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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy BirthEaster Day, Mr. Hockey!

Happy Easter to everyone reading (and not reading although you wouldn't know that I said that)!!

And what kind of hockey fan would I be if I didn't wish Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, a happy 85th birthday.

Howe came into the league in 1946 and quickly became one of the most dominant players in the history of the NHL.  Don't believe me?  The guy finished in the top five in scoring for 20 straight seasons.  20 straight seasons.  Yes, that's not a typo.  20 STRAIGHT SEASONS!  To put that in perspective, he was leading the NHL for a longer period of time than most of the rookies from the last three years have been alive.

Howe could play and he proved it night in and night out.  He was like the "ironman" of hockey.  Even a fractured skull couldn't keep him away from the game.  In 1960, he scored his 1,000th point in less than 1,000 games (938 to be exact) and was the first player ever to do so.  He was a 14 year veteran in the league at that point and it took eight years before someone else duplicated that feat (Jean Beliveau).  Three years later, he notched his 600th goal, again being the first player in NHL history to do so (Bobby Hull would do it too, seven years later.)

Despite retiring to join the Red Wings front office, his love of the game and the chance to play with his sons took him into the WHA to play for both the Houston Aeros and the New England Whalers.  His final season after the Whalers joined the NHL in 1979-80 was somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of Wayne Gretzky into the league but he still managed to put up 15 more goals to end his professional career with 975 (801 in the NHL) at the age of 50.

His final all-time stats rank him #1 in games played, #2 in goals, #3 in points, and #8 in assists. 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockey!  There will never be another like you.

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. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cleaning The "Dogfaced Daily" Blogroll

This is just a short "blog cleaning" post that I wanted to bring up regarding my own blogroll over there on the right hand side of your screen (assuming you are using a computer or not looking at this in mobile mode).  

I know there are some of you out there that are avid readers but also have blogs of your own.  If I have yours listed over there, great.  If not, leave me a comment and let me know what it is so I can add it.  If you know someone that has a great blog, send them my way too.  I want to try and keep things interesting and as most of you know, I have a variety of blogs, not just hockey related.  Anything that has to do with sports or the hobby is fair game (No porn though...Well maybe porn....No, no porn).  I enjoy having a multitude of things to read and I know you do too.  It keeps me sane.

I have actually learned over the past four years of blogging that there are quite a few people that come to my site just for the blog roll (hopefully they read a little too).  In an effort to keep things as fresh as possible, I have decided to do some cleaning of what I would call "dormant" blogs.  These are the ones that have not posted anything in over 8 months.  I chose 8 months because, well, I like the number 8.  It's fun, it gives me energy and it's a great way to stay in shape.  I'm not wiping them off the face of the earth.  I am just removing them from the blog roll for the time being until they awaken from their slumber.  So in order to offset that, I need replacements, hence the request in the last paragraph.

Also, if you are a regular reader (or semi-regular, or just found this site by accident), take a second and hit that "JOIN THE SITE" button over there under the Wall of Fame heading.  You don't have to have a blog either.  You can join with your Google, Yahoo, or Twitter IDs also.  The reasons...I have some things planned on the horizon that I would like to have open to members of the WOF including some contests, giveaways, and possibly another larger scale multi-box break.  Those of you privileged ones will be the first to know about them.   

So everyone take a minute and help me with my spring "blog cleaning".

(Plus +1 if you got the "bike rider guy" reference up there...oh, wait this doesn't have that google plus thingy)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Card Show Pickups

This is going to be a short post as I really don't have much to say in terms of review one way or another.  The boys and I decided to break the boredom of a Saturday morning and head over to the Highland, IN Lincoln Center for their quad-annual community garage sale (and card show).  The amount of junk in this show each and every time astounds me.  I can't believe there are people out there that accumulate this much crap to be able to turn around and actually make a buck or two selling it.  It's simply amazing.

But I digress...there is a card show attached to this garage sale each time they open the doors.  The show has anywhere from 20-40 people selling their cardboard wares amidst the seemingly endless supplies of glassware, VHS tapes, and Elvis paintings.  I know I've talked about this show before here, here, and probably a bunch of other places.  So I won't bore anyone with the details.

While I was prepped and ready for a warm up to next week's Chicago Sun-Times Show in Rosemont, I wasn't expecting much and that's exactly what I got.  Believe it or not, the card dealers seemed to have been toned down a bit and most of them were replaced by guys with coins and toys.  I did find a few tables with stuff browse worthy but I didn't really find anything to bite on except at two tables.

The first guy had a table full of autos and GU cards of various sports, including about 1/3 of the table occupied by hockey.  I pickup up this little guy for a couple bucks...

 I'm sure this one will be added to my Penguin Auto Project collection soon.

The only other table I found was not a card table but a "junk" table.  I mean, it had some interesting items on it, but it wasn't organized at all and had giant piles of stuff in various parts of the table.  But like the cardboard sniffing bloodhound that I am, I found a shoebox full of cards.  The front was originally marked "1/2 off price marked".  That was crossed out and replaced with "All Cards $1".  That too was crossed out and replaced with "Single cards $.50 or 3 for $1".  I like the sound of that better.  Here are my three cards for $1.

The first one I found was an Alfonso Soriano card that my son didn't have.  He collects Soriano, although I still can't figure out why.  I didn't scan that one because after taking possession of it, I don't know where he put it or what he did with it.  For $.333 I don't really care either.

The card I was after was this one...

It appeared to be an on-card auto of former Pirate great Omar Moreno.  I didn't have a Moreno autograph and for thirty three cents I couldn't pass it up.  But the real question was, is it a legit auto?  I checked the interwebs when I returned home to find that it, indeed, looks like his auto...however, it only looks like his first name.  Most of the other autos of his show a distinction between first and last name.  I don't see that here.  But, that's not to say I don't believe it's still real.  It's on-card, meaning it was either a TTM or an in person signing.  If it was in person, I'm sure Omar was in a hurry.  It could have been done quickly, bunching itself together, and making it look like it was only his first name.  It could.

I wasted 33 cents didn't I?  Oh well.

I needed a third card and couldn't find one to round out the 3 for $.50.  In the whole box, I couldn't find a single one.  So I settled on this one because it made me smile, bringing back memories.  It also sparked an interest in one of my sons as to how a person was able to play MLB and NFL at the same time.  Yes, folks.  I give you a wood border nightmare, otherwise known as...

So overall, this show was a bust.  It it wouldn't have been for the lady with the $.50 action figure box, we would have all probably walked out dejected.  Instead, it was only me.  I just hope next weeks slightly larger show at the Convention Center will be much more fruitful.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Dying Breed - Brick & Mortar Card Shop Review

About a month or so ago, while perusing the latest installment of Beckett Hockey (yes some of us still read the articles, I swear), I noticed that there was an addition made to the Indiana Dealers.  As long as I can remember, there was only one on there and that was More Fun Sports in Dyer, Indiana.  That was my shop of choice for a long time and still is.  Unfortunately, I haven't made the trek out there in a while, with being on hiatus for some time and since I no longer live in the neighboring town. 

At any rate, I found a new name added to the list.  That shop is The Sweet Spot located in Valparaiso, IN.  It is a small storefront located across the street from the fairground baseball/softball fields, a decent location considering the traffic that passes by regularly.  After checking out what I could online and reading the article published a few months back in the Northwest Indiana Times, I decided to trek over there, since I work nearby, and see what it was all about.

As you enter, you find an interesting mix of sports cards, memorabilia, and...CANDY!  Yes, this is also a candy shop of sorts as there are bins upon bins of Albanese Candy (another locally manufactured product).  It's a great idea that fits well with the goals of the owner, getting kids back into the hobby.  But I wasn't there for the candy. 

The store layout is very similar to that of most brick & mortar shops in that it is horseshoe shaped with display cases around the perimeter and a few display racks/tables in the middle.  There are wax boxes with packs behind the counter directly to the left and every collectors' favorite "bargain bin" boxes are on the cases themselves so collector's can browse till their hearts content (or until the store closes).  A small section of supplies awaits near the back and a sitting area in the corner has chairs and a table so collectors can sit down and bust their new packs, sort through singles boxes, or just take a load off.

One cool thing is that the left wall is almost entirely filled with canvas paintings done by Sports Art Illustrated and the artist Justin Farano.  If you ever get to one of the larger shows, usually sponsored by TriStar or Mounted Memories, you will see his work as SAI generally has a booth.  It's is some great stuff that would be perfect for any man-cave.  I wish I had the cash for one, and a man-cave to put it in, and house to put a man-cave in. 

As a new business (fairly new since they opened last summer), its one of those catch 22s as far as carrying product.  You can't stock to the rafters with new product because you basically can't afford to take the loss on the unopened boxes (and that is a huge loss if you have to take it that far).  You can't stock with old product either because you don't know what is going to be in demand and if you go too old, you lose a chunk of your audience.  You also don't know where the clientele are going to be coming from so it's hard to fill your cases with anything but the "HOT" list products and plenty of local sports team items.  As you can imagine, there was an abundance of Cubs/Sox/Bears/Bulls/Blackhawks stuff.  Plus, the owner, Chad Siewin, was more than accommodating, offering to try and obtain anything we were looking for that we may not have found in stock ( product).

I think Chad and The Sweet Spot have the right idea.  They are utilizing social media advertising, which most dealers/hobbyist/shop owners need to be these days.  They have a Facebook page which has much of the pertinent info you need as a consumer and they also use it well by announcing product releases, upcoming shows, in store promotions, store hours, and community box/case breaks which were a big hit the last time they held one.  Check out their page to see some photos of the shop as well as product photos, previews, and big "hit" pulls from the customers. But mostly, Chad seems committed to staying as active in the hobby as he can and keep the clientele engaged, both young and old. 

I will definitely be a return customer.  Anyone in that area should check them out.

I wouldn't be much of a collector if I didn't show you a few of the items I picked up while I was there.  I didn't have a lot of time as I was on my lunch break but I did quickly go through one of the counter boxes to see what I could find.  Here are eight cards I picked up for my PC.


                                #/249                                                                            #/25



Mostly Steelers (unfortunately some now EX-Steelers).  I picked that DeCastro rookie out in hopes the he will actually pan out (barring another injury).  The Polamalu R&S is numbered #/25 which is really cool.  I found the Quad-Diamond Jagr in there that I didn't think I had.  Plus I added another modern Pops card to my unofficial Stargell collection that I neither confirm nor deny I am accumulating.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Box Break - - 2008-09 Be A Player Blaster

You know when you are in your local {enter retailer name here} and you happen to walk by the "card aisle", or "wall", or "4' Gondola" and you get the feeling of adrenaline rushing through your veins?  I haven't had the feeling in quite a while because I have made it a point to not go over to those areas.  They have been a bane to my collecting existence for a long time and caused much heartache (walletache).

Well the other day, I happened to find myself face to face with the trading card aisle and really had no idea how I got there.  But when in Rome, right?  I proceeded to look over the wares, to which I found very little that peaked much interest.  That was until I found the shelf-o-blasters that lurked at the end of the aisle.  These were no ordinary blasters with the traditional $19.99 price tag.  No these were the "discounted" ones with the $5.99-$11.99 personal favorite.

Strangely enough (that was sarcasm), there wasn't much by way of hockey.  A couple of last years Score, a box of 2009-10 Upper Deck Series I, and a 2007-08 OPC box that looked as if it had been returned by a Pit Bull.  But on the bottom shelf, behind some weird Pete Rose cards, there was this...


It's not often that you find BAP cards in a retail store so for $10 I figured why not.  You can see there are 2 packs, 5 cards per pack with 1 guaranteed autograph (that comes out to $1 per card for the math challenged).  Since there are only 10 cards here.  I figured I'd show them all since I'm sure there are many of you out there that have never seen this set before.

Here is the pack...looks just like the box except it is commanding me to "Grab Autograph Cards!"  Ok, I will.

Here are the base cards that were pulled.  I figured I would scan all of them since there really aren't that many.  Nothing really fancy here in the design other than the team color coordinated, rasterized photo of the player in the background and the matching name stripe down the side.  Simple and clean.

Drum roll please......ddddddddddddddddddd...My "guaranteed" autograph card...

Which is technically two autographs, I guess.  We have Matthew Lombardi and Dustin Boyd, both from the Calgary Flames at the time.  Lombardi is now in his second stint with the Coyotes and Boyd has since played for the Predators, Canadiens, and now is in the KHL (last I looked).  I'm not sure I understand how you get either of these two's names out of that chicken scratch mess but I suppose there are much worse examples out there.  

Worth $10?  Probably not, but getting an auto in a blaster is always fun and dual auto cards are even better.  There are also triple autos available out there too if anyone was interested.  The best deal on these is if you can get to a show where some dealers usually have these available for about $7-$8. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New PC Pickup

As some of you already know, I decided to hang onto my Eric Tangradi personal collection even though his time with the Penguins had expired.  He is now with the Winnipeg Jets and still hasn't really done much, being relegated to the Jets fourth line.  But all hope is not lost, as he finally scored his first goal since October 2010 against the Tampa Bay Lightning the other night.  Hopefully that is a sign of good things to come and with the Jets having an outside shot at making the playoffs, maybe he will get his shot at winning a permanent roster spot.  Who knows?

At any rate, I picked up a few new Tangradi's over the past month or two (although I probably have a ton since the last time I posted about them).  Here they are...

I have sort of updated my Eric Tangradi collection page over on the side panel.  If you want to check out my "Wall of Tangradi" click through that link and you will see some of that collection.