes to the player that applies the core values of hockey - commitment, perseverance and teamwork - to enrich the lives of people in their community.  The player that wins this gets $25,000 donated to their chosen charity on behalf of the Foundation.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins

Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks

Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks

If this award was for on-ice performance of some sort, I'd be going for Duncan Keith.  But it's not.  My pick goes to Brent Burns.  He has donated over $1 million to the Defending the Blue Line program which provides children of military families the chance to play the expensive game of hockey.  Anyone that uses their fame and fortune to help support the military is a winner in my book.  Plus he shaved off his signature horrendous beard, raising $24,000 in the process for DTBL.

The big award every year is the Hart Trophy.  This is presented to the player that is voted the most valuable to his team.  It's a little lopsided sometimes in the voting because this comes from the Hockey Writers Assn. but all the players this year a very deserving.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers

Same guys as the Lindsey Award and again, my vote is for Crosby.  He already won the Art Ross for the leagues best scorer.  The man is not only the MVP of his team but of the league as well.  Without him, the Pens play different.  With him at 100%, they are virtually unstoppable.  He makes everyone on the ice better.  Everyone, offensively and defensively.  I'm not knocking Getzlaf either though because he had the best season of his career.  But I also would never vote for a Flyer for anything other than who goes first in front of the firing squad so, sorry Claude.

The next award is the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which goes to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game of hockey.  The winner gets their name on a $2,500 donation to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund.

Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils

Manny Malhotra of the Carolina Hurricanes

Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers

Of the three guys here, Dominic Moore has the best story (and will probably win).  He gave up hockey to take care of his wife who had liver cancer and eventually passed away last year.  Malhotra's story is a good one too, being able to fight back from an eye injury that most guys would have called a career.  But, give it to Jags.  You kind of have to, don't you?  At least I would.  Plus, how many trophies is he going to be getting from here on out?  This guy is ageless and each year since his return, has shown he can still play, can still compete, and still be a force on the ice.  His training regimen is awe-inspiring for a 42 year old.  Hell, it's impressive for an 18 year old.  His dedication to the game of hockey and staying play-ready is second to none.

The next award is the only one chosen by one person, and that's Mark Messier.  The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award is given to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.  Each year, Mark reviews a list of suggested recipients submitted by clubs and fans.

Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks

Brown has been captain of the Kings for the last six seasons and does a ton of work for local children's hospitals in LA.  Getzlaf has his big golf event every year that raised $300,000 last year for his charity.  But my vote, since it's "on and off" the ice goes to Jonathan Toews.  Few guys in the league can even come close to the impact he has in his leadership role on the ice in Chicago.  He's been the team captain since he was 20 years old and his work with the Make A Wish foundation in Chicago is legendary.

My second favorite award is the James Norris Memorial Trophy given out to the leagues best defenseman.

Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins

Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks

Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators

I'm going with Weber.  Chara always gets nominated for this award because he basically never leaves the ice.  Keith is a great D-man and is well deserving of the award.  But both these guys have help.  The best offensive and defensive D-man is Weber in my book.  He led all defenseman in points, led his team in scoring, and finished the last half of the season as a +11.  That means when he is out there, Nashville is a better team.

The Vezina Trophy goes to the leagues best goalie.  It isn't given to the most handsome guy, the most liked guy, the most charitable guy, etc.  It goes to the best goaltender...period.

Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins

Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche

Varlamov was a force in Colorado.  He broke his coaches (Patrick Roy) franchise records and put up some highlight reel worthy saves this season.  His run in with the law earlier in the year hurts his popularity contest here but there is no denying his talent on the ice.  Bishop was also a beast for Tampa Bay and the biggest reason they finished second and made it to the playoffs despite having much of their star power depleted.  But the best goalie this year was Rask.  Without Rask, Boston doesn't float to the top of the East or make the playoffs.  He put up the second best save percentage, tops in shut outs, fourth in GAA and fifth in wins, the only goalie to rank top 5 in the statistically tracked goaltending categories.  He was in beast mode when they needed him to be and Boston won the President's Trophy as a result.

The Frank Selke Memorial Trophy is given out to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.  In other words, the defensive minded centerman and wingers.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins

Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks 

If this was 2013, I would say either Bergeron or Toews were easy picks but this year, my vote goes to Kopitar.  The only guy on the list to appear in all 82 games, he logged the most ice time of anyone (except Crosby).  He's a big reason why the Kings were the league leaders in lowest GPG.  He also finished a +34 and won over 5-% of his 1,451 face offs.  Now that the Kings have the Cup, he's a lock for sure.

I know most people don't care about the NHL Awards but if you are interested in leaving your thoughts, please do.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This Was A Sad Weekend In Sports And Entertainment

First, the greatest coach in Steelers history and arguably the history of the NFL, Chuck Noll passed away.  The Hall of Famer that is the only coach to win four Super Bowl titles died Friday night in Pittsburgh of natural causes.  He was 82 years old.  Without Noll at the helm, the Steelers never become the juggernaut in the 70s, nor carry that legacy and tradition on to the future generations of the team.  "Steeler Football" wouldn't exist if he hadn't agreed to take over the hapless Steelers in 1969.  The rest is history.  When he retired in 1991, Chuck had a 209-156-1 record over 23 seasons.  Like Dan Rooney said, "He was one of the great coaches of the game.  He ranks up there with Halas, Landry and Lambeau."

Then, I learned that my favorite, and almost everyone in America's favorite, radio DJ, Casey Kasem passed away on Father's Day.  I can't tell you how many installments of American Top 40 I listened to as a kid just to hear the songs and quips about the artists read by my favorite Scooby Doo character, Robin from Batman, and the original Cliffjumper.  He had been hospitalized after getting an infection and passed away after suffering for years with dementia.

Now to make matters worse, one of my favorite all time players in MLB history and HOFer, Tony Gwynn passed away after a bought with Cancer.  He was a big man.  Stocky, like me.  I identified with players like him.  Most sports collectors know well of Tony's feats.  He won 8 NL batting titles, had over 3,000 hits in his career and was looked at as an example to aspiring hitters everywhere; all this while playing for the mostly bad San Diego Padres teams of the 80s and 90s.  This is obviously another lesson in a long line of cautionary tales in the use of tobacco.  After having two surgeries to remove the cancer in his cheek, he eventually was taken back to the diamond in the sky.  He will be missed.

They all will

This is why I always say, my heroes are ghosts.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Is It A Sign

I'm not a huge autograph collector.  Casual is more like it. But I do have a pretty large collection of hockey autos that I've accumulated over the years.  With all the TTM blogs and a wealth of samples on the internet, I can usually find a good reference when I need it. 

But, this time, I'm stumped.  I found this auto in a box of stuff from one of the many collections I purchased over the last decade. The problem is, this signature looked too clean.  So of course my reaction is "too good to be true." 

As I began perusing the web for examples I noticed one glaring issue. While there were some autos that looked similar,  there were way too many variations on how the player signed. Even on actual certified autos, his signature was all over the board depending on what year, what product, or what he was signing it on.

I am throwing this one to the blog readers out there...What do you think?  Is it Live or Memorex?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My COMC Experiment Update

First, I doubt anyone even knew I had a COMC experiment.  But that's neither here nor there.

My experiment was simple enough...take a few cards, turn them into a few more cards, and amass a collection without sending anything to them or purchasing store credit to do so.  Then try to flip as much of the collection to turn a positive sale in order to by more inventory.  My ultimate goal was to increase my $18 investment 10X in a year.

The focus of my collection is on pre-1989 hockey cards, seeing that the overabundance of 1990s stuff was too overproduced and available and the 2000+ stuff was basically too expensive or just didn't sell (although I do have some stuff from those eras).  I had $18 in leftover store credit from a purchase I had made about six months before so I used it to acquire a few decent 1960s and 70s cards.

My experiment started on 8/8/2013 with my first sale of a 1970-71 Topps Pete Mahovlich card with condition sensitivity.  It's still going pretty strong too, albeit not as strongly as in the beginning.

But to date, here are my stats...

  • I took an opening balance of      $18
  • I purchased a total of                   38   cards for my inventory
  • I have sold                                 190   cards from my inventory
  • My inventory currently has         457   cards for sale
  • My total sales amount is        $240.39
I would say that has been a success, wouldn't you?  I increased my sale to purchase volume by over 13Xs my original investment.  That's pretty good considering the small amount I started with.  I also have quite a few cards in my inventory with values near $1 per card, not bad for mostly pre-1980s stuff.  

I guess the moral of this story is, you can make money on cards if you are patient with the process and aggressive with marketing.  COMC is a good marketplace to buy singles but you won't get rich off selling there, especially after the cash out fees.  But it has been a fun little project to work on a couple times a week and it's always fun to see my Daily Stat that gets emailed to me so I can see what sold.  I have basically turned COMC into my own personal cardboard stock market.

If anyone wonders, my username on there is "dogfacedgremlin" and I generally entertain most offers on cards, as long as they are realistic to what I purchased them for.  I always counter with my lowest price.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So Pierre, You Wish To Mock Me

This summer off-season started off with a bang for the Pittsburgh Penguins when the team fired GM Ray Shero.  I will just go on record as saying I don't like that move.  I don't think it was the right one and I think the Pens are going to be entering some interesting times going forward over the next few years because of it (and I don't mean good).

The real problems I saw this season were first, the injuries, but also the player disconnect in the locker room and the direct the coaching staff tried to take the team.  If anyone should have been sent to the showers early, it should have been Dan Bylsma and the rest of the coaching staff.  I like Dan.  I like what he has done in Pittsburgh.  But it is time to go because his coaching style is not going to bring this team another Cup.  It just won't.  But, alas, his job was safe, Ray was sent packing, and the search for a new GM began.

The latest news is that Pierre McGuire, my arch-nemesis (and most of the millions of other NHL fans in the world), has had not one, but two interviews in Pittsburgh for the job.  Two interviews?  Really?  The man with the biggest ego in all of sports broadcasting (yes even bigger than Don Cherry and Mike Milbury) is being considered as a rehire for the GM position?  Really?

Ok, let me get right to it.  Pierre is smart.  He is a bonafide Rembrandt when it comes to Xs and Os on paper, with chalk, or on those tiny rink shaped dry erase boards.  He is a master with numbers, a wizard with lineups, the maestro at play design.


The guy is awful, just plain awful at player relations.  I said rehire earlier because originally, he was brought into the Pens as a scout for Scotty Bowman and eventually "earned" a spot on the bench as assistant coach for the back-to-back Stanley Cup Championship teams in 1990-91 and 1991-92.  So, yes, as a coach (or should I say NHL employee) he has two Cups to his credit.  But after that stint in Pittsburgh, he took his talents to Hartford where he not only became the assistant coach, but also took over the head coaching job when Paul Holmgren stepped down to be the full time GM.

Any Hartford fans out there?  Hello?  Anyone?  Those that remember this time will remember how absolutely horrible his tenure was with the team.  From off ice player fights, bar room brawls, player dissent in the locker room that spilled out to the ice, and frequent temper tantrums backstage, McGuire earned absolutely zero respect from the fans, the city, and especially his players.  Even the team captain at the time, Pat Verbeek, said the best thing the team ever did was fire McGuire.

The guy is so full of himself and his perceived ability to out-coach anyone in the league is legendary.  In post-game interviews coming off losses, his comments would focus on out-coaching the other team.  I remember an interview where the Whalers lost big time, I forget the opponent, but his comment was that he put a better game plan on the ice and his players just couldn't find a way to execute.  Really?  That isn't going to win you fans back there.  He even bragged repeatedly about shutting down Mario Lemieux once despite the fact they were destroyed in part by a 4 goal performance from Kevin Stevens.

As smart as he is with statistics and analysis, I think he lacks that in respect from his peers and his inability to guide a team.  A GM needs to be able to make those decisions.  You are responsible for building a team, not just a talented one, but one that can play together.  A team that can go out, each and every night, learn from each other, and get better together.  Unity, is something the Pens struggled with this year I think. In McGuire, I don't think the Pens are going to find their answer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Continuation Of My Fair Weather Facebook Rant

Not many readers of the blog would actually know that I posted a rant on Facebook.  Nor would many of you even care.  But I was just plain sick of hearing the whining coming out of Chicago and Northwest Indiana sports stations, newspapers, radio personalities, and yes, so-called fans about what was wrong with their beloved Blackhawks.  Since most of my readers (if there are any of you left) on here will most likely "get it", I figured why not share.

I can't believe I am coming to the defense of a Chicago team but I am.  Here is the original post from Facebook yesterday, followed by some commentary.

I'm a Pittsburgh Penguin fan stuck in the middle of Blackhawk country. I wasn't always outnumbered. Only in the last 8-10 years did it get this way after the majority dormant fan base woke up from hibernation realizing a) Chicago has a pro hockey team and b) they're pretty good. A couple Cups later and now, everyone's a Hawks fan. But if you aren't, that's ok. You can basically go [expletive deleted] yourself which is a common phrase I have heard for at least the past 3 years if not longer.

But i don't care. I'm also a hockey fan, period. I like good hockey. I love great hockey. I really love playoff hockey. And the Kings/Hawks series was just that.. Great playoff hockey. Period.

So to all the Hawks fans that have been asking questions and wondering what happened to their beloved team? The answer is...NOTHING! They played their best games against a tough as nails team that will most likely annihilate the Rangers in the Final.

There is nothing wrong with your scoring ability, your players heart, your line pairings and combos, your goalie, your coaching staff, or your organization. The only thing wrong is YOU. The fans that question anything about this team.

The Hawks are one of the best teams in the NHL and will be for years to come. When it came down to it, the Kings just got the pucks in the right spots, they got the caroms, they got the rebounds. That's it. Period. That's a big part of playoff hockey.

So from a Pens fan to the ever expanding kingdom of the so-called Hawk loyal, go back into hibernation. I know the true hockey fans want no part of you and I'm sure the real Hawks faithful don't either.

Let me clarify some things.  Yes, I posted that.  I am just tired of bandwagon fans who claim to be die-hard....regardless of what team you claim to like.  There is no such thing.  You can't wake up one day and decide you will bleed for your time, kill for your team, or die for your team (okay maybe a slight exaggeration but real fans are rabid).  It doesn't work like that.  Now the first paragraph where I talk about the "expletive deleted" thing, that happened.  It happens a lot.  Mostly by drunk or well on their way to be guys at bars that think no one else, especially those living in this area, should be allowed to cheer for another team.

But it also happens with these people that call themselves fans that were no where to be found in the 80s, 90s, or pre-Toews/Kane.  If you are in the Chicagoland area, go to any sports bar and take a poll of everyone wearing a Hawks jersey with a current player name on the back.  Ask them who Dirk Graham is.  Ask them who Steve Larmer is.  Ask them who Tony Amonte is.  Ask who Tony Esposito is and you'll get "the guy from the Binny's Beverage Depot commercial."  Then ask who Jeremy Roenick is and see how many say "That guy on NBC with the greasy hair".  There are going to be exceptions, of course, but the norm is not what you would think.  The rabid fan-base that the sports analysts talk about is largely an artificial one generated by recent success.

I enjoy hockey and as a fan of hockey, I love when people find the sport for the first time and realize there is something they have been missing.  But what I don't like are the pretenders.  Don't be one of these fans that is here when you win and criticizes, mocks, and eventually disappears when you lose. There is no reason to crucify your team because they don't win the championship, regardless of the sport.  If you can make it one step from the top, you made it one step from the top.  No one else can say that except the one person/team in front of you.  You are still among the best, you are still elite.  Cherish that, because in today's sports, salary caps, free agency, and league parity have made it anyone's game.

For the Hawks, they will be back next year with a chip on their shoulder.  Come playoff time, they will be sitting right there with the rest of the elite.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Razz..a mataz

I have been moderately active in the hobby blogging community for the last six years now and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of information I learn about this hobby on a daily basis.

Take, for example, the latest "controversy" that popped up in many of the trading forums over the last couple weeks.  Breakers.TV for those of you not familiar, is a website devoted to live streaming what they call the "hobby shop experience".  Essentially it's a platform to video broadcast your box and case breaks and it all happens 24/7.  I first found Breakers a few years ago when someone I knew was hosting a group break to be done live.  It was fun sometimes to watch, knowing it was happening in real time.

But that's not what has the collecting community drawing the Mason-Dixon line in the sand.  It's what has inevitably come of the case breaking and group breaking community that they are debating.  The fine line between running a break for fun and running break for profit.  It's the money making scheme that is resulting in individuals sitting back and making $100s if not $1000s in one night off of what the community calls, RAZZES

For those that don't know, a Razz is another name for a raffle.  Most people are familiar with a raffle.  You buy a ticket, numbers are called, you win or you lose.  It's a pretty simple concept.  But a Razz takes it to a new level in a collecting world.  People tired of busting $100+ boxes, $1000 cases, and not getting anywhere remotely close to their money back are up in arms, trying to sort out ways they can recoup their return.  Why not raffle off the hits?  It could get people to purchase a "high book value" card for pennies on the dollar but also get some cash back into the breakers hands.  It makes sense to me.

Well the spirit of the Razz has been taken to a different level by many breakers out there where they run their own channels for breakers to Razz off the hits that are not desired.  Other group break hosts are seeking out the Razz(ers) too, in order to fill the unfilled spots in their breaks.  These "hosts" as they are called then sit back and wait for things to get pulled, basically advertise what is available and then sell off the spots to the Razz for that HIT (many times receiving free spots as compensation or taking a percentage of the pot).  If they win the card themselves, the majority of the time the card gets Re-razzed for additional money.

I think you all get the idea but if not, here's an example.  Say you have a $100 card you don't want.  You want to offer it up for sale without paying E-fee prices and have no other audience or outlet to do so.  In walks me, the HOST, and I agree to get it in front of my audience of collectors which consists of a few hundred regulars.  I then put up the Razz, offering 12 spots at, let's say, $10 each.  I immediately fill the spots, run the sorter, and viola!  Your card is gone and you made $100-110.  What's that you say?  Those numbers don't compute.  Well you forgot to take my 10-20% commission for selling your card.
You see, hosting Razzes has become a business.  It's making select people that know how to do it well some large incomes.  So large, in fact, that they are apparently starting to be watched by "the powers that be".

In this case, it was the operators of Breakers.TV, who issued a statement saying that Razzes will no longer be hosted on any of their channels.  It also may get the attention of Paypal since most payments are made as gifts and sometimes multiple spot payments are made by the same people during the same day.  Gift payments are not regulated by Paypal and not subject to certain fees.  But abusive of that service is supposed to be monitored and there have been occasions where it has been. 

In my opinion, the problem isn't with the raffles themselves.  They aren't much different than having a random group break.  You pay for a spot or two, you get assigned a team, and you may or may not get a card.  The problem is with people becoming greedy.  Razzed items are being submitted via text messaging now with the host putting the phone up to the camera.  The hosts are collecting money for essentially doing nothing.  Money is changing hands via Paypal and the cash is the only thing being raffled, not cards.  It's gotten a bit out of hand.  That's what has people upset and has caused the issues.

Like I said, I'm all for raffling off your cards.  Some say it's gambling and maybe it is.  But like any good thing, a few select people are going to find ways to exploit it.  And that's what has happened here.  I'm not trying to stir the pot or start more controversy but I would like to hear people's opinions.  Have you heard of Razzes?  Have you participated?  Comment below.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Redemption Song: For My Son!

For those of you that follow my Twitter account, you probably already saw this one earlier.  But for those that don't...what's wrong with you?  Just kidding.  Let me explain.

I generally try to involve my children (I have two of them) in my hobby as much as possible.  I wasn't exposed to this hobby by another adult.  It was by kids my own age with similar likes and interests.  These days, it just doesn't work like that.  Kids don't do a lot of collecting on their own and are more interested in other hobbies.  Nonetheless, I get them involved by showing them what drove me into the hobby in the first place...that connection between the cardboard and real life.  Whether it's the game photos, stats on the back, write ups about the player, or simply putting things in order by name, number, position, etc., there are engaging ways to get kids into collecting.

But that's a totally different subject for another time.

I took the boys with me to a card show in Chicago a few months back (November to be exact) and they both got to split a hobby box of Topps Football.  The excitement of them splitting the box, choosing which packs to open and then battling out who got the best cards in each pack was priceless.  But one of the packs that my youngest son opened contained the all too familiar Blue Topps Card with the word "CONGRATULATIONS" across the top.  Yes, he pulled a redemption.

How do you explain a redemtion to a six year old?  Well you don't.  We are saving that for another post as well.

This one was different though.  It was for an Uncut Sheet.  I hadn't seen these pop up at the time but wondered just what that entailed.  Regardless, as I always do, I gave him a choice.  Would he like to sell it and see what he could get for it or redeem it and see if he gets the item.  His choice was to redeem.

Fast forward through months of waiting, every other weekend being questioned as to whether it arrived yet, and watching his disappointment as we checked the status online only to see that it was still in process.  Today in the mail.  It arrived.  And it was HUGE!!!  Huge enough that it had to be signed for.  Huge enough that it almost towers over Mr. D (which isn't saying much since he is six after all).  Without further adieu...


Thank you, Topps for actually sending this.  While I was pretty sure it would get here someday, there was that brief moment of doubt where I thought it just might not ever arrive.  You have made this little guy very happy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Filling The Spaces

I just received a package from the great white North.  It was kind of an expected package since I was told it would be on the way.  Ryan from Cardboard Connection put a call out on Twitter to anyone that would like some extra 2013-14 Titanium Hockey that he had lying around.  Being sucked into yet another set I will probably never complete, I obliged. 

A few days later, a giant yellow envelop was curiously greeting me out of my mailbox.  I say curiously because the package was so large that it didn't fit in the mailbox at all.  The mail-type-person simply rested a corner in the top of the slot so that 85% of it was sticking out, ready to plunge to it's death five feet below.  Luckily it didn't because a plethora of wonders awaited me when I opened it.

Not only did Mr. Cracknell give me a handful of needed Titanium (which I didn't take a photo of or scan, nor do I have my list posted), but there was a whole host of other items from my set needs list.  Like these:

Cards from the 2011-12 O-Pee-Chee set and the 2012-13 O-Pee-Chee set.  

And these...

Those are the shiny, shiny 2013-14 Prizm cards on top as well as 2013-14 Score

And then there were some of these...

Some 2011-12 Victory rookies that for some reason I still needed.  Yes. Your eyes don't decieve you.  Those are 2011 Topps Baseball base cards that I still need.  That helped but I still need more if anyone out there wants to help a brutha out. 

I don't know how many cards in all there were but it was a lot.  Thank you so very much Ryan.  I appreciate every piece of that cardboard gold!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Those of you that frequent the page may have noticed by now that there have been a few changes to the blog.  I have been tinkering with a redesign idea for a while now.  The site has been active since the summer of 2009 and I was just getting tired of the same old layout.  I was considering switching over to Wordpress but I thought I would still give Blogger a chance and keep the page on here for now.

I changed my banner at the top of the page to reflect, if nothing else, my player PC representation.  I also changed the logo a bit to incorporate more of a Black & Yellow theme.  I removed a few things on the side panels and changed the background.  I'm still messing with stuff so if you see any drastic changes over the next few weeks, don't be alarmed.  It's only me being indecisive on things.

I'm also trying to get it to function more responsively to mobile.  I find myself using the site functions more and more on my Galaxy 4 than I ever have before.

If you like the site design, drop me a line and let me know.  If you don't like it, drop me a line and let me know (then go to....nevermind).  I welcome all feedback.  If you are looking for fresher content, head over to the Dogfaced Daily Blogroll over there on the side panel, which is still pretty functional.  If you have a blog that isn't listed and should be, let me know and I will add it.  You'd be surprised how much traffic I get with people just looking for a jumping point for blogs.

If you want to see other stuff I write, feel free to check out my Penguins Autograph Project Blog as well.  I try to post at least once a week my acquisitions for my attempt at one of every Penguin player autograph.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All's Quiet In Toronto. But Everywhere Else In The NHL...Complete Craziness (updated)

(This is a frequently updated post that had stuff added and subtracted from it all day.  Live blogging is hard. Updates from the original were all in Red.)

Today is the day, kiddies.  It's the NHL Trade Deadline and all the hockey world is a buzz over what has already transpired pre-deadline and what will happen today.  So far, nothing has transpired in the wee hours of the morning but the bulk of the action generally doesn't start until 10 AM-ish.

The biggest question marks are still out there. One of the biggest is what will happen with Martin Brodeur?  

Brodeur's legend is already set.  His impact on hockey will be heard by generations to come and his legacy is almost assuredly set for the Hall of Fame.  So why, then, would the Devils unload him?  Because Marty isn't Marty anymore.  He is actually one of the worst goalies statistically this year.  He is toward the bottom in most categories and even though he is still squeezing out wins, that has more to do with the offense than his play making ability.  He says he wants a shot at another Cup but the likelihood of him getting significant ice-time with any of the contenders out there is slim.  There are actually rumors that Pittsburgh would be interested at the right price, ensuring Fleury had an able backup in case of another playoff meltdown.  I don't see it but we are talking about Ray Shero here.  He never ceases to amaze.

So what has happened thus far?  

Yesterday Vancouver unloaded Roberto Luongo back home to Florida in exchange for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.  Roberto was in shock as his interviews have shown, Vancouver fans were in shock as their team seems to be imploding, and I think even Florida was in shock they were able to pull this off.  Even though the Canucks were interested in dealing Lu last year, I don't think anyone ever thought it would happen.  Florida is trying to build a winning team and now they have a top tier goaltender to backstop them into a playoff position (Tim Thomas was hardly that piece).  They have tons of young talent and a budding defensive corp that could surprise people very shortly.

On February 28th, the blockbuster trade exploded the NHL world when the Buffalo Sabres unloaded their franchise goalie, Ryan Miller and team captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for a bag of rusty nails and a couple draft picks.  I kid but almost.  The Sabres get Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, William Carrier, and a 1st rounder next year and a 3rd rounder in 2016.  There have been serious criticizm on both sides regarding this trade.  St. Louis gave up a lot to get Miller and some question whether it was worth it.  I say yes.  The Blues need a little extra between the pipes.  Halak was not that guy.  In fact, he isn't even the guy in Buffalo apparently since he is still on the trading block after moving to the Sabres less than a week ago.  It will be interesting to see if the Blues found that piece they are going to need to boost themselves deep into the playoffs.

We've also seen Martin Erat and John Mitchell join Phoenix from Washington in exchange for Rostislav Klesla and Chris Brown.  The Coyotes also unloaded David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois to Chicago for a draft pick.  Viktor Fasth moved from the Ducks to the Oilers in exchange for a draft pick.  This was a move done to replace the enigma, Ilya Bryzgalov who was sent to the Wild.  The Ducks also unloaded Dustin Penner to the Capitals and picked up Stephane Robidas from Dallas.  The Blackhawks, in addition to adding the guys already mentioned, also unloaded Brandon Pirri to Florida and picked up Brian Connelly from the Wild in exchange for Brad Winchester.

Who's Next?

The biggest guys on the board all have the potential to make an impact if they get dealt today.  Let's see who's left.

Thomas Vanek - LW - NY Islanders
Vanek goes to Montreal!  Wow!!  That's big for the Habs.  No one was even talking about the Canadiens as a potential team.  The Habs gave up a 2nd round pick and prospect Sebastien Collberg.

Matt Moulson - LW - Buffalo
Moulson and Cody McCormick are both heading to Minnesota in exchange for Torrey Mitchell and an undisclosed draft pick.

Ryan Kesler - C/RW - Vancouver

Ryan Callahan - RW - NY Rangers
Callahan was sent packing to the Lightning in exchange for Martin St. Louis, in addition to giving up a 1st in 2015, and a 2nd in 2016.  If the Rangers get to the finals, the 2nd round becomes a 1st.  If Callahan resigns with Tampa, the Rangers will get a compensatory draft pick.

Mike Cammalerri - LW/C - Calgary

Ales Hemsky - RW - Edmonton
Hemsky is heading to Ottawa for a couple of draft picks.  Reports early are a 1st round pick and a 3rd rounder.  The Oilers are retaining half of Hemsky's salary for the season.

Martin Brodeur - G - New Jersey

Marian Gaborik - LW/RW - Columbus
Go west young (or not so young) man.  Gaborik gets a boost by being traded to the LA Kings in exchange for Matt Fratin, a 2nd rounder and a 3rd rounder.

Alex Edler - D - Vancouver

Christian Ehrhoff - D - Sabres

Nick Schultz - D - Edmonton
Nick is going to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  This frees up some money in Edmonton and moves along a player that arguably lost a couple steps.  This also helps Columbus fill a few injury holes.

Ray Whitney - LW - Dallas

David Legwand - C - Nashville
He played his entire career in Nashville but being a UFA did him in.  He waived his "no-trade-clause" and Detroit picks him up to help fill in the injury spaces in the Motor City.  They give up Patrick Eaves, a "prospect", and a 3rd rounder.

Evander Kane - LW - Winnipeg

Tim Thomas - G - Florida
Thomas is packing his bags for Dallas.  So much for a Luongo/Thomas goaltending duo.  Not sure what Dallas is thinking here other than just getting some experience.  Or maybe Mark Recchi is trying to create Boston South.

Dan Boyle - D - San Jose

Dustin Brown - LW - Los Angeles

Andrej Meszaros - D - Philadelphia
Meszaros is shipping up to Boston.  They gave up a 3rd rounder in 2014 to get him.  This should help with Seidenberg out for the season.

Jordan Eberle - RW - Edmonton

Tomas Fleischmann - RW/LW - Florida

Lee Stempniak - F - Calgary
The Penguins picked up Lee Stempniak in exchange for a 3rd rounder in this years' draft.  Lee brings more scoring ability to the bottom lines and gives the Pens a boost coming down the stretch. 

Jaromir Jagr - RW - New Jersey

Dmitry Kulikov - D - Florida

Martin St. Louis - RW - Tampa Bay
St. Louis was sent packing to the Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a 1st in 2015, and a 2nd in 2016.  If the Rangers get to the finals, the 2nd round becomes a 1st.  If Callahan resigns, the Rangers will get a compensatory draft pick.

Kyle Palmieri - RW - Anaheim

Andrew Ladd - LW - Winnipeg

Brad Boyes - F - Florida
Boyes agreed to terms with the Panthers to stay another two seasons.  He's officially off the board.

PA Parenteau - RW - Colorado

Marcel Goc - C - Florida
The Penguins made their first move by acquiring Marcel Goc from the Panthers.  They give up a 3rd and a 5th rounder to get Goc.  With a solid top 6, it makes me wonder what the plan is here.  Is this just solidifying the bottom two this a smoke screen for something bigger??

Drew Stafford - LW - Buffalo

Chris Phillips - D - Ottawa
Chris signs a two-year extension to stay with Ottawa.

Jason Spezza - C - Ottawa

Paul Stastny - C - Colorado

Tuomo Ruutu - F - Carolina
The New Jersey Devils pick up Tuomo Ruutu from Carolina to compliment a group of aging NHLers.  Andrei Loktionov goes to Carolina along with a conditional 3rd rounder in the 2017 draft.

Cam Ward - G - Carolina

Nail Yakupov - RW - Edmonton 

And many, many more.  Of these 36 guys I listed, I would not at all be surprised to see 20 of them moved before the deadline hits. Morning skates are going to be an interesting thing to watch this morning.

In Other Moves

**Raphael Diaz heads to the Rangers to help boost a defense that needs some depth.  They only gave up a 5th rounder to get him.  

**Corey Potter is heading from Edmonton to Boston.  Their defensive woes are getting patched up quickly in Boston.  They picked up Potter from waivers.

**Jaroslav Halak moves for the second time in a week as Buffalo continues to clean house and sends him to the Washington Capitals along with a 3rd rounder in 2015.  The Caps apparently have given up Michel Neuvirth and d-man Rotislav Klesla.

**Colorado picked up goalie Reto Berra from Calgary for a draft pick

**Cory Conacher goes to Buffalo off the waiver wire.

**YOUNG PROSPECT TRADE:  Brayden McNabb and Jonathan Parker go from Buffalo to Los Angeles along with two 2nd round picks in exchange for Hudson Fasching and Nicholas Deslaurier.

**Devan Dubnyk goes to Montreal in exchange for future considerations.  I guess Carey Price is more hurt then we thought.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stadium Series, Chicago Style

The Penguins continue their march to the playoffs tonight in Chicago against the Blackhawks.  This game is different though.  It's part of the NHL Stadium Series and will be held in Soldier Field.  But don't mistake this for the pomp and circumstance of some ceremonial type game.  This is a regular season battle that has little potential playoff implication at this point but is important for both teams nonetheless.

These two are probably the best two teams to date in the 2013-14 season to face-off on the outdoor ice.  The Penguins lead the Metro division by a mile and a half and lead the East by 5 points.  The Hawks sit tied with St. Louis for the lead in the Central and are tied for 3rd in the West.  Both teams also have 84 total points.  Both teams lead their conferences in goals-for.  But the biggest nod to this being a huge game, both teams have won 3 of the last 5 Stanley Cups and both teams are top considerations for winning it this year.

The Hawks need a win.  Over the last 10, they are 3-4-3.  This game could give them the momentum to push them toward a strong finish.  The Pens, on the other hand, have gone 6-2-2 in their last 10, losing the other night in a SO to Montreal.  This is a Nationally televised game on NBC, which have traditionally not boded well for the Pens.  In addition, they are dealing with injuries to Letang and Martin and there is a mystery looming as to what Shero is going to do before the trade deadline.

Regardless, this is a big game.  The media has been hyping it up in Chicago for months.  It was front page news in most area papers.  Ticket sales have slowed but secondary market prices have launched into the stratosphere.  There will be fireworks, explosions, rock music, a fly-over, NHL legends looking on, and with any luck there will some inclement weather to make it an interesting event inside a giant snow globe (there's snow in the forecast...).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Exclusive Once Again

So with the new year rolling around just a few short months ago, it seemed that the hockey card market was going to have one of it's strongest years to date with another Double Rookie class and all sorts of innovative and new products for collector's to get their hands on.  The releases up to this point looked good (with a few exceptions) and the calendar was chocked full of exciting stuff.

Fast forward to today when the NHL and NHLPA announced that each organization has agreed to terms with Upper Deck on a multi-year agreement to be the EXCLUSIVE licensed manufacturer of NHL trading cards, starting with the upcoming 2014-15 season.  Notice how I capitalized exclusive there.  Yes, folks, it's now 2004 once again when Upper Deck held the monopoly on licensed hockey cards.  Panini is out.  They are soooo 2013.  Upper Deck is the future, I tells ya.  But a future that scare the {bleep} out of me as a hockey collector.

I have always been on Team Upper Deck.  I'm not going to lie.  They have always made what I considered, the more superior product when it came to what I collect.  Their flagship set is untouchable by any other brand, period.  The Young Gun rookie subset has been, and probably always will be, a staple of the hockey card industry.  I also enjoy the value of products like Artifacts, the SP releases, and of course, the set collector's wet dream, O-Pee-Chee. 

Team Panini was always the "oh, yeah those guys" kind of product to me.  I supported the cause and bought new product.  I collected the Score set every year.  The first year Panini hit the market with products I over indulged on Donruss and Pinnacle, overspent on Contenders, and even dabbled a bit in Dominion.  My favorite single release of Panini was their Crown Royale set.  The die-cut design of old was always a beauty to do a box rip of.  But my favorite overall release was the Rookie Anthology sets.  These cards, while small in the base set, had almost every high-series release of Panini products each year and the boxes were jammed with autos and game-used cards.  They were a great value, especially as the market cooled.  One of my favorite set-within-a-set were the Rookie Treasures with their dual swatches and autos.  Very nice looking design.

But for whatever reason, despite the popularity of the product, the spirited competition between brands was obviously not a concern for the NHL and the Player's Association.  This now leaves us, once again, with only one manufacturer in a card market full of thirsty collectors.  While this paves the way for Upper Deck to reach back into their bag-o-tricks and pull products like MVP, Ice, and maybe even Victory back out into their own products, it bothers me a bit that we could see a resurgence of the "recycled" product.  There were quite a few years throughout the mid-late 00s where the products all began to look alike.  Photography was reused, card designs were duplicated, and it started to feel like some of the products were just being phoned in.

Competition is good for any market.  Whether you have brand loyalty or not, having alternatives pushes creativity and design.  When there is a market of hockey collector's looking for the next big thing, having multiple brand options at various price points makes for a much more enjoyable collecting experience.  Whether it's Panini, Topps, Leaf, In The Game, Press Pass, etc., exclusive licenses have the potential to hurt the overall collecting experience of a sport.  I'm not going to go as far to say that UD vs. Panini was like a Coke vs. Pepsi thing (which makes ITG...RC Cola?).  I think there is plenty of room in this market for more than one brand.

I just hope Upper Deck uses this opportunity to the fullest, doesn't lose their momentum on product releases, designs some innovative products, and forces the doubters (including myself) to change their minds.  With great power comes great responsibility and Upper Deck has a duty from this point forward to bring-it with each and every release.  I know they are going to start with the return of MVP to their own brand in August.  I'm not sure that is going to be their best move but we'll see how this whole thing impact the hobby going forward. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

One Of My Favorite Pens D-Men, Out Six Weeks With...A STROKE!!??

Two posts in one day!  I know. Crazy for me....

But you heard that right in the title...or maybe you heard on hockey news somewhere already.  Kris Letang, a finalist for last years Norris Trophy, suffered what doctors say was a stroke. They don't think it will threaten his career but one can't help but wonder if it could effect his game going forward.  I guess a better question is, should there be a game going forward?

Letang suffers from a small hole in the wall of his heart, a birth defect that occurs in all babies but usually repairs itself.  Doctor's think it may have led to the stroke.  The Pens GM Ray Shero, said he had only one episode of dizziness last week.  As a result, he sat for a few games while they did further tests.  Not until he returned to Pittsburgh did they find the issue.  Right now, he is on the shelf for at least six weeks before they evaluate him again.

He was quoted in the press conference as saying...

"I hope that by making my condition public at this time I can help other people by encouraging them to seek medical help if they experience some of the symptoms associated with a stroke, regardless of their age or general health. It obviously was a shock to get the news but I'm optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice."

Kris is only 26 years old.  26!

Baseball Lost A True Great - - RIP Ralph Kiner

This is probably old news for many of you but it was new to me when I heard about it this morning while watching Olympic coverage.

Kiner doesn't get mentioned all too often in the circle of great power hitters.  Sure you hear about the Babe, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and others but Kiner did what none of them could.  From 1946-1952, he hit 100 more home runs than any other player in baseball.  He averaged 44 homers and 115 RBIs in each of those seasons.  In 10 MLB seasons, he led the league in home runs his first seven (six of those leading all of baseball).  If it wasn't for some difficult back problems and a lingering injury, who knows what kind of career Ralph would have had.  His 369 career home runs could have been double that or more.

After his playing career, he took a job with the upstart New York Mets organization in their announcing booth and stayed there till the end.

His personality, wit, and charm will be missed by Mets and Pirates fans alike.  But just like with the passing of other legends, his legacy and impact on baseball should be shared with future generations to come.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite Kiner cards in my collection.  RIP, HOFer Ralph Kiner.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Tangradi PC Cards

Yes, that's right.  I'm still collecting Eric Tangradi cards.  The Winnipeg Jets winger that has spent more time off the ice than on this year is still part of my personal collection.  I remember posting a loooonnnnggg time ago about Tangradi's first goal as a Jet.  That was so long ago now and he only has one other to match.  He has played in 36 games so far this year, has 4 points and when healthy, has been relegated to 7-10 min of TOI as a 4th liner.

Despite all that, I still think he's got potential.  It's in there somewhere.  It has to be.  It's just buried under the dark memories of that vicious elbow he took at the hands of Trevor Gillies way back in 2011.  Eric just needs to get healthy, forget the demons, get more aggressive, and start putting pucks on the net.  Yeah, just like that.  Easy.

Ok, enough of me trying to convince myself this is still a good idea.  Here are some recent additions to my Tangradi collection (six months ago still counts as recent).

 2010-11 Certified Freshman Signatures Mirror Emerald #/5

I figured I'd start with the big one.  I even scanned the back so you can see.  It's the Mirror Emerald version of the Certified Freshman Signatures card.  I have been hunting for this for years.  I only have ever seen one and it was being sold by a dealer for a ridiculous amount of money.  Patience paid off and I was able to successfully bid this one into my collection a few months back.  It's hard to see since I didn't scan this but instead opted for a phone photo.  I'll show my "rainbow" at the bottom of this post just for fun.

 2013-14 O-Pee-Chee Red Border Redemption Parallel

This is the Red Border parallel, for those not in Canada, and was part of Upper Decks' wrapper redemption program.  This year was the second year they offered Canadian collectors the opportunity to obtain a pack of six cards in exchange for 50 hobby wrappers at any Upper Deck Diamond Certified Dealer.  Because they were only available in Canada, obviously these are harder to come by in the states...unless you do Ebay.  Which I do.  And that's why I have it.  So there.

2010-11 SP Game Used Authentic Rookies Gold #/50

Here is the SP Game Used rookie of Eric.  I know I have shown this card before but I don't think I have ever shown a Gold version.  I picked this up for way less than I was prepared to spend so it was definitely a win for me.  I have the base version #/699, the Spectrum #/10 and now this.  The only one missing in the proverbial "rainbow" is the Gold Spectrum #/1.  I've never seen it and am not sure if it has been unearthed yet.

 2013-14 Panini Titanium Game Worn Gear (white swatch)

This is the newest, as in release date, card for my PC.  This comes from the just released 2013-14 Panini Titanium release and is a Game-Worn Gear card.  The swatch is white, boring I know, but it just adds to the ever-growing pile of Tangradi jersey's in my collection.  I have seen this also in black and I am in the process of obtaining at least one of those as well.

Eric's cards cooled off after his rookie season with Pittsburgh, mostly because he was relegated to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and didn't get a lot of big team ice time.  The Pens were deep and I don't fault them for unloading Eric when they did.  He has played more in Winnipeg so his cards have began to pop back up in the deeper releases.  He's up to 199 cards now that I know of.  In 2013-14 alone, he has added another 11 cards.  One of these days I'll get around to updating my wantlist/checklist for Mr. Tangradi.  I'm also looking to add some items, other than cards, to my ET collection.  Stay tuned for that.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I was going to show my "rainbow" of Freshman Signature cards.  The only one I am missing is the Black version #/1.  Again, like the Gold Spectrum Game Used, I have never seen one of these so I don't know if anyone has ever released one into the wild.  Here you go.

 In order from left to right...base (silver), red, blue, gold, emerald

Here's a better shot at the colors...

And finally the backs where you can see the serial numbering.  Like I said, the only one missing is the Black.

If you can read the back of this card, you can see he was a beast back when he played for Belleville in the OHL.  Hopefully someday he can get back to a semblance of himself.  Maybe then I can retire off this collection.  Stop laughing.