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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Career Milestone: 1000 Assists

Last night, in front of the home crowd in Dallas, Jaromir Jagr got his 1,000th NHL assist.  With that helper, Jagr becomes only the 12 player in the league to ever reach that milestone in their careers.  (It also helped that Dallas won the game, snapping Minnesota's 7 game winning streak.)

It's been a long time between assist number 1 and number 1,000.  Jagr started his NHL career in Pittsburgh when he was 18 years old (subsequently, I was 12).  When he took to the ice on Oct. 19, 1990, he tallied his first assist of his career against Buffalo on a goal from "Double Z" Zarley Zalapski.  Now, almost 23 years later, he gets number 1,000.  Here's a quote from an interview he did after the game...

"I never thought about any assists and points, I was happy to be able to play here. When I came here, I didn't think I'd have a chance to play here. The League was too strong and too tough for me. I kept working hard and I've had so many good players around me, they showed me the way of how to get better. I really was pretty lucky. I always said you have to be lucky with who you play with and I had a chance to play with so many great players." 
Lucky indeed.  Of the other 11 guys who scored 1,000 career assists, he was teammates with four of them:  Ron Francis, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, and of course, Mario Lemieux.

I picked up a few more Jagr cards for my PC last weekend at the Sun Time Sports show.  Now would probably be as good a time as any to share. 

 Here he's saying "I wish I would have never left Pittsburgh."
What?  That could have been what he said.

This is a Refractor if you couldn't tell by the scan. 
It's #/300.

I saw this card and was puzzled at first.  The 1994 SP cards should have had Jagr in a Pens uni but here he was as a Capital.  Since I wasn't actively collecting, I was unaware that the 2002-03 SP set was a 10th Anniversary.  These were numbered out of the original year...1994, and there is that nifty "10" silver foil stamped in the corner.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Box Break - - 2009 Artifacts (A Piece Of History) Baseball Blaster Box

I don't usually open baseball product.  But when I do, it's usually something that either I haven't seen before or it's something unusual.  This box break falls under the haven't seen before category.

First, I'm shocked Kmart is still in business.  Second, I'm surprised they have any semblance of a card selection.  Third, I don't have any clue why I was in a Kmart.  Regardless, I saw this and couldn't recall ever seeing one before so I figured why not.

What caught my attention was the fact that this said it contained "One Memorabila Card In Every Box" and was marked with those nifty round red stickers signifying that this was indeed a clearance item and they were more than willing to let it go for $5.99.  How someone else didn't swipe this up at that price, even if it was probably going to be a crappy jersey card, I'll never know.  Oh, wait.  This was Kmart.

As you can see, there are 7 packs in a box with 5 cards in each pack...35 cards for about $6 comes out to about $.17/card.  I don't know if that is good or not but if this is anything like Artifacts in hockey, I will probably like it.

First, here is a sampling of the base cards and rookies...

A couple comments here if I may.  I really like this design.  The marbleized grey and white borders look sharp.  It almost looks like smoke (much like the smoky/ice backgrounds on the hockey).  It's hard to see on the scan I think but along the inner border corners, there are flower-like design patterns too.  The overall feel of these is almost of a higher end product I think and even though much of the available space on the card is spent on the design, I don't think that really retracts from the images used for the players.  The "Rookie Card" logo seems kind of big considering the size of the photo but I think that is the required size by the MLB.   And is it just me or does Frank Thomas as an Oakland A just look wrong?

There is a subset of sorts in Artifacts called Historical Moments.  The borders are clearly a little darker than the regular base cards but they are numbered as part of the main set.  They are also all horizontally printed (from what I pulled at least). Here is what was in here...

Finally, there were the "other" cards including my guaranteed (on average) GU card.

I had to look these up to see what the deal was.  Apparently these are red, not pink and they are not serial numbered.  I assume that means that they are the basic parallel.  There are also Blue, Gold, and Green versions of these cards for all you rainbow seekers.  Something else I learned when looking this up...most publications have this listed, not as Artifacts, but as Upper Deck A Piece Of History.  I did not know that.

This is from the Stadium Scenes insert set.  This particular card features the Orioles, Nick Markakis and a scene from beautiful Camden Yards.  This one is the "Turquois" version numbered out of /99.  There are also Black, Blue, & Red, as well as jersey/auto variations of these.  The back features a write up on the park as well as mentioning that Nick  "lit up Texas pitching with 7 hits and 6 RBI in a three-game home series in July" 2008. 

And the card I was waiting for...the dual patch/jock auto numbered /2 of Nolan Ryan!!  And as I opened my eyes, I was instead greeted with this little ball of fire.  If what I said before about the base card design not intruding on the photo was true, it's completely opposite here.  There is too much happening on the front of these cards, plus the swatch, rendering the photo as almost unimportant to the card.  I had to look twice to even figure out who it was...the player name is an afterthought.  Even Justin had to crouch down to fit into that oval.  There are all sorts of color parallel and serial numbered versions of this with and without the jersey swatch.  At least this has a piece of the pin-striping to make it not as boring. 

If I was a baseball collector, I'd definitely build this set.  It looks very nice in a binder and there are all sorts of interesting inserts and parallels.  As it stands now, I'll keep the one lonely Pirate card.  The rest, who knows.